"Osho. never Born Never Died. Only Visited this Planet Earth between December 11, 1931-January 19, 1990.
As this final inscription suggests, Osho Rajneesh was a paradox: an ondividual with no claims to being an individual, a Master with thousands of disciples who refused to be a Master. He has variously been seen as "the god that failed", "the most dangerous man since Jesus Christ" and "the Buddha for the future."
This book brings together some of the best short writings in English on Osho andneo-Sannyasa. Some of the pieces arecelebratory, some inquisitive but uncommitted, some scholarly, and some frankly sceptical. The book is dividedinto four parts, dealing with Osho hinself, his Community, Meditation and Therapy, and Renewal of his commune. Together the papers provide a full picture of a complex man and a vibrant, if turbulent, religious movement.
The editor of this volume, Harry Aveling, was initiated into Sannyasa by Bhagwan shree Rajneesh on Krishna Jayanti day 1977, with the name Swami Anand Haridas. He is author of the Laughing Swamis: Australisa Sannyasin Disciples of Swami Satyananda Saraswati and Osho Rajneesh (Motilal Banarsidass 1944, reprinted 1996); and translated with Mrs. Sudha Joshi M.A. of Osho's discourses on Dayabal and of the poetry of Sahajobai.
The book is intended, on the one hand, to be a work of scholarship. I have sought to gather here the best short poieces available in English on Osho and his Sannyasins. The authors include professional writer, sociologists, psychologists, therapists, a philosopher, and a dentist. They represent a range of viewpoints. All write with intelligent and insight.
It is also a work of love. At the end of the book tantra: The Supreme understanding (1975: 253), Osho says :
So if you are really authentically, sincerely a seeker then finds someone, with whom you can move in deep commitment, with whom you can take the plunge into the Unknown.
Without it you have wandered for many lives and you will wander.
Without it the supreme accomplishment is not possible.
Take courage and take the jump.
The questions of the book are the questions of my own life. I bow at Osho’s feet in gratitude for all that he has given me and all that he has taken away.
“Osho. Never born never died. Only visited this Planet Earth between Dec. 11, 1931-Jan. 19, 1990.” These are the words engraved on the memorial stone placed to commemorate the late Osho Rajneesh (variously known as Chandra Mohan Jam, Archery Rajneesh, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and during the last years of his life simply as Osho) at his Ashram in Poona. They emphasis the very paradoxical image which Rajneesh strove to present to the world. He was an individual who denied being an individual. In response to the question: “Who are you?”, he replied;
The person is non-existent, a non-entity. In fact, there is no person, or there is only one person. Only God can be said to have a personality, because only God can have a centre. We have no centers at all.
He was a Guru who denied being a Guru. “There should be disciples”, he states in the First Chapter of this collection, “There must be disciples—but no Gurus!” Similarly, he asserted on this same principle, that although there was a great need for the disciple to be open and vulnerable to the work of the Master, once the disciple realised that he or she was merely participating in a game, the game of Master and disciple, and that neither of them really existed, the game was over, for “that will be the day of your enlightenment” (Rajneesh 1979a: 341, cited in Chapter Five below). He therefore, a Master with thousands of disciples worldwide, who had no disciples.
From this perspective, there is no way of answering the two questions: Who was Rajneesh? And who were his disciples (themselves variously known as Sannyasins, neo-Sannyasins, Rajneeshees and even the Rajneesh)?
Nevertheless, a wide range of books have attempted to answer these questions in a variety of ways. Some of these have been celebratory, some deprecatory, some apparently inquisitive, and some studiously academic. In the most general terms, the celebratory books include all of Rajneesh’s public addresses and intimate discussions with disciples, published by the Jeevan Jagriti Kendra, Motilal Banarsidass, the Rajneesh Foundation in India and America, and the Rebel Publishing House in Germany. More specifically, they include Ma Satya Eharati’s exploration of discipleship The Ultimate Risk (1980); Versant Joshi’s authorised biography The Awakened One: The Life and Work of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1982); and the historical and apologetic works published in the late eighties by some of Rajneesh’s closest disciples Sue Appleton Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: The Most Dangerous Man Since Jesus Christ and Was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Poisoned by Ronald Reagan’s America; Juliet Forman’s Bhagwan: The Buddha for the Future, Bhagwan: One Man Against the Whole Ugly Past of Humanity and Bhagwan:
Twelve Days that Shook the World; the work of his doctor, George Meredith Bhagzoan: The Most Godless Yet the Most Godly Man and The Choke is ours; and that of his washer- woman Ma Prom Shunyo Diamond Days with Osho: The New Diamond Sutra.
The deprecatory books are at their most bitter when written by former disciples, such as Hugh’ Mime Bhagwan: The God that Failed (the title which presumably provoked the celebratory “Bhagwan” books); and Kate Sterilely the Ultimate Game: The Rise and Fall of Bhagwan Rajneesh (1987). More balanced, but sadder and wiser, books by former disciples include Charles Wright Oranges and Lemmings (1985); Sally Beifrage Flowers of Emptiness (1981); and Satya Bharati Franklin’s later book The Promise of Paradise: A Woman ‘s Intimate Story of the Perils of Life with Rajneesh (1992).
The more neutral seekers’ books feature some of the fascination of the celebratory books and some of the despair of the deprecatory books at the prospect of a radically innovative spiritual experiment which had apparently come to naught. The most interesting of these is James S. Gordon’s The Golden Guru: the Strange Journey of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1988). The academic books tend to be less racy and more objective, and heavily reliant on the methods of the social sciences, particularly sociology and psychology. The first of these was Bob Mullen’s Life as Laughter: Following Bhogwaii Shree Rajneesh (1983). This was followed by Judith Thompson and Paul Heels The Way of the Heart: The Rajneesh Movement (1986); W. E. Mann The Quest for Total Bliss: A Psycho Sociological Perspective on that’ Rajneesh Movement I (1991); Lewis F. Carter’s magisterial Charisma and Control in Rojneeshpuram: The Role of Shared Voiles in the Creation of a Community (1990); and my own The Laughing Swamis: Australian Sannyasin Disciples of Swami Satiananda Snraswati and Osho Rajneeshi (1994). Larkin (1987: 74, Chapter Nine below) has noted that almost all of the written material on Rajneesh and the neo-Siannas movement tends to he either “anecdotal and frequently polemical, historical”, or, on the other hand, “analytical and textual, the latter especially by those interested in the religious and philosophical nature of Bagman’s thoughts”. The academic authors attempt to add a more empirical strand to the historical and textual approaches and are often heavily reliant on the close observation of one or a few small communities.
This present volume aims to bring together some of the best of the shorter pieces of writing on Osho and the neo-Sannyasin movement. In some ways it may be seen as a sequel to Susan J. Palmer and Arvind Sharma The Rainelle Papers (1993)- That book, however, stemmed from a single-day Symposium on the Rajneesh Movement, held on May 29, 1989, at the Faculty of Religious Studies of McGill University, Montreal. The papers presented here derive from a number of smaller academic journals, most not readily available to a wider general audience. I have also added two chapters from books (Brent and Menen respectively), which provide a picture of the earlier Acharya, prior to the establishment of the Rajneesh Foundation. The first chapter was published in 1973, the last in 1996. Overall, they focus on the period from approximately 1970 to 1994. For convenience, the volume is divided into four parts: on Osho, Community, Meditation and Therapy, Decline and Renewal. There is, of course, a fair bit of overlap between the various parts of the collection. As with the longer books, some of these pieces are celebratory, some less impressed, some inquisitive, and some doggedly academic. All are interesting and together they give a rounded picture of a complex man and a vibrant religious movement.
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