Osho | Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh

Rajneesh (born Chandra Mohan Jain, 11 December 1931 – 19 January 1990), also known as Acharya Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, and later as Osho was an Indian godman, mystic, and founder of the Rajneesh movement.

Sjakkelien Vollebregt, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

During his lifetime, he was viewed as a controversial new religious movement leader and mystic. In the 1960s, he travelled throughout India as a public speaker and was a vocal critic of socialism, arguing that India was not ready for socialism, and that socialism, communism, and anarchism could evolve only when capitalism had reached its maturity. Rajneesh also criticised Mahatma Gandhi and the orthodoxy of mainstream religions. Rajneesh emphasised the importance of meditation, mindfulness, love, celebration, courage, creativity, and humour—qualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition, and socialisation. In advocating a more open attitude to human sexualityhe caused controversy in India during the late 1960s and became known as “the sex guru”.

Teachings

Rajneesh’s teachings, delivered through his discourses, were not presented in an academic setting, but interspersed with jokes. The emphasis was not static but changed over time: Rajneesh 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, Sufism, 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 Rajneesh, there are clear similarities between their respective teachings.

Rajneesh also drew on a wide range of Western ideas. His belief in 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 Sigmund Freud and George Gurdjieff. His vision of the “new man” transcending constraints of convention is reminiscent of Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil;  his promotion of sexual liberation bears comparison to D. H. Lawrence; and his “dynamic” meditations owe a debt to Wilhelm Reich.

Rajneesh’s “Ten Commandments”

In his early days as Acharya Rajneesh, a correspondent once asked for his “Ten Commandments”. In reply, Rajneesh said that it was a difficult matter because he was against any kind of commandment, but “just for fun”, set out the following:

  1. Never obey anyone’s command unless it is coming from within you also.
  2. There is no God other than life itself.
  3. Truth is within you, do not search for it elsewhere.
  4. Love is prayer.
  5. To become a nothingness is the door to truth. Nothingness itself is the means, the goal and attainment.
  6. Life is now and here.
  7. Live wakefully.
  8. Do not swim—float.
  9. Die each moment so that you can be new each moment.
  10. 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.

Meditation

Rajneesh 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™, 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.

Rajneesh 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 week, and a third week with three hours of silent meditation. These processes of “witnessing” enable a “jump into awareness”. Rajneesh believed such cathartic methods were necessary because it was difficult for modern people to just sit and enter meditation. Once these methods had provided a glimpse of meditation, then people would be able to use other methods without difficulty.

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