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Growing with the Commune

A Chinese Experience
The Problem of No Money and the Problem of Fear

 Before we moved to the mountain, where our commune is, between us communards we had only 200 RMB left. There was no electricity on the mountain, and the water was still in the valley, nothing was available except an old and broken earth house made by people before. According to the guidance of  Sandesh (our sannyas teacher), we were going to develop an organic farm and create our commune in the mountains! Sometimes I just wondered whether this man was mad or something, because none of us had any experience of farming, and to create a commune with 200 yuan? ! Never heard of it! So I asked him if we should earn money first, then go to the mountain. He just gave a direct answer: "No, you just go to the mountain and you will know what to do". Then we moved to the mountain though there was still some doubt in my mind, we piped the water, built our room and the toilet, planted the vegetables...during the process I suddenly found it is not that everything needs money. If we have money, we use it, if we do not have money, we find another way. Money is just one of the means!And I also understood why Sandesh had not asked us to earn money first, because to earn money can only solve the problem of no money, it cannot solve the problem that I am fearful! What I have to face is not no money, but my fear!!!

 From Dependence to DIY

 I lived in the city from my very childhood, everything was available and there was no need to create them by myself. My father was a very talented man, he did everything perfectly well. I was often scolded and condemned by him because what I did, did not come to his standard. By and by I have a fear to do things by myself especially for those which I am not familiar with, I will avoid to do them as much as possible because if I do nothing, certainly I will not make any mistakes. If finally I have to do, I will do them hesitatingly and with tension. I was very afraid to make mistakes, but the more I am afraid, the more mistakes I will make. In the commune, many many things need to do it by ourselves, we will make our bed, our house, cook for ourselves…just by doing all of these things, I found that I am not so stupid and dull as I thought, I can also do things well, at last I can even try some new way. I have come to know the way not to make mistakes is not to avoid, but approach life with more awareness and meditativeness.

In the commune I have many opportunities, before I just followed other people. Now I research the market, compare the price, bargain with the boss…Once I bought something in a shop, the boss gave a price, I laughed and responded with another price. She said it was too low and gave a higher price.I said nothing but went on laughing,then she gave another price and I laughed even more loudly. She said:”Ok,you just stop laughing!I sell it to you for your price” This is a new function of laughter!
Working for the Commune and Working for Oneself
Before we started a commune I worked in society. Just like many other people, I was not satisfied with my job, and changed many times. And the reason I left any given work was always that it is not the work I would like to do, I will find a new job which belongs to me, I will find a job which I can work it for myself and so on and so forth. But such a job I never found. Gradually I became negative towards work, I became lazy. Now however when I work in the commune.... at first I was not willing to do work, I said this was not the job I liked and I must be responsible for myself. Sandesh told me that just live here and now, there is no like or dislike about the work, everything is just the mind’s interpretation.
He asked us not to care about the work but ourselves, he said before you complain that the work is difficult just watch yourself and see if you have tried your best!

I can not point out how it happened, but one day, after a period of working in the commune, I suddenly realized a fact: It is not what work I do makes me happy, but how much I put myself into the work that makes me happy! And then there is no conflict between working for the commune and working for oneself, because it is my choice to live and work in the commune, I should try my best!

And sometimes in the past because many people live together, when I do some work of the commune but the others do not do it, I felt unhappy and blamed them. And finally I found this unhappiness has not to do with others but with myself. And there is a strange arithmetic behind it: I do not like to work, I work unhappily, so I want to make other people work, then they will become unhappy! Then by seeing they are unhappy, I am happy!!! How ridiculous! It is as if I can be more healthy by making other people more ill, that is sheer nonsense, my problems I have to face by myself. This reminds me to tell the story of when there was great chaos in our team, someone was too tired to work, someone trapped in the relationship, someone was too worried about the income to take action…I asked Sandesh for advice but he said :”But why do you seem so calm and silent as if nothing has happened? ”I said:”Why not?It is none of my business!”
From Thinking to Watching

When I worked for a company, since my job was marketing, often I would write some project. I would think again and over again. Look over many books, discuss with many people and finally make the project, and the more complicated the better. By and by this became a habit, before I did anything I would think and think and think as if I can solve the problem just by thinking! And after so much thinking, there is no energy left for taking action. I just went on postponing, and become more and more impotent and powerless. However after I lived in the commune and did the Natural Energy Exercises (the Dynamic and the Kundalini), I could see things more clearly, so there was no need to think about it. I just watch any situation and take action directly. For example, I often used to translate Osho’s words into Chinese, it went slowly because I wanted to make the translation as perfect as possible, I would spend much time on choosing a suitable word and in the process I will look back again and again. Now I am no longer thinking which words to choose, I just go on writing down what first come to my mind, after I am finished I see the translation, the words are flowing! And it takes one quarter of the time than before!!!
Be in the World but Not Of It
I always thought to do meditation is to do something unworldly. At first I thought the commune is just an isolated place for meditation. The people outside are just ordinary, we cannot communicate with them and they cannot understand us. So most of our activities were confined to the commune, until one day we came to know we may be thrown out by the authorities because of some misunderstanding. As a result Sandesh asked us to connect with the outside world, to research the resources of the local place and how to connect with the market. Then I started to touch the world, the villagers, the government, the NGOs, schools, individuals…after this experience, I suddenly realized how ignorant I am as far as this society is concerned, and the ignorance is the same as I know about myself!

Even in a dream I cannot imagine one day I would try to solve the enormous problems of the Chinese countryside and its sociometrics. But this is exactly the right meditation for the 21 century in China, it is the best meditation: meditating in the marketplace! And the commune is no longer a shelter to avoid the world but a space to face oneself. "Be in the world but not be of it”,the words Osho said many times, and I was inspired by them many times, but only after I lived and worked in the commune,the words were not only just words, but became alive and my actual experience!

Swami Vilas

Chinese sannyas website - http://www.greencommune.org/eindex.htm 

Vilas can be emailed to: greenfieldchina@yahoo.com.cn