The Bhagwan ('The Blessed One') was born in central India in 1931, the son of a cloth merchant.
As a teenager, he was interested in conjuring and hypnosis, hobbies ideally suited to someone wishing to start his own religion. In his late 20s he made a bit of a name for himself
Here is the transcript of a publicly available interaction between Rajneesh and MG:Quote
A lot of human potential types and therapists visited the Pune ashram, and MG may have been among them.
The fifth question:
"Osho, Why do I cry whenever something real happens in meditation? Sometimes, even during lecture, when you say something that strikes me as my own truth, tears come to my eyes and I tremble with silent sobs. What is the connection between truth and tears?"
The question is from Michael Gottlieb.
First, it may be that only tears are true in you, everything else has become false. Your smile, your face, your gestures, your words – all may have become false. It may be that only your tears are still true. That’s why whenever you hear something of truth, they start surfacing. They are in tune with truth.
And this is not only so with you, this is so with many people.
Tears have not been corrupted too much, particularly in men. About women it is not so true. Their tears may he just a facade, their tears may be their diplomacies, their tears may be their tricks, strategies. But about men…men have not been allowed tears at all. People have been told from their very childhood that if you are a man, then tears are not available for you. You should never cry! So tears have remained there, uncorrupted by the society, unpolluted by the society – at least it is so with men. So whenever you hear something of truth – something that simply goes and becomes a song in your heart, something that simply penetrates like a ray of light into your darkness – tears come, because the true calls forth the true in you.
Michael Gottlieb’s name is beautiful: “Gottlieb” means God-love. Maybe there is a great desire for God, a great love for God which is getting ready every day, which is going to possess you. Allow those tears, because the danger is that you may be repressing them.
Gottlieb is a psychologist – that is the danger. You may start rationalizing, you may start finding explanations. You may start stopping those tears which are innocent – as innocent as dewdrops – which are uncorrupted by your mind; they come from the beyond. Those tears are coming from your heart. Don’t start explaining them. Psychologists have become very clever at explaining away everything. Live with the mystery of the tears. When they come, allow them. Go into those sobs, those sobs are the beginning of prayer in you. Flow in those tears totally, unashamed. Don’t feel embarrassed. Go wholeheartedly into them, and through them you will be cleansed and purified. Those tears will become your very alchemy. Their very touch will turn you into gold.
I have been watching Gottlieb. He has been here for only a few days, and deep down he is afraid of sannyas. First he was only going to stay for ten days, then he extended it for a few days. Now he has extended a little more, and by and by he is getting trapped. Now the tears have started to come. Now it is dangerous, Gottlieb.
But still you are not allowing them a total flow. Be swayed by them. Let that throb go to your very cells and the fibers of your being. Let those tears dance in and around you, and through those tears you will be initiated. Through those tears you are coming close to me and I am coming close to you.
If you allow, something is going to happen, something immensely valuable. But it depends on you whether you will allow it or you will escape before it becomes too much.
To be here needs courage. To be with me means risk. If you decide to be with me, you are risking finding yourself. The risk is there. And to find oneself, one has to die to one’s whole past, because the new can come only when the old has disappeared. Let those tears take your past, let them wash you. They are preparing you for me. And you have a heart which can grow in prayer. But if you allow, only then. Nothing can be done against you. And up to now you have been fighting, you have been protecting, safeguarding yourself. You are keeping a little bit aloof, distant. Then you are doing it at your own risk. You may miss the opportunity.
"Let it be clear… this is not easy. It is very difficult. It may be the most difficult thing anyone can achieve. To accept and believe that I am the cause of my misery… of all my hell, is very deep, very difficult. We want to hear differently. When someone else tells us we are the victim, that someone else is exploiting us, that someone else is the cause of our own misery, that makes us feel good. That person who tells us these things looks so sympathetic, and is such a friend, because he makes us feel good. But this goodness is very temporary. In fact, this goodness can be dangerous because it perpetuates, it perpetuates the cause of the misery."
"…that you are the cause of your miseries. This is very hard. This is the most difficult thing to understand, that “I am the cause of my miseries.” This hits deep, one feels hurt. Whenever someone says someone else is the cause you feel okay and that person looks sympathetic. If he says, “You are a sufferer, a victim, and others are exploiting you, others are doing damage, others are violent,” you feel good. But this goodness is not going to last. It is a momentary consolation, and dangerous, at a very great cost, because he is helping the cause of your misery."
"When you are with a true Teacher he appears harsh because he forces you to the fact that you are not the victim, that you are the cause. This is not easy. But once you accept it, once you understand it, once you feel that you are the cause of hell, already transformation has begun, already half the work is done. Once you understand that you are the cause, a great change will come over you, because you will no longer cooperate with the cause of misery."
"If you go to a buddha, to an enlightened person, he is bound to be hard, because he will force you to the fact that you are the cause. And once you start feeling that you are the cause of your hell, the transformation has already started. The moment you feel this, half the work is already done. You are already on the path, you have already moved. A great change has come over you."
"You will no longer say, 'My wife upsets me, my wife makes me angry.' You will understand that you chose this wife and you probably chose her for this reason. You will no longer say, 'My husband is a great problem for me.' You chose this husband, etcetera, ra, ra."
"The more you make others responsible for your life the more a slave you are. If you say your wife makes you angry, then you are a slave to your wife. If you say your husband is making trouble, then you are a slave to your husband."
"The more you make others responsible for your life the more you are a slave. If you say, “My wife is making me angry,” then you are a slave. If you say your husband is creating trouble for you, then you are a slave. Even if your husband is creating trouble, you have chosen that husband. And you wanted this trouble, this type of trouble – it is your choice. If your wife is making hell…you have chosen this wife."
"On this plane the greatest freedom comes from this wisdom that you, however you are, wherever you are, whatever you are, you are the cause."
"So whatsoever I say to you is just to make you alert of a single fact: that wherever you are, whatsoever you are, you are the cause."
I did enjoy Rajneesh's wild sense of wacky humor, often hilarious!—though author Tim Guest (who grew up in several dysfunctional Rajneesh communes) says that Rajneesh cribbed many of his best jokes from Playboy magazine, and too many of his jokes, alas, were ugly slurs on ethnic and racial groups or just tiresome "juvenile scatological humor," as journalist Rohit Arya has assessed it, such as Rajneesh's long comedic essay on the "magical" word "F*ck," and his concluding, quite silly and likely sarcastic admonition that one should wake up each morning and say "F*ck you" five times (the entire routine from 1984, read by Rajneesh from a script, is viewable at www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D7rWLzloOI&feature=related).
the very interesting book, Life of Osho (1997), by "Sam" (the late Paritosh/Chris Gray), which is suppressed by the official Osho movement because it's by far the most candid of the pro-Osho books, "Sam" claims that Rajneesh's crude, nasty joke-telling dates from around 1980 and continued into the late 1980s. Sam/Paritosh neatly rationalizes it as being Rajneesh's way of destroying his own image in the eyes of followers so that they would not keep him on a pedestal. "Osho started to play the part of charlatan. This was the time he started to tell whole slews of dirty jokes in the lecture. Osho had always used jokes in discourse, both as a means of making a point and as a rhetorical trick to inject a momentary burst of energy. But by the end of old Poona [the first ashram] he had sannyasins researching them for him, and he no longer made any attempt to 'tell' them; he just read out whole batches of them.... They were frequently quite filthy – racist, sexist, and unfunny... When you think how famous Osho was becoming, how people were crossing half-way round the world to hear him speak on 'spiritual' life, this barrage of diabolically unfunny dirty jokes was becoming something more than an oratorical device. The whole performance was bordering on Dada.... In retrospect you can see that Osho was already trying to undermine his own Church – to undermine the reflex of worship on which it was built. 'Will you make a religion out of my jokes?' he asked, in one of his lectures from early 1981. The answer, of course, was a resounding yes; - and the dirty jokes were to be no more than the first of a whole series of 'devices' on which he embarked, and which were designed to sabotage any attempt to make him spiritually – or socially – acceptable." (p. 121) This is all nicely rationalized by "Sam"/Paritosh, but the fuller truth is that Rajneesh/Osho, while undercutting himself on occasion, also found various ways (as we shall learn) to keep himself up on that pedestal as the "enlightened master," well above his kow-towing followers in spiritual status.
..In the early 1980s I also saw a short film of excerpts from one of Rajneesh's talks, and was able to see first-hand his hypnotically slow, coy, seductive, and provocative manner of speech and body language, with his strange way of hissing like a snake the "s" sounds at the end of many of his words, and often widening his eyes into an intimidating glare.
A revealing overview of how Rajneesh ambitiously worked to attain his initial stage of fame—using hypnosis, sensationalism and outrage, and assorted other promotional and publicity-seeking techniques—comes from a team of ace reporters for The Oregonian newspaper in Parts 2 and 3 of their in-depth 20-part series commencing June 30, 1985 ("For Love & Money: Rajneesh—An Oregonian Special Report," by Les Zaitz, Jim Long & Scotta Callister, archived in full at www.oregonlive.com/rajneesh/index.ssf/rajneesh_story_archive.html). Here's a lengthy set of excerpts from this report, mostly the work of lead author Les Zaitz, who was targeted for assassination by the Rajneeshee "dirty tricks" cabal in 1985 after this series came out:
[From Part 2:] "Rammoo Shrivastava, a newspaperman who had met Rajneesh in Jabalpur, said the guru was an impressive speaker but he practiced hypnosis—a common orator's tool in India—and was not considered a spiritual authority in Jabalpur. 'What Rajneesh teaches in yoga and in meditation is Kindergarten One class,' he said. However, Shrivastava said Rajneesh became the darling of the relatively well-to-do Jaina community. Rajneesh's parents were adherents of the Jaina religion, a sect with strict rules about asceticism. Shrivastava linked Rajneesh's popularity to his teachings that rejected taboos and absolved guilt. 'He knew what the rich people want,' Shrivastava said. 'They want to justify their guilty consciences, to justify their guilty acts.'
[Elsewhere, the reporters quote a former disciple: "Rajneesh gives you the opportunity to sin like you've never sinned before. Only he doesn't call it sin," ex-sannyasin John Ephland wrote in an article for the Spiritual Counterfeits Project of Berkeley, Calif. "The path to desirelessness is desire."]
"Rajneesh also gained a Romeo's reputation in Jabalpur. 'That's why his character was suspect—his activities, his movements among the girls,' Shrivastava said.
"But Rajneesh's other activities seemed calculated to advance his career as a lecturer. He took breaks and university leave to go on tour, building his reputation outside Jabalpur. Friends and family members said he traveled by rail or by car, often with supplies of written materials to distribute [and promote his own name]. [...] Rajneesh traveled frequently to the big city—Bombay, a seaport of nearly 7 million people that lay 560 miles southwest of Jabalpur. [Easier here to amass the really big crowds.]
"Along the way, he recruited several Jaina businessmen to support his fledgling movement. They formed Jeevan Jagruti Kendra, the forerunner of the Rajneesh Foundation, in 1965 to finance the guru's activities, freeing him from the need to collect academic paychecks. Rajneesh selected the trust's name, which translates as 'Life Awakening Center.'
"One of his early supporters in Bombay was Ishverlal N. Shah, who first heard the guru speak in 1963 and took the sannyasin name Ishver Samarpan in 1967. Rajneesh stayed with the Shah family on several occasions and eventually asked Samarpan to work in the movement. Today, Samarpan runs the Aum Rajneesh Meditation Centre, as well as his own exporting and construction businesses [...]. Over the years, Samarpan bore witness to Rajneesh's driven pace [full of ambition]. He recalled the guru's lecturing as many as five times a day and then talking with students late into the night. 'He would go to bed at one in the morning. He told my wife, "If anyone comes to inquire, please get me up,"' Samarpan said. Samarpan and others bought billboard space and newspaper ads to promote the guru.
"Rajneesh began speaking at meditation camps across the Indian countryside in 1964 and resigned from the university in 1966 [some say that the university fired him] to concentrate on his lecturing. Although he liked playing to crowded lecture halls and parks, he didn't forgo smaller audiences. Friends said he addressed any local Rotary Club or other group that would have him.
"Rajneesh relished controversy, which brought larger crowds to hear him and attracted Indian news media attention. Himmatlal H. Joshi, an early follower who is not related to Rajneesh's biographer, Vasant Joshi, said Rajneesh kept track of newspaper and magazine coverage—just as his press office does in Oregon today—and noted the play given a story or picture. 'He knew how to pose for photographers,' said [one editor]."
[From Part 3 of the article series:]
"Word spread through lecture tours and meditation camps, advertised on billboards and in local newspapers, and his following grew. On a 1967 trip to Baroda, a city of 467,000 that was 220 miles north of Bombay in the Western Indian state of Gujarat, Rajneesh attracted the attention of Chandrakant N. Patel, who later took the sannyasin name Chandrakant Bharti. Bharti, the owner of a handicraft shop and now operator of the Sanjay Rajneesh Meditation Center in Baroda, claimed credit for introducing ticket sales to Rajneesh lectures. He said that Rajneesh, concerned primarily with drawing large crowds, worried at first that the proposed one-rupee fee would scare off customers. Bharti reassured Rajneesh, however, saying, 'This is my experiment in how to get money.' The experiment succeeded, filling 1,000 seats. Soon, Rajneesh would be lecturing for two rupees a head in Bombay, then five rupees a head in Poona, Bharti recalled."
And so we learn that Rajneesh became notable for his clearly narcissistic drive to be seen and heard by as many people as possible; his trendy, heavily cathartic meditation camps for rich, upper-class Indians; his attention-getting, over-generalizing diatribes against Gandhi, Mother Teresa, orthodox religion, convention, repression, socialism, etc.; and his saucy, racy talk about sexual openness, love, the need for "a new explosion in you, an explosion of joy," "total freedom," "the mysterious presence," "dynamic meditation," "the esoteric 'Ashoka nine' group working behind the scenes," "my special way of working with you," etc. His first major book, a Hindi work released in 1968, was provocatively titled Sambhog Se Samadhi Ki Aor, or, as it was translated in its English edition, From Sex to Superconsciousness—the word "Sex" deliberately intended to create notoriety and draw attention to himself. He confessed that he often liked to stir up controversy, "even if just for fun."
Rajneesh may have earlier attained a certain fearless nonchalance much of the time, and this served him well whenever he would stir up the public with his outrageous statements. But this is not necessarily full enlightenment—many sociopaths also operate from an evident "fearlessness." Rajneesh, as we shall see, was not desireless or in peaceful contentment, and still had lots of egoic attachments and colossally selfish ambitions.
Before proceeding further with his biography, I should pause to further consider the controversial "Dynamic Meditation" and other "chaotic" or "active" meditations that he put together for his followers. For instance, a day with Rajneesh started early in the morning with everyone gathering to perform the intense "Dynamic Meditation", involving a heavy aerobic workout and even heavier arousal of the nervous system and subconscious mind: 10 minutes of aggressive, nonrhythmic, rapid and dissociative hyperventilationist bellows-breathing accompanied by vigorous movements; 10 minutes of Rajneesh's recommended "going totally mad" cathartic emotional venting (crying, screaming, moaning, laughing, singing, etc.), accompanied by vigorous pumping, jumping, jerking, shaking movements; 10 minutes of loud shouting as deeply as possible of the old Sufi syllable "Hu! Hu! Hu!" (in the original version it was "Who am I? Who am I?") while jumping up and down as vigorously as possible, "letting the sound hammer deep into the sex center," as Rajneesh always urged; then flopping down and staying in complete stillness when the command is given, calmly and meditatively observing whatever can be observed in oneself for 15 minutes. (Near the end of this webpage former disciple Calder explains how, evidently by around 1974, Rajneesh had made some very unfortunate, dangerous changes to the Dynamic Meditation routine such as keeping the arms up in stages 3 & 4, which made it torturously uncomfortable and even medically precarious for persons with undiagnosed heart conditions.) Several other meditations which were invented, borrowed, or pieced-together from other traditions by Rajneesh likewise strongly emphasized vigorous initial movement—shaking, jumping, dancing, whirling—followed by a calm phase. By the mid-1970s, a faithful follower of Rajneesh would be cumulatively spending nearly an hour a day in such required states of hyper-arousal or intensive physical and emotional self-stimulation. (In the "Mystic Rose" meditation he created in the late 1980s, a person was to spend three hours daily for one entire week laughing, then one entire week crying for three hours daily before spending a week calmly witnessing the body-mind. His "No Mind" meditation invented around the same time involved ten minutes nightly in forcibly speaking gibberish while "going completely crazy" before a 20-minute witnessing period.)
An important question to be raised here is this: what are the long-term effects on a Rajneeshee sannyasin's nervous system, hormonal system, and physical organs in having to perform such unnaturally aggressive manipulation of his/her organism (i.e., the shaking, jerking, and hyperventilating bellows-breathing) for such a substantial amount of time each day in these "chaotic" or "dynamic" meditations? The same could be asked about the sannyasin's deep psyche and subtle energy field under the relentless daily emotional catharsis that Rajneesh demanded of his people. Critics of the various forms of "Primal Scream" therapy, for instance, have charged that, by so frequently engaging in and indulging one's anger and hostility, one insidiously conditions oneself to become a really angry, hostile person. In other words, excessive and repeated catharsis of disturbed emotions will only tend to make one even more prone to suffering from those emotional complexes. Likewise, when Rajneesh in several of his daily meditations encourages people to "go totally crazy, completely mad" in the cathartic phase of the meditation, one wonders if he primarily succeeded in creating a lot of really crazy disciples? The extensive record over the years of Rajneeshee crime, violence, immorality, deceit and rampant display of Freudian defense mechanisms against anxiety (denial, rationalization, projection, identification, reaction formation, etc.) leads one to suspect that the guru who fancied himself the world's greatest psychotherapist really did NOT know what he was doing to his trusting followers. Worth bearing in mind as we continue our tale of Rajneesh and his supposedly wonderful "new, true religion"....