The biggest attractions for a World Stomper coming to India are: seeing the sights, discovering the culture, and visiting an ashram. An ashram is a commune style residence of a guru and his or her community of followers. Most profess a strict spiritual path and encourage followers to give up material and hedonistic ways. Having heard much about the ashrams from a house mate in Maui, I was curious to see one for myself.
The first ashram I came across was Mother Amma's ashram in Kerala. Mother was away on an international speaking tour and things were pretty sullen around her place. No one could clearly explain to me the attraction of living here without Mother, or her message of unconditional love. It seemed like a personality cult, so I bailed the next day.
The second ashram I visited was in Goa. It was a Christian group run by charismatic Europeans with no central leader. Anyhow, there were a lot of pretty girls there so I decided to give it a try. I went to their library for new reading material and they invited me to join them for dinner. The theological discussions and Bible hymns after dinner drove me nuts. I bailed. Besides, the cute Danish girl I was hitting on made it quite clear that we would not be having sex.
About the time I was ready to give up on the whole ashram idea, someone told me about Osho's Commune International. Osho, formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh before he left his body in 1990, advised followers to let go of all inhibitions and hang-ups. Simply follow Osho's three L's: Love, Life, and Laughter. In other words, do what feels right as long as it doesn't infringe on others. I was on my way the next day.
Sanyassins in robes.
Everyday, four thousand people pass through Osho's ashram wearing the same colored robe. To enter, you must take an AIDS test and be HIV negative. During my orientation I met a beautiful 19 year old Swede named Karin. She and I hit it off well and were soon overwhelmed by the strong love vibe at this ashram. Karin had to leave after a week of explosive lovemaking to meet her boyfriend in Calcutta. It took only a day before I was hooking up with another beautiful woman. All this good lovin' and I was still totally energized to do daily activities: Zen readings, life drawing, garden walks, work meditation, tribal dance, and a whole bunch of fun stuff in the Great Buddha Hall. I enjoyed it so much I became a sanyassin and received a new name -- Swami Dyhan Santosh. My friends in San Francisco, CA still call me by this name to date ...
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