A one of its kind biography, The Only Life is the story of a woman who blazed a path for herself and others in the presence of one of the greatest mystics, Osho.
Growing up an ordinary Indian girl in British India, and rendered powerless in a domineering world, Laxmi went on to become Osho's first disciple and secretary.
What follows is an account of not just a life, but of the massive international movement which grew around Osho in the 1970s and 80s-one that Laxmi was at the helm of. Equally, what unfolds is a narrative, full of pathos, where her protégé usurps her place. Heartbroken, ostracised and later banished, she wanders the wastelands of America in isolation, seeking to rediscover herself by choosing devotion for her master over despair.
The Only Life is an extraordinary account of a life of starkly contrasting ups and downs. Laxmi's journey and the way she lived continue to serve as a crucial illustration for dealing with life's adversities. It shows that the path of kindness, devotion and awareness trumps all in these present chaotic and precarious times.
Rashid Maxwell is a poet, artist, environmentalist, writer of fiction and biography, designer and builder of buildings for meditation, carpenter, art therapist, ornithologist, gardener, landscape designer, lecturer in fine art, beekeeper, playmate of many grandchildren and agnostic as well.
I met Osho in 1988 with my senior film-maker friend Vijay Anand. Since that time my understanding of the ways of the world and of mankind has matured and evolved. Osho's thoughts, discourses and books have greatly influenced my movies, my sense of music, poetry, drama and aesthetics. In 1999 I wrote and directed the film Taal; it was both directly and indirectly, consciously and unconsciously pervaded by Osho's teachings; particularly the idea-`Rise in love, do not fall in love.'
Osho takes you to a new horizon beyond traditional beliefs. He nourishes the seeker in you and makes you question, debate, explore the universal truth within you. It is no wonder that so many of His people have been transformed by the subtle alchemy of the master-disciple relationship.
In The Only Life, we see how one of Osho's first disciples, Ma Yoga Laxmi, embodies His vision of Zorba the Buddha, the new man or woman who lives fully both the life of the material world and the life of the spirit. Like all of us she had to pass through dark valleys and strenuous times to arrive at the sunlit summit. The author and disciple of Osho, Swami Deva Rashid Maxwell shows how, through meditation and engagement with life, harmony, wisdom and loving kindness arose in her, qualities the world needs urgently. This is a story for our times.
Biography is a branch of fiction. To find out facts we read the newspapers or click on Wikipedia. To hear the truth we go to an enlightened one, to poetry and works of art, or to a child.
This book dwells in the borderlands between history and myth. It was brought into being to retrace and remember the life of the late Ma Yoga Laxmi. She had to pass through dark valleys and rank swamps before reaching those high peaks in the sun to which we all aspire; she found that place of peace and kinship with all things.
Her story is a story for our troubled times. It is set in Devotion, the all but vanished land that lies beyond our customary horizons. She was the moon to Osho's sun. And Osho was, way back in the seventies and eighties, pointing to the cliff-edge where humanity now dithers. He was offering us then the remedies for now.
We know of all the problems piling up across the world; of global warming and extreme weather, of polluted environments and a flawed economic system, of war amongst nations, ethnicities and religions, of human rights and gender rights in jeopardy, .of overpopulation and mass migrations, of the threats posed by Artificial Intelligence and bioengineering-the list grows everyday longer. And strangely, deep down in our hearts, we know the solutions too: Osho was proposing us a medicine for our malaise. He was showing us the way of balance and the threads that link us to each other and all things.
To change the world we must change ourselves. This is not esoteric-it is scientific. Nature has evolved as a myriad of species. With humankind, the natural, collective and unconscious process of evolution ends. With humankind, conscious evolution begins. Not as a species, but as individuals. This is twice as necessary now because we have evolved slower than our technology. Hence the saying, To change the world we must change ourselves.'
All our ills are in truth just one disease-unconsciousness, unawareness. This malady, of which we are not conscious, is cured by taking a simple medicine. A simple but by no means easy medicine-meditation. Meditation, self-enquiry, or what is now often called mindfulness is the fast track medicine that ushers in awareness; an awareness that solves or resolves all our problems.
The age of the expert is over; we stand at a door we can and must open ourselves. Like Laxmi, we need no beliefs, no ideology and no special knowledge. Such things have brought us to this dire extremity. Like her, we need to be open, open to changing our mind.
Laxmi takes the medicine; she inspires.
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