Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mysticby Osho
Ten years have passed since, in the words of his attending physician, Osho prepared for his departure from the body that had served him for 59 years "as calmly as though he were packing for a weekend in the country." This volume is a recognition that the time has come to provide a historical and biographical context for understanding Osho and his work. Who was this man, known as the sex guru, the "self-appointed Bhagwan", the Rolls Royce Guru, the Rich Man's Guru and simply the Master? Drawn from nearly 5000 hours of Osho's recorded talks, we hear the story of his youth and education, his life as a professor of philosophy and years of travel teaching the importance of meditation, and the true legacy he sought to leave behind: a religionless religion centered on the act of meditation and the teaching of "Zorba the Buddha".
“A delightful glimpse into the life of one of the most outrageous twentieth-century spiritual leaders...entertaining, insightful, and for some, perhaps, even enlightening.” BOOKLIST
“Followers and seekers will find this a profound and playful collection of stories and teachings.” Amazon.com
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Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic
By Sarito Carol Neiman
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2000 Osho International Foundation
All rights reserved.
Just an Ordinary Human Being: The History behind the Legend
Q: Who are you?
A: I am just myself. No prophet, no messiah, no Christ. Just an ordinary human being ... just like you.
Q:Well, not quite!
A: That's true ... not quite! You are still asleep—but that is not much of a difference. One day I was also asleep; one day you will be able to awaken. You can wake up this moment, nobody is preventing it. So the difference is just meaningless.
from an interview with Roberta Green, Santa Ana Register, Orange County California
GLIMPSES OF A GOLDEN CHILDHOOD
I have never been spiritual in the sense that you understand the word. I have never gone to the temples or the churches, or read scriptures, or followed certain practices to find truth, or worshiped God or prayed to God. That has not been my way at all. So certainly you can say that I was not doing anything spiritual. But to me, spirituality has a totally different connotation. It needs an honest individuality. It does not allow any kind of dependence. It creates a freedom for itself, whatever the cost. It is never in the crowd but alone, because the crowd has never found any truth. The truth has been found only in people's aloneness.
So my spirituality has a different meaning from your idea of spirituality. My childhood stories, if you can understand them, will point to all these qualities in some way or other. Nobody can call them spiritual. I call them spiritual because to me, they have given all that man can aspire to.
While listening to my childhood stories you should try to look for some quality—not just the story but some intrinsic quality that runs like a thin thread through all of my memoirs. And that thin thread is spiritual.
Spiritual, to me, simply means finding oneself. I never allowed anybody to do this work on my behalf—because nobody can do this work on your behalf; you have to do it yourself.
1931–1939: KUCHWADA, MADHYA PRADESH, INDIA
I am reminded of the small village where I was born. Why existence should have chosen that small village in the first place is unexplainable. It is as it should be. The village was beautiful. I have traveled far and wide, but I have never come across that same beauty. One never comes again to the same. Things come and go, but it is never the same.
I can see that still, small village. Just a few huts near a pond, and a few tall trees where I used to play. There was no school in the village. That is of great importance, because I remained uneducated for almost nine years, and those are the most formative years. After that, even if you try, you cannot be educated. So in a way I am still uneducated, although I hold many degrees—and not just any degree, but a first-class master's degree. Any fool can do that; so many fools do it every year that it has no significance. What is significant is that for my first years I remained without education. There was no school, no road, no railway, no post office. What a blessing! That small village was a world unto itself. Even in my times away from that village I remained in that world, uneducated.
And I have come across millions of people, but the people of that village were more innocent than any, because they were very primitive. They knew nothing of the world. Not even a single newspaper had ever entered that village—you can now understand why there was no school. Not even a primary school—what a blessing! No modern child can afford it.
IN THE PAST THERE WERE CHILDREN MARRIED BEFORE THEY WERE TEN. Sometimes children were even married when they were still in their mother's womb. Just two friends would decide: "Our wives are pregnant, so if one gives birth to a boy and the other gives birth to a girl, then the marriage is settled, promised." The question of asking the boy and the girl does not arise at all; they are not even born yet! But if one is a boy and another is a girl, the marriage is settled. And people kept their word.
My own mother was married when she was seven years old. My father was not more than ten years old, and he had no understanding of what was happening. I used to ask him, "What was the most significant thing that you enjoyed in your wedding?"
He said, "Riding on the horse." Naturally! For the first time he was dressed like a king, with a knife hanging by his side, and he was sitting on the horse and everybody was walking around him. He enjoyed it tremendously. That was the thing he enjoyed most about his wedding. A honeymoon was out of the question. Where will you send a ten-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl for a honeymoon? So in India the honeymoon never used to exist, and in the past, nowhere else in the world either.
When my father was ten years old and my mother was seven years old, my father's mother died. After the marriage, perhaps one or two years afterward, the whole responsibility fell on my mother, who was only nine years old. My father's mother had left two small daughters and two small boys. So there were four children, and the responsibility to care for them fell on a nine-year-old girl and a twelve-year-old son. My father's father never liked to live in the city where he had his shop. He loved the countryside, and when his wife died he was absolutely free. The government used to give land to people for free, because there was so much land and there were not so many people to cultivate it. So my grandfather got fifty acres of land from the government, and he left the whole shop in the hands of his children—my father and mother—who were only twelve and nine years old. He enjoyed creating a garden, creating a farm, and he loved to live there in the open air. He hated the city.
So my father never had any experience of the freedom of young people today. He never became a youth in that way. Before he could have become a youth he was already old, taking care of his younger brothers and sisters and the shop. And by the time he was twenty he had to arrange marriages for his sisters, marriages and education for his brothers.
I have never called my mother "Mother," because before I was born she was taking care of four children who used to call her bhabhi. Bhabhi means "brother's wife." And because four children were already calling my mother bhabhi, I also started calling her bhabhi. I learned it from the very beginning, when four other children were calling her that.
I WAS BROUGHT UP By My MATERNAL GRANDFATHER AND GRAND mother. Those two old people were alone and they wanted a child who would be the joy of their last days. So my father and mother agreed: I was their eldest child, the firstborn; they sent me.
I don't remember any relationship with my father's family in the early years of my childhood. I spent my earliest years with two old men—my grandfather and his old servant, who was really a beautiful man—and my old grandmother. These three people ... and the gap was so big, I was absolutely alone. These old people were not company, could not be company for me. And I had nobody else, because in that small village my family was the richest; and it was such a small village—not more than two hundred people in all—and so poor that my grandparents would not allow me to mix with the village children. They were dirty, and of course they were almost beggars. So there was no way to have friends. That caused a great impact. In my whole life I have never known anybody to be a friend. Yes, acquaintances I had.
In those first, early years I was so lonely that I started enjoying it—and it is really a joy. So it was not a curse to me, it proved a blessing. I started enjoying it, and I started feeling self-sufficient; I was not dependent on anybody.
I have never been interested in games for the simple reason that from my very childhood there was no way to play; there was nobody to play with. I can still see myself in those earliest years, just sitting. We had a beautiful spot where our house was, just in front of a lake. Far away for miles, the lake ... and it was so beautiful and so silent. Only once in a while would you see a line of white cranes flying, or making love calls, and the peace would be disturbed; otherwise, it was almost the perfect place for meditation. And when a love call from a bird would disturb the peace ... after his call the peace would deepen.
The lake was full of lotus flowers, and I would sit for hours so self-content, as if the world did not matter: the lotuses, the white cranes, and the silence ...
And my grandparents became very aware of one thing—that I enjoyed my aloneness. They had seen that I had no desire to go to the village to meet anybody, or to talk with anybody. Even if they wanted to talk, my answers were yes or no; I was not interested in talking either. They became aware of one thing—that I enjoyed my aloneness and it was their sacred duty not to disturb me.
So for seven years continuously nobody tried to corrupt my innocence; there was nobody. Those three old people who lived in the house, the servant and my grandparents, were all protective in every possible way that nobody should disturb me. In fact I started feeling, as I grew up, a little embarrassed that because of me they could not talk, they could not be normal as everybody is. It happens with children that you tell them, "Be silent because your father is thinking, your grandfather is resting. Be quiet, sit silently." In my childhood it happened the opposite way. Now I cannot answer why and how; it simply happened. The credit does not go to me.
All those three old people were continually making signs to each other: "Don't disturb him—he is enjoying so much." And they started loving my silence.
Silence has its vibe; it is infectious, particularly a child's silence, which is not forced, which is not because you are saying, "I will beat you if you create any nuisance or noise." No, that is not silence. That will not create the joyous vibration that I am talking about, when a child is silent on his own, enjoying for no reason; his happiness is uncaused. That creates great ripples all around.
So it was just a coincidence that for seven years I remained undisturbed—no one to nag me, to prepare me for the world of business, politics, diplomacy. My grandparents were more interested in leaving me as natural as possible—particularly my grandmother. She is one of the causes—these small things affect all your life patterns—she is one of the causes of my respect for the whole of womanhood. She was a simple woman, uneducated, but immensely sensitive. She made it clear to my grandfather and the servant: "We all have lived a certain kind of life which has not led us anywhere. We are as empty as ever, and now death is coming close." She insisted, "Let this child be uninfluenced by us. What influence can we have? We can only make him like us, and we are nothing. Give him an opportunity to be himself."
My grandfather—I heard them discussing in the night, thinking that I was asleep—used to say to her, "You are telling me to do this and I am doing it; but he is somebody else's son, and sooner or later he will have to go to his parents. What will they say? 'You have not taught him any manners, any etiquette, he is absolutely wild.'"
She said, "Don't be worried about that. In this whole world everybody is civilized, has manners, etiquette, but what is the gain? You are very civilized—what have you got out of it? At the most his parents will be angry with us. So what? Let them be angry. They can't harm us, and by that time the child will be strong enough that they cannot change his life course."
I am tremendously grateful to that old woman. My grandfather was again and again worried that sooner or later he was going to be responsible: "They will say, 'We left our child with you and you have not taught him anything.'"
My grandmother did not even allow a tutor. There was one man in the village who could at least teach me the beginnings of language, mathematics, a little geography. He was educated only to the fourth grade—the lowest four, that is what was called primary education in India—but he was the most educated man in the town. My grandfather tried hard: "He can come and he can teach him. At least he will know the alphabet, some mathematics, so when he goes to his parents they will not say that we just wasted seven years completely."
But my grandmother said, "Let them do whatsoever they want to do after seven years. For seven years he has to be just his natural self, and we are not going to interfere." And her argument was always, "You know the alphabet, so what? You know mathematics, so what? You have earned a little money; do you want him also to earn a little money and live just like you?"
That was enough to keep that old man silent. What to do? He was in a difficulty because he could not argue—and he knew that he would be held responsible, not she, because my father would ask him, "What have you done?" And actually that would have been the case, but fortunately he died before my father could ask.
Later on my father was always saying, "That old man is responsible, he has spoiled the child." But now I was strong enough, and I made it clear to him: "In front of me, never say a single word against my maternal grandfather. He has saved me from being spoiled by you—that is your real anger. But you have other children—spoil them. And in the end you will see who is spoiled."
He had other children, and more and more children kept on coming. I used to tease him, "Please bring one child more, make it a dozen. Eleven children? People ask, 'How many children?' Eleven does not look right; one dozen is more impressive." And in later years I used to tell him, "You go on spoiling all your children; I am wild, and I will remain wild." Somehow I remained out of the grip of civilization.
MY GRANDFATHER–MY MOTHER'S FATHER–WAS A GENEROUS MAN. He was poor, but rich in his generosity. He gave to each and everyone whatsoever he had. I learned the art of giving from him; I never saw him say no to any beggar or anybody.
I called my mother's father "Nana"; that's the way the mother's father is called in India. The mother's mother is called "Nani." I used to ask my grandfather, "Nana, where did you get such a beautiful wife?" Her features were not Indian, she looked Greek, and she was a strong woman, very strong. My nana died when he was not more than fifty. My grandmother lived till eighty and she was fully healthy. Even then nobody thought she was going to die. I promised her one thing, that when she died I would come. And that was my last visit to the family—she died in 1970. I had to fulfill my promise.
For my first years I knew my nani as my mother; those are the years when one grows. My own mother came after that; I was already grown up, already made in a certain style. And my grandmother helped me immensely. My grandfather loved me, but could not help me much. He was so loving, but to be of help more is needed—a certain kind of strength. He was always afraid of my grandmother. He was, in a sense, a henpecked husband. But he loved me, he helped me ... what can I do if he was a henpecked husband? Ninety-nine point nine percent of husbands are, so it is okay.
I CAN UNDERSTAND THE OLD MAN, My GRANDFATHER, AND THE trouble my mischief caused him. The whole day he would sit on his gaddi, as the seat of a rich man is called in India, listening less to his customers and more to the complainers! But he used to say to them, "I am ready to pay for any damage he has done, but remember, I am not going to punish him."
Perhaps his very patience with me, a mischievous child ... even I could not tolerate it. If a child like that were given to me for years ... my god! Even for minutes, and I would throw the child out of the door forever. Perhaps those years worked a miracle for my grandfather; that immense patience paid. He became more and more silent. I saw it growing every day. Once in a while I would say, "Nana, you can punish me. You need not be so tolerant." And, can you believe it, he would cry! Tears would come to his eyes, and he would say, "Punish you? I cannot do that. I can punish myself but not you."
Never for a single moment have I ever seen the shadow of anger toward me in his eyes—and believe me, I did everything that one thousand children could do. In the morning, even before breakfast, I was into my mischief until late at night. Sometimes I would come home so late—three o'clock in the morning—but what a man he was! He never said, "You are too late. This is not the time for a child to come home." No, not even once. In fact, in front of me he would avoid looking at the clock on the wall.
Excerpted from Autobiography of a Spiritually Incorrect Mystic by Sarito Carol Neiman. Copyright © 2000 Osho International Foundation. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
OSHO is one of the most provocative and inspiring spiritual teachers of our time. In the 1970s he captured the attention of young people from the West who wanted to experience meditation and transformation. More than twenty years after his death, the influence of his teachings continues to expand, reaching seekers around the world.
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Osho's autobiography is one of the best books I've read in a long time. If you're on your way to self discovery, I highly recommend this book.
There is something to be said for a man who succeeds in inspiring so many people. Nonetheless, this man is clearly in awe of himself. An appropriate portrait for the cover might rather have been the Neros painting of Rajneesh from the Millenium series.
This is a book which is not for everyone. For everyone is not fit for spiritual studies.This is a no book for no bodies!
It's a book from Osho, and thus that is all it is - a collection of hooks. If one of them latches into you, consider the book worth its price, if not - go by another one from Osho. It will take a while for the West to appreciate the man who cared enough to try and bring an entirely different dimension of human existence to our door step. It is nothing less than a revolution in the way life is seen, and if you don't get the breeze, just keep going, no need to waste time. In that case you are likely deaf, though, and possibly blind as well ... :)
Osho¿s posthumous autobiography affords a delightful glimpse into the life of one of the most outrageous twentieth-century spiritual leaders. Consisting of anecdotes that Osho told during his many lectures and classes, the book has a conversational tone that well conveys the sometimes infamous guru¿s dynamic personality as it offers a sampling of his thoughts on meditation, enlightenment, sex, money, education, and the evolution of consciousness. Osho was not afraid to tackle the world¿s major religions, pointing out inconsistencies and hypocrisy where he found them and simultaneously drawing together their best aspects into a synthesis grounded in meditation. Osho also answers some of the criticisms leveled at him for his seemingly outrageous behavior and his iconoclastic tendencies. He proves a fascinating man: a prolific writer and lecturer, highly educated, and deeply passionate about his own search for truth. Whether or not one is interested in Osho¿s teachings or in the controversies surrounding his movement, his autobiography is entertaining, insightful and for some, perhaps, even enlightening. ----Bonnie Johnston.