#Freedom , 745 Views
I could tell you stories ad infinitum, but the only interesting story about the old commune, the only one truly worth remembering is why people started disappearing one by one! The first who disappeared was one Marco Salghetti, engineer by family tradition and carpenter by choice. One day I saw him packing and I asked where he was going.
“I’m going to India, some friends have invited me.”
“I didn’t know you had friends in India,” I replied.
“I didn’t know either,” was his reply.
And after that, he disappeared for three years. In fact, I actually had to go in search of him. We left Rome on the first of February 1978, boarding an Air India flight with a fixed return for 14 days time. Never would I have imagined that there would be no return for me and my girlfriend Terry would come home alone.
When we landed in Pune, we didn’t even bother to find a hotel. We went straight to the ashram. What I saw was a small compound, 18 acres in all, with a lot of green and a few houses here and there, a huge presumptuous wooden entrance gate and some tacky lanterns to add some more kitsch to the first impression. It must be a trick, I thought. While I was pondering over these kinds of spiritual matters my old friend Marco, now renamed Asheesh, came out of the gate holding a plate with a few pieces of cake. When he saw me he didn’t seem surprised. “Ah, here you are! Just in time for your piece of cake.”
I wanted to ask him what he had been doing here for the past three years and why he had disappeared like that, if he was happy in India and much more, but his face had never been so serene, his body language never so relaxed and fluid, his only eye never so sparkling and shining, so what was the point of asking anything? I ate my cake in silence.
Asheesh kept on playing cool while quietly informing me that today was three years since he had been “initiated into sannyas.” That was the celebration and he had been waiting for me all this time and now, he said:
“I’m going to cancel your name from my little list, for the first has come. The rest will follow, I’m sure!” After a few pieces of cake and a few more hugs, I entered the gate.
At the first light of dawn the next morning, I was ready to jump in the shower and get dressed. It took less than a minute to wrap a lungi around my waist and with that I crossed the hall of the newly built five star hotel we were staying in and headed out onto the green road to the ashram. I saw flames of orange robes floating in the misty morning, walking in the same direction. I reached the auditorium. A man with a long grey beard dressed in a long white robe entered. He smiled. He stopped in the middle of a little podium where a chair had been placed and from there he offered a long namaste (salutation), rotating gently in slow motion, to give his blessings in every direction.
I was looking at him carefully, I think I was trying to analyse him to see into his mind, his psyche and his personality. But there was nothing to analyse. There was no mind, no psyche and of course, no personality. I had never encountered anything like this in my whole life. There was something almost scary in this absence, something abysmal, bottomless, certainly alien to my experience. I tried my best to penetrate him, to look inside of him, to catch at least some hidden sign of his psychology, but it was to no avail. There was simply nothing to read. And I was the naked one for once. It was like a sudden, unexpected surrender to the mystery of existence.
Me, the great debunker couldn’t do anything but accept this anomaly. The fact was that I had simply never seen anything like this. In the space of a namaste I knew with absolute certainty that in front of me there was no ‘mind.’ As simple as that.
“Okay,” I said to myself. “Let’s see how it feels.”
And how does it feel? If I tell you, will you understand?
Okay, the first taste of nothingness in my life felt simply fantastic.
And it was contagious too!
The more I let go of my analytical process, the more I tasted the honey of this no-mind state. The more I let my personality disappear, the more I felt I was part of an ocean of silence and beatitude. The more space I left to him, the less of me seemed to exist, until even time disappeared completely. And finally, as soon I could get pen and paper I wrote to him:
“When a real lion meets a real Master he recognizes him and he decides to be defeated and he decides to drop his ego because he knows that this is the path, the only way to go lightly. But I’m afraid that it is my ego again, deciding for me. Please shed some light.”
The answer: “Carlo,
The decision of taking sannyas can only come from the ego but it is a decision to commit suicide. These two things have to be understood clearly. When a man decides to commit suicide, life decides in favour of death. What happens when a man decides to commit suicide? He has lived and discovered that something is missing in his life and now he goes towards the opposite direction, the one of death. The same is the case with sannyas: it is the ego who decides to take sannyas, so sannyas means the suicide of the ego. The ego has lived and found only anguish. The ego has searched, groping in the dark and nothing has ever happened, only tension, misery, anguish. The ego has been living in hell.
Ego is hell! When the ego has revealed all its failure, it decides to commit suicide. This is what sannyas represents. But once you have taken sannyas a totally different world and vision takes place within your being and you start to live without an ego. It was not life to be wrong, it was the ego that was wrong. Life is immensely fulfilling, it’s pure joy. You have looked through your eyes and found nothing. Now you close your eyes and see through the eyes of the Master. The Master is one who has no ego. The disciple is one that has come to understand one day that the ego and its ways are false; that they lead only to a no-exit road. It is only a beginning, of course, much more needs to be done later, but once you’ve made the first step half the journey is complete because the first step is the most difficult.”
Now it seemed I had to commit suicide, or at least that imperative beast of my ego was supposed to commit suicide. Would he? Of course he would. The date for my initiation into sannyas, or of the suicide of my ego (whatever comes first), was scheduled for March 3, 1978.
Since I had to wait for nearly two weeks, I decided to try out some of the meditation sessions at Buddha Hall Auditorium, beginning with the most notorious ‘dynamic meditation’ which started at six am sharp. Sharp in the sense that if you were late, you were out. It was okay for me, I even liked it to a certain extent, but I felt almost like I truly didn’t need that kind of medicine or perhaps I was too undisciplined for it. In fact, I enjoyed only the last part of it, the dance of celebration which ends the session.
As I was in the habit of getting up early, I started running around the misty and deserted roads of Koregaon Park from six to a quarter to seven, then I would enter the gateless gate, jump into a pool of water alongside the Auditorium and start dancing like a wild animal to the final music coming from Buddha Hall. That was more or less my morning meditation! At around ten in the morning began my favourite meditation which was called ‘sufi meditation’ and was led by Ma Aneeta. I became such a regular and hot feature of the sufi dance that each time people were half asleep or not truly dancing, Aneeta would stop everybody, call me to the centre and ask them to imitate me: “Just let him be your leader for five minutes and do what he does!” The first time this happened my lungi fell down exposing all of my nudity. People looked at me, then hesitantly looked at Aneeta, wondering if they had to imitate this, and before Aneeta could respond a dozen people had already removed their lungis. The day came, just like another day in my life. I was ready. In my mind the story was running like this:
“This ego, or the way I know it, is going to commit suicide. After that the real self will declare his birth and that’s the real birth. I felt in myself this strong metaphor of the death and the resurrection awaiting me. I guess that for many people this event was similar to a marriage of some kind, an affiliation of sorts, a joyous party, a religious ceremony, because everybody was shopping for that, buying the best robe they could and the best shoes (which you had to leave outside), as if they were going to a party. When my name was called in Chang Tzu Auditorium, I was wearing the simplest, cheapest robe I could find. But I felt naked, like a newborn child and naked I was, when I sat in front of him.
For now it will suffice to say that once I sat in front of him, Bhagwan looked straight into my eyes and then he placed his thumb on my third-eye. For a moment I was caught in dreams, expectations, fantasies. I remember that I hopefully thought: “Now a big ray of love will penetrate me, now an immense cascade of love will pour over me and wash away all my filth, now I will be inundated with so much compassion and love that I could drown in it!” Then, when all my thoughts disappeared, and I finally tuned in deeply with him, again, there was nothing to grasp. There was no love, no beauty, no compassion, no affection, no feelings whatsoever. There were no celestial trumpets either, no angelic melodies, again there was nothing emanating from this human being, not even sympathy or likeness. It was like the scariest trip of my life, for there was not love but a pure abyss. There was no sympathy, consolation, sweet feelings, just a bottomless, abysmal emptiness, a vacuum, a cosmic black hole, an eternal death. I knew that if I could take the jump I would simply die. Just die. Really die. Not metaphorically or poetically.
I could jump. There was nothing else to do and fear has never been a factor in my life. So I jumped and I died. How can I explain that? How are you supposed to narrate your own death? There are no words, no feelings, no stories to tell.
I just know that I experienced that because ‘I’ was not there anymore. I was completely gone. I was invited to melt for a moment with the emptiness, with the mindless state of the Master. I accepted the invitation. I died.