Osho: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Osho: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – (11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990), born Chandra Mohan Jain, and also known as Acharya Rajneesh from the 1960s onwards, as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh during the 1970s and 1980s and as Osho from 1989, was an Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following.

A professor of philosophy, he travelled throughout India in the 1960s as a public speaker. His outspoken criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religions made him controversial. In 1970, Osho settled for a while in Bombay.
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He began initiating disciples (known as neo-sannyasins) and took on the role of a spiritual teacher. In his discourses, he reinterpreted writings of religious traditions, mystics, and philosophers from around the world. Moving to Poona in 1974, he established an ashram that attracted increasing numbers of Westerners. He also advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality: a stance that earned him the sobriquet “sex guru” in the Indian and later international press.

The ashram offered therapies derived from the Human Potential Movement to its Western audience and made news in India and abroad, chiefly because of its permissive climate and Osho’s provocative lectures. In 1981, Osho relocated to the United States and his followers established an international community, later known as Rajneeshpuram, in the state of Oregon.

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. Osho’s teachings have had a notable impact on Western New Age thought, and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.

Teachings

Osho’s teachings, delivered through his discourses, were not presented in an academic setting, but interspersed with jokes and delivered with a rhetoric that many found spellbinding. The emphasis was not static but changed over time: Osho revelled in paradox and contradiction, making his work difficult to summarise.

He delighted in 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. All such behaviour, however capricious and difficult to accept, was explained as “a technique for transformation” to push people “beyond the mind.”

He spoke on major spiritual traditions including Jainism, Hinduism, Hassidism, Tantrism, Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism, on a variety of Eastern and Western mystics and on sacred scriptures such as the Upanishads and the Guru Granth Sahib. The sociologist Lewis F. Carter saw his ideas as rooted in Hindu advaita, in which the human experiences of separateness, duality and temporality are held to be a kind of dance or play of cosmic consciousness in which everything is sacred, has absolute worth and is an end in itself. While his contemporary Jiddu Krishnamurti did not approve of Osho, there are clear similarities between their respective teachings.

Osho also drew on a wide range of Western ideas. His view of the unity of opposites recalls Heraclitus, while his description of man as a machine, condemned to the helpless acting out of unconscious, neurotic patterns, has much in common with Freud and Gurdjieff. His vision of the “new man” transcending constraints of convention is reminiscent of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil; his views on sexual liberation bear comparison to D. H. Lawrence; and his “dynamic” meditations owe a debt to Wilhelm Reich.

Ego and the mind

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. Otherwise man’s innate being can flower in a move from the periphery to the centre.

Osho views the mind first and foremost as a mechanism for survival, replicating behavioural strategies that have proven successful in the past. But the mind’s appeal to the past, he said, deprives human beings of the ability to live authentically in the present, causing them to repress genuine emotions and to shut 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.”

The result is that people poison themselves with all manner of neuroses, jealousies and insecurities. He argued that psychological repression, often advocated by religious leaders, makes suppressed feelings re-emerge in another guise, and that sexual repression resulted in societies obsessed with sex. Instead of suppressing, people should trust and accept themselves unconditionally. This should not merely be understood intellectually, as the mind could only assimilate it as one more piece of information: instead meditation was needed.

Meditation

Osho presented meditation not just as a practice but as a state of awareness to be maintained in every moment, a total awareness that awakens the individual from the sleep of mechanical responses conditioned by beliefs and expectations. He employed Western psychotherapy in the preparatory stages of meditation to create awareness of mental and emotional patterns.

He suggested more than a hundred meditation techniques in total. His own “Active Meditation” techniques are characterised by stages of physical activity leading to silence. The most famous of these remains Dynamic Meditation, which has been described as a kind of microcosm of his outlook. Performed with closed or blindfolded eyes, it comprises five stages, four of which are accompanied by music.

First the meditator engages in ten minutes of rapid breathing through the nose. The second ten minutes are for catharsis: “Let whatever is happening happen. … Laugh, shout, scream, jump, shake—whatever you feel to do, do it!” Next, for ten minutes one jumps up and down with arms raised, shouting Hoo! each time one lands on the flat of the feet. At the fourth, silent stage, the meditator stops moving suddenly and totally, remaining completely motionless for fifteen minutes, witnessing everything that is happening. The last stage of the meditation consists of fifteen minutes of dancing and celebration.

Osho developed other active meditation techniques, such as the Kundalini “shaking” meditation and the Nadabrahma “humming” meditation, which are less animated, although they also include physical activity of one sort or another. His later “meditative therapies” require sessions for several days, OSHO Mystic Rose comprising three hours of laughing every day for a week, three hours of weeping each day for a second, and a third week with three hours of silent meditation. These processes of “witnessing” enable a “jump into awareness”. Osho believed such cathartic methods were necessary, since it was difficult for modern people to just sit and enter meditation. Once the methods had provided a glimpse of meditation people would be able to use other methods without difficulty.

(more from Wikipedia, Osho Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh))