Written by Prem Shunyo
Osho! Osho! Osho!
When I started to write a chapter on Osho’s death, I realized it wasn’t possible, because Osho has not died. If he had died then I would feel a sense of loss, but since he left I have not felt any loss. I don’t mean that I see his spirit floating around like a ghost, or that I hear his voice coming out of the clouds. No, it is simply that I feel him as much today as I did when he was in his body.
The energy I felt around him when he was “alive” must have been the pure energy, or soul, that which is deathless. Because it feels the same now that he has no body. The more I see him on videos and read his words the more my understanding grows that he really was not there as a person, even when he was in the body.
“I am as absent as I will be when I will be dead, with only one difference…that right now my absence has a body, and then, my absence will not have a body.” Osho, in Uruguay.
He said in so many ways that he was nobody and that he was just an absence, but I could not understand. Once, in Uruguay, I experienced seeing his chair empty when he was speaking:
I saw the chair empty and through the wall behind him I could see sky and sea. I saw a tremendous energy rushing through him, so powerful and moving so fast, that it frightened me because he looked so totally vulnerable. “I’m not going to let existence do that to me,” said a voice in my head. I wrote to him about this and told him that I was spooked. he answered:
“You have to look deeply into the phenomenon of the enlightened person. He is and he is not – both together. He is because his body is there; he is not because his ego is no longer there.
“…There is no one who can say ‘I am,’ and yet the whole structure is there, and inside is pure space. And that pure space is your divineness, is your godliness; that pure space is what, on the outside, is pure sky. The sky only appears to be…it does not exist. If you go in search of sky, you will not find it anywhere; it is only an appearance.
“The enlightened man has an appearance like the sky, but if you get in tune with him sometimes you will find he is not. That can make you feel spooky, afraid; and that’s what must have happened.
“You got in tune with me. In spite of yourself, once in a while you will get in tune with me. You may forget yourself once in a while and will get in tune with me – because only if you forget your ego can there be a meeting. And in that meeting you will find that the chair is empty. It may be just a glimpse for a moment, but really you had seen something far more real than anything else that you have ever seen. You have looked inside the hollow bamboo and the miracle of the music coming out of it.”
After this discourse Osho changed my name from Chetana to Prem Shunyo – love of emptiness.
“My presence is becoming more and more a kind of absence.
“I am, and I am not.
“The more I disappear the more I can be of some help to you.”
(The Rajneesh Upanishad, Bombay 1986)
When I looked at Osho I could see emptiness in his eyes, but I could not accept that he was totally without personality and ego, because I had no way of understanding what that meant. I can see it now that I look back at the way he has been teaching us and gently urging us along the path to discover our deepest mysteries; a path that soars above miseries and torment, and yet a path that takes us to the very heart of being human; a path that goes against every organized religion and yet is true religiousness. I can see that although he spent thirty-five years continuously trying to help people he had nothing invested in it. He would share his wisdom and it was entirely up to us whether or not we listened to him or understood him. He was never angry at our inability to grasp what he was trying to show us; never impatient that we kept repeating the same habit patterns over and over.
He said that one day we would get enlightened, because one day it was bound to happen. He said that it didn’t matter when.
“I am giving you the taste of my being, and preparing you to do the same, on your part, to others. It all depends on you, whether my words will remain living or will die. As far as I am concerned, I do not care.
“While I am here, I am pouring myself into you. And I am grateful that you are allowing it to happen. Who bothers about the future? There is nobody in me who can care about the future. If existence can find me as a vehicle, I can remain assured that it can find thousands of people to be its vehicle.” (From the False to the Truth, 1985)
He knew he was hundreds of years ahead of his time and said that any genius will never meet his contemporaries. The day Krishnamurti died Osho said: “Now I am alone in the world.”
When asked how he would like to be remembered he said:
“I would simply like to be forgiven and forgotten. There is no need to remember me. The need is to remember yourself. People have remembered Gautam Buddha and Jesus Christ and Confucius and Krishna. That does not help. So what I would like: forget me completely, and forgive me too – because it will be difficult to forget me. That’s why I am asking you to forgive me for giving you the trouble. Remember yourself.” (The Transmission of the Lamp)
He left this earth without even a name. Osho is not a name. Osho arranged that all his books (seven hundred in all) have the name changed from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to Osho. The next generation may not even know that someone called Rajneesh ever lived. Only Osho will be left – and Osho…?
“You are a nameless reality.
And it is good, because every name
Creates a boundary around you,
Makes you small.” (The Great Pilgrimage from Here to Here)
And yet he has left behind a legacy that is incomparable to all the diamonds in the universe. He has left behind his work, in his people. He has brought thousands of people a giant step forward in the evolution of mankind. We may not be fully realized, but we have understood that death does not exist. The biggest taboo, the deepest mystery and the greatest fear for humans today, is Death, and our master has pulled us through it and out the other side. Death happens only to the body and that has been my own experience. The secret of death, heaven, life after death, reincarnation – the secrets are all open now.
The last time I had eye contact with Osho, without fear in my being – I had fear because I could see he was disappearing – the last time I really met him was the night that Nirvano died.
Nirvano died just before we all went to our meditation in Buddha Hall at 7.00 p.m. That night I was waiting for Osho’s car to arrive at Buddha Hall and I opened the door for him. There were six of us who did this in rotation, and it happened to be my turn. As he stepped out of the car he gave me a penetrating look, knowing that I knew. I can only presume that he was looking to see how I was with it. I remember looking back at him and inside saying, “Yes, Osho,” and I think I had a small understanding of the pain he must have felt, and I could never really know – but I have an idea – just how much he loved her. I wanted to say to him that I will be strong.
Osho had stopped dancing with us as he entered Buddha Hall, two months previously. He would walk around the podium very slowly and greet everybody in the Hall. So slowly, right foot sideways, then the left would slide to meet the other, hands folded in front of him, in namaste. He would sometimes look at someone in the first few rows and then his eyes would scan the horizon as though looking at a distant star.
From where I sat, it looked as though less and less he focused on any single person in Buddha Hall. His people were his anchor in this world, but he seemed to be looking more into the distance. With Avirbhava, so innocent, he would play, and again he would be in his body. He would be like a child playing. It was one of the greatest joys to see him come back to this world to play with Avirbhava. He chuckled and his shoulders would go up and down with the laughter, and he would open his eyes wide and beckon for her to get up on the podium with him. As part of the game she would scream and fall to the floor.
He sat with us while the musicians played Indian music, interspersed with gaps of silence.
And then, he would be gone again. At times I wanted to shout at him, “Come back, Come back.”
In mid-December Osho sent a message to us that he had heard someone chanting a mantra, and it had disturbed the silence. No one else had heard it, but I know how much more sensitive Osho’s hearing is than other people’s, so this did not surprise me.
Despite announcements asking whoever it was to cease, it continued. The chant began to cause pain in Osho’s stomach. He said it was being done deliberately and that while sitting with us in Buddha Hall he was totally open and vulnerable so that we could experience the full depth of his silence. The attack was being made on him by the same people who destroyed the commune in the U.S.A. He later said that it was the C.I.A. and they were using black magic.
We tried to find the person or persons with the help of a psychic, and also by simple elimination. People were moved from their usual sitting areas in Buddha Hall. The sound came mostly from Osho’s right side. He would open his eyes during the meditation and point in the direction of the sound.
One night I sat on Osho’s right, half way back in the Hall. I watched everyone around me and one by one, different people were taken outside to see if their absence would eliminate the chant. Osho turned his head many times and stared long and hard in the direction where my “suspect” sat. But it proved to be futile. We were unable to find the person and in the process had disturbed the meditation for a lot of people, by creeping around and asking people to go outside.
We had no idea how to locate the person doing the mantra. From our side, it was muddled and we were moving in confusion and darkness, and yet from Osho’s side, he was very clear and knew exactly what was happening and where it was coming from. But we could not understand what he was telling us.
We checked all electrical appliances and searched for a machine of new invention that could maybe send out a death ray, or sound that was above the usual human hearing level.
The last thing Osho said to me, while leaving Buddha Hall on 16th January, was, “The man is in the fourth row.” That night we videotaped the fourth row of people and watched the film afterwards looking for a suspect. But Osho said there was more than one person, and seeing how helpless and stressed we were becoming, he said to drop the search.
He sent a message saying that he could return the energy to the person, and return it double, but that his reverence for life was total and he could not use any power destructively.
Osho was becoming increasingly weak and the pain in his stomach was worse. He had x-rays taken of his stomach but nothing could be detected on them. The pain was moving towards his hara, and he said that if it reaches the hara, his life will be in danger. He looked as though he was becoming less of this world.
Sometimes he would come out to see us and, feeling angry in my helplessness, I wanted to stand up in Buddha Hall and scream at him, “Don’t go,” but he was going. Whenever I looked at him, I could hear him saying to me, “You are alone, you are alone.”
I had a desire at this time to move away from him, to dance at the back of the Hall, because at least there I could feel him very strongly, and not be disturbed by the look of nothingness in his eyes. One night I danced so madly, I was delirious and almost fell through the mosquito netting that surrounded the Hall. I was blubbering and talking gibberish, like the old darshan days. In the front I was so taken over by the fact that I could see he was disappearing, that I couldn’t really celebrate. And yet I couldn’t move to the back, except that one time.
On his last visit to Buddha Hall, as he walked in I had absolutely no celebration in me. I was sitting just in front of his chair and he walked towards me and stopped just above me and then turned to his right and slowly moved to the far side of the podium to namaste the people on that side. I was misery incarnate.
As he stood at the far side of the podium I said to myself that this is the last time I am going to see Osho and I had better drop my misery – or keep it for the rest of my life. I started to wave my arms and dance to the music. Osho was now slowly moving back across the podium until, once again, he was standing directly over me, just a few feet away.
Our eyes never met, but as he stood there I waved my arms in dance, and said:
“So be it. You have tried to stay in your body for so many years for us. If it is time for you to leave, so be it.” And I waved goodbye to him, saying, “I’m happy for you if you have to go. Goodbye, Beloved Master.”
He moved to the back of the podium and just before he left, he turned and, looking slightly to his right – way out into the sky, beyond Buddha Hall, beyond all the people – I saw in his eyes a smile. It was something between a smile and a chuckle. I can try and say it was the look of a traveller who, having travelled a long time, sees his home in the distance. It was a look of knowing. A smile that I can still see if I close my eyes, but I can’t describe it. It was in his eyes and it gently brushed his mouth. As he smiled at existence, so a smile spread across my face. The warmest and only genuine smile I had felt for a long long time. My face was glowing and I felt alone.
As he went, I raised my arms in namaste above my head. I namasted him and he was gone.
That night while having dinner with a friend, she said that she thought that she had seen Osho for the last time. This is something I would never have admitted to anyone – it was too outlandish. I felt it, I knew it, and I denied it. I saw Rafia and he said to me, “How’s Osho? I’m scared,” and I replied, “So am I.”
The next day I was very disturbed but I couldn’t admit to myself that it was because I thought Osho was going to die. After all, I had always believed that if Osho died then I would also die. I couldn’t imagine life without him.
That night we received the message that Osho was going to stay in the safety of his room and we were to meditate without him. Now I think of the time he said that when his people had reached a depth of silence without him, then he would leave his body. But on that night I wasn’t thinking of any such thing.
The last two nights I had found it impossible to stay in Buddha Hall for the full meditation. During the video discourse I had to get up and run out of Buddha Hall. I went to my laundry room – my womb.
We sat and meditated in Buddha Hall without him. Indian music and silence. Osho had a preference for Indian music, he said it was more meditative.
In a rickshaw the following day I felt enveloped in a soft blissful feeling. I said to myself that this is my potential, this is what I am capable of, my possibility. This is how I can live if I choose. The rest of the day, watching how I was freaked out but didn’t know why, I was having a good look at my reality, my mindliness. I felt the temptation to fall into darkness, the temptation to be depressed, and at the same time I felt the ability to choose, to not be in the dark, and knew I had a choice. It was in this space that I stayed all day.
I sat in my room, which was directly above Osho’s room. I was literally living on his ceiling, a very cold ceiling too! I spent the afternoon writing the last chapter of a fairy tale which was to become this epilogue. Just before 6.00 p.m. I was sitting in Anando’s office printing my “last chapter” and Maneesha came in crying. “I think Osho’s dying.” We both saw an Indian doctor leave the house – Osho never has outside doctors unless he is seriously ill – so this meant something serious was happening.
I went to my room to get ready to go to the meditation at 7.00. My zen friend and lover, Marco, came to visit me. We used to dance and laugh together before we went to the evening meetings, but tonight we stood like phantoms suspended in the dawn of something terrible. He was dressed in his white robe, shawl draped over his shoulder and he said, “the shock in your eyes frightens me. what is happening?” I said that I didn’t know yet, but I thought something was happening to Osho.
Maneesha came to my room and told me Osho had left his body. She started crying and saying, “I’m so angry, they’ve won” – they being the U.S. government – and I said, “No, now we will see! They can’t kill him.”
She left me and the first thing that I did was to throw myself on my bed and call to him, that “Osho, it has just begun. I know this is the beginning.” After that moment of clarity I then slipped into shock. I moved very slowly up and down the stairs, eyes staring. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. By now everybody knew and I could hear crying throughout the house and the ashram.
I met Mukta who had to pick roses from his rose garden and place them on the stretcher for the burning. I looked for something beautiful to carry the roses on. It felt good to do something. I found a silver tray, four feet in diameter, that was used for wedding ceremonies in the Parsee religion. His disciple, Zareen, had given it to him and he always liked it so much.
Avesh, who had been Osho’s driver for many years, was standing in the doorway, waiting to know if he was to drive Osho to Buddha Hall that night. He had a frightened look on his face as he said to me that he didn’t know what was going on. No one had told him anything. I pulled him close to me and held him in my arms, but couldn’t speak. After a few minutes I said to him that I couldn’t say the words. He looked at me and said, “He’s gone?” Then he broke down crying, but I couldn’t stay with him. It felt as though each one of us was deep in our aloneness that night. Every sannyasin has his own unique and intimate relationship with Osho where no one else can tread.
I met Anando in the corridor. She looked radiant. She took me to Osho’s room, where he was lying on the bed, and she closed the door behind me. I bowed down on the floor, head on the cold marble, and whispered, “My Master.” I felt only gratitude.
I helped carry Osho to Buddha Hall, where we put him on the podium on the stretcher, covered in roses. He was wearing his favorite robe and hat with the pearls given him by a Japanese seeress.
Ten thousand Buddhas celebrated.
We carried him to the burning ghat. It is a long walk through the busy streets of Poona. It was dark and there were thousands of people. I couldn’t take my eyes off Osho’s face. There was music and singing all the way.
The burning ghat is next to the river and it is in a hollow, which left room for thousands of people to watch the burning. Milarepa and the musicians played all night, and everyone was wearing white robes. Strange, how Osho always wore white in the old Poona days, and he said it was a sign of purity. I used to think that we would change to white clothes when we got enlightened, and here we were at his death, every sannyasin in white.
There were crows that called as though the dawn was breaking. I closed my eyes, would hear the crows, and wonder, “My god, have my eyes been closed that long?” but on opening them I would see it was still the middle of the night.
I felt physically sick and pain all over my body. I didn’t feel any of the great things I had imagined I would when the Master leaves his body. Osho’s death, for me, gave me a very very good look at my reality.
The next morning I awoke, and although not really thinking about it, I was expecting the ashram to be empty. I went out and the ashram was full. Meditation was happening in Buddha Hall, people were sweeping the streets and breakfast was ready for everyone. Even though we had all been up most of the night, there was breakfast, so lovingly made. This broke my heart. This gave me the assurance that Osho’s dream would be fulfilled.
Amrito and Jayesh were with Osho when he left his body. In Amrito’s words:
Over that night (18th) he became weaker and weaker. Every movement of the body was obviously agonizing. Yesterday morning I noticed that his pulse was also weak and slightly irregular. I said I thought he was dying. He nodded. I asked him if we could call in the cardiologists and prepare for cardiac resuscitation. He said, “No, just let me go. Existence decides its timing.”
I was helping him to the bathroom when he said, “And you put wall-to-wall carpet in here, just like this bath mat.” Then he insisted on walking over to his chair. He sat down and made arrangements for the few items that he has in his room. “Who should this go to?” He said, pointing to his small stereo. “It is audio? Nirupa would like it?” He asked. Nirupa has cleaned his room for so many years.
And then he went carefully around the room and left instructions for every item. “Those you take out,” he said, pointing to the dehumidifiers which he had found too noisy recently. “And always make sure one air conditioner is on,” he continued.
It was incredible. Very simply, in a very matter-of-fact and precise way, he looked at everything. He was so relaxed, as if he were going for the weekend.
He sat on the bed and I asked what we should do for his Samadhi. “You just put my ashes in Chuang Tzu, under the bed. And then people can come in and meditate there.”
“And what about this room?” I asked.
“This would be good for the Samadhi?” he asked.
“No,” I said, “Chuang Tzu will be beautiful.”
I said we would like to keep his present bedroom as it is. “So you make it nice,” he said. And then he said he would like it marbled.
“And what about the celebration?” I asked.
“Just take me to Buddha Hall for ten minutes,” he said, “and then take me to the burning ghats – and put my hat and socks on me before you take my body.”
I asked him what I should say to you all. He said to tell you that since his days in the marshal’s cell in Charlotte, North Carolina, in America, his body has been deteriorating. He said that in the Oklahoma Jail they poisoned him with thallium and exposed him to radiation, which we only came to know when the medical experts were consulted. He said they had poisoned him in such a way that would leave no proof. “My crippled body is the work of the Christian fundamentalists in the United States government.” He said that he had kept his pain to himself, but “living in this body has become a hell.”
He lay down and rested again. I went and told Jayesh what was happening and that Osho was obviously leaving his body. When Osho called again, I told him Jayesh was here and he said for Jayesh to come in. We sat on the bed and Osho gave us his final words.
“Never speak of me in the past tense.”
He said: “My presence here will be many times greater without the burden of my tortured body. Remind my people that they will feel much more – they will know immediately.”
At one point I was holding his hand and I started to cry. He looked at me, almost sternly. “No, no,” he said, “that is not the way.” I immediately stopped and he just smiled beautifully.
Osho then spoke to Jayesh and talked about how he wanted the expansion of the work to continue. He said that now that he was leaving his body, many more people would come; many more people’s interest would show, and his work would expand incredibly beyond our ideas. It was clear to him that not having the burden of his body would actually help his work to flourish.
Then he said, “I LEAVE YOU MY DREAM.”
Then he whispered so quietly that Jayesh had to put his ear very close to him, and Osho said, “And remember, Anando is my messenger.” Then he paused, and said, “No, Anando will be my medium.”
At that point Jayesh moved to one side, and Osho said to me, “Medium will be the right word?”
I hadn’t heard what had preceded it so I didn’t understand. “Meeting?” I said.
“No,” he replied, “for Anando, medium – she will be my medium.”
He lay back quietly and we sat with him while I held his pulse. Slowly it faded. When I could hardly feel it, I said, “Osho, I think this is it.”
He just nodded gently, and closed his eyes for the last time.
Rajneesh means Lord of the Full Moon. Osho had been living in the darkness of his room for almost a year. He only got out of bed to come and visit us in Buddha Hall. his room was so dark – there were double curtains inside and blinds outside the windows – it seemed poetically fitting that he left his body on the dark side of the moon.
It was also perfectly fitting of the universe that twenty-one days after he left his body was full moon and it was totally eclipsed by the sun. I watched the moon all night as it turned from silver to gold and blues, pinks and purples danced across its face. There were so many shooting stars and the whole sky seemed to be celebrating that the Lord of the Full Moon had come home.
I have heard Osho say many times that he is just an ordinary man. He would say that if an ordinary man like him can get enlightened, then so can we.
In Uruguay, during the talks called The Transmission of the Lamp, he said, while answering a question about the release of energy that emits from a dead body:
“…So in India, only the saints are not burned; that’s the exception. Their bodies are kept in samadhis – in a certain kind of grave, so that their bodies can go on radiating for years, sometimes for hundreds of years.
But ordinary persons’ bodies are immediately burned – as quickly as possible.”
Osho requested that he be burnt immediately. He did not want to be worshipped as a saint; he wanted to be burnt just like an ordinary man.
Two years have passed and yet more than two years’ worth of understanding has grown.
I had needed a master, and although Osho is still my Master – I do not need him. He has shown me that the time has come when I no longer need to look to anyone else for guidance. Life is so full, so rich that even the idea of enlightenment is not needed because enlightenment is only an idea until it happens.
I can hear the sound of the Mystic’s voice echoing across timeless oceans,
“I have given you the diamonds. Now go in.”