For the many friends who have asked, here I am reposting this story in chronological order.
Part 1- Osho’s death
My childhood was a long and very tough experience of abandonment. But I didn’t know that. Not then. I found out later. Much later. When it was all over.
On January 19th 1990 I was in the midst of my hippy life. I was living on the seaside port town of Mahaballipuram in south India, renting a room for 90 rupees a week that included 2 idlis, plenty of sambar and a cup of coffee for breakfast every morning.
I had been living in Calcutta and studying at R. Tagore’s Shantiniketan University in West Bengal for 4 years. I was now touring India with my guitar and a budget of 50 rupees a day (less than a dollar), smoking lots of chillums and wearing just a black sarong around my waist. I had long henna-red dreadlocks and I was in search of the divine. But I didn’t know that. Not yet!
I had never met any Guru, never heard about Osho. I was completely alone and on my own. I was pretty lost and confused. But of course I didn’t know that either.
On the afternoon of January 19th 1990, an Israeli guy knocked at my door. He was selling Dragons! LSD. I had never taken such drugs and had no idea what it was about. That was never part of my world and I had only vaguely heard the name.
It all happened very fast. He sold me a piece of paper for 40 rupees and left. I did as instructed and ate it. It was about 5 pm and I did what I did every day; I walked to a little hill nearby where the few hippies in town would gather every night to watch the sunset. I climbed on top of my favourite rock as the sun was setting…and that sunset was flashing colours like never before. It was intense, amazing, and extraordinary in many ways- but I also started feeling overwhelmed. I climbed down both grateful for the experience but clearly wanting it to stop. I didn’t know then that the trip had actually just started, that it would last for days, and that I would only miraculously survive that night.
That night was going to be the longest, darkest yet most colourful night I have ever lived in 50 years.
Only a couple years ago, uncovering my diaries from those days, did I find out that Osho (who would 3 years later become my master, take me by the hand and save and transform my life for ever) had left his body that very night.
How those two events are related is a mystery that I keep close to my heart.
Part 2- Finding home
In January 1993, I found myself in Marble Rocks near Jabalpur in the very centre of India. Following another close encounter with death in Delhi, where I ended up in coma, paralyzed and finally on an emergency plane to France accompanied by the French Embassy, I had just spent the last couple of years recovering in my own unique ways. I had been living naked in caves on the canary Island of Gomera and in black Africa, had been travelling 6 months around New Zealand with my gorgeous kiwi girlfriend, and was just back in India.
But I felt that this hippy life wasn’t working anymore. I felt fed up. I could not bear the noise. The dirt started to disgust me.
I had experienced India as a member of a Bengali family, had learned the language and had had a great and immensely rich life in Calcutta. My few hippy years during which I travelled the country on 3rd class trains and local buses in every direction imaginable and discovered the most incredible places had left me with a sense of gratitude and fulfilment. I had been to the bottom of what I could experience there and my immune system collapsing so completely that I had to be escorted out in such a dire state was a sign that it was time to move on.
I decided to call it a beautiful story and jump into something new. We bought tickets leaving Jabalpur to Bombay and out of India forever. We still had a couple of days to hang out there and we met Nirdosh. He was a sannyasin and told us how his master Osho was born here and loved to hang out by this very river. He took us on a boat that full moon night in marble rocks. He transpired an unusual fragrance. Something about him was calling. He showed us a beautiful book of pictures from Osho’s ashram in Pune and explained that in just a few days there would be a huge carnival celebrating the death of his master. He suggested we stopped there on our way to Bombay. I was reluctant to have any more experiences in this country, but somehow, we changed the plan slightly to spend 5 days in Pune on our way out, and it was to be out forever!
And so on January 19th 1993, in the wee hours of the morning we got out of the train in Pune and made our way to the Osho Ashram having no idea who this Osho is and what to expect.
When I entered the “gateless gate” as it was then called, all my ideas vanished instantly. I knew I had finally found what I had been looking for. I knew I would stay here more than 5 days and that my life would see twists and turns, depths and highs, colours and forms that I would not even begin to comprehend. I ended up spending 21 years in Pune.
Part 3- Leaving home
On january 19th 2013, after exactly 21 years in Osho’s garden, I left Pune for the very last time.
The last few months had been tough. A separation had left me so totally heartbroken and devastated that after a couple of months alone in the Himalayas crying my guts out and touching depths of despair I didn’t know existed, I had come back to Pune to look for support.
I had been through all the therapies imaginable for so many years, many of them very intense and life changing. But one process I had strangely always left out, and suddenly while in the mountains the pull had come. And so I booked “The path of Love”.
I arrived in Pune a week before the start of the group. I was so raw in my heart, had hardly slept in weeks and was on an edge that both scared and excited me at the same time. I knew I had no choice but keep moving in those new places inside where my feet would not touch the ground anymore and where all I knew made less and less sense.
If, as I always felt, doing the right group means doing the right group at the right time, then certainly I was ready and ripe like a mango falling from the tree at the sound of the breeze coming.
“The Path of Love” is a fascinating process and in my experience one that has really the potential to transform someone’s life and create life changing breakthroughs. At least it was so for me. As I came out, I had the choice to let what had just happened integrate -and I was aware that it could well take years- or almost immediately jump into “Men and Women on the Path of Love”, an advanced group for people who have already done the process. I jumped in.
What happened in there is hard to describe. It certainly happened by grace only and could have happened anywhere, anytime, and most likely it could have never happened at all. Why it happened in there is pure coincidence. I have had quite a few Satori and spiritual experiences along my journey; they all enriched my life in some way, and all were part of the unfolding of consciousness. What happened in there is radically different. Something broke. Vanished forever.
I felt completely reborn, yet not complete. Integrating what had happened would take time and in many ways rewiring is still happening to this day.
A few days later, on January 19th, exactly 21 years after I first entered Osho’s Ashram, I walked in. I had an entry sticker valid for one more week and had paid my room till the end of the month. Osho’s didn’t entertain a carnival any more, a resort had replaced the ashram, and the place had changed dramatically over the years. But what really struck me as I walked around, is the transformation that this body mind organism called Nirav had gone through. What a journey it had been!
I was on my way to the auditorium to sit in a meditation; but instead I watched my body slowly walk out, take the back gate street, enter the travel agency, book a bus ticket to Goa for that very same evening, go to the room, pack all the luggage and make it to the station.
The next morning I arrived in Goa.
Part 4 – Free falling
I sometimes wonder if part 4 really had to happen. I sometimes also wonder if it isn’t the most significant part of all.
In January 2015 I flew directly to Pune from Europe. I had for the first time in 30 years gone back to France in the middle of winter just to spend New Year with my aging parents. It was a long trip back and forth for just a few days, but it felt right and my heart was fulfilled.
I had planned to be in Pune for 3 weeks. I had a room booked and after a day chilling out I made my way to the welcome centre of Osho’s resort. I was contemplating the reasons why I came back again, what this place still had to offer, why I could not just leave Pune and Osho behind and move on. But I had a good reason to be here, I thought, as I was supposed to be part of the staff for the “Path of Love”, a process that had been such a gem for me.
Like I had done hundreds of times before, I sat at the welcome centre with someone in charge of registration. I was as usual a bit impatient to get in, wondering who of my old friends was here, but as soon as my name was entered in the computer lights started flashing. I could see that something strange was happening. The person in charge told me that he was not sure what it was -probably a mistake- but I needed to wait until someone from the “response team” arrives.
I waited an hour and found out that I was banned. There are a lot of politics and power games at play with such a place, and I never got involved. But a few months back I had reposted on my Facebook wall an article by a friend that exposed the current management in ways that I judged interesting for my friends to read and make their own minds. This was apparently not appreciated by those in charge and in power.
The “meeting” lasted 3 minutes. I was told that they have people checking what goes on on Facebook, and that since I obviously didn’t like “them”, I was banned. I could collect my passport and leave the premises.
And so, on January 19th again, 2015 this time, I found myself on the street in front of what had been my home for 21 years, in complete shock.
The next few days were tough. That very night I was close to be admitted to the hospital for what ended up being “only” a panic attack.
There are many angles to what happened then, and in many ways I am cutting a long and ugly story short and picking up the diamond hidden in its midst. Let it be this way.
All I am taking with me is Osho’s hand closing the gate in front of me and whispering in my ear that when a door closes a bigger door is about to open.
Two years have now passed since that gate in Pune closed in front of me, and other doors have indeed opened – bigger doors, new openings, mysterious ways into the unknowable. Love and Freedom free falling into grace.
Osho gave me another kick that day. He took my golden cage away and set me free.
Time had come to fly and share my taste of the divine.