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The Joke is Over

In 1988 Bhagwan didn't want to be called Bhagwan anymore. This started a no-name phase in which disciples addressed their master as ′Beloved Master′. But a few more titles were to follow, such as ′Maitreya the Buddha′ and ′Shree Rajneesh Zorba the Buddha.′

Judith Fox writes in Osho Rajneesh, a study in contemporary religion:

He adopted and discarded two further titles for himself: ′Maitreya the Buddha′ and ′Shree Rajneesh Zorba the Buddha′. Then in February 1989 he changed his name, for the last time, to Osho. Again, as with the term "Bhagwan" and in line with the contradictory nature typical of sannyas, explanations regarding its meaning differed. One close disciple wrote that she, like others, thought it derived from ancient Japanese. She wrote, "′O′ means ′with great respect, love and gratitude′ as well as ′synchronicity′ and ′harmony′. ′SHO′ means ′multidimensional expansion of consciousness′ and ′existence showering from all directions′" (Forman, The Twelve Days that Shook the World).

Osho himself announced that the term was inspired from a different source:

Osho explained that his name is derived from William James′ word ′oceanic′ which means ′dissolving into the ocean′. Oceanic describes the experience, he says, but what about the experiencer? For that we use the word ′Osho′. He later came to find out that ′Osho′ has also been used historically in the Far East, meaning ′The Blessed One, on Whom the Sky Showers Flowers′ (Meredith, Bhagwan; The Most Godless Yet the Most Godly Man, preface).

Whatever its origin, to some onlookers this new name better suited the next phase of activity.