Mike Fliderbaum: A Journey to Myself, Mother India and Osho Mystic Rose
Mike Fliderbaum: A Journey to Myself, Mother India and Osho Mystic Rose
At sunset, a roll of polluted mist envelopes the familiar landscape of the buzzing city of Pune. I sit under a Devil’s Ivy, sip my first cold, mango Lhassi in the luscious, poolside gardens of the Osho Pond, a tropical oasis surrounded with abundant foliage. I focus on my breath and clear my mind to calm and energize my body after the long flight from Tel Aviv and a 5-hour jeep drive from Mumbai. I could not have chosen a better place. I feel home again at the Osho International Meditation Resort, a picturesque sanctuary for many, with a unique philosophy that combines the Western mind-oriented tradition with the mysterious, heart-oriented wisdom of the East.
My annual pilgrimage to India has become my haj, to wash away sins and to seek health and salvation. The Indians celebrate their sacred pilgrimage KumbheMela by bathing in the sources of the Ganges in the Himalayas – I prefer to do it Jewish style, in the 5-star Osho Zen Guest House in the resort. As I contemplate the reasons that brought me to India for the umpteenth time, Ithink about my relationships, my dreams and my hopes. I conclude that so much I had wished for in my life has gone, the possibilities that lived inside of me for decades have collapsed. Reality had stolen my fantasies, but in their place lies another dream that is yet to burst into fullness here in Osholand.
On the 11 March 2013, I started a new journey that could take me to places that would cause my emotional foundations to tremble. I started on a path known as the Mystic Rose, a therapeutic, meditative process. This passage was prompted by the recent death of my beloved mother, who left her body seven months prior, crushing my soul and shattering the life I knew. Her death left me desolate and in deep sadness. Motherless, I stood alone, like a forsaken lamb. To make matters worse, my grieving process had thrown my relationship with my beautiful girl friend, the High Priestess whom I so adore, to the rocks.
By the time I arrived in India at the Osho resort to start the meditation, our relationship was hanging by a thread. I sat waiting for the process to begin in dark confusion. No longer did I have the luxury of my mother’s guiding wisdom to comfort me. I didn’t see the rose and I didn’t smell the fragrance, neither did I hear the music. I have been in grief for too many months.
I heard that Mystic Rose would be the ideal place for me to let out my tears of sadness and those of laughter. In this sanctuary in Pune, I have always felt that its feminine embrace is conducive to crying. I cry easily there, touched by the love pervading the air.
I am curious about the meditation. Will it be difficult? Poised to dive into uncharted waters, I feel butterflies in my stomach and heaviness in my heart. I enter into the Samadhi Room, a sacred enclave where Master Osho, the late Indian mystic and one of my spiritual teachers, lived. This is where the meditation will take place. 35 other seekers all dressed in the maroon robes of the Osho resort surround me, and all looking as lost as me.
For the first seven days of the meditation we will laugh. For three hours, simply laugh, for no reason at all; we give our energy, each moment, to laughter. Outside the meditation, we resist any urge to cry during this week. That will come later. As much as we are able, we find the humorous, the absurd, the ridiculous in all situations.
Osho promises of the Mystic Rose experience:
‘Your heart is the soil.
Your trust is the climate.
And your being is the mystic rose – its opening, blossoming, releasing its fragrance.
The mystic rose is just a symbol of the man
whose being is dormant no more,
is asleep no more, but is fully awake
and has opened all its petals and has
become sensitive to all that is truthful, beautiful, good –
the very splendor of existence.’
Promising, to say the least.
The first laughing day is over –yahoo, yahoo, yahoo! I feel as if a ton of bricks has been lifted from my shoulders. I feel as loose as a fool, as light as a puppet on strings and I’m grinning from ear to ear. My face muscles hurt from laughter. My legs and back hurt from all the dancing and from all the jumping and running around in the spacious room.
During the meditation, whatever new experiences come to me, I try to let them happen without resistance. I try to leave the past behind me so I can remain present in the here and now, as if just born. After a few days of laughing only, I release vast amounts of energies unburdening myself. Old hopes are the most difficult to let go of. I give my focus and energy to laughter alone.
‘Digging for three hours you will be surprised how many layers of dust have gathered upon your being. It will cut them like a sword in one blow. For seven days continuously, three hours every day…you cannot conceive how much transformation can come to your being.’
At times I feel a lot of resistance to the process arise. Past middle age, I am the oldest in the group. I feel I don’t belong. I don’t want to be part of the ‘inner crowd’ that have connected and are making each other laugh. Pablo from Brazil starts throwing white cushions on me and we volley ball across people’s heads. We are children again and rolling in laughter.
Everyday, lunch break finds me at the Osho Pond, sitting alone by the pool, munching on my steamed tofu, with my ‘IN SILENCE’ badge on. I wear the badge because, outside the process, I do not want to be in communication with the noisy world. I need noiselessness and peace.
When my mother had a stroke, she was robbed of her ability to speak. From that day onward she talked to me without speaking, as only she could. I am not amused by the laughter of my group who are at the Buddha Bar. Sadness comes up within me. I have not laughed for many months, gripped by grief. But neither did I cry. I realize that I have come hear to cry, and to laugh, or the other way round. I have come to shed many tears. I have come to melt my heart and I know that tears are the beginning of its melting. I have come to cry for the losses in my life, the loss of my beloved mother and the loss of thwarted dreams of my own fatherhood. And then I am struck by a childlike thought, that I cannot lean myyoung head on my mother again – never. But one of the rules of the first week is to be only in laughter mode.
At the resort, I feel heart-fully grateful to my sweetheart, who remained in Israel, and who has given me the space and latitude to come all the way to Pune to play. It must be difficult for her at times, knowing that I am surrounded by a harem of beauties from Brazil, Italy, England, Japan, Korea, France, USA, Switzerland and Russia.
I enjoy watching the Venuses roll and writhe on the floor. I enjoy sharing divine Champaign with the ladies. We meet energetically here, and not through conversation. Again, we talk without speaking. We loose ourselves, our egos disappear, and we melt into each other. I become close to myself again. I enjoy being the magnet. I enjoy being touched, hugged and tickled by the women as I drop my barriers and come out of my frozen shell. I enjoy getting their looks and smiles. I enjoy connecting with them, but when they get close to me I feel guilty and aroused. A Zen monk, I am not, especially when the Zorba rises in me.
My fantasies dissipate when I remember that I am most content as a loyal and faithful husband to my partner.
The days of laughter seem to get shorter and pass by in a flash. Repetition becomes boring after a while. Anger and frustration surface slowly as I list the dreams that I have come to bury and let go of the fantasies that led me to chase distant rainbows. A river of anger and venom is suddenly unleashed at God for having taken my mother. I find it difficult to generate laughter on my own. I need a trigger. I recognize the reason I do not go inside myself is because I fear the pain that comes with moving inwards. Laughing and crying for 21 days will bring out the innocent boy in me. I am so serious! How do people put up with me?
I keep trying. I giggle, I get sparks of insights. I laugh deeper from the hara. The Mystic Rose meditative process works energetically, bypassing the analytical mind. When I am in playfulness, I am in ‘no mind’. I love being alive and I love feeling I am alive. We laugh a deep laughter from the core, a belly-laughter. We go into laughter first because it is easier. Perhaps, in the end the dam will burst and I will cry. For now, I live from moment to moment with my emotions. I let myself go and trust existence to drown me in a flood of energies. While infused with belly laughter, I begin to see fewer distinctions between others and me. In a way, my ability to see others, and in particular my exquisite girlfriend wholeheartedly, springs open.
I reach the eighth day. We are told to cry. My understanding is that when a man reaches into his innermost being, he will find the first layer is laughter and the second, more repressed layer is agony, tears. So for the next seven days, I am here to weep, to cry, just let the tears come, and not to prevent them. I find it easier to cry than to laugh.
My tears wash away more pain and unmask the unconscious. I pray the tears will liberate the encapsulated grief and pain forever. I feel open, vulnerable and depleted, loose like putty but with sharpened senses of observation. I feel a need to go deeper into meditative silence, away from the world of people and urbanization and into the music of nature. Tears are the language of the heart and that seems to be the one I speak now and especially with my mother, who has crossed to the other side of the veil. My heart longs for her and the deepest part of me yearns for her closeness.
Mystic Rose is about falling apart – scary indeed. I am ten days into the mystic journey. The dark night of the soul, I have not reached yet, but I can feel it coming and I am scared of meeting it. The tears turn from a trickle to a stream, as soon as I think of never being able to touch my mother again; never being able to massage her feet again; never again being able to kiss her forehead in her sleep; never will I hear her spoken voice again; never will she call my name again or stroke my hair; never will I see her smile again and the love that falls from her eyes. Yes, the tears come easily.
I ask myself how can I say goodbye, without saying goodbye to a part of myself? A respected elder once said that the only whole heart is a broken one. But mine is torn apart to shreds. What old pains will now surface and cry to be healed? I cry for my widowed father’s ailing body too, wishing him comfort in the winter of his life, alone in an empty house filled with memories. When I think that my relationship with my girlfriend and her children, whom I have grown to love dearly, might come to an end one day, I cry. I cry when I see my love’s mournful eyes, for she too has suffered in her life and carried her share of burdens. I cry wanting to relieve her, if she only would let me in. Months of grieving have thrown our partnership into chaos and I have felt alone in our home. I shed buckets of tears as I dig deeper and deeper into the pain and realize the meaning of finality.
Osho reminds us:
‘The heart is frozen…and the tears are the beginning of its melting. The more you allow tears, the more the heart will melt. And because you have never really cried in your life, the heart has forgotten how to melt. But it is beginning to. It is getting the spark…it is sprouting.’
On the twelfth day my tears dry up, but my eyesight has become better and my inner vision much improved. I begin to believe the truth of scientists discovering that crying, weeping and laughter are immensely healthful, not only physically but also psychologically. They keep us sane. Osho declares that the whole of humanity has gone a little cuckoo for the simple reason that nobody laughs fully. All that this world needs is a good cleansing of the heart, of all the inhibitions of the past. Laughter and tears can do both. Tears will take out all the agony that is hidden inside you, and laughter will take all that is preventing your ecstasy.
Mystic Rose is a very powerful meditative therapy. By this point, I have swept, mopped and vacuumed the spring. My voice has disappeared and my throat is parched. I lie exhausted on the mat, cuddling eight pillows nourishing my inner child. That day, as I was not able to access the lake of tears, the same lake that overflowed a few days before, I went to lie beside beautiful, blonde Pria, and placed my left hand on her heart, with her graceful permission and invitation.
This gesture immediately touched my inner child and her inner child, and together we began to sob. A touch. A memory trigger. A beautiful woman’s body that was alive, alert and vibrant reacted to my touch and caused this outburst in me. I will never again in my life experience this with my mother. I spent the last two years of her life caressing her tummy to relax her anxieties, gently pressing her solar plexus to alleviate her heartburns caused by the toxic medication and pressing the souls of her feet to unwind her frightened body and bring it to rest. I oiled her hands and pressed her fingers to release more tensions.
Touch and the occasional tear became our wordless language, day after day after day. We shared our heart to the very end. I continued to massage her beyond the state of consciousness when her medication and the fatigue of a long-life sent her into a state of apparent bliss. I watched this human being, once a charming lady, and a fun-filled conversationalist, turn into a prisoner of her own body. Anyone who was lucky enough to have met her knows that they encountered a rare, special and enchanting person, an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion and flair, humor and an abundance of love. A woman, with an adventurous soul, who knew the universe.
The light around my mother continued to shine until the last three months, when it would flicker on and off, like the electricity grid in Pune. I cannot say whether she entered the state of Samadhi before leaving her body. She did not want to be on any life-support systems except for oxygen. My father, sister and I had agreed to let her lie in the peace and tranquil familiarity of her home and the comfort of her bedroom and the sounds and voices of her immediate family. On the 16 August, at around 2am, two hours after I had last visited her and kissed her on her forehead, in her deep sleep, she chose her moment to exhale the last breath of her long life with her my father, her husband of 65 years, holding her hand.
I am crying in Pune. My stomach is heavy with an empty sadness. I have stopped repressing it and instead, have become its friend. I feel gradually more pain and anguish touching my innermost core, where darkness still lurks.
In the middle of my crying week, my girlfriend arrives in Pune from Israel with another Sannyas friend. As we embrace at the main entrance to the Meditation Resort, I burst into tears. Her kind and loving eyes, her wanting body and her longing soul, transform my tears from sadness into tears of joy and gratitude for having her in my life. My heart celebrates in the presence of her beauty and my tears dance their way down my cheeks. My love for her is alive and rejoicing, overflowing with ecstasy I wish to drown in.
With an improved vision, I once again recognize the Buddha in her and the greatness that comes with it, which I overlooked being emotionally enmeshed in my world of mourning. For the past year I was not fully present, including, importantly, to her wants and needs. As I had lost contact with myself, I had also lost contact with my partner. She gracefully enters the retreat in which I have lived for two weeks. As I watch her spinning elegantly in the Buddha Grove, blending in with the whirling dervishes in their meditative Sufis dance, I silently bow to my divine teacher, my in-house High Priestess and beloved girlfriend. And in my lower chakras, I have an infinite and unquenchable desire to ravage her body.
As Osho writes:
‘Love… is rare because it can happen only when there is no fear, never before… When you are not afraid, then there is nothing to hide, then you can be open, then you can withdraw all boundaries. And then you can invite the other to penetrate you to the very core.’
At night, in my bedroom at the Zen Osho Guest House, our lovemaking is full of giving and tenderness, full of kindness of the heart and breath of life. It is a truly, extraordinary night of pure and powerful passion and melting of two souls. Our hearts and bodies fill up again and streams of love and bliss flow freely again. Having spent the previous two weeks shedding all the layers of fear, cleansing many wounds and washing away pain, I felt innocently naked as never before.
Last day of crying. I feel dry as the Sahara Desert. Stretched on the mat, under a pile of pillows and depleted of energies, I’m woken from my slumber by Devena handing me a beautiful red rose, and surrounded by Pria and Shakti, who embrace and caress me. And guess what, once again I begin to sob my eyes out from an unending well of tears. This time my tears are transformed into tears of joy at the harmony and melody in my life. As I slowly gather myself, I feel like a lotus awakening and able to see only the beauty and fragrance in the eyes of all the people in the room as we hugged each other in deep love and gratitude. My tears fall into the red rose I hold in my hand. I am in a precious and pristine place. I am fully energized, refreshingly pure, fragile and sensitized.
Later, as I sit writing in my journal in a luscious garden, facing a white, stone torso of Buddha hiding behind a colossal willow tree, I hear a rustle in the green pasture beside me and suddenly the gray-green head of a rattle snake pops up and stares me in the eyes. I freeze and miss a heartbeat. I am conscious of my sweat dribbling down my cheeks and instinctively decide to stay put and watch his next move. For a moment we stare at each other in respectful acknowledgement, he drops his head in the grass and slithers away taking his long body –longer than I had imagined – with him. In my altered state, even the venom in his eyes seemed to be filled love and a smile.
Day 15. Silent Watcher on the Hill begins.
and the grass grows by itself.’
I am reminded of this ancient Zen saying, and wonder what new and fresh grass would grow on me, the silent watcher, the ageing rolling stone gathering no moss, the seeker, who perhaps won’t realize what he is looking for until death reveals all.
This final week includes not only three hours of silent sitting mediation, but also OSHO Dynamic Meditation. It is a daily, 6.00 am start, aback-busting, fast, intense meditation to break old, ingrained patterns in the body-mind that have kept us imprisoned in the past. This is followed by the main course of the day, sitting in zazen.
This is a week of awareness and witnessing. Nothing serious, I thought, just relaxation with nothing to do. Having spent two weeks taking the lid off some very deep stuff, breaking the dam on lifetimes of repressed pain, I reach this third stage of watching and listening. The art is of dis-identification, the capacity to step back and observe.
I had let myself go totally into the laughing and crying processes with the result that my mind functioned differently and no rush of thoughts came after the sessions. For this week, I thought I simply sit in lotus, innocent and empty, being with the moment and watching for whatever happens. I thought: now silence will descend, thoughts and emotions will pass by and it will be easy to be detached. I expected many silent gaps. But no, not in my case.
Sitting in silent Vipassana, without any connection to the others in the group, my mind became very active and noisy. The vacuum created in the previous weeks sucks in a caravan of thoughts and desires bringing them to my attention. I am gripped by the full knowledge and understanding of the magnitude of the sacred union with my girlfriend. Its importance in my life is setting in. How blessed I feel. The penny has finally dropped. I have my own new family now, and an awesome partner. This is the significant family in my life, replacing my parental home. Finally, after a lifetime of bachelorhood, I have left home.
The twenty-one day process draws to a close. As the final Tibetan gong is sounded, at the very last minute, I am overcome by a sense of personal achievement. I have more than survived physically and emotionally. I have laughed myself to tears. And it feels like I have cried enough tears for my beloved mother to flood the Ganges riverbank.
I am humbled by the Mystic Rose experience and am in a state of profound gratitude to Master Osho for having created this meditative therapy. With this, I sense a last, single tear begin its way down my cheek.
Osho’s comforting voice enlighten me as follows:
‘Never be ashamed of your tears. Be proud that you are still natural. Be proud that you can express the inexpressible through your tears. Those tears are your songs, unuttered. Those tears are your heart, which cannot use words. Never feel ashamed of your tears. Eyes that have lost their tears have lost their most beautiful, their most glorious treasure.’
I slowly get up from my seven days of sitting in lotus position, swearing under my moustache that this posture was surely not meant for silver-haired, JewBu who drive vintage Aston Martins. But there we go. With the silence of my mind, with a heart opened wide, and my soul in bliss, I return my ‘In Silence’ badge to the basket on the white marble floor.
Still in a vibrant trance, I find my way through Samadhi House for the last time and head for the Buddha Café to reward myself with a cold Mango Lhassi, my favorite. And I start humming an unsung song conducted by the inner voice of my spirit. I am freed from the world I knew. It is as if all the burdens had fallen off me and I now glance at my own being. With my beloved Sufi queen whirling nearby, I am at the beginning of a new dream, one that has just burst into fullness in the form of a loving Mystic Rose in my heart, all here in Mother India.
Mike Fliderbaum: email@example.com