Meet a Guru: Osho

To be honest, at this point the only thing I know about Osho is that he is a controversial figure. That made me curious, so I’m going to do some research and find out more…

Background

It seems that young Osho (born Chandra Mohan Jain) was a thinker and liked to question authority. He claimed enlightenment when he was 21 years old (note: I’ve always been taught that if someone claims to be enlightened, that’s a pretty good indicator that they aren’t. A holy man shows his holiness, he doesn’t need to tell people about it). Apparently he lectured against organized religion, against Gandhi as a person, and advocated for more sexual freedom, which got him the nickname “The Sex Guru.”  (Some say that he was sex obsessed, others that he was against homosexuality. I found it very difficult to find definitive information on these claims). It seems like he made at least a few good points on several fronts.

 His syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humour—qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialisation – Wikipedia

Meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity, and humor are all wonderful things!

Rather than an ascetic life, his followers were encouraged to celebrate. Quite a different take on things and I rather like the concept. Life is joyful to enlightened beings who, they say, experience only bliss. His followers did fall under criticism for an extravagant lifestyle, though. There were, according to Wikipedia, serious crimes committed by the leadership of his organization, including a bioterrorist attack. It doesn’t sound like such crimes were in line with Osho’s teaching, however.

It seems that Osho’s philosophies were very attractive to Western followers and apparently had a profound effect on the “new age” movement in the West. The institutions were influenced by Gurdjieff, just like SES was. I guess in the 1970s there were a lot of different revivals and movements going on, all feeding off each other.

For much of his career as a spiritual teacher, he went by the name Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, changing it to Osho just months before his death.

Teaching

 According to Osho every human being is a Buddha with the capacity for enlightenment, capable of unconditional love and of responding rather than reacting to life, although the ego usually prevents this, identifying with social conditioning and creating false needs and conflicts and an illusory sense of identity that is nothing but a barrier of dreams. -Wikipedia

His main teaching is about freedom, love, enlightenment, and how to heal our lives from the inside out. -EnlightenedBeings.com

Osho is known for his revolutionary contribution to the science of inner transformation, with an approach to meditation that acknowledges the accelerated pace of contemporary life. -Osho Times

It seems he was influenced by many religious traditions and philosophies around the world; like many of those 1970s organizations! He was looking for Truth outside of a static (potentially stale) system to see if everywhere and in everything.

I found the blog Enlightened-Spirituality to have a fair and balanced discussion of him, here are some highlights:

It’s clear that all selves are manifestations of just ONE SELF, ONE AWARENESS, ONE REALITY. Some of these selves or persons beautifully display a garden radiant with wholesome virtues….While other selves, through some kind of Divine whimsy, display lovely flowers mixed in with lots of weeds! Yet everyone is, at heart, quite innocent, utterly Divine…

…While he was a very intriguing and in some ways quite helpful figure within the Divine dream, because of his very serious personal shortcomings and flawed way of teaching, I just don’t think Osho warrants mention in the same breath as evidently far more authentic spiritual masters including Gautama the Buddha, Jesus,…

…This legacy involved very misleading or imbalanced teachings as well as quite helpful wisdom, some really bad advice along with genuinely good counsels…

My Experience

I had never heard of him before seeing a few quotes here and there on the Internet attributed to him. I would have to say that he had many good quotes with beliefs that I can totally agree with. From my reading today it certainly seems like Osho had his flaws, but he also produced some wonderful quotes. For example…

“If you can become just your own self, if you can blossom into your intrinsic nature, then only you will have blissfulness – a peace which cannot be expressed in words, and a certain poetry to your being; a certain dance to your being, because you will be in tune with existence. To be in tune with yourself is the only way to be in tune with existence. Nobody needs personal guidance, because all personal guidance is a beautiful name for dependence on somebody and he is going to distort you.”

“One of the most fundamental things to be remembered – not only by you but by everyone – is that whatever you come across in your inner journey, you are not it. You are the one who is witnessing it.”

“The ego is a puzzle. It is something like darkness – which you can see, which you can feel, which can obstruct your way but which does not exist. It has no positivity. It is simply an absence, an absence of light. The ego does not exist – how can you surrender it? The ego is only an absence of awareness.”

“This is what enlightenment is all about – a deep understanding that there is no problem. Then, with no problem to solve, what will you do? Immediately you start living. You will eat, you will sleep, you will love, you will work, you will have a chit-chat, you will sing, you will dance – what else is there to do?”

“Don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Move the way love makes you move.
Move the way joy makes you move.”

One man interviewed for an article critizing Osho made a point that is pretty much in line with how I view these things: “‘I don’t care. I read his ideas, and they make me happy. It is the ideas that are important, not the person. Everybody makes mistakes, even the best people,’ he said.” -Oh no, it’s Osho

Learn More:

* I am not endorsing any of the teachers highlighted in this feature

Deja Vu and the Present Moment
Maybe Cause You Don't Understand Eastern Philosophy
A New Case of Appropriation?
Emotional Masochism
About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • Madhu K Agnihotri

    He raised the consciousness of God the Brahman It is a great nothing new for us & its a foolish attempt world cycle cant be changed I have great respect to his consciousness.. (though it is dangerous attempt** )He learnt all from Hinduism and he rejected it coz a religion is strong if it rejects the current one.Tthe more it rejects the more it is strong in community of course *NO Creator-made it less strong community , not atheist just like a covering to that reality he is enlightened thru Advaita Gyan yoga & raja yoga…

    check out what he says about Krishna

  • Madhu K Agnihotri

    study urself.. if u truly want to seek

  • IaMJ

    Ambaa, if you understand Hindi well then you should check out his videos in Hindi on YouTube, they’re much much better than the English ones. He is damn funny and also hits the bulls-eye with his wisdom.

    As far for the controversy regarding his Rolls-Royce etc, I believe that a diamond has the same value regardless of its owner, whether he is rich or a street beggar.
    Osho’s character maybe controversial, but what he speaks is SPOT ON!!

    • Ambaa

      Thank you! I’ll look for them. I have found that there can be controversial things in someone’s life and they can still have great insight and say wise things! :)

  • Ghostdreams

    I feel like I am, literally, watching history be re-written in my lifetime. Osho was a vicious anti-Semite and homophobe .. Not to mention a misogynist. This is a man who had people doing horrific things and then, when caught, refused responsibility for what happened on his watch. What kind of guru lets jealous vicious people with mental health issues run his Ashram? Let me answer that for you. No legitimate guru, no truly enlightened person would do such a thing.. And No legitimate guru would have ever done the things he did. He and his cult group tried to kill an entire town of people for power.. period. It was to control the area and a grab for power. I’m from that area and I was living there when he committed his crimes against an entire town of people. He is not and never was a guru. He was a con man. He borrowed quotes and idea’s from other genuine guru’s and religious traditions and mixed them in with his egocentric weird belief’s. All of his bizarre teachings were geared for one thing – to control weak, unhappy people.There is a reason Osho came to the United States to push his weirdness. Indian Hindu’s back at home knew better. This is a man who said that gay people were not even human beings and deserved to die from AIDS (quote, “”As a homosexual, you are not even a human being … You have fallen from dignity.”). This is a man who said Jew’s deserved Hitler and the Holocaust. Rajneesh claimed that Jews “are guilty people, and their guilt is very great” because they crucified Jesus; out of this guilt, they are “always in search of their Adolf Hitlers, someone who can kill them”. He asserted that only when Jews “reclaim Jesus”, “they will be healthy and whole, and then there will be no need for Adolf Hitlers” He then stated that “living in poverty is far more dangerous, far more suffering than dying in a beautifully, scientifically managed gas chamber in Germany”, and claimed that “Hitler’s violence was far more peaceful” than (for example) the violence which erupted in India after independence from the British Crown; Hitler “killed people in the most up-to-date gas chambers, where you don’t take much time. Thousands of people can be put in a gas chamber, and just a switch is pressed … Within a second, you evaporate. The chimneys of the factory start taking you, the smoke – you can call it holy smoke – and this seems to be a direct way towards God.” This is a man who pushed euthanizing disabled children (quote, ” “if a child is born deaf, dumb, and we cannot do anything, and the parents are willing, the child should be put to eternal sleep”). If these statements don’t make you sick I would truly suggest you do a self examination of your heart and soul Further, this is a man who had his followers sign over every single thing they owned, all of their their money and live in extreme poverty while he lived it up, ate like a king and chased any woman near him…Rather as if he owned the people that followed him. I am astounded anyone would back this man for any reason. As for calling him “enlightened?” WOW! Osho was a horrible man. I remember him very well. He was a conman and continues to be so even from the grave. The idea that now, years later, people would overlook his disgusting, hateful attitudes towards Jewish people, women, LGBT people, anyone who disagreed with him, not to mention his attempt to decimate an entire town so he could own the area outright needs to re-look at their need for “cult” rather than the need for an authentic guru. Osho was a criminal. Google it. The Feds have hours and hours of statements made by Osho, that were, according to the attorney’s for the state, outright “evil” and “criminal.” Then there’s this little piece of into (and I quote) – witnesses in court verified that ‘Sheela (Osho’s assistant) played associates a tape-recording of a meeting she had with Osho about the “need to kill people” to strengthen wavering sannyasin resolve to participate in the plot: “She came back to the meeting and … began to play the tape. It was a little hard to hear what he was saying … And the gist of Bhagwan’s response, yes, it was going to be necessary to kill people to stay in Oregon. And that actually killing people wasn’t such a bad thing. And actually Hitler was a great man, although he could not say that publicly because nobody would understand that. Hitler had great vision.”. Two of his “assistants” were put away for a long time. Sheela got three 20 year sentences..With Osho, they chose to kick him out of the country rather than prosecute. Between the international bad press and weird religious issues I’m guessing they just wanted him out rather than pulling a pity party and managing to get even more fools to follow his sickness. When Osho was booted, he could not even get countries to allow him to LAND the plane he was on. Osho was scam artist who spouted Eastern scriptures well… but that’s all he was… A criminal. P.S. Osho is well known for RIPPING off ideas from other teachers (as in real teachers i.e. enlightened gurus).” And I quote, “Uday Mehta, appraising Osho’s teachings (particularly errors in his interpretation of Zen, Mahayana Buddhism and how they relate to the proto-materialist nature of Tantric philosophy), suggests “It is not surprising to find that Rajneesh could get away with several gross contradictions and inconsistencies in his teachings. This was possible for the simple reason that an average Indian (or for that matter even western) listener knows so little about religious scriptures or various schools of thought that it hardly requires much effort to exploit his ignorance and gullibility”.[224] According to Mehta, Osho’s 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).[215]


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