Fascinated by the concept of Osho communes that were established over the last three decades, Antar Marc was astonished to find that the public knows very little about their success.
During the eighties, Osho and his large communities attracted much attention. Young people dressed in red-hued company attire and wearing a mala ran beautiful, bright and friendly restaurants and large discos in Berlin, Duesseldorf, Freiburg, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart and other cities. They were very popular from the start, also among parts of the population who had no further interest in Osho.
The unusual element about those businesses was that they weren’t necessarily only profit-oriented but rather an extension to live Osho’s legacy as do the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune and Osho Meditation Centres worldwide. Although especially the discos at that time were very successful, for those participating it was all more about awareness, mindfulness, meditation. In other words, being fully conscious in the Here and Now!
The definition of ‘management’ is the effective and efficient placement of people and resources. In this sense, there was no management in the Osho communes, often because it was not effective and efficient in economic terms (money), but effective and efficient for awareness (profit). Functions were less important than people; what was important were thoughts and feelings and the ego was to be monitored as part of the awareness objective.
What was the key to their success? Was it love?
The management style can be best described as Here-Now management:
- Leading a group of people with awareness, towards inner and outer richness, guided by Osho
- Special Characteristics: Meditation and Fun
- Corporate Identity: Red and orange clothing
In this context, wealth is understood as welfare, because in the community it was not just about money and goods, but about the quality of life as also seen in the social model of Bhutan (Gross National Happiness Index – GNH).
The ‘rules’ of the Osho communes, people, locations, and procedures changed very often. Re-organization was a permanent condition, an ‘éducation permanente par exemple’ in awareness, and the members of the community could really only be in the here and now, in the flow. All commune members earned the same, cleaner or manager. Profit was used effectively and efficiently for specific organizational goals and the shared ‘lifestyle’.The male-female ratio within and outside the work in the Osho communes in the eighties were already at a level of which today’s modern Western society can only dream of.
Sheela’s general management of the communes between 1982 and 1985 while Osho was ‘in silence’ in Rajneeshpuram seriously damaged the operating culture and climate in spite of her and her associates gaining status and luxury. It was a typical management problem:
Man / woman can’t cope with the promotion to a higher function, is overwhelmed and harms him / herself and the organization (L.Peter-1969, ‘Peter Principle’).
The consequences were a culture of fear and divide-and-conquer, a negative spiral that began for some when the toaster on the table in the German Osho communes disappeared. (Reason: There were no toasters in Rajneeshpuram either!) To others it was the appearance of an operational police in Rajneeshpuram or similar material and immaterial signs of restrictions with regard to freedom and happiness. Many members were no longer feeling very happy. (Less confidence, less GNH).
It is unclear how much rope Osho gave Sheela and her management style but there went job enrichment and the commune! As Osho so often mentioned in his lectures: Nothing fails like success. Was it an awareness exercise? Yes, it was also an awareness exercise.
After Osho left his body in 1990, there has no longer been talk about Here-Now Management, but of Connection-Management:
- Leading a group of people with awareness, towards inner- and outer richness, inspired by Osho
- Special characteristics: Meditation and Fun
As an economical model as well as for personal (professional) development, the Osho commune was interesting and unique. It was a meeting of a variety of many people who shared their love for Osho and awareness as a goal of the organization.
Now, 23 years after Osho left his body and the end of his commune, ‘trendsetter’ topics such as awareness, mindfulness and meditation are being widely received and shared by western society. Although very slowly, science has proven and accepted awareness, meditation and mindfulness as being successful. Worldwide recognized examples are:
S. Covey, Management Guru: The 8 Habits of Effective Leadership
D. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, 1995; Social Intelligence, 2006
J. Kabat-Zinn, Scientific Mindfulness, 1979 (MBSR)
Richard David Precht (1964), well-known German philosopher and scientist (also an advocate of a new civil society) lists Osho in his interesting Spiegel bestseller ‘The Art not to be an Egoist’ as one of the enlightenend ones: “Plato, Buddha, Bhagwan and Dalai Lama.”
Mindfulness remains a current topic among the hectic Western economy; awareness, meditation and mindfulness have become socially acceptable. Google has developed a highly successful mindfulness training for its employees since 2007, in collaboration with one of their earliest members (Meng Tan Chade, Search Inside Yourself, 2012).
In many households of higher educated people under 65 years (on average) in the rich West, Buddha is present, with pictures and statues in home and garden; men / women are meditating, doing yoga, eating consciously (awareness), reading lifestyle articles and magazines about work, love, relationships and the brain in relation to meditation and mindfulness. New Age music in the background. Church and Christ on the cross are no longer present. The Western society is quietly yet visibly changing.
But top scientists don’t even mention Osho and his communes in literature, people- or property registers. It’s amazing that professionals who should be asking basic questions such as Why, When, Where and How Much, still haven’t tracked down this phenomenon although so much happened during their lifetime.
It appears as if the great majority of scholars of the humanities such as philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, human resources management and organisation researchers exist in a fog or are sitting with eyes wide shut.
Antar Marc was born in Holland and took sannyas in 1983. He is an educated artist and has lived in the Osho communes of Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Cologne, Rajneeshpuram and Poona. He studied Human Resources Management and since 1999 is a coach and lecturer for Management and Organizations at the European Fashion Business School. He lives with his beloved wife Prem Rana in Holland.