Many consider that the Ranch period can be too dominant, and that in a sense Osho left that behind with his name change from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to Osho over three months at Pune two, not so long before he died. However some questions have arisen about it as below.
THIS STORY FROM SANNYASWIKI presents a flow of Osho’s words during the period of his big name-change from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to Osho, from Dec 1988 to Feb 1989. That presentation gets particularly detailed after he has dropped “Bhagwan”, so as to demonstrate a pattern in his words and how they relate to the events of that time. The pattern is this: At a time when he has no clear name — a big deal for publishing and PR purposes — he comments again and again on this word “Osho”, which he has rarely done before, and makes this word “Osho” out to be a wonderful term to convey respect and love for a master. Well! What can he be pointing to?
The synchronicity of Osho’s words on the use of “Osho” as a term of respect and love in Japanese Zen and his actual adoption of the name “should” be enough to explain the origin and meaning of his name but less than a year later, a different explanation began to appear and before long became widely accepted. This competing explanation needs to be addressed and debunked. Why this is important will become apparent.
The William James Version
The alternative explanation is that the word / name “Osho” derives from William James’ word “oceanic”. This word was not coined by James but his usage of it is said to have been original, and in fact it aligns / resonates well with Osho’s vision. Osho has cited and commented (very positively) on James’ usage at least eleven times, as found by using the search terms “James” and “oceanic”. This pattern of persistent positive commentary thus makes the “Oceanic-Osho” connection at least plausible.
But there are a few things lacking or out of alignment in this theory which make it rather less attractive when considered closely and cumulatively:
First, timing: Only one of Osho’s eleven occasions of commenting on James and “oceanic” occurs in this critical time period, Dec 1988 to Feb 1989. Nine of the other times were earlier in the Pune Two era and there was one in 1972. None came after those. .
Second, not once anywhere does he publicly draw a connection himself between “oceanic” and “Osho”. This connection is not to be found in his public words, period. He may have made it privately, with his secretaries or whomever, but not publicly.
Third, explanations of the derivation of “Osho” have been printed in many of Osho’s books published after Feb 1989, variously in the flap text, the colophon page, a separate page opposite the title page, wherever, and they evolve over time. . Here, we will just note that the several versions of the Japanese Zen master explanations more in tune with Osho’s words appeared well before the William James version (WJV, not to be confused with KJVersion).
Fourth, the commune newspaper of the time, Rajneesh Times International (as “official” as it gets), reported their version of the Japanese Zen master derivation ten months before any published WJV appeared anywhere.
Fifth, the earliest “insider” book to come out after Osho left his body was Shunyo’s Diamond Days with Osho. She says: “On January 7th, 1989, the name Bhagwan dropped and He became simply Shree Rajneesh. It was later that year in September that He dropped the name Rajneesh. He was now without a name. We asked that we might call Him Osho. Osho is not a name, it is a common form of address used in Japan for a Zen master”. This is on p171 of the first Rebel edition of her book, believed to have been published in 1992. Shunyo is as much an insider as anyone and thus her complete non-mention of William James and “oceanic” is important.
Sixth, in the time after his name became Osho, all the old books remaining to be sold under his old name had stickers put inside to explain his new name. As with the explanations printed in the books, not all stickers go with the WJV. It is simply not the only story.
One non-WJV sticker says:
It can be seen at From Bhagwan to Osho: Publications table that this is very similar to the non-WJV explanations printed in many of the books published after Osho changed his name.
The William James stickers say:
There are a couple of major problems with the story on this sticker:
1. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that Osho has nowhere ever explained publicly that his name derives from “oceanic”. The assertion cannot be justified by his published words. So if he did “explain” this derivation, it could only have been privately to “insiders”, and it was not mentioned by Shunyo, who surely would have been among those in the know.
2. “Later he came to find out”? Really? Was that supposed private “Oceanic-Osho explanation” prior to all his talks in the name-change period that we have seen? This does not seem plausible at all. Osho’s words in early 1989 show clearly that he knew very well that “Osho” has been used historically in the Far East. And in fact, he talks about that historic use of “Osho” a number of times before that period as well, as far back as Jun 1988. Relevant text from those occasions is presented at “From Bhagwan to Osho: Prequel to Osho’s name change“. So when you get down to it, the abundance of time-stamped evidence shows that this “Later he came to find out” has no basis in factual truth.
In fact, the falseness of this “Later he came to find out” is demonstrated beautifully in a small section of an “official” biography of Osho, It reads:
- January-February 1989: He stops using the name “Bhagwan,” retaining only the name Rajneesh. However, His disciples ask to call Him ‘Osho’ and He accepts this form of address.”
There follows, more or less word-for-word, the text of the WJV sticker above. The juxtaposition of “His disciples ask to call him Osho” with the WJV is a major slip in “the story”, apparently trying to “marry” the WJV to the previous explanation published in the Rajneesh Times, wherein sannyasins had first individually asked and then collectively decided to call him Osho, all in its natural context of Osho’s Zen discourses.
It apparently was not understood by those who arranged this shotgun marriage that for sannyasins to “ask” to call him Osho, there must already have been some collective understanding about what “Osho” means, and where would this collective understanding have come from? Even if Osho had somehow, somewhere “explained” about William James and “oceanic”, it was not publicly, so it is simply not possible that sannyasins could have collectively had any other idea than the Japanese Zen usage as a basis for asking. And the “Later he came to find out” is, seen in this context, icing on the cake of this bogus story.
The question must therefore be asked … Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to change the story of Osho’s name. So much trouble, and going in a very different direction from Osho’s public words … It must be something big.
Well SN bloggers what do yo say?