WHAT DOES “BEING A GOOD SANNYASIN” MEAN TO YOU?
? What do you think of our list of popular thought patterns of the sannyas scene?
A good sannyasin …
… does not go to other masters.
… doesn’t criticize his master because the master is always right.
… doesn’t cling to possessions nor to people.
… always has a lot of fun. If he is unhappy he is doing something wrong.
… has a lot of sex – it’s the only way to transform it.
… knows how to do tantra.
… hadn’t better be gay.
… always meditates. That’s why he doesn’t need any psychopharmaceuticals. He looks at his pain.
… doesn’t eat meat.
… doesn’t take drugs.
… is always relaxed.
… lives from one moment to the next, doesn’t get married and has no children.
… is infinitely loving and aware in everything he does.
! When I see that I have to laugh. But it isn’t actually very funny because that way we revert to dogmas. It is the old problem: You take sentences of an enlightened master and use them to create a thought system. That’s exactly what has killed all religions. It happened to Jesus who has said many wonderful things – like “Let the little children come to me” – which doesn’t mean anything other than that really free people will become like children. Save that all those paedophile priests got that wrong…
? Osho always pushed total individuality. Nonetheless, a mainstream scene exists amongst sannyasins, a certain code of conduct…
! When I went to Poona at the end of the 1980s I wasn’t a sannyasin yet, which meant that I had an outside view. There were many things that I liked. There was a lot of brotherliness and above all a lot of love. What I didn’t like was that this love was restricted to the sannyasin family. I became part of this family and was able to observe how this scene behaved towards the outside world. There was a new kind of duality: The community existed solely of people in orange. It was either “we” or “they”. “They” were criticized: society, politics, the system. Of course, you can criticize all that but we are also part of that society. For instance, I drive with my car on a tarred road that has been built with the taxes paid by the community of tax payers. Many sannyasins had a different view: For them community existed just of people in orange. I never liked this division – I have always felt that we have to invest our energy into society as well. Of course, society is a lot about power but there were similar structures of power in Oregon and in Poona. It was the same kind of power as in normal society. And there were also many followers who functioned as the herd.
The basis of sannyas should be total individuality. To me spirituality is an individual religion. My body is my temple, my church, the place of my prayer. And my prayer is my daily practice: meditation and yoga just as well as eating, drinking, meeting people and doing my work. All those are religious acts. On the other side is the separating element which all religions have created: over here the believers, over there the non-believers. That is a typically human system: If I want to have power over others I have to put them down. It’s only when we put others down that we are forced to debase ourselves, because we don’t have confidence in our own religion. My vision is completely different: I am my religion! Why should I compare myself to other sannyasins? My being a sannyasin is unique.
? Did this individualistic approach cause problems for you in the sannyas scene or was it accepted?
! Of course not! I was often criticized as being a defector or a dissident – I would rather use Osho’s sentence: „I am a rebel”. Osho always said he didn’t want to create a religion and that he had a vision how the world should be. This vision largely corresponds to mine. Nonetheless, there are a few things on which I don’t agree with Osho. He had his reasons, but they are not mine. Maybe I haven’t discovered them yet. And of course I have problems with sannyasins wanting me to be the same as them. I don’t need that. I have been working on being myself for 65 years. Why should I want to resemble someone else? I have enough problems trying to resemble myself! (laughs).
? Osho wanted rebellion – but is it possible to have a community of rebels or is that a contradiction in terms?
! Yes, there should indeed just have been a herd of individualists around Osho. (laughs) But in every community there is also a collective ego, a collective energy that creates camp followers. And that’s where the presence of a master makes all the difference. Osho was there and the people meditated and danced. That was Osho’s buddhafield, with an almost magical energy. Osho was the example – he was the man who motivated everybody. They all tried to follow this great example. The big problem arose when Osho left his body. Many people felt lost because “Dad” was no longer there. That was not Osho’s mistake – he had given everything und the people had also given and invested a lot. But not for themselves. And I believe that to be the reason why many of them started looking for a new master. They had not really found their own individuality – instead they were searching for a new dad. There is this sentence of Osho’s which says that humans need a living master. I have always understood this sentence like this: Let me live on through you, then I will continue to be alive. But many people took this sentence literally and looked for a new master.
? Is that a problem for you?
! No, not at all. But I didn’t do it because I would have had to start afresh with a new master. I would have had to abstract everything I had learned from Osho. Every master is a wholly and completely individual being. So the vision of another master can never be absolutely identical with Osho’s vision, even if everything is the same on a more profound level.
? The sentence OSHO HAS SAID is very popular in our scene. There are, for instance, several Osho quotes where he has spoken negatively about homosexuality. Many sannyasins took this to mean: being gay is a hindrance to your development.
! Oh, this is the first time that I hear that Osho criticized homosexuals. If he did that he must have had his reasons. But these reasons may be completely different to what we see on the surface. Osho was never the pope who condemned others. But of course he loved provoking his people. He attacked the Protestants, the Catholics, the Americans and the Germans, the Muslims and the Jews and the Zen monks – just about everybody. If all the people criticized by Osho had left, Osho would have been on his own. But he also criticized the Indians – so he would have had to leave as well! (laughs) But the people didn’t leave because they felt that there was something beyond all the words. I myself stayed, too, despite Osho saying about me that I wasn’t a healer but a charlatan who had come to irritate his people.
? But didn’t Osho’s words hurt you?
! No, because I sensed something else behind them. Of course, his words hit an old wound of mine. I grew up without a father and when I sat in front of Osho I felt so touched I even started to cry. I sensed a tingling all over my body and asked myself: what is this? My heart opened up wide just because I looked at him. Then, two days later, he criticized me. But I couldn’t imagine that he wanted to hurt me with that because I felt that he was so full of love. I thought to myself: Even if he thinks of me as a charlatan – so what! That’s his problem, not mine. It was his nature that deeply touched me – not his words. But I was able to receive, acknowledge and accept even these critical words – by which they transformed themselves, and one day later I became a sannyasin. When Kaveesha told Osho this he said: “I am going to give him the healing department.”
It is very easy to misunderstand Osho’s words if you only look at the surface and you only hear what your ego and your mind want to hear.
? What would you recommend to our readers how to prevent building a new spiritual ego?
! It would be great if there was an easy answer to this question. I only speak French and a little Italian and love to speak Gibberish. Because I don’t speak English other sannyasins often asked me: What do you know about Osho? At that time there weren’t any French translations. I used to say to people: It’s right, I can’t read the black print, but I read all the white bits. In every book there are more white areas than black ones. (laughs) Someone told Osho this story and he seemed to have liked my answer. In this context someone told me a story about Osho: An American woman who greatly admired Osho once gave an Osho book to her husband who was a professor of philosophy. This man worked his way through the whole of the book, marking in red all the passages he found to be problematic or wrong and marking everything in blue that he liked. The woman then gave this book with all of her husband’s comments to Osho. Osho took it, smiled and gave it back to her without opening it. He said to her: “Tell your husband that he has crossed out all the most important things.”
That was Osho. Everything he said he carried within. You can’t grasp him with your mind. If you want to comprehend him you have to go deeper into your own consciousness.
? So we shouldn’t read Osho like the daily paper then, but rather contemplatively with a dimension that is beyond the mind?
! Yes, of course! When you hear, when you listen there are three things that are most important.
I receive, I acknowledge, I accept. That to me is the path of the heart – it has the ability to transform us. You have to take your time in order not to just devour the words but to really receive them. When I read Osho I concentrate on one passage trying to really take his words in. And if it is just one word that I receive, that is much more precious than a whole book with which I remain on the surface. If you devour a book you don’t have time to chew. No time to take in the perfume and the taste of the words. I will confess something: Meanwhile I have read a lot of Osho books in French because a friend of mine keeps sending them to me. Sometimes I sit down to read one page but I have only ever once read a whole book: Pearls of Wisdom. It is a small book about the Tarot cards. I have been reading this book for 25 years and haven’t even managed to understand ten per cent of it. Only when I have understood 90 per cent of it will I start reading another Osho book. Osho was an unbelievable human being. He has touched many different levels of consciousness with his words. Every sentence contains a whole universe – and every time my consciousness broadens a bit more I read his words differently, on a more profound level. They are a master’s words and have to be really received. For that we must go deeper than on the level of our mind – and then one thing becomes clear: There, there is no place for dogmas!