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Osho: The Radiant Polemic of a Very Special Being


Just like sand, the subversive figure of Osho escapes from our hands when we try to define him.

The eccentric spiritual character that was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later renamed as “Osho”, has permeated the history of the search for truth for over five decades. Perhaps the way to approach him, instead of confining him and categorising what he came to do in the world, we should think of him as one would think of a forest full of foliage, layers and wild animals. His rebellious and unpredictable character is his best feature.

Beyond our comfort zone ––the waters of ethics, morals, sexuality or modern society–– sits this man whose story began when he was travelling across India in the 1960s, outspokenly reinterpreting the sacred writings of traditional religions and philosophies, making thousands of people angry and assuming the role of an icon and a spiritual master.

We could say Osho was a rebel and that his rebellion consisted on paradoxes and contradictions which made his teachings very hard to synthesise. His rebellion was a deconstruction of religious games which in turn warranted his deportation from many countries as well as being considered a persona non grata for over two decades on three continents.

During his mythical stay in Oregon, still as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, he and his sanyasi built the first and almost entirely sustainable commune. They transformed an ancient desert into a green land that was later repossessed by the government due to a series of bio-terrorism and law evasion accusations centred on the guru.

After his imprisonment he began an exile that lasted five years, during which he saw countries pass him by as clouds below his airplane as he was not allowed to remain in any one for more than 15 days –– he was also accused of drug addiction and assassination plans against people who questioned his credibility.

In January of 1987, Osho returned to his ashram in Pune, India, where he imparted daily speeches and designed new forms of meditation and therapies, such as the “Mystic Rose”. Thousands of people around the world travelled to the location to be close to the guru, and as some sanyasi declared: “they fell in love with him” when hearing him speak.

There are many and mixed opinions surrounding Osho’s attributes as a thinker and public speaker. His lectures, an instrument he used to spread his teachings, where never academically presented, instead they were imparted alongside a series of jokes and spoken with a rhetoric that many found charming. Osho seemed to irradiate energy and awaken hidden possibilities in those who made contact with him.

Although his behaviour seemed to disagree completely with the traditional images of illuminated individuals, Osho’s contradictions and scandalous issues have much to do with the nature of Zen. They reflect that spiritual teachings seek to induce a different type of change to that of philosophical conferences, which focus on improving our intellectual understanding.

Osho was a rebel in the sense that he embodied thousands of epithets during the course of his life (a critic of socialism and orthodox religions, the new age philosopher, the “sex guru”, the Rolls-Royce collector, the promoter of Dynamic Meditation, the creator of the Buddha-field, the mariner of uncharted seas that drove so many people towards the danger of going “beyond” their ideologies and traditions), and a single pulse that accomplished —and continues doing so today— the disintegration of structures. He reminded the world that what matters the most is to meditate.

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