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Twenty Years of Impermanence
Tarshita Stan Bermann

Twenty years is a long time. Twenty years ago I was 50 years old. Today I am 70. Tomorrow I will be 90 (maybe). I tell my friends and clients, who are in their 50s, 40s and even their 30s, that they will be 60 tomorrow. I know that it’s this way from personal experience. It is the way it is. Time passes quickly, sometimes, often, unnoticed by us. But pass it does.

Twenty years ago, almost to the month, I left Rajneeshpuram. I left in a snowstorm. Does falling snow represent life? For me it has. It was December 5, 1985, and I was riding on a bus, past several auto transporters filled with recently sold Rolls-Royces – cars that I loved so much. They were immobilized by the snow, which had been falling for days.

I had an aisle seat and was holding hands with my friend Punit – Danish Punit, she was called. How I loved her. From that day and place I began a new life…another new life. Four years before that I had begun a new life as a sannyasin.

At the age of 50, and with all my belongings in four cartons and two small suitcases, I left the Ranch and the commune. I left to find my way in the world. How would I fit in? How would I earn a living? Where would I live? The slate was clean. I would create my new world. I knew that.

In the three years I lived in Rajneeshpuram I became more of myself. I like to say I became a person who, more and more, occupied his own shoes. I fit. One of my favorite group leaders, Sagarpriya, used to ask me if I got anything out of a group we had just done – me taking, her giving. I always said, “I got so much from it.” She would laugh and say, “No, you didn’t, there was nothing to get.” But I did get so much… I became more of myself.

After leaving the Ranch I spent a couple of months in New York City, my old hometown. I looked for work there and had one interview for a job, but nothing came of it. After that I knew I had “been there, done that” and so off I went to Geneva, Milan, Crete (including two glorious weeks with Osho), Cadaquez, and then back to Geneva. This was freedom! I was floating in the universe. This was perfection.

But then, one afternoon, I was sitting on a bench overlooking Lake Geneva when I heard, in my head, one of the last discourses Osho gave at the Ranch. I had heard Him say that He wanted everyone to go back to his or her own country and work. I remember the day He gave that discourse. I remember commenting that what He said was for others, not me. At the time I was home. But when I heard it again, in Geneva, I realized that He was talking to me; He always talked to me. I was sure of that. I left for America three days later – to go to work.

I had been in San Francisco less than 24 hours when I had an interview with a photographer. I had spent 25 years producing television commercials and was looking to re-enter a business I knew. On the way to the appointment I kept thinking that if I could “do” the Ranch, if I could make it at the Ranch, I could do anything. Nothing was impossible. I met the man and presented him with my plan for a new film company: what I’d do, what he’d do, and what would happen as a result.

He asked me to come back the next day to meet his accountant. I did, and I made basically the same presentation to a stony-faced accountant. At the end he turned to Rudy, my soon-to-be partner, and said, ”I was prepared to hate this guy. Who is he to come in here and ask for $25,000? The man’s a stranger…” Then he said to Rudy, “I’d write the check if I were you.” Rudy did, and I had a company. I always thanked Osho for that. In less than three years we had a very successful company, with work coming to us from all over the United States. I did what I said I was going to do and thanked myself for that.

I’ve moved a lot in the past 20 years. The moves always seemed necessary, though that is stretching it for the move from San Rafael to Santa Fe. I’ve lived in an apartment in San Francisco, over a garage in Venice Beach, California, and I’ve lived in a glass house in a redwood forest north of San Francisco. I thanked Osho for that one also. I don’t know where I got the courage from, to move out from the city to where I couldn’t find work. But I did. And I found work, really good work, doing something I’d never done before – directing and writing television commercials and industrial films. So much for watching the grass grow. I was out there in the world, working, talking, meeting people, creating a life, and being creative.

I think one of the things I learned from my experience at the Ranch was about day-to-day impermanence. I never knew if the room I had left that morning would be mine that evening, or if the job I had learned to love would be mine the following day. Not only was it a teaching of impermanence, it was also a teaching of nonattachment. Just because you had a great roommate didn’t mean you’d have them that evening. Letting go was easily learned by me.

By the time I moved to the country, north of San Francisco, I had managed to save up a considerable amount of money. In the beginning I spent my time learning how to manage the money I had made in my partnership. This, too, came easily to me. I had always worked with money as a producer, so I set out to learn about the stock market and how to invest. First, I invested my money, and then later on someone else’s money, and then another, and then another…and then a few more, and I had a new career. I now invest money for 22 clients, managing about six million dollars in assets.

I think the reason for my success in this endeavor was simplicity. I try to keep my investing as simple as possible. I have a few basic rules, and since I’m disciplined I know I can keep to my game. I think this is another thing that I learned at the Ranch. We had such limitations, financial and material. You had to improvise, work with what you had, and keep thinking. Focus was also a part of it; to succeed you needed to focus on what it was you were doing. Being in Security at the Ranch helped me tremendously in my ability to focus, and to know the difference between what is important and what is not.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like now, had I not met Osho. Would I, at 70, still be walking up and down the streets of New York, looking for work? When I first became a sannyasin, and while staying at Geetam, and afterward at the Ranch, I knew that I would never return to New York. Maybe for a short visit, but never to live. I’ve just counted the moves I’ve made in the past 20 years. There were 10 moves, 10 homes, in eight different cities or towns. And yet I felt centered through it all. I seem to know where I am, most of the time.

I don’t make friends easily, but those I make, I keep. I keep them for a long time. Some are in California, some in Texas, and some in Europe. They are in my heart and travel with me. They are mostly the friends I made while living at the Ranch. They wear well. They know me, both my insanity and my sanity. We all accept each other. I don’t think there have been friends like this ever, in the entire world.

In one of His last discourses at the Ranch I heard Osho tell us that when He died we should all turn around and walk away, for surely a religion would form around Him. He also said that we should find another teacher. I hope He will forgive me, but I have not sought out, nor found another teacher. Who could possibly be compared to Him? And what could anyone else say that would be different, or better than what He has already said to me. No, He is still my teacher, and I suppose He always will be.

I can see and count my gifts from the world of Osho. I often say that history takes a long time. So does growing older (I didn’t say old). At the edge of being 70 I see things a bit differently than I did at 46, the age at which I first became a disciple of Osho. Mostly, I just see things that I didn’t see before. My eyes have been opened. I’m sure I would have lived and survived the past 20 years perfectly alright without having the experience of Osho and the Ranch. However, life seems so much richer for the experience.
I wonder what the next 20 years will be like?

This article first appeared in Viha Connection