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Published: October 26th 2008
I’m back on the road. Or rather, on the rail tracks. After my three-month stint in rural Wales, I’ve come to the conclusion that settled life just doesn’t work for me at this point in time. In particular the solitary or semi-solitary way of living we’re so accustomed to in the West. Before I went travelling, my friend Rob said that I might find it difficult to settle again after such a big trip. True - although I would like to settle again at some point in my life, it will have to be in a different way. Many of my concepts of how I want to live my life have really been challenged or completely shattered by my long journey. What I’m looking to establish now is a more communal and sustainable way of living; and until I either find or create what I’m looking for, I am intending to enjoy the journey and the unknown that unfolds as I go along.
What I like most about travelling is that it really forces me to be in the moment. On the road, I simply don’t have the time or inclination to indulge in pastimes like surfing the net for
hours or spending too much time on the telephone. I am actually much more focused and alert when I am not in my usual surroundings. The unknown makes everything so much more intense, stripping life down to the bare essentials. Sure, there are downsides to this nomadic lifestyle as well, such as lack of privacy and sleep sometimes, but the positives outweigh the negatives for now. Strangely enough, when I’m on the move, I’m much more motivated to write as well. Ironically, it’s the moving around which seems to give me stability. ‘Isn’t it a really lonely path though, this uncompromising following of your dreams?’, Jon, a new friend, asks me today during a long, intense conversation about our respective lives. And yes, if I’m honest, it can be. If you have a burning passion you want to follow, and if this means leaving your loved ones and the security that comes with that behind, it can create a conflict. Sometimes I feel envious of people who have a settled lifestyle, a regular job, a family - and are content within that context. There is something about being in one place and going deep; and that is appropriate at certain
times in one's life. Yet, I’ve done that for a long time, and right now it’s all about exploration, about going deep into who I am through outer as well as inner exploration, if that makes sense. I don’t quite know where I’m going and let myself be led by the moment, but I also trust that I will know when it’s time to stop and settle again. So I’m back on the road, although for the time being, it’s in the UK. Strangely enough, I’m still exploring Indian mysticism, but from a slightly different angle and in an entirely different setting.
I leave Wales on a rainy Monday morning, and arrive in the town of Gillingham, Dorset, after a long and rather tedious train ride. Travelling by train in this country is simply not the same. The Taxi Lady, my bubbly driver who ushers me and my suitcase into her cab, gives me a knowing sideways glance when I tell her where I want to go. ‘Oh, I’ve just collected somebody from there!’, she exclaims. ‘She said the stay had opened her eyes.’ She chuckles as I exit the cab, leaving me to wonder what kind of adventures will await me at my chosen destination, at Osho Leela, a vibrant creative community in the enchanting Dorset countryside.
Curiously, I enter the large Victorian mansion that’s home to Osho Leela. Before I can take my coat off, Satyam, the sparkly-eyed community member who welcomes me warmly, pulls me into the kitchen and orders me to have a spot of lunch, which endears him to me instantly. When I do check in formally later, I am asked to sign a form with rules and regulations. This is a procedure I am used to from my various ashram stays in India, and usually consist of long documents detailing the list of prohibited items and behaviours in the establishment, such as drinking, smoking, sex and eating meat. This time, however, the rules require me to refrain from participating in anal as well as oral sex. This policy, I am informed, serves to protect the community’s safe sex policy, as do the condom vending machines in the toilets. I am taken aback for a moment until my face lights up with mirth. That's an entirely different set of rules to break!
Yes, community stays can be as different as chalk and cheese. Whereas over the past year, I’ve lived mainly in ashrams, varying in austerities, this is quite a different, albeit not entirely different, concept. Osho Leela Community is loosely based on the principles of Osho, the late Indian mystic formerly known as Bhagwan. Osho, also known as the ‘sex guru’ due to his calling for freer acceptance of sex in conservative India, is probably one of the most controversial spiritual leaders of this age, leaving some scandals, real or perceived, in his wake. Yet, to my mind, his core teachings, emphasising the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration and creativity, are extremely interesting. Osho believed that these qualities are suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. He said ‘any religion which considers life meaningless and full of misery, and teaches the hatred of life, is not a true religion. Religion is an art that shows how to enjoy life.’ Osho's thought was rooted in Indian advaita
, which considers all reality as being of a single divine essence. In this belief system, the human experiences of separateness, duality and temporality are believed to be illusions produced by the mind. The dualistic and transient phenomena of the world are the dance, the external play, of cosmic consciousness. In this dance, every thing, every happening is sacred, has absolute worth, and is an end in itself. (source: Wikipedia)
So, here I am, having decided to explore this conscious celebratory lifestyle for a week as part of Osho Leela’s Community Experience Programme.
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