Tribute to Meera, part 8

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Meera always told me that having zero background as a painter and having never been to art school was a gift in disguise. She said that so many people coming to her were so loaded with ideas and concepts, had too much baggage, and that she spent so much time trying to free them from their knowledge. In that sense I was free already.

Today when I look at my paintings I recognize that, and I am in awe every single time. Meera taught us very little techniques, almost nothing really. And yet I see beauty all around right now, I see mystery and depth, I see the wild cyclone in movement and I feel the centre of it. I see both my aching and my silent heart, the joy and the pain, this whispering longing taking me to the unknown…

As years are passing and I am slowly collecting knowledge, I can see how right she was. Looking at paintings I did in her trainings when I knew nothing, I often stop in amazement at a certain freedom I had then. Many times I realise that today I would not be able to paint with that magenta next to that bright pink, or to suddenly enter a heavy stroke of black ink in the middle of a beautiful light flowery painting. Staying in touch and alive with that innocence and that freedom is a constant challenge. That freedom has a beauty of its own and the taste of the divine.

 Painting with Meera in Osho’s garden, listening to Him and meditating every day, was a happening hard to describe. Osho’s presence is tangible in every word Meera utters, in every move she does, in every painting she creates.  Osho’s vision is the connection between Meera and me.

( Part 9 coming soon )

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Tribute to Meera, part 7

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After the first season helping in Meera’s caravan I finally got in touch with the creative fire within and I just wanted to paint. Meera had been right and now she wanted me to keep going wild into unchartered places. When I told her that I now just wanted to paint, had no juice for helping, and would rather explore on my own outside the training, she offered me to come in the group and do as I wanted. I could even have a corner in the room, and as long as I was around she was happy.

And so, I spent the last few winters in the painting training, doing as I please, knowing no limit and no boundary. I was officially part of the staff, but I refused to work and help, and would immediately leave if pushed. Meera wanted me in there and so kept widening the exceptional status I had. I was certainly the source of much admiration, but also envy and jealousy. Clearly I isolated myself and became a freak. During the days off there was so much work for the staff, so much to prepare, but as my friends were busy from morning to night gluing paper, mixing colours, cleaning and deep cleaning, I would just sit there on the roof under the trees and paint all day long, forgetting to eat, only having two or three breaks a day to meditate in the Buddha Hall.

We were painting on Krishna roof those days, an amazing open space in the heart of the commune, under magnificent ancient trees with amazing greeneries all around. During the evening meditation, when everything stops and everyone gathers together to meditate with Osho, I again had a special permission to stay on the roof and paint if I wanted; and sometimes I would miss the evening meditation and paint till midnight, alone in that huge space, with all the lights on and music playing.

Those are the days when my creativity took off. I was intense and prolific.

Meera could see that I was flowering and she kept supporting me. She was obviously aware that this situation was not right, that my entitlement was an issue, and my dramas out of place. Over the years she asked her closest friends many times “Should I kick out Nirav?” No matter the feedback she always chose love over fear. She always chose Yes over No. She always focussed on the light and the expression of creativity. Against what made sense and what was right from a therapeutic standpoint she always kept my potential in sight and did whatever was needed to support it.

 

( part 8 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 6

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My journey with Meera had just started. A glimpse at me had in a way been enough for her to see my unexplored potential, and very soon she was reconfirmed in her intuition. She gave me everything, let me do all I wanted, didn’t set limits and kept showering me with her love. She took me in the staff for five years continuously, and invited me to her trainings abroad.

The problem was that not only I didn’t believe in my potential as an artist, but receiving so much unconditional love was not possible for me. The more she gave the more I pushed her away. Those five years were intense, extraordinary in many ways, and also extremely painful. I frequently exploded into intense emotional dramas, freaked out in the middle of the groups, challenged her and pushed her to her edge. As her book “ReAwakening of Art” was about to be published, I forced her to remove my name from it. Obviously my name would have appeared in a beautiful way, and this is one of the most painful things I ever did. My name was removed and the book was published.

Today a dedicated copy is by my bedside table, and whenever I try and read Meera’s words to me on the cover, my eyes instantly fill with tears.

Maybe this Tribute is also an effort to complete something between us and ease the pain in my heart.

( part 7 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 5

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It is now 9.35 sometimes in December 2000, it is a beautiful misty morning in Koregaon Park, and Meera’s painting training is about to start. This part will last six weeks and has to be booked as one course. Over sixty participants will soon be picked up in the Multiversity Plaza and brought to the group room. In the last three days, Meera’s experienced staff had been busy setting up the space, mixing hundreds of litres of acrylic colours, gluing papers together to create huge pieces of canvas, sorting out brushes and watercolours, and organising so many many details. I had just been part of the crew for two weeks and I knew what a major happening it was.

I had decided not to join and obviously Meera could not force me, but something in my heart felt heavy as I wandered around the commune. I watched all those people arriving, excited and ready to embark on a journey that would change many lives.

Meera arrived in her black robe, smiling. The plaza was packed. “Where is Nirav?” she asked one of her assistants.

Here I was, sitting on a table at the back, partly in shock, partly sad, but also deep down knowing that something was soon going to happen and change the course of my life. There was a sense of urgency, a bubbly intensity, and magic was in the air. We were in the heart of Osho’s garden, between His Samadhi and the Buddha Hall where He spoke for many years, and there was never a doubt as who was actually running the show.

The group was starting in less than five minutes and there was no more time for discussion. Meera walked over to me “Nirav, did you find the money and are you coming?” “No, I am not coming, sorry!” I replied. “Oh, Nirav, this is not possible. Come! You join the staff now, I will find a way.”

She gave me a hug, took my hand and pulled me with her to the centre of the plaza. She gave me a list and a pen which I ticked as she called the names of the participants.

I was silent as we all walked together to the group room. I was hardly realising what had just happened, and how I suddenly found myself here; but obviously a match had just been thrown into my inner chambers and fire would soon engulf all my ideas and concepts of who I stubbornly believe I am. Most importantly my creativity was going to explode into thousands of rainbows and transform the very way I experience life.

 ( part 6 …)

 

Tribute to Meera, part 4

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I had not understood how Meera could have seen my potential as an artist during our short meeting the week before. How she could now see my untapped possibilities on this paper is something that will probably remain unexplained till my death. The fact is that this was not a painting but a dark mess; it was ugly and it made no sense whatsoever; it was an energetic expression of those dark and primal forces inside; black and white paints were basically just thrown, most strokes were done with my hands and feet rather than with brushes, there was no mind, no urge to create, no desire for beauty, no one to please, no goal and no ego.

The Primal Painting group went ahead, and Meera encouraged me to keep going, to keep playing and exploring, to be myself and be wild.

This first part was soon ending and the Swiss friend I was translating for was not staying for the rest of the training. Meera’s training was in two uneven parts that season, the first one lasting two weeks, and the second lasting six weeks. Part 2 would among other things include water colours, nature painting, self-portrait…

Meera explained that I wouldn’t be able to translate anymore and that she would not take me as a helper for the next major section of the training; the staff was already full and since I had never participated in at least a shorter group of hers, joining the staff was simply impossible. She wanted me to join as a participant. I understood her point, and yet I was clearly not ready to pay for a creativity group. I honestly could not see the point. Yes I was enjoying the process and had fun exploring and painting, but No I didn’t feel that painting was my thing and this idea that I was a born painter was completely removed from anything I could feel or understand.

I told her that I would leave after the Primal Painting part. She told me that No, I could not leave. I told her that I was not a painter and that I was not that interested. She told me that I was a painter and had to keep painting.

The Primal Painting part ended, my Swiss friend left, and there was now a three days break before Meera’s creativity caravan would keep rolling for the next month and half. I was ready to call it a day and an interesting experience and I was completely unwilling to join as a participant. Meera could not take me in her staff for numerous very good reasons and was absolutely not ready to let me go. In the heart of Osho’s garden in Pune, those three days had the flavour of an arm wrestling match.

( part 5 …)

the moment I knew that I would take Sannyas

On January 19th 1993 I entered the Osho Commune in Pune for the very first time. I had been in India since 5 years already, studying at R. Tagore’s University in West Bengal and then travelling around with my backpack and my long dreadlocks in search of the divine. I was a hard-core hippy then and I had never heard of Osho.

One day, on the banks of the marble rocks near Jabalpur, I met an Osho Sannyasin. He took me on a boat under the full moon and seduced me to go to Pune and check it out. I felt finished with India and was reluctant to have any new experiences in this country, but somehow I changed the ticket and went to Pune for 5 days.

Those days I was having recurrent flashbacks and scary out-of-body experiences. I always felt very alone in that.

The commune was in the middle of a huge carnival celebrating Osho’s death, and the place was throbbing when I entered the gateless gate. That night the Buddha Hall was packed as I sat there in the middle of thousands of people for my first meeting of the Osho white robe brotherhood.

There was a juicy band and great dancing. Just before sitting down I suddenly felt myself expand and fill the whole space. I became bigger than the space. I started to feel fear, again. It was another one of those scary experiences that I always tried to suppress and overpower. My heartbeat became faster, I wanted to leave, go for a walk, do something. Just then everyone sat down and a pin drop silence descended. I was still out of my body, fighting what was happening, having flashbacks of those days not so long ago when I was in coma and paralysed in Delhi.

 

As I looked around wondering how I could possibly leave the hall, Osho’s voice came “Close your eyes, be here, feel your body, just go in, and in and in and in”

In that moment, I let go for maybe the first time in my life; I surrendered, dived into His words, and let Him guide me and hold my hand.

When I opened my eyes again, I was back in my body, fear was gone, and love was all around.

Osho was now my master, I would take Sannyas, and the 5 days in Pune would turn into 2 decades.

Those hallucinations never came back.

 

 

 

Early morning dream in Koregaon Park, Pune

Yes, I am back in Koregaon park. I did spend 21 years of my life here, until 2 years ago I got banned from entering Osho’s garden for having reposted on my FB wall an article about the faked Osho Will that the management didn’t like.

Following that event, I went through the shock wave, and then the anger, the pain…

Certainly a lot got processed, much water went through the Ganges since, and in many ways it feels like a story of a past life.

And yet, something still was bugging my heart, something incomplete, something I can never really put a finger on.

Being back in Pune brings up a weird mixture of feelings.

Running through the silent night comes J. His hair is long and unbrushed; he is wearing an old maroon robe. I can feel him climb the stairs, look at the little Osho picture on the door and knock hastily.

I get up and open the door.

“Hi Nirav. I want to apologize for banning you. I was out of my mind. I listened to Osho again recently. He talked about Freedom being the ultimate value; He talked about the creative mind and the rebellious spirit. No! It was not right. Osho would never have approved. Please forgive me, and come back anytime.”

“Wao! Thank you, man, I really appreciate your coming here personally. Please sit down. I’ll make us a coffee.”

“Sorry, I have to go. I still have over 3000 people to visit.”

And off he was again through the night.

The first birds started chirping in the trees outside, the first sunrays made their way through the curtains, my Beloved was still sleeping next to me. Rarely do I remember dreams, but this felt more than a dream. I sat there for a few minutes, in this gap between what had just happened in my heart and my mind trying to figure out if it was real or not.

I went for an early morning walk through the still beautiful lanes of Koregaon Park, enjoying a lightness I had not experienced in a long time.

It was a dream. And it was real. And given the choice, I would dismiss the dream and remember whatever felt real.

Maybe this short trip back to Pune had hidden treasures that I would never have suspected. Maybe  the real treasure was the remembering of a simple dream.

Pune, March 16th 2017

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