Dropping the Mask

Deva Indra’s journey inside

Mother of three grown sons and equally proud grandmother of five grandchildren, I have been living a life increasingly similar to Mojud since 2014.
AND how much I enjoy my life!

As second of four children myself, I was born in Amsterdam (Holland). My father was 19 and my mother just 16 when they married and had their first child. My mother’s experiences as a seven-year old in an orphanage have always touched me deeply. Even now, with my mother just widowed at age 85, I still often feel myself in the role of her mother – and I’m aware of my pitfall.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been on the alert, totally aware of the space I took up and how others were encroaching on that space, and whether it was safe enough just to be me.

As a little girl I had a problem with being highly sensitive. In those days, that was something my parents (and school) considered really weird. The message I got from them was ‘just be normal, be like your sisters’. Totally confused, fearful, lonely and insecure, I did my best to conform – but that only served to make me feel unhappier than ever. My sisters never seemed to be bothered by any of this, so I just watched and listened and superficially committed to the ‘family ethos’ that I neither understood nor was able to associate with.

I’m 5 years old and come skipping into the living room. It feels very strange, very uncomfortable. I ask: “Mum, what’s happened, why are you so angry?” Mum explodes and screams: “You, you always think that something’s up, and it’s simply not true, you’re just making it all up!”
What really happened was that Mum felt threatened by how confronting my questions were. She is unable to deal with her own feelings and projects them onto her little girl.

I’m 11 and at school. My best girlfriend raises her hand and asks if she may go home because she has such a headache. The teacher replies, “Stop making things up, Marja. You don’t think that everyone can go home just like that because they have a little headache?” I want to stand up and shout that it’s serious and that she’s not pretending. But I’m afraid and keep still. 6 months later Marja dies from a brain tumour.
This event resulted in my becoming even more unsure about my feelings, my ‘awareness’. I simply no longer know whether what I feel and see is true or if I’m making it up. For a long time I felt that it was my fault that Marja died, and that if I’d stood up for my truth, she would have been saved.

I’m 14 and at high school in Amsterdam. My Grandpa, who had long ago disappeared out of our lives, suddenly reappears from Australia. He wants to see my parents and they decide to go, without the children, to visit him for the weekend in Friesland where he’s bought a house. They return quite excited from their weekend away. “We’ve got good news,” they say. “Next week we’re going to move to Friesland because Grandpa has bought a nice house for us. We’ll be living in the countryside…” But I didn’t hear the rest, I couldn’t speak and I felt how I froze. My whole world collapsed at that moment. “And my girlfriends here, my school, my chum…?” I managed to ask; my voice was constricted, I felt so very small. “Don’t be ridiculous,” says my mother. “Just go and pack up the things you really want to take with you and make it nice and easy for us. Can’t you see that it’s all difficult enough for your Dad?”
Once again I get the feeling that I don’t count for anything. Perhaps I’m just being ‘difficult’ while it really isn’t necessary. I should be more cooperative and make things easier for my parents…
And yes, we moved to the countryside – where I got ill. The ‘frozenness’ that I started experiencing from the moment of being told that we would be moving just got worse and ended with (temporary) paralysis at the age of 18. I fled into an early marriage in the hope my life would become bearable.

In order to participate and just to survive I unconsciously developed a range of masks I could hide behind. My behaviour conformed outwardly to social conventions, but was everything but authentic… and led to physical problems as the mind-body found its own way to express my hidden truth.

Even at the early age of about 7, I had all sorts of ‘inexplicable’ health problems such as extreme itching, migraine, depression and a whole range of pain all over my body – physical problems that carried on long into my adult life and left their deep mark on my long-term health.

The message that I internalised was that there was something wrong with me. I can still get in touch with the confusion and the hopelessness I felt. What is OK to do? What must I avoid doing? As time passed, I began to distrust myself and to deny my own feelings.

There came a moment when I realised that everyone around me was wearing a mask. Different ones, perhaps, but still masks. This awareness made me uneasy. I knew that there was something not right, but the worst thing that happened was that I lost faith in myself and got out of touch with who I really was and am.

I adapted my behaviour to those around me in order to please them, I lost my spontaneity and lost touch with my deeper self. I protected myself by holding myself back, avoiding showing what I was really experiencing inside. I learned that it was safer to stand aside and watch the way the wind blew. After a while, I really had no idea who I was… and this I see as the biggest crime I committed against myself.

Osho makes his appearance

This state of affairs continued till the late 1980s when Osho came into my life. His appearance in a programme on Dutch television caught my attention, especially since the commentary was so negative. Despite my fear of being rejected I began reading his books and I devoured everything about Osho that I could get hold of. What I really wanted to do was to just get on a plane and lay myself at his feet, but I was uncertain if I could trust my feelings and too scared to burn all my bridges and set off for India with my children.

My wake-up and healing

Still, something kept pulling at me and ‘by chance’ I got to hear about AquaBalancing. This experience of the healing power of warm water touched the profoundest parts of me… and I took off to Bad Sulza in Germany to participate in the training for professionals given by Kaya and Nirvano. There I met Dick Nijssen, who was organising Inner Child training in Holland. I jumped into this therapists’ training and soon my inner child showed me how false that image was that I had carried with me from my early childhood: how I really was different, but interpreted as ‘not good enough’; my sensitivity and clairvoyance that I’d hidden and tried to ignore for fear of being considered weird; the emotional sources of my numerous physical ailments; the lessons at school which were so boring and empty that I escaped into the richness of my dream world…

Osho’s guidance

Now I look back and know that Osho was clearly guiding my footsteps, teasing me to wake up and become aware of who I really am. These two training courses shifted my life into top gear. I rejoiced and felt the deep-seated need to share my experiences with others – and in 2000 I opened my own practice in Lelystad, Holland.


My inner journey continues. At the Flowering training offered by Yoyo (ma Prem Els) in Arnhem, a painting of Osho dominated the wall of her office and it felt as if he was beckoning to me once again. I became aware of a deep desire for a new name, one that really suited me. I shared this awareness with Yoyo… and just shortly afterwards, she whispered my new name in my ear, along with the meaning: “Indra,” she told me, “dare to live from your deepest divine essence and express your reason for being here on this planet.” My whole body shivered with delight and recognition of truth.

Since that day my life has changed and expanded radically and with enormous pleasure and satisfaction I found myself giving training courses, workshops and individual sessions. But it took till 2015 before I felt the urge to take sannyas, which I did with Dharm Jyoti in Oshodham while I was there for the three weeks of the Mystic Rose.

My sincerest gratitude to all those people who Osho has sent to cross my path!

Mojud, the wonderful Sufi story Osho tells, has inspired me for years. I feel enormously attracted to the Mojud lifestyle: listening to and obeying the inner voice, living from my source in trust, surrender and love.

September 2014 marked the end of my life in the countryside, in a converted farmhouse near a river. Because I had been unwell for so many years, I ran into financial difficulties. One morning I awoke with a clear message: “I must leave this home and allow myself to be guided.” The very same day I approached my landlady and told her what I’d discovered. She paused for just a second, glanced at her husband, turned back to me and told me that I could stay for free until the end of the year, giving me time to put my affairs in order. Existence had just sent me an angel!

I feel my gratitude and know that all is right and as it should be. The very same week my next destination presents itself, and I leave for an ashram in Germany to do volunteer work. After a few months, the next destination presents itself and I leave to travel further south to another place where I work as a volunteer. Oh yes, every now and again I return to Holland where my children, Kaiyum and my family welcome me with open arms. As I travel, I make many friends who offer me a place in their homes. Now I am back in Holland and spent a lot of time with Kaiyum and with my mother. My father died recently and I support and comfort my mother as best I can.

Together with Kaiyum, we recently restarted the ‘Mantra & Satsang Circle’ that we’d initiated a few years ago, but it just didn’t seem to work then. Now, however, it’s gaining in popularity and is great fun.

“While singing I experience direct contact with my spirit, my essence. My mind stops chattering, that which I call ‘me’, disappears.”

Also, the Atisha discourses, Osho’s explanations and the training with Videha are an endless source of inspiration that nourish my growth and development. I have this clear picture of myself as a 4-year old girl in the schoolyard, peering through a tiny gap in the fence, yearning for another world, that of freedom… and now I have the perspective of that freedom, here and now.

Indra lives a Mojud-like life ‘on the edge’, continually aware of her connection with Osho and the Divine. The last decades include the formal conclusion of a declining marriage and the start of an intensive period as trainer, therapist and coach
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