Cactus

- A Fragrance Not of This World
- A Silent Revolution
- Beyond Boredom - Early Memories
- Creating the World I Want to Live in
- Growing Up or Growing Old?
- Heaven and Hell
- How I Became a Drummer
- My Master and Me
- Still Here


A FRAGRANCE NOT OF THIS WORLD

Being a sannyasin has been a process of learning to trust myself. My intrinsic tendency to reject rules and regulations and instead trust my own judgement received much confirmation in the world of Osho. Spending time in meditation, doing Osho’s active meditations and listening to his words has helped to uncover this inner voice, my own sense of direction.

Meditation strengthens this space of knowing. Whereas trying to reach a decision through thinking usually just puts me into a state of confusion. I took great pleasure learning how to read tarot cards, to use a pendulum and go on dream journeys to explore the unconscious parts of myself. These tools have helped me along the way and I still use them as a means of self-exploration. Although I have developed a better sense of just knowing, tarot cards can still show me facets of an issue that I had not seen before.

I also use tarot cards to help other people to get a better understanding of their inner world and to make decisions that are closer to their own inner truth. By doing this work I am strengthening my inner sense of knowing, of being an open space for the universe to come through. Giving readings I rest in this intimate space of love and mutual sharing, a space I would like to live from generally.

Aloneness, quiet time with myself, cooking, folding laundry, washing dishes, all this strengthens my being inside of myself. My favorite is the quiet time I spend in our back yard. Surrounded by birds, resting in the shade of our beautiful peach tree I connect with the universe, feel loved and know that there is nothing to achieve.

Where I get in trouble is with my significant other or friends. I find it hard to stay conscious. I get lost in the process of communication. I try to please; I compromise and find it difficult to say no when I need to. I fight over words, concepts and become a robot where you can push a button und you get a standard emotional response.

When I notice that I lost contact with source, because I feel lousy, drained and disconnected from my own body, all that I need to do is give up the desire to be heard, understood or to be right. Then I turn around and enter my inner garden, where I am always welcome and loved, where nothing is ever achieved and nothing is lost and I drop my demands that the other person should behave in a certain way.

Looking at it from the other side, the demands of close friends on me confuse my inner compass. It is hard to stay in my flow when my significant other expects me to go along with his flow. How do I know that it is not only my ego making demands to stay separate? How do I know that it is not my friend’s deluded mind that makes requests on me? The plain answer is: I don’t know and there are no rules and there is every possibility of getting it wrong. All I can do is be present in the situation with the other and trust whatever I feel.

But there have been times when I did not want to notice, when I was too invested in achieving a certain outcome, when I compromised who I was for the sake of peace or recognition. This led to quite unpleasant situations. My learning is that even if it looks like a compromise will buy you peace, safety or just a good time with somebody you love, it never pays off. One compromise leads to another and what would have been a small difficulty can turn into a nightmare.

So my suggestion to others and myself is to be true to whatever self you can find inside yourself. It may not be the purity of your soul, it may just be a stupid ego, but it’s better to work with what you feel inside than to rely on somebody else’s judgment. You may be considered being difficult, it may cost you some friends, but it will help you to get in touch with yourself and will help your inner growth. With every decision you make on your own you learn how to trust yourself more, you notice how it feels when you follow your truth and how it feels when you go astray. I learnt not to avoid confrontation, to stand up for myself. Being myself is more important than fitting in.

And that brings me back to the beginning: Meditation is that tool that cuts through all those lies that keep us imprisoned in darkness.

“There is no greater power than trusting oneself – its fragrance is not of this world; peace, bliss and truth flow from this fragrance. He who trusts himself is in heaven and he who mistrusts himself holds the keys of hell in his hands….” from: A cup of tea, # 116, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, March 1980

Published in Viha Connection Magazine, September/October 2010

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A SILENT REVOLUTION

My rebellion has been a quiet one. I looked at what society had to offer and did not find it worth my life. Working a 9 to 5 job, marrying, having kids and retiring at 65 was not my thing. I wanted to live a life of my own making. I saw the misery of my parents who were holding on to a troubled marriage and their dream of getting rich. I surely did not want to follow their example.

So I escaped the boring routines of a secure job that would support me till retirement and beyond. I rebelled against the dictates of religion, morality, money, career, family values and respectability. I chose an occupation that I loved in spite of the financial insecurity that it brought along. I rejected the notion that money was more important than fun. I created my own life, expressing and creating it on the go. My biggest fear kept me going: the fear of dying without ever having lived.

I don’t know how it happened that my education was not able to fully destroy my intelligence. At the age of 14, after endless discussions with my religion teacher I left the catholic faith, as I could not find anything valuable in their dogmas and beliefs. At the age of 16 I discovered that sex was not a sin, but very natural and enjoyable. At 27 years old I left my secure, respectable and well paid corporate job and opted for a life of dance, insecurity and little money. When I turned 28 I took sannyas in spite of the prospect of going to hell and further cementing my role as a society drop out. Running around in red and with the picture of an Indian guru around my neck was the ultimate rebellion and disqualified me from ever having an ordinary life again.

All these events happened organically and quickly. Oslo’s love and charisma overruled my fearful mind and strengthened the part of me that wanted to be myself and intensely so. I felt supported by a wave of universal love and by my connection with other fellow travelers.

When Osho left his body I felt devastated, orphaned at an early age and immensely grateful for the taste of meditation that I had received. But the momentum and impact that Osho’s presence had on me and others gradually diminished. This powerful wave that had built to wake up humanity and had pushed me to stand up seemed to dissipate. I, too, started to blend in again. Without wearing red cloths, there was only my strange name left and people started viewing me as normal again.

After 15 years in the business, teaching dance became routine and less exciting. Then the German reunification happened and my chosen city of Berlin lost her special status and attractiveness for dropouts like me. Looking for something new I followed my Poona sweetheart to Los Angeles and American immigration laws forced me to marry in spite of my aversion to commitments. Financial insecurity and hope made me cling to this marriage that had shattered from the very start. Looking back at this time I don’t see much to be proud of, except for my trust in Osho and the desire to share his meditations with others.

But no matter what events occurred in my life, the main shift had already happened: the shift from outside values and aspirations to the search for an inner treasure that would last. Supported by the most effective meditation technique – the dynamic meditation - I had started to walk on the path of self-awareness, attempting to navigate my life not through obsessive thinking but with awareness.

Nowadays when I meditate, play music, dance and enjoy nature I am less in my thoughts, more in a state of enjoyment… There is much sweetness in getting to know myself as presence and as part of a loving universe. Osho is still a bridge that I can travel whenever I feel the need for his inspiration.

But there are also bad days… When the desire to achieve comes in, my bliss is gone. Recently I was trying to organize a workshop with the idea that lots of people should show up. I put in much energy, posting on social media, revamping my website, talking to people and in the end it was a fun, but very small workshop. The idea to force a certain result brought in tension and anxiety and took away the playful anticipation of doing something that I love. I have heard many times that desire creates misery, but this time I understood it on a personal level.

Or take my desire to be in a happy relationship, my longing to be rescued and protected from the challenges of life by prince charming left me again and again heartbroken, broke and alone. Looking at it with a clear mind my longing for slavery and co-dependency is hilariously funny. Only in the context of a society that conditions girls from an early age to regard marriage as the main event of life, can I understand my behavior and forgive myself.

But in spite of falling into the usual traps, I feel myself growing and becoming more integrated and less likely to comply with societal standards. I also remind myself that making mistakes is part of the learning process. As long as I pick myself up again and start moving according to my inner compass, I’m on my way home.

And then there are all these small things that feel right and are almost an expression of rebellion in a society like ours. Spending an evening painting, writing, singing or playing music instead of watching television. Wearing cloths that I like, in a style that suits me instead of following every whim of fashion. Cutting my nails and hair myself and skipping the nail polish altogether saves me time. Cooking healthful, organic meals every day instead of eating out saves money and gives me pleasure. And when I meet with friends for meditation or listen to one of Osho’s discourses I feel like living in another universe, removed from society and very real.

I’m sure there must be thousands others like me who never stopped after having been touched by the divine beauty of the master. Some share their experiences and insights in workshops and it is refreshing to be around them. Some must be going about their ordinary lives and touch others with their original way of being.

It is a silent revolution, unknown to the powers that conspired to destroy Osho and his movement and I’m sure flowers will bloom one by one in their own time. Osho invited us to trust ourselves, to trust our own divine connection, instead of relying on priests and politicians. He exposed the lies and deceptions of society, he showed us how our minds have been trained to obey, to fit in and to make us part of a crowd of gullible sheep.

Walking alone, trusting the guidance of my inner compass, I can feel my connection with an ever-evolving universe of consciousness and love. I enjoy the sweetness and bliss that arises when I touch my inner silence. A silent revolution keeps unfolding.

Published in VIHA Connection Mai/Juni 2019

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BEYOND BOREDOM - EARLY MEMORIES

Living room

I grew up in the living room of my parents’ apartment. I shared my space with the dining table and a movable TV set. I was sleeping on a couch that we opened up in the evening. Every morning I put my bedding in the tray underneath the couch, leaving no trace behind. My father smoked as long as I can remember. Years later my mother started smoking, too. After dinner they smoked, drank tea with rum and watched TV. The apartment also had a kids’ room, which was occupied by my two brothers. My elder brother did not like me. I had no place to go. To this day I hate TV.

School

I went to school 8 months earlier than most other kids. I had been looking forward to it. I was eager to learn, to know, to get out of the house and be with other kids. There had been no kindergarten for me, since my mother had stopped working to take care of us kids. School turned out to be rather disappointing. Sitting for hours listening to the teacher felt like torture. I had always loved to move, dance, talk and do things. But there was little of that. My teachers would complain that I raised my hands too often and that I participated too much. In high school the boredom of school was hardly bearable. For 8 long years I was sitting in the same classroom from 8 in the morning to 2 or 3 in the afternoon, listening to the same set of teachers with only a cheese sandwich for lunch and getting very hungry in the afternoons. In the last year before graduation our class had shrunk to only 9 girls and none of them was my friend. When I graduated it was like coming out of a coma. The joy of being in charge of my life gradually spread through my being and slowly melted the armor around my emotions.

Office

It is spring 1984 and I am on my way to my office job in Vienna. Sitting in the metro on this early morning I make the long contemplated decision to finally quit my utterly boring office job. I had been thinking about this step for several months, but never gathering enough courage to act according to my inner reality. I dreaded to let go of the security of my well-paid job, and yet I wanted to dance, live and be free and hang out with inspiring dancers and musicians. I was done with my colleagues who were spending their lives counting the days until retirement. I had enough of typing letters and answering phone calls for my boss. I just was not interested in the ins and outs of the Austrian petroleum industry. I knew I did not want to live hidden away in an office. It was a matter of survival for me. Sitting in the metro, listening to the sound of the trains metal wheels scratching against metal, something inside told me that I was ready to take the jump. It had to be done or my dream of freedom would weigh me down "like a heavy load"(Hughes). Today was the day to give notice to my boss.

After I had quit my job I remember listening to American jazz pop on my walkman whenever I was going to places. The walkman helped me to escape the terrifying fear of not knowing what would come next. I had no plan how to earn a living, what exactly to do with my life and my fears threatened to crush me. The music kept me sane and helped me feel the part of my soul that rejoiced and confirmed that I was on the right path.

Jumping out of security is a great way to escape boredom. The financial insecurity of being self-employed turns life into an adventure; it woke me up and forced me to live in present time. Living as an independent dance and drumming teacher taught me to trust my instincts, to go with what feels right and exciting. Acting according to the whisperings of that small inner voice in spite of the fear is part of the existential learning process, the Tao. Insecurity is a must. Learning is not possible in the security of a dull life. Following the soul's desires and dreams one starts to flower and grow. No possibility of fulfillment without risking the known. The routine of repeating the safe and narrow is the death of creativity. Boredom embraces those who don't have the courage to step outside a life lived at the conveyor belt.

The slavery of a modern day working day does not allow the freedom to follow the stirrings of the soul. Working in an office for 8 to 10 hours, five days a week did not leave me with much creative energy to spend. I needed "The heart, the guardian of intuition with its secret, often fearful intentions"… [to be] "the boss" (Hampl, 102) of my life's adventure and not the 9 to 6 schedule of somebody else's enterprise.

Meditation

Beyond escaping a boring office routine and opting for a life of dancing there was another motivation for my action. Basically I had grown up amongst unhappy and unfulfilled people. My father lived with my mother without much love; my mother stayed with an unloving husband because she was financially and emotionally dependent. His life revolved around making money as a salesman, her life revolved around raising children. That's what most people did: earning a living, having a family, looking forward to a vacation once or twice a year and to retirement - and death, I would add. How I dreaded to live like this and die without having lived.

But there were these rare moments strewn into my years of growing up. Walking to high school in the warmth of spring I felt inexplicable joy welling up in me without any reason. Sitting in a classical piano concert I felt a breeze of aliveness touching me and warming my heart. Sometimes in the midst of a dance routine I would enter this space of merging, disappearing and observing. I could sense another dimension of life that nobody around me ever talked about or seemed to know.

A dance teacher from Los Angeles whom I met at a dance workshop in my mid-twenties was the first person that seemed to be familiar with this other dimension. I could see it in her dance and sense it in her being. Although I did not know what it was, I felt pulled to take all her classes and imbibe her spirit.

In a way I quit my job because of her. I wanted to be able to take her three-week workshop and dance with her every morning. And so I did and got rewarded by spending most of the summer dancing with her and other fellow dancers and living a life of joy and freedom. I ended up following the drummer who accompanied her African dance workshops to Berlin and making this city my home for the next 15 years. It was in Berlin where I found an answer to my questions about the deeper meaning of life. I found meditation, the art of consciously entering the present moment, the art of dropping doing, of watching and allowing things to unfold.

Meditation is often misunderstood as concentration, as a guided journey or more general as an Eastern concept that we in the West don’t really need. In my understanding meditation is the art of observing what is without getting identified with it and without judging it. Ultimately thoughts subside and the watcher becomes aware of himself. Many meditation techniques are available. Vipassana or Zazen, are the most direct approaches of just watching the breath going into the body and leaving it again. Focusing on the breath, I don’t allow thoughts to kidnap my attention; instead I watch the thoughts and bring my focus back to observing the breath. It sounds simple, and is simple, but it was rather impossible to accomplish when I tried it the first time. Somehow thoughts always won. They dragged me back into mental discussions with a friend, preparation of the next meal or wondering why I had so little connection with my mother. They left me unconscious of myself and where I was and I only noticed it minutes later. I obviously was not in charge of my doing, if I could not even do such a simple exercise. It took me several months of practicing every day till I finally got a glimpse. I was sitting quietly and thoughts were running through my head as usual, but I did not get carried away. I was just watching and suddenly I found myself immersed in a wave of blissful energy.

Meditation was the answer to my inquiry for a meaningful life - a life beyond boredom. Even teaching dance eventually became too much of a routine for me and I had to develop and express other sides of myself. But meditation remained the thread that is connecting me with my heart, soul and voice. Staying true to my callings in each moment is the practice. Not needing to know what the next step will be, but allowing myself to be “like the tail on a kite” (King, 50), a kite that is blown by the winds of existence. Trusting life - as it always gives me what I need on my way home. Learning to live like water that “[u]nlike mountains cannot be powdered down or broken apart” (Chang, 179). Transforming my fear of failure into excitement of living along the way.

Essay written for an English College Class

Works Cited

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho). “Ecstasy – the Forgotten Language, Discourses on Songs of Kabir”. Bombay: Rajneesh Foundation. 1978. Print. Chang, Lan Samantha. “Water Names”. Dreams and Inward Journeys, Eight Edition, Marjorie Ford, Jon Ford. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print. Hampl, Patricia. “Memory and Imagination”. Dreams and Inward Journeys, Eight Edition, Marjorie Ford, Jon Ford. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print. Hughes, Langston. “A Dream Deferred”. Langston Hughes homepage. 25 June 1996. Web. 24 April 2013. Stephen King. “The Symbolic Language of Dreams”. Interview by Naomi Epel. Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. 133-143. Print.

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CREATING THE WORLD I WANT TO LIVE IN

I started ballet when I was nine years old. My ballet teacher was an impressive man: tall and beautiful, all the girls admired and fancied him. And he liked the girls. Once, when I was about 12 years old, he asked me to come to the class early. I was so excited and proud and figured he would give me some private instructions. Well, the instructions I received were of a different nature than I had expected. Nothing major happened, but it was enough to destroy my admiration and trust. I did not talk to anyone about this as my parents would have stopped the classes and I wanted to learn ballet.

A few years later I got a chance to stand up for myself. One day, my ballet teacher was in such a good mood that he was jovially hitting each girl at the beginning of a certain exercise. When it was my turn to start and he gave me that hit, I hit him back. I hadn’t intended to – it was a happening. He hit me on the shoulder; I hit him back in the face. This time he didn’t say a word, he just sat down quietly for the rest of the class. I felt proud of myself. I had discovered some courage inside of me.

Years later, I had just graduated from the University of Economics in Vienna and was working fulltime as a secretary for the general manager of the state-owned petroleum company of Austria. I was earning a lot of money – by my standards. I had grown up in a poor working-class family, where the lack of money had always been the number-one issue. I had been the first one of my family to go to college, and now I had this very secure, very well-paid job, and I felt utterly miserable – as if my wings had been clipped. My heart yearned to go out into the sun; my whole being rebelled against the idea of spending my life in the confinement of an old-fashioned office. I wanted to dance. I wanted to live.

My training in classical ballet and jazz dance had not made me an outstanding dancer. And now, at 27, it was much too late for a dance career anyway. But my heart knew nothing about my age; my heart wanted to dance. While working in the office, I had always felt that there must be more to life than waiting for another working day to be finished; more than marrying, having kids, and waiting for retirement. I tried to talk with my family, friends, and colleagues about this. Everybody told me to keep my job and promised that my yearnings would go away as I got older. But I knew that if I kept this job, I would never get that old. So one morning, without telling anybody, without having planned my future in any way, I decided to quit. I went to my boss and told him that I needed to quit my job and start my dance career. I could see in his eyes that he considered me completely nuts. That’s when my dream of becoming a respected member of society dropped and my life started.

I became Osho’s sannyasin, and a dance teacher, and went on my soul-searching journey. What an exciting life. No regrets! Going to the Ranch, doing Dynamic Meditation for six months without missing a day… Making a living as a dance teacher, never knowing how many people would come to the class and if I would be able to pay for my rent… So much joy, so much insecurity. What an experience, to go through the streets of Berlin in a red robe and with a mala around my neck, not being able to hide amongst the other sheep any more. What a relief, what freedom!

I don’t fight against society; I fight for the freedom to live according to my own insights. Because I am an artist, people don’t expect me to be “normal.” Artists don’t need to follow the rules. People put you in a different box: You are allowed to be different because you bring color into their lives. I don’t feel I can change society. Instead, I create my own world and my own rules within the boundaries of my courses, workshops, and meditations; in my dance and my songs; with friends and while alone.

When I am clear about what I want and go for my truth – wherever it takes me – I find that people sense my sincerity and are supportive. Even those who don’t have the courage to follow their own yearnings seem to recognize my baby steps toward becoming an individual. And sometimes it’s contagious. I create a space for people to do Dynamic, to dance or drum, and to get into their own power. This sometimes gives them the extra energy and trust needed to make a change – to quit a job, or to leave a suppressive partner – and to start living.

I avoid people I don’t care for. I don’t do business with people I don’t like. There are so many wonderful people in the world – if I have a choice, why should I deal with people who are unpleasant? I find that I have a choice most of the time. I do speak up and engage myself when I see that it’s possible to change a situation, and when I feel a person has enough openness to understand me.

Living and telling my truth sometimes has an explosive effect on situations and relationships. It scares me. As a Libra, I prefer harmony to confrontation, and of course I want to be loved and appreciated. But with my love for truth, and a chart with Pluto rising, I have created painful situations for myself on more than one occasion.

Once I got kicked out of a percussion band because I had Osho’s picture on the wall, and I didn’t want to eat out of the same bowl as everybody else. Well, stupid people, you would say, but it hurt because I loved the music we played.
I have a tendency to eat different foods from most people – sometimes vegetarian, sometimes organic – and I don't drink alcohol or coffee. This seems to have the power to create a gap between me and others. I can’t quite explain it. It’s not logical, since I don’t try to convince anybody else to follow my example. But having a coffee or a beer together, or eating the same foods, seems to be one of those modern-day rituals that make you part of society.

Being honest can create turmoil and shifts that surprise me – and everybody else. When I was a new, enthusiastic sannyasin in Berlin, my lover was a therapist in a live-in massage therapy project. As his girlfriend, I often listened to the therapists talking among themselves, and I noticed some dishonesty in the crew toward the woman who was financing the project. At the next meeting I confronted the crew leader in front of all the crew and students. I stated my observations, without judging and without blaming. I just sat there, breathing into my heart, and spoke my truth. She did not deny it. This single action led to the voluntary closure of the project. Of course, this is not the way of the “normal” society. This is Osho’s world, where people are ready to change and grow.

And sometimes things are pleasant and easy, where I expected trouble. One day while I was living at the Ranch, I was sitting on the bus on my way to work when the bus took a different direction and went to Mandir – where Osho was going to speak. So I decided to listen to Osho instead of going to my shift. Miraculously, nobody objected when I arrived at my work. In fact, the rules for workers attending discourse were changed the very next day.

As I said, I am not a great revolutionary. I just try to be as honest and truthful with myself and others as I can be. I still like to avoid confrontation – it often feels like it’s not worth the trouble. Also, today’s methods of enslavement are no longer so brutal; they are subtler, using social conditioning and the media instead of force. Still, it takes intelligence and alertness to escape these influences. It takes courage and the overcoming of survival fears to live in my own way. In a world that has forgotten the language of the heart, to follow my creative, spontaneous energy without knowing where it will lead is rebelliousness.

In my workshops and performances I can create a space of love and harmony, of expression and listening. I can create the world I want to live in. I can share the precious gifts that I have received from Osho. I can teach people to trust and express their creative energy, with awareness and love for each other. I can lead groups in such a way that no group leader is needed anymore.

Going into the silence of my heart is the key that leads me through darkness and fear. Finding inner peace in meditation creates an invisible gown that protects me from the madness of the world. Meditation gives me the trust and the power needed to stand up for this incredible, bubbling, ever-changing, creative flux of energy called my life.

Published in Viha Connection Magazine in 2004

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GROWING UP OR GROWING OLD?

For me, the main blessing of getting older has been the gradual disappearance of a future. No more dreams of becoming rich, successful, and admired. No more hope for a perfect mate, the perfect house, the big stage. At 63 years of age my future has shrunk considerably, and even I can see the futility of preparing for it. What is left is my life right here, right now, and I am enjoying it immensely – with all challenges included. Facing a disappearing future, I cannot afford to postpone decisions, to procrastinate, play it safe, be nice to everybody, and avoid doing what I need to do. There is no more time left to take the needs and wants of everybody else into consideration and put myself last, no more time to spend waiting for approval. I finally give myself permission to be selfish and do what I feel drawn to do in spite of my usual fears and doubts.

This is the right time to embrace life as it is and the person I have become. It is the right time to celebrate the freedom I have in so many aspects of my life: no relationship to tie me down, no 9-to-5 job to make life boring. By embracing and cherishing myself and this life of mine I even relinquish the need to blame others, as I am always the main actor in my game.

Having lived so many years in this body I am quite familiar with the ups and downs of life and the cycles of becoming and dissolving. Looking back, it does not seem to matter much whether I reached my goals or not; now they are just memories, all the same: sand castles swept away by the waves of time. Life is indeed a fleeting dream: Sex, relationships, success, power, even misery...it all dissolves as if it never happened.

The old, existential questions that I used to ponder as a teenager came back with a new urgency: What is real? What matters? Is there anything that has value in the face of death?

These questions are taking center stage now and demand an existential answer, not a philosophical exploration; and the usual distractions don’t work anymore.

So what matters?

It is the silence when the mind loosens its grip, the joy when I just let myself be who I am, the relaxation when I accept reality, and the gratitude I feel for being alive. What matters is the ecstasy when emptiness meets emptiness while meditating with others and the laughter that arises when my questioning mind finally stops – for a moment or two.

I always thought that I would become more mature and settled with age. No, not at all! My need to move, explore, dance, and do new things seems to be getting stronger – in spite of some aches and pains and physical limitations. The more I connect with divine source in meditation, the more I allow myself to be the way I am, the more energy I have available to play, work, and celebrate. I feel like I’m at the beginning of a new chapter and am curious to find out what’s up next. And that’s a good thing.

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HEAVEN AND HELL

I was in my twenties when an astrologer told me that I had to be re-born in this life. When I met Osho, this started to make more sense. I noticed that I was out of touch with myself. I could not really tell what my being wanted and what others had put into me. Doing Osho’s active meditations I went from feeling fragmented and split to feeling more whole and at ease. I was rediscovering parts of myself that had gone missing and discarding ideas that were not really mine. I started to reclaim my inner child, my sensitivity, my anger, sadness, and I connected with my intrinsic sense of knowing.

In those first years of meditation there was this hope I could become somebody more perfect, somebody without wounds and crippling conditionings; somebody free, powerful, and successful. The enthusiasm and intense energy around Osho and His commune was so uplifting that I could be more myself, more of this curious and alive energy. I became more daring, trusted what life had in stock for me, and was less concerned with security and fitting in. I was in the middle of my first Saturn return, discarding everything that was not truly me and feeling protected by Osho's energy.

Then experiences of failure, physical limitations, unfulfilled love desires, and Osho's physical death brought some doubts into my magical kingdom of unending blissfulness and gave rise to the all-too-familiar desire to overcome any future obstacles and to control life. One of the traumatic experiences of this time was to be in love with somebody unavailable. I could not express this love energy, nor could I ignore it. Sitting on it, I became more and more gloomy. Meditation would not help, not even Dynamic, and finally I had an accident. The accident was a tragedy for me as a dance teacher, but also a relief as it ended my depression and brought me back to myself. I had to wear a cast and could not work for a while. But mostly my image of myself as a sannyasin was shattered: No higher powers had saved me. My unconsciousness was exposed, and I felt a bit ashamed.

On the positive side, the experience of this accident stopped my habit of running after unavailable men. I started to value myself more and focused on my own dreams. But a bit of innocence was lost, too. Now I wanted to be somebody special, somebody men would run after.

In short, a new, more ambitious ego was born with its dreams of power and a more fulfilling life somewhere in the future. Fear, worries, and limiting thoughts arise as byproducts of a mind running the show. Each desire to succeed brings the dread of failure. The desire to look good and be the center of attention brings stage fright and the suspicion of never being good enough. This cripples the spontaneous flow of life energy in all its forms of expression. Excessively thinking about strategies of success and protection against the pitfalls of life, I lose contact with alive presence and exhaust my energies. When I allow this mind of mine to run the show, much is wrong and unfulfilled and so little time left to finally get it right. I slowly sink into dark spaces of despair, distrust, ambition, and fear.

Coming back into my heart I am excited and happy with life as it is, full of creativity and love. I feel like a child in a wondrous land, enjoying myself. It's a peaceful place and does not need much. Being with Osho has brought much joy and easiness to my being. It has melted away much of my general distrust in life and in people. A taste of blissfulness lingers in ordinary moments. When challenges arise old habits tend to come back: I become more controlling, and think I can do it all by myself. I believe it’s just a matter of improving my skills, my thoughts, my outer experience.

Do you know the story of Heaven and Hell? It's one of the old Osho tarot cards and tells how by becoming unconscious we create hell right here, right now. It's our own choice.

I find that meditation helps to get me out of insanity. Meditation brings light into my darkness. It quiets my mind and allows me to just be. There is only one problem with it: I actually have to do it and do it regularly. It's not a once-in-a-while thing, it needs continuity. It's like a living plant. If you stop watering it for a few days, the leaves start looking ugly.

So once again I had to drag myself out of my own turmoil and find my way back to clarity and a regular morning meditation. This time it's yoga and Vipassana. It feels wonderful!

The question is: Will I be able to stick with my routine in the turmoil of my life and the next full moon? It's easy at new moon, when I am rational, systematic, and focused, and my life is in order. Somehow things get a little messy as the moon progresses, and I don't really notice the point when I am abandoning my early morning meditation once again...

Published in Viha Connection Magazine, January/February 2012

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HOW I BECAME A DRUMMER

When I was in my mid-twenties I attended a weeklong dance festival in Vienna. My favorite dance teacher was from Los Angeles. She taught Jazz Dance and African Dance. One of her classes was accompanied by live drumming. I think this was the first time I was exposed to live, ethnic drumming and I immediately fell in love with the energy and sound of the drums; and also with the drummer. I bought a Conga drum from him and started jamming.

Some time later I attended my first drumming workshop. It was supposedly for beginning drummers, but most students already had some experience. I had a hard time following the instructions and when I finally thought I got it and was playing with more confidence everybody else stopped. I obviously had not been able to merge with the beat that the other players had established. I did not understand what I could do better and this workshop remained quite an unpleasant experience for me.

Later in Berlin I signed up for a weekly course of Conga drumming. This worked out better as everybody in the group was new to drumming and it was easy for me to follow, but the class was quite boring. The instructor was extremely thorough and we spent about 30 minutes at the beginning of each class just working on sounds. So I dropped the class and continued to play on my own. I developed my own rhythms, discovered the “hand-to-hand” system, walking my hands in a continuous fashion to keep my beat steady. Improvising on my own was fun, but then I reached a point where I felt I needed input from an experienced drumming teacher. I eventually found a class for African djembe drumming and something clicked inside of me. This was neither boring nor complicated. The instructor played the most superb rhythms and we just copied him and played along. It was great fun and at times I completely dropped out of my thinking mind and was just present with the feeling and the sound of drumming. I felt the power in those rhythms. They were a transforming force for me, connecting me with my own wild energy.

After some time it started to disturb me that I did not really know what I was drumming. I could not remember the rhythms and with my lack of musical education I was not able to write them down either and consequently was not able to play them by myself. I just played along in the class and did not feel I was making real progress.

Then I met Stefan Gluecklich. He had studied with many African djembe players and had also spent time in Africa. Moreover he was trained in mathematics and had a very logical mind. In him I found somebody who could teach me basic rhythmical concepts. He was familiar with the work of Reinhard Flatischler - an Austrian percussionist - and his rhythmical concepts using body movement and clapping to illustrate different rhythmical components. I learned to write down rhythms in a simple way - no classical music education required. Little by little I was able to discern the qualities of rhythmical elements.

It took me years to fine-tune my timing. My timing ability seemed to have been adversely affected by traumatic childhood experiences. I worked on my own with body percussion, moving, clapping and tapping the beat with my foot while playing rhythms with my hands. I discovered that there is an energetic feedback loop when a groove is established. Good timing creates an upsurge of energy. This is important to remember when playing alone or with a group. Good timing gives you energy; lack of timing makes you feel tired. When a rhythm is played well people spontaneously start dancing.

Although I was able to improve my timing dramatically this way, there was still a small residue of timing difficulty when I played with other drummers. It was as if I was resisting to merge with the pulse of others. The problem finally dissolved after a bodywork session for my “Hara” - the energy center two inches below the navel. The “Hara” seems to be the place where the sense of rhythm resides in the body.

My drumming journey has been very healing for me. Drumming helped me to go beyond my indecisive, hesitant and fearful way of approaching life. Growing up in a threatening, unsafe environment I learnt to be very careful not to upset anybody around me. Drumming gives me a safe environment to express myself without fear. Drumming connects with my power, it transforms depression, fears and aggression into creativity and strength. Drumming calms my emotions gives me energy and dissolves my chattering mind. Drumming with a group of sincere drummers is an uplifting, intimate experience that allows me to express my energy in a creative, non-verbal way. An energy field is created where egos melt, presence is felt and in this shared experience we get to know each other on a deeper level.

Excerpt from my instructional book “Magical Drums”

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MY MASTER AND ME

My experience of Osho and the community around Him has always been an intensely personal one that had little to do with any form of organization.

In 1984, after doing Dynamic Meditation for a few weeks, I participated in a group called Opening the Heart with Deva Waduda. It was a beautiful group, very supportive, and I experienced small miracles, like I could feel somebody's aura for the first time. In this group it became clear to me that I wanted to take sannyas. So I went to the office there in Rajneesh Stadt and encountered a Ma who I felt gave me little attention, only handing me some application pages to fill out. Being outside my thinking mind at that point, I thought I had come to the wrong place and just dropped the idea for the moment.

I took sannyas a couple of months later in the Berlin disco. I had not met Osho in person yet, just attended satsangs in Berlin and experienced this intense energy connection with Osho. It felt like He played with me. As soon as I took sannyas this connection became more calm and peaceful. The passion of my honeymoon gave way to a sense of being protected and loved.

Later in Buddha Hall in Oregon I nearly drowned in the intensity of love energy. It was really hard for my mind to survive this overdose of love, and the yearning arose to be close to Him at all times. So I came back the next year, did three weeks of groups, and started to be part of a workers program. At the end of my stay I inquired whether I could stay for good. Fortunately the answer was "no," as the Ranch closed down a few weeks later.

Swami Ramatheertha, the interviewer, advised me to join the commune in Berlin instead. Upon my return I tried to do just that, but people there did not trust my ability to bring in enough money for the commune. I was a freelance dance teacher at the time. In a way I felt fine with their decision. It was my desire to be close to Osho; being part of a commune away from Him was another story.

In 1989 I was able to visit the Pune ashram. Entering the Gateless Gate I felt the same intensely sweet loving energy. The whole ashram was soaked in it. I felt His loving energy everywhere. That's what is called a Buddhafield, but that name seemed to me to be much too dry an expression for this overwhelming feeling of having come home.

Throughout these years I had been practicing meditation. It was much easier in Osho's presence, but meditation had started happening in glimpses and small bliss attacks that could happen anywhere: sitting on a bus looking out the window, taking a walk around the block, or just sitting with closed eyes in my room. These moments of presence, of bliss carried His name, the memory of His love and ecstasy. At the same time they are not attached to any person. They seem to be the flavor of no-mind.

And then came the moment when Osho left His body. When I received the message I screamed and was devastated, as I felt I was not ready to be on my own, to be without His guidance. At the same time I felt a sense of freedom and relief that the constant longing to be close to Him would subside now. Having left His physical form He gave me the freedom to be on my own again, to live anywhere and do my own thing without having this constant pull to see Him.

The organization around Osho had not played any significant part in this, and certainly does not today. The people running the organization seemed to me to be people like me, doing their best, having their shortcomings and their strengths and messing up at times. Yes, some were great people, some not so great, but their job was just utilitarian. My journey was with Osho. No priests in between. Osho has often talked about this: We are fellow travelers on the same path, but our spiritual connection is with Him alone.

Nowadays I am happy for every sannyasin I meet. It doesn't need to be an ashram, although that would be fun, too. To be with a few fellow travelers, talking or sharing a meditation feels wonderful. Being with "normal" people often has limitations. (Of course there are exceptions!) Osho's sannyasins have this flair of excitement, joy, and ecstasy imbibed from our Master, and it's just more fun with them. (Yes, there are exceptions, too.)

Since I arrived in LA 14 years ago I have been inviting people for meditations in our home and sometimes in other people's homes, and started organizing workshops with Osho group leaders. It's my dream that we sannyasins will be able to create an Osho center right here in the middle of LA. (Contact me, if you want to get involved!)

As far as the disputes and litigations going on between different groups of sannyasins are concerned, they make me feel uncomfortable. I feel reminded of the time when I was a small child and my mother wanted me to take her side against my father and my father talked poorly about my mother. It hurt, as I loved them both. So today – again - I choose not to take any side in this quarrel. This fight just gives me one more incentive to pass on what I have received from Osho in my own way and spread Osho’s work as I understand it.

Published in Viha Connection Magazine in 2014

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STILL HERE

My first contact with Osho was through his people. They were different, more loving, upbeat, alive, present and a lot more interesting to hang out with than ordinary folks. When I started doing Dynamic Meditation it blew me away and liberated my inner being. Memories flooded me and I became aware of my madness, my power, I became more courageous and outspoken. The experience of satsang, of sitting, humming and listening to the master helped me connect with my receptive, feminine side and I felt showered with bliss and love.

All of the above is still happening today. When I am with fellow sannyasins there is a certain vibration and my heart starts singing. When I visit other spiritual communities something is missing for me. I never found this combination of depth and ecstasy, of celebration and awareness anywhere else.

I love to move. So active meditations are perfect for me to this day. But when I want to find a whole hour in my day for meditation, my mind gives me a list of numerous things that urgently need my attention. Knowing this I keep creating meditation groups around me. Meditating together with others seems perfect and I find the time for it without a problem.

Right now we have weekly Dynamic and Kundalini meditations here in Los Angeles. It's fun to meet, meditate, socialize and share Osho. The new people who come have often listened to his discourses on youtube, but never tried any of his active meditations. Thanks to my own laziness I am like this old useless tree that gives shade to whoever comes. The masters skillful hands have turned my "uselessness" into something of "worth" - a card in the transformation tarot:

"You are here to become more and more alive; you are here to become more and more intelligent; you are here to become more and more happy, ecstatically happy."

I'm still working on becoming more and more blissful. Catching myself when my thoughts want to recreate the old tune of misery and failure. Instead I come back to celebrating the sun, my existence, the new experiences that each day has for me and feel blessed with wonderful friends.

So, yes I am still part of Osho's tribe. Once I caught a glimpse of the truth how can I ever forget?

Published in Viha Connection Magazine

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