“The real question is not whether life exists after death. The real question is whether you are alive before death.” — Osho
Who was Osho? Was he the “master of masters”, a great being that incarnated to advance human understanding? Or was he just another self-important guru out for fame and fortune? Perhaps he was a bit of both. Either way, you probably already have an opinion about him. This means that he’s marked you in some way. He would have liked it “exactly so” (as he was fond to say.)
There’s an Indian tradition that goes something like this: one who is destined to reach enlightenment will meet three enlightened beings prior to his or her self-realization.
It was so for Osho. The boy’s intelligence was obvious to anyone. Those with the eyes to see saw something even greater. Was it his independence of mind? His thirst for knowledge? Something ineffable about his Being and Destiny?
Whatever it was, people started paying attention when mystics would arrive at his home to pay homage to him. What a curious sight! All those respected spiritual leaders bowing down to touch this young boy’s feet. Unheard of for that small poor village in rural India.
Now older, he was taken in by a friendly family. They saw him as a great yogi. His discipline was legendary. Osho would wake up at 3 in the morning to meditate for hours as the world slept. He cultivated his mind by reading thousands of books. His body was made strong by swimming in the river hours each day. He ate and drank only as the yogis eat and drink.
Physically strong, mentally keen, spiritually aware and highly self-controlled. The perfect vessel for a Greater expression in the world.
At the age of 21, he experienced the Truth of who he was. His first reaction? A great big belly laugh. He could not believe that the thing he spent his life searching for was within him all along. The irony!
Did he climb upon a soap box and proclaim his newfound realization? No, he waited. Just as with the sages of old, he remained quiet and deepened his experience. The world would have to wait.
Was it ready? Osho, then known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, took India by storm. He travelled to and fro, giving speeches and stirring up controversy wherever he went. His university training as a professional debater proved invaluable. None could match him. His reputation grew.
Osho quickly gathered a large following. Known as the “rich man’s guru”, he proclaimed Indian socialism misguided. He decried Gandhi’s obsession with poverty and suffering. Unlike many of his spiritual peers, he pushed for a capitalistic-scientific revolution that would allow everyone to shake off the shackles of poverty.
Only from a position of wealth and comfort would the majority of people begin the return to God. When everything you’ve accumulated no longer makes you happy, you begin to ask the great questions. Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I from and where am I going?
“My whole teaching consists of two words, meditation and love. Meditate so that you can feel immense silence, and love so that your life can become a song, a dance, a celebration. You will have to move between the two, and if you can move easily, if you can move without any effort, you have learned the greatest thing in life.” — Osho
He emphasized meditation as a tool one could use to attain creative liberation from the fearful automatism of the mind. The objective? To live meditatively each and every moment.
Unlike Krishnamurti, who was another popular spiritual teacher at the time, Osho saw the master-disciple relationship as an effective tool that a seeker could use to facilitate his or her self-realization.
Intense love and devotion to the master, a form of Bahkti practice, allowed the seeker to transcend the mind and experience a greater union with life. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.
In reality, Osho created large communes with followers who seemed happy to defer every thought and wish to his leadership. Is this what human progress looks like? He also became enormously wealthy. Much of his wealth was spent on luxury cars and watches.
Was this the case of the master teaching his disciples another lesson, the so-called “crazy wisdom” ascribed to aberrant spiritual behavior, or was he yet another example of a corrupt guru?
Osho once admitted that the ego does not simply vanish when one becomes enlightened. An advanced practitioner might better be able to step away from the ego in favor of following Spirit, but the problem of the ego remains. Perhaps this helps explain the phenomenon of Osho.
Undeniably, he was enlightened. He was the real deal. The hundreds of books he dictated are filled with wisdom enough to fill dozens of lifetimes of study. And yet he was a flawed individual. An imperfect master. His imperfection also serves us. It reminds us that only Spirit is perfect. Spirit is the master.
Osho’s contribution is forever. He expressed Knowledge in the world and inspired an entire generation to look deeper within. He kept the fires of Spirit alive. There is no greater gift. Thank you, Osho.
“Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny–he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally–you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you.” — Osho