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Zorba the Buddha

Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement

Hugh B. Urban
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt196322h
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    Zorba the Buddha
    Book Description:

    Zorba the Buddhais the first comprehensive study of the life, teachings, and following of the controversial Indian guru known in his youth as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and in his later years as Osho (1931-1990). Most Americans today remember him only as the "sex guru" and the "Rolls Royce guru," who built a hugely successful but scandal-ridden utopian community in central Oregon during the 1980s. Yet Osho was arguably the first truly global guru of the twentieth century, creating a large transnational movement that traced a complex global circuit from post-Independence India of the 1960s to Reagan's America of the 1980s and back to a developing new India in the 1990s. The Osho movement embodies some of the most important economic and spiritual currents of the past forty years, emerging and adapting within an increasingly interconnected and conflicted late-capitalist world order. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival research, Hugh Urban has created a rich and powerful narrative that is a must-read for anyone interested in religion and globalization.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-96177-7
    Subjects: Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface (pp. ix-x)
  5. Introduction: Gurus, God-Men, and Globalization (pp. 1-24)

    Most Americans today probably remember Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (aka Osho) as “that Indian guru” who became hugely controversial during the 1980s, when he created an enormous utopian commune in central Oregon, collected a fleet of ninety-three Rolls-Royces, and taught a radically sex-friendly form of spirituality before being arrested and deported in 1985. Personally, I first remember hearing about Rajneesh while watching an episode of the ABC news program 60Minutesin 1985, which played a clip of the notorious “Guru of the Rich.” “I sell contentment. I sell enlightenment,” he said in the now infamous segment, which made him the...

  6. CHAPTER 1 “India’s Most Dangerous Guru”: Rajneesh and India after Independence (pp. 25-48)

    From his first public lectures, Rajneesh presented himself and his ideas as radical, iconoclastic, and dangerous. Never conforming to the traditional model of a “guru” who had sat at the feet of another enlightened master in a long line of teachers stretching back into the hoary past, Rajneesh claimed instead to be a self-enlightened being, a radically new sort of guru who had no teacher of his own, but discovered spiritual awakening through his own initiative and self-experimentation. Similarly, the message he brought was a powerfully iconoclastic one, mocking the great religions of the past and challenging his followers to...

  7. CHAPTER 2 “Beware of Socialism!”: The “Anti-Gandhi” and the Early Rajneesh Community in the 1970s (pp. 49-75)

    Rajneesh’s significance as a modern global guru was by no means limited to his spiritual teachings. His tremendous influence was as much tied to his controversial social, political, and economic views as it was to his spiritual message. In his later career as a global figure in the United States in the 1980s, Rajneesh would become famous as the “guru of the rich” and the “Rolls-Royce guru.” However, he had already articulated his views on economics, capitalism, and wealth a decade earlier in the 1970s in India, where he was one of the most outspoken critics of Indian politics and...

  8. CHAPTER 3 “From Sex To Superconsciousness”: Sexuality, Tantra, and Liberation in 1970s India (pp. 76-100)

    Most people who remember Rajneesh today probably remember him primarily as the “sex guru.” EvenLonely Planet—the most widely used guidebook for travel in India—still has a special insert in the chapter on Pune devoted to the “Guru of Sex” and his sensuous compound in the upscale neighborhood of Koregaon Park.¹ Rajneesh was also a primary inspiration for John Updike’s 1988 novel S., Mike Myers’s 2008 fi lm, “The Love Guru,” and various other fictional accounts of dubious mystics and philandering gurus.²

    Rajneesh himself would later complain that this focus on the sexual content of his teachings was...

  9. CHAPTER 4 “The Messiah America Has Been Waiting For”: Rajneeshpuram in 1980s America (pp. 101-136)

    Surely the most astonishing, controversial, and at times quite surreal chapter in Osho-Rajneesh’s global journey is the period in Oregon from 1981 to 1985. Within the first few years of its existence, the Rajneesh community attracted thousands of followers from across the globe, amassed millions of dollars in assets, and built a huge utopian commune—indeed, an entire city, called Rajneeshpuram—in the middle of the Oregon desert (fig. 8). At its height in the mid-1980s, Rajneeshpuram had become one of the largest—and certainly the most developed and wealthiest—communal religious experiments in American history.¹ And yet, less that...

  10. CHAPTER 5 “Osho”: The Apotheosis of a Fallen Guru in 1990s India (pp. 137-154)

    While the Oregon experiment was surely the most outrageous and an often surreal episode in Rajneesh’s global journey, in some ways the most surprising period was his return to India and rebirth in the new Pune ashram. After being denied entry to every country to which he applied, Rajneesh finally returned to his homeland and to the original Pune ashram, where he dropped his title Bhagwan and finally assumed the new title Osho in 1989. Amazingly, however, the new Osho movement in India reemerged as a kind of phoenix from the ashes, becoming in many ways even more popular than...

  11. CHAPTER 6 OSHO?: The Struggle over Osho’s Legacy in the Twenty-First Century (pp. 155-178)

    While Osho’s ideas and practices continue to spread across the planet in a new transnational context, they have also become the focus of intense legal and financial disputes in the twenty-first century. By the dawn of the new millennium, the Osho movement had grown into a vast, complex, and extremely valuable global entity—really as much a multinational corporation as a spiritual movement. In 2000India Todayestimated that the “Osho Inc.” empire included some “750 meditation centres across 80 countries . . . 1500 books published in 40 languages . . . 400 tapes of music and sermons ....

  12. Conclusion: The Spiritual Logic of Late Capitalism (pp. 179-196)

    During her visit to India in October 2011, the American pop singer, producer, and activist Lady Gaga addressed the media and discussed her views on creativity and spirituality. Earlier that same year, Lady Gaga had drawn attention to her interest in Indian philosophy when she included a quote from Osho himself on her Twitter account: “Creativity is the greatest form of rebellion.” When journalists asked her further about her interest in Osho, she spoke enthusiastically about her love of his works and particularly the implications of his radical ideas for other aspects of life, such as art, society, and politics:...

  13. Notes (pp. 197-236)
  14. Selected Bibliography (pp. 237-246)
  15. Index (pp. 247-250)