Sangam Sharanam Gachchami

(I go to the feet of the commune of the enlightened one)

That was always the toughest of the Ranch "gachchamis," the mantra-like obeisances that highlighted our humilities. "Buddham," going to the feet of the enlightened one himself, no sweat. "Dhammam," going to the feet of the truth or law or whatever it was, okay, it's abstract enough to not be too weird or threatening. But the goddam sangam. I mean, some of my best friends were in the sangam. I was in the sangam, for Christ's sake. Bow down to a group that would include me? Actually that's another story.

This story is about what a device it was to surrender to some of the dorks who were running things. Now i can't claim to have been one of the intelligent and/or rebellious ones who understood that these folks were no different from the folks they were bossing around, wisdom and spiritual-advancement-wise, 'cept mebbe they had a bit of seniority. Doubtless if i had been able to stay at the Ranch... well, i didn't, and that's another story too.

Anyway, Osho really set us up for that one. Surrender was one of the big themes of Poona Una. Women ran everything there, supposedly a great revolution in rearranging the power structures of our minds and the world, and it was true but not in the way we thought. Some of these women were wonderful but the package included more than a few small-time hoods and some who were just plain nuts. At the top of the nutzo list was Deeksha.

Every now and then something would come in Osho's discourses that would galvanize attitudes about this or that in the whole commune. One of the great ones, which defined our experimentally experiential relationship with bosses came in answer to a question from a seeker who said he could surrender to Osho but some of the things that went on around him – he was working in Deeksha's kitchen – were hard to handle. Osho told him that it was easy to surrender to a master, almost an abstract proposition that required very little in the way of courage or ego-dropping, but if he really wanted to surrender to him, he would have to surrender to Deeksha, whom he unambiguously declared to be totally mad.

Well, that put Deeksha's stock permanently in the stratosphere, not to mention... We had to believe this was what he wanted: total abject surrender to authority figures, so we could watch ourselves – our ambitions, our sheeplike pseudospiritual self-effacements, our drunkenness in power, our whole unconscious power structure and also our very real devotion, intelligence, fire, celebration and more. We had to watch in a real existential situation, not just listen to him talk about us and politicians. To make the situation perfect, he stopped talking for three years and put Sheela in charge of everything.

In the communal pressure cooker – or was it a vacuum cleaner? – of the Ranch, the universe unfolded as it should. Finally Osho came out of his silence, put an end to that experiment and confirmed that women were just as fucked up as men. Those of us that didn't resent him for putting us through this megagroup learned something about our patterns. Osho hit us hard at the end of the Ranch for not using our intelligence, rubbing salt in wounds he had encouraged us to create. He later explained that we need two wings to fly, trust and intelligence. If he had just tried to develop them equally, or put intelligence before trust, we never would have gotten it, since we were so in our minds that we would have said, ah yes, intelligence, i can do that, without having a clue that what he meant by intelligence was something beyond the mind. So he developed our trust first, then put us through this fire test.


This piece was not in the least intended to be like this. It was going to be a knock-off about living communally, which is how i am living now in Vancouver. But the gachchamis came and i was off and running. Whaddya know! Still, it fits. I haven't been living communally the whole time; the circumstances following my own Ranch story made a prolonged period of cocooning in a natural environment attractive and healing but since reconnecting with Osho and his sangam, i have been drawn back into this lifestyle. Among the many reasons to live communally, the growth reasons are the most powerful. These strangers, my housemates, help me to be alert about the sword that could fall at any time, even as they drive me crazy when their trips intersect with my trips. Although we cannot claim to have invented it, it is truly a sannyas lifestyle. This is not to disparage those who are living in other ways, from hermit to nuclear to extended families but for me the feeling of being in a buddhafield, of knowing that my river is flowing to the sea seems to find the most resonance in a sangam, even a mini-sangam such as we have here.

Buddham sharanam gachchami
Sangam sharanam gachchami
Dhammam sharanam gachchami