Press interviews show Osho was blind to what was going on at The Ranch. He was outrageous, contradictory, and sometimes factually wrong. But he was still a great teacher, writes Lokesh.
For lack of something to read on a rainy afternoon I had a rummage in a dusty cupboard and found a well-worn copy of Osho’s ‘The Last Testament: Interviews with the World Press’, Volume One. It’s been at least twenty years since I read an Osho book from cover to cover and, if nothing else, this one is definitely good for a laugh.
The interviews were given just before the collapse of The Ranch. One thing is for sure: going by what he was saying at the time, Osho was not a clairvoyant. He did not see what was coming. He did not even see what was going on around him…being enlightened does not mean you know your phone is bugged. He honestly thought there was absolutely no crime taking place in the commune, when, months later, it was revealed that a secretive group led by his personal secretary, Sheela, had engaged in a variety of criminal activities, including the attempted murder of Osho’s physician, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within Osho’s home, poisoning of two public officials and a whole bunch of locals, and arson. How could a man such as Osho have been so blind and out of touch? I can recall, back in Poona One, that Osho claimed to know everything taking place in his commune and, from what I witnessed, he was not exaggerating. What changed?
Before giving these interviews, Osho claimed not to have read anything for five years, and it shows. He thought that AIDS could be transmitted through the breath and people who ate with their hands from a communal plate of food were leaving themselves open to being infected by the deadly virus. No kissing, babe, pass the rubber gloves. All part of Osho’s ‘prophet of doom’ phase.
Then we have Osho expounding his ultra-conservative views on gay people. All perverts, according to him, whose pathologically sick behaviour all stems back to repressed nuns and monks living in monasteries, having to resort to same-sex couplings to vent their repressed sexual energies. A warped perspective best observed with Socratic detachment, I suppose. I have sannyasin friends who are homosexual and lesbian. They are sensitive, intelligent beautiful people who have never spent time in a monastery. It says much about Osho’s magnetism that they stayed with him, after him expressing publicly such a narrow-minded take on their sexual preferences. It could be viewed with Socratic irony that Osho held Socrates in such high esteem, because Socrates was a man who lost his senses when in the company of beautiful young boys.
On the topic of sex, Osho claimed to be a natural man who followed his carnal instincts in every way. He boasted that perhaps no man had loved as many women as he had. In case one was left unsure as to the nature of the ‘love’ he was referring to he added, “I used to keep count, but dropped it. What is the point?” Osho, the Hugh Hefner of the spiritual world. What I’m left wondering is where did Osho do all his behind-the-scenes shagging? One friend, who lived in Osho’s house for many years, told me that not once did they see any unknown females leaving or entering the master’s room. Perhaps those sexy nymphs sneaked in through the bathroom window, or maybe there was a secret tunnel.
The bottom line regarding Osho’s ‘Last Testament’ is that I really enjoyed reading it. Osho was out to stir controversy and he succeeded. There he is, digging in his war chest and pulling out the verbal equivalent of a cruise missile. “I love Adolf Hitler”, he declares. “He was crazy,” he adds. “’But I am even more crazy!” Bet that got the dogs barking. In a later interview he writes the Nazis off as nonsense, which hardly sets the balance straight. A wee bit of spin needed…quick! Osho telling the world how he loves Jewish people and that two-thirds of the members of his commune are Jews. I always wondered where those rumours started about Osho being a reincarnation of Holy Moses. The way Osho waffled on about the Jews I’m surprised there wasn’t a synagogue built adjacent to Buddha Hall.
What about all those Rolls Royces and fancy watches? Osho makes out that he doesn’t care about such things, which are actually presents from his adoring disciples and he has to accept them because he does not want to upset his disciples. Such was the extent of Osho’s compassion. What to do? A far cry from Sheela´s report about Osho throwing a hissy fit because the commune’s coffers could not afford to fork out a couple of million dollars for a diamond-encrusted watch that he just had to have, although, for once, he did not employ emotional blackmail in the form of threatening to leave his body because he did not get what he wished. Wasn’t the enlightened one supposed to be beyond desire? You have to laugh.
When questioned about what would happen to his commune when he died Osho certainly laughed and said he did not care. He was very clear that creating an organised religion around him after he was dead was the last thing on his no mind-mind. When asked about the obvious contradictions in what he was saying, Osho said it was his right to respond to each moment in the way he saw fit. What he said one day might be quite the opposite the next, depending on who he was addressing etc.
I understand where he was coming from. Life is not static. Complications can and do arise when people take what Osho said as gospel and try to live by his words. For me, Osho was never about his words. Osho was a representative of a loving, humorous, playful, illuminating, compassionate and enlightening energy. A non-serious energy that our serious world of today needs more of. I find myself admiring Osho because he had the balls to just get out there and do his dance, and not give a fuck what people thought about his moves. Somehow he understood, without a doubt, that people’s opinions about him were meaningless, that it was all ultimately mind-fuck. He asked, “How could Jesus save anyone? He couldn’t even save himself.” Osho’s penchant for poking fun at all and everything, especially that revered by the masses, knew no limitations, because he understood that none of it mattered in the greater scheme of creation. How liberating!
To conclude. I had a visit from an old sannyasin friend the other day. I first met Anand in Kandahar in 1972. He was headed for Goa…on a horse. A true rebel, he was always in trouble with the ashram administration in Poona One. I think he got away with his wild celebrations at Laxmi Villas because Osho saw him as a true representative of the rebellious spirit of sannyas. Rock and roll! I asked Anand, who has a very down-to-earth approach to life, how he viewed his seven years in Poona One. He laughed and said, “It’s history now and I am glad that I was a part of it.” A view all of my old sannyasin friends share.
I mentioned reading ‘The Last Testament’ and some of the bullshit Osho was coming out with at the time. Anand laughed again and said, “Man, I remember going to Buddha Hall for a discourse. Sometimes there would be a couple of thousand people there. When the talk was over I listened to what people were saying. Nobody saw or heard the same thing, man…everybody is different and sees things they way they see it…not one person the same. People are too hung up on words, man. Osho always said his message lay in the space and silence between his words. Most people don´t want to hear that and instead go around talking in their sleep, repeating what Osho said, blah, blah, blah!”
Anand tugged at one of his dreadlocks and added, “This whole life is a school, man. You come here to learn something and, when you learned it, it´s time to move on. Osho was a great teacher of how to go about doing just that in the best way possible. Celebration, man! He even wanted us to celebrate death. How cool is that, man?”