Born in 1938 in New York, U.S.A. Jayapal took sannyas in 1977 and presently lives in San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

14 Swami Deva Jayapal

The year was 1976. I had spent the better part of my life exploring therapeutic paradigms ranging from analysis on the one hand to gestalt and primal on the other. Somehow I was beginning to O.D. on the stuff, and some friends suggested I check out some eastern mystics for a different perspective. This was an unknown world for me, provoking images of religious charlatans or weird looking, bald Hare Krishnas bugging people in the airport. But I took a shot at it, buying four books at Weiser’s Bookstore in Greenwich Village: Be Here Now by Ram Dass; Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Trungpa Rinpoche; a book on Zen by Suzuki; and finally, for no reason at all, Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. And so my initiation began.

Ram Dass gave me my first clue that there may be something in all of this stuff. I was totally captivated by his book, and walked around chanting a mantra to myself for a couple of weeks. Try navigating your way on foot through New York City thoroughfares while concentrating on Om Mani Padme Om. It was a suicidal endeavour. Trungpa came next and also blew my socks off with new concepts and ways of looking at reality and life.

I gave Suzuki a brief try, but there was no spark for me there. Finally, I came to Bhagwan, and after reading the first page of the book, I was absolutely hooked. As I recall he simply was saying that truth encompasses all the polarities and that they are all connected and part of the whole. To see this simple truth in print, something that I had known but never shared with friends for fear of seeming cuckoo, blew my mind.

In the back of the book was a list of Rajneesh Centres worldwide, one of which was ten minutes from my Greenwich Village apartment. I called and was invited to a meditation in the loft, which passed as their centre. I knew a little something about meditation. It meant being quiet and not moving. Or so I thought. When I was greeted by a woman at the front desk, I was sure, upon looking into her eyes, that she had seen something extraordinary. I was so impressionable.

When she explained how the meditation would work I realized this ‘Dynamic Meditation’ had no resemblance to my expectation. In a room filled with men and women, all dressed in orange, my God, some of the men even wearing dresses, we started the first stage of Dynamic. By the second stage I thought I had fallen amongst a band of lunatics, and by the time the meditation ended I was sure I had had, at the very least, a minor heart attack. And when I took off the blindfold I had been given I found that half the people were nude and many were having wonderful, juicy hugs; I morphed into this scene quite easily. This meditation stuff was really cool.

Before I left the centre that night, I had obtained all the information on how I could get to Poona, and the next day I ordered a custom-made orange cushion. I had become an official meditator.

In the summer of 1977, I arrived at Bombay Airport with my Brazilian girlfriend. This was a scene of epic proportions: Arab sheikhs with their harems trailing behind, Indian swamis, women in colourful saris, and people – swarms and swarms of people – everywhere. Somehow we made it to the Blue Diamond Hotel in Pune in a state of shock and awe. We were not sannyasins, but the hotel lobby was crowded with people in orange and with malas around their necks, two of whom approached us, offering a sexual foursome if we were so inclined. This was my first night in Pune, and it was terrifying. We scurried back to the safety of our room.

Our introduction to the unique Indian mentality continued at the hotel. We bought a beautiful bouquet of long-stemmed roses and asked the concierge to put them in a vase for us while we sauntered over to the ashram. When we returned, the roses had been de-stemmed and the buds placed in a tiny vase.

Our roses had become mini-stemmed.

Minutes later, when the temperature in the air- conditioned room descended to arctic levels, we called down to see if the level could be adjusted. “No problem, no problem, someone will come to your room directly and take care of it.” When the ‘someone’ came to the room, he was equipped with the tools of the trade: three or four issues of the Poona Herald, which he proceeded to stuff into the air-conditioning duct. Welcome to Indian pre-computer-era technology.

My first glimpse of Bhagwan came in Buddha Hall during my first discourse. I had been told that he glides above the earth, where normal people walk. Try as I might, when he approached the podium, I couldn’t see his feet. I wanted hard evidence that his feet didn’t touch the ground, but craning my neck couldn’t resolve this nagging doubt of mine. I simply wasn’t sure.

My budding spirituality was accompanied by spiritual naiveté. I had taken this metaphor literally. Other than that, my first viewing is a blur of a small brown man in an immaculate white robe, emanating joy. I had never seen joy and love radiating from someone before, so for me it was a palpable, new experience.

Before leaving the United States, I had heard of this extremely challenging encounter group happening in Poona. As a tough kid from New York with years of group experience behind me I was anxious to sign up for this group. I was nails. I could handle anything they could throw at me.

Early on, I stopped at the booking office to sign up for this group, but was told that I needed to do a bevy of preliminary groups before I could do encounter. I wasn’t even a sannyasin, mind you, but I was very insistent, and they told me they would bring this matter to Bhagwan for his consideration. A couple of days later I happened upon an acquaintance of mine from New York, a successful, elegant, and urbane psychiatrist whom I had met through a lover of mine. He was sitting in the garden, looking horrible. This once-handsome man resembled the skull and crossbones warnings on bottles of iodine. Drained, hollow cheeks, eyes glazed. Gingerly, I approached him to say hello and asked if everything was o.k. He simply mumbled “Encounter Group.” He had been figuratively stripped naked and attacked throughout the group.

He pointed to a woman with bandages around her head. “Encounter,” he mumbled once again. He nodded at a man with a cast on his arm. “Encounter,” came from his lips this time, barely audible. Fear raced through my body. This was much more than I had bargained for.

I rushed to the booking office to rectify my horrendous error. I would take Zen archery or pottery. The hell with this encounter group; I wasn’t ‘nails’ after all. When I arrived at the office, they were so happy to see me. “We’ve been looking for you,” they gushed. “Bhagwan has given His blessings to your taking encounter.” I was boxed in and exposed. So two days later, having trembled at the prospect, the encounter began. Within minutes of the group’s beginning, two women were in the middle of the floor tearing at each other’s hair, kicking, and biting. I tried hiding in the corner, but with only twelve people in the group, the leader, Teertha, found me, and my hell began. Somehow, in the middle of this nightmare, I decided to take sannyas. At least it got me out of the room for an evening.

Sitting on the bench outside Lao Tzu House, odourless, clean, and all in orange, I prepared for my big evening. Vivek came over to me and asked my name. She said, “Steve Sherman, after tonight, you will never be the same.” How right she turned out to be! But not before, sitting in front of Bhagwan, He gave me my name and said, “Your name is Deva Jayapal; deva is divine, jayapal is king.” My instant reaction was that I had fooled even Him; He thinks I’m a divine king. But then He continued, “You are simply a beggar now, but you can become a divine king.” Well, he got it right after all.

The rest is history. Thirty-two years later, Bhagwan, now Osho, lives inside of me and has become my lifelong guide. How right the lovely Vivek was! After that night, I was never the same.


“This has been my observation of thousands of people – that if you can start moving in the right direction, even though it doesn’t seem to be believable in the beginning, sooner or later it starts happening. And when it starts happening, what can you do? You have to believe it.

The initiation into sannyas has two steps. The first step is: you simply trust me when I am saying that you are a divine king. The second step will be taken the day you come to realize it on your own. I see you as I see everybody, as a divine king. Nobody is a beggar, but everybody has become a beggar. It is our own creation. We are in a kind of dream and we have forgotten who we are. Now, even if you can pretend in your dream that you are awake – that you are not a beggar, that you are a king – that is going to help. It will be moving away from the dream. Gurdjieff used to say to his disciples ‘If you can remember in your dream that it is a dream, that’s enough – you will come out of it immediately.’

Try it and you will be surprised: just before going to sleep every night, just go on thinking ‘I will be able to remember when a dream comes that is a dream.’ And you will be surprised: the moment you remember ‘This is a dream’ suddenly you are awake. Exactly in the same way, start with this seed thought: ‘I am not a beggar, nobody is a beggar. God has never created a beggar. God only creates gods; he cannot do otherwise. A god can only reproduce gods.’ And Jesus is not his only son. Every being that has existed, exists, will exist, is a son of god…and that is our sovereignty, our kingship.

In the beginning it seems unbelievable, but if you start just allowing the seed to sink into the heart, one day it sprouts and you see the first green leaves coming out of the earth…and the magic has worked. That is the second initiation. Then you know on your own, who you are – the glory, the splendour of your being.”

Osho, Hallelujah! Ch 8

From the book, Past the Point of No Return by Ma Anand Bhagawati

Past The Point Of No Return

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