Understanding the Phenomenon Called Osho

Understanding the phenomenon called "Osho" has proved strangely elusive. Perhaps that is inevitable because at the root, Osho represents the greatest potential paradigm shift in the history of humanity.

The first major misunderstanding is the meaning of Osho. Throughout his 59 years he was addressed in different ways, and finally a little over a year before his leaving the body, he announced that he was dropping all his names and would like to be addressed as "the beloved friend." Then later, when people around him found this too difficult, he offered to accept the name "Osho," if everyone "votes" for it. Strangely, none of us who did "vote" stopped to ask why we could not accept his original wish.

The comments we have from him about this are the following. First he transforms a Zen Shout, like the traditional "Kwatz" from his own unique "Yaa-Hoo" to "Osho." A device, to help find the hara, our center. Then he is asked to give a name to a new pyramidal building being constructed on the campus – The Osho International Commune, in Pune, India. "Osho House?" says the secretary as she writes this down. "No," he replies, "Osho." Then, in reference to what to put on the books which had been transcribed from his talks, and which now had the "wrong" name on, he dictates that "his name is derived from William James' word ‘oceanic’ which means dissolving into the ocean.  Oceanic describes the experience, he says, but what about the experiencer?  For that we use the word "Osho." And finally, he later makes the comment that Osho "was not his name, but a healing sound derived from William James’s oceanic."

What is the relevance of all this you might ask. Well, the more you listen to what he is actually saying, the more you discover that he has carefully anticipated a time when he would no longer be present, a time when the traditional ideas of a "dead Indian guru or master who leaves his disciples behind" would naturally be projected onto his work.

In contrast to this view, we discover that he is clear that he was "not a guru." In his words:"That is a dirty word. Because all gurus have been just exploiting people in the name of spirituality. I don't belong to that gang. And I am not an Indian in the sense that I don't believe in nationalities. I simply believe that the whole earth is one." (The Last Testament, Vol.3, Ch.4)

He warns, "And don't be bothered about historians and all kinds of neurotic people -- they will do their thing. It is none of our concern at all."

And on another occasion when asked whether he would like to be remembered, as a mystic, a spiritual leader, a philosopher? He replies, "Just a no body. I would like it to be as if I had never been."

And even when specifically addressing the people around him, he continuously insists that they have to understand this work is not about him, it is about them: "I cannot always be in this physical body with you; one day or another the physical vehicle has to be dropped. My work is complete as far as I am concerned. If I am carrying this physical vehicle, it is just for you; some day, it has to be dropped. Before it happens you must be ready to work in my absence, or in my nonphysical presence which means the same. And once you can feel me in my absence you are free of me, and then even if I am not here in this body the contact will not be lost. It always happens when a Buddha is there: his physical presence becomes so meaningful. And then he dies. Everything is shattered."

And yet, on another occasion: "If you become addicted to my physical presence then rather than being a help it may become a disturbance, because then when you go away, you will miss me. Your meditation should be such here that it can happen without my presence, then wherever you go the meditation will not be in any way affected." (A Bird on the Wing, Ch.1)

So, the fundamental paradox becomes clear. Osho is basically putting humanity on the couch and unraveling its every madness. He surgically describes all that is insane with the world around us and how those lunacies are simply expressions of our own inner schizophrenia. And vice versa, he takes all our inner distortions and shows how these create the outer barbarity that passes for "civilization." And at every turn, he would explain, and demonstrate with his presence, the fundamental medicine for the disease, meditation.

Turning the world around on a dime was never going to be easy, or quick. Perhaps that is why he says that he "would be contemporary in two centuries" -- long after, his listeners were dead and gone.

And Osho always starts with exactly what existence offers him. And that is: you and me, his listeners of any particular day. And unless he could entertain us, intrigue us, connect with us in some way that kept us sitting there long enough to hear his real message of meditation, we would miss the real reason for his speaking.

Swami Satya Vedant was initiated into Sannyas by Osho in 1975. He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan, U.S.A., and M.A., Ph.D. from M.S. University of Baroda, India Vedant has given numerous talks, participated in seminars and conferences and has presented workshops in India, Canada, and the United States of America. His workshops have been mainly focused on Stress Management and Managerial Effectiveness, Leadership, Human Relationship, Women and Self Empowerment and Education.

The first major misunderstanding is the meaning of Osho. Throughout his 59 years he was addressed in different ways, and finally a little over a year before his leaving the body, he announced that he was dropping all his names and would like to be addressed as "the beloved friend." Then later, when people around him found this too difficult, he offered to accept the name "Osho," if everyone "votes" for it. Strangely, none of us who did "vote" stopped to ask why we could not accept his original wish.

The comments we have from him about this are the following. First he transforms a Zen Shout, like the traditional "Kwatz" from his own unique "Yaa-Hoo" to "Osho." A device, to help find the hara, our center. Then he is asked to give a name to a new pyramidal building being constructed on the campus – The Osho International Commune, in Pune, India. "Osho House?" says the secretary as she writes this down. "No," he replies, "Osho." Then, in reference to what to put on the books which had been transcribed from his talks, and which now had the "wrong" name on, he dictates that "his name is derived from William James' word ‘oceanic’ which means dissolving into the ocean.  Oceanic describes the experience, he says, but what about the experiencer?  For that we use the word "Osho." And finally, he later makes the comment that Osho "was not his name, but a healing sound derived from William James’s oceanic."

What is the relevance of all this you might ask. Well, the more you listen to what he is actually saying, the more you discover that he has carefully anticipated a time when he would no longer be present, a time when the traditional ideas of a "dead Indian guru or master who leaves his disciples behind" would naturally be projected onto his work.

In contrast to this view, we discover that he is clear that he was "not a guru." In his words:"That is a dirty word. Because all gurus have been just exploiting people in the name of spirituality. I don't belong to that gang. And I am not an Indian in the sense that I don't believe in nationalities. I simply believe that the whole earth is one." (The Last Testament, Vol.3, Ch.4)

He warns, "And don't be bothered about historians and all kinds of neurotic people -- they will do their thing. It is none of our concern at all."

And on another occasion when asked whether he would like to be remembered, as a mystic, a spiritual leader, a philosopher? He replies, "Just a no body. I would like it to be as if I had never been."

And even when specifically addressing the people around him, he continuously insists that they have to understand this work is not about him, it is about them: "I cannot always be in this physical body with you; one day or another the physical vehicle has to be dropped. My work is complete as far as I am concerned. If I am carrying this physical vehicle, it is just for you; some day, it has to be dropped. Before it happens you must be ready to work in my absence, or in my nonphysical presence which means the same. And once you can feel me in my absence you are free of me, and then even if I am not here in this body the contact will not be lost. It always happens when a Buddha is there: his physical presence becomes so meaningful. And then he dies. Everything is shattered."

And yet, on another occasion: "If you become addicted to my physical presence then rather than being a help it may become a disturbance, because then when you go away, you will miss me. Your meditation should be such here that it can happen without my presence, then wherever you go the meditation will not be in any way affected." (A Bird on the Wing, Ch.1)

So, the fundamental paradox becomes clear. Osho is basically putting humanity on the couch and unraveling its every madness. He surgically describes all that is insane with the world around us and how those lunacies are simply expressions of our own inner schizophrenia. And vice versa, he takes all our inner distortions and shows how these create the outer barbarity that passes for "civilization." And at every turn, he would explain, and demonstrate with his presence, the fundamental medicine for the disease, meditation.

Turning the world around on a dime was never going to be easy, or quick. Perhaps that is why he says that he "would be contemporary in two centuries" -- long after, his listeners were dead and gone.

And Osho always starts with exactly what existence offers him. And that is: you and me, his listeners of any particular day. And unless he could entertain us, intrigue us, connect with us in some way that kept us sitting there long enough to hear his real message of meditation, we would miss the real reason for his speaking.

Swami Satya Vedant was initiated into Sannyas by Osho in 1975. He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Michigan, U.S.A., and M.A., Ph.D. from M.S. University of Baroda, India Vedant has given numerous talks, participated in seminars and conferences and has presented workshops in India, Canada, and the United States of America. His workshops have been mainly focused on Stress Management and Managerial Effectiveness, Leadership, Human Relationship, Women and Self Empowerment and Education.