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Koregaon Park – The Wilder Shores

One of the reasons I went to Poona was to check out the sannyas bratpack. Who were all these people who were supposed to be getting ‘enlightened’?

Ask that question in the Commune and you stir up a mare’s nest... The first thing that happened was that Samdarshi came to Poona and was not allowed past the Commune gates. Apparently the story about enlightened people not being allowed into the Commune isn’t a joke – it’s literally so. All Samdarshi wanted to do was to go to White Robe Brotherhood. Couldn’t he go in with a guard? he asked, presumably (hopefully) with his tongue in his cheek. Nope. No Gateless Gate for Sam.

While you can appreciate the Alice in Wonderland lunacy of the scene, the joke does wear a bit thin. More especially when you remember how much Osho insisted that for the majority of people contact with a living enlightened being is absolutely essential – and that any organisation without that living heart would quickly turn into a dead Church.

In fact Osho’s original formula – living Master, meditation, people meeting new people – even the minor details, the bikes, the swimming pool – has over the past couple of years been trying, almost spontaneously, to re-establish itself in Poona. Not in Koregaon Park, but a mile downriver, at the Pyramids. If you haven’t been there, it’s a fine spot, almost in the country. With its pyramids and palms it looks bizarrely like ancient Egypt. Tyohar used to give satsang nearby, and when I got there Maitreya Ishwara had just vacated his pyramid because John de Ruiter had arrived. There was a sense of urgency missing from the Commune.

Faced with the spectre of Poona 4 the Inner Circle reacted hysterically. First to get the axe was Tyohar… Tyohar was a runaway success, becoming virtually a Pied Piper for a whole generation of young sannyasins – until the end of ‘98 when he was told that unless he left Poona his Indian visa would be cancelled. Tyohar believed this to be no empty threat, and he left for Candolim… A year later Maitreya, re-entering India with a new visa, was denied entry at Delhi airport. No reason was given… but it’s difficult not to suspect the long arm of the Inner Circle.

And Samdarshi, Tyohar and Maitreya are only the tip of the iceberg. There’s Osho’s 1967 Indian sannyasin, Kiran, who’s been giving satsang in Poona for years, and is long banned from the Commune. There was talk of two enlightened women. One, Rani, an erstwhile group leader and another, Dolano, a German sannyasin who used to look after the swans. Neither were in Poona, but I heard a tape of Dolano and she sounded like she was wide awake to me. I just didn’t have enough time to check it all out. There was someone giving satsang next to the White House, and someone else in Out Of Africa. Heretics seemed to be coming out of the bougainvillea.

So what to do? Is it even possible, let alone desirable, to turn a blind eye to all this? Given the present economic crisis of the Commune (the number of people going there is decreasing alarmingly) could one suggest a quite different policy? Why not invite all these people in? Why not let them give satsang inside the Commune? Give them a hearing? Perhaps in the afternoons? And while you’re about it, invite all the others in too. Mikaire. Nadeen. All the ones from Poonja. Eckhart Tolle, the lot… Economically – and energetically- Osho built Poona on gathering every kind of therapy together under one roof. Osho didn’t say no bioenergetics, no Gestalt, I’ve covered it all in my own meditations. Not a bit of it, he said yes to the whole of cutting edge therapy. So why not do the same with the satsangs- surely a late 90s analogue to the ‘groups’ of an earlier time? People would come from all over the world (just as they were doing this winter for de Ruiter). Poona could boom again.
What else could it be, Osho’s vision of a new Nalanda, a new ‘spiritual’ university? A variety of teachers exploring the nature of true self-fulfilment. Whether they are individually enlightened or not isn’t even of primary importance. It’s the intensity generated by focusing the search in one place that’s the thing. (And given the absurd competitiveness of all of these new teachers- the way they invariably maintain they are the only one who is truly enlightened – the confrontation could do them a world of good too.) At any rate it’s clear these 80s New Age groups are no longer much of a moneyspinner. Spiritually, here in London, I feel like I’ve got my back against the fucking wall. Having my chakras realigned with a didgeridoo does not hit the spot.