Essays > Personalities — 29 October 2013

Bodhisagar takes an in-depth look at Christopher Hitchens’ allegations against Osho.

Christopher Hitchens is a very well celebrated Atheist in America. Somehow we can call him the father of this-gen atheist movement. He wrote quite a famous book called God is Not Great [2], where he has taken a dig at Christianity, and includes a chapter called “No Eastern Solution,” as in, the Church having failed, there isn’t also any Eastern Solution.

In this chapter, at the very start, he criticises Osho. I feel he is misinformed, or does not try to dig deep, or remains vastly an outsider and prejudiced. Osho doesn’t deserve to be criticised on the points he has made. (Hitchens claims he took sannyas and donned orange robes in order to make a documentary for BBC.)

Hitchens compares Osho’s work with Anthony Powell’s twelve volume book, A Dance to the Music of Time. Chris mentions the character in the novel, a mysterious seer Mr. Trelawney who does the work of keeping together the gathering of ‘enlightened’ followers despite various difficulties. Well, Chris obviously didn’t get the point, where, in Osho’s case he was not a seer in any way but a notorious sex guru as brandished by media and a self-proclaimed lazy man and a mischief monger, who himself was enlightened and the commune was there to get enlightened.

In the novel, the initiates can recognize each other not by the individuality of their garb but by an exchange of avowals. On meeting, the first must intone, “The essence of the all is the godhead of the true.” The proper response to this is, “The vision of visions heals the blindness of sight“, thus is the spiritual handshake affected. Now, definitely, Chris must have just visited there with a prejudiced mind, with ideas about fallacies of a cult and must have just been an outside observer to the commune activities in those days.

Chris says he had heard nothing at Osho’s knee that was more profound than this novel’s theme, that in the novel there was more emphasis on sex and in Osho’s case there was more emphasis on love (in eternal sense). This said, anybody with a slight understanding of spirituality and Osho’s work to explain it, can tell, Chris had an obvious ignorance of anything that is non-material.

Chris also mocks the sign in front of the meditation hall, which said ‘Shoes and mind must be left at the gate’; he calls this motto mindless and people entering the discourse hall to have empty mentalities. Surely he didn’t get the whole point. People who live by the view that science is alpha and omega which can explain everything, live under the pretext that intelligence comes out of mind, and that dropping the mind means going back to the animal world where you live by animal instincts, thus becoming sheep of Osho. If they fail to acknowledge consciousness as distinct from the body, then their entire worldview comes out of their minds which is nothing but accumulated knowledge and social conditioning, which Osho was hellbent to destroy. Chris missed the whole point, he missed the point at the ‘Shoe Rack’. He went on missing.

Shoes Buddha Hall

Further, he calls the ashram a “Spiritual Resort for the blissed out Visitor” and says to have uncovered the evil and sinister principles which he soon discovered. He obviously misunderstood the Rolls-Royce saga of Osho, which I have no need to explain, where he thinks Osho told all the well-to-do westerners to drop their material possessions so that he can build that fleet. After this “relatively brisk fleecing” as he explains, the initiates are transferred to group sessions.

He goes on explaining — “a therapy session where a woman is stripped naked and surrounded by men who bark at her, drawing attention to all her physical and psychic shortcomings, until she is abject with tears and apologies. At this point, she is hugged and embraced and comforted, and told that she now has “a family.” Sobbing with masochistic relief, she humbly enters the tribe. (It was not absolutely clear what she had to do in order to be given her clothes back, but I did hear some believable and ugly testimony on this point.)“

Well, the groups were designed to knock one out of the sexual conditioning imparted while growing up and the whole point of it was to make oneself aware of the deep hidden shame and fear of one’s own sex drives and sexuality. In the book My Dance with a Madman, Anand Subhuti, a British journalist has offered a very different perspective of these group therapies.

Prince Welf Ernst of Hanover was a prince from the German Hanover family who became a sannyasin in 1975. he died died at the age of 33 at a clinic in Poona from a cerebral haemorrhage after collapsing during a morning karate practice session [1]. Chris claims that he died at one such group therapies for men and that he was “briskly cremated without autopsy”, pointing at some misdemeanour concerning the death of the prince. But, as a matter of fact, he was there with his wife Turiya Hanover who is, to this day, an Osho sannyasin. And I wonder: if the prince had been killed in some nasty way would Turiya still have been around Osho, in silence?

Further in his story he is confused with some chronological order, telling the readers that as soon as he [Chris] left the ashram, Osho got allergies and he fled the ashram and he doesn’t know what happened to his Rolls Royces. After which, according to him, the initiates gathered in Antelope in 1983, and “The local inhabitants were disconcerted to find an armed compound being erected in their neighbourhood, with unsmiling orange-garbed security forces. An attempt to create “space” for the new ashram was apparently made. In a bizarre episode, food-poisoning matter was found to have been spread over the produce in an Antelope supermarket. Eventually the commune broke up and dispersed amid serial recriminations, and I have occasionally run into empty-eyed refugees from the Bhagwan’s long and misleading tuition.” [sic]

Well, one can obviously tell that all he knew about Osho was what American media fed him through its television and not that he bothered to dig deep, in order to write a well informed book attacking Religion.

And now comes the most deluded understanding of a materialist like Christopher Hitchens; he writes, ”…’The sleep of reason,’ it has been well said,brings forth monsters. The immortal Francisco Goya gave us an etching with this title in his series Los Caprichos, where a man in defenceless slumber is hag-ridden by bats, owls, and other haunters of the darkness. But an extraordinary number of people appear to believe that the mind, and the reasoning faculty – the only thing that divides us from our animal relatives – is something to be distrusted and even, as far as possible, dulled. The search for nirvana, and the dissolution of the intellect, goes on. And whenever it is tried, it produces a Keel-Aid effect in the real world.’”

He has a clear opinion that what takes man above the animal world is the ‘human mind’ and that there is no such thing as going beyond the mind and that any claim like enlightenment will obviously dull down the mind, hence making a human stupid and akin to the animal world. I am really surprised that, on one end of our world, we have the bigotry and stupidity of religions and priests and on the other end the arrogance of materialists or so-called scientists, who are so lopsided in their understanding of the universe and so adamant to listen to the case, that they, if left on to lead, will bring on the same miserable state to mankind as the religions have brought today.

On another note, I really admire Christopher for his work to bring forth the dogma of Christianity in front of the American people and, in turn, create a good platform for current-day scientists like Krauss and Dawkins to attack religions. But Chris missed the point, he missed Osho’s point. To end, I would like to add this YouTube take of Osho’s stance.

Watch on YouTube

[1] Wiki article about Prince Welf of Hanover
[2] God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens

Related article
A Letter to Christopher Hitchens – In 2007, the late Krishna Prem sent this letter in response to the Osho chapter in ‘God is not Great’ to Hitchens, with copies to OIF and the book’s publisher. The letter was found ‘coincidentally’ by Sarlo on the web

Bodhisagar TNBodhisagar was born in Pune, India, and is currently doing his PhD in Robotics at Bournemouth University, England. After experiencing a satori looking at the night sky, he set out on his quest to find truth. He went to England in order to find the truth within the human brain; he worked as a researcher in Brain-Computer interfacing and studied Cybernetics. With all stones turned and left unanswered by science he took sannyas in 2013 in Wales, England. xspiritualatheist.wordpress.com

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