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In the late 1980s, India's so-called "Bhagwan" or "Blessed One" Rajneesh (née Rajneesh Mohan Chandra Jain, 1931-1990), back once again at his old ashram in Poona, India, tried to make himself and his religious movement more marketable to suit his longstanding global ambitions for this "first true religion," all other religious movements having been "false," "sick," "failures" in his view.
His attempts followed a few years of very negative publicity after a nightmarish time of crime and hardship in the USA (not a personal nightmare or hardship for Rajneesh, but certainly for many other persons, as we shall see).
But sadly, there was also a lot of lunacy, immense dysfunction, and astonishing selfishness, pettiness, megalomania, callousness and corruption.
He was/is remarkably interesting as a sensual ecstatic, intuitive mystic, unlicensed psychotherapist of en masse primal scream-cry-laugh "dynamic meditation" therapy, rebellious social-political-religious provocateur, successful self-promoter, cosmic joker, and relentless iconoclast who simultaneously lured his emotionally-dependent followers into making a big icon out of himself.
Rajneesh used myths of the occult and his natural ability to influence people to achieve the same goals. thesis in graduate school back in 1983 focused on the cross-cultural, widespread set of phenomena associated with figures from religious history East and West, ancient and contemporary, who are felt to be the source of this unusual energy that gets variously called Shaktipat by the Hindu Tantrikas (bestowal of the Divine Shakti energy), the Charismata Power of the Spirit by Christians (from Jesus and early followers to medieval monasteries to modern-era Pentecostal and Charismatic circles), the Baraka or Berekah blessing force around many Muslim Sufi and Jewish mystics, the Wang empowerments around certain Tibetan Buddhist lamas, the Ch'i or Ki energy around meditation masters and martial artists of China and Japan, the Mana energy around Polynesian shamans and called by various names around other shamans and shamanesses in indigenous tribes found worldwide.Yet everyone is, at heart, quite innocent, utterly Divine.What an amazing dream, this wild, wacky, woeful yet wonderful life....And so, concerned about his image in the eyes of his people and the general public, Rajneesh briefly preferred to call himself "Zorba the Budddha" and then in October 1989, three months before his death, he adopted a "healing," Zen-sounding name, "Osho." The strategy has worked: today very few people who visit Osho centers, read or hear Osho's words, and practice his heavily cathartic meditation methods know much if anything about his problematic earlier life as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.Indeed, it seems that a relatively small but growing number of people actually, seriously view Osho as "India's greatest spiritual master since the Buddha," as his organizers like to extol or hype him, which is quite a grandiose claim in the spiritual marketplace.