Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (1931 – 1990), later better known as Osho, was a controversial Indian guru and mystic, and the founder of the Rajneesh movement. Osho strongly encouraged freethinking, meditation, mindfulness, liberated sexuality, love, happiness, joy, courage, and creativity, aspects of mankind he saw as suppressed by adherence to social dogmas and rigid cultural traditions.
Notably his take on sexuality, profoundly influenced by Tantric concepts and philosophy, caused him quickly to be known as “the sex guru,” although he represented much more than that. In the early 1970s, Bhagwan increasingly started to focus and experiment with methods to liberate our sexuality (he considered repressed sexuality a hindrance to spiritual enlightenment), and advocated a more body-oriented focus on working with sexual issues, encouraging a range of therapies and exercises in his ashrams, such as breathwork, bioenergetics, psychological techniques, Yoga exercises, massage, and psycho-somatic bodywork.
Bhagwan was influenced by a broad range of spiritual traditions (such as Tantra, Sufism, and Advaita Vedanta), philosophers (for instance, George Gurdjieff), and eminent psychologists (such as Carl Jung and Wilhelm Reich) but his general take on life and spirituality can clearly be said to have been characterized by a truly non-dualistic Tantric view on life and living, accepting and embracing all of life — that is, all what is called “the good” and what is called “the bad.”
According to Osho, suppressing “the unwanted sides” of our being would only lead to frustration and perversion, and render us incomplete beings unable to enjoy life or achieve spiritual self-realization. In fact, Bhagwan became one of the most important figures in paving the way for what is now called Neo-Tantra, Tantric Sexuality, Spiritual Sex, or Sacred Sexuality. He wrote several books about Tantra (among many other types of books), in a way “rebranding” it, and making Tantric concepts more accessible for Western minds.
A number of well-known contemporary Tantric practitioners and teachers studied with Bhagwan or have been influenced by his work. Among them, for instance, Margot Anand (Skydancing Tantra), Andreas Rothe (considered one of the developers of the modern Tantra Massage), Barbara Carrellas, and Santoshi Amor (Founder of Tantra Woman).
Although the Neo-Tantra or Sacred Sexuality movement is partly rooted in Osho’s work, we need to realize that Osho taught much more than only about embracing our sexuality. By contrast, Neo-Tantra is almost exclusively focussed on removing our sexual inhibitions and blockages, “upgrading” our sensual and sexual experiences, while awakening our sacred sexual energy i.e. Kundalini Energy in order to liberate ourselves and achieve spiritual self-realization and finally Divine Union.