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Archive for the ‘Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’ Category

JUST THE WAY IT IS: Believing something doesn’t make it true – Monroe County Reporter

Posted: September 15, 2019 at 4:43 pm


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Previously, Ive proven four undeniable truths. Its time for Undeniable Truth #5: An idea is not responsible for who believes it. Thats another way of saying each of us is responsible for our own thoughts and for what we believe. A perfect example is the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. If youve never heard of the Bhagwan, look him up; youll be astonished. The Bhagwan was a Hindu spiritual guru in India back in the 1960s and 70s. He developed a large following of new age, Rajneesh spiritualists, which led to problems between the Bhagwan, his followers, and the Indian government. In 1981, the Bhagwan bought 65,000 acres in a sparsely populated county in the Oregon desert and moved his entire operations over here.

ONCE THE Bhagwan arrived in America he established a large commune. To join the commune, the new age adherents had to pledge loyalty to the Bhagwan; and they had to give him all their possessions to include their spouse (i.e. wife). The Bhagwan was very charismatic and somehow convinced over 1,000 people to join his desert paradise. The commune, specifically the Bhagwan, became very wealthy from the hundreds of people who gave him everything they owned. While his followers meditated most of the day, slept on mats in open-bay dormitory type housing, and disavowed all material possessions; the Bhagwan grew extremely wealthy, slept with a different woman each night, and bought luxury car after luxury car.

IT WASNT long before the commune came into conflict with local ranchers and county officials, mostly over land use issues. Since the county was sparsely populated, the Bhagwan sent busses around the West, rounded up hundreds of homeless people, brought them to the commune so they could vote in local county elections with the goal to oust the county officials and replace them with Rajneesh spiritualists. Eventually, the Bhagwan and the commune ran afoul of the law and warrants were issued for the Bhagwans arrest. The Bhagwan, and several of his lieutenants, fled to India before they could be arrested. When authorities raided the commune they were amazed. The Bhagwan had over 50 Rolls Royces, a luxurious mansion, and flaunted his ostentatious wealth while his Rajneesh followers lived a subsistence existence with no material possessions whatsoever.

REMEMBER, AN idea is not responsible for who believes it. With that as a truth, who were the fools, the Bhagwan or his gullible followers? In order for anyone to believe something, first, we must be presented with an idea; then, we ponder that idea; and finally accept or reject it based on common sense. Its obvious that the Bhagwan didnt believe his own rhetoric about the path to enlightenment; yet he managed to convince hundreds of people to follow his teachings that they might gain spiritual oneness but to do so, they had to forego all material possessions. The Bhagwans followers were living an impoverished existence; they could see the luxurious lifestyle the Bhagwan was living; still they continued following him. Thirty five years later, Im still astounded that so many people allowed the Bhagwan to scam them.

ANOTHER IDEA that amazes me is climate change (CC). For Earths entire history there has been climate change. Climate change is an absolute FACT, and the ice ages are the best proof. There have been at least five ice ages in Earths history. Climate scientists tell us that right now we are in an interglacial period of the Pleistocene ice age. The Pleistocene glaciation began 2.58 million years ago. Over that span, the climate has changed numerous times. The cycle is as follows: First, the climate cooled creating continental ice sheets that covered much of the northern hemisphere and Antarctica. Then, after hundreds of thousands of years, the climate warmed and, except for Antarctica and Greenland, most of the ice sheets melted. Each time the glacial ice sheets advanced the oceans receded. Then, when they melted, the oceans rose. In the past 2.58 million years, this cycle has repeated itself at least four times, possibly five.

THE UNANSWERED question is what caused the glaciers? Why do ice sheets advance and then recede? The weather and climate is probably the most dynamic, complex system on Earth. Some of the factors that affect the climate include wind and ocean currents, volcanic activity, continental drift, the global vegetation coverage, global ice coverage, composition of the atmosphere, changes to Earths axial tilt (41,000 year cycle), precession of the planet (26,000 year cycle), variations of earth orbit, and solar activity. Each of these factors affects the climate in some manner. How much? We dont know. Climate scientists tell us that theres more we dont know about the climate than what we do know. Heres proof of how little we know; tell me what the weather will be on Oct 11th, 30 short days from now. Will it be hot? Cold? Sunny? Or rainy? If you cant tell me what the weather will be one month from today, then dont try telling me what the climate will be 50 or 100 years from now.

HOWEVER, DONT worry about why the climate changes because we have climate change gurus, such as Al Gore and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They have it all figured out. The climate gurus insist that human activities that burn fossil fuels - such as driving your car, heating and cooling your house, etc. are causing the planet to warm thus creating climate change that will melt glaciers and raise ocean levels. The climate gurus insist that the only way to save the planet is for you to forego all activities that burn fossil fuels. However, just like the Bhagwan, the climate gurus dont believe their own rhetoric. If they did, Barack Obama would not have bought a $15 million ocean-front mansion. Also, if mankinds burning of fossil fuels changes the climate, explain how the climate changed so often before mankind existed?

WEEKLY THOUGHT: An idea is not responsible for who believes it.

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JUST THE WAY IT IS: Believing something doesn't make it true - Monroe County Reporter

Written by admin

September 15th, 2019 at 4:43 pm

25 years after Rajneeshee commune collapsed, truth spills …

Posted: September 6, 2019 at 9:50 am


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Editor's note: In a nearly unbelievable chapter of Oregon history, a guru from India gathered 2,000 followers to live on a remote eastern Oregon ranch. The dream collapsed 25 years ago amid attempted murders, criminal charges and deportations.

But the whole story was never made public. With first-ever access to government files, and some participants willing to talk for the first time, it's clear things were far worse than we realized.

What follows is an inside look -- based on witness statements, grand jury transcripts, police reports, court records and fresh interviews -- at how Rajneesh leaders tried to skirt land-use and immigration laws only to have their schemes collapse to the point they decided killing Oregonians was the only way to save their religious utopia.

Ma Anand Puja stepped into St. Vincent Hospital on a summer night in 1985, hunting for James Comini.

The Filipino nurse was there to kill the rural Oregon politician, who was recuperating from ear surgery at the Portland hospital. She carried a syringe to inject a mixture into Comini's intravenous tube that would stop his heart.

But once inside Comini's seventh-floor isolation room, Puja discovered her target wasn't on an IV. Flustered, she hurried from the hospital to a getaway car, and her assassination team started the long drive home.

Their destination: Rancho Rajneesh, a spiritual encampment 200 miles away in eastern Oregon. It was base for Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a guru from India, and 2,000 of his worshippers.

The murder scheme was just one of many increasingly desperate attempts to save the guru's empire.

The Rajneeshees had been making headlines in Oregon for four years. Thousands dressed in red, worked without pay and idolized a wispy-haired man who sat silent before them. They had taken over a worn-out cattle ranch to build a religious utopia. They formed a city, and took over another. They bought one Rolls-Royce after another for the guru -- 93 in all.

Along the way, they made plenty of enemies, often deliberately. Rajneeshee leaders were less than gracious in demanding government and community favors. Usually tolerant Oregonians pushed back, sometimes in threatening ways. Both sides stewed, often publicly, before matters escalated far beyond verbal taunts and nasty press releases.

Three months after the aborted Comini plot, the commune collapsed and the Rajneeshees' darkest secrets tumbled out.

Hand-picked teams of Rajneeshees had executed the largest biological terrorism attack in U.S. history, poisoning at least 700 people. They ran the largest illegal wiretapping operation ever uncovered. And their immigration fraud to harbor foreigners remains unrivaled in scope. The revelations brought criminal charges, defections, global manhunts and prison time.

But there was much more.

Long-secret government files obtained by The Oregonian, and fresh interviews with ex-Rajneeshees and others now willing to talk, yield chilling insight into what went on inside Rancho Rajneesh a quarter-century ago.

It's long been known they had marked Oregon's chief federal prosecutor for murder, but now it's clear the Rajneeshees also stalked the state attorney general, lining him up for death.

They contaminated salad bars at numerous restaurants, but The Oregonian's examination reveals for the first time that they just as eagerly spread dangerous bacteria at a grocery store, a public building and a political rally.

To strike at government authority, Rajneeshee leaders considered flying a bomb-laden plane into the county courthouse in The Dalles -- 16 years before al-Qaida used planes as weapons.

And power struggles within Rajneeshee leadership spawned plans to murder even some of their own. The guru's caretaker was to be killed in her bed, spared only by a simple mistake.

Strangely, most of these stunning crimes were in rebellion against that most mundane of government regulations, land-use law. The Rajneeshees turned the yawner of comprehensive plans into a page-turning thriller of brazen crimes.

A new start

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh needed a new place to build his worldwide commune.

In India, he worked as a small-town philosophy professor until he found enlightenment paid better. He built a thriving enterprise attracting Westerners to his lectures and group therapies. They sought meaning in their lives, escaping the remains of the Vietnam War and a crashing world economy. And Rajneesh mixed in plenty of sexual freedom, ensuring publicity to build his brand.

Government authorities in India, weary of the Rajneesh's growing notoriety, cracked down on his group's unseemly and illegal behavior, including smuggling and tax fraud. The guru ran, ending up half a globe away at the Big Muddy Ranch, 100 square miles of rangeland an hour's drive north of Madras.

The first contingent of Rajneeshees quietly moved to Oregon in summer 1981, but they couldn't escape notice for long. Part of the guru's brand was clothing in reddish hues. Such dress was out of place in the blue denim reaches of Oregon. Followers, known as sannyasins, also displayed their devotion to the guru by wearing malas, wood bead necklaces holding a photo of Rajneesh.

Resettling in Oregon was the work of his chief of staff, Ma Anand Sheela, then 31 years old. She was a native of India, born to a privileged family as Sheela Patel. She wasn't after enlightenment. She was quick-witted and hungry for power, the perfect instrument for the guru's ambition.

Initially soft-spoken and engaging, Sheela charmed Oregon ranchers and politicians. Early on, she hosted a dance in Madras where cowboys partied until dawn. She curried favor, buying 50 head of cattle from a Wasco County commissioner, even though the commune was vegetarian.

She assured the guru that the commune of his dreams would soon rise on the Big Muddy. She expected to put up housing compounds, warehouses and support buildings. Business enterprises, once based in India, would move to the ranch.

In short, Sheela intended to do as she wished on their remote 64,000 acres.

Anxious to move ahead, she closed the property deal without understanding Oregon law -- a pivotal mistake. She didn't know the state severely limited how many people and buildings could be jammed onto ranch land.

Already it was too late. The money was paid, the guru packed and hundreds of sannyasins were expecting to be housed and fed. Sheela and the guru were undeterred. In India, trickery and bribery got results. Why would Oregon be any different?

The Rajneeshees found that the law did allow some new homes, but only for farmworkers and their families. Sheela homed in on that exemption when she met with Wasco County planners in summer 1981.

She was joined by her husband, a former New York banker named John Shelfer who was known on the ranch as Swami Jay, and David Knapp, a California therapist known as Swami Krishna Deva. For the meeting, they shed any sign of affiliation with the sect. They wore plain clothes, stowed their malas and introduced themselves by their given, not sannyasin, names.

They told the assembled officials they planned to operate a farm commune. Workers would be brought in to restore abused rangeland. They needed dwellings to house the workers.

Attending the meeting was Dan Durow, a young planner who had been with Wasco County less than a month. He had a trusting nature from his Midwestern upbringing and was intrigued by the idea of a farm commune. They discussed how the ranch could legally house perhaps 150 workers.

But the three visitors were vague about whom they represented.

"Are you a religious organization?" Durow finally asked.

"No," came Sheela's quick answer. "We celebrate life and laughter. We are simple farmers."

In the ensuing months, Durow repeatedly traveled to the ranch to monitor developments. He discovered that four-bedroom modular houses were in fact dorms with no kitchen, no living room. The Rajneeshees, on alert for his visits, routinely hid extra mattresses to disguise the true population at the ranch.

Making enemies

To legally stretch the limits, the Rajneeshees moved to form their own city.

Their private Portland lawyers advised they needed to befriend 1000 Friends of Oregon. The environmental group was a watchdog over land use, especially guarding farmland from development.

In late 1981, Sheela, Krishna Deva -- better known as KD -- and others from the commune met with two lawyers from 1000 Friends. They explained they needed to erect a city to tend to the thousands who would be moving there. They explained that remaking the ranch into a working farm was a bigger task than expected.

The environmental lawyers applauded the desire to restore the land, but they saw no need for a city. Plopping an urban area into the middle of an agricultural operation didn't make sense. As their resistance became apparent, Sheela asked whether their opposition would dissolve if the Rajneeshees joined 1000 Friends with a substantial contribution.

The bribe was brushed off. Sheela turned snide. Observing the modest furnishings in the Portland office, Sheela said she wasn't surprised by "shabby" work being done by people working in "shabby" surroundings. The crack was needless, but it was trademark Sheela.

From then on, 1000 Friends and the Rajneeshees battled. The organization launched an aggressive, but not always successful, legal campaign to blunt creation of the city. Its fundraising literature soon bore the picture of Sheela, and donations and membership soared.

In turn, the Rajneeshees portrayed 1000 Friends as a pawn of powerful political interests. They considered the environmental group an enemy, more interested in crushing a religion than protecting land. They named their sewage lagoon after the group's executive director.

Their fight would rage on for years.

Much of it played out in Oregon courtrooms and in the media. Coached by the Bhagwan, Sheela became adept at using the press to her advantage. She could be counted on for outrageous news conferences, where her sharp tongue cut into the enemy of the day. She seemed to spit insults with every breath.

But her conduct troubled other Rajneesh leaders.

KD complained in a letter to the guru that the insults were impairing efforts to build the commune. The guru's response was blunt: You're a coward. KD swallowed the insult and kept his place at the inner circle of the ranch. Later, he used his insider knowledge to get a lenient plea deal for himself -- and to help send Sheela to prison.

Another insider, Ma Yoga Vidya, a mathematician then also known as Ann McCarthy, tried her hand at reeling in Sheela. In a private meeting with the guru, she described Sheela's conduct as "outrageous" and harmful to the commune. The guru nodded as he listened, but otherwise made no reply.

Her end run enraged Sheela. The next day, Sheela dragged herself out of a sick bed and, with an intravenous drip line in tow, took Vidya back to see the guru. This time he had plenty to say. He unloaded on Vidya, who was the commune president. He said Sheela was his agent, and when she spoke, she was talking for him. He told Vidya to never challenge Sheela and to share that instruction with other commune members.

Most Rajneeshees would have been surprised to learn the guru provided such intimate oversight. They believed the guru was a spiritual master, a rare enlightened man untouched by daily events at the ranch. To this day, some former sannyasins hold the view that he knew next to nothing about what was happening at his commune.

Sannyasins well understood, though, that Sheela acted with the guru's authority. She wasn't to be questioned on any decision or directive. She wielded the authority without restraint, sharing it with an elite team of other women leaders, called "moms" by their underlings, who kept the Rajneeshees in line both with favors and punishment.

Cliques and cracks

Not everyone could be so readily controlled, such as the guru's personal doctor, dentist and caretaker.

They and a handful of other sannyasins served Rajneesh in his fenced compound called Lao Tzu. Their independence irritated commune leaders, but especially peeved Sheela.

A group of wealthy California donors also proved challenging to control once they moved to the Oregon ranch in 1984. The most notable were Francoise Ruddy, whose former husband produced "The Godfather," and John Wally, a physician who made a fortune in emergency room medicine. She became Ma Prem Hasya; he was Swami Dhyan John.

They had no zeal for the lifestyle of seven-day workweeks, shared meals or rudimentary sleeping quarters. Instead, the Californians set up a home for themselves apart from the usual housing. They brought in expensive furnishings, artwork and even their own car, a Jaguar. Almost daily, they drove to Madras for groceries to avoid the ranch's staid meals.

That was bad enough, but they also attracted the guru's attention. They obliged him with diamond-studded watches and Rolls-Royces. Before long, Hasya married the guru's doctor.

The Hollywood group and the guru's personal staff soon made Sheela's list of people on and off the ranch considered a threat to the commune and the guru. She split up the Hollywood group, scattering them to separate homes around the ranch. She tried to replace the guru's doctor.

To keep tabs on what was going on inside the guru's compound, she had the place laced with hidden microphones and recording equipment. One bug was placed on a table leg next to the guru's favorite chair. He was told it was a panic button. Trusted sannyasins monitored the eavesdropping equipment, reporting information to the commune's top four leaders.

Eventually the chasm between the commune's leaders and the guru's chosen insiders became too much even for him. On a spring evening in 1984, he summoned both sides to his house and, in front of them all, lectured Sheela. He told her his house, not hers, was the center of the commune.

"Anyone who is close to me inevitably becomes a target of Sheela," the guru said.

He proved prophetic.

Two of those sitting at the guru's feet that day were later marked for death.

-- Les Zaitz: email him at specialreport@oregonian.com; visit the Rajneesh Report page on Facebook

Continued here:
25 years after Rajneeshee commune collapsed, truth spills ...

Written by admin

September 6th, 2019 at 9:50 am

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: Is he a charlatan, hypnotist or a …

Posted: July 15, 2019 at 3:47 am


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At a time when national politics seems to have reached its nadir, and the country is adrift on an uncharted course, one man is hammering out an unusual ideology of his own. Amidst the chaos of unstable governments and power breakdowns, warring politicians and embattled industrialists, one Indian is establishing a curious empire that seems to grow and grow.

Everything works in his little hotbed of activity, and he is busy piecing together fragments of a somewhat bizarre jigsaw that will one day, he claims, change the destiny of mankind. Flung far out in a town on the Malabar coast, he is slowly achieving a unique star status, capable of hogging headlines, arousing public opinion, provoking reaction.

Eighty miles inland from Bombay, the tranquil resort of Pune, once the home of aging British colonels, retired civil servants and a stylish assortment of sybarites from Bombay in search of a salubrious climate, has struck fame anew from an odd quarter. Some of the peace and quiet-has been shattered, with the permissive new peep-show the city is now said to promise. Not since an Indian guru with piercing hypnotic eyes moved in with his foreign gang has the town been the same again.

Flooded with saffron-swathed sannyasins cuddling in shady by-lanes that once knew no trespassers, Pune now rolls off the tongue with the spurious tang of sin. Is he a charlatan, hypnotist or a sex maniac? Travellers wonder as they step aboard the Deccan Queen at Bombay's Victoria Terminus each evening, their eyes taking in the spectacle of blonde - and usually bra-less - beauties on their way to prostrate themselves at the feet of this mesmeric godman.

Most Indians might travel to Pune in salacious silence these days, but it is doubtful if they return having rid themselves of their repression. Most westerners may get there carrying their souls on their sleeves, and come back to shout from the housetops their song of spiritual salvation.

Household Word: Provided they get beyond the ornately carved wooden-and-brass doors of the Rajneesh Ashram, both kinds of visitors have a point. For the man, who at 48, has adopted the title of Bhagwan (God) advocates sex and spirituality in equal measure. Excess in one, says Shri Bhagwan Rajneesh, may only expedite success in the other. And for hitting upon one such foolproof formula for salvation, elaborated and embroidered with a thousand meditation philosophies, he has become a unique religious export, a one-man spiritual industry, and a perpetual source of moral controversy.

He is a tough salesman, and with the aid of some neatly developed gimmicks, which he calls "devices", has created a spiritual supermarket, and he is a sell-out. Set apart from India's bewildering gaggle of gurus and godmen there has not been a religious commodity so publicised, since the Beatles and Mia Farrow abandoned the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for pastures new.

Manufacturing Industry: But Rajneesh goes several steps further in the art and industry of empire-building. Not only has he converted actors Terence Stamp and Vinod Khanna to his unique brand of sannyas, but an estimated 3.000 aspirants, the bulk of them soul-searching westerners, cross the portals of his ashram every month. Roughly a dozen a day are converted as sannyasins- that is, they convert to wearing coloured robes and wooden-bead malas with his photograph and adopt a name of his choosing.

According to the Ashram some 100,000 people world-wide have officially taken to sannyas a la Rajneesh in the last few years, since he moved to settle in Pune in late 1974. And a permanent settlement of 350 sannyasins have renounced their lives abroad - only one-sixth of his following is Indian - to come and work in the nucleus of his ashram. They produced everything from a range of unscented Body Dharma toiletries to a lavish variety of Rajneesh literature in the form of books, magazines, newsletters and tape-recordings of his lectures.

Dozens of press releases issue forth from the Rajneesh press office each week. Flaky pastries and plum tarts emanate from gleaming kitchens to beat every confectionery in town. Amateur jewellers and carpenters pore over crafting fine inlay furniture and silverware. Blonde seamstresses sit at electric sewing machines to turn out high fashion dresses in Rajneesh colours. Trained therapy leaders take a boggling variety of meditation and therapy courses with names such as Sufi Dancing and Dynamic Meditation.

Smelling Routine: Rajneesh himself is scarcely to be seen. As his business grows, he becomes more difficult to approach individually. Shutting himself up in closely-guarded rooms for most of the day he makes only two public appearances: one for his two-hour discourse in the morning and a smaller private darshan in the evening during which he ordains new disciples.

And each morning, approximately 500 visitors, dressed in shades of orange, freshly bathed with ashram soap and shampoo, move single file, to be "sniffed" before they can confront their guru. The "sniffing" process has become something of a Rajneesh trademark.

Each visitor before attending a Rajneesh discourse is vigorously smelt around the neck, behind the ears and in the hair by two women, for any strong smell of perfume that might aggravate Rajneesh's allergy. Being asthmatic, say his chief disciples, such precautions are necessary. "Otherwise he would have to be put in a glass cage." explain members of his conscientious press office, as smelly visitors are briskly sifted from clean-smelling ones and moved to the back of the hall.

Discourse: A little after eight the sound of a Mercedes driving up a gravel path signals the arrival of the master. A hush falls among the gathered audience robed in varying shades of saffron, their hands folded in greeting. Squatting silently, albeit painfully, on a hard cement floor, row upon row of tangled white legs cross and re-cross in discomfort to sit through a two-hour discourse. "Life," begins the master, "is three-dimensional.

He alone has the privilege of a chair, a smart, high-backed executive's armchair placed high on a raised marble platform. He also has the privilege of wearing white, a long, high-necked, long-sleeved polyester tunic that stands out in marked contrast to the hysterical colour schemes followed by his disciples.

Perpetually by his side, either carrying a cushion, or imprinted in photographic blow-ups plastered on every inch of the ashram's wall, is the fine-featured Frenchwoman. Ma Yoga Vivek, who is one of the two people in the ashram - both women - who has access to him all the time. Ma Vivek has been with him for seven years. She looks after "his body." But like him, she is never directly accessible.

Then peppered with the sayings of Pythagoras and Jean-Paul Sartre, Lao Tzu and P.D. Ouspensky, Buddha and Socrates, the discourse rambles on: a point here, a point there, vapid spiritual jargon, homespun homilies jumbled in a brew spiced with trendy four-letter words and jokes culled from randy, railway-station joke books.

His even monotone pipes on - the accent slipping every now and then in dreadful mispronunciations - but not all the lavatory humour and heavyweight quotes in the world alleviate the tedium of his discourses. Yet the effect is strangely hypnotic, induced by the general atmosphere rather than his long-winded loquacity. The audience is filled with elation, as the purring of a Mercedes engine signals their master's departure to his residence less than 200 yards away.

Overwhelmed: The Mercedes, painted a pale orange-gold, is worth over Rs 10 lakh. A mere trifle admits one doting disciple, wouldn't it be lovely to see him in a white Rolls-Royce? "Bullshit," says actor Vinod Khanna, now Swami Vinod Bharati, when asked if the rumour of his having paid for one of the most expensive cars in India is true, "but I wish I could have." Khanna, 33, has been a Rajneesh disciple for the past three-and-a-half years.

He was introduced to him, like many other followers, through his books. "I had always had this need for a leader. The moment I saw him I knew this was the man I was looking for," explains Khanna, now in the process of completing his film assignments before joining Rajneesh permanently. "Everything about him: his face, his voice, his thoughts changed me." Asked what his family thought about his conversion, Khanna said: "My wife still thinks I've been hypnotised."

A majority of Rajneesh's disciples explain being overwhelmed in a similar manner. Says Swami Divyananda, 32, formerly Michael Glynn, a graphic designer who worked in Canada: "My whole face seemed to explode in a twitch when I came face to face with him. I first met him in Bombay six years ago, more or less by mistake. Then I went back to the West for two years in between but it became really hard to communicate: I was standing at a subway station in Montreal one day and I happened to look into the eyes of a group of young kids standing nearby: I saw they were quite dead. I had to come back to him."

Says Ma Yoga Pratima, an attractive 26-year-old Australian who now runs the brilliant publishing programme: "Perhaps it was the bourgeois Australian mentality that sickened me. But it was a continual feeling of despair and deadness that got me in the end." She discovered "Bhagwan" a few years ago while living in a house in Finsbury Park in London which was run as a commune for growth therapy groups. When she returned to Australia for four months "it was like being in a horror movie."

"This is," she says definitely, her blue eyes flashing, "the only place I have felt at home in. I belong here. This is my family." So intense is her attachment that since she came to stay her Catholic father has taken sannyas and her Quaker mother is about to follow.

At the centre of the environment he breeds is the magnetism of Rajneesh himself. Some of his disciples who have come to stay speak of their premonition of him before ever meeting him. Others openly admit to being under his spell. Says Paris photographer Tana Kaleya, now called Ma Deva Tanmayo, whose book of photographs of naked men Les Hommes (including Rudolf Nureyev, Helmut Berger and Terence Stamp in various stages of undress) made her famous some years ago, and who is now working on a book on Rajneesh and his ashram: "I have not been much interested in men since I did my last book. But this man - though I haven't seen him in the nude - provokes love in me. It's not a question of liking - he enchants me. This man is sheer poetry."

For most others, however, Rajneesh means little other than volume upon volume of prose. Voluble spiritualist that he is, every pearl of wisdom that drops from his mouth is duly recorded. No fewer than three dozen stenographers, editors and translators laboriously make transcripts of each morning's discourse so that, Rajneesh is perhaps the only guru in the world who inadvertently dictates, a 400-page book every 10 days.

The Rajneesh Foundation, set up as a charitable trust, has made a phenomenal success of its publishing programme, with over 220 volumes published in Hindi and English since early 1975 alone. With each page virtually designed individually, then laid out with photographs and specially bound in silk, each Rajneesh text is sold at a three-fold profit, with a growing demand for more.

Ma Yoga Laxmi, the 46-year-old Gujarati woman, who as managing trustee of the Foundation, is the woman responsible for Rajneesh's rising fortunes, admits that in business terms the publishing programme has been the ashram's biggest success. She is a small, dark, sprightly woman seated on a bright yellow swivel chair, so disproportionately large that she has a special wooden platform for her feet.

She speaks in the third person singular and her long association with westerners has resulted in her conversation being punctuated with Americanisms such as "Bullshit" and "Hey you." "We don't like poverty here," she says, "and everything must be done skilfully and beautifully. We now publish about 45 titles a year and that not only helps the money circulate but brings in more and more people."

"Bhagwan is into every worldly game," says Swami Krishna Prem, a canny Canadian, who gave up his successful career in advertising and sales promotion to join Rajneesh in 1973. A bearded, unkempt-looking man, he talks with the swift glibness of a hard-selling travelling salesman. As the chief of the ashram's press office, Krishna Prem is doing for Rajneesh's renown what Ma Laxmi has done for his financial resources. "Bhagwan wants one thing, and that is that he should be known in every part of the world during his lifetime. But he's not into making money. That is only a spin-off for what is actually going on. One should go on housetops to acclaim him because there won't be another chance like it in years."

Publicity: What does, indeed, go on at the Rajneesh Ashram is a question that is latently connected with widespread visions of wild sex orgies and other exercises in mystical titillation. Many of these theories have circulated because of Rajneesh's unabashed openness on the subject of sex. To the uninitiated, the sight of sundry sannyasins locked in long, lingering embrace, eyes rapturously closed, noses nuzzling necks, hands exploring bodies, can at first appear unnerving and suggestive. But hardcore sex is harder to find. If it happens, then it is behind firmly closed doors.

Promiscuous-looking colour photographs of half-stripped sannyasins which attracted wide publicity when they first appeared in the German magazine Stern, are dismissed by an ashramite as not being authentic. "It's nobody's business what people do in private," he says defensively. A somewhat coy notice pasted on the walls of the public toilet - together with dreamy-eyed photographs of Rajneesh - reminds visitors that nudity is objectionable in a public place.

"Sure," agrees Swami Krishna Prem, "the sex thing has caused the biggest misunderstanding. Bhagwan believes that sex, like other aspects of life, is a prison, a biological prison. And the only way to get out of it is to do it and do it and do it till you see the futility of it."

Disparaging: Another disciple explains his master's idea helpfully: "Genital sex is something that peaks your energy. Orgasm is beautiful. Look at Bhagwan: he's in orgasm all the time, you can see it in his eyes, he's reeling from the effect." Since Rajneesh's basic tenet is the release of all energy in a consummation of a final spiritual energy, the act of refraining, consciously rejecting, amounts to repression, an approach that he abhors in other spiritualists, especially Indian ones.

Whatever his design for his followers his own ego peaks sharply and often. He is frequently disparaging about other godmen: Sri Aurobindo, according to him, was an erudite spiritualist but not, like him and Christ and Mahavira and the Buddha, an enlightened master. Sri Satya Sai Baba is put out as "that magic man from Bangalore." And the only other Indian he is prepared to acknowledge as a master is J. Krishnamurti. But there is a qualification. "The difference between Krishnamurti and myself is," he once explained, "that if both of us were sitting on a roof, it is I who would possess the ladder."

His egoism manifests itself amply in the "devices" he employs to disseminate his own cult. He can on occasions be uncharitable, blankly dismissing, and particularly unpenitent about personal remarks made about politicians among others. He can also express his irritation easily. The only question he answered for India Today was during his discourse when he replies queries submitted in writing a day earlier.

The question was: What is the difference between you and other godmen? Predictably he took exception to the word "godman." He began by saying: "I am not a godman. I am simply God as you are, as trees are, as birds are, as rocks are. I don't belong to any category. 'Godmen' is a category invented by journalists. I simply don't belong to any category ..." and continued the answer for nearly 45 minutes during which he attacked "life-negating and hypocritical pseudo god men" and held forth on his own philosophy of life.

Orange Onslaught: His own followers have considerable faith in his provocations. "Of course, we wear orange for shock value. It is nothing but gimmickry. He calls himself Bhagwan for the same reason. Just as his being called Bhagwan bothers most Indians, so does our wearing orange in London or New York appall most people."

Pune citizens find it hard to cope with the orange onslaught. Clashes between residents and ashramites are frequent, and they receive wide publicity due as much to the ashram's efforts as that of the media. On June 26, a 21-year-old foreign disciple called Ma Deva Homa was set upon at night by two men and raped outside the ashram. The press office at the ashram claims that "no less than 20 young foreign women have been assaulted or molested by local hooligans in the past month alone........and not less than 25 of our disciples' huts have been looted and thefts committed, with no action taken by the police."

Earlier this year, a 15-year-old American disciple of Rajneesh was asked for a Rs 1,000-bribe and allegedly assaulted by an inspector of the Foreigners Registration Branch of the Pune CID when she asked for a visa extension. A series of such incidents, including instances of Rajneesh followers being refused visas in Indian missions abroad and foreign film teams being rejected permission to film the ashram, have led to the ashram unleashing a bitter attack against Morarji Desai, "whose Government discriminates against the disciples of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. thereby exposing them to exploitation and corruption."

Tension: Morarji Desai himself, according to the ashram, is responsible for creating these obstacles because of his personal dislike of Rajneesh. The story told in the ashram concerns a chance meeting between Rajneesh and Morarjibhai many years ago. Left together in a room, Rajneesh was under the impression that Morarjibhai had stayed on to speak to him. Morarji thought it was the other way round and took it as a deliberate slight which has continued to irk him. Lately, Rajneesh's dislike of Morarji has verged on the vitriolic.

The ashram's propaganda network being infinitely superior to the Government of India's, their version of the unholy war gets around faster. Lately, the Charity Commissioner of Pune, R.P. Ranadive, in a ludicrously-worded notification has instituted an inquiry under the Bombay Public Trusts Act. His objections? That ashram disciples do not follow traffic rules; that "public streets are used as lavatory for natural calls which gives bad smell and resulted in nuisance near the locality near about the ashram"; that "disciples purposely indulge in teasing ladies from the neighbouring localities in spite of the fact that they are aware that hugging and kissing is not approved by the Indians"; and that disciples are smuggling and dealing in opium and charas.

The "hugging and kissing" business is mainly what most Pune residents find objectionable. Says the city's mayor Ramchandra P. Wadke, who has - being an athiest, he likes to point out - never entered the ashram: "I have only passed that road a few times. I am afraid they do not behave properly. Ladies and gents sitting on the parapet and smoking is not a common sight in Pune. I am afraid, this is not gentlemanly behaviour." In addition to shaking the genteel morality of the city, citizens of Koregaon Park complain frequently about the noise "created by all the song and dance." Noisome or not, song and dance is serious business in the ashram and, more important, it is serious money.

Each morning after the discourse is over, a 37-year-old blonde, brassy Californian called Ma Prem Aneeta takes the hall over for her class in Sufi dancing. Standing with the mike in the centre she croons instructions to a swinging group: "Let go, let go," "Learn to play with each other, learn to touch." Then with the aid of a pair of bongo drums and a guitar she instructs her pupils in nursery-school-type dance steps to impromptu lyrics such as: "Wake up, wake up/Now's your chance/ To come alive/And sing and dance." To which the refrain is: "How much longer can you ignore/Bhagwan knocking on your door."

Sufi dancing is but one of the over 50 therapy groups in constant operation at the ashram. Not all of them are as puerile. From Gestalt to Encounter, Acupuncture to Tai Chi, Golfing to Tantra, traditional eastern meditation practices and western psychological therapies are offered in courses that last from two to 15 days. Group therapy, an offshoot of Jungian psychological analysis, first became established in the '60s in America as the work of a team of "holistic" psychologists. Now it has become both a fashionable and expensive business.

Therapy: With the conversion of several educated foreign practitioners of therapy groups to Rajneesh's sannyas, it has become immensely profitable for the ashram to offer courses to westerners in search of themselves. But Rajneesh takes sufficient precautions. Indians are not encouraged to take up therapy courses. "Eastern psychology is introvert; it is ingoing. The Indian needs to be in a state of total, utter aloneness. He needs meditation techniques like Vipassana where he can forget the whole outside world. Western psychology is extrovert and outgoing. If a westerner comes and I put him directly into Vipassana meditation he is at a loss "

With over a thousand foreigners taking courses each month, the Rajneesh Foundation has now established the Rajneesh International Meditation University, which offers degree programmes in subjects as varied as parapsychology to occultism and applied crafts.

Financial Success: Courses alone cost anything from Rs 50 to Rs 65 a day, and the money continues to pour in. Just over five years ago, says Ma Laxmi, before he moved to Pune, Rajneesh set up the ashram with Rs 7,000 in loans. In 1977-78 the Rajneesh Foundation income was Rs 58.74 lakh, with donations amounting to Rs 47.54 lakh, most of them in foreign currencies. Expenditure. on the other hand, was Rs 8.29 lakh leaving a surplus of Rs 43.10 lakh.

When she met him in the early '60s at a political meeting she was 34 years old, the daughter of a prosperous cloth merchant family in Bombay. "He walked in and I didn't know what hit me. I just sat stunned. This is the man for me, I thought. That was my first and last love affair: like Radha, like Meera I too was bewitched."

Rajneesh - then called Acharya Rajneesh - was then a man less complex, and certainly more accessible. Having quit his lecturership at Saugar University in Madhya Pradesh where he taught philosophy earlier, and decided that he was going to put his spirituality into practice (he is said to have become enlightened, Buddha-like, one night at the age of 21) he was travelling and organising small meditation groups.

Laxmi began to follow him from camp to camp. Then in 1970, during a dynamic meditation course in Nargol on the border of Gujarat, she went through a dramatic transformation. "A great laughter started within me, I was hysterical. It was a joke, everything was a joke. Who am I? I was asking but could not stop laughing."

Growth: The experience changed her life. On that day Rajneesh ordained her Ma Yoga Laxmi and decided that in future all his followers will adopt names of his choosing, and that he alone, would be entitled to give sannyas. A small society called the Jeevan Jagriti Kendra was set up by Rajneesh in a flat in Bombay. Slowly the Indians began to disappear as more and more foreigners joined his meditation camps.

"Initially, it was the freaks who came, young westerners experimenting with counterculture," says Krishna Prem. The money no doubt began to come in at the same time. One day apparently Rajneesh asked Laxmi to look for a house in Pune. Travelling there she found the perfect place: in late 1974 Jeevan Jagriti Kendra was dissolved and the Rajneesh Foundation established at Koregaon Park. Now the Foundation is negotiating for a 1,300-acre property near Saswad, 20 miles out of Pune.

"Only the other day," says Laxmi with the pride of a mother whose child has accomplished a feat, "he began to criticise Buddha. Bhagwan doesn't create controversy, he is controversy."

Weird: His small darshans in the evenings were once simple ceremonies in which he ordained new disciples. Now they get curiouser every day. Strobe lights have appeared. The ashram is plunged into darkness, as a group of musicians work up their instruments to a frenzied crescendo. Held close by 12 writhing women in saffron, the disciple seeking transfer of spiritual energy, is hypnotised by Rajneesh pressing his fingers on his forehead. Outside it's lights-out time, with a thousand-strong crowd dancing in the darkness of the main hall.

As the fever rises people strip to their underclothes. Sweating, gyrating, swinging to the rising rhythm pouring from the speakers, the release of energy is timed with the energy darshan inside. Again and again, as each disciple seeking energy transfer goes up, the 12 mediums flail their arms and thrust their bodies in supreme passion. A young disciple begins to slobber in the dark.

A woman holding her stomach in the audience cries out in ecstasy. The whole performance is designed as an esoteric ritual, a mystical purge, a special-effects pyschodrama. Depending on a disciple's state of mind, it could be hallucinatory, euphoric or even spiritually enervating. But a faked theatricality sticks around the sequence like congealed grease.

Success-oriented: And as with most gurus, it is not easy to separate Rajneesh's fakery from his reality. Like most performers, he is a bit of both. Like all cult heroes in search of a mass audience, he is both charlatan and instructor. And his ashram can be about as elevating as a cave in the mountains, as harmless as a night at a discotheque or as disturbing as a spell in an asylum. The truth probably lies in between and is perhaps more mundane.

Rajneesh might simply be an ambitious man, like any other, seeking his fortune. And his success, dependent on his normal human potential and those of his orange people, lies in merely utilising it to its optimum, just as in any other success-oriented human being. And the phenomenal success of his ashram is no different from the success of a well-managed business house that employs the rather original synthesis of shrewd Gujarati money-sense with smooth Madison Avenue public relationing.

In which case Rajneesh could with equanimity swap jobs with the head of an expanding multinational corporation. The Rajneesh Ashram could well become the IBM of religion. Or even its Coca-Cola, if it keeps on the right side of the Indian Government, and manages to retain its magic potion. That might, after all, be the real thing.

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – RationalWiki

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This page contains too many unsourced statements and needs to be improved.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh could use some help. Please research the article's assertions. Whatever is credible should be sourced, and what is not should be removed.

Many cults use ways of trying to keep the truth about their organizations hidden from the rest of the world. Some rely on suing the bejezus out of dissidents; others rely on mass suicide, shootouts with the feds, creating their own uncritical media outlets, putting rattlesnakes in mailboxes, or getting into high office. However, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh decided to take the opposite approach, which led him to establish a community that was relatively peaceful right up until the moment he decided to attempt to overthrow the Governor of Oregon[citationneeded] and launch a bioterror attack. Rajneesh actually flaunted the fact that he exploited his followers. While he opened a collective in Oregon where his followers toiled in the fields, he managed to gain power of attorney over them and used nearly all their money to purchase a fleet of Rolls-Royce automobiles and drove them around the compound. His Oregon commune actually managed to legally incorporate as the town of Rajneeshpuram. His teachings, a syncretic mix of Buddhism, free love, encounter groups, and the Human Potential Movement, included prophecies of a world nuclear war sometime in the 1990s and the death of 2/3 of the world's population from AIDS. Eventually the U.S. government looked into his group after his followers were caught surreptitiously spraying bacteria on the salad bars of local restaurants in an effort to make the local population sick, and shut it down. The group used this attack to poison the local population before a local election in an attempt to seize power. This plot was, in effect, an attempted coup d'tat against the municipal government of The Dalles, Oregon.In 1985, the group attempted to assassinate Charles Turner, the Oregon District Attorney. Rajneesh was deported to India as part of a plea bargain during which he received a 10-year suspended sentence for immigration law violations. He died in 1990[1].

He got quite a few followers in Australia, particularly in Fremantle, Western Australia, where they fit right in with the other duplicitous business hippie scum and are all but mainstream.

Following the breakup of his Oregon commune and his deportation to India, he dropped the Bhagwan Sree Rajneesh name and became known as Osho. Osho's books on such subjects as Zen and meditation[note 2] have since become staples in New Age bookstores.

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – biography.com

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Indian cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh created the spiritual practice of dynamic meditation. He started the Rancho Rajneesh commune in Oregon in the 1980s.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as "Osho," was born December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, India. After graduating from college and claiming to have found enlightenment, in 1970, he introduced the practice of "dynamic meditation," became a spiritual teacher and began to attract a significant following. When his controversial teachings put him repeatedly in conflict with Indian authorities, Rajneesh and his followers fled to a ranch in Oregon, where they attempted to establish a commune. Conflicts with the local community there resulted in Rajneesh and members of his group turning to crime to achieve their ends, however, and in 1985 Rajneesh was arrested for immigration fraud. After pleading guilty, he was deported to India. He died on January 19, 1990, in Pune, India.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (n Chandra Mohan Jain)was born on December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, India. He lived with his grandparents during his early youth and then with his parents and was an intelligent but rebellious child. In 1951, Rajneesh graduated from high school and started attending Hitkarini College in Jabalpur but was forced to transfer to D.N. Jain College after his disruptive behavior put him at odds with one of his professors. In 1953, after taking a year off from his studies to soul search and meditate, Rajneesh claimed that he had achieved enlightenment. He returned to school, however, and after graduating with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, he went on to pursue a master's in philosophy at Sagar University. Following his graduation in 1957, Rajneesh accepted a position as an assistant professor of philosophy at Raipur Sanskrit College, but his radical ideas soon put him at odds with the institution's administration and he was forced to find work elsewhere, eventually becoming a professor at the University of Jabalpur.

Concurrent with his teaching at the University of Jabalpur, Rajneesh traveled throughout India, spreading his unconventional and controversial ideas about spirituality. Among his teachings was the notion that sex was the first step toward achieving "superconsciousness." By 1964, he started conducting meditation camps and recruiting followers, and two years later he resigned from his professorship to focus more fully on spreading his spiritual teachings. In the process he became something of a pariah and earned himself the nickname "the sex guru."

In 1970, Rajneesh introduced the practice of "dynamic meditation," which, he asserted, enables people to experience divinity. The prospect enticed young Westerners to come reside at his ashram in Pune, India, and become Rajneesh's devout disciples, called sannyasins. In their quest for spiritual enlightenment, Rajneesh's followers took new Indian names, dressed in orange and red clothes, and participated in group sessions that sometimes involved both violence and sexual promiscuity. By the late 1970s, the six-acre ashram was so overcrowded that Rajneesh sought a new site to relocate to. However, hismovement had become so controversial that the local government threw up various roadblocks to make things difficult for him. Tensions came to a head in 1980, when a Hindu fundamentalist attempted to assassinate Rajneesh.

Facing ongoing pressure from government authorities and traditional religious groups, in 1981 Rajneesh fled to the United States with 2,000 of his disciples, settling on a 100-square-mile ranch in central Oregon, which he named Rancho Rajneesh. There, Rajneesh and the sannyasins started building their own city, called Rajneeshpuram. Disapproving neighbors contacted local officials in an attempt to close down Rajneeshpuram, asserting that it violated Oregon's land-use laws, but Rajneesh was victorious in court and continued to expand the commune.

As tensions between the commune and the local government community increased, Rajneesh and his followers soon turned to more drastic measures to achieve their ends. including murder, wiretapping, voter fraud, arson and a mass salmonella poisoning in 1984 that affected more than 700 people. After several of his commune leaders fled to avoid prosecution for their crimes, in 1985, police arrested Rajneesh, who was himself attempting to flee the United States to escape charges of immigration fraud. During his subsequent trial, Rajneesh pleaded guilty of immigration charges, realizing that a plea bargain was the only way he'd be allowed to return to India.

After pleading guilty, Rajneesh returned to India, where he found the number of his followers had significantly decreased. In the coming months, he searched unsuccessfully for a place to reestablish his ashram. He was denied entry into numerous countries before returning again to India in 1986.

During the next few years he continued to teach and renamed himself Osho, but his health began to decline. On January 19, 1990, he died of heart failure at one of his few remaining communes in Pune, India. Following his death, the commune was renamed the Osho Institute, and then later the Osho International Meditation Resort, which is currently estimated to attract as many as 200,000 visitors a year. Osho's followers also continue to spread his beliefs from one of the hundreds of Osho Mediation Centers that they have opened in major cities across the globe.

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April 26th, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh: Enlightenment was lure for … – oregonlive.com

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Rajneesh

An Oregonian

special report

The appeal of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh isn't easy to explain.

He had no doctrine. He promoted religiousness while disdaining formalized religion.

Oregonians were baffled by the thousands flocking to his eastern Oregon commune for spiritual sustenance.

These were not uneducated masses seeking escape from poverty or oppression. Studies of his sect in Oregon showed a high percentage of well-educated sannyasins. Many were professionals: engineers, lawyers, doctors, physicists.

"What I am teaching is religiousness, a quality," Rajneesh once explained. "Religion is a dead dogma, fixed principles, frozen fossils. What I am teaching to you is a living, flowing religiousness -- an experience like love."

Rajneesh believed each person could become enlightened, as he had at age 21. That, Rajneesh said, required shedding the shackles of modern life, both physically and psychologically. Each person could become their own deity, their own version of Jesus or Buddha.

That path coursed through group therapies, meditations and Rajneesh's daily lectures. He blended Eastern mysticism with Western psychology.

For sannyasins, Rajneesh's lectures pointed the way to a more satisfying life, what some referred to as the "utopian ideal." The message was particularly potent among those who concluded there had to be a better life than one filled with tragedies, stresses and conflicts.

Not all stayed. Some left, believing he was a manipulator, a narcissist. They believed in the message, not the man.

Sociologists and religious scholars outside the movement still debate its merits. Some judge Rajneesh one of the great spiritual leaders of the world. Others consider him a charlatan, with a message so changeable as to be meaningless.

Sannyasin groups still operate in several U.S. cities and many countries. What is considered the leading organization remains based in India, still offering therapies and publishing in book form transcriptions of Rajneesh's lectures.

Six million volumes have been sold.

-- Les Zaitz: email him at specialreport@oregonian.com; visit the Rajneesh Report page on Facebook

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Ma Anand Sheela – Wikipedia

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Ma Anand Sheela (born 28 December 1949 as Sheela Ambalal Patel in India, also known as Sheela Birnstiel)[1] is an Indian-born AmericanSwiss former spokeswoman of the Rajneesh movement (aka Osho movement) who has been convicted of multiple attempted murders.

Ma Anand Sheela

Sheela Ambalal Patel

As the personal secretary of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from 1981 through 1985, she managed the Rajneeshpuram ashram in Wasco County, Oregon, United States.[2] In 1985, she pleaded guilty to attempted murder and assault for her role in the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack.[3] She was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison and paroled after 39 months [4] Sheela later moved to Switzerland, where she married, and purchased two nursing homes. In 1999, she was convicted by a Swiss court of "criminal acts preparatory to the commission of murder" in relation to a plot to kill US federal prosecutor Charles Turner in 1985.

David Berry Knapp, aka Swami Krishna Deva, former mayor of Rajneeshpuram, told the FBI in his testimony that Sheela told him during a trip to India which they took in 1985, that she had injected her first husband [Marc Harris Silverman] with an injection that caused his death.[5] After prison, Sheela married Urs Birnstiel, a Swiss citizen, who reportedly died after a short marriage.[6]

Sheela married Marc Harris Silverman, an American from Highland Park, Illinois,[9][10] and took the name Sheela P. Silverman.[11] She moved to India in 1972 to pursue spiritual studies with her husband. They became disciples of the Indian guru Rajneesh and Sheela took the name Ma Anand Sheela.[1][12] After her husband died, Sheela married a fellow Rajneesh follower, John Shelfer.[12]

In 1981, Sheela became Rajneesh's personal assistant and convinced him to leave India and establish an ashram in the United States.[13][14] In July 1981, Sheela purchased the 64,000-acre (260km2) Big Muddy Ranch in Wasco County, Oregon, which became the site for the development of the Rajneeshpuram commune.[13][15] She became president of Rajneesh Foundation International,[13] managed the commune and met daily with Rajneesh to discuss business matters.[13][16][17] According to Sheela, Rajneesh was complicit in and directed her involvement in criminal acts she later committed.[18]

By 1984, the ashram was coming into increasing conflict with local residents and the county commission (Wasco County Court).[19] Sheela attempted to influence the Wasco County Court's November election and capture the two open seats[20][21] by bussing in hundreds of homeless people from within Oregon as well as outside, and registering them as county voters.[13] Later, when that effort failed,[22][23] Sheela conspired, in 1984, to use "bacteria and other methods to make people ill" and prevent them from voting.[24][25] As a result, the salad bars at ten local restaurants were infected with salmonella and about 750 people became ill.[3][20][26][27]

On September 13, 1985, Sheela fled to Europe.[15][28] A few days later Rajneesh "accused her of arson, wiretapping, attempted murder, and mass poisonings."[15] He also asserted that Sheela had written the Book of Rajneeshism and published it under his name.[29] Subsequently, Sheela's robes and 5,000 copies of the Book of Rajneeshism were burned in a bonfire at the ashram.[29]

After US authorities searching her home found wire-tapping networks and a laboratory in which the bacteria used in the attack had been grown,[15] Sheela was arrested in West Germany in October 1986. She was extradited to the US in February on charges of immigration fraud[30] and attempted murder.[26][31] The Oregon Attorney General prosecuted for crimes related to the poisoning of Commissioner Matthew and Judge Hulse[32] while the US Attorney prosecuted crimes related to the restaurant poisonings.[32] Sheela pleaded guilty on 22 July 1986 to first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit assault against Hulse[32] and later to second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit assault against Matthew.[32] She pleaded guilty to setting fire to a county office and wire-tapping at the commune. For these crimes, Sheela was sentenced to three 20-year terms in federal prison,[33] to be served concurrently. In addition she was fined $470,000.[26][32][34]

Sheela was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, for female criminals.[34] While there, she announced plans to make a "controversial documentary" about her life.[35] In December 1988, she was released on good behavior after serving 39 months of her 20-year sentence, and moved to Switzerland.[36][37][38]

Sheela married Swiss citizen Urs Birnstiel, a fellow Rajneesh follower.[39] She moved to Maisprach, Switzerland, where she bought and managed two nursing homes.[36][38]

In 1999, she was convicted by a Swiss court for "criminal acts preparatory to the commission of murder" in relation to a plot to kill US federal prosecutor Charles Turner in 1985. The Swiss government refused to extradite her to the US but agreed to try her in Switzerland. She was found guilty of the equivalent Swiss charge and was sentenced to time served.[40]

In 2008, Sheela collaborated with David Woodard and Christian Kracht on an art exhibition at the Zrich Cabaret Voltaire, the building which was once the birthplace of the Dada movement.[41][42]

In 2018, a documentary, Wild Wild Country, was released that includes interviews with Sheela. On July 20, 2018, 'BBC Stories' YouTube channel published a video called Wild Wild Country: What happened to Sheela?[43]

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The free-love cult that terrorised America and became …

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Anyone who has ever dipped a toe in the pool of new-age mysticism is likely to have come across Osho. The bearded Indian mystic has had his books translated into more than 60 languages, published by more than 200 publishing houses youre likely to find his works next to the crystals and yoga mats in your local hippy shop.

Yet if you go on the Osho website, or are one of the 200,000 people that visit the Osho International Centre in Pune, India each year youll hear nothing about the most eventful section of his life, before he was rebranded as Osho, and known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Rajneesh, who died in 1990, was a popular spiritual leader in India, attracting thousands of followers called sannyasins or orange people to practise free love and take part in his unusual style of meditation: lots of primal screaming followed by dancing as if Fatboy Slim had just come on to Glastonburys Pyramid stage.

By the 1980s he was at odds with the government in India and so decided to buy a ranch in Oregon. The land was largely uninhabitable but he sent his followers ahead to create a utopia. They built a giant dam, an airport, an electricity station and a meditation centre that could hold 10,000 people. They called it Rajneeshpuram, and when it was ready, Rajneesh and his followers relocated to the US.

The cult that formed was as paranoid as scientology, as bizarre as Jonestown, and as controlled as the Manson family. Yet until the release of Wild Wild Country, Netflixs latest hit documentary series directed by brothers Mclain and Chapman Way, it had not entered the cultural conversation in the same way as those movements. Now it seems people can talk about little else. The six-part documentary, available to view now, scored 100% on the review site Rotten Tomatoes, and received even more glowing endorsements from other filmmakers, including Barry Jenkins, the Oscar-winning director of Moonlight, who tweeted: Im on my second watch of Wild Wild Country. Ill probably make it through a third. The film has spurred hundreds of articles revisiting the events as other journalists attempt to get in touch with former members or relive their sannyasins experiences.

The tenor of the excitement around the show isnt just about the intimate footage the directors have unearthed, or the fact they secured in-depth interviews with nearly all the cults living leaders. Viewers also seem to be shocked that they didnt already know this story. Jenn McAllister, a YouTuber with more than three million subscribers, had a typical reaction of those not yet born during the period: I cant believe that happened in the US and I never knew until now.

Perhaps this is because pop culture has been keen to retread the same couple of cult stories. In the past few years Emma Clines novel The Girls, a fictional reimagining of life in the Manson family, became a bestseller. Quentin Tarantinos next film Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, is also based on Manson. The most recent series of the Emmy-winning American Horror Story takes influences from both the Jim Jones and Manson movements, and Louis Therouxs My Scientology Movie was the latest major documentary on that movement. The hunger for these stories shows no sign of abating.

Like most of the cults, the sannyasin movement began with members dreaming of a better future. Whats exceptional about Wild Wild Country is its episodic treatment manages to make the cult attractive: a sense of purpose, self-realisation, free love. The show sucks you in to Rajneeshs teachings and the charisma of his personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela. Yet by episode four the commune has engaged in the sedation of thousands of homeless people, immigration fraud, failed assassination plots, and the largest bio-terrorist attack in UShistory. The cult infected 751 people with salmonella by contaminating restaurant salad bars. The 1984 attack, planned to incapacitate voters and allow it to win seats in a local election, led to a 20-year jail sentence for Sheela.

I remember all of this quite vividly, says Rick Ross, from the Cult Education Institute, when I ask why commune members werent more suspicious of the leaders. I was contacted by family members of people living in Oregon. They contacted me because they were concerned for their loved ones safety, the potential for the group to become violent or criminal, and the fact that they were giving very large amounts of money to Rajneesh.

The documentary leaves lots of unanswered questions about whether the sannyasins were a genuine spiritual movement or a scam, not least because most of the former members still speak about Rajneesh with affection. But Ross believes there is no question that the intent was malicious. They were very methodical, deliberate. Rajneesh was intelligent he was educated, he had a PhD. He was a master at manipulation and influence techniques. Its common with these kinds of groups. They dont play fair or transparently with the people they target. People are tricked and then they are trapped.

Ross reels off cults that have emerged since Rajneesh: the Aum Shinrikyo movement that in 1995 let off sarin nerve gas on the Tokyo underground, killing 12 people; the American white-supremacist FLDS Church which, like Rajneesh, has political control of two cities, its own police forces and a leader who is in prison for child abuse and rape; the Order of the Solar Temple which is associated with the mass suicides of dozens of members in France and Switzerland. His very long list highlights that awareness of previous cults does nothing to stop the next.

The problem is that no one signs up to be in a cult, no one is a self-confessed cult member. Often these groups have a lot of legitimate criticism about society there is a lot of inequality, a rat race which stifles individuality, says Suzanne Newcome a research fellow at Inform, the new religious movements network at LSE.

The problem, she says, is it has always been to difficult to work out whether a group offering things like therapy, meditation, life advice, yoga and retreats is a going to have a positive or negative impact. Once people might become aware theyve joined a cult theyre often too invested and its hard to get out.

The Osho movement today, 28 years after its founders death, is a more tempered version than in Oregon, and focuses on selling books and meditation retreats. Yet it is still unwilling to accept the findings of the documentary. The Osho Times, its official organ, says the documentary fails to show this was a US government conspiracy, from the White House on down, aimed at thwarting Oshos vision of a community based on conscious living. Even in death, Rajneesh continues to manipulate his followers.

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March 19th, 2019 at 2:42 am

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – Death, Movement & Oregon – Biography

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Indian cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh created the spiritual practice of dynamic meditation. He started the Rancho Rajneesh commune in Oregon in the 1980s.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, later known as "Osho," was born December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, India. After graduating from college and claiming to have found enlightenment, in 1970, he introduced the practice of "dynamic meditation," became a spiritual teacher and began to attract a significant following. When his controversial teachings put him repeatedly in conflict with Indian authorities, Rajneesh and his followers fled to a ranch in Oregon, where they attempted to establish a commune. Conflicts with the local community there resulted in Rajneesh and members of his group turning to crime to achieve their ends, however, and in 1985 Rajneesh was arrested for immigration fraud. After pleading guilty, he was deported to India. He died on January 19, 1990, in Pune, India.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (n Chandra Mohan Jain)was born on December 11, 1931, in Kuchwada, India. He lived with his grandparents during his early youth and then with his parents and was an intelligent but rebellious child. In 1951, Rajneesh graduated from high school and started attending Hitkarini College in Jabalpur but was forced to transfer to D.N. Jain College after his disruptive behavior put him at odds with one of his professors. In 1953, after taking a year off from his studies to soul search and meditate, Rajneesh claimed that he had achieved enlightenment. He returned to school, however, and after graduating with a bachelor's degree in philosophy, he went on to pursue a master's in philosophy at Sagar University. Following his graduation in 1957, Rajneesh accepted a position as an assistant professor of philosophy at Raipur Sanskrit College, but his radical ideas soon put him at odds with the institution's administration and he was forced to find work elsewhere, eventually becoming a professor at the University of Jabalpur.

Concurrent with his teaching at the University of Jabalpur, Rajneesh traveled throughout India, spreading his unconventional and controversial ideas about spirituality. Among his teachings was the notion that sex was the first step toward achieving "superconsciousness." By 1964, he started conducting meditation camps and recruiting followers, and two years later he resigned from his professorship to focus more fully on spreading his spiritual teachings. In the process he became something of a pariah and earned himself the nickname "the sex guru."

In 1970, Rajneesh introduced the practice of "dynamic meditation," which, he asserted, enables people to experience divinity. The prospect enticed young Westerners to come reside at his ashram in Pune, India, and become Rajneesh's devout disciples, called sannyasins. In their quest for spiritual enlightenment, Rajneesh's followers took new Indian names, dressed in orange and red clothes, and participated in group sessions that sometimes involved both violence and sexual promiscuity. By the late 1970s, the six-acre ashram was so overcrowded that Rajneesh sought a new site to relocate to. However, hismovement had become so controversial that the local government threw up various roadblocks to make things difficult for him. Tensions came to a head in 1980, when a Hindu fundamentalist attempted to assassinate Rajneesh.

Facing ongoing pressure from government authorities and traditional religious groups, in 1981 Rajneesh fled to the United States with 2,000 of his disciples, settling on a 100-square-mile ranch in central Oregon, which he named Rancho Rajneesh. There, Rajneesh and the sannyasins started building their own city, called Rajneeshpuram. Disapproving neighbors contacted local officials in an attempt to close down Rajneeshpuram, asserting that it violated Oregon's land-use laws, but Rajneesh was victorious in court and continued to expand the commune.

As tensions between the commune and the local government community increased, Rajneesh and his followers soon turned to more drastic measures to achieve their ends. including murder, wiretapping, voter fraud, arson and a mass salmonella poisoning in 1984 that affected more than 700 people. After several of his commune leaders fled to avoid prosecution for their crimes, in 1985, police arrested Rajneesh, who was himself attempting to flee the United States to escape charges of immigration fraud. During his subsequent trial, Rajneesh pleaded guilty of immigration charges, realizing that a plea bargain was the only way he'd be allowed to return to India.

After pleading guilty, Rajneesh returned to India, where he found the number of his followers had significantly decreased. In the coming months, he searched unsuccessfully for a place to reestablish his ashram. He was denied entry into numerous countries before returning again to India in 1986.

During the next few years he continued to teach and renamed himself Osho, but his health began to decline. On January 19, 1990, he died of heart failure at one of his few remaining communes in Pune, India. Following his death, the commune was renamed the Osho Institute, and then later the Osho International Meditation Resort, which is currently estimated to attract as many as 200,000 visitors a year. Osho's followers also continue to spread his beliefs from one of the hundreds of Osho Mediation Centers that they have opened in major cities across the globe.

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - Death, Movement & Oregon - Biography

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March 7th, 2019 at 2:43 am

Growing up in the Wild Wild Country cult: You heard people …

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When Noa Maxwell was four, his bohemian upper-middle-class parents, disillusioned with London, bought a farm in Herefordshire, where they began to live self-sufficiently harvesting by horse, slaughtering pigs, curing bacon, making butter while trying to find time to paint.

One day in 1976 they received a letter from a friend who was in India where he had found the meaning of everything. So Noas family parents plus three children went out to visit the ashram in Poona where the controversial guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also known as Osho, was preaching his mix of eastern mysticism, western philosophy and free love, raising the consciousness and promising utopia to his orange-clad international followers.

Rajneesh, who died in 1990, and his sannyasin movement, have found themselves in the public eye again in recent weeks thanks to the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country. The much talked-about series focuses on the community they established in Oregon after they were forced out of India in 1981, and how they got on with the locals. (Short answer: not well.)

My meeting with Noa, now 46, at a cafe in Notting Hill, west London, has come about because of the show. I wrote a positive review of it. Its an extraordinary story of mistrust and misunderstanding, power and politics, fear and loathing that escalated to attempted murder, terrorism and chemical warfare exhaustively and objectively told. But I wanted to know more, about life in the cult, particularly for the children who can be seen running around in the background of shots. Noa tweeted me. He was one of them first in Poona, then Oregon.

In Poona, Noas family soon agreed that this was their new life. After returning to the UK to sell the farm, they came back to India, Noas parents, Noa and his younger brother. His older one has a different dad and didnt come, which would cause a lot of pain to his mum.

Noa remembers visiting Rajneesh to be given new sannyasin names and other kids running up and asking: Whats your new name? He couldnt remember and had to ask his mum. Noa Maxwells new name was Swami Deva Rupam.

Soon Noas mum was living in one place in the ashram, his dad somewhere else, and Noa was in the kids hut. We had been a tight, 70s middle-class family, and within a very short period that family unit was ripped up, he says.

The childrens hut was an octagonal bamboo structure with bunks. Noa and the other kids from Australia, Germany, America were pretty much left to their own devices. There was a school, run by this crazy English hippie called Sharma with long blond hair and a guitar and we would sing We all live in the orange submarine. I dont know how much it mattered if we were in school or not. When I eventually did get back to this country when I was 10 I couldnt read anything or write anything, or do two plus two.

He did learn how to smoke. And at the age of six he got accidentally stoned by eating hash cake.

The most shocking bit of the Netflix documentary is a clip of a film taken by a German inside the Poona ashram of what seems to be a violent orgy inside a padded room. Noa never saw this type of thing but he did witness some freaky behaviour and emotion. Laughter was a way of saying Im OK with my feelings, and one night thousands of people suddenly started laughing hysterically, crying with laughter. Noa was certainly aware of the sex. You could hear people having orgasmic sex all the time. All night, like mating baboons, gibbons.

And he knew his parents had different partners. Was that upsetting? I never showed upset. The narrative particularly from my dad was: this is fantastic, youre fantastic. So I showed fantastic. I know my mum was struggling. She has said since she was already massively questioning what wed done. They were notionally still together but we werent living as a family unit.

In some ways the independence Noa had has stood him in good stead, he says. But if you have no boundaries in your life the world is quite scary. Boundaries or lack of them is something that comes up again and again.

He says he can understand the appeal of Rajneesh, the aura of the man, the extraordinary voice, his charisma. But I think without doubt he was deeply culpable, guilty of neglect of his people and did massive damage to many of them.

He doesnt like seeing pictures of him. And he has fundamental problems with the message. For me, the meaning of my life is about family, family relationships, and that was blatantly disregarded in the idea that these kids are just going to be happy growing up in this wild place.

In some ways its hard to connect this engaging, articulate man sipping a macchiato in Le Pain Quotidien with the tearaway hippy child running wild, free of shoes and boundaries, in India. But there is something in his eyes, a look that says: yeah, weve seen a bit, in our time.

After Noa and his family had spent about four years in Poona, and amid increasing tension between the ashram and the Indian authorities, Rajneesh and his followers moved to the US and set up a commune on a ranch in Wasco County, Oregon. This is where Wild Wild Country picks up the story. The star/villain of the Netflix show is Rajneeshs personal assistant/lieutenant, Ma Anand Sheela, who was instrumental in the rapid creation of Rajneeshpuram, a new city in the middle of nowhere and an extraordinary human feat.

Noas memory of Sheela is that she was confident, funny, cool. But I also knew, because I would hear from my parents, that she was ruthless, and I think it was clear the power she had.

His dad had a run-in with Sheela over chickens, after which he was immediately taken off farming duties (which he knew a lot about), and put on fire-tower watch. Noas mum looked after cows. Neither of them were part of Sheelas inner circle.

Noa remembers the crazy, fevered work that was being done. And the elements, being colder in winter than he had ever experienced, and brutally hot in summer. Again, he lived with the other kids, running wild, trying to jump on to ice blocks floating on the river, killing snakes, putting spiders and wasps into cassette boxes to see which would kill which. In many ways it was brilliant.

He has one sad memory. There was one night when we got hold of a barrel of beer and we were just necking the beer on and on, and suddenly for the first time I got really drunk. If you think about it, aged 10, its a bit early. Then I just started wailing for my mum and dad, I just wanted them.

He says they the kids were probably a little bit more advanced with sex, too. Not madly, well it depends who, but I think we probably were a bit further ahead. We were further ahead with everything.

Much of the documentary centres on the antagonism between the sannyasins and the Wasco County locals. They were the enemy, Noa says. Stupid, conventional, conservative people.

The sannyasins thought they were better than everyone else, and that comes over in the documentary. Noa was amazed, when he did get out, meeting a friend of his mums for example, that she could be articulate and emotionally intelligent. I thought unless you were a sannyasin, that was impossible, you would just be a kind of drone.

He thinks the series focuses too much on the conflict between sannyasins and rednecks. That is interesting, but the inside story is more interesting of how you end up with lots of intelligent middle-class people like my family going into where they got to, the heart of darkness. How does that happen? Its like an ideal is bigger than reality and can make you lose your sense of justice and whats right in the world.

Noa wasnt aware at the time of the scandals that feature in the series an immigration fraud that involved sannyasins going off to get married in various parts of the country so that they could stay in the US, the poisoning of 751 people in the town of The Dalles, through contamination of salad bars at local restaurants, and another shocking episode where they bussed in a load of homeless people in order to win a county election. In fact, Noa had left by the time these events had taken place, although he did remember seeing the homeless people at the ashram, on the other side of a chainlink fence, on a visit back to see his father.

Why would he know what was going on? He was a kid, and this was his life. But he noticed the increased tensions and power struggles and that there were more and more guns about the place. By that time, you kind of knew it was cranky; everything was cranky, there was massive paranoia about Aids and about the world coming to an end.

My parents said: 'What do you want to do?' And I said: 'I want to go to school and learn things'

In 1986, Sheela pleaded guilty to attempted murder and electronic eavesdropping within the commune, as well as her part in the immigration fraud and poisoning incidents, and was given a prison term along with two other leaders.

When, in 1993, Waco happened, and the compound of cult leader David Koresh was stormed by the FBI, leading to 76 fatalities, it affected Noa profoundly. He suddenly realised that something like that could have happened to them.

Noas mother ended up wanting out she had been uncomfortable even in Poona. They had come back to Britain, the marriage was over; she was going to stay in Norfolk, his dad was returning to Oregon and Noa and his brother were given a choice. I remember sitting in the back of the car and they said: What do you want to do? I said: I want to stay and go to school and learn things. Noas brother made the same decision.

That has been Noas response to his weirdo childhood, to go diametrically opposite to everything he experienced. I wanted to as be normal as possible, I made a lot of choices that would give me something solid.

He says it was a good thing he got out when he did. If Id stayed longer I think the disengagement with the real world would have become more accentuated. Thats the sense I get from kids who stayed longer. I imagine it was hard to assimilate back and a lot of them ended up deeper in that kind of fringe world.

It wasnt easy, going to the local comprehensive. He still went by the name of Rupam, which he didnt change for a long time, out of loyalty to his dad. But he was good at fitting in, adapting. He said his Indian name was because his dad had farmed in India. No mention of ashrams.

There had been press reports about the sex cult, the guru with all the Rolls Royces. Noa began to realise how weird it was, and he didnt want to be associated with that. But he was way behind, and he was getting into trouble, not because he was rebellious but because he was finding it hard to exist in the real world.

His grandmother then paid for him to go to a hippy vegetarian private school, which encouraged Noas desire to become an actor. One day, the headmaster called a special assembly because there were some very dangerous people coming to town, a sex cult called the sannyasins. A warning video was shown, and guess what the opening shot was? A closeup of Noas face. Thankfully, because of his wild hair and the fact that it was taken a few years before, no one recognised him.

The sannyasins carried on, in various locations, in various factions, after the end of Rajneeshpuram and after the end of Rajneesh. His father is still very much involved with them. Noas mothers feelings about it are dominated by pain and guilt.

And Noa? Its a strange mix of both resentment and gratitude. Hes done his fair share a massive share he says of different sorts of therapy to deal with a childhood with no boundaries, how scary that is, how power can be abused and how emotions can get out of control. And hes very wary of gurus.

Yet he says he acquired a good deal of understanding about people from his time in the cult, which has been invaluable. He did become an actor, using the name Rupam Maxwell his last role was in Emmerdale, where he played racy young aristocrat Lord Alex Oakwell from 1997-98.

Then he went into coaching. He now advises clients on personal impact, teaching them to harness their natural strengths for pitches, presentations and media appearances. Again, he says he likes the linear structure of working with law and accounting firms, with their boundaries and rules. He says the basis of what he does is about authenticity, and however misguided it was, thats what the people in Poona and Oregon were after, too. After our coffee, hes going to Geneva for a meeting.

He is married. His wife is from a really good Irish Catholic background, and I love that. They have three children, aged 17, 16 and nine.

What kind of father is he? Not as good as I think I am. My older kids now tell me about times I was too angry with them when they were young and all that kind of stuff. But that, for me, is first and foremost in my life: family, being supported by your mother and father in a way that says Im there to help you grow into this world.

He has talked about the ashram with them. He feels relaxed and able to now, and says they are understanding, insightful, balanced. Now theyll probably go and join a cult, he adds.

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