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Rajneesh – Wikipedia

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Rajneesh (born Chandra Mohan Jain, 11 December 1931 19 January 1990), also known as Osho, Acharya Rajneesh,[1] or simply Rajneesh, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh or simply Bhagwan, was an Indian spiritual guru, considered as a Godman[2] and leader of the Rajneesh movement. During his lifetime he was viewed as a controversial mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher. In the 1960s he travelled throughout India as a public speaker and was a vocal critic of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi,[3][4][5] and Hindu religious orthodoxy.[6] He advocated a more open attitude towards human sexuality, earning him the nickname "sex guru" in the Indian and later international press, although this attitude became more acceptable with time.[7]

In 1970 Rajneesh spent time in Mumbai initiating followers known as "neo-sannyasins." During this period he expanded his spiritual teachings and through his discourses gave an original insight into the writings of religious traditions, mystics, and philosophers from around the world. In 1974 Rajneesh relocated to Pune where a foundation and ashram was established to offer a variety of "transformational tools" for both Indian and international visitors. By the late 1970s, tension between the ruling Janata Party government of Morarji Desai and the movement led to a curbing of the ashram's development.

In 1981 efforts refocused on activities in the United States and Rajneesh relocated to a facility known as Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County, Oregon. Almost immediately the movement ran into conflict with county residents and the state government and a succession of legal battles concerning the ashram's construction and continued development curtailed its success. In 1985, following the investigation of serious crimes including the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack, and an assassination plot to murder US Attorney Charles H. Turner, Rajneesh alleged that his personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela and her close supporters had been responsible.[8] He was later deported from the United States in accordance with an Alford plea bargain.[9][10][11]

After his deportation 21 countries denied him entry, and he ultimately returned to India, and a revived Pune ashram, where he died in 1990. His ashram is today known as the Osho International Meditation Resort.[12]

Rajneesh's syncretic teachings emphasise the importance of meditation, awareness, love, celebration, courage, creativity, and humorqualities that he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition, and socialisation. Rajneesh's teachings have had a notable impact on Western New Age thought,[13][14] and their popularity has increased markedly since his death.[15][16]

Rajneesh (a childhood nickname from Sanskrit rajani, night and isha, lord) was born Chandra Mohan Jain, the eldest of eleven children of a cloth merchant, at his maternal grandparents' house in Kuchwada; a small village in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh state in India.[17][18][19] His parents Babulal and Saraswati Jain, who were Taranpanthi Jains, let him live with his maternal grandparents until he was seven years old.[20] By Rajneesh's own account, this was a major influence on his development because his grandmother gave him the utmost freedom, leaving him carefree without an imposed education or restrictions.[21] When he was seven years old, his grandfather died, and he went to Gadarwara to live with his parents.[17][22] Rajneesh was profoundly affected by his grandfather's death, and again by the death of his childhood girlfriend and cousin Shashi from typhoid when he was 15, leading to a preoccupation with death that lasted throughout much of his childhood and youth.[22][23] In his school years he was a rebellious, but gifted student, and gained a reputation as a formidable debater.[3] Rajneesh became an anti-theist, took an interest in hypnosis and briefly associated with socialism and two Indian nationalist organisations: the Indian National Army and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.[3][24][25] However, his membership in the organisations was short-lived as he could not submit to any external discipline, ideology or system.[26]

In 1951, aged nineteen, Rajneesh began his studies at Hitkarini College in Jabalpur.[27] Asked to leave after conflicts with an instructor, he transferred to D. N. Jain College, also in Jabalpur.[28] Having proved himself to be disruptively argumentative, he was not required to attend college classes in D. N. Jain College except for examinations and used his free time to work for a few months as an assistant editor at a local newspaper.[29] He began speaking in public at the annual Sarva Dharma Sammelan (Meeting of all faiths) held at Jabalpur, organised by the Taranpanthi Jain community into which he was born, and participated there from 1951 to 1968.[30] He resisted his parents' pressure to get married.[31] Rajneesh later said he became spiritually enlightened on 21 March 1953, when he was 21 years old, in a mystical experience while sitting under a tree in the Bhanvartal garden in Jabalpur.[32]

Having completed his B.A. in philosophy at D. N. Jain College in 1955, he joined the University of Sagar, where in 1957 he earned his M.A. in philosophy (with distinction).[33] He immediately secured a teaching position at Raipur Sanskrit College, but the Vice-Chancellor soon asked him to seek a transfer as he considered him a danger to his students' morality, character and religion.[4] From 1958, he taught philosophy as a lecturer at Jabalpur University, being promoted to professor in 1960.[4] A popular lecturer, he was acknowledged by his peers as an exceptionally intelligent man who had been able to overcome the deficiencies of his early small-town education.[34]

In parallel to his university job, he travelled throughout India under the name Acharya Rajneesh (Acharya means teacher or professor; Rajneesh was a nickname he had acquired in childhood), giving lectures critical of socialism, Gandhi and institutional religions.[3][4][5] He said that socialism would socialise only poverty, and he described Gandhi as a masochist reactionary who worshipped poverty.[3][5] What India needed to escape its backwardness was capitalism, science, modern technology and birth control.[3] He criticised orthodox Indian religions as dead, filled with empty ritual, oppressing their followers with fears of damnation and the promise of blessings.[3][5] Such statements made him controversial, but also gained him a loyal following that included a number of wealthy merchants and businessmen.[3][35] These sought individual consultations from him about their spiritual development and daily life, in return for donationsa commonplace arrangement in Indiaand his practice grew rapidly.[35] From 1962, he began to lead 3- to 10-day meditation camps, and the first meditation centres (Jivan Jagruti Kendra) started to emerge around his teaching, then known as the Life Awakening Movement (Jivan Jagruti Andolan).[36] After a controversial speaking tour in 1966, he resigned from his teaching post at the request of the university.[4]

In a 1968 lecture series, later published under the title From Sex to Superconsciousness, he scandalised Hindu leaders by calling for freer acceptance of sex and became known as the "sex guru" in the Indian press.[37][7] When in 1969 he was invited to speak at the Second World Hindu Conference, despite the misgivings of some Hindu leaders, he used the occasion to raise controversy again, claiming that "any religion which considers life meaningless and full of misery, and teaches the hatred of life, is not a true religion. Religion is an art that shows how to enjoy life."[37][38] He characterised priests as being motivated by self-interest, provoking the shankaracharya of Puri, who tried in vain to have his lecture stopped.[38]

At a public meditation event in spring 1970, Rajneesh presented his Dynamic Meditation method for the first time.[39] He left Jabalpur for Mumbai at the end of June.[40] On 26 September 1970, he initiated his first group of disciples or neo-sannyasins.[41] Becoming a disciple meant assuming a new name and wearing the traditional orange dress of ascetic Hindu holy men, including a mala (beaded necklace) carrying a locket with his picture.[42] However, his sannyasins were encouraged to follow a celebratory rather than ascetic lifestyle.[43] He himself was not to be worshipped but regarded as a catalytic agent, "a sun encouraging the flower to open".[43]

He had by then acquired a secretary Laxmi Thakarsi Kuruwa, who as his first disciple had taken the name Ma Yoga Laxmi.[3] Laxmi was the daughter of one of his early followers, a wealthy Jain who had been a key supporter of the National Congress Party during the struggle for Indian independence, with close ties to Gandhi, Nehru and Morarji Desai.[3] She raised the money that enabled Rajneesh to stop his travels and settle down.[3] In December 1970, he moved to the Woodlands Apartments in Mumbai, where he gave lectures and received visitors, among them his first Western visitors.[40] He now travelled rarely, no longer speaking at open public meetings.[40] In 1971, he adopted the title "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh".[42] Shree is a polite form of address roughly equivalent to the English "Sir"; Bhagwan means "blessed one", used in Indian traditions as a term of respect for a human being in whom the divine is no longer hidden but apparent. Later, when he changed his name, he would redefine the meaning of Bhagwan.[44][45]

The humid climate of Mumbai proved detrimental to Rajneesh's health: he developed diabetes, asthma and numerous allergies.[42] In 1974, on the 21st anniversary of his experience in Jabalpur, he moved to a property in Koregaon Park, Pune, purchased with the help of Ma Yoga Mukta (Catherine Venizelos), a Greek shipping heiress.[46][47] Rajneesh spoke at the Poona ashram from 1974 to 1981. The two adjoining houses and 6 acres (24,000m2) of land became the nucleus of an ashram, and the property is still the heart of the present-day Osho International Meditation Resort. It allowed the regular audio recording and, later, video recording and printing of his discourses for worldwide distribution, enabling him to reach far larger audiences. The number of Western visitors increased sharply.[48] The ashram soon featured an arts-and-crafts centre producing clothes, jewellery, ceramics and organic cosmetics and hosted performances of theatre, music and mime.[48] From 1975, after the arrival of several therapists from the Human Potential Movement, the ashram began to complement meditations with a growing number of therapy groups,[49][50] which became a major source of income for the ashram.[51][52]

The Pune ashram was by all accounts an exciting and intense place to be, with an emotionally charged, madhouse-carnival atmosphere.[48][53][54] The day began at 6:00a.m. with Dynamic Meditation.[55][56] From 8:00a.m., Rajneesh gave a 60- to 90-minute spontaneous lecture in the ashram's "Buddha Hall" auditorium, commenting on religious writings or answering questions from visitors and disciples.[48][56] Until 1981, lecture series held in Hindi alternated with series held in English.[57] During the day, various meditations and therapies took place, whose intensity was ascribed to the spiritual energy of Rajneesh's "buddhafield".[53] In evening darshans, Rajneesh conversed with individual disciples or visitors and initiated disciples ("gave sannyas").[48][56] Sannyasins came for darshan when departing or returning or when they had anything they wanted to discuss.[48][56]

To decide which therapies to participate in, visitors either consulted Rajneesh or made selections according to their own preferences.[58] Some of the early therapy groups in the ashram, such as the Encounter group, were experimental, allowing a degree of physical aggression as well as sexual encounters between participants.[59][60] Conflicting reports of injuries sustained in Encounter group sessions began to appear in the press.[61][62][63] Richard Price, at the time a prominent Human Potential Movement therapist and co-founder of the Esalen institute, found the groups encouraged participants to 'be violent' rather than 'play at being violent' (the norm in Encounter groups conducted in the United States), and criticised them for "the worst mistakes of some inexperienced Esalen group leaders".[64] Price is alleged to have exited the Poona ashram with a broken arm following a period of eight hours locked in a room with participants armed with wooden weapons.[64] Bernard Gunther, his Esalen colleague, fared better in Poona and wrote a book, Dying for Enlightenment, featuring photographs and lyrical descriptions of the meditations and therapy groups.[64] Violence in the therapy groups eventually ended in January 1979, when the ashram issued a press release stating that violence "had fulfilled its function within the overall context of the ashram as an evolving spiritual commune".[65]

Sannyasins who had "graduated" from months of meditation and therapy could apply to work in the ashram, in an environment that was consciously modelled on the community the Russian mystic Gurdjieff led in France in the 1930s.[66] Key features incorporated from Gurdjieff were hard, unpaid work, and supervisors chosen for their abrasive personality, both designed to provoke opportunities for self-observation and transcendence.[66] Many disciples chose to stay for years.[66] Besides the controversy around the therapies, allegations of drug use amongst sannyasin began to mar the ashram's image.[67] Some Western sannyasins were alleged to be financing extended stays in India through prostitution and drug-running.[68][69] A few later alleged that, while Rajneesh was not directly involved, they discussed such plans and activities with him in darshan and he gave his blessing.[70]

By the latter 1970s, the Poona ashram was too small to contain the rapid growth and Rajneesh asked that somewhere larger be found.[71] Sannyasins from around India started looking for properties: those found included one in the province of Kutch in Gujarat and two more in India's mountainous north.[71] The plans were never implemented as mounting tensions between the ashram and the Janata Party government of Morarji Desai resulted in an impasse.[71] Land-use approval was denied and, more importantly, the government stopped issuing visas to foreign visitors who indicated the ashram as their main destination.[71][72] In addition, Desai's government cancelled the tax-exempt status of the ashram with retrospective effect, resulting in a claim estimated at $5 million.[73] Conflicts with various Indian religious leaders aggravated the situationby 1980 the ashram had become so controversial that Indira Gandhi, despite a previous association between Rajneesh and the Indian Congress Party dating back to the sixties, was unwilling to intercede for it after her return to power.[73] In May 1980, during one of Rajneesh's discourses, an attempt on his life was made by Vilas Tupe, a young Hindu fundamentalist.[71][74][75] Tupe claims that he undertook the attack, because he believed Rajneesh to be an agent of the CIA.[75]

By 1981, Rajneesh's ashram hosted 30,000 visitors per year.[67] Daily discourse audiences were by then predominantly European and American.[76][77] Many observers noted that Rajneesh's lecture style changed in the late seventies, becoming less focused intellectually and featuring an increasing number of ethnic or dirty jokes intended to shock or amuse his audience.[71] On 10 April 1981, having discoursed daily for nearly 15 years, Rajneesh entered a three-and-a-half-year period of self-imposed public silence, and satsangssilent sitting with music and readings from spiritual works such as Khalil Gibran's The Prophet or the Isha Upanishadreplaced discourses.[78][79] Around the same time, Ma Anand Sheela (Sheela Silverman) replaced Ma Yoga Laxmi as Rajneesh's secretary.[80]

In 1981, the increased tensions around the Poona ashram, along with criticism of its activities and threatened punitive action by the Indian authorities, provided an impetus for the ashram to consider the establishment of a new commune in the United States.[81][82][83] According to Susan J. Palmer, the move to the United States was a plan from Sheela.[84] Gordon (1987) notes that Sheela and Rajneesh had discussed the idea of establishing a new commune in the US in late 1980, although he did not agree to travel there until May 1981.[80]

On 1 June, he travelled to the United States on a tourist visa, ostensibly for medical purposes, and spent several months at a Rajneeshee retreat centre located at Kip's Castle in Montclair, New Jersey.[85][86] He had been diagnosed with a prolapsed disc in spring 1981 and treated by several doctors, including James Cyriax, a St. Thomas' Hospital musculoskeletal physician and expert in epidural injections flown in from London.[80][87][88] Rajneesh's previous secretary, Laxmi, reported to Frances FitzGerald that "she had failed to find a property in India adequate to Rajneesh's needs, and thus, when the medical emergency came, the initiative had passed to Sheela".[88] A public statement by Sheela indicated that Rajneesh was in grave danger if he remained in India, but would receive appropriate medical treatment in America if he were to require surgery.[80][87][89] Despite the stated serious nature of the situation Rajneesh never sought outside medical treatment during his time in the United States, leading the Immigration and Naturalization Service to contend that he had a preconceived intent to remain there.[88] Rajneesh would later plead guilty to immigration fraud, while maintaining his innocence of the charges that he made false statements on his initial visa application about his alleged intention to remain in the US when he came from India.[nb 1][nb 2][nb 3]

On 13 June 1981, Sheela's husband, John Shelfer, signed a purchase contract to buy property in Oregon for US$5.75 million, and a few days later assigned the property to the US foundation. The property was a 64,229-acre (260km2) ranch, previously known as "The Big Muddy Ranch" and located across two Oregon counties (Wasco and Jefferson).[90] It was renamed "Rancho Rajneesh" and Rajneesh moved there on 29 August.[91] One Oregon professor: "The initial response in Oregon was an uneasy balance in which tolerance tended to outweigh hostility with increasing distance." The press reported, and another study found, that the development met almost immediately with intense local, state and federal opposition from the government, press and citizenry. Initial local community reactions ranged from hostility to tolerance, depending on distance from the ranch.[92] Within months a series of legal battles ensued, principally over land use.[93] In May 1982 the residents of Rancho Rajneesh voted to incorporate it as the city of Rajneeshpuram.[93] 1000 Friends of Oregon immediately commenced and then prosecuted over the next six years numerous court and administrative actions to void the incorporation and cause buildings and improvement to be removed.[93][94][95] 1000 Friends publicly called for the City to be "dismantled". A 1000 Friends Attorney stated that if 1000 Friends won, the Foundation would be forced to remove their sewer system and tear down many of the buildings.[96][97] In 1985, the Oregon Supreme Court found that the land was not suitable for farming, and therefore did not need to satisfy the complicated land use procedures and standards, but remanded for determination on other issues. In 1987, the Supreme Court finally resolved the case in favour of the City, by which time of course, the community had disbanded. During the course of the litigation, 1000 Friends ran a fundraising ad throughout Oregon headlined "Rajneeshpuram Alert. Worrying about Rajneeshpuram Won't Help." An Oregonian editorial commented on the ad, stating that 1000 Friends "ought to be ashamed of itself" for a campaign "based on fear and prejudice". Ironically, the Federal Bureau of Land Management found that the highest farm use of the land in question was the grazing of 9 cattle.[98] At one point, the commune imported large numbers of homeless people from various US cities in a failed attempt to affect the outcome of an election, before releasing them into surrounding towns and leaving some to the State of Oregon to return them to their home cities at the state's expense.[99][100]

In March, 1982, local residents formed a group called Citizens for Constitutional Cities to oppose the Ranch development. (Hortsch, Dan 18 Mar 1982 "Fearing 'religious cities' group forms to monitor activities of commune" The Oregonian p. D28.) An initiative petition was filed which would order the governor "'to contain, control and remove' the threat of invasion by an 'alien cult'".[94] In 1985, another state petition, supported by several Oregon legislators, was filed to invalidate the charter of the City of Rajneeshpuram.[100] In July 1985, the venue of a civil trial was moved because studies offered by the Foundation showed bias. The judge stated that "community attitudes would not permit a fair and impartial trial".[9] The Oregon legislature passed several bills seeking to slow or stop the development and the City of Rajneeshpuram, including HB 3080 which stopped distribution of revenue sharing funds "for any city whose legal status had been challenged. Rajneeshpuram was the only city impacted by the legislation."[98] Oregon Gov. Vic Atiyah stated in 1982 that since their neighbours did not like them, they should leave Oregon.[101] A representative of the community responded "all you have to do is insert the word Negro or Jew or Catholicand it is a little easier to understand how that statement sounded."[101] In May 1982, US Senator Mark Hatfield called the INS in Portland. An INS memo stated that the Senator was "very concerned" about this "religious cult" is "endangering the way of life for a small agricultural townand is a threat to public safety".[102] Such actions "often do have influence on immigration decisions". Charles Turner, the US Attorney responsible for the prosecution of the immigration case against Rajneesh, said, after Rajneesh left the US his deportation was effective because it "caused the destruction of the entire movement".[103] In January 1989, INS Commissioner Charles Nelson acknowledged that there had been "a lot of interest" in the immigration investigation from both the Oregon Senators, the "White House and the Justice Department". And there were many "opinions, mostly like 'This is a problem, and we need to do something about it.'" Mr. Turner later acknowledged, "we were using the legal process to solvea political problem." A noted legal expert[weaselwords] on new religion reported, as to press coverage generally, that the commune was the "focus of a huge outpouring of media attention, virtually all negative in tone".[104] The Oregonian, by far the dominant newspaper in the state, ran a full page ad in 1987 which stated that the Oregonian "contributed to the demise of the Rajneesh commune in Oregon and the banishment of Bhagwan".[105] An Oregon State University professor of religious studies stated that the "hysteriaerodes freedom, and presents a much more serious threat than Rajneeshism, which he viewed as an emerging religion".[106] Mr. Richardson further found that "this plethora of legal action also shows the immense power of governmental entities to deal effectively with unpopular religious groups." (id. p.483.) He concludes his study: "Given the record, Oregon new religions have been on trial, and usually they have lost."[104] In 1983 the Oregon Attorney General filed a lawsuit seeking to declare the City void because of an alleged violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Court found that the City property was owned and controlled by the Foundation, and entered judgment for the State.[107] The court disregarded the controlling US constitutional cases requiring that a violation be redressed by the "least intrusive means" necessary to correct the violation, which it had earlier cited. The City was forced to "acquiesce" in the decision, as part of a settlement of Rajneesh's immigration case.[104]

Rajneesh had withdrawn from public speaking and lecturing during the upheaval, having entered a period of "silence" that would last until November 1984, and at the commune videos of his discourses were played to audiences instead.[85] His time was spent mostly in seclusion and he communicated only with a few key disciples, including Ma Anand Sheela and his caretaker girlfriend Ma Yoga Vivek (Christine Woolf).[85] Rajneesh lived in a trailer next to a covered swimming pool and other amenities. He did not lecture and saw most of the residents only when, daily, he was slowly driving past them as they were standing by the road.[108] He gained public notoriety for the many Rolls-Royces bought for his use, eventually numbering 93 vehicles.[109][110] This made him the largest single owner of the cars in the world.[111] His followers aimed to eventually expand that collection to include 365 Rolls-Roycesfor every day of the year.[111]

In 1981, Rajneesh gave Sheela limited power of attorney and removed the limits the following year.[112] In 1983, Sheela announced that he would henceforth speak only with her.[113] He would later state that she kept him in ignorance.[112] Many sannyasins expressed doubts about whether Sheela properly represented Rajneesh and many dissidents left Rajneeshpuram in protest of its autocratic leadership.[114] Resident sannyasins without US citizenship experienced visa difficulties that some tried to overcome by marriages of convenience.[115] Commune administrators tried to resolve Rajneesh's own difficulty in this respect by declaring him the head of a religion, "Rajneeshism":[108][116]

The Oregon years saw an increased emphasis on Rajneesh's prediction that the world might be destroyed by nuclear war or other disasters sometime in the 1990s.[117] Rajneesh had said as early as 1964 that "the third and last war is now on the way" and frequently spoke of the need to create a "new humanity" to avoid global suicide.[118] This now became the basis for a new exclusivism, and a 1983 article in the Rajneesh Foundation Newsletter announcing that "Rajneeshism is creating a Noah's Ark of consciousness... I say to you that except this there is no other way", increased the sense of urgency in building the Oregon commune.[118] In March 1984, Sheela announced that Rajneesh had predicted the death of two-thirds of humanity from AIDS.[118][119] Sannyasins were required to wear rubber gloves and condoms if they had sex, and to refrain from kissing, measures widely represented in the press as an extreme over-reaction since condoms were not usually recommended for AIDS prevention because AIDS was considered a homosexual disease at that stage.[120][121]

During his residence in Rajneeshpuram, Rajneesh also dictated three books under the influence of nitrous oxide administered to him by his private dentist: Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, Notes of a Madman and Books I Have Loved.[122] Sheela later stated that Rajneesh took sixty milligrams of Valium each day and was addicted to nitrous oxide.[123][124][125] Rajneesh denied these charges when questioned about them by journalists.[123][126]

Rajneesh had coached Sheela in using media coverage to her advantage and during his period of public silence he privately stated that when Sheela spoke, she was speaking on his behalf.[107] He had also supported her when disputes about her behaviour arose within the commune leadership, but in spring 1984, as tension amongst the inner circle peaked, a private meeting was convened with Sheela and his personal house staff.[107] According to the testimony of Rajneesh's dentist, Swami Devageet (Charles Harvey Newman),[127] she was admonished during a meeting, with Rajneesh declaring that his house, and not hers, was the centre of the commune.[107] Devageet claimed Rajneesh warned that Sheela's jealousy of anyone close to him would inevitably see them become a target.[107]

Several months later, on 30 October 1984, he ended his period of public silence, announcing that it was time to "speak his own truths."[128][129] In July 1985 he resumed daily public discourses. On 16 September 1985, a few days after Sheela and her entire management team had suddenly left the commune for Europe, Rajneesh held a press conference in which he labelled Sheela and her associates a "gang of fascists".[8] He accused them of having committed a number of serious crimes, most of these dating back to 1984, and invited the authorities to investigate.[8]

The alleged crimes, which he stated had been committed without his knowledge or consent, included the attempted murder of his personal physician, poisonings of public officials, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within his own home, and a bioterror attack on the citizens of The Dalles, Oregon, using salmonella to impact the county elections.[8] While his allegations were initially greeted with scepticism by outside observers,[130] the subsequent investigation by the US authorities confirmed these accusations and resulted in the conviction of Sheela and several of her lieutenants.[131] On 30 September 1985, Rajneesh denied that he was a religious teacher.[132] His disciples burned 5,000 copies of Book of Rajneeshism, a 78-page compilation of his teachings that defined "Rajneeshism" as "a religionless religion".[132][133] He said he ordered the book-burning to rid the sect of the last traces of the influence of Sheela, whose robes were also "added to the bonfire".[132]

The salmonella attack was noted as the first confirmed instance of chemical or biological terrorism to have occurred in the United States.[134] Rajneesh stated that because he was in silence and isolation, meeting only with Sheela, he was unaware of the crimes committed by the Rajneeshpuram leadership until Sheela and her "gang" left and sannyasins came forward to inform him.[135] A number of commentators have stated that they believe that Sheela was being used as a convenient scapegoat.[135][136][137] Others have pointed to the fact that although Sheela had bugged Rajneesh's living quarters and made her tapes available to the US authorities as part of her own plea bargain, no evidence has ever come to light that Rajneesh had any part in her crimes.[138][139][140] Nevertheless, Gordon (1987) reports that Charles Turner, David Frohnmayer and other law enforcement officials, who had surveyed affidavits never released publicly and who listened to hundreds of hours of tape recordings, insinuated to him that Rajneesh as guilty of more crimes than those for which he was eventually prosecuted.[141] Frohnmayer asserted that Rajneesh's philosophy was not "disapproving of poisoning" and that he felt he and Sheela had been "genuinely evil".[141] Nonetheless, US Attorney Turner and Attorney General Frohnmeyer acknowledged that "they had little evidence of (Rajneesh) being involved in any of the criminal activities that unfolded at the ranch".[103] According to court testimony by Ma Ava (Ava Avalos), a prominent disciple, Sheela played associates a tape recording of a meeting she had had with Rajneesh about the "need to kill people" in order to strengthen wavering sannyasins resolve in participating in her murderous plots: "She came back to the meeting and [] began to play the tape. It was a little hard to hear what he was saying. [] And the gist of Bhagwan's response, yes, it was going to be necessary to kill people to stay in Oregon. And that actually killing people wasn't such a bad thing. And actually Hitler was a great man, although he could not say that publicly because nobody would understand that. Hitler had great vision."[100] Sheela initiated attempts to murder Rajneesh's caretaker and girlfriend, Ma Yoga Vivek, and his personal physician, Swami Devaraj (Dr. George Meredith), because she thought that they were a threat to Rajneesh. She had secretly recorded a conversation between Devaraj and Rajneesh "in which the doctor agreed to obtain drugs the guru wanted to ensure a peaceful death if he decided to take his own life".[100]

On 23 October 1985, a federal grand jury indicted Rajneesh and several other disciples with conspiracy to evade immigration laws.[142] The indictment was returned in camera, but word was leaked to Rajneesh's lawyer.[142] Negotiations to allow Rajneesh to surrender to authorities in Portland if a warrant were issued failed.[142][143] Rumours of a National Guard takeover and a planned violent arrest of Rajneesh led to tension and fears of shooting.[144] On the strength of Sheela's tape recordings, authorities later stated the belief that there had been a plan that sannyasin women and children would have been asked to create a human shield had authorities attempted to arrest Rajneesh at the commune.[141] On 28 October 1985, Rajneesh and a small number of sannyasins accompanying him were arrested aboard a rented Learjet at a North Carolina airstrip; according to federal authorities the group was en route to Bermuda to avoid prosecution.[145] $58,000 in cash, 35 watches and bracelets worth $1 million were found on the aircraft.[144][146][147] Rajneesh had by all accounts been informed neither of the impending arrest nor the reason for the journey.[143] Officials took the full ten days legally available to transfer him from North Carolina to Portland for arraignment.[148] After initially pleading "not guilty" to all charges and being released on bail Rajneesh, on the advice of his lawyers, entered an "Alford plea"a type of guilty plea through which a suspect does not admit guilt, but does concede there is enough evidence to convict himto one count of having a concealed intent to remain permanently in the US at the time of his original visa application in 1981 and one count of having conspired to have sannyasins enter into sham marriages to acquire US residency.[149] Under the deal his lawyers made with the US Attorney's office he was given a 10-year suspended sentence, five years' probation and a $400,000 penalty in fines and prosecution costs and agreed to leave the United States, not returning for at least five years without the permission of the United States Attorney General.[9][131][147][150]

As to "preconceived intent", at the time of the investigation and prosecution, federal court appellate cases and the INS regulations permitted "dual intent", a desire to stay, but a willingness to comply with the law if denied permanent residence. Further, the relevant intent is that of the employer, not the employee.[151] Given the public nature of Rajneesh's arrival and stay, and the aggressive scrutiny by the INS, Rajneesh would appear to have had to be willing to leave the US if denied benefits. The government nonetheless prosecuted him based on preconceived intent. As to arranging a marriage, the government only claimed that Rajneesh told someone who lived in his house that they should get married in order to stay.[151] Such encouragement appears to constitute incitement, nor a crime in the US, but not a conspiracy, which requires the formation of a plan and acts in furtherance.

Following his exit from the US, Rajneesh returned to India, landing in Delhi on 17 November 1985. He was given a hero's welcome by his Indian disciples and denounced the United States, saying the world must "put the monster America in its place" and that "Either America must be hushed up or America will be the end of the world."[152] He then stayed for six weeks in Himachal Pradesh. When non-Indians in his party had their visas revoked, he moved on to Kathmandu, Nepal, and then, a few weeks later, to Crete. Arrested after a few days by the Greek National Intelligence Service (KYP), he flew to Geneva, then to Stockholm and to Heathrow, but was in each case refused entry. Next Canada refused landing permission, so his plane returned to Shannon airport, Ireland, to refuel. There he was allowed to stay for two weeks, at a hotel in Limerick, on condition that he did not go out or give talks. He had been granted a Uruguayan identity card, one-year provisional residency and a possibility of permanent residency, so the party set out, stopping at Madrid, where the plane was surrounded by the Guardia Civil. He was allowed to spend one night at Dakar, then continued to Recife and Montevideo. In Uruguay, the group moved to a house at Punta del Este where Rajneesh began speaking publicly until 19 June, after which he was "invited to leave" for no official reason. A two-week visa was arranged for Jamaica but on arrival in Kingston police gave the group 12 hours to leave. Refuelling in Gander and in Madrid, Rajneesh returned to Bombay, India, on 30 July 1986.[153][154]

In January 1987, Rajneesh returned to the ashram in Pune[155][156] where he held evening discourses each day, except when interrupted by intermittent ill health.[157][158] Publishing and therapy resumed and the ashram underwent expansion,[157][158] now as a "Multiversity" where therapy was to function as a bridge to meditation.[158] Rajneesh devised new "meditation therapy" methods such as the "Mystic Rose" and began to lead meditations in his discourses after a gap of more than ten years.[157][158] His western disciples formed no large communes, mostly preferring ordinary independent living.[159] Red/orange dress and the mala were largely abandoned, having been optional since 1985.[158] The wearing of maroon robesonly while on ashram premiseswas reintroduced in summer 1989, along with white robes worn for evening meditation and black robes for group-leaders.[158]

In November 1987, Rajneesh expressed his belief that his deteriorating health (nausea, fatigue, pain in extremities and lack of resistance to infection) was due to poisoning by the US authorities while in prison.[160] His doctors and former attorney, Philip J. Toelkes (Swami Prem Niren), hypothesised radiation and thallium in a deliberately irradiated mattress, since his symptoms were concentrated on the right side of his body,[160] but presented no hard evidence.[161] US attorney Charles H. Hunter described this as "complete fiction", while others suggested exposure to HIV or chronic diabetes and stress.[160][162]

From early 1988, Rajneesh's discourses focused exclusively on Zen.[157] In late December, he said he no longer wished to be referred to as "Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh", and in February 1989 took the name "Osho Rajneesh", shortened to "Osho" in September.[157][163] He also requested that all trademarks previously branded with "Rajneesh" be rebranded "Osho".[164] His health continued to weaken. He delivered his last public discourse in April 1989, from then on simply sitting in silence with his followers.[160] Shortly before his death, Rajneesh suggested that one or more audience members at evening meetings (now referred to as the White Robe Brotherhood) were subjecting him to some form of evil magic.[165][166] A search for the perpetrators was undertaken, but none could be found.[165][166]

Rajneesh died on 19 January 1990, aged 58. The official cause of death was heart failure, but a statement released by his commune claimed that he had died because "living in the body had become a hell" after alleged poisoning in U.S. jails.[167] His ashes were placed in his newly built bedroom in Lao Tzu House at the ashram in Pune. The epitaph reads, "OSHO // Never Born // Never Died // Only Visited this Planet Earth between // Dec 11 1931 Jan 19 1990".

Rajneesh's teachings, delivered through his discourses, were not presented in an academic setting, but interspersed with jokes and delivered with a rhetoric that many found spellbinding.[168][169] The emphasis was not static but changed over time: Rajneesh revelled in paradox and contradiction, making his work difficult to summarise.[170] He delighted in engaging in behaviour that seemed entirely at odds with traditional images of enlightened individuals; his early lectures in particular were famous for their humor and their refusal to take anything seriously.[171][172] All such behaviour, however capricious and difficult to accept, was explained as "a technique for transformation" to push people "beyond the mind".[171]

He spoke on major spiritual traditions including Jainism, Hinduism, Hassidism, Tantrism, Taoism, Christianity, Buddhism, on a variety of Eastern and Western mystics and on sacred scriptures such as the Upanishads and the Guru Granth Sahib.[173] The sociologist Lewis F. Carter saw his ideas as rooted in Hindu advaita, in which the human experiences of separateness, duality and temporality are held to be a kind of dance or play of cosmic consciousness in which everything is sacred, has absolute worth and is an end in itself.[174] While his contemporary Jiddu Krishnamurti did not approve of Rajneesh, there are clear similarities between their respective teachings.[170]

Rajneesh also drew on a wide range of Western ideas.[173] His belief in the unity of opposites recalls Heraclitus, while his description of man as a machine, condemned to the helpless acting out of unconscious, neurotic patterns, has much in common with Freud and Gurdjieff.[170][175] His vision of the "new man" transcending constraints of convention is reminiscent of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil;[176] his promotion of sexual liberation bears comparison to D. H. Lawrence;[177] and his "dynamic" meditations owe a debt to Wilhelm Reich.[178]

According to Rajneesh every human being is a Buddha with the capacity for enlightenment, capable of unconditional love and of responding rather than reacting to life, although the ego usually prevents this, identifying with social conditioning and creating false needs and conflicts and an illusory sense of identity that is nothing but a barrier of dreams.[179][180][181] Otherwise man's innate being can flower in a move from the periphery to the centre.[179][181]

Rajneesh viewed the mind first and foremost as a mechanism for survival, replicating behavioural strategies that have proven successful in the past.[179][181] But the mind's appeal to the past, he said, deprives human beings of the ability to live authentically in the present, causing them to repress genuine emotions and to shut themselves off from joyful experiences that arise naturally when embracing the present moment: "The mind has no inherent capacity for joy. It only thinks about joy."[181][182] The result is that people poison themselves with all manner of neuroses, jealousies, and insecurities.[183] He argued that psychological repression, often advocated by religious leaders, makes suppressed feelings re-emerge in another guise, and that sexual repression resulted in societies obsessed with sex.[183] Instead of suppressing, people should trust and accept themselves unconditionally.[181][182] This should not merely be understood intellectually, as the mind could only assimilate it as one more piece of information: instead meditation was needed.[183]

Rajneesh presented meditation not just as a practice but as a state of awareness to be maintained in every moment, a total awareness that awakens the individual from the sleep of mechanical responses conditioned by beliefs and expectations.[181][183] He employed Western psychotherapy in the preparatory stages of meditation to create awareness of mental and emotional patterns.[184]

He suggested more than a hundred meditation techniques in total.[184][185] His own "active meditation" techniques are characterised by stages of physical activity leading to silence.[184] The most famous of these remains Dynamic Meditation,[184][185] which has been described as a kind of microcosm of his outlook.[185] Performed with closed or blindfolded eyes, it comprises five stages, four of which are accompanied by music.[186] First the meditator engages in ten minutes of rapid breathing through the nose.[186] The second ten minutes are for catharsis: "Let whatever is happening happen. Laugh, shout, scream, jump, shakewhatever you feel to do, do it!"[184][186] Next, for ten minutes one jumps up and down with arms raised, shouting Hoo! each time one lands on the flat of the feet.[186][187] At the fourth, silent stage, the meditator stops moving suddenly and totally, remaining completely motionless for fifteen minutes, witnessing everything that is happening.[186][187] The last stage of the meditation consists of fifteen minutes of dancing and celebration.[186][187]

Rajneesh developed other active meditation techniques, such as the Kundalini "shaking" meditation and the Nadabrahma "humming" meditation, which are less animated, although they also include physical activity of one sort or another.[184] His later "meditative therapies" require sessions for several days, OSHO Mystic Rose comprising three hours of laughing every day for a week, three hours of weeping each day for a second week, and a third week with three hours of silent meditation.[188] These processes of "witnessing" enable a "jump into awareness".[184] Rajneesh believed such cathartic methods were necessary, since it was difficult for modern people to just sit and enter meditation. Once the methods had provided a glimpse of meditation people would be able to use other methods without difficulty.[citation needed]

Another key ingredient was his own presence as a master; "A Master shares his being with you, not his philosophy. He never does anything to the disciple."[171] The initiation he offered was another such device: "... if your being can communicate with me, it becomes a communion. It is the highest form of communication possible: a transmission without words. Our beings merge. This is possible only if you become a disciple."[171] Ultimately though, as an explicitly "self-parodying" guru, Rajneesh even deconstructed his own authority, declaring his teaching to be nothing more than a "game" or a joke.[172][189] He emphasised that anything and everything could become an opportunity for meditation.[171]

Rajneesh saw his "neo-sannyas" as a totally new form of spiritual discipline, or one that had once existed but since been forgotten.[190] He thought that the traditional Hindu sannyas had turned into a mere system of social renunciation and imitation.[190] He emphasised complete inner freedom and the responsibility to oneself, not demanding superficial behavioural changes, but a deeper, inner transformation.[190] Desires were to be accepted and surpassed rather than denied.[190] Once this inner flowering had taken place, desires such as that for sex would be left behind.[190]

Rajneesh said that he was "the rich man's guru" and that material poverty was not a genuine spiritual value.[191] He had himself photographed wearing sumptuous clothing and hand-made watches[192] and, while in Oregon, drove a different Rolls-Royce each day his followers reportedly wanted to buy him 365 of them, one for each day of the year.[111] Publicity shots of the Rolls-Royces were sent to the press.[191][193] They may have reflected both his advocacy of wealth and his desire to provoke American sensibilities, much as he had enjoyed offending Indian sensibilities earlier.[191][194]

Rajneesh aimed to create a "new man" combining the spirituality of Gautama Buddha with the zest for life embodied by Nikos Kazantzakis' Zorba the Greek: "He should be as accurate and objective as a scientist as sensitive, as full of heart, as a poet [and as] rooted deep down in his being as the mystic."[171][195] His term the "new man" applied to men and women equally, whose roles he saw as complementary; indeed, most of his movement's leadership positions were held by women.[196] This new man, "Zorba the Buddha", should reject neither science nor spirituality but embrace both.[171] Rajneesh believed humanity was threatened with extinction due to over-population, impending nuclear holocaust and diseases such as AIDS, and thought many of society's ills could be remedied by scientific means.[171] The new man would no longer be trapped in institutions such as family, marriage, political ideologies and religions.[172][196] In this respect Rajneesh is similar to other counter-culture gurus, and perhaps even certain postmodern and deconstructional thinkers.[172]

Rajneesh spoke many times of the dangers of overpopulation, and advocated universal legalisation of contraception and abortion. He described the religious prohibitions thereof as criminal, and argued that the United Nations' declaration of the human "right to life" played into the hands of religious campaigners.

According to Rajneesh, one has no right to knowingly inflict a lifetime of suffering: life should begin only at birth, and even then, "If a child is born deaf, dumb, and we cannot do anything, and the parents are willing, the child should be put to eternal sleep" rather than "take the risk of burdening the earth with a crippled, blind child." He argued that this simply freed the soul to inhabit a healthy body instead: "Only the body goes back into its basic elements; the soul will fly into another womb. Nothing is destroyed. If you really love the child, you will not want him to live a seventy-year-long life in misery, suffering, sickness, old age. So even if a child is born, if he is not medically capable of enjoying life fully with all the senses, healthy, then it is better that he goes to eternal sleep and is born somewhere else with a better body."

He stated that the decision to have a child should be a medical matter, and that oversight of population and genetics must be kept in the realm of science, outside of politicians' control: "If genetics is in the hands of Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, what will be the fate of the world?" He believed that in the right hands, these measures could be used for good: "Once we know how to change the program, thousands of possibilities open up. We can give every man and woman the best of everything. There is no need for anyone to suffer unnecessarily. Being retarded, crippled, blind, ugly all these will be possible to change."[197]

In his early days as Acharya Rajneesh, a correspondent once asked for his "Ten Commandments". In reply, Rajneesh noted that it was a difficult matter because he was against any kind of commandment, but "just for fun", set out the following:

He underlined numbers 3, 7, 9 and 10.[198] The ideas expressed in these Commandments have remained constant leitmotifs in his movement.[198]

While Rajneesh's teachings met with strong rejection in his home country during his lifetime, there has been a change in Indian public opinion since Rajneesh's death.[200][201] In 1991, an influential Indian newspaper counted Rajneesh, along with figures such as Gautama Buddha and Mahatma Gandhi, among the ten people who had most changed India's destiny; in Rajneesh's case, by "liberating the minds of future generations from the shackles of religiosity and conformism".[202] Rajneesh has found more acclaim in his homeland since his death than he ever did while alive.[15] Writing in The Indian Express, columnist Tanweer Alam stated, "The late Rajneesh was a fine interpreter of social absurdities that destroyed human happiness."[203] At a celebration in 2006, marking the 75th anniversary of Rajneesh's birth, Indian singer Wasifuddin Dagar said that Rajneesh's teachings are "more pertinent in the current milieu than they were ever before".[204] In Nepal, there were 60 Rajneesh centres with almost 45,000 initiated disciples as of January 2008.[205] Rajneesh's entire works have been placed in the Library of India's National Parliament in New Delhi.[201] Prominent figures such as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Indian Sikh writer Khushwant Singh have expressed their admiration for Osho.[206] The Bollywood actor and Rajneesh disciple Vinod Khanna, who had worked as Rajneesh's gardener in Rajneeshpuram, served as India's Minister of State for External Affairs from 2003 to 2004.[207] Over 650 books[208] are credited to Rajneesh, expressing his views on all facets of human existence.[209] Virtually all of them are renderings of his taped discourses.[209] His books are available in more than 60 different languages[210] and have entered best-seller lists in countries such as Italy and South Korea.[202]

Rajneesh continues to be a known and published worldwide in the area of meditation and his work also includes social and political commentary. Transcriptions of his discourses are published in more than 60 languages and are available from more than 200 different publishing houses.[211] Internationally, after almost two decades of controversy and a decade of accommodation, Rajneesh's movement has established itself in the market of new religions.[211] His followers have redefined his contributions, reframing central elements of his teaching so as to make them appear less controversial to outsiders.[211] Societies in North America and Western Europe have met them half-way, becoming more accommodating to spiritual topics such as yoga and meditation.[211] The Osho International Foundation (OIF) runs stress management seminars for corporate clients such as IBM and BMW, with a reported (2000) revenue between $15 and $45 million annually in the US[212][213]

Rajneesh's ashram in Pune has become the Osho International Meditation Resort, one of India's main tourist attractions.[214] Describing itself as the Esalen of the East, it teaches a variety of spiritual techniques from a broad range of traditions and promotes itself as a spiritual oasis, a "sacred space" for discovering one's self and uniting the desires of body and mind in a beautiful resort environment.[16] According to press reports, it attracts some 200,000 people from all over the world each year;[199][206] prominent visitors have included politicians, media personalities and the Dalai Lama.[214] Before anyone is allowed to enter the resort, an HIV test is required, and those who are discovered to have the disease are not allowed in.[215] In 2011, a national seminar on Rajneesh's teachings was inaugurated at the Department of Philosophy of the Mankunwarbai College for Women in Jabalpur.[216] Funded by the Bhopal office of the University Grants Commission, the seminar focused on Rajneesh's "Zorba the Buddha" teaching, seeking to reconcile spirituality with the materialist and objective approach.[216]

Rajneesh is generally considered one of the most controversial spiritual leaders to have emerged from India in the twentieth century.[217][218] His message of sexual, emotional, spiritual, and institutional liberation, as well as the pleasure he took in causing offense, ensured that his life was surrounded by controversy.[196] Rajneesh became known as the "sex guru" in India, and as the "Rolls-Royce guru" in the United States.[191] He attacked traditional concepts of nationalism, openly expressed contempt for politicians, and poked fun at the leading figures of various religions, who in turn found his arrogance unbearable.[219][220] His teachings on sex, marriage, family, and relationships contradicted traditional values and aroused a great deal of anger and opposition around the world.[86][221] His movement was widely feared and loathed as a cult. Rajneesh was seen to live "in ostentation and offensive opulence", while his followers, most of whom had severed ties with outside friends and family and donated all or most of their money and possessions to the commune, might be at a mere "subsistence level".[99][222]

Academic assessments of Rajneesh's work have been mixed and often directly contradictory. Uday Mehta saw errors in his interpretation of Zen and Mahayana Buddhism, speaking of "gross contradictions and inconsistencies in his teachings" that "exploit" the "ignorance and gullibility" of his listeners.[223] The sociologist Bob Mullan wrote in 1983 of "a borrowing of truths, half-truths and occasional misrepresentations from the great traditions"... often bland, inaccurate, spurious and extremely contradictory".[224] Hugh B. Urban also said Rajneesh's teaching was neither original nor especially profound, and concluded that most of its content had been borrowed from various Eastern and Western philosophies.[172] George Chryssides, on the other hand, found such descriptions of Rajneesh's teaching as a "potpourri" of various religious teachings unfortunate because Rajneesh was "no amateur philosopher". Drawing attention to Rajneesh's academic background he stated that; "Whether or not one accepts his teachings, he was no charlatan when it came to expounding the ideas of others."[218] He described Rajneesh as primarily a Buddhist teacher, promoting an independent form of "Beat Zen"[218] and viewed the unsystematic, contradictory and outrageous aspects of Rajneesh's teachings as seeking to induce a change in people, not as philosophy lectures aimed at intellectual understanding of the subject.[218]

Similarly with respect to Rajneesh's embracing of western counter-culture and the human potential movement, though Mullan acknowledged that Rajneesh's range and imagination were second to none,[224] and that many of his statements were quite insightful and moving, perhaps even profound at times,[225] he perceived "a potpourri of counter-culturalist and post-counter-culturalist ideas" focusing on love and freedom, the need to live for the moment, the importance of self, the feeling of "being okay", the mysteriousness of life, the fun ethic, the individual's responsibility for their own destiny, and the need to drop the ego, along with fear and guilt.[226] To Mehta Rajneesh's appeal to his Western disciples was based on his social experiments, which established a philosophical connection between the Eastern guru tradition and the Western growth movement.[217] He saw this as a marketing strategy to meet the desires of his audience,[172] Urban, too, viewed Rajneesh as negating a dichotomy between spiritual and material desires, reflecting the preoccupation with the body and sexuality characteristic of late capitalist consumer culture in tune with the socio-economic conditions of his time.[227]

Peter B. Clarke confirmed that most participators felt they had made progress in self-actualization as defined by American psychologist Abraham Maslow and the human potential movement.[66] He stated that the style of therapy Rajneesh devised, with its liberal attitude towards sexuality as a sacred part of life, had proved influential among other therapy practitioners and new age groups.[228] Yet Clarke believes that the main motivation of seekers joining the movement was "neither therapy nor sex, but the prospect of becoming enlightened, in the classical Buddhist sense".[66]

In 2005, Urban observed that Rajneesh had undergone a "remarkable apotheosis" after his return to India, and especially in the years since his death, going on to describe him as a powerful illustration of what F. Max Mller, over a century ago, called "that world-wide circle through which, like an electric current, Oriental thought could run to the West and Western thought return to the East".[227] Clarke also noted that Rajneesh has come to be "seen as an important teacher within India itself" who is "increasingly recognised as a major spiritual teacher of the twentieth century, at the forefront of the current 'world-accepting' trend of spirituality based on self-development".[228]

A number of commentators have remarked upon Rajneesh's charisma. Comparing Rajneesh with Gurdjieff, Anthony Storr wrote that Rajneesh was "personally extremely impressive", noting that "many of those who visited him for the first time felt that their most intimate feelings were instantly understood, that they were accepted and unequivocally welcomed rather than judged. [Osho] seemed to radiate energy and to awaken hidden possibilities in those who came into contact with him".[229] Many sannyasins have stated that hearing Rajneesh speak, they "fell in love with him."[230][231] Susan J. Palmer noted that even critics attested to the power of his presence.[230] James S. Gordon, a psychiatrist and researcher, recalls inexplicably finding himself laughing like a child, hugging strangers and having tears of gratitude in his eyes after a glance by Rajneesh from within his passing Rolls-Royce.[232] Frances FitzGerald concluded upon listening to Rajneesh in person that he was a brilliant lecturer, and expressed surprise at his talent as a comedian, which had not been apparent from reading his books, as well as the hypnotic quality of his talks, which had a profound effect on his audience.[233] Hugh Milne (Swami Shivamurti), an ex-devotee who between 1973 and 1982 worked closely with Rajneesh as leader of the Poona Ashram Guard[234] and as his personal bodyguard,[235][236] noted that their first meeting left him with a sense that far more than words had passed between them: "There is no invasion of privacy, no alarm, but it is as if his soul is slowly slipping inside mine, and in a split second transferring vital information."[237] Milne also observed another facet of Rajneesh's charismatic ability in stating that he was "a brilliant manipulator of the unquestioning disciple".[238]

Hugh B. Urban noted that Rajneesh appeared to fit with Max Weber's classical image of the charismatic figure, being held to possess "an extraordinary supernatural power or 'grace', which was essentially irrational and affective".[239] Rajneesh corresponded to Weber's pure charismatic type in rejecting all rational laws and institutions and claiming to subvert all hierarchical authority, though Urban notes that the promise of absolute freedom inherent in this resulted in bureaucratic organisation and institutional control within larger communes.[239]

Some scholars have suggested that Rajneesh, like other charismatic leaders, may have had a narcissistic personality.[240][241][242] In his paper The Narcissistic Guru: A Profile of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Ronald O. Clarke, Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at Oregon State University, argued that Rajneesh exhibited all the typical features of narcissistic personality disorder, such as a grandiose sense of self-importance and uniqueness; a preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success; a need for constant attention and admiration; a set of characteristic responses to threats to self-esteem; disturbances in interpersonal relationships; a preoccupation with personal grooming combined with frequent resorting to prevarication or outright lying; and a lack of empathy.[242] Drawing on Rajneesh's reminiscences of his childhood in his book Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, he suggested that Rajneesh suffered from a fundamental lack of parental discipline, due to his growing up in the care of overindulgent grandparents.[242] Rajneesh's self-avowed Buddha status, he concluded, was part of a delusional system associated with his narcissistic personality disorder; a condition of ego-inflation rather than egolessness.[242]

There are widely divergent assessments of Rajneesh's qualities as a thinker and speaker. Khushwant Singh, an eminent author, historian, and former editor of the Hindustan Times, has described Rajneesh as "the most original thinker that India has produced: the most erudite, the most clearheaded and the most innovative".[243] Singh believes that Rajneesh was a "free-thinking agnostic" who had the ability to explain the most abstract concepts in simple language, illustrated with witty anecdotes, who mocked gods, prophets, scriptures, and religious practices, and gave a totally new dimension to religion.[244] The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk has called Rajneesh a "Wittgenstein of religions", ranking him as one of the greatest figures of the 20th century; in his view, Rajneesh had performed a radical deconstruction of the word games played by the world's religions.[245]

During the early 1980s, a number of commentators in the popular press were dismissive of Rajneesh.[246] The Australian critic Clive James scornfully referred to him as "Bagwash", likening the experience of listening to one of his discourses to sitting in a laundrette and watching "your tattered underwear revolve soggily for hours while exuding grey suds. The Bagwash talks the way that looks."[246][247] James finished by saying that Rajneesh, though a "fairly benign example of his type", was a "rebarbative dingbat who manipulates the manipulable into manipulating one another".[246][247][248] Responding to an enthusiastic review of Rajneesh's talks by Bernard Levin in The Times, Dominik Wujastyk, also writing in The Times, similarly expressed his opinion that the talk he heard while visiting the Poona ashram was of a very low standard, wearyingly repetitive and often factually wrong, and stated that he felt disturbed by the personality cult surrounding Rajneesh.[246][249]

Writing in the Seattle Post Intelligencer in January 1990, American author Tom Robbins stated that based on his readings of Rajneesh's books, he was convinced Rajneesh was the 20th century's "greatest spiritual teacher". Robbins, while stressing that he was not a disciple, further stated that he had "read enough vicious propaganda and slanted reports to suspect that he was one of the most maligned figures in history".[243] Rajneesh's commentary on the Sikh scripture known as Japuji was hailed as the best available by Giani Zail Singh, the former President of India.[201] In 2011, author Farrukh Dhondy reported that film star Kabir Bedi was a fan of Rajneesh, and viewed Rajneesh's works as "the most sublime interpretations of Indian philosophy that he had come across". Dhondy himself viewed Rajneesh as "the cleverest intellectual confidence trickster that India has produced. His output of the 'interpretation' of Indian texts is specifically slanted towards a generation of disillusioned westerners who wanted (and perhaps still want) to 'have their cake, eat it' [and] claim at the same time that cake-eating is the highest virtue according to ancient-fused-with-scientific wisdom."[250]

On the sayings of Jesus:

On Tao:

On Gautama Buddha:

On Zen:

On the Baul mystics:

On Sufis:

On Hassidism:

On the Upanishads:

On Heraclitus:

On Kabir:

On Buddhist Tantra:

On Patanjali and Yoga:

(reprinted as Yoga, the Science of the Soul)

On Meditation methods:

Talks based on questions:

Darshan interviews:


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Rajneesh - Wikipedia

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The Rajneesh Cult – Christian Research Institute

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This article first appeared in Forward volume 5, number 1 (1982). The full text of the article can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to:

In terms of media attention and exposure, we could fairly state that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (of Transcendental Meditation) was the guru of the 70s. However, over the past few years another Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree (Sir God) Rajneesh, has gradually achieved greater notoriety, which qualifies him, at least at this point, to be considered the guru of the 80s.

Rajneesh, bald, bearded and photogenic, first attained major media exposure in the U.S. in early 1978 when Time magazine featured an article on the guru entitled God Sir at Esalen East. Time reported that the charismatic guru had come into vogue among certain celebrities and prominent apostles of the human potential movement, who were joining thousands of other spiritual seekers in making the pilgrimage to Rajneeshs ashram (religious community/monastery) in Poona, India. Rajneeshs appeal stemmed partly from his use of tantric yoga (involving nudity and free sex) in his ashram, and partly from his incorporation of a wide variety of popular psychospiritual therapies and techniques.

In the late 70s and early 80s Rajneeshs acclaim continued to spread within the new age movement in America, Great Britain, Germany, and virtually every free-world, industrialized nation. With as many as 6,000 westerners flooding Poona at a time, the ashram population rose to 10,000 while 500 Rajneesh centers were established in 32 nations by orange garbed sannyasins* returning from Poona to their homelands. Rajneesh now has 250,000 followers, whose average age has been estimated to be as high as 35. Among those who have made the trek to Poona include the Prince and Princess of Hanover, the Marquis of Bath, actor Terence Stamp, singer Diana Ross, and Ruth Carter Stapleton.

Rajneeshs discourses, which were delivered daily in Poona, have been transcribed into 300 books and diaries which average between $15 and $20 in cost. Video cassettes of each discourse range in price between $50 and $170. Ashram income during the last year in Poona is believed to have been between $5 and $7 million. As a follower stated in the film Ashram, a documentary on the Rajneesh cult, The organization understood long ago what powerful energy money is. Rajneesh, who owns two Rolls Royces and two airplanes, believes that spirituality is the luxury and privilege of the rich.1

Rajneesh is a self-proclaimed spiritual rebel who thrives in the controversy that he has created, particularly in India, by his trainings (such as the tantra group, and the often violent encounter group) and his denunciations of respected religious and political leaders. Tal Brooke, a former devotee of the popular Indian guru Sai Baba, after visiting Poona effectively summed up the scene there:

An object of media fascination and horror, Rajneesh is known for his bizarre revelations on sex. He has constructed a vision of the New Man that repudiates all prior norms and traditions. Man, by Rajneeshs thinking, is the hedonist-god, fully autonomous (barring the inner voice of Rajneesh), and free to carve out the cosmos in his own image. He is the sovereign pleasure seeker, self-transcender, who owes nobody anything. The family is anathema, children extra trash. And so long as the Neo-sannyasin has the money the fun ride continues. Afterward, however, he or she is usually a non-functional casualty. Homicides, rapes, mysterious disappearances, threats, fires, explosions, abandoned ashram children now begging in Poonas streets, drug busts all done by those amazing hybrids in red who believe they are pioneering new and daring redefinitions of the word love.

Christians working in a Poona asylum confirm such accounts, adding the breakdown rate is so high the ashram has wielded political power to suppress reports.2

Bhagwans practice of readily initiating every westerner who came to him into the order of Sannyas infuriated many Hindu traditionalists, who uphold the ancient belief that the title of swami can only be conferred upon one who has spent years in preparative study and meditation. Rajneeshs reply was that Westerners want things quickly, so we give it to them right away.3 Rajneesh further offended the more ascetic Hindus by his advocacy of self-indulgence and sensuality. He urges his disciples not to deny their thoughts, feelings, and urges, but instead to experience them fully, as stepping stones on the spiritual path.4

Bhagwan has often been open concerning his hostility toward established religions. This is a revolution.I am burning scriptures here, uprooting traditions.unless I am shot Ill not be proved right.5

By early 1981 threats on Bhagwans life were indeed being made. The ashram was now heavily guarded, and no one was allowed to enter without first being searched for weapons. Then an ashram warehouse was set on fire, and an explosion was set off near the cults health center. When an actual attempt on Rajneeshs life was made in February, ashram officials hastened a process (which had already been initiated) of looking for a new headquarters.

Concurrent with these events, on May 1 of last year Rajneesh entered into what was termed a new and ultimate stage of his work silence. Since 1977 Rajneesh had been announcing that he would one day stop talking, on the grounds that only through silence could his real message be communicated.

Then during the same month the U.S. Consulate in Bombay issued Bhagwan a tourist visa, which opened the door for him to stay in America for at least a year. On June 1 he secretly flew to New York with 17 of his closest disciples. His followers in Poona were cast into a state of great disorientation upon hearing the news of their masters departure, and many suicide reports were made. The Poona ashram was closed down, and a small meditation center was left in its place to accommodate Indian disciples.

Since Rajneesh left Poona his followers have spread throughout the west. In Europe the present strategy is to establish Sacred Cities. The European Newsletter, issue 8, 1981 says: A Sannyasin city is to be set up in each major European country.. Bhagwan has suggested that the cities should be self-supporting, alternative societies, which will be models of sannyas. So far four cities have been planned: in England, Holland, Germany, and Italy.6

In America, plans were undertaken to create the ultimate sacred city, one fit for the master himself. On July 10 the Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center of Montclair, New Jersey purchased the Big Muddy Ranch (where the John Wayne movie Big Muddy was filmed) for $6 million ($1.5 million of it in cash) from an investment company in Amarillo, Texas. The land, near Antelope, Oregon, covers more than 100 square miles. The Center also managed to lease 14,889 acres in the same area from the Bureau of Land Management.

Three hundred sannyasins from western countries soon flocked to the Big Muddy, and in September they jubilantly welcomed their master to his new home. There is no doubt it is already the worlds largest ashram, geographically speaking, the Los Angeles Times said. Expenses are reportedly running at $1 million a month.

Not long after the Big Muddy Ranch was purchased, plans were announced to build Americas first enlightened city, to be called Rajneeshpuram (expression or city of Rajneesh). The Rajneesh Foundation International (headed by Ma Sheela Silverman, a 32-year-old Indian disciple) projected that the city would encompass roughly three square miles, support a population of 1,500 to 2,000, and be self-sufficient within three years.

On November 4 the Wasco County Commission voted two-to-one to allow an election to be held May 18 to determine if the Big Muddy property should be incorporated as a city. Since the only ones allowed to vote in such an election are those who live on the site (in this case the Rajneesh cult), the outcome was certain to be in favor of incorporation. The One Thousand Friends of Oregon, an environmentalist group, sought to have the County Commissions approval overruled by Oregons Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), but LUBA decided it lacked jurisdiction to take such an action. Then on May 18 no one was surprised when the disputed election resulted in 154 votes in favor of the incorporation of Rajneeshpuram, and none opposed. The One Thousand Friends are now petitioning the state Board of Appeals to reverse Wasco Countys action and thus block the actual development of the city.

In the meantime, under the leadership of the pugnacious Sheela Silverman, the sannyasins have responded to this opposition to their plans with a bold attempt to take over the city of Antelope and turn its municipal powers to their use (such as providing authorization to operate a printing plant and other services needed by the growing population of sannyasins). The Orange People (as Rajneeshs disciples are sometimes called) now own and operate the towns only gas station, and the Antelope Store and Cafe, whose name theyve changed to Zorba the Buddha (the stores menu is now strictly vegetarian).

Fearing that once the sannyasins gained control of the city council they would raise taxes to facilitate the cults operations, longtime Antelope residents called or a spec al election April 15 to decide whether to disincorporate the town. However, Oregon law allows anyone who has resided in the state or 20 days or more to vote in a citys election the same day he or she takes up residence in the town. On April 15 the established citizenry managed to muster 42 votes for disincorporation (Antelopes official population is listed as 40), but the votes of 55 very new residents thwarted their efforts. A court challenge of the outcome is likely.

Ashram life in Oregon is different than it was in Poona. Now that Rajneesh has gone into silence, he no longer conducts the twice-daily meetings with his disciples that were the focal point of life in Poona. Rajneesh does speak to Sheela Silverman and his personal nurse, however, and in this manner a chain of command has been constructed which affords the sannyasins little or no direct contact with their master. He may be seen, however, taking joyrides around the property with his nurse. Life reports that he has already crashed into a cement truck,7 and New Age magazine informs us that at an Antelope City Council meeting Francis Dixon, a city counselor, chimed in that Bhagwan himself is a menace, driving around on their roads in his Rolls Royce at over 70 miles per hour; already, noted Dixon, he has ended up in a ditch three times.8

In northeastern Oregon, as it was in Poona, the Rajneesh cult has provoked a crescendo of responses ranging from curiosity, to concern, to alarm. The unusual orange clothing worn by the sannyasins, their advocacy of a radically unrestrained (im)morality, and the numerous unconventional (and, to many people, repulsing) facets of their beliefs and lifestyle will hardly allow them to meld unobtrusively into the cultural milieu of their rural, provincial surroundings. It seems likely that the tension and hostility between those inside and those outside the ashram will continue to grow in the Antelope area, just as it did in Poona. Accompanying this may be a radical internalization in which the cult severs itself from almost all contact with the outside world, and focuses intently upon realizing its own spiritual and community aspirations.

What are these aspirations? Even the briefest exposure to Rajneeshs teachings makes it explicitly clear that the spirituality he advocates is in every respect hostile to the Christian faith. Consider the following samplings from his discourses.

You can be a Christ: Why be a Christian?9

Let me be your death and resurrection.10

Nobody is a sinner. Even while you are in the darkest hole of your life, you are still divine: you cannot lose your divinity. I tell you, there is no need for salvation, it is within you.11

.disobedience is not a sin, but a part of growth.12

God is neither a he nor a she.if you say he is a she, I will say he is a he and if you say he is a he, I will say he is a she.whatever your belief is, Im going to destroy it.13 (emphasis ours)

The spirituality into which Rajneesh is leading his disciples is the self-deification of eastern mysticism, and at the same time it is a spirituality that cannot be defined, experienced, or maintained apart from the guru. As an unidentified former sannyasin describes the Poona experience: The ashram is a convent, a temple, a therapy the whole ashram-life is a therapy, not only the groups: every moment you are pulled and pushed, towards something you dont know, towards the unknown, the divine and towards Bhagwan. Each day you come nearer and nearer to him and each day you become more and more dependent on him.14

Because his many therapies have been highly acclaimed by some in the human potential movement, the majority of those who come to Rajneesh have many personal problems they hope he can resolve. Rajneesh tells them that the cause of all of their problems is their egos, and the solution to these conflicts is to surrender their egos to him. On a sign at the entrance to the meditation center in Poona read the words: Shoes and minds are to be left here at the gate. Rajneesh maintains that Only those are accepted who surrender, only those are accepted who are utterly committed, who have fallen in love with me, who can trust and whose trust is unconditional, and absolute they are accepted.15 (emphasis ours)

The entire ashram program is designed to progressively weaken the participants egos until they surrender to Rajneesh. For example, one of the therapies, called centering, requires one to speak of himself in the third person for seven days, with the result that one begins to feel distant and separate from himself. Another training, intensive enlightenment, forces participants to do nothing for three days and nights but answer the question Who am I? The process leads one to see himself as miserable and unimportant. Soon his ego or sense of who he is begins to crumble and is replaced by a feeling of oneness with everything, and dependence upon Bhagwan.

Life reports that Iha Vander Schulenberg, a young German who had been initiated by Rajneesh in Poona, took part in .a 10-day ordeal during which participants were hypnotized and led back to childish, even infantile states of consciousness. In this condition of extreme vulnerability, potential disciples were urged to consider devoting their lives to the Bhagwan.16

As each ashram session further breaks down the independent ego of the sannyasin, he finally becomes the mental slave of Rajneesh. When a follower reaches this point, he views any difficult thing Rajneesh asks him to do as a test of his commitment and fidelity to the guru. An Indian movie star who is a sannyasin said: Its a test or surrender, and surrendering yourself to the guru means doing anything and everything he asks you to. You understand that? You stop thinking for yourself. The guru does the thinking for you.17

Through such absolute dependence on a human being, and surrender of the right to evaluate him critically, Rajneeshs devotees forfeit qualities that are vital to personal growth and healthy adulthood. When two young English women were caught smuggling drugs in order to afford rooms in the ashram (this means of producing income, along with prostitution, was not uncommon among sannyasins in Poona), a psychologist called into the case told the court that .those who left the sect were found to have regressed to the mental age of l2.18

The atmosphere of brotherhood and playfulness that prevails at the ashram, when combined with the blissful states of consciousness often achieved through the meditations and therapies, can lead the sannyasins to believe that their problems have been transcended, and that they have attained the psychological and spiritual wholeness Rajneesh promises. However, Tal Brooke speaks for many who have visited Poona and other Rajneesh centers when he says: I strongly sense a terrible obscene gaping wound underneath this facade a collective lacerated psyche.19

When a group of peoples psyches remain fragmented and wounded, but they believe theyve been healed; when they are still very much sinners and yet they are convinced theyve become pure, some disturbing, frightening possibilities emerge. This is especially the case if the people involved disavow use of their rational minds as unspiritual and collectively connect themselves to one supermind, who is inevitably no more healthy nor perfected than they. Speaking of the Rajneesh cult and cult patterns in general, Joshua Baran, a former Zen Buddhist monk, observes:

In this process devotees lose their natural alarm systems which tell them when things arent right. This is usually a gradual process. This is how it is possible for Jonestown or the many other examples weve seen how people end up doing blind, insensitive things to one another.20

With such references to Jonestown already being made, an eerie sense of irony was added to the unfolding Rajneesh story when it became known last year that Shannon Jo Ryan, daughter of the late congressman Leo Ryan, had become an active disciple of Rajneesh. In November, 1978, Leo Ryan was murdered in Jonestown, Guyana by followers of Jim Jones as he was completing an investigation of the Peoples Temple there. Life reports that Shannon traveled to India to offer Rajneesh money collected from her fathers life insurance policy.21 She is now living in Oregon at Rajneeshpuram, a fact which some of the neighbors in the Antelope area find foreboding. When the subject of parallels between Rajneesh and Jim Jones was brought up, Shannon candidly acknowledged: Ive heard other people say if Bhagwan asked them to kill themselves, they would do it. If Bhagwan asked them to kill someone else, they would do it. I dont know if my trust in him is that total. I would like it to be and I dont believe he would ever do that.22 (emphasis ours)

Miss Ryans words are frequently echoed by other sannyasins. They acknowledge that the psychological structure of the cult is such that if Rajneesh were to order them to kill themselves or others they would be obligated to do so. However, they are fully assured that Rajneesh is essentially different than Jim Jones, and would never ask them to kill. Unfortunately, one cannot find a basis for this assurance in the ethical system that Rajneesh prescribes. In The Book of the Secrets, Volume One, Rajneesh tells his followers:

So remember this: whatsoever you are doing consciously, with alertness, fully aware, becomes meditation. Even if you kill someone consciously, while fully conscious, it is meditative. This is what Krishna was saying to Arjuna: Do not be afraid. Do NOT be afraid! Kill, murder, fully conscious, knowing fully that no one is murdered and no one is are only destroying forms, not that which is behind the forms. So destroy the forms. If Arjuna can be so meditatively aware, then there is no violence, No one is killed, no sin is committee.23 (emphasis ours)

Rajneesh is clearly teaching here that since God is everything, and human beings are merely illusory forms of God, then if one, through meditation, can maintain awareness of this truth he may do what he wills to the forms. To a person in that state of mind no one is really being killed, and thus no sin is committed.

In the final analysis, the only reason the sannyasins are so confident that Rajneesh will not lead them into disaster is that they have a subjective conviction that he is pure love and therefore incapable of doing so. No doubt most of them have had little prior exposure to wiles of the many big-time and small-time cult leaders who can project an aura of love and spirituality while they mercilessly exploit their followers. Jim Jones was perceived by his followers as a loving father figure. Certainly Bhagwan is different from Jones, but it could be a fatal error to conclude that he therefore presents no danger. There is more than one way to be deceived; evil comes in many forms.

By the anti-christ, anti-human, anti-social message Rajneesh promotes, it is ominously evident that the spirit that so visibly drives him is capable of any evil thing. Needless to say, the discerning Christian fails to see the inherent goodness in Bhagwan to which his followers naively entrust their souls. And, if we consider such firsthand observations of Rajneeshs mental instability as those offered by Eckart Flother (see Inside the Ashram, this issue), the outlook for Rajneeshpuram becomes still more precarious.

If in Rajneeshpuram we do not have another major cult-related tragedy in the making, it will not be because it was prevented by anything in the groups theological, ethical, or psychological structure (not to mention their physical situation located 20 winding miles from the nearest public road in the middle of the sparsely-populated Oregon desert). It might, however, be because Christians were praying, and alerting as many sannyasins and potential sannyasins as they could to the critical differences between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the gospel of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Elliot Miller

1. Guru Brings His Ashram to Oregon, Russell Chandler and Tyler Marshall, Los Angeles Times, August 13, 1981, part 1, p. 14.

2. Pied Piper of Poona, Eternity, September, 1981, p. 14.

3. God Sir at Esalen East, Time, January 16, 1978, p. 59.

4. Om, Om on the Range: Rajneesh in America, Mark Roseland, New Age, January, 1982, p. 35.

5. This is a Revolution, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Videocassette, 18C236, December 28, 1980.

6. The Master Will Not Speak Again, Jens Johansen, New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. 5, Issue 3/4, December, 1981, p. 81.

7. Shortcut to Nirvana, Life, October, 1981, p. 78.

8. op. cit., p. 37.

9. The quote cited is the title of Videotape 18C144, September 2, 1980.

10. Discourses on the Sufi Way, quoted in the Victor Valley Daily Press, September 18, 1981, p. B3.

11. Sannyas, April, 1978, p. 18.

12. Jesus, Buddha: Their Days are Finished, Videocassette 18C321 and 18C322, March 7, 1981.

13. He or She? On Beliefs The Book of the Books VI, Videocassette 18S133, April 22, 1980.

14. No Ego, No I, New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. IV, Issue 1/2, May, 1980, p. 15.

15. Rajneesh Foundation Newsletter, April, 1979, quoted in No Ego. No I, ibid.

16. Shortcut to Nirvana, op. cit., p. 80.

17. Shoes and Minds Are to be Left at the Gate, New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. III, Issue 1/2, July, 1979, p. 60.

18. News Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Sannyasins. New Religious Movements Up-date, Vol. IV, Issue 1/2, May, i980, p. 20.

19. Pied Piper of Poona, op. cit., p. 14.

20. Guru Brings His Ashram to Oregon, op. cit., p. 3.

21. op. cit., p. 76.

22. Daughter of Rep. Ryan Is Follower of Indian Guru, William Endicott, Los Angeles Times, January 10, 1981, part 1, p. 1.

23. p. 399.

In San Diego last November most of our Research staff participated in the 1981 Cult Summit Conference, which was a predominantly Christian gathering of cult watchers to share information and get to know one another. There we met Eckart Flother, a former follower of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who gave an interesting presentation on the Indian guru. Eckart, a German citizen, is currently a student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. In the following discussion with Forward Editor Elliot Miller, Eckart shares some valuable Insight into the Rajneesh cult that he has gained through personal involvement and subsequent research.

FORWARD: Eckart, when did you join the Rajneesh community in Poona, and how long were you involved?

FLOTHER: I joined the ashram in Poona in March 1979, and was there during that month, and then from June to October of the same year.

What was it that drew you to Rajneesh?

Well, there are various reasons. First of all, after having been a very successful journalist in Germany, I felt that something was missing in my life. So I took kind of a sabbatical in order to search for some other meaning in life than just making money, or writing stories about success and failure.

I traveled to India and was referred to Rajneesh by various people who I knew from Europe, whose opinions I respected. I went to the ashram in Poona in order to find out what was going on there.

I found the master a very fascinating, charismatic man who gave answers to all of the questions of our lives. This was the first thing that attracted me.

Second, I found it interesting to meet spiritually-minded people who, on the average, were not dropouts, but were well-educated. These were people between the ages of 25 and 45, who created an environment of understanding, love, and charity on a pretty high level. It was a community which lived and worked together without competition. This, for me, was something totally new, an environment created by people who were trying to express a new kind of life.

Were you initiated?

Yes, I was.

What led you away from Rajneesh and to Jesus?

In July, right as I was getting more deeply involved with the ashram, I had a very extraordinary experience. On one of those hot, humid Indian nights filled with mosquitos, I was sitting in my hotel room and reading Rabi Maharajs book, Death of a Guru. Suddenly I saw a brilliantly shining being standing in the hotel room, and He said to me with a mighty voice, I want you to become my disciple. I immediately understood that Jesus had called me, yet I really didnt know what to do with it.

I went to Rajneesh and told him what had happened to me. As I was talking to him about this experience, I could feel a kind of very warm energy or light radiating from me and I saw that Rajneesh was very irritated, and even startled as he looked at me. He was unable to speak. At that moment I could see that he was not a master like Jesus Christ, as he claims. It was at this time that I decided to become a disciple of Jesus.

How is it that you came across Rabi Maharajs book?

My brother-in-law in Germany is a pastor, and he knows Rabi Maharaj. He said, Since you are going to India you should know something about this man. Read this book when you have the time. So I took the book with me in my bag and eventually read it in India.

I recall you mentioning in San Diego that there were 30 followers of Rajneesh who left the ashram with you. Could you describe what happened there?

First of all, I did not immediately stop wearing the special clothing worn by the sannyasins. After I realized that Rajneesh was deceiving people by claiming to be the Jesus of our day, or God incarnate, I decided that I had to find out what he is really doing and do a lot of research before I would leave. This would enable me to write a book about my experience. So I talked to the people from a new perspective.

About six weeks later, after Id completed my research, I came in jeans and t-shirt again. Because by this time Id become pretty well-known in the ashram, a lot of people began to talk to me on a very personal, intimate level. Suddenly I was drawn into the role of a counselor as they asked what happened to me. So I told them of my encounter with Jesus and explained to them what I had learned in the four or five weeks that followed the encounter. This caused them to start thinking and realizing what they were into. Christians in Poona provided them with places to stay, away from the ashram, and provided some with money and help so that they could go home. So, altogether there were around 30 people that left the ashram.

Could you give us a feeling for what your experience in Poona as a sannyasin was like?

I was very amazed at the time to find that being a disciple and belonging to an alternative community felt very good. It seemed as though life in the ashram had no tension. There was no competition. We were all surrounded by fellow believers and our philosophy was that life should be playful. So the whole ashram was more or less a playful environment for people who voluntarily abandoned the world.

And from my point of view today, I realize that the reality that was created in the ashram was a false reality, because it did not cope with the reality outside. It did not question why things in the world are going as they are, and it did not want to accept the fact that to live in reality means to struggle with the issue of being human which means, I think, to deal with joy and despair. What we did was, in a way, to live a blissed-out life in a non-reality. I would now say that this was a deception.

Such systems are fabricated, synthetic realities which do not address the real causes of our problems in the first place and therefore, in the long run, cant succeed in drawing a solution.

Yes, I would call it a mind-created reality which is similar to a reality experienced by people who are on drugs.

What areas of ministry does the Lord seem to be leading you into, and to what extent will this involve outreach to the followers of Rajneesh?

My experience has taught me that it is very difficult for an outsider to discern between what it means to follow the Lord in a Christian lifestyle, and to follow someone like Rajneesh, who claims to be the representative of God today. So my ministry, which I am preparing for right now, will certainly lead me to help people to understand the distinction between these new age religions and Christianity; to discern what it means to develop a relationship with God; and how this is different from a relationship with a master, who is only human himself.

Could you give us a brief synopsis of Rajneeshs personal history?

Rajneesh Chandra Mohan was born on the 11th of December, 1931, in a village in central India, the eldest in a family of five sisters and seven brothers. His childhood was overshadowed by the fact that his father, an unsuccessful businessman, was often on the road. The father figure in Rajneeshs life was instead occupied by his grandfather, to whom he became very attached. His grandfather died when he was seven years old. This was a very traumatic experience for young Rajneesh. From then on he felt strangely attracted to the subject of death. In his 1979 diary (which is made public), it is reported that he followed after funerals as other children would follow circuses.

Rajneesh pursued his education and in 1957 obtained a Master of Arts in Philosophy. He proceeded to teach philosophy in two universities between 1957 and 1966.

In 1966, Rajneesh resigned from his service as a teacher in order to, as he puts it, concentrate on the wish of God. He felt called to work for the spiritual regeneration of humanity, which he feels is necessary in order to survive the holocaust which he is predicting and fearing.

Rajneesh then became a master and called himself Acharya* Rajneesh, and he walked and rode a donkey around India in various states in order to teach people that they have to change their lives and turn around in order to survive.

His mission wasnt very successful, and in 1970 he was a tired and poor man who nevertheless recognized that he possessed charisma and power. In Bombay he decided to gather people around him to whom he could teach his message. As more and more disciples flocked around him, the apartment where he lived was unable to accommodate them. Thus, in 1974 he moved to Poona, 120 miles south of Bombay, rented several houses, and founded his ashram. There he changed his name from Acharya to Bhagwan (which means God), designed orange robes and a wooden bead necklace for his disciples, and started the movement we are dealing with today.

About when did European and American seekers begin coming to Rajneesh?

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The Rajneesh Cult - Christian Research Institute

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March 4th, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Netflix documentary focuses on The Rajneesh in Oregon

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One of the most bizarre chapters in Oregon history came with the arrival of a religious cult called the Rajneesh. (KOIN) One of the most bizarre chapters in Oregon history came with the arrival of a religious cult called the Rajneesh. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- One of the most bizarre chapters in Oregon history came with the arrival of a religious cult called the Rajneesh.

Now that story is a new Netflix documentary, "Wild Wild Country." The series premiere is set for March 16.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh preached a message of free love, meditation and living in the moment. He was known for his daily drive-bys in a fleet of Rolls Royces.

In 1981, Bhagwan's followers, known as Rajneeshees or Sannyasins, built a communal city from the ground up on the 64,000 acre Big Muddy Ranch in Wasco County. At it's height, Rajneeshpuram had nearly 7,000 people from all over the world.

The Rajneesh were led by the combative Ma Anand Sheela, Bhagwan's personal assistant who threatened anyone she perceived as enemies of the Rajneesh.

In 1984, the Rajneesh poisoned salad bars in The Dalles with salmonella to incapacitate voters so Rajneesh candidates would win elections in Wasco County.

An estimated 751 people became sick and 45 were hospitalized in what's still known as America's largest bio-terrorism attack.

Bhagwan was deported and died in 1990 at age 58.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in a file photo from the 1980s (KOIN)

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Netflix documentary focuses on The Rajneesh in Oregon

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March 4th, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Love and loss in the shadows: children of priests try to connect with their fathers – The Boston Globe

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Ruth Thieme with her father, the Rev. Wolfgang Shulte-Berge.

Ruth Thieme felt close to her adoptive mother and father growing up in university towns in California and Arizona. But the fact that her biological parents gave her up always bothered her, even though her adoptive parents assured her that the reasons were benign.

Being adopted made me feel unwanted or thrown away, or that somehow I wasnt good enough, said Thieme, now 35. Why would someone give their baby away?

When she turned 18 and her parents told her that her real father was a Catholic priest working in a small parish outside Cologne, Germany, she understood her biological parents decision better, and decided she wanted to meet them.

I didnt know what I wanted from them, she said. I just wanted to meet them and ask for any genetic markers in case I wanted to have children. I didnt know whether I wanted a relationship.

Her initial meeting with the Rev. Wolfgang Shulte-Berge in 2000 would prove to be the catalyst for an unusually close father-daughter relationship that would span the next 12 years and unfold in countries throughout Europe.

He was always gung-ho about connecting with his daughter, Thieme said. The minute I was there, he was a part of my life.

Still, Shulte-Berge insisted on keeping their relationship a secret, until shortly before his death four years ago, a condition that Thieme readily accepted.

He was in this tiny town with maybe 5,000 or 7,000 people, and I knew that if word got out, it would ruin his reputation, Thieme said. I cared more about the relationship with my father than whether it was a secret of not.

Shulte-Berge did his best to answer all Thiemes questions, explaining that her adoption was intended to be an act of compassion after he confessed to another priest that he was involved with a woman who was pregnant.

Shulte-Berge said the priest with the approval of their bishop quietly arranged to have a Catholic couple adopt the child. That couple, Thiemes parents, were college professors working in Germany who would soon return to the United States.

During the decade after Thieme met her father, Shulte-Berge flew to the United States four or five times and visited his daughter. And once a year she would meet him in Europe for a two-week vacation, when they would travel together, talk endlessly, and try to make up for the years they had lost.

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Almost always, their conversations centered on Shulte-Berges desire to be a father as well as a priest. In the early 1960s, Shulte-Berge explained, he was one of many young priests who believed incorrectly that the celibacy rule would soon be lifted, allowing them to marry and have families.

Since her fathers death, Thieme has married and has had a son who carries her biological fathers name, Byron Wolfgang Best. She has stayed in touch with her biological mother, while continuing to meet more members of his fathers family.

Before he passed, he let his entire family know he had a child, Thieme said. It was something he didnt want to do until it was close to the time he was going to pass because there are people in his family who are older and still very conservative. Shulte-Berge also insisted that local authorities issue Thieme a new birth certificate, one with his name listed as her father.

Thieme, a practicing Catholic, has become an advocate for abolishing the celibacy rule for Catholic clergy, something her father had hoped would happen in his lifetime. He wanted me to do whatever I could that was in my power to talk about this, she said.

Renate Hilda Waltraud Brandt thought her lover, a Catholic priest, would be happy when she told him she was pregnant back in 1969. The two had a bond that had endured a two-year separation while the Rev. Alois Ober did missionary work in Madagascar.

At that time, there were a lot of people in the ministry who were rebelling against celibacy, said Brandt, then a committed socialist living in Germany. There were quite a few priests who left the priesthood because of it.

She thought Ober might be one of them.

But, after fantasizing together about having a child before she was pregnant, Ober reacted negatively to the news that he would be a father, and soon made it clear that he was not about to give up the priesthood.

From then on, Brandt and her young daughter lived at the margins, depending on how generous Ober was feeling. The priest would make occasional visits to Brandt and little Nicole, but, before long, the adults were arguing over child support.

When I asked him for help, he was so arrogant, Brandt said, adding that Ober was reluctant to provide more than modest support even though he ran a lucrative business on the side.

Eventually, a friend helped persuade Ober to provide give more, as Brandt and her daughter embarked on a nomadic life, living in experimental, communal households in Germany, Austria, and even India.

We moved around all the time, said Nicole Brandt, who uses the name Presence now. By the time I was 14, I had been to 14 different schools.

By then, Brandt and her daughter had moved to Northern California, where they were frequent visitors at an Oregon commune run by a controversial guru named Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

Ober objected to Brandts involvement with the commune, but they stayed in touch, and Brandt and her daugher always kept Obers identity a secret.

No one knew he was a priest, Nicole Brandt later wrote in her journal.

Over time, however, Nicole Brandt grew disenchanted with her fathers occasional letters and yearned for a closer connection.

The letters he wrote to me felt like carbon copies of one another, she said. I told him Id love to have a more intimate conversation and he never responded to that.

Nicole Brandt said she made two serious suicide attempts during her teen years as she struggled with the feeling that she was unworthy, in part because of her absent father.

Growing up, you want to have a meaningful relationship with your father and feel that you matter, and I didnt have a lot of that, she said.

As an adult, Nicole Brandt made peace with her father and began visiting him in Germany every couple of years around Christmas. But, in 2007, when she arrived at his home, she learned that Ober had been hospitalized with a serious illness. Thats when she learned the limits of what it means to be a secret daughter.

My father was a closed book, Nicole said. He saw to it that none of his family members, including his mother, father, sisters, and brothers, ever met or knew of me.

When she was introduced to her uncle as Obers daughter, she said his reaction was a challenge: Do you have any proof?

Ober died later that day and left a large estate, though very little went to Nicole Brandt. More distressing, she said, is the fact that Obers relatives her relatives prevented her from going through her fathers belongings, depriving her of the chance to learn more about him.

As Nicole Brandt wrote in her journal: Of all the wealth he possessed, this was the most important thing of all to me to be able to go through his home, his personal belongings, and perhaps find some clues as to who he was and what he valued.

It was Flag Day, June 14, 1969, and the Rev. William J. Manseau arrived at the house on Boston Street, a stones throw from St. Margaret Church in Dorchester, with a sense of rising anticipation. But he was taken aback when he found a crowd of reporters waiting for him, even though their presence should have come as no surprise.

Are you the priest? The one whos getting married? the reporters all seemed to ask.

I am, Manseau replied.

A short while later, Manseau and his wife-to-be, Mary Doherty, a former nun, were married in the crowded living room of Dohertys childhood home. Three of Manseaus fellow priests officiated at the ceremony, witnessed by friends and family members who later celebrated during a reception at Florian Hall.

I came to this juncture by realizing that in order to be true to the gospel I had to enter into the deepest relationship possible with another Christian, Manseau said to a Globe reporter at the time.

But, despite the public nature of his wedding, the church never censured Manseau in any formal way, even though the penalty at the time was instant excommunication. As far as hes concerned, hes still a priest, though he does not wear a clerical collar and the church does not permit him to say Mass in a Catholic church, because hes married and has a family.

Ive been a Catholic priest for 56 years, said Manseau, who has also served as a minister in Protestant churches and maintains a pastoral counseling practice in Nashua, N.H. He is still married to Mary, and together they have raised two sons and a daughter.

Manseau has also played an active role in several organizations that represent Catholic clergymen who have married publicly, raised families, and are seeking to be formally reinstated as Catholic priests.

Its common sense, he said, noting the shortage of Catholic priests worldwide. You have trained personnel able to provide a service that really benefits a lot of people.

The argument in favor of letting married men serve as priests rarely focuses on the taboo subject of the children of priests, and the hardships they endure when forced to keep their fathers identity a secret.

By contrast, the children of priests like Manseau who marry the mothers of their children appear to have more satisfying lives.

One of Manseaus sons, Peter, wrote a book affirming the road taken by his parents: Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son. And in 2007, at the annual conference of the organization Corpus, which promotes the idea of married Catholic clergy, several children of former priests who have married and raised families spoke glowingly of how well things can go for children of priests whose fathers decide to openly marry and have families.

Theyve been raised in loving homes, said Manseau, a past president of Corpus. Thats what does it.

Michael Rezendes can be reached at

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Love and loss in the shadows: children of priests try to connect with their fathers - The Boston Globe

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August 19th, 2017 at 8:40 am

My Republica – Conversing with a departed king – Republica

Posted: August 13, 2017 at 4:41 am

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Conversing with a departed king

The unknown and the esoteric have always fascinated me. As a young spiritual seeker, I used to be elated just by the thought of the mystical dimensions of life. There used to be a great longing in me to immerse into these areas and explore the wombs of the esoteric, to understand the mysteries of life, of death and the thin line that separates the two. I had a great curiosity to know what was on the other shore.

Because of this very longing one would find me often at the doorsteps of babas, sadhus, mystics, occultists, psychics and seers. The Indian sub-continent caters as a rich plate of delight for one with such appetite. One finds myriads of techniques available here and thousands who claim to be adept in this science, but of course the garb of a seer serves as the best hide for the frauds and most of the times it is easy to find great thugs and charlatans there than it is to come across a genuine mystic.

When I was young I was much thrilled by the very thought of conversing with the departed souls. And that is how I discovered the Planchette, the method of conversing with departed souls through automatic writing and table turning, which kept me indulged for many years. I had a friend who had great skill in this subject. In fact he had a siddhi. I couldnt call the souls all by myself and needed his help. It was very easy for him; he could call anyone within a minute, including enlightened souls. And our guests included the likes of Shree Aurobindo, Mahatma Gandhi, King Mahendra and many other well-known people. It is a crude method and generally does not help in ones spiritual growth.In 1974 at the time of sannyas when I told Osho about it he didnt like it but seeing my great interest and curiosity, he allowed me in the beginning and didnt stop me but advised me not to misuse the technique. I had great interest in the esoteric and at times my master used to censure me for my inclination. In the beginning Osho allowed me to use this technique and said that I could use it only for the growth of spiritual work. After some years he asked me to totally stop contacts with disembodied souls and asked me to work on getting directly connected with Osho.

Talking to MahendraThe planchette can be a good medium to learn about unknown secrets. I am reminded of the time when we invited the soul of the Late King Mahendra of Nepal and the things he revealed to me. Everything that he said would happen actually happened. The king also revealed to us many other secrets, which are not publicly known, so I am not allowed to mention them here. When one has access to information that is not known to everyone, it is possible to misuse it and that is why my Master warned me against it.

One evening in 1975, I asked him about my past life. At that time I had no idea about it and it was King Mahendras soul that revealed to me for the first time of my royal connections in my previous life. He told me that I belonged to the same group that he was from. He was indicating my life born in a royal family in one of the famous kingdoms in India, which was later revealed to me in Pune.

There were many things that the kings soul revealed to me which astounded me more in retrospect than at the time, as later all of these things actually happened.I asked the kings soul, Have you heard of Bhagwan Rajneesh?This name is getting popular in our world also and many are talking about him, he replied.Are you interested in him? I askedNo, I am not interested in him, the Late king clearly pointed out.Where do you live nowadays, Your Majesty? I asked.I live behind the Pashupatinath temple in the Mrigasthali forest, the soul replied.Are you happy there? I enquired.I am very happy and content here, was the reply of the soul.

It is not a coincidence that some people in this world are born with more privileges than others. Everything is a consequence of the Karmic game. Today when I look at it, I can totally understand why one person is born as a king while another is born as a beggar. King Mahendra is a sannyasin from past life and has a virtuous past. He is a highly elevated soul and it is not surprising that he had more privileges at his immediate service which were bestowed to him right at his birth. When I did more research on this I found out that all Maharajas and rich, famous and charismatic personalities have a virtuous and spiritual past.

Generous soulI have to admit that the kings soul helped me many times and was very generous towards me. At that time, I was working as an engineer for Nepal government. I was transferred to the Soaltee Oberoi hotel to supervise the constructions there. I was not happy with my senior and I wanted to change my job. I decided to go to my royal advisor. The kings soul gave a very strange answer. He asked me not to leave my job and said that my boss would have to leave instead. I couldnt believe what the King had said but unwillingly I listened to him and stayed.

To my utter surprise my senior had to soon leave the job and I was promoted to his position.

Thanks to the science of occult, I was conversing with the former king of my country and I could ask him anything, a privilege that involved utter complexity and least probability in real life. The source to reveal the unknown was at my fingertips. How could I miss this opportunity to ask the question that could accelerate and help the work that I was doing?Is there anyone at the palace who would be interested in Osho? I asked.Birendra has the potential, replied the departed King.

I already knew that King Birendra had a spiritual potential but never in my wildest dream had I imagined that the soul of his father would take his name, and that the present king of my country had the potential to become an Osho disciple. This was in 1975. When I told this story to my master, he approved of Birendras inclination towards spirituality and said that there was great possibility of him walking on a spiritual path.

King Birendra was a very gentle man and was popular with his people and therefore referred as the Peoples King. His leniency and willingness to change according to times and peoples interest proved him as a democratic ruler and everybody loved him. His spiritual traits were evident in his humble and gentle persona. It was not a surprise that Mahendras soul had taken his name.

How can I introduce Birendra to Osho as I know no one in the palace? I askedThe soul immediately replied through automatic writing, Ranjanraj Khanal.

The mediumAt that time I had never heard of this name and didnt know who he was. It was only after a year when this high ranking government officer came to our center Osho Asheesh in Tahachal that I first met Sri Ranjanraj Khanal, who was then the principal private secretary to King Birendra and a spiritual seeker himself. He was brought to Asheesh by Prof. Renulal Singh. To my utmost surprise, all of King Mahendras predictions came true and it was indeed Ranjanraj and Prof. Renulal, who were both his personal secretaries, who first introduced Osho to King Birendra. I sent many of Oshos books to the king through Ranjanrajjee and this is how the king developed his interest in Bhagwan, which only grew with time.

It was because of Ranjanraj Khanal that Osho could come and stay in Nepal in 1986 after being deported from America in spite of the resistance by a religious fanatic group. That time the American administration did not have a good relation with the Osho movement but Birendras government provided us the security and the permission to invite him here. The government provided us all the facilities and told us that Osho could stay here as long as he wanted. But, unfortunately, in spite of Birendras interest in Osho and Bhagwans constantly pointing to Birendras potential of becoming his disciple, it could not happen. The king had also sent a message that as Osho had just been deported from America it was not the right time for the king to meet him. He had said, Keep Osho in here and he can build his new commune in western Nepal. After the media hype cools down I will come to meet him.

King Birendra could not become an Osho disciple and I partly consider it my mistake. I could not come in contact with him personally and I didnt make enough effort for it either. Maybe it was not the existential wish.

In later years also I used to send Oshos videos to the king through my respected friend Krishna Prasad Bhattarai when he was the prime minister of Nepal. Every Wednesday the prime minister used to have a private meeting with the king and before he went to the palace I used to meet him and send Oshos books, cassette tapes and videos with his discourses as gifts for the king. I still remember a Wednesday when I had sent two videos of Osho. I waited for Kishunjee at the prime ministers residence in Baluwatar until he returned from the palace.

After he returned, he said to me, Our meeting lasted for an hour and we spent 45 minutes just talking about you and Osho. We could only spend 15 minutes on our agenda.

An Excerpt from Swami Anand Aruns recent bookIn Wonder with Osho

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My Republica - Conversing with a departed king - Republica

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August 13th, 2017 at 4:41 am

Author pens mysteries between hikes – Bend Bulletin

Posted: August 5, 2017 at 4:47 pm

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Author William Sullivan

What: Slide show, Ghost Dancers to Rajneeshees: Cults in Oregon

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Paulina Springs Books, 252 W. Hood Ave, Sisters

Cost: free

Contact: or 541-549-0866

What: Sullivan discusses new hikes in Oregon

When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: REI, 380 SW Powerhouse Drive, Bend

Cost: free

Contact: or 541-385-0594

What: Slide show, Oregons Greatest Natural Disasters

When: 6 p.m. Aug. 10

Where: Sunriver Nature Center

Cost: free

Contact: or 541-593-4394

What: Slide show, New Hikes and Rajneeshees in Southern Oregon

When: noon Aug. 11

Where: Sisters Library, 110 N. Cedar St., Sisters

Cost: free

Contact: or 541-312-1070

What: Slide show, Ghost Dancers to Rajneeshees: Cults in Oregon

When: 5 p.m. Aug. 12

Where: Sunriver Books & Music, 57100 Beaver Drive, Building 25-C, Sunriver

Cost: free (registration requested)

Contact: or 541-593-2525

What: Slide show, New Hikes and Rajneeshees in Southern Oregon

When: 2 p.m. Aug. 13

Where: Downtown Bend Library, 601 NW Wall St., Bend

Cost: free


Eugene author William Bill Sullivan might be doing more running than hiking these days, thanks to his absolutely crazy summer schedule packed with speaking events, hiking research trips and work on his next novel. As part of this whirlwind, Sullivan has six events (and plenty of hiking) slated for his visit to Central Oregon from Saturday through Aug. 13.

Probably best known for his 10 Northwest hiking guide books, including the well regarded Central Oregon Cascades: 100 Hikes/Travel Guide, Sullivan has also published two Oregon histories, two adventure memoirs and five novels.

I actually started writing fiction first, Sullivan said. I have a degree in creative writing from Cornell, but realized you cant make a living doing that so I started doing the hiking guidebooks.

Sullivan is a fifth-generation Oregonian who grew up in Salem, where he nurtured a love of the outdoors. He feels his creative writing background helps his hiking guides stand apart from many on the market thanks to their descriptive narratives, which he hopes will motivate or inspire his readers to get out and complete the hikes and adventures he presents.

Sullivan re-hikes all the trails in his hiking books on a seven- year schedule and frequently updates the guides. He revises the Central Oregon guide annually, posting the new versions online (at and reprinting the updated book every two to three years. He also offers free copies of his guides to anyone who contacts him with corrections to the data and information in them.

The research and updates for his hiking guides take most of the warmer months each year, but that means Sullivan has his winters free for other projects such as his first love fiction.

My fiction is almost entirely about Oregon and Oregon history, Sullivan said. With the hiking guide books, Im showing the physical landscape, but with the fiction, I can talk about the emotional landscape and the cultural landscape.

Sullivans latest novel, The Case of the Reborn Bhagwan, was released in February. The murder mystery centers around a 26-year-old Portland barista who is believed to be the reincarnation of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the infamous spiritual leader whose red-robed followers tried to build a utopia north of Madras in the 1980s.

In a case where the facts really were stranger than fiction, the original Rajneeshee commune fell apart when its leaders resorted to attempted murder and mass poisoning in an effort to remove local and state leaders who opposed their presence and the development of their 64,000-acre ranch.

In the novel, the re-established Rajneeshees are now building a new commune on an Indian reservation near Crater Lake when people associated with the project are targeted by a mysterious sniper. Detective Neil Ferguson must expose the killer and uncover the truth behind the Rajneeshee revival.

The novel is meant to be fun, but like all my fiction, Im trying to illuminate an aspect of who we are as Oregonians and give us pause for reflection, said Sullivan.

Sullivan wondered how the Rajneeshee episode might have turned out differently if it had happened today, and felt it was something that deserved to be re-examined beyond the sensational news headlines about the Baghwans collection of Rolls Royce cars and the host of criminal convictions against the groups leaders after its collapse.

Some of Sullivans Central Oregon events (see If you go) will focus on hiking, some on the states history and others on The Case of the Reborn Bhagwan. And at some, the author will wear both his fiction and nonfiction hats literally. Sullivan likes to wear his hiking hat when discussing the hiking guides, and remove it to talk about his novel.


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Author pens mysteries between hikes - Bend Bulletin

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August 5th, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Searching for the 60s – Smoky Mountain News

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As someone who also was there and who embraced the hippie culture during the 1960s and early 1970s, my reading of Goldbergs book is that it is spot on. Its not glorified and nostalgic, and certainly not condescending and dismissive as most books written on the 1960s subculture are these days.

Written in clear congenial prose and in a very orderly and organized fashion with great informative and entertaining detail, Goldberg puts his readers through the paces of the various aspects of the 1960s cultural renaissance/revolution and beyond. Starting in 1966 with the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco followed by chapters on the Media, the Music, Mind and Body Consciousness, the Black Power Movement, the Flower Power and Peace Movements, the Psychedelic Revolution, the Viet Nam War, the Yippie movement, the eventual Death of Hippie downfall, then an epilogue summary of where things went right and where things went wrong, Goldberg presents us with nothing less than a college course on the 1960s cultural revolution from a perspective which is both personal and highly researched, including a timeline of key events and news for that era at the end of his book.

Yes, this book is full of the usual suspects, but it is a far cry from the same ole same ole in previous books written about the various aspects of the 60s. Goldberg has done his research and alongside his personal associations with many of the stars of the 60s counterculture he elucidates the issues and the ironies inherent in that decade beginning with a manifesto from the premiere counterculture newspaper, the Oracle, stating When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to cease obeying obsolete social patterns which have isolated man from his consciousness we the citizens of the earth declare our love and compassion for all hate-carrying men and women.

The books narrative continues with a quote from Allen Ginsberg who says about the Berkeley BE-IN, which more or less launched the hippie movement: a gathering together of younger people aware of the planetary fate that we are all sitting in the middle of, imbued with a new consciousness, and desiring of a new kind of society involving prayer, music, and spiritual life together rather than competition, acquisition, and war.

Meanwhile, on the east coast poet-musician Ed Sanders is quoted in the East Village Other (New Yorks truly liberal newspaper at the time) as saying: a generation that fervently believes that important and long-lasting changes will occur in the United States which would bring free medical care to all plus an end to war and the growth of personal freedom and good vibes. And in the July 1967 issue of Time magazine the lead article stated that Hippies preach altruism and mysticism, honesty, joy, and nonviolence Their professed aim is nothing less than the subversion of Western society by flower power and the force of example.

With these quotes as a prelude and a foundation for the rest of his book, Goldberg cites Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Aldous Huxley, Gautama Buddha and St. Francis as models and mentors from the past for the hippie generation. A generation that he describes as one that revealed the exhaustion of a tradition of Western, production-directed, problem-solving, goal-oriented and compulsive way of thinking. At the time of the now famous quote created by LSD guru Timothy Leary of turn on, tune in, and drop out, Goldberg quotes University of Chicago theologian Martin E. Marty saying In the end it may be that hippies have not so much dropped out of American society as given it something to think about. But there was another form of communication in 1967 that touched most of us baby boomers more deeply than all of the underground and mainstream papers and TV shows put together, and it usually involved a guitar.

Having worked inside the music industry for almost four decades (1969-2004), Goldberg gives us a backstage pass to the 60s music scene and its countercultural history. We get to be witness to everything from underground radio to the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco and the West Coast psychedelic rock explosion to the Monterey Pop Festival and the Los Angeles bands to the folk and rock scene in Greenwich Village in New York to London and the famous UFO club and, of course, the Beatles.

Its all there, including great behind-the-scenes stories about the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Moby Grape, Steve Miller Blues Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Cream, Eric Burdon & The Animals, Love, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Lovin Spoonful, Johnny Winter, John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, MC5, J. Geils Band, James Brown, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Electric Flag, The Allman Brothers Band, and the list goes on and on all adding to the countercultures consciousness.

In the wake of the Be-Ins and concerts in 1967, it seemed to many in the hip world (including Goldberg) that the force of agape was sufficient to overcome societys obstacles and that a utopian vision could meaningfully change mass culture for the better. Hence the coining of the term Flower Power and all that this moniker implied. Or as Allan Watts put it: Western man has lost touch with original intelligence through centuries of relying solely on analytic thinking. Now, with psychedelics and meditation, some are reconnecting with original intelligence and giving birth to an entirely new course for the development of civilization.

During this time the Eastern religions became more popular in America with a plethora of Indian gurus like the Maharishi, Hare Krishnas, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Swami Satchidananda, and books like the I Ching and Autobiography of a Yogi became mainstream among celebrities and the hippie masses alike. And all of this the music, the psychedelic drugs, the literature, the Eastern spiritual influences all fed in to hippie politics and in particular the movement against the war in Viet Nam.

In looking back on the years of the late 1960s, the feminist and political activist Heather Booth adds: There always have been people working in particular areas like womens rights, gay rights, the environment, the peace movement, and civil rights, but in my heart, I always felt like it was one movement and I still do.

Finally, Goldberg speaks about the end of the hippie era, citing the fateful events of the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, the birth of the Yippie culture and political countercultural perspective, The Weather Underground, and the Civil Rights Movement.

Goldberg goes on to conclude that decades later people began to view the late sixties as a time of superficial trends, like the Roaring Twenties, worth remembering primarily for the interesting music and colorful fashions. But finally and appropriately Goldberg quotes one of the 60s cultural heroes: Moral and spiritual progress usually takes decades or even lifetimes. Hippie skeptic Kerouac said, Walking on water wasnt built in a day, but he didnt say it could never happen. Its been decades since the 1960s and we could sure use a dose of the values, compassion and consciousness that was created back then.

Thomas Crowe is a regular writer for The Smoky Mountain News and is currently writing a personal memoir on the literary renaissance in San Francisco in the 1970s. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Searching for the 60s - Smoky Mountain News

Written by simmons

August 5th, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Case Update: Produce Targeted by Man Spraying Mouse Poison – Food Safety Magazine

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FSM eDigest | August 1, 2017

By Robert A. Norton, Ph.D., and Brad Deacon

Last April 24, an alert employee at a Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, MI, noticed a young man spritz liquid from a small spray bottle onto food in the hot food bar. The man, 29-year-old Kyle Bessemer, was arrested after the media published a surveillance image showing him carrying a red shopping basket and striding past the avocados. Bessemer told police he mixed a Tomcat rodent poison with water in a bottle of hand sanitizer and, over the past two weeks, had sprayed the mixture onto open salad and food bars at several grocery stores. He was suspected of doing the same at 15 other foodservice establishments. Surveillance photos also showed Bessemer squirting liquid on avocados as he squeezed them.

In his statement to police, Bessemer said he had a history of mental illness and thought people were poisoning him, and he ultimately was found unfit to stand trial. This time, nobody got sick from the watered-down poison, but the specter of what if? hovers over the affair. Imagine what could have happened if Bessemer had been what we call a thinking adversary, one who researched and carefully planned an operation targeting vulnerable, open salad bars. Its happened before: Back in 1984, followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh used the pathogen Salmonella to poison more than 750 residents of The Dalles, OR. They deliberately contaminated salad bars at 10 local restaurants in hopes of incapacitating voters so their candidate would win in an upcoming county election.

And what if the culprit not only knew what he was doing but was an insider, someone who knew how to avoid security cameras and pick a time when no one would see him? What if he worked in the back, prepping salad bar ingredients? An insider could get into the system, find concentration points and make sure a poisoned product was widely distributed to the public.

This could have been a very different event. Fortunately, a Whole Foods employee was not only alert but willing to speak up; store management responded immediately, contacting local police and removing all produce and salad bar items; and federal, state and local officials responded rapidly, decisively and effectively. Now, there has been enough time to look back and ponder lessons learned. The number one thing to remember is that alert employees are the most important company asset in any food defense program. Food defense plans are important, but worthless without vigilant employees willing to act decisively. Food defense has to be a team effort.

Other InsightsThe first thing that happened is that store management immediately contacted local police and removed produce and salad bar items to a landfill rather than using the food as animal feed or compost.

Lessons learned:Quick removal of contaminated food material is essential to prevent spread of the incident.

Removal of contaminated food material must be done in a way that does not allow the material to be a source of further contamination in animal feed or the human food chain.

At the time, limited samples were taken of the potentially contaminated food. Additional samples would have been desirable. Consultation with law enforcement officials before disposal of food material would also have been desirable.In the future, it would be wise to segregate food that is suspected to be contamined in a location where sampling by law enforcement can be accomplished, without danger of contaminating other, safe food or introducing the contaminated food into the human or animal feed chains.

The day after the incident, local law enforcement, the FBI, HazMat, the county emergency operations center, the county public health department, the state health department and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) mounted a coordinated, multiagency response. MDARD also notified the grocery industry.

Lessons learned:The state system worked quickly and efficiently, but may have been somewhat delayed because the incident occurred on a Sunday. A thorough after-action review is expected to assess the response time.

Incidents tend to occur at inconvenient times, including weekend and holidays. This should be considered the norm, and emergency plans should include contingencies for incidents when a minimal number of response personnel may be available, Further, it is critical that after-hours emergency contact numbers for key personnel and key agencies be readily accessible.

Emergency response plans should include contingencies for segregating potentially contaminated food materials during off hours, as well as first-run sampling of contaminated materials. States, counties and municipalities should consider identifying collection points ahead of time, where suspect food materials could be collected and initial sampling initiated. These collection points need not be a stand-alone or sole use facility, but should be secure and a location where further contamination of the human or animal food supplies can be prevented.

In the early stages, where identification of the contamination agent(s) has not occurred, it is essential that public access to the portion of the facilities and any equipment associated with the event be temporarily suspended, until which time the type of contamination be identified. Clean up in such instances should not be initiated until which time state or local HazMat does initial testing at the site, so as to ensure that radioactive materials or highly hazardous chemicals are not present.

The Michigan Public Health Laboratory screened the food suspected of contamination on April 27, three days after the incident, finding no evidence of select agents. The first multiagency call took place, and the store was notified that the risk to the public was low.

Lesson learned: Definitive identification of potential hazard(s) takes time beyond initial screenings by HazMat. There is no good go-around for this, and therefore food industry defense plans should take into consideration these types of inevitable lag times. Interruption of the process should be anticipated and contingencies built into the plan.

On April 28, four days after the incident, the Michigan Intelligence Operation Center generated an Official Use Only Bulletin and shared it with law enforcement and the grocery industry. The bulletin proved essential in the identification of the suspect by alerting other grocery store employees. An alert employee recognized the suspect and contacted law enforcement officials.

Lessons learned:The decision to release information to the public in future events will be dependent on the nature of the hazard(s) and the state of the investigation. Rather than establishing a hard and fast rule, it is advisable that each case be handled independently with the watchword being transparency, wherever and whenever possible.

Avoidance of panic by the public is an essential consideration in any decision.

Release of information must also be done in such a way to avoid investigatory compromise.

The Big PictureBig picture, what can the government and the food industry gain from the lessons learned? Overall, the system worked well in Michigan, although there were issues that both the private sector and public sector agencies are working to address. There is always room in any plan for improvement. In fact, it is not certain that another municipality or state would have been as efficient. In all, 16 grocery stores were investigated by state officials, and the breadth of the investigation was costly. Not all jurisdictions would be able to quickly muster such resources, which could translate into the event spreading quickly and becoming even larger. Illness complaints first emerged after the public announcement. Although claims of illness ultimately proved to be unfounded or unrelated to the contamination events, the investigation nevertheless expended additional law enforcement and public health resources.

The motive to date still remains unknown, which is a troubling gap that may never be answered. There are indications mental illness may have been involved. Insight into the suspects motivations might give valuable clues into how the incidents evolved. Although the investigation to date has not uncovered information indicating involvement of others, that question remains open.

A particularly troubling aspect to any event like this is whether it could lead to copycat incidents. The event revealed vulnerabilities in grocery store food defense planning and operations. One of the conundrums in any incident investigation is the question of what should be exposed. Obviously, during the incident, the grocery stores that might be affected need timely information on what transpired and what to look for if similar events were to occur in their facilities. A thoroughly researched after-action report is also essential but may, in some cases, need to include redactions, particularly if proprietary information related to the affected facilities is exposed during the course of the investigation. Specific information related to the affected facility should be restricted to the owners of the facility, while more generalized lessons learned should be distributed industrywide as soon as possible.

The possibility of thinking adversaries must always be considered in planning for future events. A thinking adversary is one who will learn from personal mistakes or those of others. It is generally safe to say that future events will not be the same as those in the past. Frequently while planning for future events, companies find security solutions for past events. Thinking adversaries know this and will plan work-arounds to overcome new strategies and safeguards implemented in response to the last incident. Planners need to anticipate generalities, rather than specific scenarios. A security camera system placed over a salad bar might be a valid response, but its placement could also cause a thinking adversary to shift attention to some other location in the grocery store. A whole-of-property camera system could be used to prevent this adversarial shifting, but can such a system actually prevent an event or just detect an event once it has occurred? Security camera systems are very good to have, but are only as good as the comprehensive food defense program of which they are an essential part.

Threats evolve with the adversaries. Food defense plans must also evolve. What might have been effective in the past is not necessarily going to be effective in the future. Essential to any robust planning and operational execution is the training of personnel, who are going to be on the front lines when something occurs. They must be empowered with knowledge of what to look for in terms of suspicious activity and authority to act with the full support of the facility or corporation leadership. That being said, one threat that should not be minimized is the potential for events to be precipitated by insiders. Disgruntled employees are the most immediate problem for any corporation, food-based or otherwise. Insiders know the system and how it works, and they also know defense strategies and gaps. It is imperative to hire only thoroughly vetted individuals whose identities are definitively known, and for supervisory staff to monitor all employees activities and demeanor. Employees showing signs of discontent or agitation should be immediately removed from critical processes or functions, such as concentration points where large numbers of food products could be intentionally contaminated.

In terms of response improvements needed, Michigan identified first the need to take more and better samples should future events occur. When in question, always take more samples, thoroughly document their source, and let the laboratories sort out what they do or do not need to test. Geocode everything and document sample location with imagery and video.

Another important conclusion in the lessons learned is the need for government agencies to better understand industry practices. This can only be accomplished if industry and government work cooperatively, which is never easy if collaboration is impeded by agencies that have both regulatory and emergency response authority. In times of emergency response, regulatory authorities must temporarily be subservient to the needs of the response. Sensitive, incomplete and rapidly changing information is very challenging to communication, but solutions to overcome these frictions must be found to prevent exacerbation of the emergency. In addition, emergencies are no time for meetings; conference calls with appropriate authorities and direct communications with liaisons should be used to communicate, not meetings. Briefings should be just that, brief and succinct, clearly communicating the knowns and unknowns. Goals for the response, as well as for the subsequent investigation, should be set as early as feasible. The most immediate goal is to identify the nature of the threat and contain its spread and therefore its impact. The investigation will come later. The investigation should never be allowed to impede the response.

Robert A. Norton, Ph.D., is a professor at Auburn University and chair of the Auburn University Food System Institutes Food Defense Working Group. A long-time consultant to federal and state law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense and industry, he specializes in intelligence analysis, weapons of mass destruction defense and military-related national security issues. For more information on the topic or for more detailed discussions about specific security related needs, he can be reached at or by phone at 334.844.7562.

Brad Deacon is Michigans emergency management coordinator and director of the Office of Legal Affairs for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He can be reached at 517.284.5729.

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Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh –

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Alternative titles: Acharya Rajneesh; Chandra Mohan Jain; Osho Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree RajneeshIndian spiritual leader

December 11, 1931

Kuchwada, India

January 19, 1990

Pune, India

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, also called Osho or Acharya Rajneesh, original name Chandra Mohan Jain (born December 11, 1931, Kuchwada [now in Madhya Pradesh], Indiadied January 19, 1990, Pune) Indian spiritual leader who preached an eclectic doctrine of Eastern mysticism, individual devotion, and sexual freedom.

As a young intellectual, Rajneesh visited with and absorbed insights from teachers of the various religious traditions active in India. He studied philosophy at the University of Jabalpur, earning a B.A. in 1955; he began teaching there in 1957, after earning an M.A. from the University of Saugar. At the age of 21 he had an intense spiritual awakening, which inspired in him the belief that individual religious experience is the central fact of spiritual life and that such experiences cannot be organized into any single belief system.

In 1966 Rajneesh resigned from his university post and became a guru (spiritual guide) and a teacher of meditation. In the early 1970s he initiated people into the order of sannyasis, who traditionally renounced the world and practiced asceticism. Reinterpreting the idea of being a sannyasi in terms of detachment rather than asceticism, Rajneesh taught his disciples to live fully in the world without being attached to it.

The first Westerners came to Rajneesh in the early 1970s, and in 1974 the new headquarters of his movement was established in Pune. The basic practice taught at the centre was called dynamic meditation, a process designed to allow people to experience the divine. The centre also developed a diversified program of New Age healing adopted from the West. Rajneesh became well-known for his progressive approach to sexuality, which contrasted with the renunciation of sex advocated by many other Indian teachers.

Rajneesh moved to the United States in 1981 and, the following year, incorporated Rajneeshpuram, a new city he planned to build on an abandoned ranch near Antelope, Oregon. During the next few years many of his most-trusted aides abandoned the movement, which came under investigation for multiple felonies, including arson, attempted murder, drug smuggling, and vote fraud in Antelope. In 1985 Rajneesh pleaded guilty to immigration fraud and was deported from the United States. He was refused entry to 21 countries before returning to Pune, where his ashram soon grew to 15,000 members.

In 1989 Rajneesh adopted the Buddhist name Osho. After his death his disciples, convinced that he had been the victim of government intrigue, voiced their belief in his innocence and vowed to continue the movement he started. In the early 21st century it had some 750 centres located in more than 60 countries.

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Rajneesh Wikipdia, a enciclopdia livre

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Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain ( ) (Kuchwada, ndia, 11 de Dezembro de 1931 Pune, ndia, 19 de Janeiro de 1990), foi lder religioso de uma seita de tradies drmicas, mestre na arte da meditao e do despertar da conscincia. Apesar de sua formao e docncia acadmica em filosofia, alm de ter sido campeo em debates, ele no se considerava um filsofo, mas sim um mstico, pois seu principal propsito era o desenvolvimento da conscincia, o autoconhecimento, atravs da meditao. Durante a dcada de 1970, foi conhecido pelo nome de Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh e, mais tarde, como Osho.

Foi durante toda a sua vida uma figura extremamente polmica, em boa parte, porque ele prprio raramente procurava apaziguar ou evitar conflitos. Nunca foi um moralista, enfatizando sempre a conscincia individual e a responsabilidade de cada um por si mesmo. No considerava o ato sexual como um tabu, tendo uma postura bastante liberal a esse respeito. Durante sua vida, foi perseguido em diversos pases onde esteve, inclusive em sua terra natal.

Filho mais velho de um modesto mercador de tecidos, passou os sete primeiros anos de sua infncia com seus avs, que lhe davam absoluta liberdade para fazer o que bem quisesse, apoiando suas precoces e intensas investigaes sobre a verdade da vida. Desde cedo, foi um esprito rebelde e independente, desafiando os dogmas religiosos, sociais e polticos, e insistindo em buscar a verdade por si mesmo, ao invs de adquirir conhecimentos e crenas impingidos por outros.

Sua intensa busca espiritual chegou a afetar sua sade a ponto de seus pais e amigos recearem que ele no vivesse por muito tempo. Aps a morte do av, Osho foi viver com seus pais em Gadawara. Sua av mudou-se para a mesma cidade, permanecendo como sua mais dedicada amiga at falecer em 1970, tendo se declarado discpula do neto.

Aos 21 anos de idade, no dia 21 de maro de 1953, Osho alcanou aquilo que afirmava ser a iluminao (estado de conscincia livre, tambm chamado de samadhi no oriente). Este seria o mesmo estado em que teriam vivido Jesus, Buda e outros mestres iluminados. Com sua iluminao, ele disse que sua biografia externa terminara. Nessa oportunidade, comentou: "No estou mais buscando, procurando por alguma coisa. A existncia abriu todas as suas portas para mim. Nem ao menos posso dizer que perteno existncia, porque sou simplesmente uma parte dela... Quando uma flor desabrocha, desabrocho com ela. Quando o Sol se levanta, levanto-me com ele. O ego em mim, o qual mantm as pessoas separadas, no est mais presente. Meu corpo parte da natureza, meu ser parte do todo. No sou uma entidade separada."

Osho graduou-se em Filosofia na Universidade de Sagar, com as honras de "primeiro lugar". Na poca de estudante foi campeo nacional de debates na ndia. Em 1966, depois de nove anos limitado pela funo de professor de filosofia na Universidade de Jabalpur, abandonou o cargo e passou a viajar por todo pas, dando palestras, desafiando lderes religiosos ortodoxos em debates pblicos, desconcertando as crenas tradicionais e chocando o status quo.

Em 1968, ainda com seu primeiro nome espiritual, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, estabeleceu-se em Bombaim, onde morou e ensinou por alguns anos. Organizou regularmente "campos de meditao", onde introduziu a sua revolucionria Meditao Dinmica. Em 1974, inaugurou o ashram de Poona, e sua influncia j atinge o mundo inteiro. Ao mesmo tempo, sua sade se fragilizava seriamente.

Osho se recolhia cada vez mais privacidade de seus aposentos, aparecendo apenas duas vezes por dia em suas palestras matinais e, noite, em sesses de aconselhamento e iniciao.

Em maio de 1981, Osho parou de falar e iniciou uma fase de "comunho silenciosa de corao-a-corao", enquanto seu corpo, seriamente doente, com graves problemas de coluna, descansava. Tendo em vista a possibilidade de que fosse necessria uma cirurgia de emergncia, Osho foi levado aos Estados Unidos. Seus discpulos americanos compraram um rancho no deserto do Oregon e convidaram-no a ir para l, onde recuperou-se rapidamente.

Uma comuna logo estabeleceu-se ao seu redor, formando a cidade de Rajneeshpuram. Em outubro de 1984, Osho voltou a falar a pequenos grupos e, em julho de 1985, reiniciava seus discursos a milhares de buscadores, todas as manhs.

Em setembro de 1985, a secretria pessoal de Osho deixa a comuna, repentinamente, seguida por vrios membros da administrao, vindo, com isso, luz, todo um conjunto de atos supostamente ilegais cometidos por esse grupo. Osho convidou as autoridades americanas para que procedessem a todas as investigaes necessrias. Tirando proveito dessa oportunidade, as autoridades aceleraram sua luta contra a comuna.

Em 29 de outubro de 1985, Osho foi preso em Charlotte, na Carolina do Norte, sem um mandado de priso. Sua viagem de volta ao Oregon, onde seria julgado - normalmente um voo de cinco horas - demorou oito dias. Por alguns dias, ningum soube do seu paradeiro. Nos Estados Unidos, recebeu 35 acusaes: todas foram retiradas ou consideradas infundadas com o tempo. Foi preso sem um mandado de priso e sem provas conclusivas. Passou por dez dias com paradeiro desconhecido nas mos das autoridades americanas, quando alegou posteriormente ter sido envenenado com tlio.[1]

Em meados de novembro, seus advogados aconselharam-no a confessar-se culpado por duas das trinta e quatro "violaes de imigrao" das quais era acusado, para evitar que sua vida corresse maiores riscos nas garras do sistema jurdico americano. Osho concordou. Foi multado e obrigado a deixar os Estados Unidos, com retorno proibido pelos prximos cinco anos.

Deixando o pas no mesmo dia, Osho voou para a ndia, onde permaneceu em repouso nos Himalaias. Uma semana mais tarde, a comuna do Oregon resolveu dispersar-se. Nessa poca, Osho enfrentou uma verdadeira Via Crcis para poder fixar-se num lugar, pois, onde quer que tentasse estabelecer-se, tinha sua permanncia negada pelas autoridades, por visvel influncia do governo norte-americano. Ao todo, 21 pases o expulsaram ou negaram o visto de entrada.

Os seus discpulos garantem que, depois de expulso dos Estados Unidos, Osho no conseguiu qualquer visto para permanncia nos pases que visitou aps o incidente, devido a presses norte-americanas. Alegam que nenhuma das acusaes feitas tem consistncia objetiva - fruto apenas do temor e dio das instituies representadas pelo governo norte-americano, referem os seus discpulos.

Representando sempre uma ameaa s tradies religiosas e polticas, foi impedido de entrar em vrios pases. Foi expulso da Grcia. Foi impedido preventivamente pelo parlamento Alemo de entrar nesse pas mesmo sem nunca ter pedido visto de entrada e nem demonstrado interesse nisso. Somente conseguiu aterrisar seu avio na Inglaterra porque seu piloto alegou ter um doente a bordo.

Em julho de 1986, Osho voltou a Bombaim, na ndia, onde ficou hospedado por seis meses na casa de um amigo indiano. Na privacidade da casa de seu anfitrio, ele retornou aos seus discursos dirios.

Em janeiro de 1987, mudou-se para o seu ashram em Poona, onde vivera a maior parte dos anos 1970. Imediatamente aps sua chegada, o chefe de polcia de Poona ordenou-lhe que deixasse a cidade, sob a alegao de que era uma "pessoa controversa" que poderia "perturbar a tranquilidade da cidade". Tal ordem foi revogada no mesmo dia pela Suprema Corte de Bombaim.

Osho faleceu em 19 de janeiro de 1990. Algumas semanas antes dessa data, foi-lhe perguntado o que aconteceria com seu trabalho quando ele partisse. Ele disse: "Minha confiana na existncia absoluta. Se houver alguma verdade naquilo que estou dizendo, isso ir sobreviver... As pessoas que permanecerem interessadas em meu trabalho iro simplesmente carregar a tocha, mas sem impor nada a ningum..."

O pensamento de Rajneesh est exposto em mais de mil livros que podem elucidar sobre a sua filosofia. Segundo referem os seus admiradores, Osho no pretendia impor a sua viso pessoal nem estimular conflitos. Enfatizou, pelo contrrio, a importncia de se mergulhar no mais profundo silncio, pois somente atravs da meditao se poderia atingir a verdade e o amor, guiada pela conscincia individual, sem intermedirios como sacerdotes, polticos, intelectuais ou ele mesmo. Transmitia, pois, uma mensagem otimista que apontava para um futuro onde a humanidade deixaria o plano da inconscincia e, por conseqncia, a destruio, o medo e o desamor, j que cada um seria o buda de si prprio, recordando aquilo que a conscincia imediata esqueceu. Segundo esta viso, a humanidade parece-se a um conjunto de cegos guiados por outros cegos (imagem que tambm faz parte do iderio cristo).

Os seus seguidores reconhecem-no como uma das figuras mais importantes da histria da humanidade, sendo injustiado pela humanidade ignorante. No seu trabalho, Osho falou praticamente sobre todos os aspectos do desenvolvimento da conscincia humana. Seus discursos para discpulos e buscadores de todo o mundo foram publicados em mais de 650 ttulos e traduzidos para mais de trinta lnguas.

Todo o trabalho de Osho de desconstruo e silncio. Desconstruo de dogmas arcaicos e amarras psicolgicas que aprisionam e limitam o ser humano. Segundo Osho, todo o planeta (com raras excees) est doente. Mas uma doena autoimposta. Liberdade seria, em sua viso, o fundamento de um homem auto-realizado e digno. O silncio, por sua vez seria a comunho da criatura com sua essncia divina e pura, sendo reencontrado pela meditao, onde o homem experimenta seu verdadeiro ser.

De Sigmund Freud a Chuang Tzu, de George Gurdjieff a Buda, de Jesus Cristo a Rabindranath Tagore, Osho extraiu, de cada um, o que seria a essncia do que acreditava ser significativo na busca espiritual do homem, baseando-se no apenas na compreenso intelectual, mas na sua prpria experincia existencial.

Ao dizer, por exemplo, que "o orgasmo sexual oferece o primeiro vislumbre da meditao porque, nele, a mente para, o tempo para", a mdia o apelidou de "guru do sexo". Quando se descobriu a causa da aids, Osho determinou que seus discpulos fizessem o teste de HIV. Pioneiro, recomendou usar camisinha e luvas de ltex na hora do sexo, coisas ridicularizadas na poca. Para A. Racily, que conviveu com Osho, o guru queria apenas que o sexo no fosse renegado. Ela diz que nunca houve orgias na comunidade e que esses boatos vinham de quem queria se aproveitar da liberdade sexual.[2]

Para os seus discpulos, seus ensinamentos levam realizao da liberdade pessoal, atravs da percepo individual das amarras aprisionadoras das tradies e das autoridades estabelecidas. Embora Osho nunca tenha escrito nenhum livro, 650 ttulos em 57 idiomas foram criados e tm sido publicados a partir de transcries de seus discursos e palestras.

Os livros baseados em suas palavras at hoje fazem muito sucesso em muitos pases, inclusive no Brasil, pas que possui um ativo grupo de discpulos e de simpatizantes, espalhados em muitos dos grandes centros e em algumas comunidades mais afastadas. Alguns dos discpulos exercem algum tipo de atividade teraputica alternativa e divulgam suas principais meditaes, como a chamada Osho Meditao Dinmica e a Osho Meditao Kundalini, que so marcas registradas, protegidas por direitos autorais. Alguns leigos dizem tratar-se de um exerccio aerbico que promove embriaguez por hiperventilao. Pessoas que j tiveram experincia pessoal nessas tcnicas, no entanto, afirmam que a hiperventilao, a catarse consciente e os movimentos intensos e danas ldicas presentes nas mesmas no causam nenhuma embriaguez, mas somente oxignio em maior quantidade e liberao emocional consciente que traziam disposio fsica durante para cuidar das atividades da vida.

Nos anos 1990 o brasileiro Deva Nishok criou o Centro Metamorfose, para aplicar o mtodo que leva seu nome, a partir das ideias de um guru mexicano, inspirado na filosofia de Rajneesh Osho.[3]

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