A Meeting with a Disciple of Osho

Yesterday, as I was sitting in a park, looking at some amateur musicians perform, another viewer came to me and struck up a conversation. Let us call him Farhan. A little while before he came to me, I had seen Farhan sitting quietly with a group of foreigners. A simple, bespectacled, clean-shaven, bookish looking man dressed in a plain shirt and trousers, he looked shy, with a friendly smile on his face. As we began to talk, Farhan told me that he runs a website that displays the details of cultural events in the city. He is able to make some money out of this, but it is not a lot.

Soon into the conversation, Farhan told me that for several years he had been a follower of the late Indian guru Osho, also known as Bhagwan Rajneesh (literally, God Rajneesh, Rajneesh being his nickname from childhood). Many years ago, Farhan had spent a few months at Osho’s ashram in Pune, India. “There I did meditation and dancing which took me to a higher plain of consciousness,” he said. Farhan said that after returning from the ashram he had become so absorbed in these activities that he did not pay much attention to other things in life. Coming across as quite humble, Farhan said that now he was trying to make a decent living through his website and developing it into an ‘artist-management company’, a business which pays very well, according to Farhan.

The people sitting around the musicians started to dance and Farhan said that the ‘high’ he had got at the Osho ashram was much more intense than this. “It is totally an orgasmic bliss, which is much more strong than anything you will experience,” he said. “What is the point of experiencing it?”, I asked, wanting to voice my views but hoping not to offend him. “People like Jesus and the Buddha were in that state 24 hours. They were completely happy. That is your true nature, that is the purpose of life, to be in that happy, blissful state,” Farhan replied, without any sign of displeasure on his face. I said, “But then you lose that experience, don’t you? It doesn’t stay.” “Yes, but sometimes I still feel it. Sometimes when I am working I suddenly feel so calm and at ease. I may not be at that stage [the stage that Jesus and the Buddha reached], but that is the aim,” he said. I nodded. We were silent for a while and listened to the music and saw the people dancing. Not finding me very sociable, Farhan walked away. Later in the evening, as I was leaving, we said goodbye to each other.

Is the spiritual life centred on a particular experience of bliss and happiness? Are you spiritual only if you life in that bliss 24 hours a day? For me, a sense of emptiness, suffering, failure to live a fully noble life and an acknowledgement of one’s weaknesses – these are all important aspects of an authentic spiritual path.  It is the blessed few who get far enough to a state where bliss seems an inherent part of being. And the blessed few are fewer than we can imagine. To acknowledge one’s existential reality, rather than to want to bypass it for a more pleasurable state of mind, is a fundamental element of the spiritual path, for saint and novice alike. A few years ago, the letters of Mother Teresa to her spiritual director were published, revealing a life that honestly expressed and examined a pervasive feeling of emptiness, rather than orgasmic bliss. Those letters, and much else, is a testament to the fact that the spiritual life is not lived in a fantasy land away from our difficulties and the choices that we have to make in life, but right in the midst of them.

More importantly, the ‘bliss’, if it ever becomes a substantial part of one’s life, is not an aim – it is a byproduct. In one sense, there cannot be an aim in the spiritual life, because the aim is to be the Absolute itself, and the Absolute is so because it is not the relative – that is, it is not anything that can be felt, experienced, seen, touched. ‘Neti, neti’, as the Upanishads would say – ‘not this, not that’. The Absolute is nirguna, without attributes. For the Christian theologian, one of the principle ways to understand God is via negativa, through negating all that God can be imagined to be. For the Muslim, Allah is al-Waheed, the Alone, without companions. He is the source of all that there is, yet he is other than all that there is. If he is beautiful, al-Jamal, he is also awful and terrifying, al-Jalal. The Absolute is essentially inconceivable, and if we do conceive it, either as a being, or as a state – as Farhan does, and the Buddhists do, it must be in the awareness that the conception is required, but is never enough. Further, the conception itself can become an object of attachment, an idol, making us idolators who imagine themselves to be free.

This is a fundamental distinction between the New Age groups that so populate our world today and the traditional religions in their authentic forms. Sometimes, a New Age group may actually pretend to be an authentic traditional religion, and the distinction between them, philosophically, as well as in space, may be blurred. However, the New Age, most often, will emphasize a particular goal, cling to it, and consider the pursuit of it the goal of human life. Usually, this will be some state of ‘bliss’, and will be justified by selective quotations from the scriptures.

As I think of the meeting with Farhan yesterday, and how, in my view, his thought about spirituality is erroneous, I am reminded of the Bhagavad Gita:

The wise grieve not for those who die

For life and death shall pass away

We have all been for all time

I, and thou, and those kings of men

And we shall all be for all time

We all, for ever and ever

…From the world of the senses, Arjuna

Comes heat and comes cold

Comes pleasure and pain

They come and they go, they are transient

Arise above them, strong soul

The man whom these cannot move

Whose soul is one beyond pleasure and pain

Is worthy of life in Eternity

…Work alone is your proper business

Never the fruits

Let not your motive be the fruit of works

Nor your attachment to worklessness

Stand fast in discipline, surrendering attachment

In success and failure be the same

And give yourself to your work

~ by tdcatss on May 29, 2011.

8 Responses to “A Meeting with a Disciple of Osho”

  1. you might want to read about my meetings with UG Krishnamurti (the other Krishnamurti)


  2. I enjoy your blog from what I have read, I wish I had time to look through all of the archives, but when I do, I look forward to reading your posts.

  3. I really liked what you asked Farhan, and how you asked it. You did good. :) I agree with you, that there has to be more than bliss. I don’t think I could be very helpful to anyone else if that is all I sought after. My experiences of loss, suffering, brokenness seem to be the things that are the most useful.
    Thank you, Kaif, for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Thanks Mrs. Mint and Debbie. I agree that difficult experiences make you more able to empathise with others and be of help to them. It helps us take the experiences of others more seriously and give ourselves with more energy to them.

  5. Promythia… I read those posts. This is interesting. I am not quite sure what UG Krishnamurti was about, so this satisfies my curiosity a little bit. How did you get to meet him?

  6. Thank you for your interesting commentary. I too am a disciple of Osho! LOL And if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is there are as many experiences of this vast master as there are disciples.

    Please have a look at a few of my posts, for yet another view of Existence (largely colored
    by my experiences with my beloved master.)

  7. […] A Meeting with a Disciple of Osho (nookinthewoods.wordpress.com) […]

  8. God-awesome piece! Loved the way you have woven a chance meeting and your thoughts and insights.

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