by Anurag Shantam
I first met Osho sometime in 1980 in the form of two sannyasins who appeared one night at an astrology class I was taking in Portland, Maine. They had been invited to lead the class in meditation . I have no recollection of the meditation, but remember clearly my first impressions.
From their appearance, they obviously belonged to some cult, and I wanted so much to dismiss them as such, and yet there was something about their energy, the vibe they carried around them, that was mysteriously seductive. I was attracted and repelled at the same time. And that picture of a man in the locket around their neck, I had difficulty letting it go. However, I had wasted ten years of my life practicing T.M. and was too clever to be taken by some eastern guru again.
Prior to this encounter, I had never heard of Osho, I even avoided the eastern section in the local occult bookstore. However, shortly after this encounter, I happened to be in the bookstore and found myself drawn to the section on Eastern mysticism, where my attention was drawn to a book, The Book of Secrets. Being a scorpio, naturally this title was irresistible, but when I removed it from the shelf, the man in the locket appeared on the cover staring back at me. A mild shiver ran down my spine, and after a cursory perusal of the contents, I hastily replaced it. I sensed somehow this man was dangerous, and best avoided. Yet he was working me, and I couldn't get him out of my mind.
About a month later, I took a trip to N.Y.C. for a long weekend of R&R. Out on the town one weekend night I met someone at a bar, and was invited back to their place for a little late night tantra. Everything was going well until I entered the apartment and saw before me a large picture of the man in the locket, No mild chill down the spine this time, I was positively spooked. What are the odds, I thought, of linking up with a sannyasin in N.Y.C.? Regaining my composure, I had a fun night, and increased level of comfort with these strange disciples of Osho, although I remained determined not to get sucked into his cult.
In the subsequent months I made several visits to the ashram, located a little ways up the coast. Some meditations, some socializing, and occasional low key suggestions that I should go to India and see him. At times it felt as though this strange Master was somehow pulling at me, drawing me inexorably to him. But I resisted, knowing somewhere that such an encounter would shatter my stable, safe, unhappy life forever, and my resistance had an ace in the hole. I didn't have the money to go to India. I was safe, that is, until I remembered.
Years earlier, during the Vietnam war, I had bought a small piece of land in Canada, partly to escape America, partly to get back to the land (I was living in Boston at the time). As it turned out, I moved to Maine instead. It made no sense to hold on to the Canadian land, but I justified doing so by telling myself it was for my trip to India. I'd sell it sometime in the future when I was ready to take my dream trip to India. All of this was forgotten until that day I remembered. My resistance was not quite ready to let go, however, and I resolved I needed a sign. I'd put the land on the market, and if it sold within a few months that would be my sign and I would go. If not, I'd take it off the market and be done with this man that was causing so much inner turmoil. Within a few weeks a check arrived in the mail. I had received my sign, and true to my word I was off to India.
After being there a few weeks, putting the initial cultural shock behind me, I began to feel more and more like I had come home. As mysterious as life in and around the ashram was, more and more it felt as though it were how life could be, how life should be. A rhythm, a beauty, a grace such as my soul had never known on this earth, and yet something so familiar that I can only describe it as my soul feeling the closest to home she had ever known.
The groups were initially terrifying, but also unbelievably liberating, as though each one were lifting a weighty burden from me. With each successive group my confidence was growing, along with an increasing awareness that I could not only do this type of work, but that I was actually good at it. I also realized that such groups could not exist in America with its victim/blame mentality.
Within weeks of arriving, I decided to take the plunge, to take sannyas. Expecting obstacles (more groups, more meditation), I was surprised when I was immediately booked a few days hence. I don't remember what He said as he initiated me, for I was far too lost in the liquid pools of emptiness that were His eyes. Something happened, I don't know what, but it felt so right, and nothing was ever the same since.
After many months in Poona, my money had run out, time to return home. There were many gifts He had bestowed, among the most important was permission to trust my feelings, my intuition, and I have done so ever since. I had done Dynamic once, it didn't feel right for me, and I never did it again, without suffering the quilt that I wasn't a good sannyasin, that I wasn't doing it right. As wonderful as the ashram was, it didn't feel like I was supposed to be there, and this feeling was especially strong after the move to Oregon. I trusted my intuition and it led me in an entirely different direction.
A course in Alchemical Hypnotherapy in California led to a practice, as well as an invaluable tool to journey inward. After several years, I had seemed to reach an impasse, as though the hypnotherapy had taken me, as well as the people I was working with, as far as it could. I devised a new technique, still working with the archetypes, using a system of toys known as Playmobil. I realized the archetypes we had been working with in trance, could just as easily be projected upon a three-dimensional scene such as could be created with the Playmobil. And the figures had enough flexibility that one could create different archetypical energies by manipulating, changing the appearance of the characters. This seemed to enable the work to go deeper, the inner reality projected upon a screen, static, unmoving, unlike the trance state, so that the projection could be analyzed, studied, always focusing on the dysfunctional relationship of self (archetype) to self (archetype). The Playmobil work had an additional advantage, it could be done in groups as well as individually. It was also the part of the journey that was the most fun.
Eventually, of course, this work too seemed to reach an impasse. A victim, that couldn't be healed, no matter how much love and attention you gave to it. An insecure part, also intractable, and of course the angry part. Three impenetrable barriers with no way to breach them. What to do? Intuitively I sensed a dramatic change was needed, if only to shake things up. Time to move west. Where? I didn't care. I sensed where wasn't important, the move was. My closest friend insisted on accompanying me, and one night after watching The Stand on T.V., the answer was clear to us both: Boulder.
What a wretched place! If Maine had been grudging in it's support of me and my work, Boulder was a brutal rejection. Doors weren't closed in my face, they were slammed. No money coming in, only going out. Christmas upon us. No friends, no support. It was the darkest period of my life. Fear deepened, despair overwhelmed me. Night after night, lying awake in terror, in pain, until one night crying out in desperation to existence, I asked what am I to do? A very quiet voice inside answered "watch". Watch what? I inquired, and the moment I had the thought I was suddenly separate from, and aware of, the sensation called pain. Having nothing else to do I began to watch, as wave after wave of sensation moved through. Pain in the heart area, fear in the stomach. For the next few months I watched wave after wave of sensation, until there were no more waves appearing. I felt fragile, spent, ghostlike. I knew I had moved through something powerful, but I was too exhausted to know what. The silent voice I had come to depend upon said it was time to go home, and within a week we packed up, broke the lease, and hit the road. The journey back to Maine was a blur, neither of us was really there in the body, but existence got us home safely, provided us nurturing environments to recover, and as I did so I began to realize what had happened in Boulder. For a soul awakened from the pain knows who she is, just as a spirit awakened from the fear knows his ancientmost identity. In short time I was grateful for the sojourn in Boulder, for it had provoked the most powerful transformation I had ever known.
From this foundation emerged the awakening of the God center from His ancient anger, and the appearance of the mother, or serpent veil, and the whole teaching of awakening I have been sharing with those seekers who have mysteriously been sent to me over the past decade.
Throughout the journey, my life felt guided, by existence, by the Master, it didn't matter, for to me it was all the same. I suffered a crisis of confidence when the Oregon debacle occurred, as I'm sure all sannyasins did. However, my love, my trust, and above all, my gratitude to the Master who had blessed me with this crazy illogical journey inward proved stronger than any doubts fueled by the goings on at the Ranch.
In a way, the end was the perfect punctuation to his teaching, delivering a hammer blow to the tyranny of spiritual correctness; that false duality of holiness/profanity, leaving us with the disquieting truth of "is-ness". It is what it is.
I am proud to be the progeny of the Blessed One, and to perfectly imperfectly share the light He bestowed upon me.
I currently reside in a converted mill building on the Saco river in Saco, Maine. While not as picturesque as you might imagine, nonetheless the ever changing flow of the river outside my windows has become a soothing friend to my soul.
Read the book AWAKENING by Anurag Shantam at