MA PREMRUP (Love and Beauty)
Born in 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. Premrup took sannyas in 1978 and presently lives in Santa Rosa, California, USA.
It was the mid-seventies and I was part of a radical socialist-feminist group. We met once a week, plotting events to embarrass rich people. We were children of the 60s, living in suburban America, dissident and dissatisfied… anything but grateful. We were full of anger and rationalizations to justify that anger by pointing outside ourselves at all the obvious faults in society. After many meetings, I plucked up my courage to announce that I was leaving this group because I felt no love amongst its members for each other let alone people… and why plan revolution without love, if you know what I mean.
A dear friend, whose name was Susan, followed my exit shortly thereafter, and we remained close friends. One day she showed up at my house, wearing orange clothing and a necklace she called a mala. She had become a sannyasin of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who had started to become known in the USA. As I was still in my man-fearing period of life, and had been raised as a godless socialist, I was appalled, especially since an intricate Aran-design poncho Susan had knitted was dyed a brilliant orange! My own family had been devastated when my older brother converted to fundamentalist Christian when he was an adolescent and this brother went on to become a famous cult deprogrammer, but that’s another story!
Although I loved Susan, I was closed to her choice and refused to listen to her tell me about Bhagwan. After all, wasn’t he just a male? My identity as a radical feminist still hadn’t been shaken to its core, mind you.
Shortly thereafter I hit an energetic wall. I, then the mother of three children, was exhausted and I felt like I was swimming against the river most of the time. I decided to go into New York City to see an acupuncturist, who said after taking diagnostic pulse readings that something was very wrong… and with my permission, she could ‘force’ whatever it was to the surface. I gave her the green light, and then left her apartment to go to see a movie with my husband and children.
Suddenly, the vision in my left eye was occluded. I kept opening and closing it, rubbing it… and denial being what it is, I told myself that I probably had something in my eye and that it would clear up shortly. We sat through the film, me rubbing my eye, planning for the lack of sight to clear immediately. When we went out on the street, my husband said that my eye looked like it was filled with blood, and since his grandmother recently had surgery in the Manhattan Eye and Ear Hospital, we were going there.
I was crying. I remember telling my daughter Hira, then just 3 years old, that I was sad because the doctor told me I had to take medicine. I was freaking out because the doctors saw a tumor growing in my eye and recommended hospitalization. Thus began a long series of traumatic events that eventually lead to my taking sannyas.
My whole world was turned upside down. After the diagnosis, ghastly medical solutions were offered, none of which were acceptable to me, including radiation by means of a plaque sewn into the eye, which would result in the withering of the left side of my face. I also listened in on a conversation between my husband and one of the ophthalmologists, who averred that if it were his wife, he’d have her eye removed… and that the cancer was probably only the tip of the iceberg… and that I probably only had a short time to live! My emotional reaction to this eavesdrop was that I experienced sheer, gut-tearing terror, unlike any I’d felt prior to or after this. Icy cold, deep, visceral challenge to my right to survive!
Fortunately, my then father-in-law was a practicing acupuncturist. He recommended that instead of taking the toxic treatments, I fly down to Jamaica in the West Indies and get reprogrammed at a natural healing institute. I was to learn how to drop unhealthy habits, replacing them with healthy ones, including eating, meditation, physical exercise, breath work, and supplements to obtain an optimal state of wellness. Mind you, this was 1978 – long before such protocols and healing venues were available. I decided to go this route, although it meant that I had to leave my family behind and fly down to this gorgeous Caribbean retreat for treatment and re-education by myself.
When I was packing to go, my beloved friend Susan, now renamed Ma Anand Vinu, brought me a parcel of Bhagwan’s discourse audio tapes. I demurred, saying I probably wouldn’t listen to them, but she said to take them anyway and slipped them into my suitcase.
Needless to say, I was scared shitless. My mind was in an avalanche of chaos, and I had no means to calm myself. I had very recently volunteered to take a Vipassana training to work with the dying, but in the first meeting, just a week before I went blind in that eye, I had to leave because I experienced a headache so severe that I was knocked all the way down to the ground. At that time, I put it off to my exhaustion, never thinking something could be terribly out of line.
So, there I was, settled into a strange clinic in a strange country, all alone and scared. I willed myself to sleep but was awakened with horrible nightmares with all the scariest images my unconscious could conjure – Nazis, werewolves, vampires. To comfort myself, I reached into my bag to listen to one of the many tapes Vinu had stuck in there. Miracle of miracles… it was a tape in which Osho talks about the death of a beloved disciple, called Vipassana. Listening to the discourse was a profound experience. I’d just washed out of Vipassana death training and the Master was talking directly to my heart about celebrating death as the crescendo of life.
As if that wasn’t enough, I turned the tape over, after he enjoined his disciples to go to the burning ghats singing and dancing to light the way for Vipassana’s send-off, and just to make sure that I got the amazing synchronicity, the first song these sannyasins were singing on the flip side was a Jamaican folk song, “By the Waters of Babylon”.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to take sannyas. I had to get to Poona. Little could I know what this would mean for the rest of this lifetime, especially regarding my thoroughly ingrained gender bias in favor of women. I can still hear in my head, “Just remember, Premrup, you have not chosen me. I have chosen you.”
From the time of the original diagnosis of cancer, through the process of travelling often to New York City and Philadelphia for diagnosis and treatments and finally, healing, about a year went by before I went to India.
I saw Osho for the first time at darshan in Pune. My experience was that I viewed a white light aura surrounding Him.
As a passionate, hot-tempered woman, I was angry that the people in charge of the lighting had created this illusion so I began to look all around, up and down for the source of this illusion until I finally admitted to myself that this radiance emanated directly from Him. I had never seen this phenomenon before and have only seen it once more… the moment I set eyes on the man who was to become the love of my life as he entered the ashram for his first time in Pune. Go figure!
My sannyas message was this: “For millions of lifetimes, you have been looking outside. In this lifetime, you will go inside and find yourself and find that all that is worth knowing.”
“With the opening of your heart, your wings also start opening. With the understanding of the light radiating from the awakened one, there happens a synchronicity. Your heart also starts trembling in the beginning. Then the trembling changes into a dancing, and a moment comes when the master’s heartbeat and your heartbeat become one. All division, all separation is dissolved.
Perhaps science will never be able to understand this radiation of the illumined being, because science needs something material that can be experimented upon. This is not something material; it is as immaterial as love, it is as immaterial as gratitude, it is as immaterial as poetry, as music. In life, all that is great is immaterial – and this is the greatest experience of immateriality.”
Osho, Satyam Shivam Sunderam, Ch 20, Q 1
From the book, Past the Point of No Return by Ma Anand Bhagawati