Understanding the phenomenon called “Osho” has proved strangely elusive. Perhaps that is inevitable because at root Osho represents the greatest potential paradigm shift in the history of humanity. “Seeing” this is the first step.
The first major misunderstanding is the meaning of Osho. A little over a year before he leaves the body, he announces that he was dropping all names and would like to be addressed as “the beloved friend.” Then later, when the people around him found this too difficult, he offers to accept the name “Osho,” if everyone “votes” for it. Which everyone did.
The only statement we have from Osho about the meaning of his name is in a message he dictated that was to be put inside all the books which had been transcribed from his talks, and which now had the “wrong” name on. He dictates the following message, 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 in his room that Osho “was not his name, but a healing sound derived from William James’ 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 an “Indian guru” or “master” – who leaves his disciples behind when he leaves the body – would naturally be projected onto his work.
In contrast to this view, we discover that he proposing something totally different:
“In the first place, I am not a guru.
“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.”1 Osho
About his being a Master, Osho talks about Buddha’s declaration that Maitreya, the friend, will return in twenty-five centuries. He explains the significance of this:
“What he meant was that the ancient relationship between the master and the disciple would become irrelevant in twenty-five centuries. It was his clarity of perception – he was not predicting anything – just his clarity to see that as things are changing, as they have changed in the past and as they go on changing, it would take at least twenty-five centuries for the master and disciple relationship to become out of date. Then the enlightened master will be only the friend.
“I had always wanted not to be a Master to anybody. But people want a Master, they want to be disciples; hence, I played the role. It is time that I should say to you that now many of you are ready to accept me as the friend…
“It is exactly twenty-five centuries after Buddha’s death…. It is going to change the very flavor of our whole movement. And you have to rise up so that what I want the movement to become, it becomes. So that the dream is realized.
“Don’t let me down. Okay?”2 Osho
And perhaps most penetratingly, Osho specifically deals with how he would like to be remembered:
“I would simply like to be forgiven and forgotten. There is no need to remember me. The need is to remember yourself!
“People have remembered Gautam Buddha and Jesus Christ and Confucius and Krishna. That does not help. So what I would like: forget me completely, and forgive me too — because it will be difficult to forget me. That’s why I am asking you to forgive me for giving you the trouble. Remember yourself.”3 Osho
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 nobody. 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:
“You must learn to work without me.
You cannot be here always, you will have to go far away; you cannot hang around me forever, you have other work to do. You have come from different countries all over the world; you will have to go. For a few days you will be here with me, but 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 here should be such that it can happen without my presence; then wherever you go the meditation will not be in any way affected.
“And this too has to be remembered: 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; someday 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. Then, when he dies, everything is shattered.”4 Osho
So, the fundamental paradox emerges. We imagine there is someone out there called Osho who is going to change us for the better. Then we discover that Osho is doing nothing but holding up a mirror so we can see ourselves. As he puts it:
“My approach to your growth is basically to make you independent of me. Any kind of dependence is a slavery, and spiritual dependence is the worst slavery of all.
“I have been making every effort to make you aware of your individuality, your freedom, your absolute capacity to grow without any help from anybody. Your growth is something intrinsic to your being. It does not come from outside, it is not an imposition; it is an unfolding.
“All the meditation techniques that I have given to you are not dependent on me – my presence or absence will not make any difference – they are dependent on you.
“It is not my presence, but your presence that is needed for them to work. It is not my being here but your being here, your being in the present, your being alert and aware that is going to help.”5 Osho
And the essential ingredient of all these meditations has nothing to do with the outside. As he says so often, the key is to “look in” and rediscover the witness, the experiencer, “Osho” – on the inside.
So, how does all this fit together? Firstly, Osho is basically putting humanity on the couch and unraveling its every madness. He surgically dissects all that is insane in the world around us and how those outer 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 explains – and demonstrates 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.
Osho always starts with exactly what existence offers him. And that is you and me, his listeners on 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.
But the more successful he was at this, the more his listeners become attracted to him, the longer we sit with him, came all the usual dangers that we would become “addicted to him.”
No matter how often he would explain that he was just a device, a finger pointing to the moon, that we should not become attached to the finger but look at the moon….
What to do? Not an easy finger to let go of. No matter how many times he would describe himself like a window frame, whose only function was to allow us to see the stars beyond…. No matter how many times he would explain that the answer lay within not without, the temptation to keep looking out, at him in particular, remained the ultimate pitfall.
Osho is clear that this same pitfall has destroyed every previous attempt at provoking consciousness. In fact, Osho describes two previous “quantum leaps” in this process. The first, twenty-five centuries before Buddha, happened around Adinatha, an ancient Jaina, inner explorer whose efforts “got lost in a desert of austerities and self-torture.” Osho explains, “This was the first quantum leap: God was disposed of.” But Adinatha “did not drop organization. And because there was no God, the organization created rituals.”
So people ended up looking outwards not inwards.
The second quantum leap occurred around Buddha.
“It is Buddha’s insight to see that God has been dropped; now the gap should be filled, otherwise the gap will destroy man. He puts in meditation – something really authentic, which can change the whole being. But he was not aware – perhaps he could not be aware because there are things you cannot be aware of unless they happen – that there should be no organization, that there should be no priesthood, that as God is gone religion should also be gone. But he can be forgiven because he had not thought about it and there was no past to help him to see it, it came after him.
“The real problem is the priest, and God is the invention of the priest.
“Unless you drop the priest, you can drop God, but the priest will always find new rituals, he will create new gods.”6 Osho
Despite Buddha insisting, “be a light unto yourself,” the Buddhists end up looking outwards, and upwards, and not inwards.
So, Osho proposes the next step, the third quantum leap:
“My effort is to leave you alone with meditation, with no mediator between you and existence.
“When you are not in meditation you are separated from existence and that is your suffering. It’s the same as when you take a fish out of the ocean and throw it on the bank – the misery and the suffering and the tortures he goes through, the hankering and the effort to reach back to the ocean because it is where he belongs. He is part of the ocean and he cannot remain apart.
“Any suffering is simply indicative that you are not in communion with existence, that the fish is not in the ocean.
“Meditation is nothing but withdrawing all the barriers, thoughts, emotions, sentiments, which create a wall between you and existence. The moment they drop you suddenly find yourself in tune with the whole; not only in tune, you really find you are the whole.”
Osho continues about what happened to Adinatha and Buddha’s work, and how to avoid these failures in future:
“Buddha, seeing what had happened to Jainism, that it had become a ritualism, dropped God. He dropped all rituals and single-pointedly insisted on meditation, but he forgot that the priests who had made rituals in Jainism are going to do the same with meditation. And they did it, they made Buddha himself a God. They talk about meditation but basically, Buddhists are worshippers of Buddha – they go to the temple and instead of Krishna or Christ, there is Buddha’s statue….
“The priests had to create the statue – God was not there, ritual was difficult, around meditation ritual was difficult. They created a statue and they started saying – in the same way all religions have been doing – have faith in Buddha, have trust in Buddha, and you will be saved.
“Both the revolutions were lost. I would like that what I am doing is not lost. So I am trying in every possible way to drop all those things which in the past have been barriers for the revolution to continue and grow.
“I don’t want anybody to stand between the individual and existence.
“No prayer, no priest, you alone are enough to face the sunrise, you don’t need somebody to interpret for you what a beautiful sunrise it is.”6
Or as he put it more bluntly on another occasion:
“It is such an absurd effort to force living human beings to worship the dead rather than finding the deeper layers of life within themselves. Giving them teddy bears outside, consolations – ugly consolations, degrading consolations.…”7 Osho
“As far as I am concerned, I am simply making every effort to make you free from everybody — including me — and to just be alone on the path of searching.
“This existence respects a person who dares to be alone in the seeking of truth. Slaves are not respected by existence at all. They do not deserve any respect; they don’t respect themselves, how can they expect existence to be respectful toward them?
“So remember, when I am gone, you are not going to lose anything.
“Perhaps you may gain something of which you are absolutely unaware. Right now I am only available to you embodied, imprisoned in a certain shape and form. Right now you have to come to me. When I am gone, where can I go?
“I will be here in the winds and in the ocean; and if you have loved me, if you have trusted me, you will feel me in a thousand and one ways.
“In your silent moments, you will suddenly feel my presence. Once I am unembodied, my consciousness is universal.”5 Osho
If you thought Osho’s analysis of the state of the world was radical, including his insights about sex, power, the family, education, the environment, democracy, the state, politics, religion…. If you thought that his insight that all the human stupidities you read about in the newspapers every day are simply a projection of all our personal stupidities was radical…. Then you haven’t heard the half of it. His proposal for how the individual can change him or herself is even more radical. The “third quantum leap” in the history of consciousness is the basic understanding of we can also affect radical change by dropping all those same stupidities which keep the world so retarded.
If Osho is right, and the mess of the world around us is in our hands, then instead of always looking to the priests and the politicians, to the media and the pundits, and all the other people trying to brainwash us to believe that they know what they are doing and have all the answers – now we know the solution is in our hands. The choice is ours. In the process, of course, we realize why all those “influencers,” the ones who benefit from the status quo and will do anything to resist change, all want to persuade us not to look for Osho. If we do, we will be able to happily ignore those apologists for what they call “civilization” – and they will have to look for a job!
And if like most of us, you haven’t really seen Osho yet, now you know where he suggests we look.
Prem Amrito MD
To continue reading and see all available formats of these talks:
1 Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 3, Talk #5 – This Moment Is Enough for Me
2 Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 3, Talk #25 – Religion, Religiousness, and Religio
3 Osho, The Transmission of the Lamp, Talk #29 – Just like Ripe Fruit
4 Osho, A Bird on the Wing, Talk #1 – Empty Your Cup
5 Osho, Beyond Enlightenment, Talk #11 – Harmony: The Birthplace of Love
6 Osho, The Last Testament, Vol. 5, Talk #16
7 Osho, Isan: No Footprints in the Blue Sky, Talk #5 – Empty Your Mind