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SELF: Enlightened Masters
The Odyssey of Enlightenment

The Odyssey of Enlightenment:
Rare Interviews with Enlightened Teachers of Our Time

by Berthold Madhukar Thompson

Chapter 1: Osho

"Meditation will not give you enlightenment.
No technique will ever give you enlightenment;
enlightenment is not technical. Meditation can only
prepare the ground. Meditation can only do something negatively;
the positive--enlightenment--will come
on its own. Once you are ready, it always comes."

also known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, was born in Kuchwada, in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India, on December 11, 1931, the sixth child of a pious Jain merchant couple. After his proclaimed enlightenment at the age of twenty-one, he taught philosophy for several years at the University of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, and then spent many years traveling throughout India leading meditation camps and lecturing on philosophy, religion, and enlightenment. In 1967, he settled in Mumbai (Bombay). One year later, he initiated his first disciples into what he called neo-sannyas [discipleship], more commonly called sannyas.

In the early 1970s, the first Westerners began flocking to him. Over the next thirty years, several hundred thousand seekers from all over the world would become his disciples. He established his first ashram [retreat associated with a guru] in Pune, India, in 1974. In 1981, he founded a self-sustaining spiritual community called Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, in the United States. Within a few years, about three thousand of his disciples from more than thirty countries had gathered there to live with him, and thousands more came to attend festivals and to take courses at the Rajneesh International Meditation University (RIMU). But in the late fall of 1985, the commune started to disband; Osho had been arrested and charged with immigration fraud. The United States government eventually accepted a plea entered by Osho's lawyers that allowed him to maintain his claim of innocence although he was deported from the country. The Oregon commune was dissolved and reestablished in Pune in 1987.

Osho's ashrams and communes, as well as his personality, lifestyle, teachings, and disciples, remained controversial throughout his life. He died in Pune on January 19, 1990, amid allegations that he had been poisoned by the US government during a brief stay in the Oklahoma City Jail en route to his trial in Portland, Oregon, in 1985.

Osho did not appoint a successor, but several months before his death, he entrusted the administration of his expanding work to an inner circle of twenty-one disciples he chose himself. Today there are hundreds of Osho centers around the world. His Osho Commune International/Meditation Resort, as it is now called, keeps flowering. It is the largest and most comprehensive center for personal growth in the world today, with more than one hundred instructional and experiential courses running simultaneously at any given time.

Osho's words are published in over seven hundred book titles. In addition, several thousand audio and video cassettes of his discourses and talks are available.

Contact Information

Osho Commune International
17 Koregaon Park
Pune 411001
phone 91-20-4019999
fax 91-20-4019990
e-mail commune@osho.net
websites www.osho.org

Surrender and I Will Take
Care of Your Enlightenment

My quest for Self-awakening, which I came to understand as my odyssey for enlightenment, began in the summer of 1980. I was visiting the Shree Rajneesh Ashram while on a business trip to India. During a breath therapy session a few days after my arrival, I had an experience of the indescribable bliss of egoless and mindless satori1 [experience of Self]. This was not a conventional religious experience; it was a timeless state in which I experienced unimaginable beauty, peace, and oneness. By the clock, it continued for several hours, but the experience didn't last and my mental process returned. Hoping that Osho (or Bhagwan, as he was then known) could help me become established in a permanent, no-mind state of pure awakened happiness, I asked the master to initiate me as his disciple. On July 22, 1980, my initiation into neo-sannyas took place.

Meditation is seeing reality
as it is here-now

Sannyas [initiation] was given by Osho at the beginning of his evening darshans [being in the presence of a guru]. After he greeted the assembly of devotees with folded hands in the traditional Indian gesture of namasté [a sign of welcome that honors a person's divinity], he would sit down in his chair and darshan would begin. One evening, six of us were waiting to become his disciples. We were called forward and asked to sit in a semicircle on the floor in front of the master. Moments after Osho told us to close our eyes, I experienced another satori--a timeless experience of the essence of my true nature. After what seemed an eternity, his words, "Now come back!" reached beyond time and space to "my" beingness. The master had again granted me a glimpse of the goal I so fervently sought.

Osho then called me to come forward and kneel in front of him. Smiling broadly, he held in his raised right hand a mala, a necklace of 108 rosewood beads with his photograph framed in a rosewood locket. Poised to receive sannyas, I leaned forward toward him and, with both hands, he slipped the mala gently over my head. Then he placed his right thumb quite firmly up against my "third eye" center [the spot between the two eyebrows], and I felt a subtle vibration of cool stillness and silent peace emanating from his touch. In a perfectly balanced movement, he exerted pressure on my third eye while drawing me closer, his left hand gently pulling on the mala he had just placed around my neck.

Throughout this powerful and graceful ritual, the master continuously looked deeply into my eyes. We remained in silent eye-to-eye communion for some time. Then in a fluid motion, everything naturally took on a new form as Osho was handed the official sannyas certificate by his assistant. He signed it and pointed to the document, smiling.

Osho -- This will be your new name--Swami Dhyan Bertl. "Bertl" is a Sanskrit word meaning "bright, brilliant." "Dhyan" is also Sanskrit. It means "meditation."

Bertl was actually my German nickname and, unaware of its meaning in Sanskrit, I had used it on my sannyas application form, expecting the master to choose a new name for me. Instead, he gave the one I already had a totally new significance. The moment he handed me the document, I became a sannyasin [person who has taken sannyas]. The certificate was embossed with a white dove and a red dove--symbolizing the master and the disciple respectively--flying in unison across the sky. The golden circle encompassing both doves symbolized the union of the two in their spiritual bonding. While I continued to kneel, Osho proceeded to explain the significance of "bright meditation."

Osho -- Mind is always mediocre. Mind is never bright, never brilliant. By its very nature it cannot be so. Mind is a dust collector. Mind means the past. It is always dead. It is nothing but an accumulation of memories. And how can dust be brilliant? How can the past be intelligent? It is dead. Only the living can have the quality of intelligence, brilliance.

Meditation is bright, brilliant, original. Mind is always repetitive, old. It is a junkyard. Through mind, nothing has been achieved. All that has been accomplished has been achieved through meditation--not only in religion but even in science. Of course, in science the act of meditation is unconscious. Meditative moments are just accidental in science, but all the breakthroughs have happened through intuitive leaps when the mind was absent. They have not come through the mind, but from beyond the mind.

This is confessed by all of the great scientists--although they are puzzled by it--that whatsoever original contribution they have been able to make is not really their own. It comes from somewhere of which they know not. They are only vehicles--at the most, mediums. But, in religion, meditation is very deliberate and conscious. Religion practices meditation. In science it is accidental. In religion it is deliberate.

The whole effort of religion is concentrated on a single point: how to help you to be meditative. And that means how to help you to put the mind aside so that you can look into reality directly, without mind as a mediator. If you look through the mind, mind always distorts. You are never able to see That Which Is through the mind. When the mind is not functioning, you see reality as it is. And that's what God is all about--seeing reality as it is. "God" simply means That Which Is. But to know it, you need to be utterly silent. And mind is a constant chatterer--mind is crazy, noisy. Silence is original, intelligent. Whatsoever happens through silence is good, is beautiful, is divine.

By virtue of his conferring sannyas, the master accepted me as his disciple with the promise to guide me to his own state of Oneness, and I vowed to devote my life to the pursuit of truth and enlightenment. As visible signs and tokens of having taken sannyas, I was asked to meditate at least one hour a day, wear clothes in shades of orange, and wear the mala.

My satori experience during the sannyas ritual was an "experience without an experiencer." Pure objectless being had made itself present-but not to an experiencer. It just occurred in and of itself without purpose or meaning. In the beginning, it seemed to expand from deep inside, perhaps at the bottom of the spine. Its nature was thingless, changeless, timeless, spaceless, limitless, and indescribably blissful. But all-consuming as it was, my "nonexperience" did not last. Or rather, its timeless and changeless nature was soon covered again by the notion of an experiencer who had experienced the "experience without an experiencer." What remained was the intense longing to have more--to permanently be the "nonexperience" of That.

My first few days in Osho's presence had presented me with a glimpse of that which neither is nor is not--which is beyond the body, mind, and soul and the entire comprehensible universe, and yet is always present. It was of inexpressible proportions.

What a master! What a presence! What power! What a transmission! Yes, this was my teacher and guru--forever! My heart was singing. A tidal wave of love and gratitude swept from my heart to the master and filled the whole cosmos. I knew I would do anything, whatever the cost, to make That my eternal home. I knew I was possessed by That. In fact, I realized I had been possessed by It since my earliest childhood. But instead of a trickling faucet, now the sluice gates were opened. In the same measure in which the direct experience of That disappeared, the intensity of my urge and demand for It increased.

When the ego is surrendered,
a communion with the divine
is possible

In the days that followed, I heard Osho confirm that this ecstatic condition could become my own permanent state when I became an enlightened buddha5 like him. He added that it might take time for this to happen--perhaps several lives. But I was convinced that enlightenment was a definite possibility in this life because I had had a taste of it. And I knew I didn't want anything else but That in this lifetime; henceforth, the remainder of my days would be dedicated to the goal of finding truth and lasting fulfillment. By taking sannyas, I vowed that all other desires would stand in the shadow of this one consuming desire. In fact, from then on all other desires became the servants of this one desire.

As I understood it, sannyas contained the practical and existential means for unlocking one's full potential. And lasting bliss would ensue from the freedom from all limitations. This is how the master defined it: "Sannyas is a rebellion against all structures. It is a way of living life beyond the limitations of structures. It is an initiation into freedom in which you have nothing to lean upon except your own inner being. Sannyas is an exploration, an opening, a journey, a dance, a love affair with the unknown, a romance with Existence itself, a search for the orgasmic relationship to the Whole."

Thus my spiritual journey began with a tidal wave of ecstasy and the ritual of initiation. Both were no-mind experiences--the culmination of the spiritual search according to Osho. But what did I need to do to let such egoless moments become a permanent state and thus achieve my spiritual goal? What were the steps? Osho made it easy by providing the answer: "Surrender to me, and I will take care of your enlightenment."

This then was the spiritual formula and credo that governed my relationship with Osho and my spiritual journey as a sannyasin under his guidance. I heard him say, "The master's and disciple's melting and merging into each other is a love affair. It is a deep orgasmic experience. It is far deeper than the love between two ordinary people, because the master and disciple exist without an ego. By surrendering your ego to the master, you really surrender it to God. The question is not to whom you surrender. The moment the ego is surrendered, a communion with the divine is possible."

In this spirit of surrender, I was attuned with the master for the next ten years. What I heard him say was music to my ears, and my heart and soul were celebrating. "To be with a master means to be in a state of saying yes, yes, and again yes! It is an absolute yes, an unconditional yes. So when the master says, 'Give me your ego,' you simply give the ego to him." I was so happy and relieved when he said he would take all of me-my ego, mind, and body--and that he would transform me. "I promise that you will be transformed. But don't make it a condition. If you make it a condition, then there is no surrender. I can transform you only if you are surrendered. Therefore, forget my promise. And transformation is going to happen."

"Even if I lead you to hell, be ready for it. Only then heaven is possible. Your readiness to move with me to the very hell--this readiness transforms you." And how right he was! Soon I would come to know that the master was not kidding. He meant what he was saying. And I was serious about going anywhere with him--unto death and beyond to the otherworld. "Surrender means that you are not asking for anything. Your asking becomes the barrier. Surrender means trust. Even if nothing happens, you will wait. Even if your whole life is wasted, you will wait. If you can wait in such a deep way, everything can happen at this moment here and now."

The love affair between the master
and the disciple functions like
a catalytic agent for awakening

In the years to come, I would hear Osho say that I could make the most out of my spiritual life, and progress more quickly toward enlightenment, by being in his presence and living in his commune--the Buddhafield, as he called it--the most propitious environment in which enlightenment can occur. Listening to Osho's words in discourse and darshan, working in the commune, meditating and attending therapy groups--participating in all of these activities with the utmost totality and awareness, and with an attitude of celebration--comprised my life as a sannyasin.

The catch-phrases "Do all and give all, and you get all," "Participate, contribute, and meditate," and "Osho first, then the commune, then me" underlined the self-surrendering aspect of spiritual life with the master. For years to come, I, together with hundreds of my sannyasin brothers and sisters, began and ended our daily work (we called it worship) in the Buddhafield by kneeling and bowing down and chanting the sacred wisdom:

Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami
Sangham Sharanam Gachchhami
Dhammam Sharanam Gachchhami
I go to the feet of the Awakened One
I go to the feet of the Commune of the Awakened One
I go to the feet of the Ultimate Truth of the Awakened One

While I lived at the ashram, I began to experience an unspeakably immense and growing love for the master. Actually, I was exquisitely attracted not only to my guru's presence and form, but also to his expansive Buddhafield. One morning in discourse, Osho explained my situation and described my experience: "The master cannot cause enlightenment to happen in you but he can trigger the process--but only if you allow it. And this can happen only in a love affair between the master and the disciple. In the milieu of love, he functions like a catalytic agent--both his spiritual presence and the presence of his body help. The very matter, the very body where enlightenment has been recognized and has happened, is transformed in quality. It vibrates in a new rhythm. To be close to it is to be permeated by its vibration. To touch the body of the master or to be touched by it is to partake of his body."

Later on, he described what I experienced when we sannyasins joined together and became something greater than the sum of our parts. "Thousands of people functioning meditatively create a certain energy field. I call it the Buddhafield, the field of awakening. The function of the commune is to create an atmosphere of encouragement-that you are not alone as a seeker. The path that you have to travel, you have to travel alone; but if you know that so many people are traveling alone on the path, it gives tremendous encouragement and takes away your fears. Alone you cannot go very high. Alone, you have all kinds of limitations. But when you are one with many, then infinite energy is available. And many things will start happening which cannot happen alone."

My religion is love, life,
and laughter

Osho's instruction to "be total in whatever you do, and do it with total awareness" inspired qualities of meditation and intensity of action in my life as a sannyasin, no matter what I was doing or where I was. And Osho's tenets "My religion is love, life, laughter" and "My sannyasins celebrate everything" promised that the happiness I was yearning for was possible here and now, albeit momentarily, at all stages of the path toward the ultimate goal of enlightenment. And yes, I did what he had asked me to do. I spent nearly a decade listening to his words, meditating, working, and serving in my master's presence and in his communes in Pune I and Pune II in India, and in Rajneeshpuram in America. I surrendered to him totally. I gave him all I had--physically and materially. I even donated to him my mother's farm and the fields that I had inherited, as well as my own successful business.

When Osho was expelled from the US in 1985 by the federal authorities and his commune in Oregon was dismantled, I was left with nothing except my surrender and trust in him. I must admit that, for a few weeks, this trust was somewhat shaken by the events that led to the commune's closure--it was supposed to have been my home for the rest of my life but lasted only five years! However, my desire for enlightenment did not diminish. The disappointment surrounding the dissolution of Rajneeshpuram faded quickly, giving way to an intensified longing for truth and the pursuit of enlightenment. After he was forced to leave the USA, Osho went on what he called a world tour for more than a year. During this time, I visited him in Greece and in Bombay for a few weeks in 1985 and 1986. In January 1987, Osho returned to his Pune ashram, and I followed him there a few weeks later.

If you can rejoice with me,
you have understood me

On my return to Pune, I felt the need to reconnect and bond again with the master. I wanted to do this directly and personally in public. I wished to express my devotion and love for him, thereby renewing my commitment and trust in him as well as my vow to search for the final truth. So the only "question" I had for Osho during the entire ten years I spent in or near his presence turned out to be a statement and a request. Ideally, as a truly surrendered devotee, I should not have had any spiritual questions for or about my guru. I had surrendered to him, and I was therefore obliged to trust him completely--with no doubts or questions, regardless of what happened around the master. At that time, seekers who had questions for Osho submitted them in the form of letters to the master. In some cases, he would instruct one of his secretaries to write something back in reply, or to transmit his answer verbally. In other cases, he chose to reply to a seeker's question during his discourses in the Buddha Hall Auditorium, without notifying the questioner beforehand. If this was the case, one of Osho's assistants would read out the question over the microphone. After the reading, Osho would give his answer for everyone assembled to hear.

Seven years after taking sannyas, my statement and my small--but, for me, important--request to the master was read out at one of those morning discourses. That letter was the only one I ever submitted to him.

Thousands of sannyasins had gathered for discourse on the morning of September 10, 1987. I was sitting very close to Osho, right in front of him in the fourth or fifth row. When I heard my question being read out over the microphone, I was shocked into both sheer terror and uncontrollable excitement.

My letter was such that I had not expected him to respond at all. While it was being read, Osho seemed to know exactly who the writer was, because he kept gazing steadily at me--directly into my eyes and through them right into my innermost core.

Beloved Bhagwan,

In my mind, I am writing to you almost every day. All my questions and statements boil down to the following:
Gratitude--I want to say, "Thank you, Bhagwan, beloved Master"--and--Attention--Could you say in discourse one single time, "Hello, Hareesh!" so that everyone can hear it? So that I am certain that you, and everybody else, know I am existing as your lover and fellow dance partner.

The reading of the letter seemed to take ages. The pressure in my body and mind kept intensifying. The thought came, "All that is left now is to give up. Give up what? Everything!" When the reading finally came to an end, nothing was left--of "me" or anything else. There was a long, overflowing pause and pin-drop silence. Then the master's words drifted ethereally out over the congregation like a sacred mantra.

Osho -- Hello, Hareesh!

A roar of laughter erupted and swept through Buddha Hall, and then almost immediately turned into a vast sea of joy, bliss, and gratitude. Thrilling moments passed.

Osho -- But this will not be enough. Otherwise, it would be like a plate without anything to eat on it, or like a desert where nothing grows. Usually people are saying hello to each other without any reason. I would like to say hello to you, but I would like to present you also with something else so that "Hello, Hareesh!" is not empty.

My first present to you: A man sitting in a bar is complaining to the bartender, "After one year and three thousand dollars with that psychiatrist, he tells me I am cured. Some cure! A year ago I was Nancy Reagan. Now I am nobody."

A Roman Catholic--a famous priest--and a Protestant minister--also very famous and well known--had a heated discussion over the merits of their respective faiths. Finally they agreed to differ, and as they parted the Catholic said, "Let us go our ways. You continue to worship God in your way, and I will continue to worship Him in His way."

A minister's wife--my third present--was becoming upset that her husband exclaimed, "Ah, Jesus! Sweet Jesus!" every time he reached orgasm. "It is perfectly proper my dear," he assured her, "and in accordance with the Bible where it says, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

And the fourth present: A Catholic priest heard a number of women confess that the grocer's new delivery boy had seduced them all. He made them each put ten dollars in the poor box. The delivery boy appeared last. The priest asked angrily, "What have you got to say for yourself?"

"Just this," replied the boy, "either you cut me in on those ten dollars or I take my business to another parish."

Hareesh, keep your business here!

I can understand everybody's deep desire to be loved. I love you all whether I know your names or not, because names are just labels stuck to you. You have come into the world without names and you will leave this world without names. As far as I am concerned, you don't have a name. And if you look within yourself, you will not find any name there. You are a nameless reality, which is good because every name creates a boundary around you. A name makes you small.

But your question is significant. Desiring attention can have two effects. If it is demanded, it nourishes the ego. If it is asked for with gratitude, it nourishes the soul. I cannot say anything against your question. Your question is so full of love and gratitude that I can repeat as many times as you want, "Hello, Hareesh!" It will not strengthen your ego. It will weaken it. And so many of the people present hearing me calling you, "Hello Hareesh," are also repeating the same call. Then it becomes a tremendous energy field, a brotherhood of spirituality in which everybody is sharing his or her abundance.

It is perfectly all right. Many would have liked the same response from me. But they could not gather the courage to ask. You are a courageous man. You are asking that "everybody else should know I am existing as your lover and fellow dance partner."

Here we are not gathered to talk nonsense about God, heaven, and hell. Here we have gathered to rejoice, to sing, and to dance together in such an ecstasy as all individualities melt into each other and become one organic whole. Many times I have seen it becoming one organic whole when you all laugh together, although the Germans may not understand why they are laughing. But the Germans are intelligent people. Seeing that everybody is laughing, they also participate in the laughter. In fact, they laugh louder than anybody else does so that nobody will suspect them to be Germans. Of course, outside the Buddha Hall they ask other people, "What was the matter? Why was everybody laughing so much? I could not get it."

My suggestion to all the German sannyasins is to forget trying to get it! The trying is troubling you. While you are engaged trying to get it, the moment of laughter passes. While everybody else is laughing first, you are always second in laughter. You cannot laugh first because you haven't understood the joke yet. Here it is a temple of celebration--utterly pagan. Here nobody is serious. Here nobody is bothering about how to reach heaven and get a harp and sit on a cloud and sing for eternity, "Hallelujah, hallelujah!" Those are the idiots. They are being taken up to heaven just to relieve the earth.

If you can rejoice with me, you have understood me. If my music has touched your heart, it is enough. I'm not here to convert anybody. I'm just helping you learn a little dance of the soul. The dance of the soul is the most religious of phenomena, in which there is no fear of punishment and no greed of any reward. This moment is all in all.

Laugh your way to God

If something like enlightenment exists, then my two earlier satori experiences and the experience while Osho answered my question were the closest I had come to it during my spiritual search thus far. That morning in Buddha Hall, there was no time or space, no "me" and "other," no guru and no disciple. Truly, it was not an experience, because there was no experiencer to experience anything. The whole event seemed to happen--not objectively--but as "suchness." Yes, there was only suchness--but not as some "thing." Suchness just was--expressing itself outwardly as impersonal and indescribable bliss and ecstasy.

I wondered why in his answer to my "question" Osho had told me three jokes that related specifically to the Christian Church and priesthood. Was it a coincidence? Or was he so clairvoyant and intuitive that he knew I had been brought up in a fundamentalist Catholic household and was expected to become a priest? And how did he know that I was German?

How true and exact his observations were about the German sannyasins who had a hard time getting his jokes! That had been my own experience. After coming to the ashram the first time, it took me weeks to understand his jokes in discourse, partly because of his heavy Indian accent. I remember how deeply frustrated and left out I felt at that time. It took me several weeks to understand how masterful Osho was in using jokes to underscore key elements of his teachings, transporting us right into a no-mind experience whenever his joke-telling provoked an outburst of laughter.

As Osho put it: "What happens when you really laugh? For those few moments you are in a deep meditative state. Thinking stops. In total laughter, mind evaporates; the ego, the one-who-laughs, disappears and only laughter remains. This is the ultimate experience in meditation: the taste of bliss, God, truth, freedom-freedom from the ego, from the doer. Therefore, laugh your way to God. "I teach you life, I teach you love, I teach you how to sing, how to dance. I teach you how to transform your life into a festival, into a carnival of delight; hence laughter has to be one of the most essential qualities of a sannyasin."

That morning's discourse was a masterpiece. Osho had tailored his answer exactly to the personal and spiritual needs I had in the moment. At the same time, his teaching, his humor, and his love touched the very core and essence of everyone who was present. He met my desire for attention by lovingly transforming me within a few seconds into a laughing nobody and a no-mind--through a joke! And he masterfully and joyously contrasted the world of sin, guilt, and fear created by organized religion with the celebration in his pagan world of sannyas.

Meditation only prepares the ground--enlightenment comes on its own. From the day Osho responded to my letter until his death almost two and a half years later, I kept on doing what he had told me to do. With total devotion and all of my energy, I contributed to his worldwide vision, worked in his commune, participated in therapy and meditation groups, practiced meditation twice a day, and sought his presence daily by listening to his teachings during darshan and discourse. Although I believe I understood his teaching fully, and assiduously followed his guidance in every detail, when the master left his body on January 19, 1990, I had to admit the naked truth--I was still not enlightened. So I came to the conclusion that without his living presence and guidance, I had to "achieve" enlightenment alone.

From that point on, the following teachings of my teacher became the cornerstones of my spiritual life: "You can test whether your meditation is succeeding or not in your daily life: Go shopping and you will know it. Ask yourself: 'Am I still as greedy as before? Do I still get angry when somebody says something against me? Can people still push my buttons as easily as before?' If not, your meditation is succeeding."

And this: "But remember, meditation will not give you enlightenment. No technique will ever give you enlightenment; enlightenment is not technical. Meditation can only prepare the ground. Meditation can only do something negatively; the positive--enlightenment--will come on its own. Once you are ready, it always comes."

Osho seemed to be stressing the importance of meditation and, at the same time, to be suggesting that meditation alone was not enough. What else could be done? I had no idea, but in the absence of any clarifying guidelines, I concluded that meditation was as important and necessary for me as it had been before his death. And even if practice would not bring about enlightenment directly, it would make my life easier. While "waiting" for enlightenment to come over me, meditation could, if nothing else, help me control my hot temper.

I remembered Osho saying, "My whole approach is of living moment to moment--totally, joyously, ecstatically, intuitively, passionately; enlightened or unenlightened, what does it matter? If one lives moment to moment, the ego dissolves. If one is total in one's act, the ego is bound to dissolve. It's like when a dancer goes on and on dancing: A moment comes when only the dance remains and the dancer disappears. That is the moment of enlightenment. Whenever the doer, the manipulator, is not there, whenever there is nobody inside you and there is only emptiness, nothingness, awareness-that state of utter silence is called nirvana [enlightenment]."

As a seeker, I found this pragmatic, down-to-earth teaching very reassuring, and I drew great encouragement from it. After all, I had experienced such moments of emptiness on numerous occasions since becoming Osho's disciple. But, though I took these experiences of the egoless state as a good sign, as indicating some measure of progress in my spiritual search, it was quite clear that enlightenment had so far eluded me, because the urge for final fulfillment now raged within me stronger than ever.

In order to maximize my exposure to meditation and other intense spiritual practices, I knew I must remain in the Pune commune until enlightenment or death. I believed his Buddhafield to be the most spiritually fertile environment imaginable, highly conducive to the occurrence of enlightenment. I therefore made a donation to the ashram to ensure that I would always have a place to live and meditate there. A little more than a year later, I moved into one of the ashram's newly constructed residential pyramids. My new home was ideal--a self-contained, air-conditioned studio with kitchen, sitting and working area, bedroom, and bathroom.

Life is a dance and
not a problem to be solved

In the months following his death, I reflected on Osho's teachings and the effect his presence had created in my life. He had certainly enabled me to become more aware and free of the conditioning that I had taken on from my family, society, and the church. He taught me that I could live a life without guilt, shame, punishment, and fear. He proclaimed that the angry and punishing God was dead and that there is no God other than the full presence of life itself in each and every moment. He called this very earth the Lotus Paradise and my very own body and being, the Buddha. He encouraged me to rediscover and live the innocence, sincerity, and playfulness of my inner child. Reminding me how to sing and dance and celebrate joy in the present moment, he often stated that "Life is a dance and not a problem to be solved." Osho believed in, practiced, and taught extensively about community living as a spiritual path.

I felt very attached to the celebration, happiness, and spirituality that emanated from Osho's presence, his Buddhafield, and from my spiritual practices; these were catalysts for my enlightenment. But although I was as fulfilled and blissful as one could be while still hungering for complete enlightenment, my sporadic states of illumination weren't enough for me. I wanted what I thought Osho had: permanent happiness and peace. I had heard him explain the two possible ways of living life: the enlightened way of life--his way of living--and the unenlightened way of life--my way of living--which was governed by striving, doubts, and endless desire. I was constantly comparing the two, and I found that I rarely touched the perfect enlightenment that the master seemed to be referring to.

After his death, I was convinced that if I stayed long enough in the presence and power of his Buddhafield, this path would eventually culminate in happiness, totality, and full awareness twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Such an achievement would mean enlightenment. Was this understanding only an idea, a form of wishful thinking--or even so-called spiritual materialism? I wasn't sure. The fact that Osho hadn't publicly declared any of his living disciples as enlightened during his lifetime continued to be somewhat disconcerting to me.

However, I felt grateful for the opportunity Osho had given me by helping me to turn away from the pursuits of a worldly life with its common desires. He had introduced me to the world of spirituality and offered me experiences of bliss and peace that seemed to originate from a source beyond my comprehension at that time. He had promised me I would discover that mystery in the event of my own enlightenment. He had helped germinate the seeds for awakening within me by teaching me the importance of meditation and spiritual realization. He assisted my inner urge for enlightenment, which had grown into a wonderful tree in his Buddhafield garden.

Despite my great appreciation for Osho, however, I stayed for only five months in my new quarters in the Pune ashram. In September 1991, I heard reports of an enlightened teacher, Sri H.W.L. Poonja, who was then living in Lucknow, the capital of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, some six hundred kilometers southeast of New Delhi. His devotees called him Poonjaji or Papaji, and he was said to be able to awaken earnest seekers to their true nature at their very first encounter with him. I heard from these reports that he taught that no practice, meditation, or long years of preparation were necessary for enlightenment to occur. Those who really wanted it could have enlightenment right away. This was incredible! Absolutely revolutionary! Could it really be so? Practically every day, rumors of new awakenings reached Pune. How I hoped such stories were true! If they were, there was hope for me too.

My studio in the ashram was wonderful--very convenient and supportive for meditation. But the news from Lucknow brought home to me the stark and uncompromising fact that it wasn't a beautiful room I wanted, it was enlightenment. By October, I was seated in the living room of Poonjaji's house, in his presence for the first time. And, three days later, I was enlightened--according to Poonjaji, that is.