Every so often I like to write from my own voice of truth: about the way I’ve seen Zen and Yoga culture changing over the last 30-or-so years . . . so this type of blog is a bit different from my usual content of “how-to – . . . ” etc: about some of my thoughts on Osho, the Zen Master.
I’m not a great fan of gurus – everyone should be their own guru as far as I’m concerned – but there is definitely a “Guru Mentality” and they often draw heavily on certain archetypes to get reactions and give us zen “thwacks” upside our heads. I mean of course, for example, the typical trickster antics designed to shock us out of our little mental ruts. Something that Osho, the master was good at even when he was a plain “Shree” . . . (Sri Baghwan Rajneesh).
When true Guru energy is good energy it is powerful: your experience will be changed for ever by a true Guru in your life. It’s the energy that keeps the Ashram (work and living place for practice) alive and thriving positively. It’s the teacher that brings light out of darkness and seeringly illuminates everything with “truth” . . . (Gu – darkness; Ru – light).
For instance, I love this vintage Osho – “be Zorba the Buddha” . . . and: “your buddha mind, your buddha heart, your buddha nature are all there just waiting to be revealed . . . and existence needs every drop of you.” As the Master, he knew that we could all be the buddhas we truly are but that we might need our butts kicking every so often to just sit down and meditate and stop being neurotic.
True Buddha Nature
But . . . if being your true buddha nature means being a bit bonkers . . . then what?
And Osho certainly was insistent in that guru-type no-messing way, that we shouldn’t try to be gurus, gurus are self-gratifiers . . . and promptly guru-ified himself. What a contradiction . . . but as our own zen monk at our then-Sangha, Shinrin told us: “unique”.
Because Osho certainly knew that everyone is still human – that the weeds of co-emergent energy (the crap) come up with the blossoms of living in the magic; that if you spend your day meditating as your medicine then you can’t be watching what the entourage are up to . . . and chaos can break out, because chaos does, and as long as you’re alert and watchful and mindful, then it’s just an experience.
But if the leader’s finger is off the button, chaos can get scary.
Shinrin gave us an insight on the last zen Sangha weekend here in Baltimore. He’d been an Osho sannyasin, there at the last in America when things were getting crazy. Osho had given him his “orange-people” sannyasi name and then turned him onto zen. [The “orange people” were Osho’s followers in London when he was Shree Bagwan Rajneesh meditation teacher.]
And this was the insight: They grew up in such poverty in India, these teachers. They had so many barriers, personal, psychological, emotional, spiritual to break through as young sannyasins themselves, during the epoch when Shree Bagwan Rajneesh (later Osho) and his cohorts were steeped in their Yoga training.
I have an old book by one of Swami Satyananda’s students, written from the view point of a yogi, and he poignantly points out that they were trying themselves to break through Victorian values imposed on them by the authoritarianism of an obsolete empire.
This is something I totally empathise with, having grown up in Bradford in Yorkshire, England – and its mixed Asian population (Pakistani, Indian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh) – and from the never-to-be-forgotten experience of training there with my meditation teacher, Sam Singh. They would be clueless, these young bloods of brahminism – and uncomprehending as to why the followers weren’t just deep in sadhana and discipline: too much into ahimsa and samadhi and motivating us all into living in intoxicating bliss.
So, when he was kicked out of America for causing stink, someone lent Osho a plane and he circled the planet, unwelcome in most countries (I’m not going to touch on politics at all here). Ireland let him land and he spent a short time here. Apparently, he’d got on the plane clutching a handful of gold watches – still the young Indian brahmin suffering from compulsions caused by the spiritual riches and material poverty of the East he so often spoke about?
He thought he was dying then. One of his transcribed discourses reminded me when I was deep in my own grief and feeling country-less in England following my husband’s death – that there are “skies upon skies to be experienced”. And, as it turned out, a few years from his own death he spent months in the skies with no country to take him in, until eventually India had to as he had an Indian passport.
Too much consciousness and not enough grounding? Not enough living in reality, and in the moment of zen?
Or just a result of gurus of his generation not really having to deal with practicalities? As Gandhi had to learn in 6 years of imprisonment, there are consequences to the minutae of physical existence here and now . . .
Anyway, Shinrin said that Osho had said that he was “only here to point the finger”.
And now, they teach his style in University Communications courses: the use of silence; speaking for 3 hours at a time; storytelling to pick up the energy when people were falling asleep . . . There’s an Osho classic bit of video on Youtube “Almost Drunk with Emotional Wellness”, a concept which just fills my heart with laughter!
As Shinrin told us again – we were all cosy by the stove, after our Saturday evening zazen sit and one of my “Bradford curries” (Sag Paneer), deep in storytelling and conversation – “Osho was unique”.
So the voice of my heart says: Yes. I will continue to pass on his discourses and to be inspired myself by some of the truly “bonkers” nature of the teachings of a man who was uniquely a “zorba” (reference to the film Zorba the Greek) and a buddha. And out of respect for a consumate communicator, treat him as a master (though fallen guru) for his Satsangs . . .
. . . because that’s what he believed his purpose was . . . and so he fulfilled the seventh and final law of spiritual success.
You can find more vintage Osho at osho.com and my health warning is: be responsible and grown up, use your own discretion and the guru wisdom within you.
And if you do experience your own buddha nature is a bit bonkers and feel off the page when you strive to follow your bliss . . . I guess communing with like-minded spirits is the only way to go . Either that, or all the pain and trouble and dulling down of yourself that comes with denial and not being who you were born to be? Om.
My own teaching of an audio guided meditation download The Guru Within is available here on The Kindest Revolution website.
My teaching, writing, and Spoken Word anthems as the artist SuZen, is about dedication to practice of Zen, Meditation and Yoga: it stands for spirituality, understanding, Zen, energy and nutrition through practices.
“As founder of SuZenYoga, I’m delighted to be your teacher and guide during these exciting times in human existence: a time when we are so close to a new dawn of re-balancing our world – and I aim to teach simply and with inspiration and hope. Practice may not be easy, but it’s the only Way for some of us.”