Recently, I came across an old recording I made in India a year or so after Osho left-the-body. At the time, I remember feeling the song was perhaps too intimate to be shared publicly; or its context too obscure to be “felt” by anyone other than the craziest of hearts. Maybe this is still the case, I don’t know. What I do know is that when a friend sent the song last week and asked if I remembered doing it, I was touched and moved to hear it again — even after twenty-five years! There is something about the song’s innocence, its child-like quality, and the purity of Disha and Sudhananda’s voices that just resonates and makes my heart smile.
Osho leaving-the-body was a strong experience for me. Although I had heard him say many times things such as — “My chair is empty, it has always been. I am not the body sitting here, just a silent presence” — I found it difficult to grasp. He was such an amazing being in-the-body it was hard to imagine a time would ever come I would have to say goodbye to his physical form. But it happened. On January 19, 1990 Osho did indeed leave his body, and me behind to make some sense of the mystery and absorb its teaching. A year or so later while playing for the Evening Meeting in Buddha Hall, I found myself looking out across a sea of meditators with Osho’s white chair in the distance, luminous and empty, on the podium, and it dawned in me, what he had always shared about his presence being timeless and eternally here/now. I understood and a song was born from that insight:
Out across the ocean of you and me
There is an empty chair or so it seems
What was there is now and here forever more
Osho, you are in my song
Osho, you are in my heart
Osho, you are in my dance
So this day is special to me, the day Osho left-his-body, not in a traditional holiday sense, but simply as a powerful reminder that the body is in essence a temple in which the Divine, ineffable as it is, dwells and calls a temporary home. This tribute is to that mysterious quality, that silent eternal presence, that resides in each of us. Words fall short at its feet, but perhaps a song comes closest to saying it. Anyway, some things are just better sung than said, right?
“Empty Chair” was recorded sometime in 1991 in India. It was one of the last recordings I made in our little Francis House studio in the ashram. It was made using a Fostex 16-track tape recorder. I memorized the mix and mastered it real-time, hands-on, using our trusty, old Soundcraft board, the one Sanjiva used to record all the live discourse music when Osho was in-the-body. The musicians are Disha, Sudhananda, and myself on vocals. Sudhananda and I are playing the acoustic guitars. I am playing the electric guitar solos. Teerth is playing drums and Satgyan, bass. And I believe, if my memory serves me well, Bharti is playing keyboards. We had some beautiful gongs, cymbals, and percussion instruments from Thailand that I dusted off for this project, ones that Nivedano had gifted to Osho, some of which were used in photo sessions with Osho and for the Buddha Hall music.
It has been a pleasant surprise to re-visit the song after so many years and “water down The Ganges” as the saying goes. Thanks to Gopal for stirring the lees of my memory by sending along the file. In sharing, I would like to dedicate the song first and foremost to Osho, the source of its inspiration, and to the Commune for supporting me in ways that allowed me to be close to the master, meditate, and discover myself. Also to Disha, who left her body in an untimely fashion but whose whose pure voice and child-like quality shines through in this recording and lives on still touching hearts. I also want to thank the many talented musicians I have had the honor to work with over the years, from whom I have learned much, and whose dedicated efforts in those early Pune ll days created a foundation for all that followed. Finally, to all the hearts, far and wide, whom Osho has inspired and continues to inspire. While it is true his chair maybe empty, whatever(or whoever) used to sit there is still a light, a finger pointing to the moon, a beacon of love, creativity, beauty, transformation, and goodness. I remain forever grateful.