Friday, December 17, 2010

Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) i am legend

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"Rajneesh" Chandra Mohan Jain
(रजनीश चन्द्र मोहन जैन)
Born 11 December 1931 (1931-12-11)
Kuchwada, Madhya Pradesh, India
Died 19 January 1990 (1990-01-20) (aged 58)
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Field Spirituality
Movement Jivan Jagruti Andolan; Neo-sannyas
Works Over 600 books, several thousand audio and video discourses[1]
Influenced by Mahavira
Gautama Buddha
Lao Tzu
Guru Nanak
G. I. Gurdjieff
Influenced Peter Sloterdijk[2]
Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain (Hindi: चन्द्र मोहन जैन) (11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990), also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s and Osho in 1989, was an Indian mystic and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following. His syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, creativity and humour, qualities he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation. His teachings have had a notable impact on Western New Age thought[3][4] and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.[5][6]
Osho, a professor of philosophy, travelled throughout India in the 1960s as a public speaker, speaking against socialism, Ghandism and institutionalised religion and advocating a more open attitude towards sexuality, a stance that earned him the sobriquet "sex guru" in the Indian and later the international press.[7] He reinterpreted writings of religious traditions, mystics and philosophers from around the world.
In 1970 he settled for a while in Mumbai, began initiating disciples (known as neo-sannyasins). Moving to Pune in 1974, he established an ashram that attracted increasing numbers of westerners, offered therapies derived from the Human Potential Movement and made news in India and abroad, chiefly because of its permissive climate and Osho's provocative lectures. By the end of the 1970s tensions mounted with the Indian government and members of the surrounding society.
In 1981 Osho relocated to the United States and his followers established an intentional community, later known as Rajneeshpuram, in the state of Oregon. Within a year the leadership of the commune became embroiled in a conflict with local residents, primarily over land use, which was marked by hostility on both sides. Osho's large collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles was notorious. This commune collapsed in 1985 when Osho revealed that the commune leadership had committed a number of serious crimes including a bioterror attack (food contamination) on the citizens of The Dalles. Osho was arrested shortly afterwards, charged with immigration violations and deported from the United States in accordance with a plea bargain.[8][9][10] Twenty-one countries denied him entry, causing Osho to travel the world before returning to Pune, where he died in 1990. Today his ashram is known as the "Osho International Meditation Resort".

[edit] Biography

[edit] Childhood and adolescence: 1931–1950

Osho was born Chandra Mohan Jain (Hindi: चन्द्र मोहन जैन) at his maternal grandparents' house in Kuchwada,[11] a small village in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh state in India,[12] the eldest of eleven children of a cloth merchant.[13] His parents, who were Taranpanthi Jains, let him live with his maternal grandparents until he was seven years old.[14] Osho accounted[15] this a major influence on his development as his grandmother gave him the utmost freedom, leaving him carefree without an imposed education or restrictions.
When he was seven years old he went to live with his parents in Gadarwara after his grandfather died, [11][16] an event that profoundly affected him, as did the death of his childhood sweetheart and cousin Shashi from typhoid when he was 15, leading to a preoccupation with death throughout much of his childhood and youth.[16][17] In his school years, a rebellious but gifted student, he acquired a reputation as a formidable debater.[18] He became an atheist, took an interest in hypnosis and was briefly associated with socialism and two Indian independence movements, the Indian National Army and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.[18][19][20]

[edit] University years and public speaker: 1951–1970

In 1951, aged nineteen, Osho began his studies at Hitkarini College in Jabalpur.[21] Asked to leave after conflicts with an instructor, he transferred to D. N. Jain College, also in Jabalpur.[22] Having proved himself to be disruptively argumentative, he was not required to attend college classes in D. N. Jain College except for examinations and used his free time to work for a few months as an assistant newspaper editor.[23] He began speaking in public at the annual Sarva Dharma Sammelan in Jabalpur, organised by the Taranpanthi Jain community into which he was born, and participated there from 1951 to 1968.[24] He resisted his parents' pressure to get married.[25] Osho later said he became spiritually enlightened on 21 March 1953, when he was 21 years old, in a mystical experience in the Bhanvartal garden in Jabalpur.[26]

Having completed his B.A. in philosophy at D. N. Jain College in 1955 he joined the University of Sagar, where in 1957 he earned his M.A. in philosophy (with distinction).[27][28] He immediately secured a teaching post at Raipur Sanskrit college but the Vice Chancellor asked him to seek a transfer as he considered him a danger to his students' morality, character and religion.[29] From 1958 he taught philosophy as a lecturer at Jabalpur University, being promoted to professor in 1960.[29] A popular lecturer, he was acknowledged by his peers as an exceptionally intelligent man, able to overcome the deficiencies of his early small-town education.[30]
At the same time he travelled India giving lectures under the name (Acharya ("teacher" or "professor") Rajneesh, the latter a nickname acquired as a child.[18][29][31] Socialism, he said, would only socialise poverty,[31] and Gandhi was a masochist reactionary who worshipped poverty[18][31] whereas India needed capitalism, science, modern technology and birth control.[18] He criticised orthodox Indian religions as dead, filled with empty ritual, oppressing their followers with fears of damnation and the promise of blessings.[18][31] Such controversial statements[18] gained him a loyal following that grew rapidly.[32], including a number of wealthy merchants and businessmen[32] who sought individual consultations from him about their spiritual development and daily life in return for donations, an arrangement commonplace in India.[32] From 1962 he began to lead 3-to-10-day meditation camps, and meditation centres (Jivan Jagruti Kendra) started to emerge around his movement, then known as the Life Awakening Movement (Jivan Jagruti Andolan).[33] After a speaking tour in 1966 he resigned from his teaching post.[29]
In a 1968 lecture series, later published under the title From Sex to Superconsciousness, he scandalised Hindu leaders by calling for freer acceptance of sex,[34] and became known as the "sex guru" in the Indian press.[7] When in 1969 he was invited, despite the misgivings of some Hindu leaders, to speak at the Second World Hindu Conference he used the occasion to raise controversy again,[34] claiming that "any religion which considers life meaningless and full of misery, and teaches the hatred of life, is not a true religion. Religion is an art that shows how to enjoy life."[35] He characterised priests as being motivated by self-interest, provoking the shankaracharya of Puri to attempt to have his lecture stopped.[35]

[edit] Mumbai: 1970–1974

At a public meditation event in spring 1970 Osho presented his Dynamic Meditation method for the first time.[36] He left Jabalpur for Mumbai at the end of June.[37] On September 26, 1970, he initiated his first group of disciples or neo-sannyasins,[38] each assuming a new name and wearing the traditional orange dress of Hindu renunciates including a beaded necklace (mala) carrying a locket with his picture.[39] His sannyasins were encouraged to follow a celebratory rather than ascetic lifestyle.[40] He himself was not to be worshipped but regarded as a catalytic agent, "a sun encouraging the flower to open".[40]
He had by then acquired a secretary who, as his first disciple, had taken the name Ma Yoga Laxmi,[18] the daughter of one of his early followers, a wealthy Jain who had been a key supporter of the National Congress Party during the struggle for Indian independence, with close ties to Gandhi, Nehru and Morarji Desai.[18] She raised the money that in December 1970 enabled Osho to settle[18] at the Woodlands Apartments in Mumbai where he gave lectures and received visitors, among them his first Western visitors.[37] He now travelled rarely, no longer speaking at open public meetings.[37] In 1971 he adopted the title "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh".[39] Shree means "sir" or "mister", Bhagwan means "blessed one", indicating a human being in whom the divine is no longer hidden but apparent.[41][42]

[edit] Ashram in Pune: 1974–1981

The humid climate of Mumbai appeared detrimental to Osho's health: he developed diabetes, asthma and numerous allergies.[39] So, in 1974, on the 21st anniversary of his enlightenment,[43] he and his group moved to a property in Koregaon Park, Pune purchased with the help of Catherine Venizelos (Ma Yoga Mukta), a Greek shipping heiress.[44], his ashram from 1974 to 1981 and still the heart of the present-day Osho International Meditation Resort. This allowed the regular audio recording and, later, video recording and printing of his discourses for worldwide distribution, enabling him to reach far larger audiences. The number of Western visitors increased sharply, leading to constant expansion.[45] The ashram soon featured an arts-and-crafts centre producing clothes, jewellery, ceramics and organic cosmetics and performances of theatre, music and mime.[45] From 1975, after the arrival of several therapists from the Human Potential Movement,[46] the ashram began to complement meditations with a growing number of therapy groups[47] that became a major source of income for the ashram.[48][49]
The Pune ashram was an exciting and intense place with an emotionally charged, madhouse-carnival atmosphere.[45][50][51] The day began at 6:00 a.m. with Dynamic Meditation.[52][53] At 8:00 a.m. Osho gave a 60- to 90-minute spontaneous lecture in the ashram's "Buddha Hall" auditorium, commenting on scriptures or answering questions from visitors and disciples,[45][53] in alternating Hindi and English series until 1981.[54] The day's various meditations and therapies were intensified by the spiritual energy of Osho's "buddhafield".[50] In evening darshans Osho conversed with individual disciples or visitors and gave sannyas.[45][53] Sannyasins came for darshan when departing or returning or when they had anything they wanted to discuss.[45][53]
To decide which therapies to participate in, visitors either consulted Osho or made selections according to their own preferences.[55] Some of the early therapy groups in the ashram, such as the Encounter group, were experimental, allowing a degree of physical aggression[56] as well as sexual encounters between participants.[57][58] Conflicting reports of injuries sustained in Encounter group sessions began to appear in the press.[59][60][61] Richard Price, at the time a prominent Human Potential Movement therapist and co-founder of the Esalen institute, found the groups encouraged participants to be violent rather than play at being violent (the norm in Encounter groups conducted in the United States) and criticised them for "the worst mistakes of some inexperienced Esalen group leaders".[62] Price is alleged to have exited the Pune ashram with a broken arm following a period of eight hours locked in a room with participants armed with wooden weapons.[62] Bernard Gunther, his Esalen colleague, fared better in Pune and wrote a book, Dying for Enlightenment, featuring photographs and lyrical descriptions of the meditations and therapy groups.[62]
This violence ended in January 1979, the ashram issuing a press release stating that it "had fulfilled its function within the overall context of the ashram as an evolving spiritual commune."[63] Allegations of drug use amongst sannyasins also began to mar the ashram's image.[64] Some Western sannyasins were financing extended stays in India through prostitution and drug-running.[65][66] A few of later said that, while Osho was not directly involved, they discussed such plans and activities with him in darshan and he gave his blessing.[67]
By the latter 1970s the Pune ashram was too small to contain the rapid growth and Osho asked that somewhere larger be found.[68] Sannyasins from around India started looking for properties: those found including one in the province of Kutch in Gujarat and two more in India's mountainous north.[68] The plans were never implemented as mounting tensions between the ashram and the conservative Hindu government of Morarji Desai resulted in impasse.[68] Land-use approval was denied and, more importantly, the government stopped issuing visas to foreign visitors who indicated the ashram as their main destination.[68][69] Desai's government cancelled the tax-exempt status of the ashram with retrospecvtive effect, resulting in a claim estimated at $5 million.[70] Conflicts with various Indian religious leaders aggravated the situation – by 1980 the ashram had become so controversial that Indira Gandhi, despite a previous association between Osho and the Indian Congress Party dating back to the sixties, was unwilling to intercede for it after her return to power.[70] In May 1980, during one of Osho's discourses, an attempt on his life was made by Vilas Tupe, a young Hindu fundamentalist.[68][71][72]
By 1981 Osho's ashram hosted 30,000 visitors per year.[64] Daily discourse audiences were by then predominantly European and American.[73][74] Many observers noted that Osho's lecture style changed in the late seventies, becoming less focused intellectually and featuring an increasing number of ethnic or dirty jokes intended to shock or amuse his audience.[68] On 10 April 1981, having discoursed daily for nearly 15 years, Osho entered a three-and-a-half-year period of self-imposed public silence, and satsangs – silent sitting with music and readings from spiritual works such as Khalil Gibran's The Prophet or the Isha Upanishad – replaced discourses.[75][76] Around the same time, Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman) replaced Ma Yoga Laxmi as Osho's secretary.[77]

[edit] Move to America: 1981

In 1981 the increased tension around the Pune ashram,[78] along with criticism of its activities and threatened punitive action by the Indian authorities, provided an impetus for the ashram to relocate to America.[79][80][81] On 1 June Osho travelled to the United States on a tourist visa, ostensibly for medical purposes, and spent several months at Kip's Castle in Montclair, New Jersey.[82] He had been diagnosed with a prolapsed disc in spring 1981 and treated by several doctors, including James Cyriax, a St. Thomas' Hospital musculoskeletal physician and expert in epidural injections flown in from London.[77][83][84] Sheela stated in public that Osho was in grave danger if he remained in India but would receive appropriate medical treatment in America if he were to require surgery.[77][83][85]
According to Susan J. Palmer the move to the United States "appears to have been a unilateral decision on the part of Sheela."[86] Gordon (1987) notes that Sheela and Osho had discussed the idea of establishing a new commune in the U.S. in late 1980, although he did not agree to travel there until May 1981.[77] Osho's previous secretary, Laxmi, reported to Frances FitzGerald that "she had failed to find a property in India adequate to [Osho's] needs, and thus, when the medical emergency came, the initiative had passed to Sheela".[84] Osho never sought outside medical treatment during his time in America, leading the Immigration and Naturalization Service to believe that he had a preconceived intent to remain there.[84] Osho later pleaded guilty to immigration fraud, including making false statements on his initial visa application.[nb 1][nb 2][nb 3]

[edit] Oregon commune: 1981–1985

On 13 June 1981, Sheela's husband bought, for US$5.75 million, a 64,229-acre (260 km2) ranch located across two Oregon counties (Wasco and Jefferson), previously known as "The Big Muddy Ranch".[87] The following month, work began on setting up the so-called Rancho Rajneesh commune; Osho moved there on 29 August.[88] The initial reactions of the host community ranged from hostility to tolerance, depending on the observer's distance from the ranch.[89] Within a year of arriving, Osho's followers had become embroiled in a series of legal battles with their neighbours, the principal conflict relating to land use.[90] In May 1982, the residents of Rancho Rajneesh voted to incorporate the city of Rajneeshpuram on the ranch.[90] The conflict with local residents escalated, with increasingly bitter hostility on both sides, and over the following years, the commune was subject to constant and coordinated pressures from various coalitions of Oregon residents.[90][91] For its own part, the commune leadership took an uncompromising and confrontational stance and behaved impatiently with locals.[92] Its behaviour was implicitly threatening, and the repeated changes in the commune's stated plans looked like conscious deception, whether they were or not.[92]
Osho greeted by sannyasins on one of his daily "drive-bys" in Rajneeshpuram, 1982.
Osho resided at Rajneeshpuram, living in a purpose-built trailer complex with an indoor swimming pool and other amenities. He did not lecture and only saw the majority of his followers on his daily drive-bys, when he would slowly drive past the long line of sannyasins waiting for him by the side of the road.[93] In this period, he gained notoriety for the large number of Rolls-Royce luxury cars[94] that his followers bought for his use, eventually numbering 93 vehicles.[95][96]
As part of his withdrawal from public life, Osho had given Ma Anand Sheela limited power of attorney in 1981, and removed the limits in 1982.[97] In 1983, Sheela announced that he would henceforth speak only with her.[98] He would later claim that she kept him in ignorance.[97] Many sannyasins expressed doubts about whether Sheela truly represented Osho.[99] An increasing number of dissidents left Rajneeshpuram, citing disagreements with Sheela's autocratic leadership style.[99]
Sannyasins who were not U.S. citizens found themselves in visa difficulties, which many tried to overcome by entering into marriages of convenience with American followers.[100] Osho himself had similar problems, which the commune tried to solve by declaring him the head of a religion called "Rajneeshism".[93] In November 1981, Osho applied for permission to reside in the country as a religious worker.[101] The application was refused on the grounds that he could not be leading a religion if he was unwell, and in a state of silence.[93][101] But the decision was later withdrawn, due to procedural violations.[102] The application for leave to stay as a religious leader was finally granted three years later, in 1984.[93]
The Oregon years saw an increased emphasis on Osho's prediction that the conventional world would destroy itself by nuclear war or other disasters sometime in the 1990s.[103] Osho had said as early as 1964 that "the third and last war is now on the way", and had commented in the intervening years on the need to create a "new humanity" to avoid global suicide.[104] By the early 1980s, this had become the basis for a new exclusivism, with a 1983 article in the Rajneesh Foundation Newsletter announcing that "Rajneeshism is creating a Noah's Ark of consciousness ... I say to you that except this there is no other way".[104] These warnings contributed to an increased sense of urgency in getting the Oregon commune established.[104] In March 1984, Sheela announced that Osho had predicted the death of two-thirds of humanity from AIDS.[104][105] As a precaution, sannyasins were required to wear rubber gloves and condoms while making love and to refrain from kissing.[106][107] The measures were widely seen as an extreme overreaction; AIDS was not considered a heterosexual disease at the time, and the use of condoms was not yet widely recommended for AIDS prevention.[108]
Osho ended his period of public silence on 30 October 1984, having announced that it was time for him to "speak his own truths."[109][110] In July 1985, he resumed his daily public discourses in the commune's 2-acre (8,100 m2) meditation hall. According to statements he made to the press, he did so against Sheela's wishes.[111] On 16 September 1985, a few days after Sheela and her entire management team had suddenly left the commune for Europe, Osho held a press conference in which he labelled Sheela and her associates a "gang of fascists."[112] He accused them of having committed a number of serious crimes, most of these dating back to 1984, and invited the authorities to investigate.[112] The alleged crimes, which he stated had been committed without his knowledge or consent, included the attempted murder of his personal physician, poisonings of public officials, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within his own home, and a bioterror attack on the citizens of The Dalles, Oregon, using salmonella.[112] While his allegations were initially greeted with skepticism by outside observers,[113] the subsequent investigation by the U.S. authorities confirmed these accusations and resulted in the conviction of Sheela and several of her lieutenants.[114]
The salmonella attack was noted as the first confirmed instance of chemical or biological terrorism to have occurred in the United States.[115] Osho stated that because he was in silence and isolation, meeting only with Sheela, he was unaware of the crimes committed by the Rajneeshpuram leadership until Sheela and her "gang" left and sannyasins came forward to inform him.[116] A number of commentators have stated that in their view Sheela was being used as a convenient scapegoat.[116][117][118] Others have pointed to the fact that although Sheela had bugged Osho's living quarters and made her tapes available to the U.S. authorities as part of her own plea bargain, no evidence has ever come to light that Osho had any part in her crimes.[119][120][121]
Even though there was not enough evidence to bring charges against Osho, Gordon (1987) reports that Charles Turner, David Frohnmayer and other law enforcement officials who had surveyed affidavits that were never released publicly, and who had listened to the hundreds of hours of tape recordings that were retrieved from the ranch, insinuated to him that Osho was guilty of more crimes than those he was eventually prosecuted for.[122] Frohnmayer asserted that Osho's philosophy was not "disapproving of poisoning", and that he felt he and Sheela had been "genuinely evil".[122]
During his residence in Rajneeshpuram, Osho dictated three books while undergoing dental treatment under the influence of nitrous oxide (laughing gas): Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Notes of a Madman, and Books I Have Loved.[123] Following her departure from Rajneeshpuram, Sheela stated in media interviews that Osho took sixty milligrams of Valium each day and was addicted to nitrous oxide.[124][125][126] Osho denied these charges when questioned about them by journalists.[124][127]
Rajneesh had applied for U.S. permanent residency as a religious teacher but on 30 September 1985 he denied that he was a religious teacher.[128] On the same day, his disciples set fire to 5,000 copies of "Book of Rajneeshism", a 78-page compilation of his teachings[128] where Rajneesh had defined Rajneeshism as "a religionless religion".[129] He said he ordered the book-burning to rid the sect of the last traces of the influence of Ma Anand Sheela, his formal personal secretary. Sheela's robes were also "added to the bonfire".[128]

[edit] Arrest: 1985

Osho was issued a thirty-five-count indictment in Multnomah County, Oregon on 28 October 1985 for immigration violations, making false statements on his visa application. He agreed to pay $400,000 in fines and was deported from the United States
On 23 October 1985, a federal grand jury issued a thirty-five-count indictment charging Osho and several other disciples with conspiracy to evade immigration laws.[130] The indictment was returned in camera, but word was leaked to Osho's lawyer.[130] Negotiations to allow Osho to surrender to authorities in Portland if a warrant were issued failed.[130][131] Tension peaked amid rumours of a National Guard takeover, a planned violent arrest of Osho and fears of shooting.[132] Having listened to hundreds of hours of tape recordings that Sheela had made, law enforcement authorities later came to believe there was a plan to create a human wall of sannyasin women and children should authorities attempt to arrest their guru.[122] On 28 October 1985, Osho, his personal physician and a small number of sannyasins accompanying them were arrested without a warrant aboard a rented Learjet at a North Carolina airstrip; the group were en route to Bermuda to avoid prosecution according to federal authorities[133] ($58,000 in cash and 35 watches and bracelets worth $1 million were also found on the aircraft).[132][134][135] Osho had by all accounts been neither informed of the impending arrest nor of the reasons for the journey.[131]
Osho's imprisonment and transfer across the country took the form of a public spectacle – he was displayed in chains, held first in North Carolina, then Oklahoma, and finally in Portland.[136] Officials took the full ten days legally available to them to transfer him from North Carolina to Portland for arraignment.[136] After initially pleading not guilty to all charges and being released on bail, Osho, on the advice of his lawyers, entered an "Alford plea" – a type of guilty plea through which a suspect does not admit guilt, but does concede there is enough evidence to convict him – to one count of having concealed his intent to remain permanently in the U.S. at the time of his original visa application in 1981, and one count of conspiracy to have followers stay in the country illegally by having them enter into sham marriages.[137] Under the deal his lawyers made with the United States Attorney's office, he was given a 10-year suspended sentence, placed on five years' probation and ordered to pay $400,000 in fines and prosecution costs; in addition, he agreed to leave the United States and not to return for at least five years without the permission of the United States Attorney General.[8][114][135][138]

[edit] Travels and return to Pune: 1986–1990

After leaving the United States, Osho returned to India, landing in Delhi on November 17. On the day of his arrival, he was given a hero's welcome by his Indian disciples after returning from a U.S. jail and he denounced the United States saying the world must "put the monster America in its place" and that "Either America must be hushed up or America will be the end of the world."[139] He then travelled up to Himachal Pradesh where he stayed for six weeks. When his followers' visas were revoked by the government, he moved on to Kathmandu, Nepal. A few weeks later he moved on to Crete in Greece. After being arrested by the KYP, he flew to Geneva, Switzerland, where he was refused entry. He then travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, and to Heathrow, UK, which also refused him entry. He flew next to Canada, which refused landing permission with the result that he returned to Shannon, Ireland in order to refuel his plane. He was allowed to stay for two weeks, at a hotel in Limerick City, on condition that he did not go out and did not give any talks. A visa was arranged for Uruguay, and they took off again, stopping at Madrid on the way, where the plane was surrounded by the Guardia Civil. The next stop was Dakar, Senegal where he was allowed to spend the night. The next day the party continued on to Recife, Brazil, and finally on to Montevideo, Uruguay. In Uruguay the group moved to a house at Punta del Este where Osho again began speaking to his followers. He had been granted a Uruguayan identity card, one-year provisional residency and a possibility of permanent residency. On June 19, for no official reason, Osho was 'invited to leave'. A two-week visa was arranged for Jamaica, but on arrival in Kingston, the police gave the group 12 hours to leave the country. After refuelling in Gander, Canada, (despite being refused permission) and again in Madrid, Spain, Osho returned to Mumbai, India, on July 30, 1986.[140][141]
In January 1987, Osho returned to his old ashram in Pune.[142][143] He now held daily evening discourses, although with interruptions due to intermittent ill health.[144][145] Publishing efforts and therapy courses quickly resumed as well, but in less controversial style than in previous years, and the ashram experienced a renewed period of expansion.[144][145] It now presented itself as a "Multiversity", a place where therapy was to function as a bridge to meditation.[145] Osho devised a number of new meditation techniques, among them the "Mystic Rose" method, and, after a gap of more than ten years, began to lead meditations personally again.[144][145] Among his followers, the previous preference for communal living styles receded, most of them preferring to live ordinary and independent lives in society.[146] The former red or orange dress code for sannyasins and the mala, which had both been optional for some time, were abandoned in 1987.[145]
In November 1987, Osho expressed his belief that his deteriorating health was the result of some form of poison administered to him by the U.S. authorities during the twelve days he was held without bail in various U.S. prisons.[147] His doctors hypothesised that he had been poisoned by radiation and thallium, and that he must have slept on his right side on a deliberately irradiated mattress, since his symptoms were concentrated on the right side of his body,[147] but Osho's followers presented no hard evidence in support of this theory.[148] Osho's former attorney, Philip J. Toelkes (Swami Prem Niren), also said that radiation poisoning was the cause of Osho's nausea, fatigue, pain in his extremities and a lack of resistance to infection, but conceded that no evidence had been found to support the notion that the United States government conspired to murder the guru. Toelkes' comments led U.S. attorney Charles H. Hunter to describe the allegations as "complete fiction", while others speculated that Osho's ill health might have stemmed from exposure to HIV.[85][149] A less conspiratorial explanation relates to the fact that Osho's chronic diabetes, in conjunction with the stress he had experienced, may have led to systematic physical deterioration.[150]
From early 1988, Osho's discourses focused exclusively on Zen.[144] In late December 1988, he said he no longer wished to be referred to as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and in February 1989 took the name Osho Rajneesh, shortened to just Osho in September 1989.[144][151] His health continued to weaken; he delivered his last public discourse in April 1989, and from then on only sat in silence with his followers.[147] The wearing of red robes – only while on ashram premises – was reintroduced in summer 1989, with white robes worn for meditation, and black robes worn by leaders of therapy groups.[145] Malas were not worn.[145] Shortly before his death, Osho believed that one or more audience members who attended evening meetings at the Pune ashram (now referred to as the White Robe Brotherhood) were subjecting him to some form of evil magic.[152][153] A search for the perpetrators was undertaken, but none could be found.[152][153]
On January 19, 1990 Osho died, aged 58, with heart failure being the publicly reported cause.[154] His ashes were placed in his newly built bedroom in one of the main buildings (LaoTsu House) at the Pune ashram. The epitaph reads, "OSHO. Never Born, Never Died. Only Visited this Planet Earth between Dec 11 1931 – Jan 19 1990."

[edit] Teachings

Osho's teachings were delivered through his discourses. These were not presented in an academic setting, but were interspersed with jokes, and delivered with an oratory that many found spellbinding.[155][156] The emphasis of his teaching was not static but changed over time: Osho revelled in paradox and contradiction, making his work difficult to summarise.[157]
Osho spoke on all the major spiritual traditions, including Jainism, Hinduism, Hassidism, Tantrism, Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism, the teachings of a variety of Eastern and Western mystics, and on sacred scriptures such as the Upanishads and the Guru Granth Sahib.[158] His thought was rooted in Hindu advaita, which considers all reality as being of a single divine essence.[159] In this worldview, the human experiences of separateness, duality and temporality are held to be a kind of dance or play of cosmic consciousness; everything within this playful existence is sacred, has absolute worth, and is an end in itself.[159] Besides Eastern religious traditions, Osho also drew on a wide and eclectic range of Western influences in his teaching.[158]
The influence of Heraclitus is traceable in Osho's view of the unity of opposites. The influence of Freud and Gurdjieff is traceable in Osho's view of man as a machine, condemned to the helpless acting out of unconscious, neurotic patterns.[157][160] His vision of the "new man" who transcends the constraints of convention is reminiscent of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.[161] His views on sexual liberation bear comparison to the thought of D. H. Lawrence.[162] And while his contemporary Jiddu Krishnamurti did not approve of Osho, there are clear similarities between their respective teachings.[157]

[edit] Ego and the mind

Osho taught that every human being is a potential Buddha, with the capacity for enlightenment.[163][164] According to him, everyone is capable of experiencing unconditional love and of responding rather than reacting to life, but he suggested that a person's ego usually prevents them from enjoying this experience.[163] The ego, in Osho's teaching, represents the social conditioning and constraints a person has accumulated since birth, creating false needs that are in conflict with the real self.[165] The problem, he said, is how to bypass the ego so that man's innate being can flower; how to move from the periphery to the centre.[163][165]
Osho views the mind first and foremost as a mechanism for survival, replicating behavioural strategies that have proved successful in the past.[163][165] But the mind's appeal to the past, he says, deprives human beings of the ability to live authentically in the present.[163][165] He argued that individuals are continually repressing their genuine emotions, shutting themselves off from joyful experiences that arise naturally when embracing the present moment: "The mind has no inherent capacity for joy. ... It only thinks about joy."[165][166] The result, he said, is that people poison themselves with all manner of neuroses, jealousies and insecurities.[167] In the case of sexual feelings, for example, Osho believed that repression only makes these feelings re-emerge in another guise, and that the end result was a society obsessed with sex.[167] Instead of suppressing, he argued, people should trust and accept themselves unconditionally.[165][166] This solution could not be intellectually understood, as the mind would only assimilate it as one more piece of information: instead, what was needed was meditation.[167]

[edit] Meditation

According to Osho, meditation is not just a practice, but a state of awareness that can be maintained in every moment.[165][167] He maintained that it is this total awareness that awakens the individual from sleep, and from mechanical responses to stimuli, conditioned by beliefs and expectations.[165] Osho said he employed Western psychotherapy as a means of preparing for meditation – a way to become aware of one's mental and emotional hang-ups – and also introduced his own "Active Meditation" techniques, characterised by alternating stages of physical activity and silence.[168] He suggested more than a hundred meditation techniques in total.[168][169]
The most famous of these remains his first, known today as OSHO Dynamic Meditation.[168][169] This method has been described as a kind of microcosm of Osho's outlook.[169] The mediation is supposed to be performed with closed eyes (or blindfolded) and comprises five stages which are accompanied by music (except for stage 4).[170] In the first, the person engages in ten minutes of rapid breathing through the nose.[170] The second ten minutes are for catharsis: "[L]et whatever is happening happen. ... Laugh, shout, scream, jump, shake – whatever you feel to do, do it!"[168][170] For the next ten minutes, the person has to jump up and down with their arms raised, shouting Hoo! each time they land on the flats of their feet.[170][171] In the fourth, silent stage, the person is instructed to freeze, remaining completely motionless for fifteen minutes, and witnessing everything that is happening to them.[170][171] The last stage of the meditation consists of fifteen minutes of dancing and celebration.[170][171]
Osho also developed other active meditation techniques, like OSHO Kundalini Meditation and OSHO Nadabrahma Meditation, which are less animated, although they also include physical activity of one sort or another.[168] His final formal technique is called OSHO Mystic Rose, comprising three hours of laughing every day for the first week, three hours of weeping each day for the second, with the third week for silent meditation.[172] The result of these processes is said to be the experience of "witnessing", enabling the "jump into awareness".[168] Osho believed such cathartic methods were necessary, since it was very difficult for people of today to just sit and be in meditation. Once the methods had provided a glimpse of meditation, people would be able to use other methods without difficulty.[173]
Another key ingredient of his teaching was his own presence as a master: "A Master shares his being with you, not his philosophy. ... He never does anything to the disciple."[174] He delighted in being paradoxical and engaging in behaviour that seemed entirely at odds with traditional images of enlightened individuals; his early lectures in particular were famous for their humour and their refusal to take anything seriously.[174][175] All such behaviour, however capricious and difficult to accept, was explained as "a technique for transformation" to push people "beyond the mind."[174] The initiation he offered his followers was another such device: "... if your being can communicate with me, it becomes a communion. ... It is the highest form of communication possible: a transmission without words. Our beings merge. This is possible only if you become a disciple."[174] Ultimately though, as an explicitly "self-parodying" guru, Osho even deconstructed his own authority, declaring his teaching to be nothing more than a "game" or a joke.[175][176] He emphasised that anything and everything could become an opportunity for meditation.[174]

[edit] Renunciation and the "New Man"

Osho saw his sannyas as a totally new form of spiritual discipline, or one that had once existed but since been forgotten.[177] He felt that the traditional Hindu sannyas had turned into a mere system of social renunciation and imitation.[177] His neo-sannyas emphasised complete inner freedom and responsibility of the individual to himself, demanding no superficial behavioral changes, but a deeper, inner transformation.[177] Desires were to be transcended, accepted and surpassed rather than denied.[177] Once this inner flowering had taken place, even sex would be left behind.[177]
Osho said that he was "the rich man's guru" and taught that material poverty was not a genuine spiritual value.[178] He had himself photographed wearing sumptuous clothing and hand-made watches,[179] and while in Oregon drove a different Rolls-Royce each day – his followers reportedly wanted to buy him 365 of them, one for each day of the year.[95] Publicity shots of the Rolls-Royces (93 in the end) were sent to the press.[178][180] As a conscious display, they may have reflected both his enjoyment of wealth and his desire to provoke American sensibilities, much as he had enjoyed offending Indian sensibilities earlier.[178][181]
Osho hoped to create "a new man", combining the spirituality of Gautama Buddha with the zest for life embodied by Zorba the Greek in the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis: "He should be as accurate and objective as a scientist ... as sensitive, as full of heart, as a poet ... [and as] rooted deep down in his being as the mystic."[174][182] This new man, "Zorba the Buddha", should reject neither science nor spirituality, but embrace them both.[174] Osho believed humanity to be threatened with extinction due to over-population, impending nuclear holocaust, and diseases such as AIDS, and thought that many of society's ills could be remedied by scientific means.[174] The new man would no longer be trapped in institutions such as family, marriage, political ideologies, or religions.[175][183] In this respect, Osho is similar to other counter-culture gurus, and perhaps even certain postmodern and deconstructional thinkers.[175] His term the "new man" applied to men and women equally, whose roles he saw as complementary; indeed, most of his movement's leadership positions were held by women.[183]

[edit] Osho's "Ten Commandments"

In his early days as Acharya Rajneesh, a correspondent once asked Osho for his "Ten Commandments". In his letter of reply, Osho noted that it was a difficult matter, because he was against any kind of commandment, but "just for fun" agreed to set out the following:
  1. Never obey anyone's command unless it is coming from within you also.
  2. There is no God other than life itself.
  3. Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.
  4. Love is prayer.
  5. To become a nothingness is the door to truth. Nothingness itself is the means, the goal and attainment.
  6. Life is now and here.
  7. Live wakefully.
  8. Do not swim – float.
  9. Die each moment so that you can be new each moment.
  10. Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.
He underlined numbers 3, 7, 9 and 10.[184] The ideas expressed in these Commandments have remained a constant leitmotif in his movement.[184]
The Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune, India, attracts 200,000 visitors annually.[185]

[edit] Legacy

While Osho's teachings met with strong rejection in his home country during his lifetime, there has been a change in Indian public opinion since Osho's death.[186][187] In 1991, an influential[citation needed] Indian newspaper counted Osho, along with figures such as Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, among the ten people who had most changed India's destiny; in Osho's case, by "liberating the minds of future generations from the shackles of religiosity and conformism."[188] Osho has found more acclaim in his homeland since his death than he ever did while alive.[5] At a celebration in 2006, marking the 75th anniversary of Osho's birth, Indian singer Wasifuddin Dagar said that Osho's teachings are "more pertinent in the current milieu than they were ever before."[189] In Nepal, there are 60 Osho centres with almost 45,000 initiated disciples (reported in 2008).[190] Osho's entire works have been placed in the Library of India's National Parliament in New Delhi.[187] Prominent figures such as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Indian Sikh writer Khushwant Singh have expressed their admiration for Osho.[191] The Bollywood actor and Osho disciple Vinod Khanna, who had worked as Osho's gardener in Rajneeshpuram, served as India's Minister of State for External Affairs from 2003 to 2004.[192][193]
Over 650 books[194] are credited to Osho, expressing his views on all facets of human existence.[195] Virtually all of them are renderings of his taped discourses.[195] His books are available in 55 different languages[196] and have entered best-seller lists in countries such as Italy and South Korea.[188] Internationally, after almost two decades of controversy and a decade of accommodation, Osho's movement has established itself in the market of new religions.[197] His followers have redefined his contributions, reframing central elements of his teaching so as to make them appear less controversial to outsiders.[197] Societies in North America and Western Europe have met them half-way, becoming more accommodating to spiritual topics such as yoga and meditation.[197] The Osho group runs stress management seminars for corporate clients such as IBM and BMW, with a reported (2000) revenue between $15 and $45 million annually in the U.S.[198][199]
Osho's ashram in Pune has become the Osho International Meditation Resort, one of India's hundreds of main tourist attractions.[200] Describing itself as the Esalen of the East, it teaches a variety of spiritual techniques from a broad range of traditions and promotes itself as a spiritual oasis, a "sacred space" for discovering one's self and uniting the desires of body and mind in a beautiful resort environment.[6] According to press reports, it attracts some 200,000 people from all over the world each year;[185][191] prominent visitors have included politicians, media personalities and the Dalai Lama.[200] Before anyone is allowed to enter the resort, an AIDS test is required, and those who are discovered to have the disease are not allowed in.[201]

[edit] Reception

[edit] Guru and cult leader

Osho is generally considered one of the most controversial spiritual leaders to have emerged from India in the twentieth century.[202] His message of sexual, emotional, spiritual, and institutional liberation, as well as the pleasure he took in causing offence, ensured that his life was surrounded by controversy.[183] Osho became known as the "sex guru" in India, and as the "Rolls-Royce guru" in the United States.[178] His movement was widely feared and loathed as a cult.[203] Osho was seen to live "in ostentation and offensive opulence", while his followers might be at mere "subsistence level".[203] According to the Indian sociologist Uday Mehta, his appeal to his Western disciples was based on his social experiments, which established a philosophical connection between the Eastern guru tradition and the Western growth movement.[202]

[edit] Appraisal as a thinker and speaker

There are widely diverging views on Osho's qualities as a thinker and speaker. Khushwant Singh, eminent author, historian and former editor of the Hindustan Times, has described him as "the most original thinker that India has produced: the most erudite, the most clearheaded and the most innovative".[204] In his view, Osho was a "free-thinking agnostic" who had the ability to explain the most abstract concepts in simple language, illustrated with witty anecdotes, who mocked gods, prophets, scriptures and religious practices and gave a totally new dimension to religion.[205] Osho's commentary on the Sikh scripture known as Japuji was hailed as the best available by Giani Zail Singh, the former President of India.[187] The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk has called Osho a "Wittgenstein of religions", ranking him as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century; in his view, Osho had performed a radical deconstruction of the word games played by the world's religions.[206] The American poet and Rumi translator Coleman Barks likened reading Osho's discourses to the "taste of fresh springwater."[207] The American author Tom Robbins, while stressing that he was not a disciple, expressed his conviction, based on reading Osho's books, that he was the 20th century's greatest spiritual teacher, and probably also one of the most maligned figures in history, given the amount of vicious propaganda and slanted reports published about him.[204]
During the early 1980s, a number of commentators in the popular press were dismissive of Osho.[208] The Australian critic and cynic Clive James scornfully referred to him as "Bagwash", likening the experience of listening to one of his discourses to sitting in a laundrette and watching "your underwear revolve soggily for hours while exuding grey suds. The Bagwash talks the way that looks."[208] James finished by saying that Osho was just a "rebarbative dingbat who manipulates the manipulatable".[208] Responding to an enthusiastic review of Osho's talks by Bernard Levin in The Times, Dominik Wujastyk, also writing in The Times, similarly expressed his opinion that the talk he heard while visiting the Pune ashram was of a very low standard, wearyingly repetitive and often factually wrong, and stated that he felt disturbed by the personality cult surrounding Osho.[208][209]
Osho attacked traditional concepts of nationalism, expressed undisguised contempt for politicians and poked fun at leading figures of various religions.[210] Religious leaders in turn found his arrogance unbearable.[211] His ideas on sex, marriage, family and relationships contradicted traditional views of these matters and aroused a great deal of anger and opposition around the world.[82][212]

[edit] Charisma

A number of commentators have remarked upon Osho's charisma. Comparing Osho with Gurdjieff, Anthony Storr wrote that Osho was "personally extremely impressive", noting that "many of those who visited him for the first time felt that their most intimate feelings were instantly understood, that they were accepted and unequivocally welcomed rather than judged. [Osho] seemed to radiate energy and to awaken hidden possibilities in those who came into contact with him."[213] Many sannyasins have stated that hearing Osho speak, they "fell in love with him."[214][215] Susan J. Palmer noted that even critics attested to the power of his presence.[214] James S. Gordon, a psychiatrist and researcher, recalls inexplicably finding himself laughing like a child, hugging strangers and having tears of gratitude in his eyes after a single glance by Osho from within his passing Rolls-Royce.[216] Frances FitzGerald concluded upon listening to Osho in person that he was a brilliant lecturer, and expressed surprise at his talent as a comedian, which had not been apparent from reading his books, as well as the hypnotic quality of his talks, which had a profound effect on his audience.[217] Hugh Milne, an ex-follower, remembering his first meeting with Osho, writes of his feeling that there was far more than words passing between them: "There is no invasion of privacy, no alarm, but it is as if his soul is slowly slipping inside mine, and in a split second transferring vital information."[218]
Hugh B. Urban, Assistant Professor of Religion and Comparative Studies at Ohio State University, noted that Osho appeared to fit with Max Weber’s classical image of the charismatic figure, being held to possess "an extraordinary supernatural power or 'grace', which was essentially irrational and affective".[219] Osho corresponded to Weber's pure charismatic type in rejecting all rational laws and institutions and claiming to subvert all hierarchical authority, though Urban notes that the promise of absolute freedom inherent in this resulted in bureaucratic organisation and institutional control within larger communes.[219]

[edit] Assessments by scholars of religion

Some scholars have suggested that Osho, like other charismatic leaders, may have had a narcissistic personality.[220][221][222] In his paper The Narcissistic Guru: A Profile of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Ronald O. Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Oregon State University, argued that Osho exhibited all the typical features of narcissistic personality disorder, such as a grandiose sense of self-importance and uniqueness; a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success; a need for constant attention and admiration; a set of characteristic responses to threats to self-esteem; disturbances in interpersonal relationships; a preoccupation with personal grooming combined with frequent resorting to prevarication or outright lying; and a lack of empathy.[222] Drawing on Osho's reminiscences of his childhood in his book Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, he suggested that Osho suffered from a fundamental lack of parental discipline, due to his growing up in the care of overindulgent grandparents.[222] Osho's self-avowed Buddha status, he concluded, was part of a delusional system associated with his narcissistic personality disorder; a condition of ego-inflation rather than egolessness.[222]
In questioning how the total corpus of Osho's work might be summarised (from an academic point of view), Bob Mullan, a sociologist from the University of East Anglia, stated in 1983: "It certainly is eclectic, a borrowing of truths, half-truths and occasional misrepresentations from the great traditions. It is also often bland, inaccurate, spurious and extremely contradictory."[223] He also acknowledged that Osho's range and imagination were second to none,[223] and that many of his statements were quite insightful and moving, perhaps even profound at times,[224] but what remained was essentially "a potpourri of counter-culturalist and post-counter-culturalist ideas" focusing on love and freedom, the need to live for the moment, the importance of self, the feeling of "being okay", the mysteriousness of life, the fun ethic, the individual's responsibility for their own destiny, and the need to drop the ego, along with fear and guilt.[225]
Writing in 1996, Hugh B. Urban similarly found Osho's teaching neither original nor especially profound, noting that most of its content had been borrowed from various Eastern and Western philosophies.[175] What he found most original about Osho was his keen commercial instinct or marketing strategy, by which he was able to adapt his teachings to meet the changing desires of his audience,[175] a theme also picked up on by Gita Mehta in her book Karma Cola: Marketing the Mystic East.[226] In 2005, Urban observed that Osho had undergone a "remarkable apotheosis" after his return to India, and especially in the years since his death, going on to describe him as a powerful illustration of what F. Max Müller, over a century ago, called "that world-wide circle through which, like an electric current, Oriental thought could run to the West and Western thought return to the East."[227] By negating the dichotomy between spiritual and material desires, and reflecting the preoccupation with the body and sexuality characteristic of late capitalist consumer culture, Osho had apparently been able to create a spiritual path that was remarkably in tune with the socio-economic conditions of his time.[227]

[edit] Films about Osho

A documentary on Osho called Rajneesh: Spiritual Terrorist was made by Australian film maker Cynthia Connop in the late 1980s for ABC TV/Learning Channel.[228] A Swiss documentary, titled Guru – Bhagwan, His Secretary & His Bodyguard, was released in 2010.[229]

[edit] Selected works

On the sayings of Jesus:
On Tao:
On Buddha:
On Zen:
  • Neither This nor That (On the Xin Xin Ming of Sosan)
  • No Water, No Moon
  • Returning to the Source
  • And the Flowers Showered
  • The Grass Grows by Itself
  • Nirvana: The Last Nightmare
  • The Search (on the Ten Bulls)
  • Dang dang doko dang
  • Ancient Music in the Pines
  • A Sudden Clash of Thunder
  • Zen: The Path of Paradox
  • This Very Body the Buddha (on Hakuin's Song of Meditation)
On the Baul mystics:
  • The Beloved
On Sufis:
  • Until You Die
  • Just Like That
  • Unio Mystica Vols. I and II (on the poetry of Sanai)
On Hassidism:
  • The True Sage
  • The Art of Dying
On the Upanishads:
  • The Supreme Doctrine
  • The Ultimate Alchemy Vols. I and II
  • Vedanta: Seven Steps to Samadhi
On Heraclitus:
  • The Hidden Harmony
On Kabir:
  • Ecstasy: The Forgotten Language
  • The Divine Melody
  • The Path of Love
On Buddhist Tantra:
  • Tantra: The Supreme Understanding
  • The Tantra Vision
On Patanjali and Yoga:
  • Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega Vols. I - X
(reprinted as Yoga, the Science of the Soul)
On Meditation methods:
  • The Book of Secrets, Vols. I - V
  • Meditation: the Art of Inner Ecstasy
  • The Orange Book
  • Meditation: The First and Last Freedom
Talks based on questions:
  • I Am the Gate
  • The Way of the White Clouds
  • The Silent Explosion
  • Dimensions Beyond the Known
  • Roots and Wings
Darshan interviews:
  • Hammer on the Rock
  • Above All, Don't Wobble
  • Nothing to Lose but your Head
  • Be Realistic: Plan for a Miracle
  • The Cypress in the Courtyard
  • Get Out of Your Own Way
  • Beloved of my Heart
  • A Rose is a Rose is a Rose
  • Dance your way to God
  • The Passion for the Impossible
  • The Great Nothing
  • God is not for Sale
  • The Shadow of the Whip
  • Blessed are the Ignorant
  • The Buddha Disease - and others

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