Osho: Iconoclast par excellence

Letters / Opinions

Chaitanya Keerti’s observations based on Sheela’s latest book, ‘By My Own Rules’.


“The last few months with him, however, I was at the mercy of a great inner struggle. There were certain activities in Bhagwan’s house I was uncomfortable with. Going against his own teachings, Bhagwan consumed drugs. Even though he always said, ‘I am against drugs because if they become addictive they will be the most destructive for your journey towards the self. Then you become enchanted into hallucinations.’” ¹

As far as I understand, Osho did not have any rules in his life. He lived his life very spontaneously, moment to moment. This is the way an enlightened person lives, while we the unenlightened ones live with so many rules of the past, present, and future. The enlightened Master lives in the illumination of the Eternal Now, which is the Light that makes us surrender to him. This is what one day made Sheela fall in love with her Bhagwan. And she chose to surrender to him, as she writes in her book: “I had only one desire: I wanted to be close to Bhagwan. I visited him as often as I could without being a nuisance. Just to look into his eyes or put my head at his feet or to be near him was heaven for me. Fourteen years flew by. It was like being on an island; realities outside were completely alien to us. I performed every task Bhagwan gave me. His trust made me grow beyond my limits. I thought, ‘If this wonderful man gives me a task, it’s because he knows my potential.’” ¹

In our mundane love affairs, we fall in love with each other, but being in a love affair with the master is something very different. In Osho’s words, it is Rising in Love, and rising has no limits. And to take us to the rarefied heights of love, Osho would create such situations, that are not easy to grasp sometimes, because we become attached to a certain image of him. We tend to forget that we are in love with him unconditionally, and that is beyond our projection of an image about him. Throughout his life, Osho continued breaking such projected images we all had about him.

We carry a certain image of every enlightened person and we become imprisoned in that image and in our unconsciousness, we won’t allow him to go beyond that particular image of our own fancy. George Gurdjieff also did a wonderful job of demolishing such images about him, and he continued creating so many devices. Osho surpassed him by creating even more devices for breaking the conditioning from India and the Western world. He often spoke about Gurdjieff:

Alan Watts has written about Gurdjieff that he was a scoundrel saint. And it is so! Sometimes he would behave just like a scoundrel. And in that way, he helped so many people. He would just cut you off. Then neither your time would be wasted nor his.

One day at Fountainebleau, a journalist came to see him. He never allowed journalists to come to him but somehow the journalist arrived with someone and was introduced as a great journalist attached to an international paper.

Gurdjieff asked the man who was introducing the journalist, ‘What day is today?’

The man said, ‘Saturday.’

Gurdjieff said, ‘How can it be? Yesterday was Friday so how can it be that today is Saturday? It is impossible!’

The journalist just fled! He ran away! His friend followed him and asked, ‘Where are you going?’

‘Is he mad? He says, ‘How is it that Saturday can follow Friday? Yesterday it was just Friday, so how can it be that today is Saturday?’’!

“The friend came back and asked Gurdjieff, ‘What nonsense were you saying?’

Gurdjieff said, ‘If he cannot tolerate even that much nonsense, then it is impossible to talk further to him. Whatsoever is meaningful to me will be nonsense to him. There is a realm where sense ends. You may call it supersense, but it is still nonsense. If he could not tolerate even this much, then it is better that he is gone. I am a madman. Soon I will say many things that will appear mad to him. It is better to find out first whether he can tolerate a madman. If he can, then something can be said to him. Otherwise, not.’

I myself create so many situations. Those who are really authentic, who are ready to work, will have to pass through them. Otherwise, they cannot work. The work is in the unknown. It is in that dimension which transcends reason, which transcends sense, which transcends all your understanding.”²

Gayan dancing around Osho in Mandir

It happened in Rajneespuram – when Osho would sit in Satsang with thousands of his disciples, Ma Anand Gayan would come to the stage and dance around Him. Osho’s mother became worried that this situation would create more trouble for Osho. Osho came to know about what his mother thought about this and started inviting more female disciples to the stage to dance with him. He did not spare his mother to also break her conditioning.

Osho did not want to bother about any respectability in India or the West. In India, some newspapers in Gujarat had published one picture of meditation where a woman came close to him and hugged him, and there was criticism that this was misconduct. But Osho said in a Hindi discourse, that it shows only one thing – that all your saints condemn the woman as a door to hell. They were trying to convince themselves that the woman consists only of bones, blood, pus and mucus. Not a single saint says what he consists of… and he is born from the woman and he condemns her. He is really afraid, afraid of his own sexuality, afraid because he has been told that sex is sin. Of course, to him the woman symbolizes sex.

Ma Anand Sheela justified leaving her most beloved Bhagwan because he started taking drugs. I am not sure if this is the real reason, yet if it is, then I can say that Osho used this powerful device to break the image that she had about Bhagwan.

In a talk in July 1985 Osho remembers:

After my enlightenment, I smoked my first cigarette. I had never had any interest in doing such a silly thing. When you can breathe fresh air and exhale, why should you pollute it with smoke, with dangerous nicotine? But I did smoke, for almost one month. It was difficult, I was coughing; it was a hard thing to do.

I used to live with one of my friends. He was puzzled; he said, “You are mad! You were never interested in cigarettes, and now you are smoking continually.”

Coughing, tears coming to my eyes, I said, “I have to see whether the cigarette is stronger than the enlightenment. I have to give it a chance.”

I have done everything after enlightenment which has been thought would destroy enlightenment.

And I tell you now that nothing can destroy enlightenment, because enlightenment is not just an experience, it is a transformation. It is not that it happens once and you see the light, and then the whole of your life you remember with joy that vision, that opening of the window to existence. It is not like that. Enlightenment transforms you. You are totally a new man.

But of course, if I start smoking here while I am speaking to you, many camels are going to be shocked. But I am an unreliable man, I live moment to moment. If it happens to me, tomorrow you will see a table by my side with the best cigarettes in the world – what is it? Five-Five-Five? – and a bottle of champagne, and my Gudia, one of the most beautiful girls I have come across, pouring champagne into the glass for me. I can do that, it is just a question of the idea arising in me. Then nobody can prevent me.

I have found freedom in dropping being respectable. Respectability is a social strategy to keep you imprisoned. Around the world there are so many rumors…. I don’t care a bit. Sometimes I have been told by my friends and lovers, “Why don’t you contradict them? These are absolutely absurd, they destroy your respectability with people.”

I said, “I don’t want to be respected by anyone, because if he respects me he will expect me to remain respectable” – and that I cannot promise. It is better to be notorious, because it gives you immense freedom. I am a notorious man. Jesus, Mohammed, Mahavira, Buddha, Lao Tzu – none of them was courageous enough to drop the desire for respectability.” ²

Osho created at certain times so many seemingly inexplicable situations to get rid of some people, so that he didn’t need to waste his time and could be available to other sincere seekers. He explains:

I create situations. I spread rumors about myself just to see what happens to you. Someone says something to you about me. What happens? You may simply drop me. And it is very good! Now you will not be wasting my time and I will not be wasting yours. If you drop me then it is not your path, you must find someone somewhere else. Then it is good that you have dropped me. But if you remain, if you persist in spite of many repulsions, then only can something that is beyond, transcendental, be shown to you, indicated to you.

Otherwise, it is going to be difficult: A person who is bound to his common sense, his so-called common sense, cannot go deep. And deep are the mysteries. The deeper you go, the deeper the mysteries that will be there. You will have to throw all your common sense, all your knowing, and knowledge. Somewhere on the way, you will have to be empty. Only in that emptiness is the flowering. ³

Enlightenment is such a fulfilment that one does not anything else in the world, no Nobel Prize can come close to it.  Nothing else needs to be added to the treasures that the master has already received through the flowering of his individuality.

Osho states:

I have my own individuality. I don’t need anybody’s respect, because I am so full there is no space for anything else. And it has been a tremendous experience to be so notorious and yet to be loved by millions of people. That gives a great hope, that even an ordinary man can be loved; you need not to be extraordinary to be loved.

How much love I have received! I don’t think anybody before me has received so much love. And certainly I have received more hostility, anger, condemnation than anybody else. I am the richest man in the world – I receive everything! Love I have received – nobody can come even close to me. Hatred I have received – nobody can come close to me. And just for a single, simple thing: that I dropped the idea of respectability. If you ask me, my enlightenment made me transcend only one thing, and that is the opinion of others. That is their business. They cannot disturb my sleep by their opinions. And I don’t have to be concerned about what they are thinking. I am living absolutely alone, but utterly fulfilled. ²


¹ By My Own Rules: My Story in My Own Words by Ma Anand Sheela; quoted with the permission of the publisher, Penguin Random House India.
² Osho, From the False to the Truth, Ch 24, Q 1
³ Osho, The Eternal Quest, Ch 2

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Keerti facilitates Osho meditation retreats all over the world and is the author of various articles and spiritual books, his latest being Mindfulness: The Master Key.

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