Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, or Osho, was an internationally famous guru and cult leader who started a new spiritual movement.
Originally from India, Osho went on to found a community in rural Oregon called Rajneeshpuram.
He was eventually deported for taking part in an unsuccessful assassination plot on a high-ranking state official and trying to poison the local community with salmonella to swing the outcome of an election.
But Osho’s teachings and philosophies continue to live on and influence many people, including those who choose to overlook his controversial sexual and moral behavior because they find value in his insights.
Here’s what Osho said about the crucial subject of marriage and family.
What Osho said about marriage and children
1) ‘I’m against marriage from the very beginning’
Osho was opposed to marriage. He considered it to be self-limiting and restrictive.
He never married and consistently said it was just a form of self-sabotage wherein you tie yourself down by getting “legally attached” in a way that lowers your spiritual potential.
The biggest motivation behind the things Osho said about marriage and children was his belief in personal liberty above all else.
Osho believed that freedom was the “ultimate value” and thus saw marriage and the traditional raising of children in a nuclear family as a negative thing.
People may point out the very limited freedom he gave members of his cult and note the hypocrisy, but it’s clear that at least for his own life Osho means what he says.
He wants freedom, and marriage would get in the way of that.
As Osho said:
“I’m against marriage from the very beginning, because that means cutting down your freedom.”
2) Osho supported communal raising of children
Osho believed that children should be raised communally.
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He considered the root of most childhood trauma to be nuclear and traditional family structures.
According to Osho, “the family creates tremendous problems” and gives them “all their sickness, all their superstitions, all their stupid ideas.”
What informs these communes that would raise kids? Ostensibly, that would be free love philosophies such as Osho’s.
“The child has to be freed from the family,” Osho says.
His own commune was under his command, so when he talks about stupid ideas versus good ideas, Osho is basically saying his ideas should be what raises children.
In addition to free love and lack of defined obligations (except to him), Osho also believed that we should go with the flow and not focus so much on goals and the destination.
Therefore, he envisioned a kind of free-living commune except under his control, where children were raised without really caring who their parents were and where their values (or lack of values) were instilled by him or people like him.
3) Osho said marriage is usually hell instead of the heaven it should be
Another one of the important things Osho said about marriage and children was that the reality of family life failed to live up to its ideals.
Osho believed that marriage has potential in a sacred and religious sense, but that the attempt to carry that over into practical life has mostly failed.
According to his view, people who were not spiritually advanced enough started marriage and turned it into something horrific.
Instead of becoming a sacred bond, it became a diabolical contract.
Instead of two people supporting and helping each other grow, it often became a pact of dependency and constriction.
“We tried to make it something permanent, something sacred, without knowing even the ABC of sacredness, without knowing anything about the eternal.
“Our intentions were good but our understanding was very small, almost negligible.
“So instead of marriage becoming something of a heaven, it has become a hell. Instead of becoming sacred, it has fallen even below profanity.”
4) Osho called marriage ‘slavery’ but said sometimes it’s still positive
Osho went so far as to call marriage “slavery.” He said it’s a way that many of us sabotage our chance at real love and lock ourselves into hollow roles.
According to Osho, the only real solution to marriage is to stop doing it altogether as a social and legal custom.
However, paradoxically, Osho also said that sometimes marriage can be very positive.
What he meant was that even though legal marriage to him is not a good thing, it can still occasionally overlap with what he defined as real, living love.
What he warned against was believing that the commitment of marriage would lead to love or enhance elements of love you’re feeling.
“I am not against marriage – I am for love. If love becomes your marriage, good; but don’t hope that marriage can bring love.
“That is not possible.
“Love can become a marriage. You have to work very consciously to transform your love into a marriage.”
5) Marriage brings out our worst instead of our best
Osho basically believed that marriage brings out our worst.
By officializing and concretizing our commitment, marriage gives people space to live out their worst instincts and patterns over and over.
“Two enemies are living together pretending to be in love, expecting the other to give love; and the same is being expected by the other,” Osho says.
“Nobody is ready to give – nobody has it. How can you give love if you don’t have it?”
This seems to be a very negative and cynical view of marriage and is one of the more upsetting things Osho said about marriage and children, although it may ring true for some couples reading this.
Osho frequently presents the idea that women in marriages have sex out of obligation, for example.
“What kind of a neurotic society have you created?”
Osho believed that marriage is the root cause of “99%” of our psychological issues and social problems. Instead, we should just focus on our day-by-day desires and go with the flow, he argues.
While it seems clear that Osho’s correct that marriage can become a depressing charade, there are also many cases where marriage becomes deeply authentic and empowering.
6) ‘Everybody should get divorced, without exception.’
Traditional Indian culture often sees marriage more as a practical than a romantic endeavor.
Osho himself said his parents either wanted him to be a “celibate monk” or marry and bring better economic fortune to his family.
Instead, Osho said he chose to walk on the “razor’s edge” and “I have enjoyed the walk tremendously.”
Translation: Osho slept with a lot of women and bucked the cultural norms and propriety that was expected of him.
He was famous for his community holding giant orgies on a regular basis, and clearly didn’t believe in traditional South Asian and Western sexual norms.
In fact, Osho hoped that everyone could just wing it and sleep with whoever they wanted, claiming that “everyone should get divorced” and live how he does.
Osho says that people need to learn how to say goodbye when love is gone, instead of staying together out of duty or customs.
7) ‘Your God committed rape with the Virgin Mary’
Displaying his lack of Biblical knowledge, Osho even claims that the God of the Bible “committed rape with the Virgin Mary.”
Osho loved to offend people, and enjoyed the reaction when he would say things such as “your God is a rapist” to people from a culturally Christian background.
Talking about the Holy Ghost impregnating Mary, for example, Osho joked that “the Holy Ghost is part of God: perhaps he’s His genitals.”
Turning a story of love and sanctity into a story of rape and shape-shifting sex games, Osho shows his overall framework regarding marriage and family:
Mockery of what he doesn’t understand, and promotion of a kind of rebellious and almost childish obsession with personal freedom.
Just like so many in today’s counterculture, Osho makes the binary and infantile mistake of thinking that if A is bad, then B is good.
In other words, because he’s identified aspects of marriage he finds distasteful and negative he concludes that marriage itself is distasteful and negative.
And because he finds examples where he considers authority to have been oppressive, he concludes that authority and rules are inherently oppressive (except Osho’s own authority, apparently).
8) The family needs to be destroyed
Not to put too fine a point on it, the simple truth is that Osho hated the traditional family.
He believed its time had come to an end and it was the relic of an infested and toxic mindset and social system.
Instead, Osho wanted children raised communally and values instilled collectively.
Those values would be his relativistic values about life, love and morality.
Essentially, the traditional family posed a competition to Osho’s own system.
He saw the Osho commune as the antidote to traditional norms that trapped people in obligations and patterns which limited their self-growth.
According to Osho, people need to put freedom as their “utmost” priority and that should include the way that community, sexual relations and social structures are organized.
Families tend to prioritize roles and duties, therefore Osho saw them as the enemy.
Although he said his ideal commune would still be one where kids knew their parents and could “come to them” from time to time, he more or less believed that the family should be abolished completely.
9) Marriage is a harmful pipe dream
According to Osho, marriage is humanity’s attempt to put love in a cage and preserve it like a beautiful butterfly.
When we come across love, instead of reveling in it and truly enjoying it while it lasts, we begin to want to “own” and define it.
This then leads to the idea of marriage, where we seek to formalize love and make it permanent.
“Man found it necessary that there should be some kind of legal contract between lovers, because love itself is dream-stuff, it is not reliable…it is there this moment and the next moment it is gone.”
Because Osho believes love comes and goes, he sees marriage as two main things:
One: delusional and false.
Two: extremely harmful and disingenuous.
He believes it’s delusional because he does not believe in monogamy or in love lasting for your whole life.
He believes it’s harmful because he thinks that attaching ourselves to self-limiting duties limits our ability to experience the divine and see other people in their most authentic and raw forms.
10) Parents create their ‘carbon copy’ in their kids
Osho believed that one of the worst things about marriage and family was the problems it created in the next generation.
He said that the problems of the parents will be passed on to his sons and daughters who will be their “carbon copy.”
Negative emotional traumas and behaviors will get passed on and on down the generations.
Osho’s solution, as I mentioned, was a commune in which he said there would be “many aunts and uncles” who would “immensely enrich” youngsters and take them out of disturbing domestic situations.
Osho believed that communal parenting was the best hope for the future.
Instead of being around fighting parents, they would get to be exposed to many different kinds of people who would teach them new things and care for them.
Looking at Osho through new eyes
Osho was born in 1931 and died in 1990. There is no doubt he had an enormous influence on the world, for better or for worse.
His teachings and ideas were key to the formation of the New Age movement, and it’s clear that there’s still an appetite for his material among the general public.
Osho may have been many things, but he was never boring.
Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with his views on marriage and family, and I find some of his statements offensive and ignorant.
Even though I agree that marriage can be restrictive and suffocating, I think that this points more to the people in the marriage and how they relate to one another than the institution of marriage itself.
I also do not share Osho’s focus on freedom as the highest good.
Nonetheless, whether Osho’s opinions on marriage and family have offended you or you’ve found yourself in agreement, there’s no doubt he’s brought out a reaction of some kind.
That in itself is valuable in order to weigh how we look at our own value system and life priorities.