My friend, who I’ll call Yog, is well versed in political manoeuvres. He told me today how, within a few days of working in the nearby Osho International Meditation Resort, he had sussed out the entire hierarchical network of relationships and saved them in his brain’s database for use at a later date. Thus he was able to apply his powers of strategic observation to gauging everything that mattered to him in his new surroundings and unconsciously plot his ascent in the pecking order.
Excelling in martial arts
In one provocative gesture right after his arrival, and before starting work, he joined one of the early morning martial arts sessions with the sole intention of making his presence known. The instructor, as well as being an adept master of the Eastern arts of combat and a skilled teacher, happened to be a member of the elite circle who run the place. Yog decided, as an alpha male, that the first thing he needed to do was become highly visible so as to stake out his position in the new territory he found himself in.
His plan for his first three days was to attend that open session of martial arts – something he had studied extensively in his youth – so the right people would notice him.
He is a striking man, good-looking, robust, with a hyperactive mind and a strong presence – hard to ignore, in fact. Maybe for that reason, at that very first session, he was singled out from the group as guinea-pig to help demonstrate a certain manoeuvre that involved destabilising the imagined opponent and toppling him, with the aggressor played by the instructor. Chi energy, emerging from the hara, was going to be enough to knock him off his feet. Up went the instructor’s arm. Down it came on the self-defending guinea-pig…
But nothing happened. Yog maintained his balance unaffected.
So the exercise was repeated. The instructor came at him again. Again Yog stood his ground.
According to Yog – who was laughing while relating this competitive achievement – the instructor revealed his frustration. “Very angry” were the words Yog used about him (though, knowing the man, I personally doubt that).
Either way who could blame him? After all, this was supposed to be a light-hearted demonstration to a group of amateur martial arts practitioners, designed to show what was theoretically possible in Eastern combat. It was not a strong-arm contest.
The alpha male
Nevertheless, in the larger scheme of things, the alpha male who steps into an existing organised structure must quickly assert his position. And in the street jungle or in a men-only prison, for example, this would have been a classic survival gambit.
For Yog, in the bigger picture of his relationship with whoever his authority figures happened to be, this was the political animal vying for the upper hand, marking territory and demonstrating capability.
And in what is still, at some levels, an environment of political animals, it worked. On the Work as Meditation Program , he was soon pleased to find himself employed at an essential job that quickly gave him access to all departments.
His desk in the administration’s main office, and his hopping between other offices, enabled him to continue to scrutinize his fellow workers and gauge who kowtowed to whom. And somehow this satisfied his need for control in a situation where he imagined that he himself might one day aim for a position of power.
Fear and revenge
I love this story because, with a little leap, it relates back to his childhood fear. One of the strategies that derives from a fearful childhood would be to plot those later threatening adult forces in tactical positions around you so you can take imagined control of their behaviour. That way you know how best to manoeuvre yourself to stay beyond the reach of their menacing impact.
To protect from perceived danger, Yog constantly laid out his territorial markings so he could move freely between different strata, scoping out who wields power, who commands respect and who is who in the pecking order.
Early experiences motivate us in different ways and, depending, compel us to navigate in certain directions. Most of us are familiar with how our childhood experiences inform our later choices. But not so many of us understand the ways in which painful and unhappy experiences, those repetitive moments as children we’ve done our best to forget, lead us into chronically distorted adult behaviour. In the case of Yog, this was how his experiences had compelled him to steer his life.
Dynamic meditation’s dynamo
Yog had already come to recognise his tendency towards anger and aggression long before he chose to enter the Osho International Meditation Resort – insights around that are what had started him on Osho’s Dynamic meditation. But he hadn’t yet sourced it back to the fear he felt as a child.
It turns out he had had bullying parents who relentlessly compared him to the neighbour’s boy, a serious student who hunkered down to his own parents’ demands without hesitation.
Yog’s entire childhood was regularly, repeatedly, unremittingly punctuated by commands and threats: “You are not working hard enough!”, “If you don’t study day and night you will be a penniless failure!”, “Get back to your books right now!”, “Without maths you won’t even have the skills to open a street stall…!”And so on, every minute of every day.
And when they really wanted to slap him into place and humiliate him even further, they compared him to the virtuous nose-to-the-grindstone boy next door who was getting increasingly high grades under his parents’ iron fist. Throughout Yog’s childhood, day after day, the haranguing never let up, and it made him fearful and timid. At least until the testosterone kicked in in adolescence, when his fury began to show itself.
The liberating insight
For him, it was time to take revenge. And when we take revenge, we rarely focus on the perpetrators of our abuse – our parents or school bullies. We usually take revenge on everyone else. And this ‘revenge’ remained active until the period spent in the Osho Resort in their Work as Meditation Program.
In the course of all the work he did there, alongside the regular active meditations themselves, he finally had an insight… He glimpsed his fear – something he never thought a man of his by-now strong and confident character would ever do.
What the past tells us
He saw that his early adult life of confrontation, of physical fighting, gang leadership, aggressive social behaviour – to boot, his rage at being controlled by others – all emerged from his childhood fear of his bullying parents and of the dangerous world they threatened him with.
While participating in the powerful active meditation that is Osho Dynamic, he had unpeeled his memories of fury and rage one by one to find in himself a child of cowering despair, and he actually felt the fear that he recognised as coming from that source.
When he understood the root of his anger and saw more clearly what he had long been doing, Yog was able to drop most of his competitive political strategies. He went on to be his own boss in his own business – for better or worse, a sure way to stay in control.
(The boy next door, on the other hand, horrified to discover that his final grades did not fulfil his parent’s expectations, hung himself.)
Read here what Osho says about why Active Meditations are so important.
Cover image courtesy Osho International Foundation.