Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Viha Connection is looking for writers!

We are inviting the community to share your stories, experiences, and insights about your sannyas name. Osho gave many reasons why He chose to give us new names, and when He gave sannyas in person, He gave each new sannyasin a unique meaning for the name. When Osho was ill for many years, the names were chosen by volunteers in the “front office,” and sent out under a printed Osho signature. After Osho left the body, center and group leaders around the world have chosen names for new people if they want them. However they came to us, the names seemed to have an impact.
The experience of taking a new name can be powerful, funny, playful, or serious. We’d like to hear about yours. What is in a name, after all?
These are very short pieces, so you’ll need to choose one aspect or issue to share. Here are some possible questions:
·      Did you take a completely new name or choose to keep part of the old? Why?
·      How did you feel about the experience of the name change?
·      Did you use the sannyas name in your workplace, with your family, etc.? What was the reaction/response?
·      Do you still use it? In what circumstances?
·      Did the name have any impact on your life?
·      Did you get a personal message from Osho about the meaning of your name, or did you get a message about that on a different level?
·      Did the meaning of your name change for you over time?
·      Did you want a different name that was e.g. more exotic, less common, you didn’t want Prem or Deva...
·      Did you believe that prefixes had set meanings, like Prems are unloving or Devas are crazy? If so, how did that affect you?
·      Were you ever embarrassed about using your sannyas name?
·      Do you have an entertaining story about your sannyas name or your experience with it?
We’ve provided a few quotes from Osho about sannyas names at the end of the invitation for your inspiration, but there are many more. This is an open invitation, so feel free to pass it on.
Firm copy deadline:
October 20
Please let Avinasho know by September 1 if you are planning to participate in this Special Section:
Not more than 450 words, though less is fine.
Other submission info:
Electronic submissions in Microsoft Word are best to
Please send a photo of yourself (deadline November 10) to go along with your article. It’s best to send it electronically to Please be sure it is high-resolution, 300 dpi jpeg or TIF. You can also mail us a printed photo at Viha Meditation Center, PO Box 352, Mill Valley, CA 94942.
A note about the writing process:
We recommend that you read through this invitation with care before you start to write, and also refer to it during the writing process. We ask you to stick to the subject as outlined in this invitation, as the Special Section is designed to be a look at a particular subject from a variety of viewpoints. 
Love from the Editorial Board of the Viha Connection
Osho Quotes
Veera, all holy cow dung. Don't be deceived by the names. You are always hankering to catch hold of something, to make something big out of nothings. The names I give you are just like lovers' sweet nothings. Don't make much fuss about them.
In fact, once I have given you the name, never come and ask me about its meaning again because I forget. It is in that moment that I create the meaning around it. Then how am I supposed to remember? I must have given thirty thousand names or more.
A name is just a name. You are nameless. No name confines you, no name can confine you. They are just labels to be used -- utilitarian, nothing spiritual in it. But because I pay so much attention to your name and I explain it to you, you get hooked with it. That is just my way of showering my attention on you, nothing else; just my way of showing my love to you, nothing else.
The Diamond Sutra, Chapter 10
This uniqueness is a gift of god, and this uniqueness can only be known in deep love because only in love do you relax, only in love do you put your armor aside. Only in love do you allow yourself to be indefensible. Only in love can you trust that the other will not harm you, so you can allow the other into the deepest and the most delicate part of your being.
And the relationship between a disciple and a master is a love relationship. That's why I give you a new name, that's why to every sannyasin I give a new name. That's my perception of you, that's my vision of you, that's my penetration into your uniqueness.
Zorba The Buddha, Chapter 4
Sannyas is a disidentification with the past... a new beginning, a new being, a fresh breeze, a rebirth. All that is implied in giving you a new name. [...]
God will also need a name so that He can call you, so He can provoke you, so that whenever He wants to say something it can be addressed to you. The sannyas name is simply a new address -- a new address fundamentally meant for God, for the whole existence. So this is a turning point.
The Shadow of the Whip, Chapter 2
I give you a new name only to make you feel that names are not important. Your old name can simply disappear because it was only a label, it can be changed. You are not the name. To insist this fact, to emphasize this fact upon your consciousness, that the name is not your reality... [...]
But ordinarily you grow with your name; in fact, you become conscious only later on. Your name is deeper than your consciousness, hence there arises an identity with the name. You start feeling, "This is my name; this is me."
When you become a sannyasin I want to destroy that identity, because this is the beginning of destruction of all identities. First I destroy the identity with the name, then I will destroy the identity with the body, then the identity with the mind, then the identity with the heart. When all these identities have been destroyed you will be able to know who you are: the unidentified, the nameless, the formless, the indefinable. And that is only a pure witness in you; nothing can be said about it, no word is adequate to explain it.
I Am That, Chapter 6

Friday, August 2, 2013

Facebook Discrimination: Osho Demoted from Personhood

Osho International Foundation, Zurich (OIF) has claimed “Osho” as its own exclusive trademark in several countries around the world. In 2008 the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that “Osho” cannot be a trademark in the US. In India, Osho International Foundation Pune, a completely separate Indian legal entity, claimed ownership of “Osho” as a trademark, but the claim was opposed and no registration or ruling has ever taken place. In 2010 Osho Lotus Commune in Cologne filed a case in the EU to invalidate a trademark for “Osho” that OIF registered in 1999.
Nonetheless, OIF continues to claim that no one can use the name Osho to indicate an association with Osho the person in work that is related to Osho’s spiritual teachings unless OIF gives them permission. At some point after losing the US case, OIF went out and registered trademarks in new jurisdictions like China and Venezuela, where there are not enough sannyasins to oppose the registrations. Based on these filings they claim to own an “international” trademark for Osho.
OIF now argues that no one can use Osho’s name descriptively in a business name on the Internet, because the Internet goes to the whole world, and OIF has Osho registered as a trademark in some jurisdictions.
In the EU case over 30 center leaders, therapists, and others involved with Osho’s work testified that they had used Osho’s name to describe His connection to their work, programs, and processes since 1989 or soon after. OIF did not register a trademark for those services till 1999 and did not begin attempting to license that mark until 2009, after losing in the US.
In retaliation, Klaus Steeg (Pramod) has filed complaints with Facebook on behalf of OIF against every person with a page containing the name Osho who testified in the EU case, and Facebook has taken down those pages. In one case Facebook even took down the personal page of a center’s web person.
Facebook’s terms, which appear on its website, state that Facebook will not adjudicate between parties in an intellectual property dispute. US law requires Facebook to allow people accused of copyright violations to object to the copyright claim, and if the accused responds and the claimant does not file an enforcement lawsuit within a specified time, the page must be put back up.
In contrast, if a claimant to trademark ownership fills out a scanty online form that could not possibly give enough information to actually determine the sufficiency of a trademark claim, Facebook will take down the page, will not allow the accused to respond, and will not put the page back up unless the claimant agrees to it.
In doing this, Facebook is deciding that the trademark claimant has a valid claim to a trademark, though there are many possible defenses to a trademark claim, such as that the mark is invalid (as the US has decided with “Osho”), that the registration was fraudulent, that there is no trademark where the accused is based, that the accused has priority in using the alleged mark, and that the word is the name of the historical person and being used as a name, not as a trademark (which is the case with all the pages that have been taken down).
All jurisdictions have a process for trademark claimants to bring actions for infringement, and the accused is always allowed to present a defense. None require the accused to bring an action to prove non-infringement, but Facebook has now created that situation. Rather than requiring the trademark claimant to file the infringement action in the appropriate legal jurisdiction, as a copyright claimant must do, the accused in a trademark case is excluded from Facebook until it files a legal action against the claimant in the jurisdiction where it is incorporated or against Facebook in the US. In this case, people accused of infringement by OIF may need to go to Switzerland to bring an action against OIF.
The result of this Facebook policy is discrimination against people connected to Osho as a spiritual teacher, who want to use His name to describe their work or to talk about His work on a Facebook page. Osho the person can be mentioned in page content, but people may not mention Osho in the page title – in the place that will attract people interested in Osho – or Facebook may take down the page. In other words, people associated with Osho cannot use Facebook to discuss or spread the teachings of their spiritual leader in the way all other religious groups can. Both “Jesus” and “Buddha” are trademarks in the US for specific products, but Facebook would not take down all pages with these names in the title. For example, Facebook would not take down a page for the First Church of Jesus Christ, because they would acknowledge that “Jesus” in the church name is a reference to the historical person, not a trademark use. They would not take down a page titled Buddha Sanctuary, as they would recognize this as a reference to the historical Buddha.
Yet Facebook treats Osho differently. For Facebook Osho is not a person with a name, and people associated with Osho are not allowed to refer to Him in their page names. For Facebook, Osho is only a trademark. Facebook is aware of this situation and the effect of its practices on lovers of Osho but has refused to comment on its policy or to change it.
The result has been remarkable. One of the pages Facebook took down was Osho Pulsation, which is located in California, where the law is clear that there is no Osho trademark. Other pages taken down were for Osho Uta Institut, Osho Times, and Osho Diamond Breath. All of these used the name Osho in connection to their businesses before OIF filed for relevant marks. Under EU law OIF cannot enforce a later mark against them, even if a mark for “Osho” should turn out to be valid. Over the last year or so other pages have been taken down, including those of Swami Rajneesh, now known as Ozen Rajneesh, whose activities have taken place in India and Mexico, where OIF, Zurich, has never had a trademark claim.
Those who testified in the EU trademark case are not the only one’s affected. Ursula Hoess (Vatayana) has written to other owners of Facebook pages that contain Osho’s name, telling them they must “acknowledge” OIF’s ownership of trademarks for “Osho” or their pages will be taken down. (Of course, no one can “acknowledge” ownership of a trademark. That is always up to the relevant legal jurisdiction to decide.) Phillip Toelkes (Niren) has written letters threatening legal action against Osho Uta Institut and Osho Diamond Breath and to a long-time therapist to tell her she may no longer describe herself as an “Osho therapist.” That was a blast from the past, since few, if any, therapists refer to themselves that way these days anyway. Interestingly, most of Niren’s letters have been written to people in Europe, and he has ignored the fact that he is not licensed to practice law there.
Klaus Steeg has written threatening letters to, and when they did not agree to comply with his demands, OIF had the Osho News Facebook page taken down (and he is not licensed to practice law at all). This activity is expected to continue unless legal action is once again taken against OIF. If a legal action is brought against Facebook, the terms of use may require OIF to pay their legal fees as well.
Sourced from Viha Connection magazine