I'm in bed. It's a tender Monday morning in New York, and we're basking in post-orgasmic bliss. On this Monday morning, everything is relaxed. We let go. And suddenly, he asks me, "Margot, will you spend the rest of your life with me?" My God. That's the last thing I wanted to hear. I don't believe in marriage. I don't believe in ending up in a golden cage of marriage, like my parents. So I'm like scratching my chin. And I'm thinking, on the other hand, I do have a belief that having a man in your life is tantamount to being successful. So what to do? So I tell him, "Darling, I'm so honored. Give me five minutes, so I think about it."
So I tiptoe down from the loft of our bedroom in New York, and I discreetly and silently go to the office downstairs, open the door, close it, grab the phone, and make a call to my friend Robert the lawyer. "Hi, Robert, can you tell me how much money does it cost and how much time does it take to divorce in New York?" "Oh, easy. $200 and in two days." Oh, wow. This is just what I wanted to hear. "Thank you." I hang up the phone, go back to the bedroom. "Darling, it's a yes, it's a yes."
Well, time passes, and now we're five years later, and $200 and I'm a divorced woman, and I'm on my way to India to meet this famed spiritual master called Osho in Pune. I have to admit that I have a broken heart. This divorce wasn't so easy. I made it sound easy, but I woke up to the fact that this man really loved me, and I kind of maybe didn't take him seriously enough. So my heart is crying. I missed an opportunity for love.
So I come in front of Osho—the great Osho. Ah, he's wonderful. He wears a white robe, and he has a long beard, and he's at the same time, impressive and tender and soft and open. And I look in his eyes, and I say, "Osho, my heart is broken. Will you help me?" Osho takes a flashlight out of his pocket, shines it on me, reads something mysterious—I don't know what—and says to me, "You have gone in deep emotions and suffered a lot, but it has not affected your core." "Ah, I see. There's hope. I don't have to stay stuck in this sadness and these tears for the rest of my life." And then he says, "Okay, go to do the vipassana group and come and see me later." "Okay. Very good."
Off we go to the vipassana. Piece of cake. I'm such a good meditator. I am going to learn my peace on the pillow. It's gonna be easy. No problem. (It's my ego speaking.) Anyway, we arrive at the vipassana. We start the meditation. I sit on the pillow, and it's not at all what I expected. In fact, what happens is one mad soap opera after another starts to unwind in my mind while I'm sitting there, and there's nothing I could do about it. So the first day, I see my husband, or I should say my ex-husband, getting his bones bruised by some karate champions, losing the fight. The next day, I see gangsters coming and dousing gasoline over his house, and everything is burning. His pajamas are on fire. He jumps through the window into the pool. Ha ha ha! The next day the cops are stopping him and fining him because he didn't pay his debts, and he goes to jail.
I'm watching all this, and I'm kind of wondering, what is this? What is going on here? This never happened to me before. And I have to admit that there is a secret part of me that kind of relishes the revenge. I am having my revenge sitting on the pillow in fact, but I don't feel too proud about it.
Anyway, it goes on and on and on day after day, another soap opera, and it goes on. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm totally fed up. So I go to the teacher. I said, "Teacher, what is going on here?" And I explain what's going on. And she says something very wise. She says, "Well, when your body or your mind are wounded, then the infection is there, and the pus has to be released so the infection can heal. And so the wound also can heal. So your mind is like your body. Your mind is releasing the wound, and there's nothing you can do." Nothing I can do. Gee. Back on the pillow with hope. Same old, same old, more soap operas. He breaks a leg. He goes to the hospital.
So finally I said, okay, it's enough. I'm gonna ask Osho for help. So I write Osho a letter, and I said, "Dear Osho, I didn't come to sit on the pillow here to kill my husband. Can you do something to help me?" I send the letter over. The next day peace in the house. No more soap operas. Everything is quiet. Peace on the pillow. Peace in my mind—blessings. Oh my God. Finally, I can meditate. Thank you, Osho. I'm very grateful.
So I meditate, and the pearl arrives. The gift of this week-long meditation. This inner voice that says to me, "As a human being, you are a woman who is free, whether she has a man in her life or not." Now that to me meant a lot because I realized at that moment that I was actually in this program—in this belief—that I married this man because this was the way to be successful. This was the way to go out in the world to be socially accepted. And so without a husband, no success. So now I was getting the real teaching. And now the challenge was you are free as you are, and you don't need to have anybody to feel you can be creative and successful. So this was a new step into a new life for me—a big teaching. So I was very grateful.
So end of the meditation, I go home. I rest, and I remember Osho told me to come see him when I was finished. Well, I got nothing to tell him, really, except I'm full of gratitude. Well, I go anyway. So I walk in the hall, the lecture hall. There's about forty people there, all rather solemn and serious. Germans. I sit down. I wait until they call my name. And when they call my name, I go sit at Osho's feet. And I just look at him adoringly. And I say, "Thank you" because I have nothing else to say, really.
And then he smiles, and he puts his middle finger on my third eye as he usually does as a blessing. I receive it expecting nothing in particular. And all of a sudden, I feel like I'm in an earthquake. The ground under my coccyx is rumbling and grumbling and shaking. And I say, "What is going on?" And soon enough, it turns out that this grumbling and shaking is this uncontrollable laughter that is coming up from my loins through my bones. And I'm exploding in mirth, and there's nothing I can do to control it. Ha-ha-ha. And I laugh, and I laugh until I roll on the floor. I'm rolling on the floor with laughter, and Osho is laughing in his beard. And now, all of a sudden, the whole room is laughing, and I'm completely helpless. I'm here with my legs up, my arms up, laughing, laughing, holding my belly. Finally, they have to carry me to my seat. Okay. Well, this is a pretty exhausting experience. So at the end of it, we go home, and I say, "Wow, that was great. That was definitely, you know, a good gift—this laughter."
I go home, and I think, Ah, time to rest. I'm really tired. The next day I get up. It's not finished. What happens, to my great amazement, is that every day at 7:00 p.m., the laughter comes back, and I have nothing to do with it. I might be walking down the street—ha-ha-ha-ha! I might be eating a restaurant with a friend—ha-ha-ha-ha! The food goes everywhere. It explodes in a moment that is completely unexpected. I forget. I don't know when it's coming. Suddenly the plate and food flies and my friend laughs.
I get the tissue, the laughing tissue, out of my bag. I'm ready by then. And then I'd be writing a letter to someone—ha-ha-ha! Anyway, whatever I do—talking to a friend, walking down the street—the laughter comes back day after day after day. And guess what? Guess how long it came back? One month. Imagine that. For one month, you are breaking out in uncontrollable mirth, complete laughter. You have no control over it. You are not even doing it. It's happening to you. You don't know where it's coming from, but you realize a few things. You realize, my friends, that when you laugh, something happens. You are dissociated from the object of your laughter. You become a sort of a witness to something which isn't, you know, you. It's something. You are laughing, but you don't know what it is. So, after a while laughing and laughing and laughing, I start to realize what's happening here.
I'm laughing at myself. You know, I'm laughing at myself because why else? Why else would I be laughing? So, then I start to say, "Yeah, I'm laughing at myself. Well, okay. So who is the self I'm laughing at? Oh. And I start to see all the shenanigans I've played in my life, and all the idiocies and the divorce and you know, everything becomes a kind of a ridiculous joke, you know? And I begin to see like life, everything around it, everything around me, you know, I see everything as a ridiculous joke. I can't take anybody seriously anymore. Myself the first. I am a clown. Everybody's a clown. Okay. Forget about it. Get onto your work. Write your letters. Do your thing. Ha-ha-ha! There it comes back to remind me once again.
And so finally, I realized that this master had given me an incredible gift, and that was this gift to not be able to take myself seriously anymore, and not be able to take anything in life seriously anymore. And so there is this kind of deep inner joy, especially there, because imagine what would happen to you if every night at 7:00 p.m. you would start to laugh for no reason. I mean, it doesn't make any sense. You're not doing it. Okay? You have no reason to laugh and there it goes, and you have no control over it. I mean, it does something. It imprints laughter in the cells of your body. And you know that laughter is part of your nature, and laughter is your way to enlightenment. Okay. So that's the story.
I wanna share a little story about my growth with the connection to the spirit of nature. Actually, I grew up just a few kilometers away from here in the village of Nyuh Kuning, and my beautiful, amazing late mother, Linda Garland, the queen of bamboo (We love you, Boo.) taught me that to embrace the world, to embrace the spirit of everyone around us, we must surrender. We must surrender to the universe. We must surrender to everything and just let the universal energy come in. And from there we get power.
And growing up in Nyuh Kuning, in beautiful valleys like here, I would run around like a little Mowgli boy and climb coconut trees, fall off coconut trees, jump into rivers, fall over rocks, and learn how the spirit of nature worked, how the ecosystems and the people of Bali respected nature. And I wanna bring you to a time in 1988, when a holy man named Daaji, Gus Daaji, some of you may know, came to my home in Sangingan, the home of my father, and he blessed us on the full moon.
And Daaji was an amazing, powerful balian, as they call it. And, you know, in the middle of his mantras with the offerings five meters away, he would throw up a flower, and it would land right in the glass of the holy water. I mean, Michael Jordan had nothing on Daaji. I tell you, it's amazing. And this power and this connection with nature and the spirit of nature was so strong in Daaji.
I grew up alone a lot when I was young because my parents were overseas building houses for the rich and famous. So a lot of the time, I was with amazing people like Daaji, and we would go around Bali and pray in the different phases of the moon, no moon, full moon, and basically find every excuse to go and dress up in pakaian nadat and hang out in the temples and eat lots of yummy food and and watch the wayang kulit. It was an amazing childhood.
But then, ten and a half years of age, I found myself extracted from Bali and plopped into a British boarding school in Singapore. No idea what to do. My brother had gone there, so of course, I had to follow suit. I remember a few weeks after arriving at the boarding school, I was in the cafeteria, big smile, like, Hey, how you? You know, full Bali style. And this guy, this Singaporean guy, I remember he came up to me. He's like, "Dude, why are you so happy?" and I was confused. And then I was like, "Oh no, no, no, I'm-I'm not happy." And I stopped smiling, and I got more and more of these weird kind of interactions. And, unfortunately, I slowly learned to kind of like fit in to this energy that was in this urban environment of a very strict regimented boardinghouse.
And I learned to lie to fit in. I learned to be part of the pack, Lord of the Flies kind of stuff, and luckily I had some good friends, good people around me, friends and family who challenged me slowly. They kind of whispered it at first cos I was trying so hard to fit in. "Why are you trying to be someone you are not?" I had completely disconnected with who I was with this amazing spirit and really a core compassion that was free to express in Bali, and there it was all protected.
And I got horrible grades in school, and it was just very hard to connect with people, and slowly I adapted, and I learned how to listen to people and just kind of go from their high frequency to help them calm down. And I would just be a listener and a few very good friends actually helped me to do this and stay calm because I would be very kind of nervous about the condition of everybody around me. So I was always checking is everyone okay? Does everyone like me? And it was really this seeking of a kind of love that my self-love was conditioned on whether those around me were loving me.
And slowly, I learned that love comes from the inside. I had to be like my mother—surrender, just let the energy flow. If the energy is a high energy, slowly it will calm down. This too will pass.
And I was bullied a lot, beaten to buggery. Even though I went to a boarding school, they fought the small kids, and they even bet on us. It was pretty hardcore. I got smashed in sports, bashed my knee, broke a patellar tendon, da da da. When I was in medical care, they burnt my guitar. So kids in boarding school . . .!
But I slowly learned that if we do not connect with the spirit in ourselves, with the spirit around us, and the spirit in those around us, we can never be happy. And Daaji would always talk about Tri Hita Karana—this amazing philosophy here in Bali, and the way he said it to me as a child was very simple. He said, "It's three definitions of happiness, human to human—happy, human to environment—happy, human to God, to the divine—happy, and you must have all three happiness to truly be happy. And growing up in Bali, it was like by osmosis, you kind of followed this way.
But to then be extracted out of it and actually to try to kind of intellectually comprehend it and then go past the intellectual orgasms and whatever of it and actually go back to a place of the authentic real feeling of it was a slow long hard process for me. And I guess, in the end, I had my mother, who was this amazing beam of light compassion for the planet and for the people around her, and my father, who was this kind of eclectic traditionalist. He was very into Hindu rituals and animistic rituals, and antiques, and the plural lineage of Indonesia's amazing religious past and giving me all the routines. I then put this together to understand for the first time how I could connect with the spirit of nature around me.
And it took me about, I think, twenty-two years to figure it out and really be in a place of resolve and be okay with what Daaji had told me when I was seven, eight years old. This energy when I'm working, when I'm in a city, I can now go and escape and just try to connect with either a tree or maybe just some bushes, or maybe it's just some grass and soil. And I can put my hand to the ground and give my connection, my frequency. And I can try to release all the crap in my head and all the emotion, everything, and just reconnect. And this is something that I've been learning to do, and it's still a long journey, of course.
I guess if I had one thing to share, it's that a lifelong learning of connecting with the spirit of nature is something that we all need to invest in every single day of our lives. And especially for the future generations, Gen Z, Gen Alpha, Gen whatever. If they do not have this connection with nature, they will not have the spiritual and heart tools to create this sustainable future that we all are praying will come to be. So may we all learn together every day to connect with the spirit of nature and help to spread that to everyone around us.