It is fitting that I should write a foreword for Shunyo's book, for it is I, as she puts it, who started her off on her adventure and waved goodbye as she boarded the plane to india seventeenth years ago. She was to become an intimate disciple of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who became known as Osho (Zen Master) shortly before he died in January 1990.
This is a story of what it's actually like, in our lifetimes, for a Westerner to tread the path of the bhakti, the way of devotion… to seek, recognize, and follow one's own enlightenment. He Teacher - the gateway to one's own enlightenment. He may not be your master or mine, but in Shunyo's limpid telling, the truth becomes abundantly clear in the old saying: All pathways with heart lead to the summit of the same mountain - and the nearer they are to the top, the more they resemble each other.
In Shunyo's case, her path was the notorious "sex guru" of the popular press, thumber of his nose at the establishment values, amasser of Rolls Royces and terns of thousands of uninhibitedly joyful red-robed sannyasins. The guru who was unceremoniously deported, vilified by the media, his Oregon Ashram crushed, was then - in ill health, with a few close disciples - hounded by the U.S. government from nation to nation for a year until returning to India where he died shortly afterwards of unclear causes.
For fifteen years Shunyo devoted herself to following Osho's pathway to enlightenment, as well as to washing his clothes and caring for his basic needs. She was always the "quiet one", the "Mary Magdalene" of the long-surviving intimates.
A dark Celtic beauty from the wilds of Cornwall, Sandy Pengelly danced, looked for love and meaning, and strived to make a living in the flowers-child years of London. In 1975, she abandoned everything and went to Poona, India, to see if Osho matched up to his writing. He did. He renamed her Chetana. And much later, shortly before he died, he renamed her again: "Shunyo" _ which she rather proudly explains means "Zero".
This is the diary of the roller-coaster ride of her inner and outer adventures, which proved to be both life and sanity threatening yet profoundly rewarding.
After six years in Poona, Shunyo accompanied Osho when he visited America. She was washing his clothes for him in Oregon during the explosive years of ascent to international attention and infamy. She shared with him being shackled in chains and imprisoned in North Carolina (with no charge against her) and finally being deported - with no explanation. The ailing, fragile Osho, with a few intimates, was hounded from nation to nation, seeking refuge under constant threats and harassment. This vulnerable and astonishingly special family of people experienced years of hatred and rejection, on an international scale, before braving the return home to India - which Osho had last left under a political cloud. At Bombay airport they were nearly crushed by the tumultuous welcome crowed.
Shunyo was with him over the following years, as he withered quickly - in body, but not in light - of a fatal, wasting disease, which was unanimously diagnosed by various independent sources as resulting from thallium poisoning, administered while in the jails of America. It was in these final months that Osho, as he was now called, released Shunyo into the understanding that she had really been following her own path all along, and it was now, like her prose and her heart, clearer than ever.
I'm sure you'll recognize this book as truly written from the heart. It has three powerful things going for it. First: it describes the inner path of a 20th century bhakti with such innocence and literacy that it speaks to everyone who has eve tried going inwards regardless of their path.
Second: for those who haven't, and wonder what all this "enlightenment" bit is about anyway, it's a record of what it's actually like to be a high mountaineer of the often cynically referred to "consciousness movement" of the last thirty years, a fly on the wall at one of the most interesting of the dark forces of ignorance against the candles of predictive clarity.
Third: because Shunyo's path happens to have been the man who cast long a shadow as any cult leader recently in the popular imagination, her tale is a sobering and valuable contribution to our time. And anyway, on looking back, who in history is more interesting than those who lived ideas which cast the longest shadows, and caught the greatest flack in their own lifetimes?
Woodcutter used to go into the woods every day. Sometimes he had to remain hungry because it was raining, sometimes it was too hot, sometimes it was too cold.
A mystic lived in the woods. He watched the woodcutter growing old, sick, hungry, working hard the whole day. He said, "Listen, why don't you go a little further?"
The woodcutter said, "What am I going to get a little further? More wood? Unnecessarily carrying that wood for miles?"
The mystic said, "No. If you go a little further, you will find a copper mine. You can take the copper into city, and that will be enough for seven days. You need not come every day to cut the wood."
The man thought: "Why not have it a try?"
He went in and found the mine. And he was so happy. He came back and fell at the feet of the mystic.
The mystic said, "Don't rejoice too much right now. You have to go a little deeper into the woods."
"But," he said, "what is the point? Now I have got seven days' food."
The mystic said, "Still…"
But the man said, "I will lose copper mine if I go further."
He said, "You go. You certainly will lose the copper mine, but there is a silver mine. And whatsoever you can bring will be enough for three months."
"The mystic has proved right about the copper mine," the woodcutter thought. "Perhaps he is also right about the silver mine." And he went in and found the silver mine.
And he came dancing, and he said, "How cam I pay you? My gratitude knows no bounds."
The mystic said, "But there is a gold mine just a few steps deeper."
The woodcutter was hesitant. In fact, he was such a poor man, that having a silver mine… he had never dreamed of it.
But if the mystic is saying it, who knows? - he may still be right. And he found the gold mine. Now it was enough to come once a year.
But the mystic said, "It will be a long time - one year from now you will be coming here. I am getting old - I may not be here, I may be gone. So I have to tell you, don't stop at the gold mine. Just a little more…"
But the man said, "Why? What is the point? You show me one thing, and the moment I get it, you immediately tell me to drop that and go ahead! Now I have found the gold mine!
The mystic said, "But there is a diamond mine just a few feet deeper in the forest."
The woodcutter went that very day, and he found it. He brought many diamonds, and he said, "This will be enough for my whole life."
The mystic said, "Now perhaps we may not meet again, so my last message is: now that you have enough for your whole life, GO IN! Forget the forest, the copper mine, the silver mine, the gold mine, the diamond mine. Now I give you the ultimate secret, the ultimate treasure that is within you. Your outer needs are fulfilled, Sit the way I am sitting here.'
The poor man said, "Yes, I was wondering… you know all these things - why do you go on sitting here? The questions has arisen again and again. And I was just going to ask, "Why don't you get all those diamonds lying there? Only you know about them. Why do you go on sitting under this tree?"
The mystic said, "After finding the diamonds, my master told me, 'Now sit under this tree and GO IN."
"Ma Prem Shunyo's book has the lovely quality of both revealing glimpses of higher energy-flow and her responses to down to earth events in her life with Osho. While reading this book I am sure one can receive the vibrations of another dimension of life, and I think that readers of her book will be touché din their interior worlds."
"This book is not only a fascinating record of the spiritual experiences of Ma Prem Shunyo and her transformation through Osho. But is also the harrowing late of the crucifixion of a messiah by the US administration and the inhuman treatment given him by the so-called democratic governments of the worlds. The most interesting things about this book is that although it is a personal dairy of a devotee. Reading it gives us the joy of a devotee. Reading it gives us the joy of reading a beautiful novel."
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