The Wild and Enlightened Dance: Osho, Trungpa, and the Bhagavad Gita

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The Wild and Enlightened Dance: Osho, Trungpa, and the Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita, traditionally revered as a scripture of spiritual and ethical guidance, receives a provocative reinterpretation through the lens of Osho and Chogyam Trungpa. Both spiritual mavericks offer a unique, raw, and unfiltered perspective that emphasizes authenticity, psychological transformation, and the celebration of life’s inherent wildness. This synthesis of their teachings provides a compelling comparison to the more intense and controversial teachings of Advaita Vedanta.

Osho’s Revolutionary Interpretation

Osho’s approach to the Bhagavad Gita is far from conventional. He perceives it not as a mere religious text but as a profound psychological manual for living an authentic life. Osho’s teachings encourage us to drop our masks and embrace our totality, including our so-called ‘dark side,’ acting from a place of awareness and acceptance.

Psychology Over Dogma: For Osho, the Gita is a guide for personal transformation. He emphasizes that Krishna’s message to Arjuna is not about fulfilling duty for duty’s sake but about understanding the nature of desire and action, ultimately transcending the ego. Osho advocates for living a life of joy and spontaneity, free from guilt and repression.

Authenticity and Totality: Just as Arjuna had to confront his inner conflict on the battlefield, Osho teaches that we must face our own inner demons. This involves questioning societal norms and embracing our individuality, even if it means going against the grain.

Celebration of Life and Sexuality: The Bhagavad Gita, according to Osho, encourages us to celebrate life in all its forms, including sexuality. He promotes the exploration of our sensual nature without shame or guilt, viewing it as a path to self-discovery and spiritual growth.

Awakening to Divinity: Ultimately, Osho sees the Gita as a call to awaken to our true nature as divine beings. It is an invitation to live fully, love passionately, and dance to the rhythm of our own soul.

Chogyam Trungpa’s Warrior Wisdom

Chogyam Trungpa, with his unconventional approach to Buddhism, aligns closely with Osho’s radical perspectives. Trungpa’s teachings also emphasize the raw and unfiltered aspects of human experience, urging us to embrace our neuroses and use them as pathways to enlightenment.

The Warrior’s Path: Trungpa introduces the concept of the spiritual warrior, whose journey is based on the understanding that human neurosis is universal and commonplace. The warrior’s approach is to face these challenges head-on, seeing them as opportunities for growth and self-realization.

Facing Challenges Head-On: Like Osho, Trungpa believes in confronting rather than avoiding life’s difficulties. He famously stated, “The path is the goal,” emphasizing that our journey, with all its chaos and uncertainty, is where we find our true strength and freedom.

Freedom Within Chaos: Trungpa’s teachings highlight the importance of finding freedom within the inherent chaos of life. He uses the metaphor of falling through the air with nothing to hang on to and no parachute, yet finding liberation in the realization that there is no ground.

The Intersection of Osho and Trungpa with Advaita Vedanta

When we compare the teachings of Osho and Trungpa to the more intense and controversial teachings of Advaita Vedanta, intriguing parallels and contrasts emerge.

On Desire and the Illusion of Renunciation: Osho rejects the traditional interpretation of the Gita advocating for the renunciation of desire. Instead, he argues that desire is the life force propelling us toward growth and experience. Repressing desire leads to neurosis, not enlightenment. True renunciation, according to Osho, is about understanding and transforming desire into a conscious, creative force. Advaita Vedanta, while often promoting renunciation, also recognizes the illusionary nature of desire and the ego, suggesting a middle path where desire is neither repressed nor indulged but transcended through awareness.

On Action and Inaction: Osho challenges the idea of inaction as a path to liberation, emphasizing dynamic engagement with life. He reinterprets inaction as acting without attachment to the fruits of one’s actions. In Osho’s view, even meditation is an action, a conscious participation in the flow of existence. This perspective resonates with Advaita Vedanta’s teaching of nishkama karma (selfless action), where actions are performed without attachment to outcomes.

On the Battlefield of Life: Both Osho and Trungpa see the battlefield of Kurukshetra as a metaphor for our inner struggles. They urge us to be fearless warriors in this inner battle, confronting our shadows and integrating them. Advaita Vedanta similarly speaks of the internal battle against ignorance and illusion, advocating for self-inquiry and the realization of the self’s true nature.

On the Inner Guru: Osho views Krishna not as an external deity but as the voice of our inner wisdom. The true guru, according to Osho, is the spark of awareness within us, guiding us toward liberation. This aligns with Advaita Vedanta’s emphasis on the inner guru, the atman (self), which is identical to Brahman (the ultimate reality).

On the Ecstasy of Surrender: Osho interprets surrender not as submission to an external authority but as a deep letting go of our egoic identity, fears, and limitations. True surrender is a total embrace of life, a wild dance with existence. Advaita Vedanta also speaks of surrender, but in the context of surrendering the ego to the higher self, realizing that individual identity is an illusion.

The Wild Ride of Self-Discovery

Osho’s version of the Bhagavad Gita is a raw, unapologetic, and intensely passionate interpretation. He might summarize it as follows:

“Arjuna, my friend, the battlefield of life is not just about fighting external enemies but about confronting your own desires, fears, and contradictions. Embrace your wildness, your crassness, your authenticity! Don’t suppress your passions but channel them into a fierce embrace of life.

“Krishna’s message is not about renouncing the world but about diving headfirst into its depths. It’s about embracing the beauty and the ugliness, the pleasure and the pain. Be a warrior of the heart, fighting for your right to live authentically, to love wildly, and to embrace your true nature.

“Don’t be a slave to societal norms and expectations. Break free from the chains of conditioning and embrace your individuality. If you want to fuck, fuck with abandon! If you want to love, love with intensity! If you want to live, live with purpose!

“The Bhagavad Gita is not a scripture of repression but a manifesto of liberation. It’s a call to arms, a battle cry to embrace your true self and live life on your own terms. So, Arjuna, let go of your inhibitions and let your wildness shine! Embrace your crassness, your authenticity, and your raw, unbridled passion. That’s the only way to truly live!”

Conclusion: A Call to Authenticity

In conclusion, both Osho and Trungpa’s teachings, when juxtaposed with the traditional and controversial teachings of Advaita Vedanta, offer a rich tapestry of insights. They call us to authenticity, urging us to embrace the messy, intense, and unapologetically real aspects of our existence. Their interpretations of the Bhagavad Gita transform it from a scripture of dogma into a dynamic guide for self-discovery and liberation.

Supporting Quotes

Bhagavad Gita:

On desire and action: “Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” (3.8)

On embracing your nature: “It is better to engage in your own dharma, even if you perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s dharma and perform it perfectly.” (3.35)

On equanimity in the face of outcomes: “You have control over doing your respective duty, but no control or claim over the results. Fear of failure, from being emotionally attached to the fruits of work, is the greatest impediment to success because it robs efficiency by constantly disturbing the equanimity of the mind.” (2.47)


On authenticity: “Be realistic: Plan for a miracle.”

On embracing the totality of life: “Experience life in all possible ways — good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light, summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.”

On living in the moment: “This is the whole secret of life – be total in whatsoever you do.”

Chogyam Trungpa:

On the warrior’s path: “The warrior’s approach is based on the premise that human neurosis is so universal and so commonplace that it might as well be considered a normal state of mind.”

On facing challenges head-on: “The path is the goal.”

On finding freedom within chaos: “The bad news is you’re falling through the air, nothing to hang on to, no parachute. The good news is there’s no ground.”

In the end, Osho, Trungpa, and Advaita Vedanta converge on the essential truth: the journey to self-realization is wild, challenging, and ultimately, profoundly liberating. Embrace the chaos, confront your desires, and live authentically—this is the essence of the Bhagavad Gita, and the heart of true spiritual awakening.

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