The Physical Immortalist and the Guru who Died
The Relationship between Leonard Orr – Originator of Rebirthing – and His Immortal Guru Haidakhan Babaji
Keywords:Haidakhan Babaji, Leonard Orr, Rebirthing, Physical immoratlity, Guru-disciple relationships
Most of the Western world’s first introduction to Babaji was through Paramahansa Yogananda’s classic Autobiography of a Yogi, where Babaji is lovingly described as the satguru who can bestow all gifts on anyone who calls his name sincerely. Those who did call his name sincerely included Leonard Orr, the originator of rebirthing therapeutic work, and of the practice known as physical immortality. According to Orr, Haidakhan Babaji was an immortal being who had lived for over 9000 years. In the late 1970s and early 1980s Orr revisioned his emerging therapeutic work, suggesting that Haidakhan Babaji should become the satguru (supreme teacher) for all Westerners who wish to remain immortal in their current physical bodies. Orr was at the forefront of a new therapy – with a growing international presence garnering interest and acclaim within the New Age movement. But on 15 February 1984 the inconceivable happened: the immortal Haidakhan Babaji died of a heart attack. This article examines how meaning was reframed and recreated subsequent to the death of the guru, to whom all the freedoms that physical immortality could provide were ascribed. Fallout for Orr included not only the grief of losing his beloved teacher, but also the possibility of losing the bedrock of the belief system which he had already publicly espoused and internationally promoted.
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