Osho on Trademarks and Copyrights

This page is part of the historical background relating to "What Is an Osho?", a slick, sannyas-paradigm-shifting policy paper written by Amrito and circulated in 1998. A deconstruction of Amrito's paper is presented on this site, introduced here. A large subset of the background addresses various aspects of OIF's claimed right to control Osho's legacy, particularly regarding the legal muscle of copyright and trademark. This page samples Osho's words on these themes as applied to meditation, etc. It is sourced from Osho Friends International. For more legal pages, see OFI or Legal Main Page.

What did Osho say about trademarks and copyrights?


Osho has pointed out in several ways that things like meditation, truth, and enlightened masters can not be owned.

Just today a letter has arrived from Germany. Our sannyasins are doing a meditation called The Four Directions. The letter says, "In your commune people are doing a meditation called The Four Directions, and we have the copyright over it."

I have told Neelam, my secretary, to write to them, "Things can be copyrighted, thoughts cannot be copyrighted, and certainly meditations cannot be copyrighted. They are not things of the marketplace."

Nobody can monopolize anything. But perhaps the West cannot understand the difference between an objective commodity and an inner experience.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has copyrighted transcendental meditation and just underneath in a small circle you will find written TM -- that means trademark!

For ten thousand years the East has been meditating and nobody has put trademarks upon meditations. And above all, that transcendental meditation is neither transcendental nor meditation... just a trademark.

I have told Neelam to reply to these people, "You don't understand what meditation is. It is nobody's belonging, possession. You cannot have any copyright. Perhaps if your country gives you trademarks and copyrights on things like meditation, then it will be good to have a copyright on stupidity. That will help the whole world to be relieved... Only you will be stupid and nobody else can be stupid; it will be illegal."

I am going to direct my people here that they do the meditation called The Four Directions. But there are eight directions not four! Start doing the meditation Eight Directions -- and certainly under eight directions, their four directions also come in.

But apart from their stupid letters and their stupid government which gives copyrights for such inner experiences, the truth is that consciousness cannot be either four directions or eight directions. Consciousness is a circle: no directions. It is neither directing to the north nor directing to the south. It simply is a circle. So my suggestion to you is that the best will be to call it "No Directions."

We are going to sue those idiots who think they have a copyright over consciousness, in the courts in Germany. Then we can get a copyright over enlightenment. Then nobody can become enlightened, unless we license him.

~ from Om Shantih Shantih Shantih ch 26, q1

This is the purest form of meditation, this is transcendental meditation. But nobody can call it transcendental meditation because Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has made it a trademark. TM is now a trademark! Nobody has ever done business in such a way. You can be sued in a court if you call your meditation Transcendental Meditation. It is patented. Look at the whole ridiculousness of it: Meditation has become a thing, like a commodity to be sold in the marketplace.

This has been happening again and again. The so-called Indian gurus who go to America—they never succeed in changing anybody, but America succeeds in changing them. They all become businessmen, they all start learning American ways. They never change anybody; they cannot. If they were able to change anybody they would not have gone anywhere—those who want to be changed would have come to them; there would have been no need for them to go anywhere. When somebody is thirsty he starts searching for water. The well need not go to the thirsty—the well never goes—the thirsty come to the well. And if you see a well on wheels, beware!

~ from The Secret of Secrets, Vol 1, ch 15

Meditation also has to be instant meditation. But meditation cannot be instant. Coffee can be, but meditation cannot be. And it is good that it cannot be. If it can be instant then it will be sold in the marketplace. Then you can have it in all colours, sizes, and shapes. It will be manufactured like Transcendental Meditation. Now TM is a trademark. Even the word "TM" is copyrighted, patented; nobody can use it. It is like some commodity.

Meditation is not a commodity.

>~ from The Old Pond ... Plop, ch 15

Just few days before, from Germany... The Protestant Church of Germany has published a booklet against me in which they say that people can be deceived by my words because I talk about Jesus and I give beautiful interpretations to Jesus' words, but those interpretations are not Christian—as if they have to be Christian, only then can they be right! As if Christians have any copyright over Jesus! Jesus belongs to all! Of course, my interpretation is my interpretation. Who is saying that it is Christian? Even if they say it is Christian, I will deny! It is not Christian -- it is my interpretation, it is my vision. But I know Jesus more directly than the Christians know him. They know him through the scriptures, they know him through scholarship.

~ from Zen: The Special Transmission, ch 6, q1

When religiousness dies, religion is born. Religiousness breathes; religion is a corpse. But many people feel good with religion; in fact, the majority. Ninety-nine point nine percent of people feel good with religion, because it is not dangerous at all. What can the corpse do to you? You can do anything to the corpse, but the corpse cannot do anything to you; the corpse is in your hands.

But when religion is alive and breathing—that's what I mean by religiousness—then you are possessed by it, but you cannot possess it. You cannot possess a Buddha or a Lao Tzu or a Zarathustra. You cannot possess Bahauddin, Jalaluddin, al-Hillaj Mansoor...no, that is not possible. These are people who have known the ultimate freedom—how can you possess them? They cannot fulfill your expectations, they cannot move according to you; they will have their own way. If it suits you, you have to be with them. You will not be able to force them to be with you; there is no way possible.

~ from Come, Come, Yet Again Come, ch 13, q1


Osho also has never claimed personal credit for His teachings or worried about possessing it. He suggested that we not worry about it either.

Milarepa, you hear my music; that music comes from the beyond. I cannot claim any monopoly, any copyright on it.

~ from The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here, ch 6, q1

BELOVED OSHO,

THE COMMUNE IS NO MORE; OR, EVERY SANNYASIN IS THE COMMUNE. BUT WHAT ABOUT SUCH INSTITUTIONS AS THE ACADEMY, OR FRIENDS, WHICH TAKES CARE OF THE PUBLICATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF YOUR WORDS? DO THEY STILL HAVE A FUNCTION, AND HOW CAN THEY FUNCTION?

They still have a function—and they will continue to function—but their function is not dictatorial. Their function is to serve the whole world of sannyasins and the people who love me.

So their function is not to govern you, their function is to serve you.

And they are not organizations, they are simply institutes. And their function has become more important now, because for all the languages that books are being translated into, it has to be seen to it that they are not mistranslated—that the translation is right, that it does not harm the spirit of the message.

So it is a great work to take care of all the languages -- we need the publication institute to check all the language publications before they are published.

Now there are many countries... Just yesterday, a Korean woman was here, and she informed us that more than thirty of my books are translated into Korean, and thousands of copies are available in all the bookstalls all over the country. We have to take care of things. There are countries which are not members of the Bern Convention: they do not believe in copyright. Korea is one of those that do not believe in copyright, so they can translate any book, publish any book.

But we can at least keep an eye that the translation is done rightly, that the person who is doing the translation understands me. It is not only a question of copyright, it is a question that I should not be presented in a wrong way -- which is possible. Because if they are just earning money, who cares whether the translation is right or wrong?

~from Light on the Path, ch 28, q4

You have also asked that there are people who go on stealing from my statements, my books. This is happening all over the world, not only in Nepal. It is happening in the films, it is happening in televisions, it is happening on radio, it is happening in newspapers, magazines, all kinds of people are trying to steal. But, I am not worried about it. Truth is truth. It need not be necessarily concerned with my name. Let them steal. They are stealing truth. Let them present it in their own name. No harm. Because I am not interested in my name; I am interested in my truth.

If the truth reaches to the people, just as you said in your question that sixty percent of the radio in Nepal is stealing from my books, help them to steal hundred percent. My name is irrelevant. What is relevant is truth. And truth is nobody's property—neither mine nor yours. So why think in terms of stealing? Perhaps they are not stealing; they are impressed but they are cowards, they cannot say my name. But still they are doing my work. So far so good. Help them. Find out more passages for them to steal. Anyway, the message has to reach to the people. In whose name it reaches is not my concern at all. Just it should reach.

Truth is universal. It is not mine, it is not yours. So the question of stealing does not arise.

~ from The Last Testament, Vol 5, ch 23


Finally, Osho, pointed out that books are just a stepping stone; His work is really about consciousness:

So don't be worried about when I am gone. Those who are missing me now will be missing me then too—no loss. Those who are living my message now, they will go on living it. And if they go on living it, they cannot help but spread it. I am not depending on books—all the religions have depended on books—I am depending on you!

~ from From the False to the Truth, ch 16, q2

Books are there to lead you beyond, so don't cling to them. At the most they are bridges. But if you make your house on a bridge you are a fool. Pass through it!

Right now, you cannot understand silence, you can understand only words. I will have to use words to give you the message of silence. Between the words, between the lines, sometimes, if you hang around me long enough, you may one day start hearing silence—then there is no need, then burn those books with other Vedas, Bibles and scriptures. My books also have to be burnt.

Everything has to be left behind. But right now you are not ready. When you are ready there is no need for any books.

Those books are not published for those who understand. Those books are published for those who have a desire to understand—but yet don't understand. Their desire is beautiful. They have to be helped. And if I am to help you I have to come close to you. Before you can come close to me I will have to come close to you—that is the only way. Before I can take you to the place where I am I will have to come down to the place where you are.

Those books are not necessary. Their need is because of you. If you can jump them, avoid them, bypass them—beautiful.

But you will not be able to bypass them otherwise you would not be here. You are here to listen to me. You are still hoping that by listening you may gain. I am not thinking that by listening you may gain. I am thinking that by listening you will become able to listen to that which is not said, and through that you will gain. Nobody gains through books, but books can help you to go beyond. All the scriptures say the same thing.

~ from Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 3, ch 4, q8