the Wanderling

Sometime in the spring of 1982 and a year or so after being gone two years in the Peace Corps, a very good friend of mine, a onetime philosophy major that I had known in college, but somehow now having morphed into a big time computer geek, contacted me.

She told me the man she loved was on the waiting list for a heart transplant at Stanford University and that she had moved to a small studio apartment in Campbell, California to work in Silicon Valley and be within driving distance to see him. She wanted to know if there was some way I might be able to console him as he was wrought with anxiety almost to the point of a total breakdown --- inturn adversely impacting his health and preparedness for the transplant. Before a new heart with his match was available he died.

The several days of my intended stay turned into several weeks, then several months. By then I had to leave. One night just before I left, at some function or the other, I looked across the room and made a strangely unusual eye contact with a man I was sure I knew somehow. Asking my friend if she knew who the man might be she told me he was some Silicon Valley computer geek multi-quadzillionaire. With the unexpected death of my one time millionaire friend Lance Reventlow some ten years prior, who at the time I knew him owned one of only two fully aluminum bodied Mercedes Benz 300SL gullwing coupes in the US, and having no reason to think I might know any kind of a millionaire now, let alone a multi-quadzillionaire, computer geek or otherwise, I let it pass.

Some nights later my friend was hanging out in a place down the street from her studio apartment called the Garrett, adjecent to the Pruneyard in Campbell, eating a pizza and quaffing down a few beers with friends when the same man stepped up to her. He told her he had tracked her down through mutual acquaintances and was sure that her friend, me, and he knew each other as kids. He wanted to know, implying that it was important, if she thought it possible if such could be the case. She told him since I had moved around and lived with so many families so often as a child --- and her not knowing any of the specifics --- she could not say one way or the other with any amount of certainty.

When she caught up with me I told her it might have been possible. I also told her that even though I could not place when or how, I still had this strange feeling that night I first saw him that I knew him from someplace. Then she dropped the bombshell. He said he thought he knew me from India! I had never told my friend I had ever been to India and for the man to claim such a thing out of the blue was most startling. I gathered up what few photographs of myself that I had as a child and flew back up to Silicon Valley see him.


Because he had met my friend at the Garrett and I knew where it was located, we set it as a meeting place. As soon as he saw the pictures of me in my youth he knew I was the one he knew as a kid in India. Then he told me his story. His name was Adam Osborne. He and I were basically the exact same age. When he was very young his father, a British subject, worked in Thailand. He and his family just happened to be on vacation in India when the war broke out. His father returned to his job in Thailand, but, because of how unsettled everything was, he had Adam and his mother and two sisters go to the south of India to stay with friends. Shortly after returning to Thailand his father was placed into an internment camp by the Japanese and not released until the war ended. In the meantime Adam grew up in Tiruvannamalai and the ashram of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Although I was truly not able to recall anything he told me about the two of us being in India together as kids, he said he remembered me quite well because I was the only anglo boy his age he ever really met in his early years. He said he could not remember if our time together was long or short, if it lasted just days or stretched into weeks, but he did remember, even though he was not doing meditation specifically like I was, the two of us still found time to run all over the place getting in trouble --- even to the point of being admonished by the Maharshi. He also told me we had participated in Giri Valam, circumambulation of the holy hill Arunachala, although he did not recall if we completed the walk or who we went with. Neither too, did he remember if the two of us ever climbed to the top or visited the caves.

In SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: The Last American Darshan, refering to the works of R.C.Rajamani titled Awakens the Child of Theosophists [1], Rajamani, alluding to me as a child in India, I write:

"At the ashram Ramana turned and said, "Go with your parents. I will always be with you." Ramana knew, as I did, the couple I was with were not my parents."

In so saying, in the text of the Last American Darshan I lay it out, mostly by inference, that Ramana knew the couple were not my real parents through a certain level or spiritual aspect of his "abilities." And I still feel such may well be the case. However, not to play down any abilities Ramana may or may not have had, spiritual or otherwise, when Osborne and I met at the Garrett many years later as grown-ups he told me that as kids I had informed him that the couple I was with were NOT actually my parents. Truth be told, in Ramana's court in the ashram nothing escaped him. Whatever happened was brought to his attention either through attrition, a genuine confidant, or told him by someone hoping to gain something. Osborne's mother was a well respected member of Ramana's inner circle and it could be in general conversation the fact that the couple were not my parents may have filtered up from son to mother to Ramana.

Osborne also said I told him at first I did not want to go to India with the couple and fought hard not to do so. After arrival, however, he said I had a much different view. When it was time to go, I did not want to leave.

In 1938, many years before I went to --- or was taken --- to India as the case may be, the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released. There was a song in the movie called "Whistle While You Work," a song I remember quite well in that my mother sang (and whistled) it well into the time of her being sick. The year after Snow White was released The Wizard of Oz came out. Sometime after their release but before my trip to India, I saw both movies. Even though Osborne and I were both little kids and I may or may not have given him the title of either movie at the time as a kids, he remembered them as a grown man and the connections I made to them.

I only say so because I want you, the reader, to know that even though I do not remember at what time in my before going to India life I saw either movie specifically, that is, at what age or when --- mostly because seeing either of them must not have been tied to a memorable date like a birthday or something --- I did remember the song from Snow White and my mother singing it. So too, I remembered "The Wizard of Oz" well enough to tell Osborne something that stuck with him the rest of his life. Years later, as a young adult, it dawned on him out of nowhere one day when it popped into his head that his name Osborne and what happened to me turned out for me, to be a new life. I was Oz born. According to what he remembered, I had told him about "this movie" I had seen that in the beginning started out black and white, but when the little girl in it ended up in a magical land the world had turned into color. That was why I told him I did not want to leave --- because while there, in the ashram, for me, the world had turned into color.


The references of Oz and the childhood association with the Awakening or Enlightenment experience we are talking about here, happened many, many years ago, as did the conversations between myself and Osborne later as adults. So too, my writing of the association and presenting it online came about quite sometime back as well.

Interestingly enough however, Evan I. Schwartz, author of the most recent and just published book Finding Oz wherein he discusses the Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum and where and how he created the Oz books writes:

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is less than a coming-of-age story, as some have suggested, and more a transformation-of-consciousness story. Like the Buddha, Dorothy attains Enlightenment."

How I as a young boy would ever concieve of such a thing on my own is beyond me. Another interesting sidelight from Schwartz's book --- as it applies here --- is that the mother-in-law of Oz author Baum was a Theosophist. Through her, Baum and his wife were drawn into that belief system. If you recall from the above, the couple that began visiting my mother and eventually took me to India were Theosophists.

Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.








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