Life with the masters in Rishikesh

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Leaving an Osho community is always a strange and powerful experience that one must inevitably conclude their trip with. Whether you jump right back into what you knew as life before or simply move to another experience on your journey, the shift can be quite surprising. Thankfully this year I have a more balanced plan of action. I will take a pause from life inside the resort to learn Ayurvedic energy massage while still visiting once a week, followed by a trip to the beach in Goa, then to be continued with a month in Rishikesh sitting with enlightened masters in satsang. This feels like it might be enough of a step down to mellow out the sharp effects of leaving the Osho community this year.
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*Got to do a little advertising with my face

 

I take my high on life energy from completing the Path of Love course and gently turn its open heart energies into learning hands on massage. From the first day, first lesson, first touch, I am in love with this practice. I have known my teacher for only a year now, but his presence and energy was overwhelming from the very first meeting. The beauty of Shikha’s massage technique, besides being completely relaxing, is to take the recipient into their own space of inner silence. The first time he laid his hands on me in the middle of the massage and suddenly dropped into a deep space of “I don’t know where I am anymore”, I was hooked. When I asked what he did at that point he only smiled as if to say, “isn’t that magical?”

 

The method of this massage is using Ayurveda to touch the energetic and emotional blocks in the body and gently dissolve them. I felt that I wasn’t really receiving instructions so much as directly receiving the information from the body and wisdom directly from the heart of the master. On quite a few occasions deep energy blocks were touched an healed with accompanying tears, laughter, shouting, or other surprises. The depth of our attention and intention was the most important factor in this learning, as if we were just becoming channels for the healing energies through our bodies and hands. I know that often two hours of time would just disappear into massaging my partner and I would finish with more energy and love than I had begun with. I have found massage to be a healing outlet for my hands in which I can share all my talents in both giving and receiving. Wrapping up training with many compliments and love all around, and after a wonderful day of happy goodbyes at Osho, I left for the beach with a song in my heart and a dance in my step
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Goa rushed into my experience in the dawn light of waves crashing on cliffs. I found accommodation as one does, and began running into familiar faces from my first 10 minutes. Goa is filled with sandy beaches, lively hippies, Russian families, artists and musicians, as well as the yoga and meditation crowd. I ran into my good friends Kimberli and Ben on the main road on a whim. They were meeting me in India for the first time from Europe and of course just bumped into each other on the street. We spent our days watching the waves crash onto the rocks, reading books, mid day siestas, walking the beach at sunset, and long conversations over dinner right on the beach. Somehow nine days disappeared into memory so quickly, but we all had a small issue with the energy here.
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My mornings were the best, waking before the sun and greeting it with my daily stretching. Meditation followed and from here the day went downhill, ending with sleeping the middle of the day away and slowly coming back to enjoy sunset and dinner. I thought this was perhaps my issue having just left Osho, but both my friends were similarly affected. Granted it was hot in the middle of the day, but our energies were just depleted in this lifestyle. There are many people who enjoy the daily pace of drinking, mingling, and generally having less direction as beach culture usually dictates. For me, this was pure torture and I could never settle into aimless beach life. I tried some of the classes there, but only my circus arts, dancing, and good conversation carried the day. I came to the conclusion that the energy of Goa is such that it is very surface oriented. The depth is missing, and for me, the quest for depth is all that matters. I could have continued to live out some more days in this easy life, but that underlying pressure I couldn’t identify just kept derailing me. So a few days early we decided to jump ship and travel north to Rishikesh, my next and final destination in India; the birthplace of yoga and hub of enlightened masters giving daily teachings on walking the path to enlightenment.

 

We took the train. The 48 hour train. Sitting in general seating sometimes, but otherwise getting a real taste of Indian culture. From cramming people in train cars like we were escaping a war zone, to the lack of public sanitation, making friends and being invited over for dinner along the way, we experienced it all. It could have been done faster, but we booked all our tickets last minute and were lucky in this sense. We only had to sit in over packed general seating for 8 hours, sneak 3 people into two bunks for 12 hours, and besides sharing our paid for seats with loads of free riders, chai whallas, and train performers we enjoyed our long journey.
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We witnessed an interesting event of Mumbai guards forcing Indian passengers to queue for the train. Normally in India people have never heard of a line. If you can make your way to the front then you do so. Sort of an external affirmation of getting ahead in life. This also happens to be the most common excuse for why everyone tries to cheat you with a loving smile. So watching these poor people stand in line and board one by one, the agonizing pain in their faces of waiting, the desperate bid to push the guy in front of you, or cut line when no one was looking; just to get seated a bit faster and feel you accomplished something was the most interesting cultural experience.
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We arrived in Rishikesh on a drizzly evening and I knew at once I had arrived home. The beautiful Ganga river splits the colorful village of Laxman Jhula in half with a back drop of tree filled mountains. We crossed the foot bridge and stopping into every place of accommodation managed to locate acceptably unacceptable lodging for the first night. We located a wonderful bakery which became our standard daily haunt and with warm ginger-lemon-honey drinks, breathed a sigh of relief.
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Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, was holding an international festival to this now popular method of self discovery. Besides being home at this time to enlightened masters such as Mooji, Prem baba, Shantimaya, and Swami Atmanada, I felt quite blessed to be surrounded by such a collection of people with dedication and insight into the nature of being human. I would settle into a comfortable schedule of sitting with the masters and listening to discourse, discussions with friends, and enjoying the local food and scenery. I have taken it as a good sign of being in your place when you happily rise with the sun and are energized to begin your day with yoga, meditation, a cup of tea, or any other ritual that brings a smile to your face and heart about the coming day.
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*The real holi festival, celebrating the colors of the heart

It is here, surrounded by many friends from around the world and Osho, that I feel most at home energetically in a long time. I have a purpose in meeting the masters each day. I have found the wonderful practice of kirtan, chanting holy mantras or devotional songs, and often cry with gratitude singing from my heart. The crisp mountain air, the pale blue waters, and the easy life in Rishikesh all appeal to me and is now my home outside of Osho. It feels somehow cleaner here and that may have to do with the mountain air or the recycling programs which were started not to long ago. No one hustles you into their shop, instead allowing you to peruse at your own speed which ironically leads you to purchasing something. There are waterfalls and beautiful hikes to explore and yoga classes everywhere.

 

I came here to spend time with the masters and experience what being in the presence of an enlightened being is like. I wanted to know what it felt like to be near such a person and what their message was. I found out quickly that my expectation was far off the mark, as an enlightened person is as normal a person as anyone. They ride scooters, go shopping, talk with people and share their breakfast table with you when the restaurant is full, as happened with Mooji and myself. They also speak to a handful or thousands of people a day to share one message of unity. Each has their own way of sharing this message that is colored by the life they have lived. Not everyone speaks the same way and I feel that is a wonderful blessing. Just as there are many ways to the truth so are there many teachers who’s message will appeal to certain people. I’ve heard this message, I know this message, Its good to hear it again, but I also know all that is left to me is to find a master to devote myself to and to practice the message each day. I will share a few bits of wisdom gained in my time here, but one incident is worth pointing out.
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Darshan, or meeting with the master, often happens after the discourse is finished. People line up to be touched by the master, or to give thanks, or receive a blessing of some sort. On my first day in Rishikesh I managed to meet Mooji in such a line. His eyes were sparkling, moving gracefully and slowly through this ever thickening crowd, I wondered if he would see me one row back when he turned right to me, placed his hand full on my forehead and then over to my cheek and moved on down the line. I was a bit dumbstruck at my good fortune, but more by the presence of his touch. There was a weight to his touch and hand that conveyed his message as much as his words. He seemed to touch everything, either with his gaze or touch, with the compassion that you were of the utmost importance and worthy of the full attention of the universe. It filled me with the wish that I could touch everything in my life with such a presence, such totality. It was a great gift and reminder of the power of presence and attention mixed with pure love. It was worth the whole trip.
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Most of the teachings I listened to, Mooji and swami atmananda, were of the Advaita school of non duality. A process of self inquiry into the nature of the self to discover the unity of consciousness through awareness. Asking “Who am I?” or “Who is having this thought/experience/feeling?” is a good way to begin this process. If some object can be seen or some experience felt then something must witness it and thus you are not what is seen. This witness is ever present and the realization of such a state is the liberation of the self. These kinds of discourses were somewhat belonging to the mental realm, but effective in their goal. Other methods such as bhakti (love), which focus on loving devotional practices like kirtan, prayer, dance, and pure devotional ceremonies was a new and wonderful experience for me. Embracing my new moniker of Premraj (ruled by love), I found the bhakti practices deeply touching and a straight connection to the divine. I suppose one needs balance even in the way of meditation.

 

Here are a few quotes from my time in Rishikesh along with quotes from Osho whom I was also reading.

 

“The seed cannot relax, only the flower can relax. The seed is trembling, whether it will become actual, will it find the right soil, right climate, right sky, or will it simply die without being born?” – Osho

 

“Your mind wants enlightenment and to feel the experience of it. Enlightenment isn’t a feeling. It is the self before the mind existed and thus can never be experienced or grasped by the mind.” – Swami Atmananda

 

“Lack of attention dies up the personality like a plant with no water. Naturally.” – Mooji

 

“You need nothing to be happy, you need something to be sad. Make space to be happy for no reason.” – Mooji

 

“After a state of tasting the honey of life comes a change and suddenly the taste is gone. Now you must become the honey without the taste of honey. Let go of the desire to experience and taste, just become the awareness. It is a growth. The flower isn’t attached to its own smell. The peace you felt may be gone, but you are that peace itself. If there is one that is still enjoying the experience, even with full awareness, then there is still duality. Try to move to the pure awareness and become that awareness only.” – Swami Atmananda

 

“The bee of life is not attached to any flower. It simply moves where the flower invites it. It has freedom.” – Osho

 

“Surrender and effort. When you see that all effort is in fact an acknowledgement of duality, then non doing happens and surrender begins as the way to inhabit the presence.” – Swami Atmananda

 

“To abide in the heart, the presence, the watcher. If you find a way there, keep it and keep practicing it. No need to keep searching for another method.” Swami Atmananda

 

“Be together with her, the commitment is towards love, not the woman. When happiness is gone say thank you and move on. The moment something is no longer appealing, has lost the quality of allurement, of enchantment, is no longer magnetic, then don’t cling to it. Feel grateful for the past and move on.” – Osho

 

“There are two birds sitting in a tree. The first bird is very busy building a nest. The second bird is above on a branch watching the first bird be so busy. This is the mind and the meditative watcher. Then there is a presence which isn’t a bird at all, watching the whole scene unfold. That is your unified essence, your pure consciousness.” – Mooji

 

“Even once enlightenment has occurred, it can still take time to drop the mind, personality, and habits. You see them as powerless as each arises, but still they arise until full integration happens.” – Swami Atmananda
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These were just a few samples of comments that struck me. Listening to the masters is like constantly being reminded there is more in life and you already have it. There is nothing to do because you are already that which you seek. Only recognizing is possible, only realization of this truth. That is not to say that effort isn’t needed to create the situation where realization can occur, but no work is needed or can be done on your ultimate self. These satsang helped center me each day on the remembrance that I am not my environment, thoughts, feelings, and problems. I am the essence behind all that watching it unfold. Watching is certainly the right word, for when you can watch yourself move through the ups and downs of life and really just watch it happen as if to somebody else, there is a contentment and happiness that arises which cannot be taken away.

 

Abide in the heart and experience the truth. You are the force of love, in this moment and always. Finding and being reminded of the way and truth will always bring a clam knowing that you can walk your path. Rishikesh was a wonderful culmination of spiritual traditions and practice among friends and strangers all drawn to this wonderful community. It has become a must stop on the road to enlightenment with so much packed into such a small shining city. May you be fortunate enough to taste the essence of a living master who can help show you a way to truth.
Blessings on your journey.
premraj

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