Leonard Orr

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Leonard Dietrich Orr
Born (1937-11-15)15 November 1937
Walton, New York
Nationality American
Known for Rebirthing-Breathwork
Religion Eclectic

Leonard Dietrich Orr (born 1937-11-15) is an American spiritual writer best known for developing Rebirthing-Breathwork, a "system" or technique of breathing that can help one to overcome the "trauma" of being born.

Childhood and education[edit]

Leonard Orr was born in Walton, New York. He was the sixth child of Eva and William Orr, farmers.[1] His mother was 42 when pregnant with him and apparently not happy to have another child. Orr reported that he was born through a breach birth, with the umbilical cord around his neck.[2] It is believed that this traumatic birth, combined with being unexpected and unwanted child, and a rather distant attitude of his mother toward him, were important factors in shaping Orr's perception of life and later discoveries.[3] Orr believes that these were the reasons why he remained a virgin until the age of 25.[4]

Orr's family was associated with the local Presbyterian Church.[5] After graduating from high school, Orr attended Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in the years 1955-1959. He majored "in Bible and philosophy."[6] In the years 1959-1962 Orr studied at Los Angeles Pacific College.[7] In those formative years he was reportedly influenced by Joel Teutsch and her ability to overcome serious physical handicaps.[8] He was also influenced among others by "success philosophy" of Napoleon Hill and Earl Nightingale.[9]

Early employment[edit]

In the years 1962-64 Orr was supporting himself from various sales jobs. In 1964-65 he supervised a half-way house for teenagers ran by the Episcopal Church and was the valley field director for the Catholic Youth Organization supervising teenage clubs in forty parishes.[10] He then worked as "Staff Training Consultant" for Werner Erhard.[11] It appears that this experience helped Orr to become a successful motivational speaker, especially in the field of "prosperity consciousness."[12]

Discovery of Rebirthing[edit]

Orr reported that around 1962 he started having "spontaneous regressive" experiences while taking baths.[13] He felt weak, "helpless like an infant," scared, sad, vulnerable, at times suicidal, and troubled by strong physical pains. Gradually, Orr realized he was likely reliving the experience of his own birth. He discovered that the only way to balance these unpleasant experiences was to "continuously connect his breath."[14] However, it took Orr a few years to realize the centrality of breath in his method. The first technique of rebirthing was just to sit in the bathtub and meditate through a "urgency barrier" (desire to leave the bathtub), which typically was followed by some reminiscences of the birth.[15] Then, for a number of years, Orr was encouraging those interested in his method to "float" in a hot tub or pool with a snorkel and nose clip.[16] He believed that "the water simulated a womb-like environment" and was triggering "instant regression into birth and prenatal states of consciousness."[17] "Wet rebirthing" appeared to be still the main method when Orr established Theta House in San Francisco in 1974.[18] However, Orr observed that many people appeared to benefit from "connected breathing" alone, even if it was taking place without immersion in the water. In time, he realized that "freeing and releasing of the breath" was more important than stimulating "birth regressions."[19]

Regardless many years of refining rebirthing breathing technique remained relatively simple. Orr defines it as "merging the inhale with the exhale in a gentle relaxed rhythm in an intuitive way (...)."[20] He referred to this technique as "conscious connected breathing"[21] or later as "intuitive energy breathing."[22]

Further inspirations[edit]

It appears that Orr was influenced by many ideas of New Age Movement, popular in California in the 1960s and 1970s. These inspirations are reflected in the title of Orr's first classic book, co-authored with Sondra Ray - "Rebirthing in the New Age." Among these ideas was belief in the supremacy of "mind over matter," traceable to one of Orr's favorite classics - "As a Man Thinketh" by James Allen. This led to the formulation of "Thought is Creative Principle," considered in Rebirthing to be an "absolute truth"[23] and practical applications such as "optimistic, positive attitude" or the technique of affirmations. Orr appeared to be especially fond of the authors suggesting the possibility of overcoming physical death, such as Annalee Skarin - "Ye are Gods" or "Beyond Mortal Boundaries" - Alan Harrington, author of "The Immortalist," or Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, the author of "The Conquest of Death." Orr was also influenced by Eastern philosophies or esoteric traditions, reflected among others in the teachings of Paramahansa Yogandanda. He believes in reincarnation[24] and have made karma from the past lives a part of the conceptualization of "The Eight Biggies of Human Trauma." The Eight Biggies are: Birth Trauma, Parental Disapproval Syndrome, Specific Negatives, Unconscious Death Urge, Past Life Karma, School Trauma, Religion Trauma and Senility.[25] He studied Native American traditions, especially those of Hopi Indians. Orr was also inspired by the proponents of so-called "gentle birth" such as Frederic Leboyer - "Birth Without Violence" - or Thomas Verny - "The Secret Life of the Unborn Child." Among other ideas that inspired him are: vegetarianism, fasting, firewalking, water birth, and alternative medicine.

Rebirth International and Conscious Village[edit]

Orr estimated that between 1974 and 1980 he trained a few thousands of rebirthers (“breathing teachers”) who offered the experience of conscious connected breathing to “over 100,000 people around the world.”[26] To promote the excellence in this technique Orr created Rebirth International, organization that maintains the directory of “certified rebirthers” from all over the world (still in existence in 2014). On the wave of Rebirthing popularity, in 1976 Orr purchased Campbell Hot Springs, a 680 acres property, near Sierraville and Lake Tahoe in California.[27] Orr renamed the property as “Conscious Village” – it had become the main Rebirthing Training Center for the next 15 years.[28]

Quest for Physical immortality[edit]

Orr reported that his interest in physical immortality was related to his own traumatic birth, during which he “came as close to dying as is possible without actually dying.”[29] Gradually, he realized that birth trauma was the cause of his “death urge” and suicidal tendencies, because “(…) birth trauma creates an internal struggle that cannot be resolved except by death or by rebirth.”[30] Orr defines “death urge” as “(…) a collection of anti-life thoughts and feelings.”[31] In his opinion, death urge is often behind “(…) the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, financial failure, relationship failure, no joy, no energy, no desires, no interest, etc.”[32] He claims that “(…) suicide and homicide is another manifestation of the death urge,” with auto accidents being a “disguised form of suicide and homicide.”[33] Orr purports that death urge is rooted in the belief that “death is inevitable and beyond control,”[34] which is a result of popular social and religious conditioning,[35] and in unhealthy habits, such as eating unhealthy foods, abuse of alcohol and drugs, smoking, overworking in pursue of monetary rewards, burnout, poor "energy management," etc.[36]

Orr reports that he “unravelled his death urge” in 1967.[37] Coming to conclusion that “the belief that death is inevitable is unhealthy for humans,”[38] he started teaching “physical immortality” in 1974.[39] He re-examined his own Christian beliefs in the light of this new philosophy.[40] Inspired by books, such as “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Yogananda and “Life and Teaching of the Masters of the Far East” by Beard Spalding, he also started his search for “immortal yogis.” He started travelling to India for this purpose in 1977, and in 1978 became a follower of Haidakhan Babaji.


Orr visited Haidakhan Babaji three times: in 1978, 1979 and 1981.[41] This contact inspired Orr to include many elements of Haidakhan Babaji’s “spiritual technology” into his own trainings and seminars. This included: techniques of “spiritual purification” through water, earth, air and fire, including fasting; repetition of God’s Name, in particular the mantra Om Namaha Shivaya; the practices of Karma Yoga (yoga of physical work), devotional singing known as Aarati,[42] and the promotion of the Hindu scripture Shiva Purana.[43]

Political, social and economic views[edit]

New Age ideas and his own spirituality influenced Orr’s political, social and economic views.[44] Orr argued that “all the wealth is created by the human mind, and being wealthy is a function of enlightenment.”[45] He believed that the best way to increase income is by “increasing the quality of (one’s) ideas,” leading to a “well developed prosperity consciousness,” defined as “a structure of positive ideas about money.”[46] He maintained that human mind is “a machine, and will produce wealth as easily as poverty.”[47] He advocated for the use of affirmations, such as: “I deserve to be prosperous and wealthy,” and “My personal connection to Infinite Being and Infinite Intelligence is adequate enough to yield a huge personal fortune,” or “Every dollar I spend comes back to me multiplied.”[48]

Orr was encouraging people to be imaginative in offering services in the fields they really enjoy.[49] He was urging people to be self-employed as self-employed people are more active and more in charge of their destiny. He believed that “the prosperity of a nation is determined by the ratio of its self employed people, because self employed employ the rest.”[50] He was fond of Multi Level Marketing (MLM), because it was training people to be self-employed, leading to “financial independence.”[51]

Orr maintained that: “Responsible citizenship is an essential element of the practice of love” and “(…) a golden opportunity for adult education and spiritual enlightenment.”[52] He believed that most of the problems of our civilization are caused by human apathy, caused by psychological dynamics, such as insecurity, fear of disapproval, rebellion syndrome, or similar.[53] This apathy, Orr believed, created a very corrupt political system, in which there is not enough control of the elected officials and the policies they introduce. “The source of this corruption is you” – Orr proclaimed – “(…) until you become a responsible citizen and participate in local government, you are the source of the problems (…).”[54]

Orr believed that human apathy is also caused by systemic problems, such as inadequate ratio of representation.[55] When one person represents hundreds of thousands or sometimes millions of people, Orr maintained, people lose contact with their representatives, become alienated and stop caring.[56] He proposed to lower the representation ratio to about 1 representative for 1000 people.[57] He was advocating for “neighborhood organizations,” “district organizations”[58] and participation in “monthly town meetings.”[59]

Acting on these beliefs Orr participated in Los Angeles municipal elections in 1973.[60] In the race for the mayoral position he obtained 555 votes.[61]

Since the publication of Government Without Taxes in 1973, Orr has been consistently critical of the American taxation system, to the point of calling the IRS “evil” and “public enemy #1.”[62] He believed in the principle of “no taxation without representation” and was proposing to establish “one taxing agency which is directly controlled by a vote of the people.”[63] He advocated for the abolition of certain taxes (e.g. corporate, business, property) in favor of a simple sales tax, “a straight income tax of 1 percent,” and a voluntary social welfare tax.[64]

Orr believed that the government should be conceived as a “business corporation” with all the citizens as stockholders.[65] According to him, every citizen deserves “(…) a monthly dividend check based upon the social and financial prosperity of (…) local economy, as well the gross national product of the United States economy.”[66] He advocated for the creation of the Citizen’s Prosperity Fund – “a bank account to be filled with money which is distributed equally in monthly payments to all residents in a defined geographical territory.”[67] This fund would satisfy every consumer’s “(…) natural right to a regular personal cash flow as a necessary element to make the money system work with optimum justice and efficiency.”[68]

Orr also advocated for an “inalienable right” of the people to coin or print money.[69] In the year 2000 he made attempts to introduce alternative currency – “Love Notes” – within the Rebirthing-Breathwork community.[70] "Love Notes" are still being offered through one of Orr's web pages.[71]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.33.
  2. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.57
  3. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.55.
  4. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.57.
  5. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.34.
  6. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.40.
  7. ^ "Eternal Breath." P. 43, 46.
  8. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.43-46.
  9. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.43.
  10. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.51.
  11. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.51
  12. ^ E.g. "The Money Seminar" (video recording), Prosperity Consciousness Consultation I, II and III. Also: "Eternal Breath." P.106-111.
  13. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.52-3.
  14. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.56.
  15. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.59.
  16. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.60.
  17. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.60.
  18. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.83.
  19. ^ "Eternal Breath." P.64.
  20. ^ "The Healing Manual." P.1.
  21. ^ "Rebirthing in the New Age."
  22. ^ "The Healing Manual." P.1.
  23. ^ "Rebirthing in the New Age." P.52.
  24. ^ E.g. "The Healing Manual." P.48.
  25. ^ "The Healing Manual." P. 43-53.
  26. ^ “Physical Immortality. The Science of Everlasting Life.” (1988). P.51. (Orr didn’t explain how he arrived at these numbers).
  27. ^ “Eternal Breath.” P.137.
  28. ^ “EternalBreath.” P.138-141.
  29. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.3-2.
  30. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.3-2.
  31. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.4-2.
  32. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.4-4.
  33. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.1-1.
  34. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.1-2, 2-2.
  35. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.1-1.
  36. ^ E.g. “Healing the Death Urge.” P.1-1, 1-2, Also, “Eternal Breath.” P.378-380, 410-416. Also, "Personal Energy Management."
  37. ^ “Breaking the Death Habit.” P.21.
  38. ^ E.g. “Physical Immortality. The Science of Everlasting Life.” (1988). P.49.
  39. ^ “Healing the Death Urge.” P.4-1.
  40. ^ See for instance: “Physical Immortality for Christians.” (1989), or “Eternal Breath.” P.333-343.
  41. ^ “Physical Immortality. The Science of Everlasting Life.” (1988). P.27, 33.
  42. ^ “Physical Immortality. The Science of Everlasting Life.” (1988). P.27-28, 44, 54-59. Rebirthing in the New Age. P.143-9. “Healing the Death Urge.” P.6-1,2. “Eternal Breath.” P.215-217
  43. ^ E.g. “The Bible and Shiva Purana.” (2003). The Conscious Connection. Newsletter of Rebirth International. Summer 2003, or “The Shiva Purana.” (2004). The Conscious Connection. Newsletter of Rebirth International. Fall 2004. Also “Eternal Breath.” P.347-350.
  44. ^ See for instance: “New Age Politics and Economics” – Chapter 9 of “Rebirthing in the New Age,” pp.217-239.
  45. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.196.
  46. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.196.
  47. ^ "Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.196.
  48. ^ "Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.196, 200.
  49. ^ "Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.198.
  50. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.61.
  51. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.58-61.
  52. ^ “Breaking the Death Habit.” P.121.
  53. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.66.
  54. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.66.
  55. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.221.
  56. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.65.
  57. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.221.
  58. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.222-3.
  59. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.221. “The Healing Manual.” P.65.
  60. ^ “Eternal Breath.” P.154.
  61. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Los_Angeles_municipal_election_returns. Tom Bradley won the race for the mayor with 233 789 votes.
  62. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.56.
  63. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.232.
  64. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.231-2.
  65. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.231.
  66. ^ “Eternal Breath.” P.159.
  67. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.226-7.
  68. ^ “Rebirthing in the New Age.” P.227.
  69. ^ “The Healing Manual.” P.55
  70. ^ See for instance, “The Conscious Connection. The Newsletter of Rebirth International.” Jan, May, Jul, Oct 2000.
  71. ^ http://rebirthingbreathwork.com/category/love-notes-money/

References[edit]

  • Churchill, Pola. (2007). Eternal Breath. A Biography of Leonard Orr, Founder of Rebirthing Breathwork. Victoria, BC: Trafford Publ. ISBN 978-1-4251-0763-5
  • Orr, Leonard. (1988). Physical Immortality: The Science of Everlasting Life. Staunton, VA: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-01-4
  • Orr, Leonard. (1995). Healing the Death Urge. Staunton, VA: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-20-0
  • Orr, Leonard. (1998). Breaking the Death Habit : The Science of Everlasting Life. ISBN 1-883319-68-4
  • Orr, Leonard. (1998). The Healing Manual. Walton, NY: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-23-5
  • Orr, Leonard, Ray, Sondra. (1983). Rebirthing in the New Age.(First edition 1977). Berkeley, CA: Celestial Books. ISBN 0-89087-134-5

Bibliography[edit]

  • Babaji: The Angel of the Lord. (1995). ISBN 0-945793-18-9
  • Bhartriji : 2000 Year Immortal Yogi. (1990). ISBN 0-945793-05-7
  • Breaking the Death Habit : The Science of Everlasting Life. (1998). ISBN 1-883319-68-4
  • Breath Awareness: Breath Awareness for Public Schools, Medical Profession. (1988). ISBN 0-945793-02-2
  • Fire. (1996). Walton, NY: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-21-9
  • Government Without Taxes. (1973).
  • Healing the Death Urge. (1995). Staunton, VA: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-20-0
  • How to Make Democracy Work. (1972).
  • Personal Energy Management. (1996). Staunton, VA: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-15-4
  • Physical Immortality: The Science of Everlasting Life. (1980). ISBN 0-89087-325-9
  • Physical Immortality: The Science of Everlasting Life. (1988). Staunton, VA: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-01-4
  • Physical Immortality for Christians. (1989). ISBN 0-620-13199-3
  • Rebirthing in the New Age. (1983). (Co-authored with Sondra Ray; first edition 1977). Berkeley, CA: Celestial Books. ISBN 0-89087-134-5
  • The Healing Manual. (1998). Walton, NY: Inspiration University. ISBN 0-945793-23-5

External links[edit]