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

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

About Ambaa

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.

  • http://twitter.com/Yoga108Mind Daniel M

    The guy owned multiple Rolls Royces and his devotees poisoned a whole town in Oregon in the name of him while he was at said ashram. Doesn’t sound like an unattached master of the Self to me!

    • Ambaa

      I do tend to agree. But in my research the explanation for that was 1) he did preach that one should enjoy and celebrate life, not be ascetic and 2) he claims not to have had knowledge about the poisoning. Take all that with a grain of salt, of course!

  • TritsuBharata

    Gurus and Rishis these days are not reliable very much. Many are driven by money and power. For me, the ancient scriptures are my teachers and guides to Dharma. How one ends up translating them to understand what they mean is open for debate. We all know Sanskrit is a mischievous language…most of the times I feel that it doesn’t want people to decipher it’s meanings on purpose – cough cough rigved cough cough :)

    • Ambaa

      Yeah, I have major trust issues with gurus. I do listen to them, but I also really trust my inner guide. We all have the Truth within us, so we should be able to access and understand it.

  • Derek_anny

    Hey, a name I recognize. If only because there is a deck of oracle cards named after him. (Osho Zen Oracle)


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