Needing a Master

This page is a part of a multi-page exercise in deconstructing a document, "What is an Osho?" (WiaO), that was an important benchmark in the progression of trends in Osho's sannyas after he left his body. These pages come in no particular order except for an Introduction and a central hub / Main Page. If you have got here somehow without reading these three linked pages, it will be best to visit them first.

This page is a continuation in greater depth and detail of the debunking of the central contention of "What is an Osho?", that the master-disciple relationship is obsolete, in particular the pivotal sentence, "It seems pretty clear that he gave sannyas to people because that was our expectation at the time, and as part of that process he accepted all our projections that here at last was someone who would tell us what to do".

A careful reading of WiaO will show how central
"It seems pretty clear ..." is to the document's whole tenor, tone and conceptual content, or at least the portion of it following the false history given regarding Osho's name change as a supporting rationale for the trademark business. Thus it will be useful to examine it thoroughly.

In fact, we have to start with the apparently innocuous
"It seems pretty clear". "Clearly", if we may say so, it can only seem "pretty clear" if the preceding Osho quotes can be taken as typical, or representative of a position Osho has stated enough to establish a preponderance, and really only when considered in the context of his whole work. And this can never be an easy or straightforward matter, since Osho is famously inconsistent, one of his stated purposes being precisely to prevent the arising of any ideology constructed out of his words1, so to attempt this even when one can establish that he has said X twenty times and not-X only twice may be dodgy. Thus, the only firm truth left in "It seems pretty clear" seems to be "seems".

Even leaving aside Osho's inconsistency and considering whether a "preponderance" of his relevant statements might support any part of the rest of the sentence, we run into trouble. To look at this, we have to back up for a moment.

In the lead-up to this
"It seems pretty clear", WiaO uses a lengthy series of Osho quotes to establish that Osho uses his talks to bring us to ... [pregnant pause] ... silence. A moment when the mind stops. As far as it goes, there is nothing wrong with that. But the use that is made of it is quite a leap, taking it out of its very specific context and applying it to the authors' agenda: "Could it really be that sitting listening to Osho talking was enough? Didn’t we still need a master?"

"Enough" for what? Yes, enough in the moment, in Osho's presence, in a general ambience of silence, for receptive people to slip into the silence in a deeper way: the mind stops its incessant chatter and there is no content in awareness, there is only awareness itself, and so on. Effortlessly. In that whole context, fine. And as always with Osho, the context is in some very important ways that particular moment. It may or may not be applicable to other moments.

But the authors are not going to get specific with "enough". To do so will spoil the verbal trick they are about to play on trusting readers. Just the pronouncement of the word "enough" is enough for them to fly with wherever they want to go, which is now "Didn’t we still need a master?" "Enough" was reasonable in its context but now it has been completely bent to the authors' agenda, to sell the master-disciple relationship as old hat, "primary school". A long series of quotes, in fact by far the longest such material in the whole tract, was needed to establish the "enoughness" of Osho's talking and pausing for a moment of silence. Astonishingly, no more material is supplied to help us over the vast gulf between that and "Didn’t we still need a master?" The leap over this gulf is accomplished not by reasoned steps but by the quick movement of a verbal magician's hand while we are looking at his other hand. Shazam! With the magic word "enough", we find ourselves suddenly not in Osho's silence but somewhere else entirely.

Yes, the authors try to "help" us over this gap with the couple of short paragraphs which follow, a quote and a paraphrase, as if to say, "Look, it's not such a huge gap, and he's been saying this all along". Well, yes, he has been saying it all along, along with much to the contrary, so these small lonely quotes do not establish anything as a universal truth. This is the worst kind of cherry-picking, in service of a major ideology that will be applied to everyone. Osho has from time to time given these anti-master offerings to help us, when the time is right, on an individual basis, get past any dependency our relationship might have incurred. He has for example commented beautifully on the Zen dictum, "If you meet the Buddha on the way, kill him". This is a classic in fact, but it does not lend itself to the  grinding of axes that mgmt seems bent on.

Shunyo concludes her book "Diamond Days with Osho" with these words: "I had needed a master, and although Osho is still my Master – I do not need Him. He has shown me that the time has come when I no longer need to look to anyone else for guidance [...] I can hear the sound of the Mystic's voice echoing across timeless oceans, 'I have given you the diamonds. Now GO IN'." This is a more nuanced, personal approach,
too subtle for those entranced with the sound of one axe grinding.

There's another dimension to this: The point about Osho leading us effortlessly into his silence could easily have been made with a much shorter quote, so why the long series? It was not needed for conceptual purposes. And it was allotted quite a bit of space, in fact fully one quarter of the whole piece, a piece that by necessity could not be allowed to run on and on.

Nothing in this tightly conceived piece is superfluous. No space is wasted and every word and phrase has a function to perform, even if that function is not obvious. It would not be outrageous to imagine that the lengthy quotes served an ulterior function, very different from their ostensible careful position-building, especially since that position was miles from the end-point where they wanted to take us anyway. Perhaps learning from the master, who talked on and on before bringing us to that pregnant pause, the authors have used their own version of that device to bring us to this moment where an "Ah, yes" can easily arise. Yes, who needs Osho now, except to visit his Resort, take the courses and buy the audio? All we need is plenty of money and our Walkman, now the most sacred and indispensible element in our quest.

Ah, this ...

Now we can get back to the outrageous misrepresentations of
"It seems pretty clear ..."  Let's look at those troublesome tropes in more detail:

Text from "What is an Osho?":

Could it really be that sitting listening to Osho talking was enough? Didn’t we still need a master?
[my emphasis]
[Osho talks] about how he couldn’t sleep the night before he initiated his first disciple.
The day I started initiating, my only fear was, "Will I be able to someday change my followers into my friends?" The night before, I could not sleep. Again and again I thought, "How am I going to manage it? A follower is not supposed to be a friend." I said to myself that night in Kulu-Manali in the Himalayas, "Don’t be serious. You can manage anything, although you don’t know the A-B-C of managerial science."
And much later, Osho returns to this same theme, with another fascinating talk where he clearly states that 2,500 years after Buddha, the master disciple relationship will be "irrelevant." He then goes on to say, "It is exactly twenty-five centuries after Buddha’s death.... Don’t let me down."

So where does that leave us? It seems pretty clear that he gave sannyas to people because that was our expectation at the time, and as part of that process he accepted all our projections that here at last was someone who would tell us what to do. [my emphasis]
1. "Someone who would tell us what to do": To call this a distortion would be an understatement. This is in fact the opposite of the "Osho's fundamental insistence on freedom" the tract affects to lean on when that suits its purpose. To go further into this fairly extreme departure from the truth, since it is a matter not of pure factual truth but of interpretation, we can consider the question from both sides, Osho and the seeker who arrives on his shore.

First, Osho is constantly telling his people not to follow anyone, even him. He is well aware of any tendency we might have to "follow", obey and otherwise submerge our own inner voice and clear seeing.

Granted, he has given specific individual guidance to many people regarding their 1001 problems of attitude, feeling and thought, regarding spiritual progress, meditation, sex, mind, no-mind, metaphysics and so on. And fairly often that guidance includes some suggestions as to what to do. But just as often it doesn't. Arguments and claims about preponderance can go both ways, depending on investment and degrees of partisanship.

The clincher might be that even when he does tell us what to do, it will rarely be the most important aspect of his guidance. Many possibilities might be suggested for "most important aspect". The very variety of possibilities shows us that telling us what to do cannot be the essence of it.

His guidance may consist of hinting at where to look inside to find the source of a problem. Or it may be that what he gives us to do will lead to a situation where things will get clear. Or what he gives us to do will exhaust us. Or a way of looking at things will open up a door. Whatever, it will be varied and tailored to the individual and far from always tied to doing something. Far more often, its centerpiece will be a seeing into ourselves that frees us from the issue. And it will not be a seeing derived as a belief, but our own seeing, aided by the master, by his words, or arising out of the situation. In Pune One, that situation might well include a group suggested by him in darshan or by letter, where the seeker is thrown together with ten to a hundred others to interact with them in a multitude of ways from playful to cathartic to not interacting at all, and where situations will arise, as an organic co-creation of the group leader, the group's structure (if any), those other people and oneself. And of course Osho.

Second, there is the seeker who arrives on Osho's shore. WiaO has made generalizations about sannyasins that are not true. Of course some do come precisely because they want someone to tell them what to do. And truth is, almost everyone will embody such a tendency to some degree. But even before they arrive, would-be disciples will be a whole spectrum in that regard, and many will have been prepared to recognise or at least examine that tendency in themselves by reading his books. Any of his books will do, all will have something, expressed in some unique way, to point the seeker in the direction of not submitting blindly to "outside" authority. Or they will have talked to some of his people, who will similarly disabuse them, or they will have prepared in a multitude of other ways.

And finally, even the seeker who did want a master to tell hir what to do arrives at the point when the relationship with the master is more subtle than that, deeper, gone beyond. Gratitude flows toward the master for freeing us from even this dependency. It doesn't just stop cold.
2. That "He accepted all our projections" is the polar opposite of his daily dismantling and hammering on them. No one who was there could sincerely countenance saying such a thing, so nothing much more need be said about it. He did take us on a fast-forward journey through all kinds of religious experience but he consistently rejected our projections from the get-go. To credit the people who wrote this with the slightest intelligence, we have to treat this canard as at best insincere.

"He gave sannyas because that was our expectation". Many people expected it but so what? Some he gave it to, some he didn't, some he gave before they asked2, whatever. He was not a puppet of our expectations. This is really the same idiocy as "He accepted all our projections", or perhaps a special case. One thing that might make it special is that there would be expectations among many but not among others, and he couldn't counter the expectations of one group without going along with the others. So it goes. Perhaps "expectation" and "projections" are just stating the same thing from two different angles in the hope that one or the other angle will connect.

In the final analysis, the initiative did come from him both in general3 and in many particular cases. Our expectations do not matter at all and WiaO has come up with yet another major projection, which could be thought of as just silly were it not for the nasty use made of it, nasty most importantly because its perpetrators are the ones supposedly in charge of his legacy.
  1. "I am a man who is consistently inconsistent. It will not be possible to make a dogma out of my words; anybody trying to make a creed or dogma out of my words will go nuts!" ~ from The Goose is Out, ch 10.

    Interestingly, this chapter of this book was the last talk given before Osho went into silence for over three years. This talk shortly preceded the Ranch era (1981-85) and we know what happened there: among other things, his secretary Ma Anand Sheela made a revolting book -- as opposed to revolutionary -- which purported to represent his teachings but in fact similarly distorted them. That book was called Rajneeshism (ha ha!) and all unsold copies, ie most of them, were famously burned in a great bonfire after Osho emerged from his seclusion and Sheela left the ranch.

    It might therefore be said of Osho's words above, "Famous last words!" It has proven easy to make a dogma out of his words. The key is to be selective. A mind, more or less by definition bent on its own agenda, can cherry-pick from here and there, and voilą
    -- a pile of dogma.

  2. Neeten cites a couple of instances in his Osho Source Book:

    "I flew into Bombay during the July monsoon of 1973 and went directly to Woodland Apartments on Peddar Road. But I had been up all night, so I was told to come back, freshly bathed.
    "I went into his bedroom the next day, all spruced up, and sat on the floor in front of his chair – I was the only person there with him – and almost immediately he asked me to move closer and close my eyes. Before I knew what was happening, he had put something over my head which I felt bump against my chest.
    "Oops! This was not what I had in mind…I remember thinking.
    "It was a wooden mala with a locket dangling from it, just like the one around the neck of my erstwhile rival.
    "Oh well. Let’s give it a try!
    "Then Osho sat back and started talking about the meaning of Satyamurti, the new name he was giving me". (Satyamurti in Ma Anand Savita's book Encounters With an Inexplicable Man)


    Veena recalls from Woodlands one incident where five blonde good-looking German guys on their travels in India had come to see the "orange" guru and how Laxmi had told them that they may go in and see Osho: "I waited in anticipation. It was always interesting to see how newcomers responded to Osho. Finally they trouped out, all laughing, all with malas around their necks.

    "Sitting down to partake of Laxmi’s proffered cups of tea they told me what had happened. After a long chat with Osho he introduced the topic of sannyas and found that they were all quite willing to take the step. Osho leaned forward in his chair and said something like: 'Das is a German word, no?' They agreed that it was. Then Osho smiled and said. 'It is a Hindi word too. It means 'devoted to'. Then he pointed to each one in turn and said, ‘So – Haridas…Govinddas…Anandadas…Krishnadas… and Ramdas!'"(from Veena's book Glimpses of My Master)

  3. "My initiation of the movement of sannyas created trouble. None of my colleagues – teachers who had been with me for years – would even come to see me. Some were Hindus, some were Mohammedans, some were Jainas – and I was a rebellious spirit. I belonged to nobody.

    "And the people who used to come to me – I was still teaching the same meditation – started spreading opposition to me, because now it was a question of their religion, their tradition, their church. They did not even come to understand that I am doing the same thing. Just because my people have started wearing red clothes does not mean that my teachings has changed. I just wanted to give an identity to my people so that they could be known all over the world and they could be recognized everywhere."
    ~ from The Transmission of the Lamp, ch 7