Tribute to Meera, part 7

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After the first season helping in Meera’s caravan I finally got in touch with the creative fire within and I just wanted to paint. Meera had been right and now she wanted me to keep going wild into unchartered places. When I told her that I now just wanted to paint, had no juice for helping, and would rather explore on my own outside the training, she offered me to come in the group and do as I wanted. I could even have a corner in the room, and as long as I was around she was happy.

And so, I spent the last few winters in the painting training, doing as I please, knowing no limit and no boundary. I was officially part of the staff, but I refused to work and help, and would immediately leave if pushed. Meera wanted me in there and so kept widening the exceptional status I had. I was certainly the source of much admiration, but also envy and jealousy. Clearly I isolated myself and became a freak. During the days off there was so much work for the staff, so much to prepare, but as my friends were busy from morning to night gluing paper, mixing colours, cleaning and deep cleaning, I would just sit there on the roof under the trees and paint all day long, forgetting to eat, only having two or three breaks a day to meditate in the Buddha Hall.

We were painting on Krishna roof those days, an amazing open space in the heart of the commune, under magnificent ancient trees with amazing greeneries all around. During the evening meditation, when everything stops and everyone gathers together to meditate with Osho, I again had a special permission to stay on the roof and paint if I wanted; and sometimes I would miss the evening meditation and paint till midnight, alone in that huge space, with all the lights on and music playing.

Those are the days when my creativity took off. I was intense and prolific.

Meera could see that I was flowering and she kept supporting me. She was obviously aware that this situation was not right, that my entitlement was an issue, and my dramas out of place. Over the years she asked her closest friends many times “Should I kick out Nirav?” No matter the feedback she always chose love over fear. She always chose Yes over No. She always focussed on the light and the expression of creativity. Against what made sense and what was right from a therapeutic standpoint she always kept my potential in sight and did whatever was needed to support it.

 

( part 8 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 6

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My journey with Meera had just started. A glimpse at me had in a way been enough for her to see my unexplored potential, and very soon she was reconfirmed in her intuition. She gave me everything, let me do all I wanted, didn’t set limits and kept showering me with her love. She took me in the staff for five years continuously, and invited me to her trainings abroad.

The problem was that not only I didn’t believe in my potential as an artist, but receiving so much unconditional love was not possible for me. The more she gave the more I pushed her away. Those five years were intense, extraordinary in many ways, and also extremely painful. I frequently exploded into intense emotional dramas, freaked out in the middle of the groups, challenged her and pushed her to her edge. As her book “ReAwakening of Art” was about to be published, I forced her to remove my name from it. Obviously my name would have appeared in a beautiful way, and this is one of the most painful things I ever did. My name was removed and the book was published.

Today a dedicated copy is by my bedside table, and whenever I try and read Meera’s words to me on the cover, my eyes instantly fill with tears.

Maybe this Tribute is also an effort to complete something between us and ease the pain in my heart.

( part 7 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 5

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It is now 9.35 sometimes in December 2000, it is a beautiful misty morning in Koregaon Park, and Meera’s painting training is about to start. This part will last six weeks and has to be booked as one course. Over sixty participants will soon be picked up in the Multiversity Plaza and brought to the group room. In the last three days, Meera’s experienced staff had been busy setting up the space, mixing hundreds of litres of acrylic colours, gluing papers together to create huge pieces of canvas, sorting out brushes and watercolours, and organising so many many details. I had just been part of the crew for two weeks and I knew what a major happening it was.

I had decided not to join and obviously Meera could not force me, but something in my heart felt heavy as I wandered around the commune. I watched all those people arriving, excited and ready to embark on a journey that would change many lives.

Meera arrived in her black robe, smiling. The plaza was packed. “Where is Nirav?” she asked one of her assistants.

Here I was, sitting on a table at the back, partly in shock, partly sad, but also deep down knowing that something was soon going to happen and change the course of my life. There was a sense of urgency, a bubbly intensity, and magic was in the air. We were in the heart of Osho’s garden, between His Samadhi and the Buddha Hall where He spoke for many years, and there was never a doubt as who was actually running the show.

The group was starting in less than five minutes and there was no more time for discussion. Meera walked over to me “Nirav, did you find the money and are you coming?” “No, I am not coming, sorry!” I replied. “Oh, Nirav, this is not possible. Come! You join the staff now, I will find a way.”

She gave me a hug, took my hand and pulled me with her to the centre of the plaza. She gave me a list and a pen which I ticked as she called the names of the participants.

I was silent as we all walked together to the group room. I was hardly realising what had just happened, and how I suddenly found myself here; but obviously a match had just been thrown into my inner chambers and fire would soon engulf all my ideas and concepts of who I stubbornly believe I am. Most importantly my creativity was going to explode into thousands of rainbows and transform the very way I experience life.

 ( part 6 …)

 

Tribute to Meera, part 4

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I had not understood how Meera could have seen my potential as an artist during our short meeting the week before. How she could now see my untapped possibilities on this paper is something that will probably remain unexplained till my death. The fact is that this was not a painting but a dark mess; it was ugly and it made no sense whatsoever; it was an energetic expression of those dark and primal forces inside; black and white paints were basically just thrown, most strokes were done with my hands and feet rather than with brushes, there was no mind, no urge to create, no desire for beauty, no one to please, no goal and no ego.

The Primal Painting group went ahead, and Meera encouraged me to keep going, to keep playing and exploring, to be myself and be wild.

This first part was soon ending and the Swiss friend I was translating for was not staying for the rest of the training. Meera’s training was in two uneven parts that season, the first one lasting two weeks, and the second lasting six weeks. Part 2 would among other things include water colours, nature painting, self-portrait…

Meera explained that I wouldn’t be able to translate anymore and that she would not take me as a helper for the next major section of the training; the staff was already full and since I had never participated in at least a shorter group of hers, joining the staff was simply impossible. She wanted me to join as a participant. I understood her point, and yet I was clearly not ready to pay for a creativity group. I honestly could not see the point. Yes I was enjoying the process and had fun exploring and painting, but No I didn’t feel that painting was my thing and this idea that I was a born painter was completely removed from anything I could feel or understand.

I told her that I would leave after the Primal Painting part. She told me that No, I could not leave. I told her that I was not a painter and that I was not that interested. She told me that I was a painter and had to keep painting.

The Primal Painting part ended, my Swiss friend left, and there was now a three days break before Meera’s creativity caravan would keep rolling for the next month and half. I was ready to call it a day and an interesting experience and I was completely unwilling to join as a participant. Meera could not take me in her staff for numerous very good reasons and was absolutely not ready to let me go. In the heart of Osho’s garden in Pune, those three days had the flavour of an arm wrestling match.

( part 5 …)

Tribute to Meera, part 3

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After a couple of hours, the music eased, lights were slowly dimed up and Meera gently brought us back.

We were all dumbfounded at the sight that met our eyes; those large pieces of paper now all looked like greyish chocolate and the room was a complete mess.

Meera ordered us all to go back to our painting and stand in front of it. Finding one’s own painting in this was quite a challenge but somehow everyone made a move.

I was still out of it from what had just happened in this session and was stumbling around trying to figure out where my painting could be, and quite frankly I had little clue what it did look like.

I was not alone in this case and a few other friends were also without their painting; Meera meanwhile collected the unclaimed papers.

I still remember that moment, the space, the energy, Meera standing in the middle of the room, and about seventy people obviously shaken and out of their minds.

“Who painted this?” Meera asked, starring into one of the paper that was yet without owner.

She seemed to have forgotten everything else and was completely absorbed in this horrible grey mess. “Who painted this?” she continued… “Who?”

She stopped the music, turned the lights to the max and called us all around. I had no idea what she was doing and why she suddenly seemed so frantic. She was staring at this painting, ignoring everything else and kept repeating “Who painted this?”

I was still looking for my paper, and I came closer to the one she pointed to. To me they all looked the same. Litres of black and white acrylics had been poured in all possible ways on all those papers, and really, I was unable to see any value or beauty anywhere here.

After a few moments I figured out that yes this was mine. “Me, I painted it”.

She looked at me, looked again at the paper lying on the floor in front of her, and nodded her head in her very unique way. There was a long silence in the room as everyone gathered around starring at this mysterious painting. I looked at it, looked back at Meera; I was completely blank, puzzled, and I had no idea what was going on and what she possibly could see in this. After such a wild high energy session, this silence was such an unsettling contrast. Meera would keep the suspense and the energy in the group moved inwards. What a magical moment! What a divine spontaneous happening was unfolding in front of us!

Meera was obviously startled by what she had just seen. I certainly had no idea what it possibly could be and why it seemed such a big deal, and looking around at my friends I suspected that no one really had more clues than I did.

She finally said in a grave voice “Nirav, you are a born painter! “

I was in shock.

We had been in that underground chamber the whole afternoon and it was certainly high time to get some fresh air, clean up the mess and get ready for the evening meditation in Osho’s Buddha Hall; but instead, Meera gave us a five minutes break before spending the next hour explaining why that painting was so special. I had no idea what she was talking about, and I felt more and more uneasy being put on the spot like that. I guess that some of my advanced painter friends present could follow and be touched by what she shared. I didn’t.

When we finally came out of the chamber the sun had set long ago, and the full moon was shining bright.

( part 4 )

 

Tribute for Meera, part 2

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I didn’t know that then, but Meera had just gotten hold of me and was not about to let go. She would only let go years later, tears running, when I would push her so hard that she had no more choice.

Primal painting? I had done so much primal therapy work during the last few years, and I loved the intensity of it.  Primal Painting sounded deep and dark, and I suddenly found myself excited.

Meera’s creativity caravan started, and this year I joined her staff of a dozen people. It was a big group with at least sixty participants, and as a translator I was participating for free but was also helping the crew. Helping with Meera was intense; we were fully involved in the process and on top of it we were taking care of the whole set up and cleaning, mixing colours, preparing brushes and paper… It was an incredible happening that would last for almost three months.

The Swiss friend I was translating for was rather good in English and my job was easy. I joined this unbelievable caravan and started to paint and play with colours and energies. It was fun and intense and I enjoyed what Meera was offering; but still, I clearly had this feeling that I was wasting my time and that painting was not my thing.

Halfway through this first part Meera brought us all to a dark and soundproof room deep underneath the commune; there we would explore our darkness. We got given a very large piece of paper each, big brushes and 2 buckets of acrylic paints, one black and one white. Music was bumping loud and Meera was guiding us to connect with those hidden places inside. We danced, we moved and we played with those large quantities of black and white acrylics. We were encouraged to dive into our darkest corners and express with movement and paints. It was one of the wildest and most intense session I ever experienced anywhere, and except from a few candles burning in the room we were practically painting in the dark with mostly black paints.

( part 3 …)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The falling of the veil

One day the veil falls and you find yourself out of the wheel, out of the dream, out of all you knew to be real.

Or the veil never falls, no matter how hard and how long you’ve tried.

Or maybe on the very last breath it falls anyhow, uncalled and in spite of you.

The veil may still be in front of you, or it may be gone. You may never have been interested in what could possibly lie behind it; or maybe you have been a spiritual seeker for decades, digging alone into your inner world and searching out there for someone to guide you.

It all doesn’t matter really. Who you are doesn’t care. Covered or uncovered, aware or unaware, free or in bondage it doesn’t make the slightest difference. Your essence, your true face, your original nature remains unchanged.

Being awake is who you are. Being awake is the ocean behind the waves. Being awake is the very stuff existence is made of. There is nowhere to hide. Even death cannot help you. Being identified with the dream and losing the connection with what you are is a very human struggle. It is part of a bigger unfolding where consciousness plays with all possible combinations. Consciousness is all there is and consciousness doesn’t care if it moves through Nirav or through a tree or through a lightbulb. Whether Nirav is aware or asleep and identified makes no difference at all. Consciousness couldn’t care less. In fact consciousness means that there is no one here to care. What an extraordinary absence!

In the fire of Arunachala- my latest encounter

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A few months ago I had been riding a beautiful and smooth wave for a while. Life was easy and generous. Not much drama or frustration, and I could feel myself sinking deeper inside. Maybe that was it. Maybe I was at last letting go. Each time I would contemplate on life or death I would find no fear nearby. Maybe I was finally at peace.

I went to Tiruvanamalai at the feet of the sacred mountain Arunachala, where I love to spend a few months every year. I soon started to get quite sick, and after about 3 weeks of severe headaches, high fevers and chills I one morning decided to go to the local hospital and give my blood. I ordered it checked for Malaria, Typhoid and Dengue fever, hoping they would find me positive for one of those and treat me.

The next morning when I went to collect the result I was pulled aside. The 2 doctors looked concerned. I was testing positive for everything!  Yes I could be cured and yes they could help me. I had however to stay here as my platelet count was well within the danger zone. I was given the choice to either go to a high end Hospital in the big City of Chennai 5 hours ride from here, or get hospitalized here and then. The risk of internal bleeding was high and going home on my own was no option.

From that moment onward, death had me by the neck and never let go of it for another week. It was a constant 24/7 connection. The overdose of Chloroquine they gave me in order to treat the malaria gave me petrifying hallucinations. I started to lose my eyesight. Death was once again knocking, checking where I was REALLY at, and scaring the shit out of me. Not only was I facing the possibility of dying here, but I was clearly going to go mad first. I spent those first two nights wide awake, terrified, convinced that those drugs were destroying my brain.

In my experience Arunachala acts like a mirror and will expose and burn whatever bullshit and illusions are still there.

I ended up healing completely, and the experience of those days and the weeks that followed is still with me today.

Those days were not only scary and on the edge. I was living completely moment to moment, breath after breath. In magical and strange ways really I was once again in touch with the divine. The biggest shock was probably to face the fact that death was still scaring me to the core. How could the only certainty in this fleeting life be such a terrifying prospect? How free was I really if a mild taste of death was still affecting my wellbeing and inner peace? So many questions got hold of my deepest beliefs and left me in state of inner chaos.

I am not sure if it burned to ashes, but the spiritual ego definitely suffered a major blow.  This experience connected me in the rawest way possible with my vulnerability as a human Being and brought precious humility into my heart. Although I would not wish that experience to anyone or to myself again, I feel deeply grateful for the disguised gift that it was.

Sometimes nothing works out

Sometimes nothing works out and I feel hurt, pissed, sad, angry, frustrated. I just want to sulk and hide under the blanket.

In those moments, I wonder where the joy in my heart has gone, what has happened with the ease and flow I was experiencing just a while ago?

Where is my connection with the divine, that space of total acceptance, that embracing of all there is?

I feel the dark side of the moon showing itself, the shadows of my inner world knocking on my door. I feel drawn into a space of discomfort, a space I had wished extinct, a space that challenges to the core who I believe I should now be.

Attempts to move out of that space and look for the light seem so futile; trying and change the situation seems utterly old fashioned, overdone, exhausted.

I feel trapped. I can smell the depth of the discontent, the darkness of the night, the helplessness I am in.

There is no way out. And now the way in too has been taken away.

Knowing that “this too shall pass” doesn’t help; understanding that in the world of duality everything has a shadow side doesn’t soothe the pain.

This pain is the yearning of the soul, the tearing apart of all the beliefs, the un- and rewiring of the mind. In those moments this pain is all there is, all there need be- it is all and nothing both. This pain is the remembrance that life is an eternal unfolding, a mystery to be lived, a mystery to die into, and a mystery to be celebrated in all its glory.

 

 

 

Jungle of stories

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I never knew that I had so many stories to tell.

Yesterday after I had decided to write one a day for 3 months, hundreds of them literally jumped on me in the middle of the night. They came up with more and more details, more and more colours, as if they were all competing to get my attention.

I even had a flashback of a day sometimes in the late 80’s in Kerala, India, when I went off to the jungle near Kumily in the Periyar wildlife sanctuary, alone and against the advice of my Guest House owner. I was smoking lots of oil those days, and although I would not know exactly what it is anymore, I still remember the feelings and how strong it was. Certainly I was high and in touch with nature. Those days I was barefoot wearing a black sarong around my waist, I had long natural dreadlocks and I always carried water. I got lost and dusk started to descend. I wasn’t that far from the village and if I moved in the right direction I would see the first house in less than 20 minutes. In that moment when I was contemplating what could happen if I didn’t move in the right direction, just then, as I turned around I was face to face with an Elephant. I had never seen an Elephant in the wild before; it was my first time, and it was a direct encounter.

One moment, one in millions of moments in a rich and colourful life. An incident that I kind of remembered, but also kind of forgot and very rarely talk about. But here I was yesterday, lying in my bed, face to face with this situation that happened almost 30 years ago, seeing every detail, noticing every shade, and in contacts with all those incredible sounds from the jungle. I probably could write a few chapters about what happened then and about the unbelievable night that was to follow. I may.

Those who know me are aware that the best way to annoy me is to tell stories. My passion for the truth seems insatiable; my longing for depth and my love for what is real are always running the show.

With so many stories coming up I feel confronted to find in this what is really burning in my heart- because in truth very little else interests me. It is a stretching challenge, one that tickles my juice and creativity at new depths, and I love that.

It seems that all stories lead to one place and one place only. Here I am, feeling myself unburdened, light, and just perfectly okay with the unfolding of life.