One is One: Tearing Myself Together | General Wellness | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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One is One: Tearing Myself Together 

Last Updated: 06/06/2013 6:43 pm

I’ll sing you one, O / Green grow the rushes, O / What is your one, O
One is one and all alone and evermore shall be so.
Traditional English/American folk song

The answer came to me in a dream. I had agreed to write an article on the connection between spirituality and activism. Seemed like a good idea. I was grappling with it more and more. Why not write about it? Easier said than done.

It was not a spectacular dream. There were no sound effects. There were simply four words: integer, integrity, integrate, and integral. The key word is integer. Its origin is Latin, meaning untouched or entire. In mathematics it refers to whole numbers. It was all about wholeness. Integrity is being one with oneself. To integrate is to become an active participant in becoming whole. And the definition of integral is “essential to completeness.”
The spiritual person and activist have remained in their separate cubbyholes within me. I have constituted my own version of Kipling’s “east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.” My “west” was my activism. My “east” was my spirituality.

For the first 25 years of my adult life I had been a dedicated Marxist. For the last 24 years I have been a disciple of Osho Rajneesh, formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

As a radical activist in the 1960s I was fired with a passion to correct injustice. And there was plenty of it. The United States government pursued a war against the population of Vietnam while utilizing all of the high tech instruments of destruction and mutilation at its disposal. Congress still mandated a committee to determine just who was American and who was “un-American”. The police commissioner of Birmingham, Alabama, let loose dogs upon black children while white men blew up other black children in church.

It was a time of hope. Bob Dylan, Country Joe and the Fish, and Joan Baez gave us a musical voice. Together with my comrades we built a movement. I honor this time. We were honest. We were courageous. We were a small minority. For example, the media almost unanimously supported the war in Vietnam even as a growing number of American troops opposed it. There was a community among us. And there was such passion and certainty that our numbers did not tell the whole story.
But the times they were a-changing. Many of us radicals finished our studies and went on to careers in higher education. Others went into the business world. Police gassed, bludgeoned, and arrested demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic presidential nominating convention. The mayor of Chicago called the senator from Connecticut, Abraham Ribicoff, a “filthy Jew” for objecting. Richard Nixon swept into office. The war in Vietnam ended.

I found myself a respectable Marxist. Our numbers were legion in the universities and colleges of the country. I had moved from dedicated student radical to tenured professor in a matter of a few years. All of the sudden I was fighting the good fight with guaranteed job security, health plan, retirement, and the freedom to teach just about anything I wanted. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just that I was smoking like a chimney, drinking like a fish, constantly anxious about my teaching, and generally neurotic. The fact that I had, indeed, read two volumes of Capital didn’t help me one bit. The external answers were not enough. Been there. Done that.

For many of us the next phase of struggle was with our wives, husbands, girlfriends, and boyfriends. The bridge between the activist and the personal was inspired by women. Many activist women mobilized under the slogan that “political is personal.” For me this became a bridge between the activist and the spiritual. My wife joined a woman’s group and we fought over the political nature of who drove the car and who did the dishes. Pretty soon I was digging up Marxist arguments for feminism from the third volume of Marx’s Capital. But something wasn’t right.

There was something quite new about the feminist movement. It brought the focus down to the personal, particularly among activists. Men, white men, dominated the radical movement, just as black men dominated the emerging radical black movement. A new group of women, primarily white, demanded parity in the radical movement.
You don’t have to be Carl Jung to notice that male energy is generally outward. We males are taught to do, to be out there, to see the world outside of ourselves. Female energy is receptive, inner, and interior. Of course we all have some of both or else we all would be totally lopsided.

Certainly, there were feminists who simply wanted to have the privileges that males had. But the very notion of acting inward on one’s own consciousness was very new for me. I had, after all, declared every such notion in the past as “bourgeois psychological horseshit.”

Despite their disparities, both the feminist movement and the left radical movement shared seriousness. They both suffered from a significant lack of humor. Everything was so serious. The left has never produced a large number of humorists. And, as for feminism, my wife had a two-year stint as a radical lesbian feminist. I found myself surrounded by women who lectured me quite seriously every time I said “oh boy” or “oh God.” I mean, Jesus Christ!

There is no question that seriousness is the opiate of the people. Heaviness—seriousness—prevents us from seeing ourselves. We can channel our unconsciousness into righteousness. I know the feeling. Seriousness is a missionary feeling. It can usually be expressed by the statement, “I’m going to tell you the truth.” It has taken me a long time to realize that every time I feel righteous I am wrongeous. It still happens despite my knowing. But, hey, we are all humans, right?

It was the lightness of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later known as Osho Rajneesh) that drew me to him. Also, after a lifetime of looking outside for my answers I was ready to look inside.

Rajneesh was no sanctimonious saint. He was the most irreverent person I had ever seen or read. Whatever the belief system, he was certain to smash it. He had no theology. He had no rules of living. He peppered his discourses with the most outrageous and hilarious dirty jokes I had ever heard. He threw us all back upon ourselves. And what an agonizing relief that was.

In 1979 I glided effortlessly from being a fading Marxist to a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. I started wearing bright orange clothes and a necklace with the picture of the Master. Within two years I dropped my tenured position at suny and left, with my six-year-old daughter, Hira, for Poona, India. We were to be there forever.

Less than three months after we arrived, our jokester Master left for the United States. And back we came to Oregon. There I would be in charge of the school at the spiritual community of Rajneeshpuram for nine months. There I would drive a dump truck, a D-3 bulldozer, a compacter, a bus. There I would put in irrigation systems. There I would be a researcher. There I would be involved in building a city in the midst of the wilderness. There I would be among thousands of others whose connection to each other was their connection to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. There I would be for four years, from the beginning to the end.

“What did you get out of your experience at Rajneeshpuram?” an old radical asked a friend of mine. My friend, an Irish disciple with a flair for both truth and drama, answered, “We learned that we could live under fascism.” It was one of the truths of that experience. A group of women ran the community with an iron hand. They discouraged questioning and exercised absolute power. There was secrecy as decisions were made by a select few and honored by us all. As these few women consolidated their power they became more and more serious. We had a laughing master but the apparatchiks who ran the show lost their senses of humor.

Yet it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. Never had I enjoyed such a feeling of love and community. Never had I been in contact with such fascinating, intelligent, and creative human beings. Never had I grown so much in such a short period of time.

To this day it is strange for me to realize that there was both the fascist reality and the reality of love and creativity in my experience at Rajneeshpuram. There are many truths. That is something that I learned at Rajneeshpuram. It is something I continue to learn. There are countless paths and not one right way.

For me, spirituality comes from inside of me. To that extent, organized spirituality is an oxymoron. Fundamentally, spirituality is anarchistic, for each of us must discover our own truth. And that cannot be found in somebody else’s discoveries. That is the difference between knowledge and knowing. What a teacher can do is to show the student what she already knows. That was my experience. As I read the discourses of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh I felt a continual “ahah” or “I knew that” or “yes”. But it was my “ahah” and my “I knew that” and my “yes”.

For the past 24 years I have been looking inside of myself for the answers. As I become more aware of my unconsciousness—my conditioning—I become freer. Simple as that.

Now I have never been one to crap upon my path. Always, I have honored my earlier incarnation as an active radical. And so these two beings sit inside of me, side by side. Talk about being a Gemini! How to deal with these two disparate elements of my life?

Integer, integrity, integrate, and integral. What a time of duality and duplicity this is. What a time of crisis this is. These are the times that try our souls and our sanity. These are times that try our very notion of truth.
On the political stage, the level of insanity has reached epochal depths. Truth? Our government, with the support of our elective representatives, plunges into war to destroy weapons of mass destruction that, to this day, have neither been used nor found. Truth? Over a third of a trillion tax dollars will be given to the rich so that the rest of us may “prosper” while unemployment rises, public education languishes, and fewer and fewer people have the means to take care of their very health.

Nuances have disappeared. The chasm between reality and propaganda has become so large that sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the script has been written by George Orwell or Lewis Carroll.

We are all microcosms of the whole. In the fall of 2001, for example, I had an eerie feeling as I watched the events following the destruction of the World Trade Center. First, there was a beautiful kindness and compassion as people in New York City helped each other out. There was a brief period of caring. Then this was followed by anger and beating of war drums.

People were feeling hurt and vulnerable. They looked outward to find a target for their hurt…and their rage. The eerie feeling was that I had been doing that for most of my life. However, I had the benefit of both therapy and a master so that I knew that it was bullshit. I had seen that it was in my interest to go beyond such nonsense and look within myself. Still, old habits die hard. We are each of us a microcosm of the whole.

You can’t have the inner without the outer. You can’t have the outer without the inner. We can be in the world without being of it. Spiritual and active are two aspects of our humanity. They are the two wings of our divinity. They are the two lines of the cross which transcends any particular organized religion.

I can’t go back again. For me the old kind of externalized and righteous political movements are a thing of the past. It is arrogant to think that we can bring the truth to anyone. In the past, revolutions have dealt with externals. People’s consciousness would stay the same. As the poet William Butler Yeats put it, “a beggar on horseback lashes a beggar on foot.” After the revolutions, the “beggars have changed places but the lash goes on.” Similarly, a passive spirituality just doesn’t do the job for me. India has long suffered from that.

So now, in this (one hopes) last year of Bush, I am trying to tear myself together. It ain’t easy: trying to put these disparate parts together. I take comfort in knowing that I am not the only one who is trying to tear himself together. Poets are mobilizing. Perhaps activists are meditating.

These are joyous times. They are dreadful times. And the very extremes of our epoch will draw us, each of us, together. And when we are whole and together we constitute an irresistible power.

This began with a dream of integration. It ends with a confidence in the process of becoming whole. We are each a microcosm. As we heal ourselves we heal our
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