Women in charge

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The organizations that grew around Osho were partly organic, arising spontaneously in response to perceived needs, and partly shaped and directed by him. Quite early in that process, in Mumbai, a woman came to be in charge of everything that was needed and happening around him. This was Ma Yoga Laxmi, who went on to run everything in Pune One as well. She was efficient, heartful, devoted to Osho, and open to attempting the impossible, especially if the only constraints were time and people-power, mere logistical hurdles.

Testimony to this can be found in Rakesh's account of the preparing of Buddha Hall in March 1977, written as commentary in The Zero Experience: "[Buddha Hall] is now a rough foundation of cement with iron rods sticking up in the air everywhere. Nevertheless, bhagwan wants no one to miss this special darshan, so instead of the usual chuang tzu auditorium, he says to prepare buddha hall. People giggle somewhat madly, but laxmi, bhagwan's secretary and personal mountain-mover, says her usual 'It will happen'. Now that's surrender! And, it does happen".

As Osho's movement grew exponentially, a grand experiment grew with it. Observing that women had been abused and held back for centuries and millennia by men, often citing divine guidance, Osho saw an opportunity to release both sexes from needless shackles and address social inequities by having women explicitly put in charge of, well, just about everything. It started with Laxmi, down through her immediate assistants and then department heads.

As devices go, it was brilliant, giving both women and men a chance to explore inner obstacles to their growth: prejudices, attitudes, beliefs regarding sex-based roles were dismantled or exploded in ways tailored to individual needs: the situation itself would decide the details of lesson to be imparted.

Deeksha01.jpg

Not that it was necessarily easy! Some of these women were difficult. The best example of that was probably Deeksha, the Italian Zen mama who ran Vrindavan, the kitchen and handyman dept. She was famous for being erratic, irrational and demanding, but her difficult aspect was a part of the device. Osho said once, in a quote that became a classic justification for the authoritarian structure of the Ranch and its demands for surrender:

It is very easy to surrender to me, difficult to surrender to Deeksha. So I will insist that you surrender to Deeksha; that is the way to surrender to me. Deeksha will be a harder thing to surrender to. To me you can surrender easily because I don't come into your day to day, moment to moment work. So this has to be learned by everybody. ~ from The Zero Experience ch 13

This could not go on forever of course. Eventually such lessons as could be learned from such structures were learned. And on the other side, women "in power" had other lessons to move on to, so the inevitability of this authority structure faded, but it had a long run. In fact, that long run was more or less until the end of Osho's time in the body. His secretaries when he left his body were still all women but he was grooming Jayesh to run the Inner Circle, the group which was supposed to administer his legacy.

Osho goes into some detail in answer to a question by Maneesha in the second discourse of Joshu: The Lion's Roar about how he is still functioning with women running things, and some of the problems that arise. We have a short excerpt here for a taste, and at page bottom the full relevant part of his answer:

The first commune was destroyed because of women's jealousies. They were fighting continuously. The second commune was destroyed because of women's jealousies. And this is the third commune -- and the last, because I am getting tired. Once in a while I think perhaps Buddha was right not to allow any women in his commune for twenty years. I am not in favor of him: I am the first who has allowed men and women the same, equal opportunity for enlightenment. But I have burnt my fingers twice, and it has always been the jealousy of the women.

Still, I am a stubborn person. After two communes, immense effort wasted, I have started a third commune, but I have not created any difference -- women are still running it. I want women here in this commune not to behave like women. But small jealousies... Now, somebody has to bring my food -- the whole commune cannot do that. Somebody has to make my room clean, my bathroom clean -- the whole community is not needed there; otherwise the result will be the opposite!

This talk from Joshu was in Oct 1988, about six months before his last discourse and fifteen months before he left his body. Women continued to run things until much closer to that fateful day. Thus we have no record of Osho's indications on the subject except for others' reports.

Shunyo writes in Diamond Days with Osho about a closely related matter, wherein she and Anando are told to move out of Osho's house and are relieved of their duties in taking care of him:

"I felt very sad to be leaving the Master's house like this -- because how does one know that this is not the beginning of a total change in the ashram? Maybe men will do everything. Maybe other women will even have to leave. Osho had been the first mystic to give women a chance, but maybe the women's conditioning is too deep. Who knows, this may be the end for women. I went to my room and vomited. Anando and I moved to our new rooms in Mirdad House, just across the road from the ashram. I had just got everything moved in when Amrito telephoned me. He said that he had just told Osho that Anando and I had moved out of His house, and Osho said, 'Tell them they can move back in again.'
"I sat on the doorstep and cried.
[ ...]
"Although all these weeks I had been intensely searching to get in touch with my unconscious conditioning, I hadn't actually seen it. I had spent a lot of time just being very quiet, a lot of time feeling that the mountain path I was on was very narrow and precarious. But I hadn't seen any sign of the conditioning, until one day on Osho's presence it was suddenly there. I was aware of my woman's neediness in the way I spoke to Him, every move I made, I felt it coming out of my eyes. Each gesture I made was saying, "Do you love me, do you need me?" My whole body was putting out this question. I was very shocked, I felt ashamed that after all this time, and after all He has given, it is still there. Then I realized it has always been there and this is the first time I have been aware of it.
"I then asked myself, 'Why, why is this need there?'
"It seems it's there becuase I have yet been in touch with my being. I am not aware that my being is enough. I still relate to the world through 'the woman'; I don't relate with my being, I don't know that I am enough, because I am still 'the woman'. The woman is not needed. Being is enough.
"Amrito was looking after Osho full time now and I used to wake him up at 6:00 pm. It always felt strange to me, asking Osho to 'wake up' when it was Hime trying to wake me up. He took a shower, came to Buddha Hall, and then by 7:45 pm, He was back in bed. The only energy He had was saved to meet His people each night."

More to come. Below the whole excerpt from Joshu:

Maneesha has asked: BELOVED OSHO, WHATEVER NANSEN MEANT WHEN HE REQUESTED "SPECIAL TREATMENT" FOR JOSHU, APPARENTLY IT DIDN'T MEAN JOSHU MOVING INTO LAO TZU HOUSE AND HAVING PRIVATE, DAILY CHATS WITH THE MASTER. ON THE CONTRARY, JOSHU'S FIRST JOB WAS IN ZORBA THE BUDDHA RESTAURANT, SLAVING OVER A HOT STOVE. WHAT IS THE LESSON HERE FOR US?

Maneesha, in the first place your question has come neither from mind nor from no-mind, but from migraine. I would have given you a good hit, but I don't hit people. My representative, Stonehead Niskriya, is hitting people in Germany. I have heard that he hits people, strangers, sits on their chests and asks, "Got it?" And obviously, to get rid of this fellow they have to say, "Yes!" But what is it? Niskriya says, "I don't know myself; I am just spreading the message." Fortunately he is not here; otherwise he would have given you a good hit.

"Special treatment" does not mean a special job. "Special treatment" means: Be careful of this man; his flowering is very close. Don't neglect him in any way, because there are thousands of monks... Whatever job you give him, that is not the point. But just be careful: it is a precious time for him, he is ripening. And any moment, suddenly he will explode into enlightenment. He already had a satori.

[ ... ]

So when the head monk was told by Nansen to give Joshu special treatment, that did not mean to give him special comforts. That did not mean to give him no job, that did not mean that he had to be thought of as superior to others. Give him any job -- that is the function of the head monk in a monastery -- but keep an eye out, don't forget him. There are thousands of people you have to take care of. Keep an eye out, because this man is not going to stay unenlightened long. He is going to become a buddha very soon.

So it is not a question Maneesha, that special treatment means "moving into Lao Tzu and having private, daily chats with the master." If you are aware of what you are asking... do you see your jealousy? Do you see your woman? How do you know that the people who are allowed to come to me are chitchatting? They have their work; they need instructions, they are called because of their work. It is not that they have the right to come to me to chitchat. What will I chitchat about?

They have their work just as you have your work. Others are jealous of you. You are also in Lao Tzu and you have the special work of collecting my words, of editing my words. When we are all gone, Maneesha's collections will be remembered for centuries. But it is very difficult to get rid of our jealousies....

The first commune was destroyed because of women's jealousies. They were fighting continuously. The second commune was destroyed because of women's jealousies. And this is the third commune -- and the last, because I am getting tired. Once in a while I think perhaps Buddha was right not to allow any women in his commune for twenty years. I am not in favor of him: I am the first who has allowed men and women the same, equal opportunity for enlightenment. But I have burnt my fingers twice, and it has always been the jealousy of the women.

Still, I am a stubborn person. After two communes, immense effort wasted, I have started a third commune, but I have not created any difference -- women are still running it. I want women here in this commune not to behave like women. But small jealousies... Now, somebody has to bring my food -- the whole commune cannot do that. Somebody has to make my room clean, my bathroom clean -- the whole community is not needed there; otherwise the result will be the opposite!

I call Anando every morning while I am eating, every evening while I am eating, just to give her instructions so that nothing goes wrong. Things go wrong so easily... and because Anando has been in all three communes, and is a law graduate, she understands very clearly why these two communes, created with such great effort, with so much money poured into them, got destroyed. She has a very clear conception. And whatever I say, she manages to do it. I have not heard her saying a single time that, "I have forgotten." She immediately takes notes and reports the next day what the situation is. Otherwise, very easily things can go wrong.

I had talked to Neelam -- she is my secretary. I had told her that I was thinking to make Anand Swabhav an ambassador, going around the country, because I am not moving. And he has been doing very good work, conducting camps, giving talks, approaching different institutions in different places. So most of the time he is going to be out. He has been in charge of the ashram, and I had told Neelam that it would be good to talk to him and ask if he would like to be an ambassador, because now we are appointing ambassadors in every country -- somebody who represents me to the news media, conducts camps, takes care of what is going on in those countries, against me or for me, and informs me.

She must have asked him, and he was happy. There was a question of putting someone else as the ashram in-charge. I had one idea in my mind and I told Neelam, "You ask a beautiful woman, perfectly capable -- Zareen." She has been doing so well with her job at the gate with the visitors, with the receptionists, taking people around the ashram. I thought perhaps she would be good as the in-charge of the ashram. Neelam talked to her, and Zareen went to Hasya, who is the international secretary. Zareen told Hasya that she is not a "puppet type." She will do whatever she wants to do; nobody can dictate to her. It is perfectly good, but in a commune it will immediately create conflicts. I had to drop the idea.

Without Anando, I would have not known and things would have gone wrong. Anando informed me -- she is my legal secretary. She informed me that Zareen is good, but she has this spoiled mind from her very childhood. Whatever she wants to do, she will do. That's perfectly good, but not good in commune life. And she is doing so perfectly we -- that work would be disturbed if she becomes ashram in-charge.

Zareen even immediately changed the word, in her unconscious. She told Hasya, "I have been asked to become the president of the ashram." Ashram in-charge is a different thing. It is a rough job. Mainly it is concerned with the police, courts, cases. And knowing that Neelam is soft, there is going to be trouble... Neelam is doing her work perfectly well, but if Zareen starts thinking she is the president and Neelam is only a secretary, then there is going to be trouble. So I had to change. I had to put Tathagata as ashram in-charge. And he is already doing that job without any title. He is continuously fighting in the courts, and dealing with the police and the government officers. He is taking care of that side and he has been here with Swabhav for years, in deep friendship. So I thought it would be better -- he should be named as ashram in-charge.

Now I would not have known, because I don't go anywhere. I don't know where the office of my secretary is, where the office of my president is, where the office of the ashram in-charge is. I know only three places: my bedroom, my bathroom, and Buddha Hall. If anybody asks me any question about the ashram, I am absolutely ignorant. Somebody needs to inform me -- and somebody who has a comprehensive insight. So only Anando comes, and she comes only because I ask her to come. Just while I am taking food, she gives me information about publications, the books, how many books are in publication, how many are going into publication... how we should manage exhibitions around the world, how we should find publishers. And just in five or ten minutes -- she is very accurate, not a gossipy type.

Now Maneesha's question is full of jealousy. Not only I am saying it; Nirvano brings the sutras and the questions to show me -- she wanted to change it. I said, "Don't change it, let it be as it is," because in commune life we should expose ourselves without fear. Love knows no fear. If something is arising in your mind, you should tell it.

And remember one thing: everybody is doing his work. Nobody is to dominate anybody. Yes, everybody is allowed to suggest, to help, but to suggest and to help does not mean that you are being made a puppet. Nobody is a puppet here. It is a gathering of absolutely independent individuals.

But just because it is a gathering of independent individuals there has to be much more responsibility, much more awareness, much more remembrance. Outside in the world you have learned jealousy, you have learned domination, you have learned stubbornness. You have learned that "I will do things according to my own mind; whether it is right or wrong does not matter." It is perfectly okay outside in the world, where there is so much mess that you cannot make it worse. But at least in this small commune don't bring in the outside world and the outside world's tendencies.

We are trying a great experiment, that independent individuals can live together without enslaving anyone. Here everybody is equal. It does not matter what job he is doing. He may be editing, he may be cleaning, he may be cooking, it does not matter. What matters is that you should cook with awareness, as if a buddha is cooking. And you are cooking for other buddhas; your cooking has to be done with great awareness and love. It is not a duty; it is your contribution, your share, to the commune. It is as valuable as anybody else's work. If you are cleaning bathrooms, it is as respectable as being the president of the commune or the secretary of the commune. There is no question of jealousy at all, because nobody is superior to anybody else.

This is what I call authentic communism. The Soviet communism has failed -- failed because of dictatorship, failed because it tries to dominate people, and the people who loved freedom were killed. One million people were killed by Stalin alone. He could not tolerate any difference of ideas. But the same was the situation after Stalin died and Khrushchev came into power. He had been in the same presidium, the highest committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union -- and there are no other parties. Khrushchev had been with Stalin for decades, and he was one of the most intimate to him amongst the other twenty-one members of the presidium. He succeeded Stalin. The day after Stalin died, he spoke on his death to the Communist Party and said, "Stalin has killed almost one million people and he has made the whole country a slave camp." Somebody from the back seats asked, "You were with Stalin all these years. Why did you not object?"

Khrushchev's answer is very significant. He said, "Please stand up, and you will know. Who has asked the question? Stand up!" Nobody stood, because to stand up means... finished! And he said, "That is the reason I was silent. Why are you not standing up? If I had opposed anything, if even a question was in Stalin's mind that `Khrushchev is not totally with me,' I would have been finished. And what was the need to become unnecessarily finished? You can see it yourself. You are silent now, you are not standing up. Because if you stand up, you are gone; nobody will ever hear of you again."

Communism has been completely destroyed by the dictatorial ideology.

I am basically a communist, an anarchist, and something more -- all kinds of dangerous ideas and something more!

Here we are trying on a small scale an experiment of living equally. Your job does not make any difference to your individuality. Nobody is a puppet because nobody is here who is a puppeteer. I don't come out, I have no post, I am not even member of the sannyas movement. I am just a guest, absolutely at your mercy.

I hate the idea that anybody should dominate anybody. And nobody is doing that, things are flowing beautifully. But your question must be the question of many people. That's why I told Nirvano "Don't change it, let it remain as it is."

Maneesha is intelligent enough not to ask a stupid question. But she suffers from migraines. And today she has a migraine, I can say it without any doubt; otherwise she would not have asked such a question. With a migraine, strange ideas arise and you cannot do anything. The whole world seems to be hell. One feels like doing something nasty. It is a chemical, hormonal matter. One wants to be nasty, one wants to behave in a way that is insulting, humiliating; but the person is not doing it, it is the chemistry. Now Maneesha needs Amrito's injection, not my answer.