Born in 1944 in Kew Gardens, New York, U.S.A. Anupama took sannyas in 1974 and presently lives in California, U.S.A.

35 Ma Prem Anupama

I first heard of Osho in 1974, when I was living in the California Bay Area. Back in those days, Ma Yoga Sushila was running a Rajneesh Meditation Centre in San Francisco. I met Sushila through my ex-husband, Robert Birnbaum. Robert is a Ph.D. psychotherapist, and he had discovered Sushila and the Rajneesh Centre while attending a retreat at Esalen, in California.

Once a week, Sushila would arrive in Berkeley to lead Osho’s Dynamic Meditation in a local church. Sushila always enjoyed giggling and often had a mischievous glint in her eyes. She would bring her tambourine, blindfolds, and cassette tape recorder. After a round of hugs, she would have us place blindfolds over our eyes, and then she would begin the music for this active meditation. To help us all go totally into the meditation with no holding back, Sushila would shock us by suddenly shaking her tambourine. Next, she would begin jumping up and down, banging the tambourine onto her hand, right next to our ears! This, of course, made a terrible racket! I remember she tremendously enjoyed irritating us this way!!! We could hear her giggling, as she got us all in the mood to cathart in the ‘let go’ phase.

I remember that several months after meeting Sushila, she began encouraging us to go with her on her next trip to Pune, India, to meet Osho. Finally, we agreed. With our suitcases stuffed to the brim with blankets and gifts for Osho (then called Bhagwan), off we flew.

I was very grateful to Sushila for accompanying the two of us to India. She had made many such trips before and knew about every detail that would help us make this trip as successful as possible. However, I was completely unprepared for the reality of India itself.

Upon arrival at Bombay Airport, a shock went through me. First, there was the humid smell of Indian air; it smelled of warm diesel fuel, sweat, faeces, moist smoky fires, and incense. There were throngs of mostly young men crowded around the airport buildings, all waiting for some luggage to carry, as well as masses of people either walking along the streets or riding bicycles. Cars, trucks, taxis, and small motor-driven rickshaws seemed to be honking and dashing every which way, following no apparent traffic laws.

As our taxi sped through Bombay to a western-style hotel, it swerved around cows sitting on the roads, bullock carts, and pedestrians. Young mothers approached us with their babies, asking for ‘paisa’, and beggars appeared out of nowhere. I held tightly onto the door handle of our taxi, with terror welling up inside. I desperately whispered to Robert (as I didn’t want Sushila to hear), “If I had known it would be like this, I wouldn’t have come!”

However, the following day, Sushila quickly escorted us by taxi to Poona. By that time, I had begun to realize that Sushila was completely comfortable in India and in control. I also began to see that Indian traffic and Indian life in general were driven by some kind of inner intuition. I started to loosen my grip a bit on the door handles.

I loved being around Osho. Inside the gates of Shree Rajneesh Ashram, there was a stark contrast to what I had experienced on the outside. His ashram was breathtakingly beautiful, filled with flowering trees and birds. The buildings were modern and extremely clean. Everyone seemed relaxed and happy; people seemed to be either in a soft, meditative space or smiling and laughing. Most activities were carried out outdoors, in the lovely weather. The first thing I noticed was the soft yet powerful energy around the commune; it was like nothing I had ever experienced before. Going to my first discourse, that energy felt even more powerfully soft. I felt constantly ‘spaced out’, or more accurately, ‘spaced in’.

The day finally came to meet Osho in a morning darshan. I wasn’t at all sure I wanted to ‘take sannyas’, as it was called. I had enjoyed my own meditation group back in Berkeley before meeting Sushila, and I felt perfectly happy with it. As Robert and I bathed and dressed in our hotel room for our first meeting with Osho, I was feeling a mixture of excitement and fear, wondering what this would be like! I wondered if I should ‘take sannyas’.

Entering the outdoor darshan porch of Osho’s residence, Lao Tzu House, we rounded the bend. There, sitting in his chair, was Osho, eagerly smiling in our direction. I took one look at him, and to my own surprise, I gave the loudest belly laugh I had ever heard in my life!!! I was grinning from ear to ear and laughing like a lunatic!

There he was!!! He was real!!!

I had been raised a Christian and had always ‘believed’ that Jesus was ‘real’. Now I definitely knew that he was ‘real’, for sitting before me sat another ‘Jesus’. And I was about to meet him! This was incredible!

Next came the surprise of my life. As the two of us approached Osho, he looked at Robert and me, saying in the most loving voice I had ever heard, “Come here. I have been waiting for you for a long time. I have your names already!”

We sat at his feet, and he commenced to place a mala around both of our necks!!!

“He didn’t even ask me!” I thought.

I wasn’t sure I liked this, but I wasn’t going to say anything. Then, as Osho continued speaking, I realized I had already ‘surrendered’ to the Love I felt coming from this man. In fact, I felt totally in Love with him. His eyes were sparkling with a mischievous glint similar to the one I had seen in Sushila’s eyes. He proceeded to tell us our names and give us their meanings. I was given the name Ma Prem Anupama, and Robert was given the name Swami Prem Amitabh. (My name meant ‘Unique Love’; Amitabh’s name meant ‘Love Light’.)

He told me to make Love my meditation, and that after three months I would become a completely different person.

“Up until now,” Osho said, “love has been only a word to you.”

A few mornings later came my second meeting with Osho. This time, Osho and I had a good chat. He asked me if I had been doing Dynamic Meditation in the mornings.

I answered, “No. I have my own meditation.”

He asked me about that, and then he suggested I keep doing my own meditation until it fell away.

Next, he said, “Tomorrow morning, I want you to do Dynamic Meditation. And when you come to the ‘Hoo Stage’, I want you to jump up and down very hard onto your heels. Do it with your total energy. And I want you to get angry.”

“OK,” I answered.

“Good, Anupam,” he said.

Osho always called me ‘Anupam’ rather than my full name, Anupama, for some reason. This felt very intimate to me, and I loved it.

So the next morning I awoke nice and early and went to do Dynamic meditation. I had done this meditation in Berkeley probably 20 times before, so I knew how to do it. This time, however, I remembered Osho’s request. I did it with my total energy. I jumped down hard on my heels, and I felt angry. Next came the shout, “Freeze!”

I froze.

Then it happened. I felt nauseated. I thought I was going to throw up and have diarrhea at the same time. I felt scared. What would other people think? I stayed with it. I didn’t move.

With my eyes still closed, suddenly, out of the darkness, appeared a tiny golden-white light. The light came closer and closer to me. It actually felt as if I were traveling through a dark tunnel towards the light. I really couldn’t tell if the light was moving towards me or if I was moving towards it. As it approached, it became brighter and brighter. The brightness became more than I could bear. It was blinding me. I decided to open my eyes. I needed to get away from the glare.

Yet, to my surprise, when I opened my eyes, I couldn’t see anything. I was blind!

That was when I remembered Osho.

Next thing I knew, I was on the ground, lying in a small puddle of muddy water. I don’t remember falling, although it must have been during the last stage of the meditation, when everybody lies down on their backs. Everything was a blank at that point. But ‘something’ had happened.

Amitabh and I made it back to our hotel room. And I had regained my eyesight. However, for several days afterwards, I was unable to function. All I can remember is lying on the hotel bed, laughing, and going in and out of consciousness. This went on for nearly a week. I honestly cannot remember very much from that period of time. I think I may have attended some of Osho’s discourses, gently escorted by Amitabh. I also remember Sushila and Amitabh hanging out in the hotel room, talking. When I would regain consciousness, Sushila would laugh, and I was given food. I remember everything seemed funny to me. I spoke hardly at all. Most of the time, I was in some altered state, as if asleep. By the end of that week, I had to relearn how to walk around on my own and adjust to the outside world. I felt like I had been reborn. I was, again, a child. I felt completely open and vulnerable. Yet, with help, I adjusted.

The daily rides in the Indian rickshaws to Osho’s ashram and back to the hotel room had by now become a thrilling form of ‘let go’. I felt no fear. Everything appeared like an adventure. By this time, I was not tightly holding onto door handles. I was not holding onto anything. I was wishing I could joyride forever.

When our three weeks in Poona came to an end, Amitabh and I reluctantly returned home to California. Osho had invited us to return soon, and frankly, I couldn’t wait to do so. I returned to my teaching job at a nearby community college with a new name and wearing orange clothes and a mala. I wondered how this would go over. ‘Inner infinity’ was about to meet ‘the outer real world’.


My first day back teaching, I dressed in my new orange clothes and mala. I was mentally rehearsing how to introduce myself to my co-workers. I decided to write the name ‘Anu’ on my name tag.

Walking into the teaching lab, the first thing I heard anyone say to me was, “What happened to you?! You’re different!”

I simply smiled and said, “I took sannyas!”

“LOVE is not only the hope of the world, but the only hope. Up to now man has lived an absolutely loveless life. All the societies and the cultures and the religions that have existed on the earth have talked about love, but lived a very loveless existence. Much talk about love has happened in the past, but the structure that societies have created is basically against love. The society is geared for war, and a society that is geared for war can only talk about love but cannot live it.

We have come now to the peak of this ugly, stupid structure of hatred. We have come to the point where either man is to change totally or will have to die.

The new man can be born only with a new heart, with a new soul – and the flavour of that soul will be love, and the poetry of that heart will be love. A society that lives lovelessly is competitive, ambitious, obsessed with money, power, prestige. A society that lives without love lives through beliefs. Beliefs divide people, and all divisions breed war. A society that lives without love lives a very lusterless existence, because without love there is no splendour in life, no significance. Without love no song arises in the heart of man.

We have come to the point or we are coming to it, approaching it every day: by the end of this century man will have to choose either total destruction or a revolution – a revolution not political, not social, but a revolution of the heart. A turning-point is coming closer every day; you have to be prepared for it.

Sannyas has to become a herald for a new world, the first ray of the dawn. Man is reaching towards total war; all preparations are there to commit a global suicide. This is what your history has brought you to. All the Alexanders and all the Napoleons and all the Stalins and all the Hitlers and all the Maos have been working for centuries and centuries; now their dream is going to be fulfilled: we can destroy this whole earth within seconds. Destruction has reached its peak; unless creativity also reaches to its peak man cannot be saved.

And to me, love is nothing but the birth of creativity in you. By love I mean an overflow- ing heart. Love to me is not only a relationship. The relationship that we call love is a faraway, distant echo of the real thing.

The real thing is not a relationship but a state; one is not in love but one IS love. Whenever I talk about love remember this: I am talking about the state of love. Yes, relationship is perfectly good, but the relationship is going to be false if you have not attained to the state of love. Then the relationship is not only a pretension, it is a dangerous pretension, because it can go on befooling you; it can go on giving you the sense that you know what love is, and you don’t know. Love basically is a state of being; one is not in love, one IS love. And that love arises not by falling in love with somebody. That love arises by going in – not by falling but by rising, soaring upwards, higher than you. It is a kind of surpassing. A man is love when his being is silent; it is the song of silence. A Buddha is love, a Jesus is love – not in love with a particular person, but simply love. Their very climate is love. It is not addressed to anybody in particular, it is spreading in all directions. Whosoever comes close to a Buddha will feel it, will be showered by it, will be bathed in it. And it is unconditionally so.

Love makes no conditions, no ifs, no buts. Love never says, ‘Fulfill these requirements, then I will love you.’ Love is like breathing: when it happens you are simply love. It does not matter who comes close to you, the sinner or the saint. Whosoever comes close to you starts feeling the vibe of love, is rejoiced. Love is unconditional giving – but only those are capable of giving who have.

One of the most mysterious things about man is that he goes on giving things which he doesn’t have. You go on giving love and you don’t have it in the first place, and you go on asking love from others who don’t have it in the first place. Beggars begging from beggars! Love first has to happen in the deepest core of your being. It is the quality of being alone, happily alone, joyously alone. It is the quality of being a no-mind, of being silent. Contentless consciousness is the space, the context in which love arises in you.

And when it arises in you it is so much, it is unbearable. Its pleasure is so unbearable that it becomes almost pain. It is heavy like the clouds which are full of rain; they HAVE to shower, they HAVE to rain, they HAVE to unburden themselves. When love arises in the silent heart, it has to be shared, it has to be given; you are helpless.

And the person you give your love to is not obliged to you in any way. In fact, you are obliged to the person because he helped you unburden, he shared something that was too much in you. And the economics of love is: the more you give, the more you have, because in your silent being you are joined with the oceanic, the divine source of all. And you can go on sharing… more and more goes on flowing in you, it goes on welling up.

Yes, you are right, love is the only hope of the world. And we are coming close to that turning point: either total war or total love.

And this is a question of either/or, there is no third alternative. There is nothing like a compromise now, you cannot be in the middle. Man has to choose. And it is a question of life and death: war is death, love is life.

By creating you here, by creating sannyasins here, I am creating a new kind of space. This is the beginning of a totally new man. Hence the old traditions will be unable to understand what is happening here; they don’t have any criterion. The experiment is so new! Yes, once in a while men like Buddha, Kabir, Krishna, Christ, Zarathustra, have happened in the past, but only individuals. Now only individuals won’t do; only a Buddha here and there won’t be of much help. The world has gone too much into hate. The world is so full of hate that it is almost like an ocean of hatred, and a Buddha will be just a spoonful of sugar – it won’t change the taste of the ocean. We will need THOUSANDS of Buddhas.

Hence I am not interested in Christians, I am interested only in Christs. I am not interested in Jains, I am interested only in Mahavirs. I am not interested in Buddhists, I am interested only in Buddhas. My effort here is not to create a following, not to create believers, but to create individuals, lovers, meditators who can stand on their own, and each one can become a light. And we will need…the night is going to become darker and darker every day…we will need millions of lights around the world, millions of people who are capable of love, unconditionally, without asking anything in return, and who are so silent and who are so blissful that wherever they are they will be able to dissipate darkness.

Yes, love is the hope of the world, the only hope.”

Osho, The Guest, Ch 5, Q 1

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


Book Cover Past the Point

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