Saturday, March 20, 2010

“The Goose Is Out”

In the introduction to Osho’s book The Goose Is Out, I wrote about my evolving understanding of this famous Zen metaphor.

When I was a young man and had never been kissed, I was in love with America’s favorite pastime -- baseball. The score was tied 8-8 when the game was called because of darkness, and I suddenly realized I was in deep trouble on the home front.

By the time I made it home, dinner was well over. My older sister Margie met me at the front screen door and said, “Dad wants to see you in his room right away.” As I struggled to get past her she whispered in my ear: “Your goose is cooked.”

And even though my virgin ears had never heard this expression before, I knew exactly what she meant. Older sisters are wicked Zen Masters.

Years later, long after my dream of playing baseball for the Boston Red Sox had gone up in smoke, I fell in love with another Zen Master, Osho, who gave me the same message with a slightly different twist: “Your goose is out!”

You see, there is a beautiful Zen story about a goose that’s put in a bottle when it is very young. It grows up in the bottle and eventually gets too big to take out. The koan which has been driving Zen monks crazy for the past several hundred years is: How do you get the goose out of the bottle without either killing the goose or breaking the bottle?

Now, since you are probably not a Zen monk, you may very well answer, “Who wants to get the stupid goose out of its bottle anyway?” Or, “Hey, to hell with the bottle, let’s put the goose in the freezer and eat it for Thanksgiving.”

Okay, I can see where you’re coming from, but permit me to suggest that you may not be grasping all the implications of this deeply significant koan.

You see, the goose symbolizes your consciousness, your free spirit, your ultimate reality, while the bottle represents your mind. In other words, this koan is saying that your consciousness is trapped inside the mental structures of your mind, and if you ever want to experience the ultimate freedom of pure consciousness, pure meditation, pure liberation, then you need to find a better answer to the question than serving up roast goose for dinner.

For example, let’s take a look at the story of how Nansen, a very famous Zen Master, dealt with this question. The tale goes like this:

The official Riko, once asked Nansen to explain to him the old problem of the goose in the bottle.

“If a man puts a gosling in the bottle,” said Riko, “and feeds it until it is full-grown, how can the man get the goose out without killing it or breaking the bottle?”

Nansen gave a great clap with his hands and shouted, “Riko!”

“Yes, Master,” said the official with a start.

“See,” said Nansen, “The goose is out!”

When I first heard Osho tell this story, I got it -- instant Zen.

My sister was wrong. My goose isn’t cooked, my goose is out!

For the longest time after this major spiritual realization I thought I was enlightened. It took me a while to realize that Osho is the one who is out, while Krishna Prem -- that’s me, Margie’s brother -- is back in the bottle every time I get my buttons pushed or strike “out” with the ladies.

Osho is out. Most of the time, I am in. But I don’t feel bad about it. I am in a love affair with my Master. And when I look into Osho and I see his freedom. I feel my own potential to be free -- and sometimes get a taste of it, too.

On my most recent trip to America, my sister Margie and I drove back to the home we grew up in. We were both “big kids” by that time -- our father had long ago left his body.

As we pushed open the old screen door, I turned to Margie and asked with a smile, “If Dad were alive today, how do you think he’d feel about me meditating in India, so far away from home?”

Margie laughed and said, “Your goose would be cooked.”

This time I had the right answer. I clapped my hands and shouted, “The goose is out.”

She gave me a kiss on my balding head and said, “Go back to India. You’re crazy!”

Soon afterwards, Margie also left her body, struck down by cancer. Her last words to me were true to her never-to-be-surrendered role of big sister: “Grow up.”

Funnily enough, Osho’s last words to me were: “It’s not my responsibility that you get enlightened. It’s your responsibility.”

Which just goes to prove that elder sisters and Zen Masters never give up -- fortunately.

I hope you love this little book enough to use it as a signpost, to look inside yourself, to check out your own goose.

Is it out?

Are you free at last?


Because it is already out! Just see the point, don't think about it. A moment's thought, and you have gone far away. Don't brood about it, just see it. It is not a question of thinking about and about, going in circles, it is not a question of great intellectuality, of philosophical acumen, of logical efficiency. It is not a question of a trained mind; it is a question of an innocent heart.
Just see it! Wipe your eyes of all the tears, wipe your eyes of all the dust that has accumulated on them, and just look at existence. A leaf falling from the tree may become your enlightenment.
- Osho

All Osho quotes copyright Osho International Foundation

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Looking for Miss Take"  by Krishna Prem, also known as Mister Right 

I was not brought up to be alone. My purpose here on Planet Earth, according to my family (meaning Mom), was to meet my soul mate (as long as she was Jewish), get married, and have babies in order to carry on the family name – and then naturally health, wealth, and happiness would follow. I could go on for lifetimes explaining how this scenario has a tragic ending, but I imagine you can fill in the blanks out of your own experience. No matter whether you are Mr. Right or Miss Take, love is chock full of tragic endings. 

Allow me to go deep for a moment… Love that seeks another is destined to fail. Love that finds his or her own self is destined to be love in the here and now, not in the future. In the words of Buddha, enjoyed by Osho, and stolen by me: Love yourself and watch. 

When I met Osho, it was a wake-up call for me. He reminded me in no uncertain words to drop loneliness and to live in my aloneness. My inner voice sang out, "Goodness gracious, great balls of fire!" I walked out of this particular darshan with Osho in '75 complete unto myself. As I staggered out of His room, I bumped into His garden full of delicious women. I got confused all over again. My God, in those days there were three ma's for every swami. Aloneness quickly took a backseat. I was able to give up my mother's concept of marriage, but my manliness was excited to the max, and my loneliness was so covered up with lust that I simply had no idea I was not getting Osho. 

Through the following years of trial and error I have come to the understanding that aloneness is who I am and loneliness is simply aloneness without a center. So allow me one moment here to say “I am sorry” to those ladies whom I loved and lost along the way from here to here. This is it. 

Let me make it perfectly clear… Ladies, hold up your index fingers. And gentlemen, hold up high your middle fingers. Now ladies, is there anything you would like to say to all the middle fingers on this planet? For example, "Go fuck yourself!" I, for one middle finger, can handle anything you want to say because after all is said and done, we are all fingers of one hand. And as fingers of one hand, there is no such thing as separation. We are one hand appearing as two fingers. 

How does a guy like me hit the wall? After I had dated for years and years in the ashram, the commune, and finally in the meditation resort, and had never met Miss Right, it finally dawned on me that I must be Mister Wrong. So instead of running out to the cappuccino bar to make a date I found myself dancing alone at Kundalini Meditation. I could have continued blaming all the Miss Takes in the world but until I cleaned up my own act, love was just an impossible dream. 

The real Miss Take was meeting my friend Jwala. We fell in love, and I absolutely did not change. This was not good enough for her. She insisted that if we actually wanted to give our love a chance, I could either have a frontal lobotomy or enroll in Primal Therapy followed by Co-Dependency and Path of Love. Or she would leave me. I broke up with her immediately. A month later, I came to my senses, begged her to come back to me, and against my better judgment agreed to embark on a  crash course of therapy. In therapy I was confronted with this character " K.P.,'' with his wild mood swings, and I had to look at his life and love affairs. Then I got that these cyclones are on the periphery and the real me is at the center. 

What a Miss Take Jwala turned out to be! We have been together for 13 years now. We’re still not married, still making love without having children, and still growing together. We’re simply being together. For me, this feeling of oneness with a beloved allowed me for the first time to experience my aloneness, not my loneliness. 

For me, Osho pointed out the truth – but who gives a shit until the truth is “who I am”? So scream away, love away, lonely away…whatever it takes to love out of your aloneness. For now, I don't know what it feels like to be a center without a cyclone, but I can say from my very center that Miss Take never felt so good. So allow me one more moment to say to Miss Take, as well as Mr. Right, that I love you until the “I” and the “you” disappear, and only love remains.

Love is, krishna prem

Ps… and here a moment with Osho

"Each child is born beautiful, and then we start distorting his beauty, crippling him in many ways, paralyzing him in many ways, distorting his proportion, making him unbalanced. Sooner or later he becomes so disgusted with himself that he is ready to be with anybody. He may go to a prostitute just to avoid himself."

"LOVE YOURSELF..., says Buddha. And this can transform the whole world. It can destroy the whole ugly past. It can herald a new age, it can be the beginning of a new humanity."

"Hence my insistence on love -- but love begins with you yourself, then it can go on spreading. It goes on spreading of its own accord; you need not do anything to spread it."

"LOVE YOURSELF..., says Buddha. And then immediately he adds: AND WATCH.... That is meditation, that is Buddha's name for meditation. But the first requirement is to love yourself, and then watch. If you don't love yourself and start watching, you may feel like committing suicide."

"Socrates says: Know thyself, Buddha says: Love thyself. And Buddha is far more true, because unless you love yourself you will never know yourself -- knowing comes only later on, love prepares the ground. Love is the possibility of knowing oneself, love is the right way to know oneself."

- Osho, The Dhammapada Vol 5 Chapter #5 Love Knows Nothing of Duty

All Osho quotes copyright Osho International Foundation

When I grow up, I want to be a kid.

My body just turned sixty-five years old.

Thank heavens I am not my body. Or am I?

In any event, when my body was just shy of thirty I met Osho and I immediately began growing up instead of growing old.

A nice trick, picked up from a master magician.

At that time my brother Brian met his guru, Dr. Milton Erickson, of hypnosis fame.

As brothers, we were always competitive, so why not have a friendly banter on whose guru knows more?

Certainly Osho won, in my humble opinion, hands down.

But one thing Milton Erickson said to my brother always stayed with me. Milton Erickson said to my bro, ''There are only three kinds of people on this earth: little sized kids, middle sized kids and big sized kids.''

For thirty years now, I have looked upon modern man trying to prove my brother's guru wrong, and shit if that guy didn't have something to say.

But after exhausting myself trying to grow up, I stumbled on an original answer.



Me… period.

Not a ‘somebody’ that grows up or down, although I guess you might call me a ‘nobody.’

In a humorous, funny sort of way, I have given this new ‘me,’ or better yet, this new ‘not me,’ the nickname Turiya.

As Osho has explained many times in his discourses, the word ‘Turiya’ refers to the fourth state of consciousness.

The first three we all know: waking sleeping and dreaming. Turiya simply means ‘the fourth,’ a humble kind of name, but with big implications, because it refers to the cosmic consciousness inside us all.

So I am now happy to announce that I have discovered a fourth kind of kid that I have nicknamed “my Turiya-sized kid.”

Yes I am still a kid, but a Turiya-sized kid. A kid who somehow ‘grew in,’ not a kid who grew up or old.

It's nice to be me now.

I am no longer growing.

I am no longer maturing.

It's simply OK.

As my friend Rahasya once said to me before she left my adopted home town of Amsterdam for Mill Valley, ''I don't know and I don't need to know.''

When Rahasya said this to me, almost matter-of-factly, over a beer at sunset in the Vondel Park, the penny dropped for me.

I actually don't know what she meant, but what I heard, in my inner gut, was, "Krishna Prem, when are you going to stop giving up the here-and-now, while you wait for a rosy future?"

And if you don't understand my gibberish, well, the old KP might have been sad about that, seeing how grown-up language just can’t convey what he really means.

But, as my Turiya-sized kid, I only need to throw you a bucket and spade and say, “Hey, there’s plenty of room in the sand box.”

That's how I feel. I am just a kid playing in the unknowable sand box.

I wear many hats of a big-sized kid.

I pay the rent.

I drive a car.

I act mature.

But as soon as I can, I take my hats off and relax.

In a sense, my ego is a hat – a hat that is really useful and practical these days as a bucket to fill with sand to make castles with.

What size kid are you? One that’s busy growing, busy postponing, waiting for the golden future, or the one that knows how to play?

Love, Krishna “The Turiya Sized Kid” Prem

And remember, it's never too late to have a happy childhood. Or as George Bernard Shaw put it, “We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Krishna Prem

All Osho quotes copyright Osho International Foundation