"Meditation must not be made into a business." Osho, 1971
Depending upon whom you ask, Osho is either a dangerous cult leader or a flawed Boddhisatva; I am of the latter opinion.
Osho was born in 1931 as Rajneesh Chandra Mohan in Kuchwara, India. He later changed his name to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. His parents were Jainists which helps to explain his early influence, although he himself was never religious. He obtained a degree in philosophy at University of Saugar and he recieved samadhi in March 1953 (at the young age of 21). He continued to work for the university, teaching philosophy and working as a religious leader. He left in 1966 to dedicate his time to teaching his sannyasins (his disciples), and pursuing a speaking career. He gave talks, and challenged orthodox religious leaders, questioning traditional beliefs.
Osho moved south to Pune to set up an ashram. This ashram was large with two properties covering six acres of land in Koregaon Park. Some 50,000 westerners spent time at the ashram, seeking enlightenment
"If we cannot create the 'new man' in the coming 20 years, then humanity has no future. The holocaust of a global suicide can only be avoided if a new kind of man can be created."
His teaching were essentially syncretistic in nature, a spiritual path combining the teachings from Hinduism, Jainism, Zen Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, ancient Greek philosophy, many other religious and philosophic traditions, humanistic psychology, new forms of therapy and meditation and so on.
He was attacked in 1980 by a knife wielding Hindu fundamentalist; the charges against the attacker were dropped. Soon afterwards Osho moved to the US to get advanced medical treatment. He has been implicated in all sorts of tax evasion scams and fraud, though none of them have been proven.
His sannyasins bought him a 65,000 acre Ranch in Oregon, and named it Rajneeshpuram (essence of Rajneesh). This area was soon turned into a small town with 3,000 residents, an airstip, a reservoir and a large meeting hall. And it is from activities that occured here that label "dangerous cultist" was acquired. The residents of the local town, Antelope, were uneasy about the new settlers, and planning permission for many of their buildings was denied. Some of these buildings were erected regardless. When officials attempted to stop construction, their office was firebombed. Eventually some sannyasins got themselves elected into council and the little town of Antelope was renamed City of Rajneesh. To reduce voter count, it is alleged that the sannyasins spread salmonella around the local restaurants.
Whatever the truth, the commune began to gain the attention of governmental officials, and fearing a raid of Waco proportions (Waco hadn't actually happened yet, but they feared its possibility), his disciples arranged to have him flown to North Carolina. It was here that Immigration caught up with him and accused him of various crimes (arranging phony marriages, lying on immigration papers etc.), and his lawyers entered an Alford Plea, and Osho was given a suspended sentence on condition that he left the country.
Osho returned to Pune in 1987, were his health immediately took a dive. (Cue CIA conspiracy theories about him being poisoned. Osho claimed that due process was not followed, including him being asked to sign in under somebody else's name, bomb threats and suspect food and so on). It was at this time that he adopted the name "Osho" shortly before he died in 1990; his death certificate states cause of death as "heart attack". On his final day on earth he said, "Let me go. My body has become a hell for me".
What did Osho teach?
Osho taught what was effectively a form of Zen, but from the point of view of the modern western world. His teachings were more accesable than the older philosophers who were teaching to a different culture. He taught that boddhisatvas taught people the way they would be most likely to comprehend. Thus, although old teachings were useful, they were harder for most people to understand. Jesus, he claimed, was a boddhisatva, that taught to the people in the way they would understand. He was also of the belief that Jesus survived the crucifixion and went to live in India until his death at the age of 112.
"Prayer has nothing to do with religion, prayer is basically the approach of the artist. Prayer is an aesthetic phenomenon, not a religious one. But if you start feeling grateful and thankful towards existence, slowly slowly you are surprised that a presence starts surrounding you which you had never felt before. It is only a thankful heart that starts feeling a vibe. That vibe is God. God only comes at a later stage, but then it comes as an experience. Then God is a liberartion, then God is nirvana.
But start by prayer, never start by God, because that God will be false. And if you are believing in a false God, then your prayer is false. First make your prayer as deep as possible, as heartfelt as possible, and the God comes of his own accord."
Osho's meditation techniques were known as "Dynamic meditation", and were possibly influenced by the whirling dirvishes. First is extreme activity (this could be crying for an hour, laughing for an hour, dancing for an hour, or going "mad" for an hour, followed by quiet reflection, followed by traditional meditation). "Modern man is so burdened with the outmoded traditions of the past and the anxieties of modern day living that he must go through a cleansing process before he can hope to discover thought-less state of meditation."
For 10 minutes stand with your eyes closed
and breath deep and fast through your nose for ten minutes. Allow your body to move freely. Jump, sway back and forth, or use any physical motion that helps you pump more oxygen into your lungs.
The second ten minute stage is one of catharsis. Let go totally and be spontaneous. You may dance or roll on the ground. For once in your life screaming is allowed and encouraged. You must act out any anger you have in a safe way such as beating the earth with your hands. All the suppressed emotions from your subconscious mind are to be released.
In the third stage you jump up and down yelling Hoo!, Hoo!, Hoo! continuously for ten minutes. This sounds very silly, and it is funny, but the loud vibration of your voice travels down to your centers of stored energy and pushes that energy upward. When doing this stage it is important to keep your arms loose and in a natural position. Do not hold your arms over your head as that position can be medically dangerous.
The fourth 10 minute stage is complete relaxation and quiet. Flop down on your back, get comfortable, and just let go. Be as a dead man, totally surrendered to the cosmos. Enjoy the tremendous energy you have unleashed in the first three stages and become a silent witness to the ocean as it flows into the drop. Become the ocean.
Osho taught that mind was a tool, a slave which had risen up to enslave its master. Most often we association our being with our mind. Osho taught that our being went deeper than that, our true self is at the centre of the storm. Our being could use the mind, but with the mind comes ego and the sense of "self". Our mind has become a babbling voice, constantly talking and giving us fantasies to watch. With careful diligence one could gain back control and use the mind, rather than letting the mind continue its ranting ways. This philosophy he called no-mind, and is an extremely difficult and misunderstood concept.
He taught Monism. He taught that man thinks he is in duality, and this causes a struggle, since man is one, not two. He taught that there is no division. No "good", no "evil", just what is. That there is no division between God and not-God. People are divine, God was in everything and everyone.
It is impossible to describe his beliefs (can you describe Zen?), but it took the idea that all major religions are probably right, and Osho taught their parables to his disciples. There is one mountain, and many paths up it, the destination, however, is the same summit.
Osho's constant illness, and subsequent death was probably as a result of many things. He had Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, he had asthma, extreme allergies, and diabetes as well as other ailments. His reliance on western medicine caused him to get addicted to Valium among other things. His disciples worshipped him and pampered him and gave him worldly goods. Along with his illness, his addiction and the like, he was then cut off from reality. Sleeping most of the day, and never leaving his room, his view of life became distorted. He taught himself that meditating in the mountains alone is flawed and that one must go to the busy market as well. When he said this, he referred to the Buddhist gurus that seek the meaning of life by hiding in a retreat and sitting cross legged. Osho explained that they had lost touch with life, and so could never see it, for us to know we need both quietude and noise, yin and yang. Osho, in his ill health and ailing mental fortitude failed to see himself doing the very same things.
It is possible that his medical experts prescribed him all sorts of drugs to fight off his "flu", and Osho would accept it. Travelling to the US was a mistake which would lead his critics to dismiss him as another false prophet. I personally believe that Osho was a truly enlightened being, his being and his mind were in good working order. It was his body, and his brain that failed him, and led to some disasterous consequences.
"Please don't connect me with the past, it is not even worth remembering"
Osho, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and the Lost Truth: Christopher Calder
Morning Contemplation, Osho.