Glimpses of My Master
- This book, "Glimpses of my Master", is a compilation of many of the things I have written about Osho during the last ten years. Although I naturally write from my point of view as a close disciple, I have tried to focus on Osho, the Master, rather than my own spiritual journey.
- The reasons are threefold. Firstly, Osho has been so wrongly represented by the media, by opinionated intellectuals and, sadly, by some of his own disciples, that I hope my writings will help to reveal something of his essence and so dispel some of the radical misunderstandings about him.
- Secondly, I am convinced that Osho is one of the greatest spiritual leaders that have lived on this earth and, because of his remarkable ability to re-interpret ancient truths and doctrines in a way that people in this century can understand and benefit from, he is particularly important for current and future generations. It is possible that the writings of disciples who were fortunate enough to experience his guidance firsthand can help others to more deeply understand what the spiritual path is about when they embark on their own search for truth and self-knowledge.
- Thirdly, personal accounts of being around Osho by disciples may convey something of the indefinable "presence" of an enlightened master, which again furthers an understanding of this occasionally rocky path to the unknown. And those who have come to love and appreciate Osho in all his many, many dimensions usually enjoy reading personal anecdotes about him.
- Some of the texts in the book have appeared in various sannyasin publications, both in magazines and online, and the whole text of the book originally known as "A Seam for the Master", is also included. Many people were unable to obtain copies of the latter book because it sold out quickly so they will now have a chance to read it.
- Also included are a number of chapters which I have recently written and which have not been published elsewhere. Chief amongst these is the chapter on "Kailash", one of Osho's most audacious experiments and one which very few people have heard of, let alone know anything about. "Kailash" was the name Osho gave to an isolated farm in the wilds of central India to which he, in 1974, sent thirty unsuspecting sannyasins to supposedly build a new commune.
- This book is not an academic treatise nor an "official" account; it is merely an expression of my own opinions, observations and deeply felt love for and appreciation of an extraordinary spiritual Master.
- Veena Schlegel
- The chapter A Seam for the Master was earlier published as A Seam for the Master.
- The Beginnings of Osho’s Book Publications: A very brief account by Veena of how the publication of Osho’s books started. (Osho News)
Glimpses of My Master
Insights Into the Life and Work of the Enlightened Mystic, Osho
Glimpses of My Master
Insights Into the Life and Work of the Enlightened Mystic, Osho
table of contents
- 1. About Osho
- 2. About this Book
- 3. Meeting the Master
- 4. Kailash
- 5. Editing Osho's Books (see below)
- 6. Brief Glimpses
- 7. A Seam for the Master
- 8. A Visit from the East
- 9. In Conclusion
- 1. Quotes on Osho by well-known people
- 2. Copyright Issues
- 3. Selected websites for more information about Osho
chapter 5: Editing Osho's Books
- This text has a lot of details about the process of the editing of Osho's books. See also Editing of sources for a more general look at this theme.
- Quoted from the 2nd edition with kind permission of the author. This text copyright © Veena Schlegel 2015.
Now that Osho had a permanent place to stay we all settled down to work and meditate. He spoke often about the fact that soon there would be many people coming and we needed to prepare. It was hard to imagine this but there was a very real sense of an infrastructure –- in the usual chaotic Indian style -- being created. Buildings were built, the canteen was set up, gardens were cultivated and creativity flourished. Chuang Tzu Auditorium was built for the morning discourses and the evening darshan where small groups of people gathered to talk to Osho personally about whatever issues were concerning them.
Within two years Osho's prediction proved to be correct and people started to arrive in their thousands from all over the world. Chuang Tzu quickly became too small, except for darshan, and so an adjoining property was bought and the Buddha Hall Auditorium was constructed for discourses and meditations.
My small cog in this loving and harmoniously turning wheel was to become one of a small team of editors who were editing and publishing Osho's books in English. I had always loved books and, having been an English teacher before my journey east, I was reasonably well qualified for this very beautiful and very satisfying task.
When I first met Osho in 1971 in Bombay, very few of his discourses had been published in book form. Those that were published were small booklets strangely translated -- one of them started each discourse with the words: "Hello Chaps"! Rather un-Osho-like!
But the booklet Flight of the Alone to the Alone was to change my life. Suddenly all my innermost questions were answered without me even asking them. Many people have had the same experience when first picking up a book of Osho's.
In 1972 an American sannyasin woman called Prem started to compile the first full-length book in English which was based on answers to questions asked by early western disciples. It was called 'I Am the Gate'.
When I returned to England in the same year, I set up, at Osho's request, the Nirvana Meditation Centre in Bell Street in London. All I had of his words were a set of tapes from his first English series of discourses -– Vigyan Bhairav Tantra -– and two books, the ones I have mentioned above. Knowing that westerners like to read, I asked Osho if there were any other appropriate books I could suggest to them. He gave me a list of seven books of which I can only remember six.
The first and most important in his opinion was "The Book of Mirdad" by Mikhail Naimy. Others were "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran, "Zen Flesh, Zen Bones" by Paul Reps, "The Way of Zen" by Alan Watts, "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach, and a book on tantra whose title I can't recall. Of this book he said this was the only book written in English which had some notion of what tantra was about -– all the rest were just sensation-seeking, money-making fakes.
In London my one copy of I Am the Gate was passed from person to person to person. Because many people wanted to have a copy of their own, however, we came up with the idea of trying to get English bookshops to stock it and embarked on a campaign to bug the bookshops. Every few days we would phone various bookshops saying we would like to buy the book and did they have it. The campaign worked! Eventually Foyle's (one of the largest bookshops) started to ask who this Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) was and ordered a few copies from India to put on their shelves. Very slowly, faced with what they thought was a growing demand (our phone calls), other bookshops did the same.
I returned to India in 1974, took part in the Kailash experiment and finally settled in Poona at the very end of that year. At that time Canadian Krishna Prem had just edited My Way: the Way of the White Cloud and a team of editors -– Anurag, Krishna Priya, Vandana and now myself, were working on Roots and Wings. From then onwards I became a fully-fledged editor, working on the books for the next four or five years. A Publication Department was set up with Pratima co-ordinating the whole business side of publishing, while doing some editing herself, and Yatri heading the book design department. There were three full-time editors with others filling in between their other work. Maneesha's special task was to write the Darshan Diaries. Osho did not want technology to interfere with the personal nature of those very precious meetings, so they were not recorded. Maneesha took notes as she sat next to him and then wrote out his words.
We, or other sannyasins who were good at typing, would first transcribe Osho’s words from the taped recordings of the discourse and then edit them.
Getting the books printed was a nightmare! I think we started off with about three publishers in Bombay and one in Poona. None of them, however, could produce anything anywhere near the quality we were after and so we literally set about teaching them how to print books -– despite the fact that none of us had ever had anything to do with the process before, except Yatri.
At first the publishers were stubbornly against the improvements we wanted to make so it was an uphill battle, but finally one publisher got first prize in an all India book competition with one of our books. Of course we spared no expense and used the most beautiful paper available to print on. This, coupled with Yatri's western designs, our superior photography and our painstaking guidance on each tiny detail (simple things that the Indians didn't think important but we did, like having the margins equal widths, making the text the same length on facing pages, justifying with equal spacing between words, not starting a page with the end of a paragraph etc etc) turned the tide and suddenly the publishers were eager to print our books and to listen to and profit by our instructions.
Although Pratima was the overall co-ordinator, each editor was responsible for the printing of the book they had edited. We were all involved and we all put our hearts and souls into doing this wonderful task.
My printing baptism by fire was getting The Empty Boat printed -– in about 1975. (Definitely responsible for early grey hairs on my head.) We had employed a new company to print The Empty Boat and they were very hostile. They wanted our business but were not prepared to alter their ways of doing things to suit us and they were insulted that a woman was dealing with them so tried to fob me off with an underling. I had to be really insistent and finally demanded to go down to the place where the work was happening. These were pre-computer days and the "letter press" process involved each individual letter being placed with tweezers in a wooden frame. As the Indian workers couldn't read or speak English, and they were working back to front, the mistakes were multiple and I finally decided the only way to get things done was to sit with the hapless, shirtless worker in temperatures of nearly one hundred degrees and read each line as he produced it and correct him on the spot. Eventually the first chapter was done to my grudging satisfaction and I demanded to see the big boss to show him what it was that I was expecting of him. His face was quite something to behold as he knew that nothing that good -– and it was really only nominally good -– had come off his presses. Something in his pride was touched, however, and slowly he began to accept that there was a possibility of producing something of a better quality.
As the weeks progressed I was no longer relegated to the printing floor but was offered an air-conditioned office with food and cold drinks and someone to run between me and the poor guy downstairs with each page checking what we had done. I would proofread and correct it, and down the page would go again. This would happen until I was satisfied that everything was correct and then we would move on to the next page. It took me three months but finally it was published. Whew! Talk about blood, sweat and tears!
Osho loved books and he was fascinated with the process of publishing his own. He read every word that we edited and coached us in the way he would like things done. We had to make necessary grammatical corrections but of course he was adamant that his meaning was not to be changed and we were to retain the flavour of his speaking and never try to impose our own style on his words.
Needless to say, this took some doing, but he patiently guided us on every detail and monitored everything we did. We sent queries to him every day and he would tell us what he wanted. It turned into a very sweet collaborating process and I know for a fact that he was enjoying himself "writing" his books through us.
Some of the kinds of queries I would make would be as follows. If I couldn't make sense of a sentence he had uttered I would have a shot at writing it as I thought I understood it, send it into him, and he would either say OK or rewrite the sentence or even the paragraph. Sometimes I would query a word which I felt he had not used correctly, and hazard a guess as to what really was the word he wanted to use. Often he would consult a dictionary and then either agree with me or substitute another word. Sometimes he got his scientific facts wrong (for example he got himself tied up in knots once on hereditary genes) at which point I would research the topic in the library, send in the correct facts and ask him what he wanted to do. Invariably he would rewrite the whole thing –- sometimes it was as long as half a page –- and I would delete the words from the original script and insert his corrected version.
Usually someone else did the original transcribing as I couldn't type very well. By the time I or the other editors finished checking and editing this typed script it was quite messy so Osho liked to wait till we got the first proofs back from the printer before checking what we had done. On receiving the proofs he would take up his red pen and go to town -– altering things, inserting things, deleting things, rearranging sentences, even crossing out paragraphs. Sometimes he would write a whole page, in red ink, to be inserted, as he thought of other arguments to use to make his point clear. I would get the proofs back from his room and chuckle because he was just like a teacher marking a student's composition with a red pen.
In those early days Osho read nearly every final proof before it went to press and we simply did not print it until he was satisfied. His attention to detail was so great that he even found typo errors which we had overlooked, much to our embarrassment.
About the books written in "blank verse".... One day, when I was transcribing a discourse I found myself editing his words in a "blank verse" format (like Shakespeare uses). This seemed to be the way he was talking –- the words seemed to flow poetically. I was bemused and went on doing it for a while and it seemed rather beautiful. So I typed out the bit I had done and sent it in to him and asked him what he thought. He liked it and said to go on doing it. When the proofs came back from the printers, Laxmi got to hear of it and was upset. She said that this style would make the books much thicker and therefore more expensive and that western people wouldn’t like the poetic style. I said that expense shouldn’t be an issue and that the westerners were more able to judge what westerners liked than she. In the meantime, I had shown another editor what I was doing and she really liked it and started to edit in the same way.
Because Laxmi wasn't happy, we both wrote to Osho asking what to do and he, seeing a split in the ranks, told us to come to darshan. Then, like a judge, he heard our points of view and then Laxmi's. I chuckled to myself thinking how like a trial this was. Considering both sides he finally ruled in our favour. And the ruling proved to be the correct one because, of the first five books published abroad, by Sheldon Press in England, three were written in the "blank verse" style.
Later, I suddenly found that this style didn’t work anymore –- he was speaking in a slightly different way. Maybe his English had improved and he had become more fluent and was therefore using more involved expressions and sentence patterns which no longer lent themselves to this simple poetic style. Again I wrote to him and told him what was happening and he replied that it was fine and to edit in the way I felt was right.
Osho also enjoyed being in on the designing process and, being artistic himself, often made suggestions about the designs and sketched in a few alterations to the design work shown to him.
We were often under considerable pressure because it was sometimes twice a week that we made the horrendous trip up and down the Ghats on the old Poona/ Bombay road which at that time was officially one of the most dangerous roads in the world. Now the journey takes three hours –- then it took seven, if nothing happened. As there was only one lane we were usually held up by accidents or breakdowns to the many trucks traversing the dangerous curves, so the journey could often take much longer.
Osho liked the books to be out by one of the various Festivals that were held in the commune. Everybody who has been to India knows that it is difficult to get things done on time – to put it mildly! Sometimes we were sitting at the bookbinders on the morning of a festival waiting for a sample ten copies to be bound so we could dash back to the commune in time for the bookshop opening at eleven o’clock. The glue in the binding would still be wet.
Getting the books published is now much easier with computers and improved printing methods but we had such a great time back then and learnt a lot – about getting books printed, yes, but mostly about our own egos.
Editing was a very important part of my work for Osho. It was a gift for myself and the other editors to be so deeply immersed in his words.
I am saddened therefore by the attitude that was taken by the people in charge of the Publication Department after Osho's death in 1990. I had left India after his death in order to work and earn a living but I returned to the commune, now called "the Resort", whenever I could. I was happy to help out while I was there and during one of my visits a year later, I was asked to do a final check on a "re-edit" of a book ready for re-publication.
It turned out that the book was one I had originally edited and loved -– The Grass Grows by Itself -- but the person instructing me had no idea who I was. She told me that the policy in the Publication Department was to re-edit all the early books because, I quote: "the early editors did not know what they were doing." She accused the early editors of altering things, inserting things, deleting things, rearranging sentences, even crossing out paragraphs and said that it was necessary to listen again to the tapes and return the texts to Osho's exact words as they existed on the tape. I was horrified and told her and some of the other current new editors that these alterations had been made by Osho himself, not us, and to delete his re-writing was to alter the way he wanted his words to be put out. Neither I, nor any of the other early editors, would have ever deleted, changed or added anything without his approval. I also pointed out that the particular book I had been asked to do a final reading on had been edited by someone who had no grammatical skills and the book was incomprehensible in many places.
I was told in no uncertain terms that this was all my ego talking and that I had an investment in my importance of being an editor and that I should basically shut up and not interfere with how things were being done now.
I returned the book and left, extremely distressed -- not at the accusations being flung at me, but at the knowledge that all the time and energy that Osho had invested in his editors and the re-writing that he had done to ensure that his words went out exactly as he wanted them to, now counted for nothing. I sincerely hope that there has been some re-thinking on this attitude.