Osho: A man for all seasons

From Dr Saksena's Desk Media Watch

Having grown up with Rajneesh (Osho) in our student days and as a family friend, I am often asked what his teachings were! I don’t think that even Osho could have given a straight answer, writes S.K. Saksena. Published in ‘merinews’, Mumbai, on July 26, 2017.

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Osho was different things to different people. From the media reports, the lay public was scandalised by his seeming encouragement of permissiveness and drugs. His talks were a mix of profanity, spirituality and a generous sprinkling of Mullah Nasruddin’s wit.

The then puritan Prime Minister Morarji Desai (1977-80) used the governmental machinery to stifle him and confine him only to the ashram at Koregaon Park, Pune. Affluent parents in the West watched helplessly as their children deserted the comforts of parental home, to drift starry-eyed and unkempt towards the Pune commune in search of enlightenment. The economy of Pune city and of the restaurants and cafes shot up.

A non-conformer, Osho was different from other spiritual or religious preachers. Others generally focus on their own religion or any other belief system they subscribe to. Theirs is the only way, they proclaim! But Osho had a bewildering assortment of interests and he seemed to appreciate and criticise whichever prophet or philosophy he spoke on. Over 600 books have been published, which are compilations of his lectures, subject wise. The catholicity of his views can be realised from his lectures from just one compilation, viz. ‘Books I have loved’.

Books I have loved

‘Books I have loved’ is a series of lectures on his 168 favourite books. As a self confessed bookworm, I was suitably impressed. They range from ‘Alice in Wonderland’, to lesser known obtuse sects. A sampling of just 20 books he lectured on is:

Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Book of Mirdad by Mikhail Naimy
Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
The Parables of Chuang Tzu
The Sermon on the Mount
Bhagavad-Gita by Krishna
Gitanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa
The Book of the Sufis
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran
The Book of Lieh Tzu
Dialogue on Socrates by Plato
The Notes of the Disciples of Bodhidarma
The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam
Masnavi by Jalaluddin Rumi
The Isa Upanishad
All and Everything by George Gurdjieff
In Search of the Miraculous by P. D. Ouspensky

His ashram claims, that “Having read more than 150,000 of the world’s greatest books on every conceivable subject, Osho shares the fragrance of some of his favourites, in these spontaneous and intimate talks. From the very first book, ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ by Friedrich Nietzsche, to the 167th entry, a book by Alan Watts, he takes us on a journey of discovery, sampling gifts from authors we have known, along with some surprises from mystics and poets never heard of before.”

Generalisations are odious, but if I were, do so:

He was in tune with philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti and encouraged others not to get into the groove, by adopting blindly the belief systems and life styles, handed down to us. But to test the principles oneself and tread ‘the road less travelled’, if need be!

My father had concluded an article in ‘Philosophy East West’ by saying, “More harm is done to a religion, by its followers rather than by its worst enemies!” Osho echoed this repeatedly. In a book on Kabir and other mystics, he wrote:

“I will speak for Christ, not on Christianity. Christianity has nothing to do with Christ. In fact, Christianity is anti-Christ, just as Buddhism is anti-Buddha and Jainism anti-Mahavir. […] I am all for Christ, but not even a small part of me is for Christianity. If you want Christ, you have to go beyond Christianity. If you cling too much to Christianity, you will not be able to understand Christ. Christ is beyond all churches. Christ is the very principle of religion. In Christ all the aspirations of humanity are fulfilled.

“That’s the beauty of Christ…. Buddha is beautiful, superb…. Krishna is lovable!”

The inimitable writer Kushwant Singh, after meeting Osho wrote: “Soon after meeting him I began to read his books. I was very impressed that there is one teacher who is highly erudite. He could talk about any subjects – religion, psychology etc. His range and vision was enormous and unmatchable. The strong point is his lucidity. There is no confusion about what he said. Also he impressed me as he liberated people from their preconceived notions, superstitions and beliefs. So I got more books to read. I kept reading. I have written an introduction to one of his books based on whatever I have read. He wrote so much that it is difficult to say that I have read everything. I have not. I wrote this introduction because of a genuine admiration for the man who had the courage to speak his mind.”

Here was a man, who delivered to you a recipe, within your own faith. However, not as your religion dictated it. But as Buddha, Mahavir, Christ and other founders had directly experienced it themselves!

I gave a copy of his Hindi book on Kabir, to my mother-in-law with some trepidation, not knowing how a deeply pious lady would react to it. To my relief, she said, that the book had helped her to understand Kabir even better, though from childhood we have been reading and reciting, ‘Kabir ke dohe’ – ‘Kahat Kabir suno bhai saadho

‘Kabira jab hum paida huay,
Jag hanse, hum roay.
Aisi karni kar chalo,
Hum hanse, jag roay!’

Excerpts by Osho from
Come Follow to You, Vol 1, Ch 1

www.merinews.com – illustration by Osho News

s-k-saksenaS. K. Saksena lives with his family in Mumbai, India and writes occasional blogs about life and experiences. His father was Dr. Sri Krishna Saksena, Professor Emeritus Philosophy, University of Hawai, and was Osho’s teacher and mentor at University in Jabalpur, India.

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