Lineage – Vishrant’s Teachers
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – Osho
Osho (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 gathered an international following.
A professor of philosophy, he traveled throughout India in the 1960s as a public speaker. In 1970, Osho settled for a while in Bombay. 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.
In 1981, Osho relocated to the United States and his followers established an intentional community, later known as Rajneeshpuram, in the state of Oregon.
Osho left America in 1985 to travel the world before returning to Poona, where he died in 1990. His ashram is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort. His teachings emphasize the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity and humor—qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition and socialization. Osho’s teachings have had a notable impact on Western thought, and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.
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 reveled in paradox and contradiction, making his work difficult to summarize. He delighted in engaging in behavior 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 behavior, 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.
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.
On 26 September 1970, he initiated his first group of disciples or neo-sannyasins.
Becoming a disciple meant assuming a new name and wearing the traditional orange dress of ascetic Hindu holy men, including a mala (beaded necklace) carrying a locket with his picture.
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 center.
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.
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 characterized by stages of physical activity leading to silence. The most famous of these remains Dynamic Meditation.
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.
Another key ingredient was his own presence as a master; “A Master shares his being with you, not his philosophy. … He never does anything to the disciple.” The initiation he offered was another such device: “… if your being can communicate with me, it becomes a communion. … It is the highest form of communication possible: a transmission without words. Our beings merge. This is possible only if you become a disciple. He emphasized that anything and everything could become an opportunity for meditation.
Osho died on 19 January 1990, aged 58,
His ashes were placed in his newly built bedroom
in Lao Tzu House at the Poona ashram.
The epitaph reads,
“OSHO. Never Born, Never Died.
Only Visited this Planet Earth
between 11 Dec 1931 – 19 Jan 1990.”
Osho aimed to create a “new man” combining the spirituality of Gautama Buddha with the zest for life embodied by Nikos Kazantzakis’ Zorba the Greek: “He should be as accurate and objective as a scientist … as sensitive, as full of heart, as a poet … [and as] rooted deep down in his being as the mystic.” His term the “new man” applied to men and women equally, whose roles he saw as complementary; indeed, most of his movement’s leadership positions were held by women. This new man, “Zorba the Buddha”, should reject neither science nor spirituality but embrace both.
Osho’s “Ten Commandments”
In his early days as Acharya Rajneesh, a correspondent once asked Osho for his “Ten Commandments”. In reply Osho noted that it was a difficult matter because he was against any kind of commandment but, “just for fun”, set out the following;
- Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.
- There is no God other than life itself.
- Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.
- Love is prayer.
- To become a nothingness is the door to truth. Nothingness itself is the means, the goal and attainment.
- Life is now and here.
- Live wakefully.
- Do not swim—float.
- Die each moment so that you can be new each moment.
- Do not search. That which is, is. Stop and see.
He underlined numbers 3, 7, 9 and 10. The ideas expressed in these Commandments have remained constant leitmotifs in his movement.
Over 650 books are credited to Osho, expressing his views on all facets of human existence. His books are available in 55 different languages and have entered best-seller lists in countries such as Italy and South Korea.
While Osho’s teachings met with strong rejection in his home country during his lifetime, there has been a change in Indian public opinion since Osho’s death. In 1991, an influential Indian newspaper counted Osho, along with figures such as Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, among the ten people who had most changed India’s destiny; in Osho’s case, by “liberating the minds of future generations from the shackles of religiosity and conformism.” Osho has found more acclaim in his homeland since his death than he ever did while alive.
Prem Vishrant Interviews Osho Rajneesh in 1985:
Ramana Maharhshi was a guru of international renown from southern India who taught during the first half of the twentieth century.
Ramana was largely disinterested in school and absent-minded during work. He had a marked inclination towards introspection and self-analysis. He used to ask fundamental questions about identity, such as the question “who am I?”. He was always seeking to find the answer to the mystery of his own identity and origins.
In the summer of 1896, Ramana went into an altered state of consciousness which had a profound effect on him. He experienced what he understood to be his own death, and later returned to life.
He also had spontaneous flashes of insight where he perceived himself as an essence independent of the body. During these events, he felt himself to be an eternal entity, existing without reliance on the physical body or material world.
Ramana was nearing the end of high school when a careless criticism describing him as a person not fit to be a student jarred him into making a final decision to leave school. He had been reading a book on famous Tamil saints and resolved to leave home and lead the life of a religious seeker. He planned to go to Arunachala, the place which was the focal point of all his religious ideals.
When he was seventeen years old, Ramama left for Arunachala, arriving after four days of mostly train travel. He went directly to the central shrine at the temple and addressed the Shiva symbol (linga) stating he had given up everything and come to Arunachala in response to the god’s call.
Ramana spent ten years living in temples and caves meditating, and pursuing spiritual purification, keeping the disciplines of silence and non-attachment. At this point, his reputation as a serious teacher began to grow and other seekers began to visit him. His disciples, some of whom were learned individuals, began to bring him sacred books. He became conversant with the religious traditions of South India.
Early disciples had a difficult time learning about Ramana’s background and even his native language because he was silent and refused to speak. As time passed he ceased his ascetic phase and began to live a more normal life in an ashram setting. Many people came to visit him with a variety of problems, from both India and abroad.
Ramana’s disciples constructed an ashram and temple, and space the accommodate the many visitors. All ate the same food and Ramana sat with the rest of the people during meals and did not expect special treatment. The ashram was a sanctuary for animals and Ramana had great fondness for the cows, monkeys, birds, and squirrels that inhabited the grounds.
Ramana was not a guru in the classic sense of a teacher who gives instruction on a regular basis or gives mantras during initiation. In fact, if the seeker wanted to practice repetition of a mantra rather than the “who am I?” method of self inquiry, he recommended repeating the pronoun “I” or the phrase “I am” rather than repeating sacred Sanskrit words or the names of gods. This focused the person’s mind on “being itself” or the mystery of their own awareness rather than an external object or word.
However, Ramana did give informal initiations using a special glance, or touch. Ramana also initiated people by gazing intently into their eyes.
Ramana developed cancer and when his devotees voiced concern about losing him, he responded with the statement “I am not going anywhere, where shall I go? I shall be there where I am always.” He died in April, 1950, sitting in lotus position. The final word that passed from his lips was the sacred syllable OM.
Sri H.W.L. Poonja
“Who am I?” This is what we have come here to understand, and we have not done this at any time before. This question must be solved but we have postponed it. Everyone has postponed it for millions of years. We will not postpone this here. This can be done here and now – in this instant – because the Self is here. Enlightenment to know thy Self – to know, “Who I am?” This is Enlightenment.”
Sri H.W.L. Poonja, lovingly referred to as Papaji, was born on October 13, 1910, in a part of the Punjab that is now in Pakistan.
He had his first direct experience of the Self at the age of nine. He met his Master, Sri Ramana Maharshi, in 1944. Shortly afterwards he realized the Self in the presence of his Master. Being a householder, he continued to work and support the many members of his extended family until his retirement in 1966. After extensive travel Papaji settled down in Lucknow, India, where he received visitors from around the world. He left the body on September 6, 1997.
Siddhartha Gautama, who would one day become known as Buddha (“enlightened one” or “the awakened”), lived in Northern India during the 6th to 4th century B.C.
The Buddha, or “enlightened one,” was born Siddhartha (which means “he who achieves his aim”) Gautama, a prince in northern India in the 6th century BC. His father was a king who ruled an Indian tribe called the Shakyas. His mother died seven days after giving birth to him, but a holy man prophesized great things for the young Siddhartha: He would either be a great king or military leader or he would be a great spiritual leader. To keep his son from witnessing the miseries and suffering of the world, Siddhartha’s father raised him in opulence in a palace built just for the boy and sheltered him from knowledge of religion and human hardship. According to custom, he married at the age of 16, but his life of total seclusion continued for another 13 years.
Beyond the Palace Walls
The prince reached his late 20s with little experience of the world outside the walls of his opulent palaces, but one day he ventured out beyond the palace walls and was quickly confronted with the realities of human frailty: He saw a very old man, and Siddhartha’s charioteer explained that all people grow old. Questions about all he had not experienced led him to take more journeys of exploration, and on these subsequent trips he encountered a diseased man, a decaying corpse and an ascetic. The charioteer explained that the ascetic had renounced the world to seek release from the human fear of death and suffering. Siddhartha was overcome by these sights, and the next day, at age 29, he left his kingdom, wife and son to lead an ascetic life, and determine a way to relieve the universal suffering that he now understood to be one of the defining traits of humanity.
The Ascetic Life and Enlightenment
For the next six years, Siddhartha lived an ascetic life and partook in its practices, studying and meditating using the words of various religious teachers as his guide. He practiced his new way of life with a group of five ascetics, and his dedication to his quest was so stunning that the five ascetics became Siddhartha’s followers. When answers to his questions did not appear, however, he redoubled his efforts, enduring pain, fasting nearly to starvation, and refusing water.
Whatever he tried, Siddhartha could not reach the level of satisfaction he sought, until one day when a young girl offered him a bowl of rice. As he accepted it, he suddenly realized that corporeal austerity was not the means to achieve inner liberation, and that living under harsh physical constraints was not helping him achieve spiritual release. So he had his rice, drank water and bathed in the river. The five ascetics decided that Siddhartha had given up the ascetic life and would now follow the ways of the flesh, and they promptly left him. From then on, however, Siddhartha encouraged people to follow a path of balance instead of one characterized by extremism. He called this path the Middle Way.
The Buddha Emerges
One night, Siddhartha sat under a Bodhi tree, vowing to not get up until the truths he sought came to him, and he meditated until the sun came up the next day. He remained there for several days, purifying his mind, seeing his entire life, and previous lives, in his thoughts. And soon a picture began to form in his mind of all that occurred in the universe, and Siddhartha finally saw the answer to the questions of suffering that he had been seeking for so many years. In that moment of pure enlightenment, Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha (“he who is awake”).
Armed with his new knowledge, the Buddha was initially hesitant to teach, because what he now knew could not be communicated to others in words though he had to try and coming across the five ascetics he had practiced with for so long, who had abandoned him on the eve of his enlightenment. To them and others who had gathered, he taught his first sermon (henceforth known as Setting in Motion the Wheel of the Dharma), in which he explained the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which became the pillars of Buddhism. The ascetics then became his first disciples and formed the foundation of the Sangha, or community of monks.
For the remainder of his 80 years, Buddha travelled, teaching the Dharma (the name given to the teachings of the Buddha) in an effort to lead others to and along the path of enlightenment.
"Beingness is everything, it is our true nature, things come and go like dreams come and go, we are that, that is before these dreams appear and we are that after these dreams disappear. Nothing can touch our true nature, it remains pure no matter what."