LoveOsho podcast E002 Rashid

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This is one of the LoveOsho podcasts. It was recorded on 8 May 2018.

Episode E002: Groomed to rule the empire
with Sw Deva Rashid
listen to the interview: or click to play in your browser.

Rashid comes from a very privileged background and was "groomed to rule the empire", but decided to break those ties to pursue his aspirations and become an artist. After attending a boarding school and Oxford University, Rashid dropped everything to live in a Welsh farm before coming across Osho. Rashid lived and worked in the Osho communes in India and USA where he enjoyed gardening and a life of meditation with a living Master.
Today our guest is Rashid Maxwell and we are going to talk about Osho, Meditation, Art and Creativity.
Rashid comes from a very privileged background and was "groomed to rule the empire", but decided to break those ties to pursue his aspirations and become an artist. After attending a boarding school and Oxford University, Rashid dropped everything to live on a Welsh farm before coming across Osho. Rashid lived and worked in the Osho communes in India and the USA where he enjoyed gardening and a life of meditation with a living Master.
Today Rashid is an all-around artist, painter, poet, writer, author of 2 books 3 volumes of poetry and a beekeeper.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Rashid’s privileged background and upper-class upbringing
  • Rashid's journey from a Welsh farm to India
  • How Rashid arrived to Osho
  • Rashid's first "encounter" with Oshos' ashram in Pune
  • Rashid's secrets of his abundant source of creativity, energy and youthfulness
  • How to be energetic and creative at 80
  • Rashid's favourite form of artistic expression
  • Rashid talks about his latest book: "The only life"
  • Unknown fact about Laxmi: Osho's first disciple and personal secretary
  • How Osho contributed to the development of human consciousness
  • Rashid's next project
  • Rashid's morning routine
  • Rashid's favourite meditation
  • Rashid and Osho today
Music and Voice by Chinmaya Dunster.
see also
Rashid's website
Rashid on Amazon
The LoveOsho podcasts

interview transcript

Swaram: Hello and welcome to the Love Osho Podcast. My name is Swaram and I’m the host. Today our guest is Rashid Maxwell. As you’ll learn in this podcast, Rashid comes from a very privileged background but decided to break those ties to pursue his aspirations and become an artist. Today Rashid is an all-round artist, a painter, a poet, a writer, author of two books and three volumes of poetry and also a beekeeper.
Rashid, welcome to the show. How are you?
Rashid: Okay, thank you. I feel very welcome. Here we go.
Swaram: I’d like to start this interview talking about your background. I know you are related to Neville Chamberlain, who served as prime minister of the UK from May 1937 to 1940. Chamberlain is best known for signing the Munich agreement with Hitler. So, talk us through your background, your family history, just to give listeners a sense of your journey from this kind of family context to becoming a disciple of Osho and now living a simple and peaceful life as an artist and a beekeeper.
Rashid: Okay, let’s start at the beginning. I was actually born before the war in 1937, 2 years before the war, and my earliest memories are of listening to airplanes and discovering whether they were friendly or enemy airplanes and learning to recognise the different sounds they made. This was in the country because many, many children were evacuated from London during the War. So, skip to going to be sent to a boarding school at the age of 7. I mean it’s a fairly horrendous thing to think of now in my view, but that was the normal for those…. We were being groomed to be rulers of the empire back then in the 40s and 50s. Of course, the empire collapsed around our years as we were growing up. But I suppose that sense of privilege gave me the insight that to have the power and the wealth didn’t actually make for happiness.
Swaram: On many occasions I heard Osho saying that he was the guru of the rich people. What I understand he means is that only people who have accumulated material wealth can really appreciate spirituality. You lived this on your own skin, considering your family context and background. So what’s your experience with that looking at yourself and looking at the people around you.
Rashid: Well, funnily enough I think that like many children, I seriously doubted if I was the child of my parents, because I actually felt so removed from their interests and their concerns, which were mainly commercial, material and political. All the conversations at the dinner table, or when guests arrived, were always about politics and the accruing of wealth. And for me - maybe because I was so privileged - that was never an issue. My issue as a child was: how can I be happy? And these people clearly weren’t happy. They were wealthy, they were well educated, but they weren’t happy. And so, my search very early on was for a happiness that was consistent with my own self, whoever I thought I was. I wanted to be happy.
Swaram: I’d like to mention a little curious fact here, that perhaps not many listeners know. A sannyasin called Vimalkirti was Osho’s personal bodyguard and it turns out that Vimalkirti was a royal person. He was a Prince of the House of Hanover. He was the nephew of Philip the Duke of Edinburg who is the husband of Queen Elizabeth, hence Vimalkirti was the first cousin of Prince Charles and it seems that Prince Charles was very interested in meditation and wanted to visit his cousin Vimalkirti in Poona and meet Osho but he was prohibited by Queen Elisabeth to do so.
Did you know Vimalkirti?
Rashid: Yes, yes indeed. When he wasn’t guarding and had time off, he came and worked with me in the garden and I was the boss at that time of growing vegetables. He was a lovely man to work with, absolutely no ego involved in “this is menial work for me”. He was just a spontaneous, easy guy to work with - lovely, I miss him.
Swaram: Did you know at the time, that he was a Royal person?
Rashid: Yes, but we lived in a context where those sorts of things had no appeal, no interest, no weight. There was no sort of status involved. It was a sort of horizontal society not a hierarchical.
Swaram: And that’s probably what attracted you and him to live there.
So, tell us how you’ve come across Osho and what happened then.
Rashid: Okay, I actually had a farm. I bought a small holding in the Welsh mountains because I was at one stage, around the age of 32/33, absolutely frustrated and upset with the art-world and the world of galleries and the world of art schools, where I was mostly involved. I wanted out of that world, the politics of it, the corridors of power were very, very difficult to negotiate and not my scene at all. So I just thought, if I had my own farm I could grow my own food, because I love farming, I love gardening, I love animals, so then I will have more time for my painting, and that’s when I started looking now. Because suddenly, I’m in a position, where everything I’ve ever wanted, I’ve got. I’ve got a beautiful wife, beautiful kids, beautiful place to live, work that I love and yet, there’s something missing. And then out of the blue came this book, called ‘The way of the white cloud’. I was milking in the cow parlour in the early morning and my wife came in with this book and she started reading. One paragraph was all it needed - we were both in tears. We went into the house where our friend was staying burning toast for breakfast for the kids and he started crying too. And we thought: this is what we’ve been looking for. Within three months a whole concatenation of circumstances meant that we’ve got the money, we’ve got the time, we’ve got someone to look after our farm, and we were in Poona in December 1977. And I just remember going through the gate - the gateless gate - into the ashram and my jaw dropping to the ground because there was so much beauty. I had never seen such beauty in the people walking the green walkways all wearing different colours of orange and red, all long haired, the men with beards, the women absolutely - the way people walked so relaxed, so easy; the way they were carrying bulks of wood or pushing a wheelbarrow or carrying a baby or a clipboard. They all moved so beautifully. They sat and talked so beautifully. They hugged. Just walking through, within my first 30 seconds of my time in Poona, I knew this was my home. This is where I’ve been longing to be.
Swaram: As you talk about it, I can feel the vibe, I can picture those images and it’s wonderful. And basically what happened is that since you arrived in 1977 you never left till the very end. Is that right?
Rashid: That’s absolutely right. I just went back for 2 months to sell the farm, my beloved sheep-dog and get rid of the beautiful pottery china set we had of tea things. But yes, we let it all go, because this was something more important than anything. It was life and death. It was that big. And then very quickly I got the job from my farming background to grow vegetables for Osho. And the thing was that we didn’t know anything about meditation and yet Osho every day was saying this is my teaching: meditation, meditation, meditation.
Actually he wasn’t a teacher, but we learned from him. This is my understanding: meditation, meditation, meditation. And yet in a way, I didn’t really know about meditation, I mean, I was… I sat there every morning for an hour and a half in discourse but I was listening to the words. It was only years later, maybe towards the end of his life in Poona 2, in the late 80s, that finally I could listen to the silence between the words. I could be in that space of silence and emptiness in which everything is born, from which everything derives. I’m giving you a clue now to get on to creativity.
Swaram: {Laughter} We’ll talk about that! I just wanted to highlight that I share Osho meditations and see so many people nowadays doing 2 or 3 weeks or few sessions of meditation and thinking they’ve achieved somewhere; and then listening to someone like you who has been with a spiritual master like Osho for so many years, being so honest in saying that it took you a long time to appreciate those silence gaps. It’s important to remind people that yes, meditation can make you sleep better, can make you focus better, but there is dimensions beyond the mind, beyond what we normally can understand and know and that’s the real treasure of meditation. That’s what Osho has to offer.
Rashid: Yes, good.
Swaram: It’s time to shift gear and talk about creativity. Can you tell us, where you find so much energy, inspiration and drive for all this creativity which seems to be so abundant in you?
Rashid: It is finding that silence space within. We all have it but actually we’re all so cluttered up with the cultural inheritance of mental chatter, particularly in the West.
I’ll tell you something really interesting. In the commune I never painted. I did drawings a lot of the time and occasional watercolours, but I was never in the art group or the art-world. I was much more involved with construction, carpentry, gardening, farming, environment, ecology. I was much more involved even in the days of the Ranch with Sheela working in the pot room and doing menial jobs, so I never got to experience creativity in the commune as an artist. But as soon as I left the commune, when Osho left the body, it all came back, but reinvigorated, renewed. Now this is the thing about the problems I was having before Sannyas, that only very occasionally would my mind take a backseat and the painting paints itself. Like all artists talk about it: the poem writing itself, the novel writing itself; but now I understand why I didn’t… why Osho never gave me the work of creativity. It was, because I needed to find that empty space first. From then on, there is a potential for creativity.
Swaram: It seems like you’re saying: through meditation, I learnt silence, I learnt to empty the cup and then out of that emptiness all the content of my art is overflowing. Is that what you’re saying?
Rashid: Yeah, absolutely, beautifully put. And meditation is the fast track to all sorts of creativity and freshness and I think that must be the answer to your previous question - why I still at the age of 80 feel as much energy as I had when I was 18.
Swaram: Wonderful, that’s the miracle of meditation, I think.
Rashid: I’ll tell you another thing that’s really lovely. It’s that somehow, as I get older, my mind gets less intrusive and I feel closer to kids, because kids don’t have intrusive minds. I mean up to the age of 7 they’re pure blank sheets of paper and then, gradually, they get more -but even up to the age of 17, 18 kids have still got one foot in emptiness, one foot in the beyond and I find it so beautiful, hanging out with kids. Actually, I got quite a lot of grandchildren, as you know. They’re a terrific inspiration to me and I think it’s mutual, we inspire each other.
Swaram: It seems like you are saying: “in my 80s I’m becoming a child again”.
Rashid: Something like that {laughter}
Swaram: because your mind is becoming more empty and you connect more with children. That’s beautiful.
Rashid: yes, yes.
Swaram: Which form of art represents you the most? Where do you feel you can express yourself at your best?
Rashid: I think it’s got to be painting because it’s a long way from words. It’s to do with gesture, it’s to do with colour, shape, form, line, brightness, darkness, hue, it’s all those things and they’re a long way from words.
Swaram: I want to talk about your book on Laxmi. The book is called ‘The only life’, published by Simone & Schuster and tells the story of Laxmi, Osho’s first disciple and secretary, which effectively means that Laxmi was Osho’s right hand for many years. How did the book come about and why to write a book on Laxmi today?
Rashid: Okay, I was invited by Swami Atul in Osho World up in Delhi to write the book. I saw writing about Laxmi as a way of bringing… using Laxmi as a finger pointing to Osho and Osho is pointing back then to what we need to know now. What we need to know about ourselves and about the world. Osho was pointing back then to what we need to do now: to change the world, we must change ourselves. And changing ourselves is what Laxmi was about. She, Laxmi, went through the process from start to finish; the process of transformation. She can be, I don’t want to say role model, what’s the word; she’s an example, a beautiful example of how someone can go through the dark valleys of despair, of difficulties, of rejection, of sadness and still attain to the sunlit peaks to which we all aspire. That’s my reason for writing.
Swaram: What was the most interesting fact you have learnt in your research?
Rashid: It is extraordinary to me, that someone, who was so close to Osho, who was so beautifully efficient and effective as his secretary, could within 10 years be ejected from his commune. So, the story is how and why that happened, and the process is, she had to go through that in order to realise her true nature. There is one little story in the context of the Wild Wild Country, which is sweeping across the world at the moment - sex guru thrown out of America. Laxmi was his first secretary and most intimate disciple for a period of 10 years at least.
And, as far as I know, she was a virgin. So sex guru or not, his secretary - she never had sex in her life, as far as I ascertained.
Swaram: You normally hear quite the opposite about people around Osho… so it’s very interesting {both laugh}.
Ok I want to talk about Osho today. In your view, how has Osho contributed to the development of human consciousness?
Rashid: Okay, first, let me just say that my understanding is that humanity has evolved at the moment, as far as it’s going to go, physically.
We have gone beyond survival of the fittest, we’ve survived and out-survived every other living, I mean maybe the environment is going to kill us in the end, but what I understand is that now, our evolution has to be in consciousness. That’s where the future lies, because with the consciousness that we have at the moment, look at the mess we’ve made. Look at the mess. This planet, how long will it survive? What future is there for our grandchildren or great grandchildren? It’s going to be a very difficult one. And that’s not even before we’re going to talk about IT, technology, it’s beyond our control. We already have a technology. So we have to evolve the consciousness to get back an equilibrium on this planet. Osho was talking about that 40 years ago, actually 50 years ago even, and he was laying out a whole toolkit we can use to evolve our consciousness. Osho, from his earliest years, read hugely. He read - even when I was in Poona - he was reading 10 books a week or was it 10 books a day? … well he read a lot. And he would remember, and he could be questioned about anything that he had read, and he would remember. He had got total recall, that’s how empty he was. He was equipping himself reading all this stuff, including all sorts of crappy magazines and newspapers, in order to understand what it was that was motivating the human race, East and West. So he gave himself the insights and understandings of how best to give us tools for our evolution. All those discourses and meditations are the fruit that we can nourish ourselves on, if we are to leave a future for future generations.
Swaram: That’s how many young people feel, because otherwise you can’t explain how a man who is no more here talking can attract so many people, perhaps even more nowadays than when he was in the body. His books are sold as bestsellers in many countries. His youtube videos are downloaded in incredibly high numbers. So definitely Osho is alive. His message is a message which is valid today.
Rashid: Can I add one little fact here?
Swaram: Of course.
Rashid: I understand that since that film, that docuseries, wild wild country came out, hits on Osho’s website and the sales of books have gone up from 300 to 500 percent - that says something, Even though that film is totally negative about what was happening in Osho’s commune, even so… a few little glimpses of Osho in that film, a couple of minutes in 6 hours - yet people have picked up on the fragrance, on the beauty, on the incredible courage of what he was doing at that time.
Swaram: So we are heading towards the end. Tell us a bit about your current projects, if you have any. And where people can find you, get in touch with you, if they want to connect with you, and ask questions.
Rashid: Yes, well just go to and there is a section there ‘contact me’ and I’d be happy to enter into constructive dialogue with anyone. My future projects… I haven’t clearly got a project, but what’s coming together in my heart, is my love of words and my love for images - the painter and the poet. And I think it might be a film, combining words and images. I want to create works that induce meditation; that actually put arms around the listener/viewer, so that they feel they can relax into meditation. I want to create meditation visually. I think that’s what much Oriental art does. And some of the early… for example the cathedrals of Europe - I think they do that, they create a state of meditation, just by their grandeur and their intricacy and their rhythmic splendour.
Swaram: Well, we look forward to seeing your…
Rashid: Cathedral {both laugh}.
Swaram: Ok, so last 3 questions for you. The first one is: what’s your morning routine. How does your morning look like in the first couple of hours?
Rashid: Well the first thing is 4 o’clock in the morning meditation. I do that in order to synchronise with the rising sun or the beginning of the day, the birds waking up. 4-5, around that time, I sit. Then, afterwards I lay in bed. Very often I listen to music, and it could be Beethoven’s late quartettes, but it’s more likely to be (inaudible) singers, those sacred singers from old India.
Swaram: The second question is: what’s your favourite meditation and why?
Rashid: Sitting silently. That’s where I’m at now. For many years I loved to do Dynamic, I loved to do Kundalini every day, whenever that was possible. So those are two beautiful meditations, that Osho evolved for us - the modern mental men, the modern unbalanced, the modern stressed out men. But I did enough that and sat enough with him to now give me the space to be able to sit silently, which I do morning and evening, last thing at night and first thing in the morning. And actually, I want to say something about the meditation called the Mystic Rose. It’s that one in which you laugh for a week, you cry for a week and you sit silently for a week 3 hours every day. That changed my life, that was amazing, that is a real life changer.
Swaram: The last question: you lived the Osho experiment. What does it mean to be with Osho in 2018?
Rashid: Yes, big question. I mean, he means everything, he is my life. He is in everything I do and think and feel and want and love, he’s there. What is imminent in my life is the coming together of 2 worlds: Zorba - the man of the world; Buddha - the man of the inner. The metaphysical and the physical.
Swaram: Thank you so much. It’s been a real pleasure. You shared so many beautiful things and I’m sure our listeners take away lots of value.
Rashid: I want to say you have asked some beautiful questions. you have actually managed to penetrate to the depth with the questions.
That’s very good.
Swaram: Thank you for that.