As I enter the press office I can hear Nadamo
talking excitedly, mischievously teasing someone, bubbling over with laughter.
His laughter is of the hearty infectious type. I can’t help thinking however
musical and warming is the sound of laughter, it is not usually associated with
Westerners especially are often over-serious in
Ashrams: spiritual life is no laughing matter to them. Indians in Ashrams, on
the other hand, are far more natural: they at least smile, the smile of acceptance,
patience — they know about the law of karma: they know they have more than
one life to reach their goal, something we from the West need time to understand.
Anyway, here is Nadamo flashing his lovely teeth.
Innocent laughter does have a curative quality…
I was born in Santiago, Chile. My father is a diplomat,
so I have travelled round the world since childhood. He was the Chilean Ambassador
to India, so for three or four years I wandered through India also. Then I went
to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, so I worked in theatre and a
little bit in the cinema in Italy. Then a friend of mine — a well-known
Italian actress, came to this Ashram, so I decided to come to see her, to see
what she was doing. When I was here for only three days I took the first plane
out as I didn’t like it at all — I could never see myself with a mala and this orange bull-shit. But
something happened because six months later I finished everything in the West
and came to live here.
How old were you then
and how long ago was it?
I am 36 — it was a year and a half ago. I went through the usual therapy
groups and a little bit of holy meditation. From the beginning they put me in
the front reception to receive new-comers. Then a beautiful time started. I
have to help them and tell them where to go and what to do. Basically nothing
has changed — I was living in Greece — and because I have lived
in so many countries I have met many of my friends here in this Ashram. That
is really amazing. It seems to attract people who have lived in the Mediteranean
as artists and writers — you know, you look as if I have seen you before
somewhere. Did you ever live on the island of Ibiza?
I lived there seven years.
Oh, my God! Do you see what I mean?
What is it that attracted
you to Bhagwan? Can you say?
My relationship to him is through my work. I can relate to him because of his
tremendous power of experience. I don’t see him personally so much but
of course I am able to attend his lectures every day. I like very much the way
he sees people. He is so realistic. We usually think of Christ as a beautiful
person; one day Bhagwan started describing what Christ really looked like. He
said Christ was a hunch-back and rather tiny… it is the way he breaks
down all our pre-conceived ideas about everything. That was one of the ways
I became attracted to him. He says very naughty things about the Pope -- very
naughty. You have to be flexible to survive here because Bhagwan talks about
everything with much — what shall I say? — force, authority: the
very next day he may tell you equally forcibly the opposite. You never get bored.
But how has this changed
You see, what gives me juice everyday is Bhagwan teaching us that we should
accept ourselves as we are and let ourselves go. That has liberated me from…
well, I grew up in a family where the social level was very important, my father
being an Ambassador and my mother, whom you will remember, a successful painter
in Spain. So I grew up with all sorts of ideas of who I am until I came here,
and they just don’t care. You start living a natural life, but nothing
has changed basically. Nothing except that now I recognize myself more than
before. I have left off many things because they don’t help my growth.
I used to read about what is going on all over the world, now it makes me laugh.
Do you keep in touch
with your family?
I love my family, and they love it that I am here. For the first time we agree
about something. When I wanted to become a sannyasin
they loved what I wanted to do for the first time. That has made many things
complete in my life. I am detached from them, but I love them also.
Everyone here appears
to be bubbling over with smiles, but in such a close community are there no
Not really. I find it the most easy place in the world. If you devote yourself
to your work there is no way you can get any problems. If you are hung up on
relationships it can become a little hard. But then Bhagwan says: You are on
your own, you are to relate to people, but you are always alone.
In such a free atmosphere
when relationships can change so easily, so quickly, are there never any moments
Maybe for a short period, but then you understand… it’s fun to be
free, to do what you want.
So everyone must live
with that understanding I suppose?
How long do you have
to be here before you can ask to become a member of the community?
It’s up to you. It depends on how open you are to what is happening. Like
when I came back, after a day I felt that I was an Ashramite all my life. Now
I feel as if I have been here thousands of years. And as I told you, I met friends
that I hadn’t seen perhaps for ten years here doing the same thing as
You must meet practically
all new-comers to this Ashram. What sort of advice do you give them?
I usually say: Don’t have any expectations… Don’t have any
pre-conceived mind-pictures… Try and flow with what you find going on
here… Don’t get heavy. The other day an American comes and says
like he has a degree in I-don’t-know-what, he will work but wants to get
paid… I just said: Before you can work here you have to pay us —
the therapies aren’t free, you know: we all have to pay. And he got furious
and yelled: What does Bhagwan do with all the money? I yelled back: He buys
Rolls-Royces, and why not? You have to be open to the Ashram experience. The
same day an Italian came to the reception: He opened a bag, gave me $ 3,000
and said: I surrender to him. And that was so incredible — an innocent
You must have a fund
of incidents like that.
Some time ago a guy came saying he had an appointment with Bhagwan. I asked
how the appointment was made: he wasn’t very clear, so I took him in to
see the secretary, Aroop. She also asked him how the appointment was made. He
said: From my head to his head. So she said: The same way you did it, cancel
it! Finished. Out. A lot of funny people are coming — Bhagwan has said
more and more mentally disturbed people will come. The Ashram attracts a lot
But perhaps that’s
part of the image created over the years.
Perhaps. Some people come very closed yet they want to do certain things, a
lot to do with sex usually — tantric experience. That happens quite often.
They come to the reception
They come to me thinking I can arrange a tantric experience. But after a while
they drop all these ideas. Once they do a couple of groups they know there is
nothing like that. Some times I see people come very serious with a lot of serious
ideas: then after a month they come and hug me and thank me because I helped
them when they arrived. Then there are others who have been told by the group
leaders to open themselves to whoever they love. So since I am the first person
they encounter in the Ashram, they come back to me and say: Listen, I love you!
Of course, everyday I have at least four or five who come up to me and tell
me they hate me, I am a piece of shit. They also get this reaction sometimes
through the groups.
What do you consider
Bhagwan’s special quality?
He touches your heart. About a year and a half ago Bhagwan was not allowed to
come out for his lectures as there were some cases of chicken-pox. Finally when
he came out he just sat silently with us in the hall — he was supposed
to speak on Buddha. This went on three or four days;
he just sat there in silence with us — he was giving the real Buddha message: silence. It was extraordinary
— two hours every day, everyone in silence. Then when he finally spoke
he just addressed us: My beloved bodhisattvas… we all gasped, it was too
much. We nearly passed out. That’s what he does with us all the time.
not long ago went back to the West. He decided to become a master himself: he
took off his mala and started wearing white. But
after some time he wrote to Bhagwan asking if he could come back. Bhagwan said:
Of course, you have been always with me. Then Bhagwan told everyone here that
we must celebrate his return as nothing had changed and we must be more loving
towards him. At these moments you really think you understand a bit of what
So many ghosts —
half-forgotten from my past life — are catching up with me on this tour.
Nadamo gives me news of so many I knew when I lived in Spain twenty years ago.
And here comes an old Dutch friend I knew well but haven’t seen for nearly
fifteen years. He is in shades of smokey ginger which look perfect with his
greying hair; he looks younger than ever. He was the most successful boutique
owner in Torremolinos on the Costa del Sol, but now he tells me he has retired
to his farm in the Andalucian hills and comes here to visit his guru, Bhagwan Rajnesh, every year. Yes
— once we have tasted the bitterness of worldly success, what else is
left but to withdraw from the transient material pleasures it buys.
five Interviews I come away with were given in an Ashram about to be changed
forever. A few weeks after my visit, Bhagwan Rajneesh suddenly went into
silence which he kept for 3 years, and which must have been incomprehensible
to his followers all over the world as every word, sigh or grunt he uttered
for the past 7 years had been recorded, transcribed and issued in book
form and on video. The announcement of his silence was explained as: “The
ultimate phase of his teachings.”
This was followed
4 months later by an even greater dramatic change: his abandonment of
Poona to relocate in America where a thriving self-sufficient 64,000-acre
commune was set up by his international followers in the State of Oregon.
It rapidly expanded to well over one thousand residents. They built houses,
hotels, a hospital. They grew their own food. They created their own bus
and taxi services, an airport, fire station, and formed a private police
The Rajneesh unorthodox
teachings, however, and his life-style with his collection of nearly 100
Rolls Royces, were not appreciated by the Oregon authorities. Nor was
the pushy style of his over-enthusiastic lady-lieutenants. Bitter splits
developed within the commune’s management: it fuelled the drama.
Accusations and counter-accusations of poisoning (on a grand scale), atempted
murder and embezzlement led to the arrest of Rajneesh.
The American dream
was over. He was deported and prevented from entering over 20 other countries
including Britain. Eventually Rajneesh returned to this comparatively
modest Ashram here in Poona where he had started. He dropped his Bhagwan
title for the simpler Osho, and flourished anew. But at the age of 58
in 1990 -- a mere 9 years after these Interviews were taken and 2 years
after his flight from the USA -- he died of a heart attack.