Before I share another maroon robed meditation session first up is my first OSHO Multiversity course I attended which revealed even more about this place. I’d recommend a cup of tea as this article is my largest yet at GO! Smell the flowers at 2,669 words. It needs sharing as the plot thickens as I am intent on writing a true account of my experience here, good, bad, indifferent or no-mind as OSHO might say.
Down at the Zorba the Buddha cafe I devoured my papaya, herbal tea and paratha breakfast alone, probably not as zenned up as the others due to me watching 3 Sopranos episodes cooked up in my room the previous night. So be it, I wasn’t down with the kids – or in the moment with them. As I sat back and watched I noticed symbols of western life that I assumed would be either banned or inappropriate – Mobile phones, ipods and even a lap top – all of which I’d brought with me of course but left in my room. Whatever would OSHO say? Here he is preaching about the flowering of love……
He mentions flowers! Time to get to class – I’d signed up for……..
Inner skills for work & life – something I could apply in ‘reality’ as the reasoning was one can meditate anywhere, doing anything and you didn’t need to roll out a yoga mat, sit cross legged and say OHM for prolonged periods. This course was the one for me offering understanding, experience and methods to radically enhance my work time and my daily life activities. I am SO there.
Your work time – one third of your waking life, can be a delight or a duty. Which is it for you now? Would you like to increase your capacity to use your work as a tool for personal growth? It is possible.
Moving and responding to change is the key to success in this fast-paced world. This awareness-training program invites you to take part in a series of simple exercises that may challenge your usual way of thinking and feeling. Through adapting to these new ways, you will learn to move out of your comfort zone, cope with ever-changing situations and develop flexibility.
As your centeredness grows, you become more present. This impacts the people around you and the situations you deal with. The ability to observe your emotions and responses enables you to increase the energy available to be creative and resourceful. Work can then become play — a delight and an extension of your creativity.
(* This is a corporate programme. Please enquire about rates and details.)
AH! Happy days – I’m IN.
If there is one course that could embody GO! Smell the flowers, triggered by a break from the rat race and taking time out to take stock (& options if you’re an OSHO commodities trader) of life before heading right back into the thick of it then this was it.
With so much happening at home Dubai and at such a fast pace this course would be perfect for me when I return in a couple of weeks. Applying what I learn here to the real world with the real pressures of traffic jams, crime, pollution, draining headline news, emptying the rubbish but all in the moment and with a smile! I was itching to get back into industry at the very thought – not retreat away from it. Hmmmm.
I quickly realised that at a cost of 12,000 rupees in cash ($250.00) it was an investment of both my time and my money. This could prove difficult as I only had my vouchers and still needed to get around to de-robing and finding some cash at an ATM. The course was only 4 hours per day, 9am-1pm so time wise it was a reasonable commitment as the day was my own after school and I could pop out for cash in the afternoon.
None of the other maroon robers in the group seemed concerned as the 8 of us introduced ourselves in a cross legged circle to the white belt black robed teacher, a dark haired Indian guy, in his 50′s who would pass as Amitabh Bachchan, one of India’s most popular Hindi film stars, immense popular and labelled a ‘one man industry’. Oh the irony, OSHO.
“Ah, you’re different” he said when it was my turn.
“Right” I replied about to dive into a breakdance to support his point but with little support from the cross legged crowd.
“No, I mean you are a short term visitor here, you don’t work here, all these guys do”
Spot the tourist!
No wonder the others could do the cross legged thing and not have to worry about vouchers & cash. It transpired that they worked here at OSHO so the courses were free to those enrolled in the ‘OSHO Work as meditation Residential Training’ where everything was including as they worked, rested and played here at no cost. Earning their keep, food and education as it were from, well from tourists.
” I see you’ve not paid for this class yet?” Bachchan quietly pointed out taking me aside.
“No – I’ll sort the cash out, de-robe and pop out this afternoon – I need to buy more vouchers and to pay for this course”.
“Maybe after your work this afternoon?” He replied.
“What, my website work at GO! Smell the f……” Stopping myself I realised he couldn’t be referring to this blog.
“What, What….work?” I asked.
“Everyone here applies what they’ve learnt in this class at the work, that’s the idea”
“But I don’t work here….I”
“You’ll be assigned to work with someone here, that’s all – only 2 hours, 2 till 4″
You have to be kidding me – my zen was suddenly sliding away but I was 100% in this moment. Stopping myself from walking out I instinctively offered to ‘work’ 2pm-3pm if for no other reason than to write about it here, leaving me from 3pm to write here at GO! Smell the flowers.
“Alright but please ensure you apply what you’ve leanrt” Amitabh conceded as he pressed play on the CD player announcing to the group “Right, lets dance and then we’ll get started”.
Dance, how about an arm wrestle? Hands up – I was annoyed and felt I’d only been given half the picture and wondered what Tony Soprano (I’m halfway through the second season and Tony has just started seeing his shrink again having returned from his trip to Italy) would do in this situation.
I thought but no, into the spirit of it Jim and just accept this for what it is and if nothing else this will raise awareness.
All the courses started with a dance, rather than a debate about cash, work and the goalposts being on casters so – loosen up, dance around the room and probably the perfect opportunity for me to head straight for the door but no, come on Jim, stick with it and stop judging – this is all good and stop feeling like it’s a con.
We ran through various one on one exercise as Bollywood facilitated with the flip chart to gauge opinions on how we categorised LOW work, HIGH word and any general comments on the world of work, when, I add, when we were 5 years old.
So it was eyes closed – go back to being 5 years old and share with your partner what your perceptions of work was as a 5 year old. The group were pretty clued up as 5 year olds as they saw ‘doctors & lawyers’ as high level work, builders and security guards as low level worth with a few general comments thrown in. Then it was my turn and with my palms sweating itching for my turn I said:
“Well, as a 5 year old I didn’t have any preconceived ideas of high or low level work”
“Well what did you want to be as a kid?” asked the Amitabh look alike with his arms folder and powerful marker pen at the ready.
“Either an astronaut, footballer for Everton or a carpenter” I replied “and it doesn’t get much higher than space, man” I chuckled.
No response from the crowd – the lads at home would have laughed at that one or at least cringed.
“Ok he scribbled but you must have had an idea of LOW work?”
“Well no not really, in fact, I said the warmest professional I ever remember was our dinner lady at my infants school in England – she always smiled, served me my food and called me LOVE”
“So she was LOW level then” As he scribbled ‘Dinner lady” into LOW.
“Well, I didn’t know that then – it didn’t really matter. I couldn’t make the differentiation – I thought being a carpenter or park keeper was cool.”
So off we went with a few more one-on-one exercises. One writing a passage of words out very quickly, then very slowly and looking at the difference, how we felt, how the writing looked which reminded me the importance of being present, the only thing that exists, right? The NOW. Then some customer facing stuff followed pretending to work at the OSHO welcome centre. This was an area that needed work here at OSHO as customer skills was not the strong point here in ‘welcoming’ new visitors here.
Looking back on it, my first morning (which seems a long, long time ago) was something of a surprise and shock. From a meditation centre I was expecting calm relaxed people with a laissez fair attitude to life and organisation and instead I was ‘greeted’ with Indian Beaurocracy. The information meeting started at 9.30 am and without that you couldn’t participate and basically had to stay in your room until the next information meeting!
There was only one information meeting a day.
You had to register before the information meeting and registration opened at 9.00 am. Within the 30 minutes, the group of 35 people (including me) who were from a variety of countries and language capabilities had to
Register their details on the system
Take an aids test.
Get the results of the aids test
Pay for the information meeting
Buy vouchers as cash wasn’t handled.
Go across the road and buy a robe.
The sequence had to be done in the correct order. There was no formal guidance prior or during the process and it had to be completed within 30 minutes or we would be spending the next 24 hours doing nothing.
I digress but felt better for getting that out as it wasn’t pleasant but didn’t have the desire to write about it during my ‘rabbit -in-the-headlights’ arrival on Day 1 and was it any wonder? The irony of the customer service exercise was that you had to role play rushing through the above registration process and then really take time to enjoy connecting with the ‘customer’. This was a good exercise that reminded me of the important of being present and to really listen, to really be yet again but in reality with my day 1 experience this wouldn’t be possibly to acheive unless one person per day registered when you would have all the time in the world and more zen like reflexes than you’d know what to do with.
After sitting around in our cross legged circle (me with my legs straight due to lack of practice) we listening to an old OSHO discourse on tape about working in the moment. The class came to a close, we were wished a ‘enjoy your work and see you all in the morning’ as we headed off for lunch of at the Meera eating area.
After lunch I was paired up and handed over to my ‘working partner’ – basically a full time resident here who I could work with and be ‘in the moment with’. We’ll call him Dave for now but Dave has very wide piercing blue eyes, bordering on crazed after one coffee shot too many but a Brit who was pleased to meet me, very pleased to meet me confirmed by one of the firmest handshakes I’ve ever received.
I spent that hour of ‘work’ listening to Dave and how he felt lost inside OSHO over a coffee. Four months into his stay having lost a business, his wife and all his money in Spain he pitched up here to ‘get to know himself, survive and try something constructive’. Missing the British humour that he felt was wasted here we traded jokes, talked about football and I told him how grounded he still is and that he was free to come and go as he pleased:
“I would do but I have on money and in the ideal world I’d like to be a fitness instructor. Do you know anyone who needs a good fitness instructor? This place is closing in on me”.
So on we talked, I felt for him but concluded could be in worse places to learn life skills in a safe environment. All I did was listen, share a few tales of the UK with him and that was that both agreeing that this served as great ‘ in the moment work’ as we went our separate ways. Dave was different, he was himself and showed his vulnerability. A dream long-term resident with his world upside down, perhaps?
After my hour of ‘work’ and tip tapping away at this here blog for a couple of hours I hobbled over to the dark side of the moon auditorium (my calves were now very achy from the dynamic meditation the morning before) it was time for a more sedate meditation. Maybe the Nadabrahma Meditation could help melt the day away as it consisted of :
30 minutes of humming.
15 minutes of moving my hands around.
15 minutes of sitting still.
As I swaggered in like John Wayne, thanks to the calves, I went through the motions thinking that I was going to be bored for the next hour. In between sleeping humming and making my hand actions I did experience something – not only the joy of having the deepest and loudest hum (us boys and our competitive nature) for first time I could remember my mind was momentarily empty. That moment might have only lasted for a matter of seconds but it felt great, it felt clear.
Maybe this was it? I need to try more classes – more stillness, more silence?
My simplistic views were shifting. Meditation was now good, perhaps Osho wasn’t all bad?. If Osho was bad, why were there so many intelligent, affluent, middle class people here? Maybe I had it wrong. This was the most cosmopolitan place I had ever been and it was peaceful with seemingly good intentions.
There were Dutch, Aussies, Scandinavians, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesians, Americans, Brazilians, Israelis (lots and lots of Israelis), Italians, Dutch, Spanish, French, Indian, Germans, Mexicans, Indians, New Zealanders and Turks.
However more things were occurring to me – that people here in general were very subdued. There were groups of Latin blooded people, but there was no noise, no shouting, no laughing unless the class told them to do so as the music played and they waved their hands in the air.
On offer that night at the OSHO outdoor cinema was the film ALi G. Ironic as I’m feel like I’m about to become him, interviewing the various ‘residents’ here and reporting back to the flowers blog. The alternative on offer was the outside “sitting in the dark mediation”. So if the film didn’t work, we would also be doing the outdoor “sitting in the dark mediation” so it was win-win. The ATM cash issue hung over me but that could wait until tomorrow, at least in daylight.
Settling for neither I gave the white robe group hug a miss again and headed back to the solace of my room for more Sopranos and closed off on the day reminding myself that, oh well, that’s life:
Comments welcomed on the day that day 5 came alive. Tomorrow I’ll reveal a deeper insight that left me even more astounded so thanks for reading and for keeping me company here!