Three times a year all hell breaks loose in heaven. All the
saints go nuts, the cherubs golden hairs turn grey, buddhas start
drinking and smoking, and Angels wing feathers start falling out.
The whole of the heavenly host is hysterical. The cause of all this
pandemonium is a celebration.
Actually to call this Ashram heaven is a bit of an exaggeration. It can be heaven-and it can be hell, and it is both at different times to everyone here. Sometimes it changes from heaven to hell and back again in the course of the day. Really, it′s whatever one makes it. The only thing for sure is its intense and it never is the same:-Osho makes sure of that.
There is always lots happening here, in a manner best described as beautifully chaotic. But on these three special days, everything reaches a frantic peak.
The three days, spaced about four months apart: are guru Purnima day, in the full moon of July when disciples all over the world honour their gurus, Osho′s birthday on December the 11th, and his enlightenment, March the 21st. All three are very auspicious, high energy days, when one can be greatly transformed-towards meditation if one stays open and aware, and if not towards the loony bin!
Enlightenment day is coming up, and to Prem and I looms like a dark cloud-with a silver lining.
Enlightenment day is also deadline day; all the celebrations are. All the editors of the books are freaking freely, dashing to Bombay and back, in a last-ditch effort of mind over matter to have their books out on the day.
Workmen are going 24 hours a day to finish the new offices. The electricians are electrocuting the plumbers who are drowning the Masons or cementing everyone inside! When the electric circuits overload (about three times a day) with glass cutters cut out the windows by candlelight and leave extra pieces lying about as an awareness technique for sleepy meditators.
There is a camp under way and people are pouring in from all over India and the rest of the world, many coming especially for the Enlightenment day. Three hundred people the ashram can handle easily; over three thousand becomes more of a challenge.
Then there is Buddha Hall. Conceived to hold five-thousand-plus people when finished, it is now a rough foundation of cement with iron rods sticking up in the everywhere. Nevertheless, Osho wants no want to miss this special Darshan, so instead of the usual Chuang Tzu auditorium, he says to prepare Buddha Hall. People giggle somewhat madly, but Laxmi, Osho′s secretary and personal mountain-mover, says her usual ′It will happen′. Now that′s surrender! And, it does happen.
And a million Indian workmen descend and erect scaffolding-a wooden base for a giant canvas tent. They put canvass on the rough ground too, and mattresses on top of that. All the wood is covered with swirls of coloured material, as are the iron rods. Pathways are built, mountains of rubbish removed, hundreds of lights put up. It all looks like a gigantic spaceship has landed out of nowhere.
Meanwhile the canteen and juice bar people are working non-stop to cater to the growing crowds and to prepare for the big day. It′s like an encounter group in there. The local Coca-Cola delivery man can drive to the ashram blind-folded, and one of the ice cream vendors in front of the ashram gets so caught up in the excitement, he drops his thriving business and take sannyas.
Prone is spending most of the day at her typewriter, and dining down in the mass drink. When we emerge, suddenly we are in Times Square and it′s New Year′s Eve. The energy seems to just crackle In the air.
The music group is practising furiously. The people in charge of security and making sure everything happens as it should, seem to be in a state of frantic shock. And to the master planner all is exactly as it should be.
Then suddenly it′s the twentieth and Osho is having the morning discourse In Buddha Hall. Six a.m.-lecture two hours away and workmen are still at it, putting the final touches to the hall. I am there, one of the security people. It′s like a riot squad-to stop over-excited people from mobbing Osho. The whole thing seemed so unreal as we stand about yawning and drinking tea. Now the people are being slowly ushered in. We are trying to project a mellow, meditative atmosphere, not so easy as some of us have been up all night and on the eighteenth cup of tea.
It′s almost eight and everyone is seated, waiting expectantly for his arrival. Suddenly his Toyota comes barrelling out of Lao Tzu house, Laxmi at the wheel, and after making several hair-pin turns, comes to rest. Osho climbs out, palms together greeting everyone, and walks to his chair. There had been a rush of excitement as the car was sighted, but now, no one moves.
Osho begins to speak, to spin his web of music, his dance of words. Everyone, save the one photographer and the video-cameramen, is very still. The next thing I know he′s getting up to leave, a huge grin on his face. An hour and a half has passed. Everything went perfectly; of course, how else could it go?
The following morning it is again repeated. For some reason they are still putting the final touches to the hall. Two days later it will all be totally taken down and away. The spaceship will disappear.
Osho seems to really like speaking in the unfinished hall-the acoustics are cruder than in his regular hall, and his voice thunders, echoes and bounds all over the place. He plays his voice like a rock ′n roll guitarist, with his ′wah-wah′ pedals. Echo, distortion, feedback-all an intricate part of the show.
The excitement is now of a high-pitch, and it′s not going to let up all day. The whole ashram is lit up with coloured lights, musicians are playing everywhere, people are dancing.
Outwardly, Prem and I are more calm than most. Living in the ashram and being here for all these special days, takes away from some of the outer show. But inside we can′t help but be thrilled-just by the sheer energy of it.
The day wears on and more and more people arrive-more and more madness. Oh yes, there is another special course cause for the excitement. For months now the ashram has been bubbling with the rumours of a move to somewhere else in India or perhaps abroad. Wild fantasies of uninhabited islands and mountain retreats abound, and tonight Laxmi will probably announce what is happening.
Now it′s just a few hours before Darshan. People are already going into Buddha Hall, coming early to get a good seat. Usually, the set up has been different. A few hundred people would sit in the smaller Chuang Tzu auditorium, and the rest would file through in a chain, each person going up to surrender at the Masters feet. As the numbers increased though, more and more people were being turned away because of lack of time.
So this time everyone would just sit, no one would file by Osho, but a huge ring of dancers would constantly encircle the outside of the hall, round and round, to keep the energy in and building up.
In the past, I had been stationed somewhere near Osho. The last celebration, I stood beside him throughout to help carry people out who would occasionally faint would be too exuberant in front of him. And to be close to him at a time like that is really an indescribable experience. He is bathing everyone in energy and it is totally overpowering.
I remember last time when a heavy set lady fainted right at his feet, overcome by the radiance, and I had bent down to pick her up, and at the same time, made the mistake of looking up into his eyes. I just froze-unable to pick her up or even budge her. I was falling deeper and deeper into his eyes. I felt like they were going to have to carry me away too. Finally I averted my gaze, and up I rose with the woman in my arms and, still dazed, handed her to someone else to carry out.
This celebration I wasn′t even going to be in the hall, but guarding a gate some several hundred yards away. The only time I would see Osho was when he drove by on his way in and on his way out. Somehow though, it didn′t seem to be bothering me. On this day you could feel him wherever you were.
Just an hour before Darshan was scheduled to begin, out of nowhere comes a huge storm. It hasn′t rained at all for four months and now it′s pouring! The high winds are threatening to tear the canopy right of the hall, thunder and lightning fill the skies. It′s weird and beautiful.
Rumour comes that we′re going to have to shift the whole thing back to the old hall, which is an almost impossible task. Then, as quickly as it came, the rain and wind is gone, to be replaced by Sun and beautiful crisp fresh pair. A blessing from the gods!
And now it is almost time. Everyone Is seated In the hall. From my gate position, I can hear Laxmi talking. It seems that everything is together. Offices are finished, many new books have come out, and on she goes. Suddenly there is a wall of sound followed by cheering and applause. She has just announced in Hindi that the ashram is not moving, will be staying in India to see what the new government, just elected the day before, will do to help the ashram. The thousands of Indians are more than pleased, the Westerners don′t know what to think. But there isn′t much time to speculation, for now the signal is given and here comes Osho′s car. As he goes by me, he smiles, and I have my Darshan there, in full.
The actual Darshan is really not meant to be described in words. It has to be lived, experienced live. At one point someone relieves me for a while, and Prem (who has been working as an usherette) and I go up and into the hall. We join the line of dancers and do one whole circle of the hall. Then we step out and just watch.
It doesn′t seem as chaotic as usual, but the energy is high. The ship could take off right now! Phew! One has to be in good shape to run the circle for two hours non-stop. Everyone is drenched with perspiration. Once in a while someone falls, only to bounce up and keep going-so lost In the dance that they are unhurt.
Osho just sits, sometimes looking around and beaming, tapping his pearly fingers in time with the music, sometimes with his eyes rolled back, sitting totally still, his hands falling into a mudra. Constantly, his being seems to radiate an indescribable transmission-bliss.
To me standing there, it all feels to be a great contrast of something very real and very unreal. All the shades between are there too.
A cosmic play; Osho at the centre.
Consciousness at the centre.
The cyclone whirling colourfully, madly around.
The joy of life.
Then it′s over, but it has no end.
It is but another beginning