Thirty Years of the Osho Multiversity
Interview with Garimo
From its very inception in the early 70’s, this organism – the Multiversity – has been unique. Garimo, who has been part of the Multiversity from the start, talked to us about the roots and the flowering of the largest center for personal growth and transformation in the world. [ed.]
In the early 1970’s, when the first westerners started coming, Osho read and linked in with everything that was current, up-to-date and innovative in psychology and philosophy in the West, and with the language that young people used in those days. What was sweeping through the western world like wildfire were the new developments in humanistic psychology. There was the Esalen Institute and then as a take-off from that, all kinds of growth centers started throughout America and Europe.
Osho began to work with the westerners. First he started giving assignments to small groups of people, for instance people who were living together in one apartment building. He would tell them to come together in the evening and do a madness meditation or an anger meditation, or he would give individual assignments.
For instance he once saw that I had difficulty in letting go, and gave me an assignment to do every night before going to sleep. It was like going back to a primal space: baby talk. He assigned a “mother” and a “father” to me, who had to come to tuck me in every night and I had to talk to them in baby language for a few minutes. He was experimenting with western psychology in this way before introducing the growth groups here.
The process was the same as creating the meditations. When Osho created his meditations, he would often have small groups of people doing them, under his nose so to speak, and giving direct feedback about them. He kept on refining them until he found the right format – the same with the music for the meditations. And I was watching him do the same thing with the groups.
Not that he was in the group room, but he would talk to the group leaders, and after each group the whole group would come to him. First he asked the group leader what happened and often…. This was one of the beautiful and unique things: the group leaders were clearly in the same boat as their participants in front of Osho; there was never any question about it. They would tell Osho how their group was and their difficulties in running it. Osho would talk to them about their role in it and treat them like students, learners in front of him, just like he did with the participants.
The very first group that we had was Primal in what is now the South Court Hotel on the corner up the road. The house belonged to a beautiful English lady who happened to be friends with a primal therapist. We went and had a tea with scones and clotted cream in her house, and asked her if we could use her big room. She said yes; and that’s where the first Primal group was held.
After that came Encounter, then the Enlightenment Intensive, which evolved under Osho’s guidance to the Awareness Intensive: Who Is In? which is still very popular in the Resort.
At first our program was happening in about six or eight different locations in Koregaon Park – in rented spaces in people’s homes and even in the Blue Diamond Hotel. Now we have the most stunning facilities that you could find anywhere.
Once the Group Department started, it developed very rapidly. The word spread and many of the world’s leading group leaders came to see Osho. They included Richard Price, one of the two founders of the Esalen Institute; Bernie Gunther, the Sensitivity and Awakening to the Senses guru and poet; the founder of the Enlightenment Intensive Charles Berner; Werner Erhardt the founder of EST, who came with Diana Ross, the singer.
There were Rolfers here, trained by Ida Rolf, people trained in Postural Integration, Alexander technique and so on. There were all kinds of massage therapists. The Rolfers and the Postural Integration people developed Osho Rebalancing which is now famous all over the world.
Osho gave all therapists a platform for their methods. And whichever ones were effective and clearly had something to offer, would keep going. Most of the people who came really had things to offer – like Encounter, Gestalt, Bioenergetics, Group Counseling, all kinds of bodywork, dance, creativity, martial arts.
For all this diversity, Osho created a university in the late 70’s, and we made the jump from the group department to a university with departments and faculties, with a chancellor, vice chancellor, heads of departments, and with the idea that each faculty would develop its own work and would appeal to its own public. It was an enormous success. Later he used the word Multiversity. I remember him saying that university is one-dimensional and multiversity is multi-dimensional, moving in all the directions that are in human consciousness.
At first we felt that we would register the Multiversity as an official institution of education, but it quickly became clear that in this field the whole world could learn something from us. That was when he said that we would not search for recognition for this work anywhere else; we will now recognize other people. That was the jump: not to fit with the world…maybe the world would catch up with us one day.
The work here had a different focus right from the start. The therapists, the group leaders who came, were coming to learn meditation. All the group work or individual growth work, was not to get people back to functioning nicely in their normal life.
Although the human potential movement says it is about the unfolding of human potential, actually, it never went beyond working with the body and the mind. It did not show people that they actually are more than the body and the mind.
Osho goes to the roots of the rotten morality underneath the whole of society – which psychology normally doesn’t touch. They deal with the product of society; they will not point the finger at society directly. That’s why they can exist. So there is still a deep conspiracy. Osho didn’t buy into that one; he kicked the legs out from underneath the whole thing.
With the Encounter groups and Bioenergetics – whatever we were doing – Osho was always taking it one step further. There really was total expressiveness, total indulgence, total exploration in the groups – you could say in a raw form. After a very short time, he changed that completely and started refining. The work soon moved from the raw gut level to the heart and finer sensitivity of the human being.
It was clear from the very beginning that the groups were just a stepping stone, a bridge. All this work is not for functioning normally; it is for sidestepping the whole phenomenon of the mind – to be able to be silent, to be able to turn the mind off, to watch.
It is clearly his active meditations and his talks that make the difference to people’s lives. The methods that came out of western psychology or anything else that we could encourage people to do during the day, would speed up the process of getting what was possible through the meditations.
It is the Dynamic, the Kundalini and the Osho talks that help people to bypass the groove of their mind that endlessly, endlessly goes over the same thing, thinks the same thing, reacts the same way, has the same emotions. The groups could speed up the process of undoing the programming of the mind and coming to meditation.
And then radically new work started developing here. Osho developed the meditative therapies Mystic Rose, No-Mind, Born Again, and the hypnosis meditation Talking to Your Body and Mind. They represent the next logical existential step – the step that I think most people working in transpersonal psychology missed taking.
People are coming here from a hundred countries now and Osho devised processes that go to the essence for all those people – going directly to releasing and dissolving what is held in the body-mind.
I think the beauty of the meditative therapies is that they don’t use words. They go straight beyond the mind, straight to what is held, helping to release it and then immediately taking the next step: connecting with the silent being. All the meditative therapies have that element of cleaning something out and then going straight to silence, to the being. And once that connection is there, you can start living; everything is okay. Then you’re in the moment and everything comes by itself.
There are so many golden insights from Osho contributing to western psychology in terms of what you could call personality disorders or problems or whatever – endless, endless, endless.
There are two other important elements in the Osho insight on therapy. One is that you can’t solve problems by going back to their roots in the past. The past is gone already, your identification is the problem. If you simply step aside, step away from it – it’s gone.
The other has to do with humor and playfulness, and I think the combination of stepping aside and being playful is incredible. People do not have to be in therapy for a long time. It’s just something that helps clean out the garden, uproots the weeds. Do some general clean-out and a little deep cleaning, then from there on…. What more is there except being able to be fresh, silent and in connection with your self?
There was also a move away from therapists and group leaders to facilitators. From the beginning it was very clear that although the group leader had a different role based on a certain expertise within the group, as human beings they were in exactly the same boat as the participants. We all have the same problems and difficulties; we are all at the same level. That insight is still relevant.
From time to time, Osho would add a few pointers like: if you’re leading the group, make sure that you make yourself vulnerable, that you expose to your participants that you’re in the same boat. And whenever it’s possible, have more than one group leader, so you can take turns doing the same exercise along with the participants, And meditate together so that the participants can see that you really are on the same level. It can take away some of this whole projection game.
He also saw the danger that therapists may set themselves up as gurus, above the participants. It happened with many of the early therapists here; although they had helped zillions of people, had taken others up the right road, they themselves completely missed the boat. They wanted to be on the same level as Osho; they wanted to be enlightened masters – they were not! And ultimately that meant that they had to leave empty-handed, kicking the door in behind them as they left, and it was really a pity. And there were very few who could have an insight into that and not fall in that ditch….
Recently we said let’s get away from this word group leader which has such hierarchical connotations, and use a word which Osho suggested many times, facilitator, to make it more obvious for everyone.
In the late 60’s, early 70’s, the whole humanistic psychology with group leaders and groups was the latest thing in the world. Now this is not the case.
Now the world is in a different phase. The sexual revolution and the flower power people are a quaint, archaic thing from your parents’ or grandparents’ time. So for sure this Multiversity has also moved, and moved ahead of the times.
This too is loud and clear from Osho: always stay with the latest – the latest language, the latest presentations, be the people of now. So the word facilitator is in line with that, and calling what we do courses rather than groups is part of that too.
Today the Multiversity is inclusive of the whole being from the very beginning. For instance, a few years ago we developed a basic course for the work of the Multiversity called Being Here, which is immediately about being, it is not about doing, it is not about different parts of myself. It is about our fundamental existence, here and now, which is the only place that anything can happen. In that one-day course, we move from body to mind and emotions and beyond. And this immediate grasp that it is about the beyond – which includes all the aspects of the expression of the being – is a culmination of the work that the Multiversity offers. And we’re developing more clarity about how quickly we can offer this to a person walking in the front gate.
People come with very different starting points, with different needs. But the basic understanding is that whatever may have gone wrong – whatever may be bothering you or whatever isn’t fully developed – you can make your life a celebration the whole time and understand that it’s not a big deal. You might think that your life is a total mess; you’ll be surprised how easy it is to leave that whole mess behind.
I remember Osho already saying in the 70’s that one day people will walk through the gate and there would be no need for any of this therapy work because the love would be so abundant that people would just be able to relax and open up and the work would be done.
The contribution of the Multiversity has been a global one. There have been so many trainings over the years in the many techniques that are offered here. By now there are so many people trained in Osho therapy and Osho body work, that I can’t think of any country in the world where you wouldn’t be able to find it: Yogendra and Anando at the Omega Institute in the US…. People go to Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Israel and of course all over Europe, including Eastern Europe.
There are people who trained and worked here over a longer time who are now offering their own trainings around the world. There are people who have been working with Osho’s meditations, with the Meditative Therapies, and with various growth techniques who are working in educational settings all over the world.
There are people who receive credit from their universities or educational institutions for what they do here. There are people who were completely trained here, who are now working in the business world as consultants, as coaches and management trainers. There are people working with the European Parliament and in companies like Chrysler, Airbus, who received their full training here, and more importantly who got meditation…who understand that the important thing finally is not personality but what lies beyond the personality: the being. And these people are now working everywhere in the world.
There are even Multiversities like the Osho Multiversity in Egmond aan Zee, Holland, and the Osho Multiversity Japan, and there are many Osho institutes that are recognized by the Multiversity here – not legally, but in spirit – where people have brought the Osho understanding and approach into their own expertise. These institutes cover everything from helping people with childbirth for instance – to all kinds of therapies and creativity – to helping people die consciously… so many.
Work as Meditation seems to be the next step to focus on. People spend more time in their waking life working than doing anything else. And in all the time that I’ve done therapy and groups and explorations of consciousness, in western terms, I have hardly come across anything that deals with the conditioning around work. It’s almost like the silent conspiracy underneath how society is structured…. Most people are so convinced that work is something that they just have to do – too bad.
To confront this situation, some years ago we started a Multiversity program called Transforming the Quality of Life. The idea was to use work as the base, and then to look at all the activities that make up our daily lives – bringing it all under the magnifying glass to see how we were sabotaging the quality of the moment, and how we could enhance the quality of whatever we were doing.
It didn’t fit in the Multiversity, in that group room setting. Instead we started offering courses to people who are here doing Work as Meditation. After doing the meditations in the auditorium and doing the courses in the Multiversity as a cleansing-of-the-ground, the next step is: Okay, I’m ready to tackle myself in daily life, in real life.
We developed courses for people to understand their conditioning, their unhealthy habits, their unhealthy training around the word work. In fact it’s just an innocent word. It’s an activity, an amount of time. There are hundreds of ways that you can use this time: for expanding as a human being, living naturally, playing, celebrating each moment of life – as much as your vacation time. And that’s what our Work as Meditation training is about.
The people who come for the residential Work as Meditation program – twenty-four hours a day being in this unique environment – are offered a training to overhaul their whole life. And as what you do here is not so different from what you will be doing when you leave, it gives people very practical tools that they can directly apply to their life at home. You will go home with so many things that you can do within what you’re doing anyway.
Putting meditation into practice in daily life, fixing things in daily life and facing things in daily life, is a very exciting area. It’s almost like expanding the group room to embrace your whole neighborhood.
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