Note to Laughter Lovers: You gotta read Chetan’s brilliant piece about being a joke writer for Osho first, here:
Then carry on… ;)
Jokester’s Tale, Master’s Touch
(with great homage to Sw. Chetan and Sw. Vimal)
Gorgeous Gloria, the tall blonde, boards an America West flight bound for Chicago, and walks immediately into first-class, finds a seat, plops down, spreads her glamour magazines all around her and gets real comfy.
Soon, Mable Beeks, the flight attendant, approaches Gloria and says, "I'm sorry, Miss, but your ticket is for coach, you'll have to move back to row 18."
Gloria looks at her in complete amazement and says,
"I don’t think so....I'm blonde, I'm beautiful, I'm flying to Chicago and I'm sitting right here!"
So Mable goes and gets her supervisor, Olga Kowalski. Flight Attendant Olga approaches the blonde and says, "I’m really sorry, but you DO have to move to row 18. Your ticket is for coach, and this is first class. These seats are reserved for other passengers!"
Gloria looks up at Olga with wide eyes and replies, "Not a chance, honey...I'm blonde, I'm beautiful, I'm flying to Chicago, and I'm staying right where I am at!!"
In complete exasperation, Olga goes to the flight cabin and speaks with the infamous bush-pilot, Captain Kurtski. After a few moments, the intrepid captain emerges from the cockpit and walks directly over to Gloria, leans over, and whispers into her ear.
Gloria IMMEDIATLEY jumps up, gathers her things and moves back to row 18 in coach.
Olga and Mable are stunned that Captain Kurtski was able to do this with such ease. Finally, Olga inquires, "What, on earth, did you do to make her move?!"
"Oh, it was really quite easy,” replies the captain. "I simply whispered to her that first-class wasn't going to Chicago."
I had just gotten off that flight – where fortunately my part of the plane had magically landed in Bombay without blonde incident – and, still rattling from the 200 km taxi ride from the airport to the Resort gate with my companion-in-love, Ma Puja Melissa, I found myself walking up to Chetan, signaling me to come over to Lao Tzu gate.
Now, Chetan and I had known each other in different contexts thru the years. In Pune 1, most likely just by sight, in passing, doing some kind of gardening, or construction, or chai drinking on the wall - among a hundred other orange-beaded bright eyed and bearded swamis and juicy mas. Or at the ranch, where he was a part of that pipe crew extraordinaire while I was a firewatch/security rover; or in Poona 2, through mutual friends with Ma Rupa – who I also knew from Paul Reps at the Ranch. And in many other various escapades, as are the eclectic and eccentric path-crossing adventures of being in amongst Osho’s people.
When I saw him calling me over this day, I had not a clue what he might be up to. What I did know was that I wanted to get myself, and Melissa, and our luggage, to our rooms - to wash off the road dust and have a bit of a rest.
We had just been on a whirlwind jaunt to Europe and back within a short week for visiting family and renewing visas, with not much sleeping between, and carried with us the feeling of about 10,000 miles of the cosmos in our hair. And that’s just the Bombay to Pune part! I was happy and ready to take a nap.
Before this, I had been working in the Resort steadily since Juhu Beach days - from cooking breakfast eggs and pizza for hundreds (Chetan and I worked those pizza ovens together - you know, Luigi and Spumoni = chefs al Mamaluke!), to collecting and editing questions for Osho from people around the world, to transcribing discourses and learning HTML on the first laptop computers tasked with Osho’s publishing, to cleaning, construction, even playing music in Suraj Prakash’s living room for Osho’s darshan/talks - and well, whatever else it took wherever I could pitch in to the flow. This trip, I had thought, would be one of a ‘coming home’ and ‘taking a bit of a vacation’ – which meant I was considering not going right back to work - for about 3 months. Maybe I would just do meditation camps and sip chai on the wall (and eat bread and jam, right?) watching the world waltz by on their way to their deep selves, for a while. Fat chance.
Basically Chetan called me over and surprised me with an invitation so far off my radar of ‘job’ that I don’t think I actually heard him right the first time. “Huh? What…?” So he laughed, looking at a dumbfounded me, and asked again. Would I like to come in and join he and Vimal on the joke writing team?
That’s a job? I mean, there’s such a thing in the community ‘job market’ as being an ‘Osho joke writer?’ Whoa. Never saw that one on my high school career counselor’s bulletin board.
I was utterly taken aback. I just remember turning back to Melissa, waiting there with hand-carry still in tow looking back at me, curiously. I looked at Chetan again. “Uh… ah… uh…” was my basic first response. In my head I was jarred empty. I had no idea what that job would look like… let alone me doing it. So before I got that I was being privileged, blessed and gifted with a most mysterious invitation from Existance thru Chetan’s mouth, first, I felt… like an empty-headed fool. I did not know what to say. Chetan kept grinning, eyes twinkling, like the cat who just caught the rat.
“Well,” I stammered, “I’m just getting back and blah and blah and blah and… what? You mean me?” Or something like that. Chetan said I could start tomorrow morning, 7:30 am.
“Uh, ok… uh… let me think about it…” I must have been saying. Let me think about it? Chetan roared with laughter. As did the gate guard, who was catching this whole comedy.
“Ok, but I don’t think thinking about it will help much!” Chetan offered as I turned, in a kind of stun, to continue walking along the marble path to- who knows where?
I remember feeling like I was in a whole new state of being. Like I was floating or falling, or both. All my good ideas of ‘vacation’ and ‘time off’ drifted into some other guy, I think. I, for one, could not think.
Finally, Melissa asked me what Chetan wanted. I told her. She stopped in her tracks. She knew - we had been talking about me taking some time off from working. “What did you tell him?”
“I said I’d let him know… I’ll think about it….”
“You’ll think about it?!” She laughed as hard as he had. So… being the girlfriend’s penetrating eye, I guess - I finally got it. Duh.
I spun right around, not 5 steps away from the gate, called Chetan back over as he was just about to go back into Lao Tzu house, and said, “Yes! Of course… yes! I have no idea what it is to be blah and blah and blah…” and Chetan laughed again, and said he’d see me tomorrow. And that is how it all began.
Except, well, perhaps for this.
A couple weeks before leaving for Europe, in Pune , while Osho was giving his talks on what he calls “the language of the golden future” in a series of discourses spoken in April and May of 1987, something was happening with me.
One day during that April, Nirvano, I think it was, or perhaps Shunyo, came out of a meet with Osho and relayed the message, that he wanted his people to ask whatever questions might be there left in us. Questions, I guessed, about our awakening, or love, about the Ranch, about whatever this experience was we were living being immersed in this incredibly and unbelievable true-dream of a Buddhafield with an enlightened/enlightening Being. This message was put out worldwide.
The feeling I felt from this message was that the Master wanted to dissolve any lingering questions within us, now. Things we haven’t spoken up about. Questions that we might be holding back on, or even unconsciously repressing. To look deeper now, for any questions that we didn't even know we had. Most of us living in Pune at that time had been around and involved with Osho since the 70’s, or near then. It was really time for us to get got - for ourselves, and let go!
He wanted to do this, I sensed, in order that we do two things: 1) empty ourselves of any residue of mind/ego stuff by totally looking in and copping to it, and sharing it with him; and 2) engaging us with a very experiential moment of the reality that now is the time – which brought with it a sense that there wasn’t going to be much time left, to have this incredible opportunity. The opportunity to commune and communicate with an open source of Existence itself, and actually get spoken responses. He was telling us, again, don’t postpone.
Well, I know many of us took this deeply to heart. I felt like a fire was lit in my soul. When I would come out of meditation, or discourse, or sleep, I was with pen and paper - cutting open that vein to the core of whatever was shining within, and going thru the mud to get there - efforting to get the words down, as well as my truth, somehow tangled in there with them. What a process, knowing immediately as pen put to paper, he’s gonna see right thru me on this one!
The sense I had was one of a terrible beauty. A kind of deep, relaxed loving that comes from the surgeons end, that is most likely a gutting about to happen, on mine. And still my soul shouted out “yes!” for it. Ah well! Let the sword and flowers fall as they may, this is it. There ain’t no other time. I mean, look at what happened in Oregon. And in all this whirlwind energy of opportunity, a real belly laugh came up in me.
It was from this space that two questions just wrote themselves. Like I was scratching with my pencil trying to keep up with what was being asked. Asked, of me.
This is what I came to know as the Master’s touch. In that energy-field, cooking with a thousand and one bamboo full of birds and train horns singing in the wind around us, and a thousand and one meditators turning their total being inward, a thousand and one different and unique individual ‘reasons of mind’ entering the Watch Tower and leaving rinsed clean, a thousand and one heartbeats moving into vast harmony, it was all within the Master Chef’s stirring the pot every which way to make sure each of us got cooked according to our cut. Never mind if he was in his room in silence. That could just make the spice more spicey and the flame hotter - given all the other ‘nonsense’ we freely carried on with between Dynamic, Kundalini and Discourse. The Master’s touch – even to this day - is critically amazing. And mysterious.
The first question:
I AM AMAZED. IT IS INDIA, IT IS A HUNDRED AND FIVE DEGREES IN THE SHADE, AND YOU REMAIN SO COOL, SO CALM, SO QUIET. WHAT IS IT? DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING UP YOUR SLEEVE, OR MAYBE UNDER YOUR HAT?
Sitting there on the cool marble floor in front of Osho, one among hundreds, hearing Osho answering my question is another story in itself, perhaps for another time. What is happening? I’m feeling hot, cool, blessed, open… and what is being read out is this juicy slapsticky fun-loving query poking around at maybe getting some secrets about this amazing being sitting in that beautiful chair? Okay. It is what it is. More, it just felt loving, laughing and true to who I am.
And Osho’s response:
A new flood is foretold, and nothing can be done to prevent it. In three days the waters will wipe out the world. The leader of Buddhism appears on television and pleads with everybody to become a Buddhist. That way they will at least find salvation in paradise.
The pope goes on television with a similar message: "It is still not too late to accept Jesus," he says.
Osho takes a different approach: "Look guys, we have three days to learn how to live under water."
(Osho, 1987. The Golden Future. Ch. 17, Gorbachev: a new beginning. 20 May, a.m., Chuang Tzu Auditorium, p.139, Q2)
He simply responds with a joke. Yeah, a totally deep-layered, hidden-treasured, profound, triple entendre of a joke, but basically, a laugh! One that is teaching me, and all of us, what is and what is to come, and what to do about it. Hell, it’s easy. Laugh! And meditate. Another wonderful metaphor for what he’d been saying to us for the past 30+ years – meditate and laugh. Not necessarily in that order.
What a love. The laughter filled me, and poured out of me - but really filled me. I walked out of that discourse feeling an embrace with life like I had not ever known. And then three days later, in the morning, the wild pencil struck again.
This question begged to be asked, and so I just let it come. The struggling musician/artist in me grabbed my hand, the wonderful sharing and music and love that is Milarepa grabbed my heart, and that great pundit of the gods of mirth grabbed my ego, I guess. Whatever was at play, this is what came of it. And every corner of jealousy, or snark, or insight, or just plain country fun, a wise-ass muse came dancing out of me and spoke – like my whole life was passing in front of my eyes. From California suburban boy to Hawaiian surf-loving hippie, to a hard herb smoking, wine drinking, cassanova-wannabe-ness - I was just putting it on paper. For the universe to comment on. Gack! I couldn’t stop laughing as I watched my hand capture my soul and collar my mind.
The second question:
SO NOW THIS: I'M A FAIRLY GOOD-LOOKING GUY WITH A PRETTY GOOD TAN, AND I'M WITH A BEAUTIFUL GIRLFRIEND, AND I'M PRETTY INTELLIGENT. I MEDITATE ONCE IN A WHILE AND I CAN PLAY SOME CHORDS ON THE GUITAR; AND I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRE-FRONTAL LOBOTOMY AND A FREE BOTTLE IN FRONT OF ME; SO WHILE EVERYONE ELSE IS TRYING TO FIND OUT WHY THEY CAN'T BE THEMSELVES, I'D LIKE TO KNOW WHY I CAN'T BE MILAREPA?
(Osho, 1987. The Golden Future. Ch. 23, The five dimensions of education. 23 May, a.m., in Chuang Tzu Auditorium, p. 183, Q2)
Whoa. Usually none of us knew what questions were chosen for any particular talk to be given, except for the inner Lao Tzu group that interacted directly with Osho, or those typing up the questions in the library. I had no idea this would ever get any kind of look. It was absolutely authentic, this I knew from deep inside, but the style, the appearance of a kind of clever-head comic tone – very American, some would say ;) – just could seem disrespectful at worse, or innocently eccentric at best. I got a little nervous when I heard Maneesha begin reading it out. But the natural laugh in my belly was hard to hold back. And when that deep, still, cool, achingly vast silence that is Chuang Tzu auditorium - when Osho sat among us - started to fill with some titters, giggles and then a burst of laughter as the questioned ended - and as Osho smiled that smile - everything in me – no, I – disappeared.
You are perfectly good as you are. You need not be a Milarepa. These are the ideas which education and a competitive society have given to you. You want to be somebody else.
You say, "I am a fairly good-looking guy." Who told you that? It must have been your girlfriend - but every girlfriend says that to every boyfriend. You should not get too
impressed by such things.
You say "with a pretty good tan." Particularly here in India, a tan is not pretty good - I hate it! - it's just beautiful-looking people burning their skin under the sun. A tan is a stupid
Western idea. If you want to rest, rest in the shade; don't have any inferiority complex about
your whiteness. The blacks have created the idea that "black is beautiful." What about white? Not a single white man says "white is beautiful."
And you say, "And I am with a beautiful girlfriend." And naturally you think these things mean you can be declared another Milarepa. But then everybody else...? Then we will have to name people "Milarepa number 1," "Milarepa number 2." And you say, "I meditate once in a while, and I can play some chords on the guitar, and I know the difference between a
pre-frontal lobotomy, and a free bottle in front of me; so while everyone else is trying to find
out why they can't be themselves, I would like to know why I can't be Milarepa." You can be,
but you will be only number two, and that hurts.You can be only a carbon copy, and you don't know the difficulties of poor Milarepa; you are not aware of his problems.
I have heard from reliable sources ... Milarepa came home exhausted and terribly upset.
"I was late for work today," he told his wife.
"I know," she replied.
"I quarreled with the boss."
"He fired me," he said glumly.
"I know," she answered.
"How the hell do you know?"
"He told me."
"Ah, screw him!" Milarepa said angrily.
"I did," replied the wife.
Hearing this, Milarepa took his guitar and came here.
You are perfectly good as you are -- Milarepa has his own problems. You have a girlfriend, he has so many -- and gets hit from everywhere. When one girlfriend throws him out, he reaches another. Finally he has a permanent girlfriend, Shunyo. When all the girlfriends are angry at him, then he reaches Shunyo. Shunyo is his last resort. I think you should drop this idea. You just be yourself. Milarepa is quite in a mess!
Now, I’m not sayin’ that any of this had anything at all to do with Chetan having me come into Lao Tzu library and write jokes. I’m just lining up the facts that took place before that incredible offer.
That job, in that place, with those guys - Vimal and Chetan, the parrots, Osho’s secretaries burning up the tarmac with their assignments and not-always approving looks at the joke writers over in the corner falling off their chairs; trying not to giggle so loud as to get the parrots squawking - was certainly among the most wonderful, transforming, peak of life experiences I have known. And totally the best job ever.
Beyond my story, though, a deeper story is at work with Osho and the buddhafield - and is really the juice and jam of it. Having the incredible blessing and opportunity to be in the alive and endowing energy field of Osho is a primal encounter with the very essence of body, mind and soul. That’s what I can say. It’s so essential, words fail.
My story about being a joke writer is great grist, but the mill – that’s what it’s really about. That mill is awake, alive, loving and easily empowering for all who arrive and cross the threshold of the Gateless Gate. Bring your story, whatever it is, and it will shift, shit, change, chuckle, laugh, love, trip and transform – all according to you. Does not matter what ‘job’ one has. The ‘job’ is Leela. The play is in the very marble and bamboo, and meditation. For me it was all about risking and taking the shot and showing up to be there. Which is really ‘here.’ And ‘here’ does the rest.
I honor each moment now, as much as then. In a continuum of gratefulness.
Chetan’s excellent telling of some of the escapades, secrets, and other hidden ‘meanings’ that went on behind Lao Tzu Gate in Osho’s pristine, silent-to-even-the-touch library regarding his time as a joke writer for the Master (and the Sangha, as it turns out, which is in the world) says it all. So much so, he inspired me to uncover some of my story to share in. Man, it is so nice to reflect on the energy birthing the mystery of Osho and his ways.
It’s quite true, that Vimal’s publishing of Osho’s jokes and sense of humor in his fine effort: Take it really Seriously….a revolutionary insight into jokes also subtitled: A Backside Book of Jokes,(Grace Publishing Asylum Road, London) is a deft and joyous walk through how this Master sees laughter as intrinsic to our experiencing the light of our being.
Osho’s masterful toolings really became more gems that he left in our pockets, for us all to find in our own time. Vimal, Chetan and I just dug up the words and put them to the fun of being blessed to be there. But Osho put the honey in the rock of our otherwise sleepy heads. I never ceased to feel amazed at how he would tell the jokes – his immaculate timing, the way he would grin and giggle, and still how he was easily being a world teacher - with punch-lines for every psyche. I’d sit at the back of Buddha Hall and reel with a feeling of grace of such good fortune- how on earth did I stumble into this and get to be a part of it? Thank you Osho. Thank you Vimal. Thank you Chetan. Oh. Did I ever give you that $100? Who got the Playboys? That’s right! We put ‘em in the drawer - with that parrot! And it goes on and on and on. This sweet, sweet song.