In her latest book, By My Own Rules, that she has dedicated to everyone who helped her get through the life, Ma Anand Sheela has given a glimpse of her past through the eighteen rules she follows in her life. Here’s an excerpt from the book where Ma Anand Sheela writes about how Bhagwan’s love made her confident and fearless in life. She shares an anecdote of the time in her life when she was torn within, and it had become difficult for her to choose between the inner truth or to forget everything—her values, the responsibility, and the people in the community—for Bhagwan.
Faced with this distress, I remembered the advice of my parents. ‘Every person must follow the inner truth. No one needs to be afraid of their feelings.’ Their teaching became my guiding light. I knew that I could not compromise with the values they had ingrained in me. I did not want to sell my soul in the name of love. I could not be with my beloved Bhagwan any more. I could not breathe near him any more. It was time for me to leave Bhagwan. I trusted my instincts and followed my heart. I believed that everything would turn out to be fine. I returned all his expensive gifts, which had been an expression of his love, with a goodbye letter.
My parting caused a wave of disappointment and shock. Something no one expected had happened: Bhagwan and Sheela, who had been one heart and one soul, who had stuck together like the sun and the moon, had finally separated. Bhagwan was deeply disappointed in me. My leaving the commune hit him at the core. At the same time, he had to fortify his position in order to retain the trust of his people as many others were contemplating leaving too. Negative stories were spread about me and I was vilified. I had always been aware that many people were jealous of me and wished to be in my place, trusted and loved by Bhagwan. They had the opportunity now.
With my decision to leave the commune, crazy accusations began doing the rounds. Friends and followers of Bhagwan gave vent to their pent-up emotions over me. Bhagwan had always been a master storyteller. The crazy accusations against me were like fire in dry straw and I was ablaze. This fire became the touchstone of my life as well as of his teachings. I was accused of various crimes. I eventually ended up in prison.
After thirty-nine months in prison in the United States, I understood the essence of Bhagwan’s teachings. Bhagwan used every opportunity to train the consciousness and repeatedly created situations in which he tested the limits of our trust and love. He talked about meditation, of love, life, laughing and acceptance, all his life. These are beautiful words and very easy to live by once we are integrated in a harmonious community. Every person can meditate and be satisfied when life is going well. However, alone in a cell, in prison, isolated and rejected by the rest of the world, the true strengths of a human being become apparent. Only negative things were written about me. Hatred and contempt reflected in the faces of the people I met.
I did not know whether I would survive the next day or ever see the sun again. These were the darkest days of my life. The only thing that I could do was to find trust and clarity in myself and to accept life as it was. Despite all the hurtful accusations, my love for him proved indestructible. His teaching was like a precious diamond to me that reflected the beauty of life, without which everything would be empty and dry. Today I am aware that I went through fire out of my love for him.
Written in Ma Anand Sheela’s own words, read her story By My Own Rules to get a glimpse of how she negotiated with several situations in her life.