The case of Rajneesh
Update: the author gives permission to use this page, so I have put the whole thing up.
While we are at it, we may as well consider the case of Rajneesh: an interesting take by an ex-disciple. Such figures are doubly tricky because we can’t say they weren’t enlightened, what then of their deviant behavior. This issue is often lost on conventional ‘deprogrammer’ commentary.
Osho, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and the Lost Truth
“Meditation must not be made into a business.” – Acharya Rajneesh 1971
Acharya Rajneesh was 39 years old when I first met him at his Bombay apartment in December of 1970. With long beard and large dark eyes, he looked like a painting of Lao-Tse come to life. Before meeting Rajneesh, I had spent time with a number of Eastern gurus (see pictures) without being satisfied with the quality of their teachings. I wanted an enlightened guide who could bridge the gap between East and West, and reveal the true esoteric secrets without the excess baggage of Indian, Tibetan, or Japanese culture. Rajneesh was the answer to my quest for those deeper meanings. He described for me in vivid detail everything I wanted to know about the inner worlds, and he had the power of immense being to back up his words. At 21 years old, I was naive about life and the nature of man and I assumed that everything he told me must be true. [see picture of Rajneesh at his best]
Rajneesh spoke on a high level of intelligence, and his powerful presence emanated from his body like a soft light that healed all wounds. While sitting close during a small gathering of friends, Rajneesh took me on a rapidly vertical inner journey that almost seemed to push me out of my physical body. His vast presence lifted everyone around him higher without the slightest effort on their part. The days I spent at his Bombay apartment were like days spent in heaven. He had it all, and he was giving it away for free!
Rajneesh possessed the power of direct energy transmission, which is known in India as “shaktipat.” He used this power nobly to bring comfort and inspiration to his disciples. Rajneesh claimed to have the “third eye” powers of telepathy and remote viewing as well, and for many years I believed that claim to be true. However, in the 1980s Rajneesh was unable to perceive the tragic events at his Oregon commune which occurred directly under his nose, so those claimed powers are now a question mark in my mind. Many gurus boast of having mysterious psychic abilities in order to attract new disciples and new money. Rajneesh’s habit of getting his helpers to investigate visitors so he could impress them with his knowledge of their personal lives adds to my current skepticism about the effectiveness of his “third eye.” It was a fact, however, that those who came near him did experience his incredible cosmic presence. One or two face to face meetings with Rajneesh was all it took to turn doubting Western skepticism into awed admiration and devotion.
One year earlier I had meet another enlightened teacher known to the world as Jiddu Krishnamurti. J. Krishnamurti could barely give a coherent lecture, and he constantly scolded his audience by referring to their “shoddy little minds.” I loved his frankness, and his words were true, but his subtly cantankerous nature was not very helpful in transferring his knowledge to others. [see photograph of J. Krishnamurti]
Listening to J. Krishnamurti speak was like eating a sandwich made of bread and sand. I found the best way to enjoy his talks was to completely ignore his words and quietly absorb his presence. Using that technique, I would become so expanded after a lecture that I could barely talk for hours afterwards. J. Krishnamurti, while fully enlightened and uniquely lovable, will be recorded in history as a teacher with very poor verbal communication skills. Unlike the highly eloquent Rajneesh, however, J. Krishnamurti never committed any crime, never pretended to be more than he was, and he never used other human beings selfishly.
Life is complex and multilayered, and my naive illusions about the phenomena of perfect enlightenment faded over the years. It became clear that enlightened people are as fallible as anyone. They are expanded human beings, not perfect human beings, and they live and breathe with many of the same faults and vulnerabilities we ordinary humans must endure.
Skeptics ask how I can claim that Rajneesh was enlightened, given his scandals and disastrous public image. I can only say that Rajneesh’s magnetic presence was identical to that of Jiddu Krishnamurti, who was recognized as enlightened by every high Tibetan Lama and revered Hindu sage of the day. I do sympathize with the skeptics, however. If I had not known Rajneesh personally, I would never believe it myself.
Rajneesh pushed the envelope of enlightenment in both positive and negative directions. He was the best of the best and the worst of the worst. He was a great teacher in his early years, with an innovative meditation technique that worked with dramatic power called “Dynamic Meditation.” Rajneesh lifted thousands of seekers to higher levels of consciousness, and he detailed Eastern religions and ancient meditation techniques with luminous clarity. [see Rajneesh leading group meditation – see explanation and warning about Dynamic Meditation near the bottom of the page]
One false move. One grand error.
Acharya Rajneesh was born on December 11th, 1931, in the village of Kuchwada in central India. The term ‘Acharya’ means a religious teacher, and ‘Rajneesh’ means moon. Rajneesh’s actual legal name was Chandra Mohan Jain; ‘Rajneesh’ being only an unofficial nickname acquired in childhood. Late one night in 1971, the man I knew as Acharya Rajneesh suddenly changed his name to “Bhagwan Rajneesh.” The famous enlightened sage, Ramana Maharshi, was called ‘Bhagwan’ by his disciples as a spontaneous term of endearment. Rajneesh simply declared to the world that everyone should start calling him Bhagwan, a title that can mean anything from ‘divine one’ to God. ‘Shree’ is an honorific term for Master, so his most notorious full name, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, can be translated as God Master Moon. Rajneesh became irritated when I once politely corrected his mispronunciations of English words after a lecture, so I felt in no position to tell him that I thought his new title was inappropriate and dishonest. That change in name marked a turning point in Rajneesh’s level of honesty and was the first of many big lies yet to come.
Rajneesh lived in an ivory tower, rarely leaving his room unless to give a lecture, his life experience cushioned by throngs of adoring devotees. [see photograph of Rajneesh in his bedroom in Bombay] His isolation became even more complete when he moved from his small Bombay apartment to a large estate in Poona, India, in 1974. As most human beings who are treated as kings, Rajneesh lost touch with the world of the common man. In his artificial and insulated existence, Rajneesh made one fundamental error in judgment which would destroy his teaching.
“What you tell them is true, but what I tell them (the useful lies) is good for them.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Poona, India, 1975
Rajneesh calculated that the majority of the earth’s population was on such a low level of consciousness that they could not understand nor tolerate the real truths. He thus decided on a policy of spreading seemingly useful lies to bring inspiration to his disciples and, on occasion, to stress his students in unique situations for their own personal growth. This was his downfall and the prime reason he will be remembered by most historians as just another phony guru. Rajneesh’s teachings were full of intentional lies and unintentional falsehoods, which were born out of his own ignorance, gullibility, and Indian cultural conditioning. His psychic presence, however, was 100% real and extremely powerful. [see Do you have a soul? and The Ridiculous Teachings of Wrong Way Rajneesh]
Acharya, Bhagwan Shree, Osho,…all the empowering names taken by Rajneesh could not cover up the fact that he was still a human being. He had ambitions and desires, sexual and material, just like everyone else. All enlightened humans have desires. All enlightened men have had public lives that we know about, and all have had private lives that remained secret. The vast majority of enlightened men do nothing but good for the world. Only Rajneesh, to my knowledge, became a criminal in both the legal and ethical sense of the word.
Rajneesh never lost the ultimate existential truth of being. He only lost the ordinary concept of truth that any normal adult can understand. He rationalized his constant lying as “lefthanded Tantra,” but that too was dishonest. Rajneesh lied to save face, to avoid taking responsibility for his own mistakes, and to gain personal power. Those lies had nothing to do with Tantra or any selfless acts of kindness. What is real in this world is fact, and Rajneesh misrepresented fact on a daily basis. Rajneesh was no simple con man like so many others. Rajneesh knew everything that Buddha knew, and he was everything that Buddha was. It was his loss of respect for ordinary truthfulness that destroyed his life’s work.
Rajneesh’s health collapsed in his early thirties. Even before reaching middle age, Rajneesh suffered reoccurring bouts of weakness. During his youthful college years, when he should have been at a peak of vigor, Rajneesh often had to sleep 12 to 14 hours a day due to an unexplained illness. Rajneesh suffered from what Europeans call Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), or what Americans call Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). His classic symptoms included the obvious fatigue, strange allergies, recurrent low grade fevers, photophobia, orthostatic intolerance (the inability to stand for a normal period of time), insomnia, body pain, and extreme sensitivity to smells and chemicals, a condition doctors now refer to as “multiple chemical sensitivity.”
Rajneesh’s trademark chemical sensitivity was so severe that he instructed his guards to sniff people for unpleasant odors before they were allowed to visit him in his quarters. People with Gulf War Syndrome, MS, and other neurological and immune system illnesses are also often highly sensitive to chemicals and smells. Rajneesh’s poor health and strange symptoms were a product of real neurological and immune system dysfunction, not some esoteric supersensitivity caused by his enlightenment. Rajneesh also had Type II diabetes, asthma, and severe back pain.
Rajneesh was constantly sick and frail from the time I first met him in 1970 until his death on January 19th, 1990. He thought he was getting a different cold or flu every week. In reality he suffered from a chronic neurological and immune system illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with flu like symptoms that can last a lifetime. Rajneesh could not stand on his feet for long periods of time without becoming lightheaded because he suffered damage to his autonomic nervous system which controls blood pressure. This neurally mediated hypotension (low blood pressure while standing) causes chronic fatigue and can lower IQ due to a lack of sufficient blood and oxygen being pumped to the brain (brain hypoxia). In the 1970s, Rajneesh often complained of becoming lightheaded immediately upon standing. During the final few months of his life in Poona, Rajneesh frequently passed out into complete unconsciousness.
Rajneesh used prescription drugs, mainly Valium (diazepam), as an analgesic for his aches and pains and to counter the symptoms of dysautonomia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system). At his peak usage, Rajneesh took the maximum recommended dose of 60 milligrams per day, a dose so high that it is usually only prescribed for the long term care of the mentally ill. Patients who take Valium regularly build up a resistance to its effects over time, and higher and higher doses are needed to maintain its stress relieving and hypnotic effects. Rajneesh also inhaled nitrous oxide (N2O) mixed with pure oxygen, which he claimed increased his creativity. The nitrous oxide probably did relieve the sensation of severe exhaustion and suffocation patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome often feel, but it did nothing for the quality of his judgment. Naive about the power of drugs, and overconfident of his ability to fight off their negative effects, Rajneesh succumbed to addiction. [see Osho in the Dental Chair and The Dangers of Nitrous Oxide]
A number of disciples have claimed that Rajneesh was so intoxicated at his Oregon ranch in the 1980s that he sometimes urinated in the halls of his own home, just as heroin addicts and common drunks often do. I believe this to be true, as the last time I saw Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh he was inebriated to the point of becoming physically ugly. He had the same washed-out look and foolish behavior I had witnessed in drug addicts while working at a methadone clinic in the United States. Rajneesh had miraculous mental power, but he was an ordinary human being physically and he could not tolerate the devastating effects of large doses of tranquilizers.
On top of Rajneesh’s physical illness, his massive intake of Valium caused paranoia and greatly reduced reasoning skills. Valium addicts often think the CIA or some other unseen villains are plotting against them, so it is not surprising that he imagined that he was poisoned by the United States Government. His reasoning powers became so damaged that Rajneesh actually considered moving to Russia to combine his totalitarian form of spirituality with Russian communism, an idea no sane man could possibly entertain. Rajneesh publicly called for the assassination of Michael Gorbachev, because Gorbachev was moving Russia to Western style capitalism instead of Rajneesh’s own brand of “spiritual communism.” Historically, Valium has been the drug of choice for CFS sufferers as it masks the unnerving symptoms of dysautonomia and helps bring sleep. Rajneesh suffered from insomnia, another classic symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Rajneesh was a physically ill man who became mentally corrupt. His brief experimentation with LSD only made matters worse. Rajneesh’s drug use and addiction was a problem of his own making, not a government conspiracy. Rajneesh died in 1990, with heart failure listed as the official cause of death. It is probable that the physical decline Rajneesh experienced during his incarceration in American jails was due to a combination of withdrawal symptoms from his Valium addiction and an aggravation of his Chronic Fatigue Syndrome due to stress and exposure to allergens.
After Rajneesh’s humiliation and downfall in America, he declared that he was “Jesus crucified by Ronald Reagan’s America.” In truth, Rajneesh was a drug addicted guru who self-destructed because of his own wrong actions. Comparing himself to Jesus was doubly dishonest, as he himself had no respect for Jesus. He once undiplomatically proclaimed to the American media that everything Jesus said was “just crazy.”
“I went through the abandoned city of Rajneeshpuram and saw things that were almost unbelievable. Ma Anand Sheela’s headquarters, a group of mobile homes pieced together, was a hive of secret doors and hidden tunnels, her private room a command post with electronic listening gear tapped into every room in the development. The Bhagwan’s parquet-paneled quarters had nitrogen oxide spigots by his bedside, and was surrounded by huge bathrooms with multiple showers.” – Jim Weaver, former Oregon Congressman [see Jim Weaver’s full article]
In the 1998 preface to Books I Have Loved, Rajneesh’s (Osho’s) personal dentist, Swami Devageet, states that Osho dictated three books under the influence of nitrous oxide. They were Books I Have Loved, Glimpses of a Golden Childhood, and Notes of a Madman. Refering to his own nitrous oxide use, Rajneesh himself stated that “Actually oxygen and nitrogen are basic elements of existence. They can be of much use, but for reasons the politicians have been against chemicals of all kinds, all drugs.” Ma Anand Sheela, Rajneesh’s personal secretary, publicly stated on the CBS news show 60 Minutes that Rajneesh took 60 milligrams of Valium every day. Hugh Milne, Rajneesh’s head bodyguard, confirmed Rajneesh’s heavy Valium use, as did Swami Devageet. The FBI knew that Rajneesh was a Valium and nitrous oxide addict from their own investigations, and that fact was published in newspapers around the USA, including articles in “THE OREGONIAN” and “THE NEW YORK TIMES.” There is no doubt that Rajneesh became a drug addict except in the minds of passionate Osho followers who don’t want to admit the painful truth.
Rajneesh once jokingly refered to himself as “the rubber hose Buddha,” because he was always inhaling nitrous oxide through a rubber hose. Rajneesh did not seem to realize that becoming a drug addict not only devalued himself as a teacher, but to some extend discredited the very concept of anyone becoming a “Buddha.” If even an enlightened Buddha needs drugs to get high, then what value is there in becoming “enlightened” at all?
“People call me an ‘enlightened man’ — I detest that term — they can’t find any other word to describe the way I am functioning. At the same time, I point out that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all. I say that because all my life I’ve searched and wanted to be an enlightened man, and I discovered that there is no such thing as enlightenment at all, and so the question whether a particular person is enlightened or not doesn’t arise. I don’t give a hoot for a sixth-century-BC Buddha, let alone all the other claimants we have in our midst. They are a bunch of exploiters, thriving on the gullibility of the people. There is no power outside of man. Man has created God out of fear. So the problem is fear and not God.” – U.G. Krishnamurti
Upon his sudden death in 1990, there was much media speculation that Rajneesh had committed suicide by taking an overdose of drugs. As no disciple has confessed to giving Rajneesh a lethal injection, there is no hard evidence to support the suicide theory. A compelling circumstantial case could be made for such a scenario, however, with suicide provoked by Rajneesh’s constant ill health and disheartenment over the loss of Vivek, his greatest love.
Vivek had taken a fatal overdose of sleeping pills in a Bombay hotel one month before Rajneesh’s passing. Pointedly, Vivek decided to kill herself immediately before Rajneesh’s birthday celebration. Rajneesh had threatened suicide at the Oregon commune several times, hanging his death over the heads of his disciples as a threat unless they obeyed his orders. On his last day on earth, Rajneesh is reported to have said “Let me go. My body has become a hell for me.”
The rumor that Rajneesh was poisoned with thallium by operatives of the United States Government is entirely fictional and contradicted by undeniable fact. One of the obvious symptoms of thallium poisoning is dramatic hair loss within seven days of exposure. Rajneesh died with a full beard and no exceptional baldness other than ordinary male pattern baldness at the top of his head. Radiation poisoning, another fictional cause of his illness, also causes dramatic hair loss.
The symptoms which may have led Rajneesh’s doctors to suspect poisoning are common symptoms of dysautonomia caused by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Those symptoms can include ataxia (uncoordinated movements), numbness, standing tachycardia (rapid heart rate upon standing), paresthesia (sensations of prickling and itching), nausea, and irritable bowel syndrome, which causes one to alternate between constipation and diarrhea. All of his negative physical and mental symptoms were severely compounded by his own self-induced nitrous oxide poisoning and heavy Valium use.
The only proven cases of illegal poisoning related to Rajneesh were carried out by Rajneesh’s own sannyasins. A sannyasin is an initiated disciple, one who takes sannyas. In the year 1984 there were 751 poison victims, including women and small children, at ten restaurants in the The Dalles, Oregon. Rajneesh sannyasins attempted to take over the Wasco County Commission by making so many people ill on election day that they could elect their own sannyasin candidates. [see Rajneesh bioterrorism newspaper story]
Rajneesh disciples poisoned the restaurants’ customers by contaminating salad bars and coffee creamers with salmonella bacteria. Forty-five of the victims became so ill they had to be hospitalized, making the case the largest germ warfare attack in United States history. Sannyasins were later suspected of trying to kill a Wasco County executive by spiking his water with an unknown poison. A Jefferson County District Attorney, Michael Sullivan, also became ill after leaving a cup of coffee unattended as Rajneesh sannyasins filled the courthouse. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh never apologized to any of the people who were poisoned by his own trusted disciples.
Members of Rajneesh’s staff were poisoned by Ma Anand Sheela, Rajneesh’s personal secretary. Sheela had the habit of poisoning people who either knew too much or who had simply fallen out of her favor. Sheela spent two and a half years in a Federal medium security prison for her crimes, while Rajneesh pled guilty to immigration fraud and was given a ten year suspended sentence, fined $400,000., and deported from the United States of America. As part of his plea bargain agreement, more serious charges of racketeering were dropped. [see Rajneesh and Sheela’s mugshots]
Rajneesh felt that teaching ethics was unnecessary because meditation would automatically lead to good behavior. The actions of Rajneesh and his disciples proves that theory to be completely false. Rajneesh taught that you should do as you please because life is both a dream and a joke. This attitude led to the classically fascist belief that one can become so high and mighty that one is beyond the need for old fashioned values and ethical behavior.
Those unfamiliar with the Rajneesh story can read the book, Bhagwan: The God That Failed, published by Saint Martin’s Press and written by Hugh Milne (Shivamurti), a close disciple of Rajneesh during his Poona and Oregon years. Except for Ma Yoga Laxmi, Rajneesh’s first secretary, and Vivek, Rajneesh’s main girlfriend, Shivamurti probably spent more time in close physical proximity to Rajneesh than anyone in Rajneesh’s adult life. Mr. Milne’s book is largely corroborated by Satya Bharti Franklin’s book, Promise of Paradise: A Woman’s Intimate Life With ‘Bhagwan’ Osho Rajneesh, published by Barrytown/Station Hill Press. Both books are out of print, but secondhand copies can be obtained through Amazon.Com. There have been many other tell-all books published on the same subject matter, but I have not read them and I do not know the authors, so I do not mention them here.
Regarding Bhagwan: The God That Failed, I can verify many of the facts Mr. Milne states about the life of Rajneesh in Bombay and Poona, though I have no first hand knowledge of the tragic events at the Oregon commune. My contacts with people who were there lead me to believe that most of the facts Mr. Milne presents of the Oregon era are also highly accurate. Hugh Milne is due great credit for a well written and entertaining book, which is a sincere effort at complete honesty. On a few occasions, however, I differ from Mr. Milne’s interpretations of what the facts he presents actually mean.
Rajneesh did not suffer from “hypochondria,” as Mr. Milne suggested. Rajneesh had a very real neurological and immune system disease which he mistook for frequent viral infections. Rajneesh became unusually afraid of germs only due to his understandable medical ignorance. I fully agree with Mr. Milne that Rajneesh suffered from “megalomania,” however, and will add that the short statured Rajneesh had a Napoleonic, obsessive-compulsive, and extravagantly narcissistic personality.
Mr. Milne suggests that Rajneesh used “hypnosis” to manipulate his disciples. Rajneesh had a melodic and naturally hypnotic voice which would be a great asset to any public speaker. In my opinion, however, Rajneesh’s power came from the intense energy field of the universal cosmic consciousness which he channeled like a lens. Hindus call this universal energy phenomena the Atman. As a Westerner, I prefer more scientific terms and describe the Atman as a highly evolved manifestation of time-energy-space, the TES. [see The TES Hypothesis]
Hugh Milne’s book records a day when Rajneesh admitted, while under the influence of nitrous oxide, that there is no such thing as ‘enlightenment.’ I cannot confirm this event through other contacts, but I assume Rajneesh was simply stating what U.G. Krishnamurti has said all along; that the storybook fiction we accept of a perfect enlightenment, full of infallible wisdom, is a big lie. A powerful and expansive state of cosmic consciousness does exist in humans who achieve it, but the way this condition is described by the religious establishment is an egocentric fiction, contrived by spiritual leaders to control the masses for their own personal gain.
Enlightenment is not something you own; it is something you channel.
Whatever term you use for the phenomena of enlightenment, it is scientifically accurate to say that no human being has any power of their own. Even the chemical energy of our metabolism is borrowed from the sun, which beams light to the earth, which is then converted by plants through photosynthesis into the food we eat. You may get your bread from the supermarket, but the caloric energy it contains originated from thermonuclear reactions deep in the center of a nearby star. Our physical bodies run on star power. Any “spiritual” energy we channel also comes from far beyond, from all sides of the universe, from the complete TES, from beyond the oceans of galaxies, and onto infinity. No human being owns the Atman, and no one can speak for the TES.
The Void has no ambition or personality whatsoever, so Rajneesh could only speak for his own animal mind. The animal mind may want its disciples to “take over the whole world,” but the Void does not care because it is beyond any motivation. The phenomena we called Rajneesh, Bhagwan, and Osho, was only a temporary lens of cosmic energy, not the full cosmos itself.
Rajneesh, and the famous Greek-Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff, often used the power of the Atman for clearly personal gain. [see photo of Gurdjieff] Both men used their cosmic consciousness to overwhelm and seduce women. Gurdjieff was ashamed of his behavior and vowed many times during his life to end this practice, which was a combination of ordinary male lust backed up by the potent advantage of oceanic supermental power. Rajneesh went even further and used his channeled cosmic energy to manipulate masses of people to gain a kind of quasi-political status, and to aggrandize himself far beyond what was honest or helpful to his disciples. In Oregon, Rajneesh declared to the media that “My religion is the only religion!” Diplomacy and modesty were not his strong points.
To my knowledge, George Gurdjieff never reached the extremes of self-indulgence of Rajneesh, and he even warned his disciples not to have blind faith in him. Gurdjieff wanted his students to be free and independent, with the combined abilities of clear mental reasoning and cosmic consciousness. Rajneesh, by contrast, seemed to believe that only his thoughts and ideas were of value because only he was “enlightened.” This was a grand error in judgment and revealed a basic flaw in his character. Unfortunately, when Rajneesh achieved the ability to fully channel the power of the Atman, he failed to apply the needed wisdom of self-restraint. His human mind so rebelled against Asian asceticism that he failed to ensure that his borrowed power was only used for the good of others. Rajneesh was driven by strong personal ambitions, not just compassion.
“Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” – Henry Kissinger
Rajneesh left India in 1981, in part to escape paying a four million dollar Indian income tax bill. As he disembarked from a 747 jetliner to take his first footsteps in the USA, Rajneesh declared that “I am the Messiah America has been waiting for.” – [Milne, Bhagwan: The God That Failed] After a brief stay in a newly acquired castle styled home in Montclair, New Jersey, Rajneesh bought the 64,000 acre Big Muddy cattle ranch near the small town of Antelope in eastern Oregon for six million dollars.
Rajneesh created his Oregon desert commune from his own powerful mind and named it “Rajneeshpuram.” He made himself the ultimate dictator, his picture placed everywhere as in an Orwellian bad dream. J. Krishnamurti called Rajneesh a “criminal” and Rajneeshpuram “a concentration camp under the dictatorship of enlightenment.” Poonjaji, Ramana Maharshi’s famous student, refered to Rajneesh as “a pig” for building himself up in the eyes of his disciples to dishonest proportions. Poonjaji’s position was that even the enlightened remain human beings, not saints or superheroes, and that we all share the same cosmic identity no matter what our class and social standing. [see photo of Poonjaji.]
U.G. Krishnamurti, a famous maverick anti-guru, was even more critical of Rajneesh. During the mid 1970s Rajneesh deemphasized his own meditation methods and started selling Western style group therapies as a way to gain income. It was difficult to make money from authentic meditation techniques because they are all easy to learn and can be done alone, without the aid of a teacher. One of the groups Rajneesh sold to students was the “Tantra” group, which was basically just male and female disciples having sex with each other. U.G. Krishnamurti publicly called Rajneesh the “worlds biggest pimp” because “He made money from the boys and the girls and he kept it for himself.” In 1971 Rajneesh told me directly in a face to face meeting that U.G. Krishnamurti was “realized.” After much public criticism from U.G., Rajneesh counterattacked by calling U.G. a “phony guru.” [see photo of U.G. Krishnamurti.]
Guru wars aside, the totalitarian atmosphere of Rajneeshpuram was the main reason I did not stay at the commune beyond two brief visits. I was interested in meditation, not in a big prison camp where human beings were treated like insects with no intelligence of their own. Rajneesh put such a high emphasis on his disciples following orders without question that they did just that when Ma Anand Sheela, Rajneesh’s personal secretary, gave absurd orders to commit crimes which Rajneesh himself (hopefully) would never have approved of.
When you decapitate the intelligence of human beings you create a situation that is highly dangerous and destructive to the human spirit. You cannot save people from their egos by demanding “total surrender.” The antidemocratic technique of forcing blind obedience did not work well for Hitler, Stalin, or for Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Germany, Russia, and the Rajneesh Oregon commune were all destroyed by authoritarian imperial rule. A diversity of opinion is always healthy because it acts as an effective counterbalance to the myopic arrogance of those who would be king. Rajneesh never understood this truth of history and referred to democracy scornfully as “mobocracy.” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was an imperial aristocrat, never a generous and open minded democrat, and he put his contempt for the democratic process into highly visible action in Oregon.
In an attempt to subvert a local Wasco County election, Rajneesh had his sannyasins bus in almost 2,000 homeless people from major American cities in an effort to unfairly rig the voting process in his favor. Some of the new voters were mentally ill and were given beer laced with drugs to keep them manageable. Credible allegations have been made that one or more of the imported street people died due to overdosing on the beer and drug mixture, their bodies buried in the desert. To my knowledge that charge has not been conclusively proven. Rajneesh’s voting fraud scheme failed, and the derelicts and mental patients were returned to the streets after the election was over, used and then abandoned.
Rajneesh used people, spoke out of both sides of his mouth, and betrayed the trust of his own disciples. This betrayal caused Vivek, his longtime girlfriend and companion, to commit suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Rajneesh even lied about her death, slandering his greatest love in her grave by falsely claiming that she was chronically depressed due to some intrinsic emotional instability. Vivek was never depressed during the years I knew her, and she was the most radiant women I have ever known. [see photo of Vivek]
Vivek was a glowing student of meditation, but her only meditation method was being with Rajneesh and absorbing his tremendous energy. When her one true love collapsed into insanity, she took her own life out of overwhelming grief. Rajneesh drove her to suicide because she could not understand nor tolerate his mental decline and collapse. Rajneesh lied about her death to avoid taking responsibility for his own bizarre behavior, which was the underlying cause of Vivek’s despair.
The young Acharya Rajneesh started his life as a teacher who condemned false gurus, and he ended his life as one of the most deceitful gurus the world has ever known. The difficult fact to comprehend is that he was enlightened when he was an anti-guru puritan, and he was still enlightened when he was the ultimate corrupt, self-indulgent guru himself. Rajneesh destroyed his own teaching because he discarded truthfulness in favor of what he thought were useful lies. Once you make that wrong turn, away from ordinary straightforward truth, you have lost your way. No human being can disregard fact on a regular basis without finding himself in a sea of turmoil, because by discarding fact you discard the ground beneath your feet. Little lies grow into big lies, and the now hidden truth becomes your enemy, not your ally and friend.
Rajneesh overestimated himself and underestimated his own disciples. The real seekers around him could have easily handled the truth and were already motivated without the need for propaganda. Rajneesh had been a famous guru for such a long time that he came to see himself in grandiose terms. He was indeed an historic figure, but he was not the perfect superhuman he pretended to be. No one is! His disciples deserved honesty, but he fed them fairytales “to give them faith.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti had been more honest than Rajneesh in repeating relentlessly that “there is no authority” due to the intrinsic nature of the universe. Ardent Rajneesh disciples didn’t heed J. Krishnamurti’s warnings and put blind faith in a man who claimed to be all-seeing, to have all the answers, and who once in 1975 brashly stated that he had never made a single mistake in his entire life. Clearly, Rajneesh made as many mistakes as any human being. Just as obviously, his basic existential enlightenment was no guarantee of functional pragmatic wisdom.
Rajneesh was a brilliant philosopher, but he was a lost babe in the woods when it came to the world of science. Worried about worldwide overpopulation, Rajneesh pressured his disciples to undergo sexual reproduction sterilization procedures. Unfortunately, he did not consider the demographics of population growth. The current population expansion is largely a phenomena of poor Third World nations, not a problem originating in the USA, Canada, and Europe, where birth rates are actually declining. North America and Europe are only experiencing population increases due to legal and illegal immigration from Third World nations. Having his Western disciples medically sever their reproductive capabilities only added to this imbalance, and many former disciples now regret they complied without question to his thoughtless edicts.
Discouraging followers from having families is a common device of gurus to keep disciples from spending money on children rather than handing their cash over to the guru himself. Childless disciples make better workers and are usually more subservient. Thus, sexual sterilization fit into Rajneesh’s business plan and his desire to create an army of followers who felt that “only the relationship to guru is important.” Rajneesh was the son of an ambitious Jain businessman, and he was more like his father than he ever realized. Rajneesh’s enlightenment was overlaid on top of a mind attuned to business and making money.
In the 1980s, Rajneesh declared that the AIDS epidemic would soon kill three quarters of the world’s population and that a major nuclear war was just around the corner. He thought he could escape nuclear holocaust by building underground shelters and slow the spread of AIDS by having his disciples wash their hands with alcohol before eating meals. His more reasoned admonition was for his followers to always use condoms. To enforce his sexual rules, which also involved elaborate instructions on the use of rubber gloves during sexual encounters, Rajneesh encouraged his sannyasins to spy on each other, reporting the names of those who failed to conform to his orders.
The disaster of Rajneesh appointing himself the singular great brain of the universe was compounded by his lack of real world reasoning skills, and this was apparent even before he started taking large amounts of Valium and inhaling nitrous oxide. Rajneesh had no understanding of the scientific method. If he thought something was true, in his own mind, that made it true. Rajneesh could weave magnificent philosophical dreams and addict his disciples to imagined worlds of spiritual adventure, but those dreams did not have to stand any empirical test of truth. In the world of science, you have to prove what you say is true through testing. In the world of philosophy and religion, you can say anything you desire and throw caution to the wind. If your words sound good to the masses, they will sell whether they are fact or fiction. [see The Ridiculous Teachings of Wrong Way Rajneesh and Common Lies of the Phony World of Mystics]
Rajneesh ruled his desert empire as a warlord with his own private army and puppet government. His visions and ideas, faulty or not, were taken without question as the word of God. His disciples were judged by their ability to surrender to his will, and any opposing views were branded as an unspiritual lack of faith. As conditions at the ranch became progressively more unpleasant, a number of sannyasins escaped by hiding in the back of outgoing trucks. Their quest for freedom upset Rajneesh, who demanded that the disillusioned must now ask his permission to leave. Rajneesh then dramatically threatened suicide if others escaped by stealthful means.
Rajneesh’s poor reasoning became even more apparent during and after the Oregon commune scandal. After being jailed and then deported from the USA, Rajneesh angrily declared America “a wretched country” and branded Americans as “subhuman,” ignoring the fact that it was he, an Indian, who pled guilty to felony immigration fraud, and that it was Sheela, an Indian, who ordered the most serious crimes which brought his empire to ruin. Even in his fifties, Rajneesh was still lying to get his own way and still demanding to be the center of attention. In 1988, suffering from drug and illness induced dementia, Rajneesh publicly pouted that his box of toys, his expensive car collection and jewel encrusted watches, had been taken away.
Rajneesh’s disciples thought they were following an authoritative “enlightened Master.” In reality they had been mislead by a highly fallible human animal who was still a little boy at heart. Rajneesh had not only misrepresented himself personally, but he misrepresented the phenomena of enlightenment itself. The idealized fantasy of perfect enlightenment does not exist anywhere in the real world, and it has never existed. The universe is far too big and complex for anyone to be its “Master.” We are all subjects, not Masters, and those who pretend to be infallible and all-knowing end up looking even more the fool as history inevitably proves them wrong.
“Nature does not use anything as a model. It is only interested in perfecting the species. It is trying to create perfect species and not perfect beings.” – U.G. Krishnamurti
The famous sages of old seem perfect to us now because they have become larger than life myths. The long passage of time has allowed their followers to cover up their guru’s flaws, just as Rajneesh disciples are currently censoring history to cover up Rajneesh’s great failings. Rajneesh was never more infallible than any other human being. Unfortunately, cosmic consciousness does not automatically render greater intelligence, wisdom, and honesty. [see The Brain and Meditation]
Rajneesh died addicted to Valium, and he experienced all of the negative symptoms of drug addiction, which included slurred speech, paranoia, poor judgment, and dramatically lowered intelligence. At one point his paranoia and confusion were so great that he thought a group of German cultists had cast an evil spell on him. His physical disabilities and drug abuse were simply more than his mortal brain could take. His biggest flaw, his disregard for the ordinary concept of truth, was his ultimate downfall, and for that crime he must be held fully responsible.
“Never give a sucker an even break.” – W.C. Fields
Rajneesh lied when he said he had enlightened disciples. He lied when he said he never made a mistake. Near the end of his life he was forced to admit that he was fallible, as his list of bungles had grown to monstrous proportions. He lied by pretending that his therapy groups were not mainly just a money making device. Rajneesh lied about breaking United States immigration laws, and he only admitted the truth after he was presented with overwhelming evidence against him. He lied by saying that he was adopted in a phony scheme to get permanent residence status. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was no bank robber, but he was quite literally a pathological liar. The ridiculous thing is that all of his lies were totally unnecessary and counterproductive. As conventional and square as it may sound, honesty really is the best policy!
Rajneesh lied when he claimed that he was not responsible for the horrors of the Oregon commune. Rajneesh was responsible because he hand picked Ma Anand Sheela and the people who committed the major crimes of conspiracy to commit murder, poisoning, first-degree assault, burglary, arson, and wiretapping. Rajneesh himself gave direct verbal approval for Sheela’s illegal bugging and wiretapping of his own disciples. The fact that Rajneesh did not order or have preknowledge (hopefully) of the most serious violent crimes does not mean that he was not ethically responsible for them. Rajneesh never turned against Ma Anand Sheela until he started to suspect that Sheela was stealing money from him.
Just one month before Sheela fled the commune, Rajneesh spoke of her publicly, stating that “I have been preparing her like a sword. I told her to go out and cut as many heads as possible.” Later, Rajneesh feigned innocence and claimed that Sheela was controlling him in spite of the obvious fact that Rajneesh was the singular reason the commune existed. Rajneesh was surrounded by thousands of adoring disciples who would have gladly expelled or even jailed Sheela any time he gave the order.
Sheela did Rajneesh’s dirty work, and the fact that she went farther in her crimes than Rajneesh had planned does not exonerate him of all guilt. Upon leaving the commune, Sheela stated that she was tired of “being his slave for 16, 17 or 20 hours a day,” and tired of “taking food out of the mouths of people to buy him watches and Rolls Royces.” Rajneesh then publicly claimed that Sheela had extorted millions of dollars from the commune. Sheela’s response to his charge was that Rajneesh had spent all of the money himself on his own expensive toys, and that Rajneesh was bad at mathematics and “can’t count.” Clearly, Rajneesh’s insane purchases of dozens of bejeweled ladies’ watches and over 90 Rolls-Royce automobiles cost the commune many millions of dollars. After her release from prison, Ma Anand Sheela continued to work for a living, without obvious signs of enormous wealth. Sheela committed many crimes, but Rajneesh himself was never “innocent.”
If a teacher puts a drunken sailor in charge of driving a school bus, and the children end up dead, then the teacher is responsible for their deaths. Rajneesh knew what kind of a person Sheela was, and he chose her because of her corruption and arrogance, not in spite of it. Rajneesh personally tutored Sheela in how to control and manipulate his own disciples, and it was Rajneesh himself who encouraged Sheela’s infamous outbursts on the ABC television show, Nightline. In a cowardly attempt to evade his own failings, Rajneesh changed his name to Osho, as if a change in name could wash away his sins.
There is no publicly released evidence to suggest that Rajneesh ordered the germ warfare attack on the ten Oregon restaurants. There is also no publicly released evidence that implicates Rajneesh in the plot to have a sannyasin pilot fly an airplane full of explosives into an Oregon courthouse in order to intimidate the political opposition. Luckily, the sannyasin pilot who was asked to perform that insane task was not as dumb as the plotters, and he fled the commune without committing any crime.
Rajneesh was directly responsible for the twisted mix of totalitarian slavery and libertine indulgence that the commune represented. According to highly credible published reports, Rajneesh allowed middle aged men to have sexual intercourse with prepubescent girls at the commune in the name of sexual freedom, yet his disciples were not allowed to have a mind of their own and had to totally surrender to the great Bhagwan’s will. Disciples were often forced to work 12 hours a day in cold and difficult conditions, while Rajneesh himself experienced “groovy spaces” in his private heated indoor pool and watched countless movies on his big screen projection television, all the while enjoying his daily supply of drugs. Rajneesh showed his divine love for his disciples by squandering millions in hard earned commune assets on his car collection and expensive jewelry, and all in the name of egolessness and spiritual surrender. [see photo of the flagrantly narcissistic Osho wearing jewel encrusted watch]
Why did Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh own over 90 Rolls-Royces? Why did Saddam Hussein own dozens of luxurious palaces? Those desires were products of the base animal mind of two men who grew up surrounded by poverty. Enlightenment does not care about symbols of power and potency. Looking for hidden esoteric explanations for obsessive behavior is pointless. Is there an occult reason that Elton John spends over $400,000. per month on flowers? Is there a secret spiritual reason that Rajneesh had a collection of dozens of expensive ladies’ watches? The universal cosmic consciousness is completely neutral and without any need to possess, impress, or dominate. It also cannot drive or tell time.
One of Rajneesh’s most blatant lies was that “the enlightened one gains nothing from his disciples.” Rajneesh wanted people to believe that everything he did was a free gift born of pure compassion, and that he gained nothing personally from the guru-disciple relationship. In obvious provable fact, Rajneesh gained much from his disciples: money, power, sex, and the titillation of constant adoration. Just as rock stars become energized by screaming fans at concerts, Rajneesh gained emotional energy and support from his army of sannyasins. The energy transfer was a two-way street, not a totally free one-way gift. Being a guru was his business, his only business. Without that income, at least on the material level, he was just a short, balding, physically disabled Indian man who could not hold a job. Rajneesh’s very real enlightenment would not pay his bills or give him the material luxuries he craved.
Consciousness needs entertainment to survive, and Rajneesh used his disciples as playthings for his own amusement. Rajneesh had no bankable power of his own, so he could only gain material power by manipulating others to do his will. The equation was simple. The more disciples he attracted, the more power and wealth he obtained.
During Rajneesh’s incarceration in America, a television network broadcast a video of Rajneesh caught off-guard by a security camera while he was being held in a waiting room. Rajneesh looked bored and disgusted, just as any ordinary man might be. He didn’t look blissful or enlightened at all. In my own opinion that video clip revealed the stark truth about the phenomena we call ‘enlightenment.’ The realization of the Void is not enough for anyone. All human animals, enlightened or not, need social interaction and the comforts of the material world to be content.
Rajneesh, on so many levels, was just an ordinary man. Sexually he was even less than ordinary. Pretending to be a great Tantric in his early years, Rajneesh handed out ridiculously bad sexual advice at a time when he had very little first hand experience with sex himself. During his Bombay years, Rajneesh often grabbed the breasts of young female disciples. On at least one occasion, he asked a couple to have sex in front of him so that he could watch. The couple wisely rejected his request.
Rajneesh often asked women half his age to strip in front of him so that he could “feel their chakras.” To facilitate this practice, he installed an electric lock on his bedroom door that could be activated from a button on his desk. Rajneesh groped the breasts of two of my female friends and “felt the chakras” of a third. I soon began to realize that like so many other girl grabbing Indian gurus who had made the headlines, Rajneesh on the human level was just an ordinary sexually immature Indian male. My lady friend who suffered the chakra feeling incident was so put off that she never came back to see him again. He had told her “Don’t worry. You are mine now.” That grasping statement had chilled her as much as the sexual advance. The young woman was a student of Indian music and had previously been sexually exploited by a famous Indian musician. She knew first hand what many Indian men were like. Rajneesh proved himself to be predictably and disappointingly the same.
After Rajneesh started having sexual intercourse on a regular basis, the spiritual need for him to “feel the chakras” of his female disciples mysteriously vanished. Rajneesh rationalized having sex with his female disciples by claiming that the act would bless them so much that they would become enlightened in some future lifetime. His admission years later that there is no such thing as reincarnation made his sexual rationalizations appear even more ridiculous and self-serving.
Rajneesh had much inside him that I wanted: light, energy, and a vastly expanded state of being. Regrettably, he also had much inside him that I did not want or respect. I do not find fault with Rajneesh for having the same sexual desires that all men have. I did find fault when he was dishonest and cruel for purely selfish reasons.
While living in Bombay, Rajneesh made one young woman pregnant through an aggressive and unasked for seduction. The woman was highly upset and forced by circumstance to have an abortion. In order to protect his image as a great guru, Rajneesh lied about his involvement and claimed that the girl had imagined the whole affair. The young woman told the American Embassy her story, and that incident marked the beginning of Rajneesh’s troubles with the United States Government.
Nature has provided human animals with a strong, virtually unstoppable sex drive to ensure reproduction of the species. Because of the overwhelming importance and power of sex, most gurus, enlightened or not, have maintained active sex lives which are often kept secret for purely political reasons. In his early years, Rajneesh lied about his strong sexuality by claiming to be celibate. To be fair, this has to be understood in the context of a rigidly antisexual and highly hypocritical Indian social structure. Later on, after his position as a guru had become secure, Rajneesh publicly bragged to the American media that he had sex “with hundreds of women.” All of Rajneesh’s sex partners were his own female meditation students who were used as his personal harem.
All human beings are animals, specifically mammals. Scientists now believe that human DNA is approximately 93% the same as chimpanzee DNA. World history, Asian mythology, politics, and the behavior of alpha male gurus makes allot more sense if you keep that unavoidable fact in mind. Our most primal subconscious motivating forces come from the animal world, which we are still a part of.
The last time I visited the Rajneesh ashram in Poona, India, was in 1988. The ashram was literally like a loud convention of German Brownshirts (storm troopers) by that point. Rajneesh, alias “Osho,” was still very popular in Germany, due in part to his comments in the German magazine Der Spiegel, which were widely interpreted as being pro-Hitler. Many young Germans, who were looking for a strong and charismatic leader, were thrilled by his words. Those who lost loved ones during World War II were justifiably shocked.
Even in the early 1970s in Bombay, Rajneesh made careless statements which could easily be interpreted as being pro-Hitler and pro-fascist. In one lecture on “esoteric groups” he claimed that Adolf Hitler had been telepathically propped up by an occult Buddhist group that Rajneesh himself was in contact with. During World War II it is well known that a number of Brahmin Indian yogis and Japanese “Zen masters” had supported the Axis cause and the extermination of the “inferior races,” so Rajneesh’s claim was not entirely surprising, if not totally believable.
In Poona, Rajneesh gave an infamous lecture in which he stated that Jews had given Hitler “no choice” but to exterminate them. In his last years Rajneesh declared that “I have fallen in love with this man (Adolf Hitler). He was crazy, but I am crazier still.” Rajneesh said that he wanted his sannyasins “to take over the world” and that he had studied Hitler to gain insight into how to accomplish the task. For a man who portrayed himself as the world’s smartest, highest, and greatest soul, such remarks were proof to me that his drug use had destroyed the quality of his mind.
Rajneesh’s comments about Hitler could be discounted as obnoxious but largely harmless hot air if it were not for the fact that he put many of Hitler’s techniques into practice. Rajneesh used Hitler’s “big lie” method of mind control very effectively, and he demanded total surrender from his troops (disciples). Rajneesh condoned illegal spying on his own followers and used informants to weed out the disloyal. Ma Anand Sheela, his personal secretary, turned the tables on Rajneesh by bugging Rajneesh’s trademark high-backed chair, a betrayal his “third eye” never detected. The Oregon police later found Rajneesh’s illegally taped conversations, but due to rules of evidence they could not be used against him in a court of law. The tapes were reported to be highly damning as to Rajneesh’s culpability in much of the commune’s day to day illegal activities.
Rajneesh turned many of his disciples into the equivalent of armed Brownshirts. I have received letters from several of Rajneesh’s former security guards who admitted they had fallen under the spell of fascism and now regretted their behavior and attitudes. One wrote that he did not even know how to meditate, and that the thrill of power was what kept him loyal to his great leader. In Poona, Rajneesh guards beat up an annoying local resident, his hands held behind his back as the guards pummeled him. In Oregon, Rajneesh guards were armed to the teeth with handguns and military style semiautomatic assault rifles. Rajneesh was never an admirer of Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian pacifist, but he did have a unhealthy fascination with Adolf Hitler, as well as the United States Army General, George Patton. According to Hugh Milne (Shivamurti), Rajneesh watched the movie Patton over and over again on his big screen projection television at his ranch house in Oregon.
Perhaps Rajneesh’s worst personal trait was that he could dish it out but he could not take it. He constantly put his disciples through great physical hardships, which resulted in serious illness and even death for some, yet he himself lived in luxury and could not endure physical discomfort without complaining loudly like a baby. After his arrest on October 28th, 1985, at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, Rajneesh was interviewed by ABC television news. He began his jailhouse interview by crying in a shrill voice about his less than royal accommodations in the slammer. His high pitched whining was so weird and annoying that Saturday Night Live, NBC’s late night comedy television show, used the footage sarcastically as a joke about “God” complaining.
During Rajneesh’s jailhouse appearance on the ABC television show Nightline, Rajneesh gave evasive and dishonest answers to all of Ted Koppel’s questions, and he behaved as an unusually pompous and inept politician caught red handed at illegal activity. Rajneesh claimed that he was not responsible for any of the crimes committed at the commune because he was “in silence.” In proven fact, although Rajneesh had stopped giving public lectures for a time, he had never stopped talking to Ma Anand Sheela and other close disciples. Rajneesh was always the ultimate authority at the commune, even though Sheela committed some of the most serious crimes behind his back.
Rajneesh’s favorite Rolls-Royce dealer stated that “the Bhagwan” had spent hours on the telephone talking to him about his often weekly purchases of new automobiles. All of his over 90 Rolls-Royces were paid for from general commune funds on his direct orders, not “gifts” from outsiders as he would later try to claim. Rajneesh was the only person who wanted the cars and he was the only person allowed to drive them. After bankrupting the commune, he claimed that the automobiles were owned by the commune, not by him.
In his Nightline interview, Rajneesh pretended not to know that he was leaving the United States during his attempt to escape an impending Federal arrest warrant on racketeering and immigration charges. Rajneesh’s defense was that he was innocently sleeping when police boarded the private jet he had hired to fly to Bermuda. Rajneesh said that he thought Bermuda was just another American state, and that he was going on vacation to rest and to escape “death threats.” The authorities later learned that a Rajneesh disciple with ties to the United States Justice Department had tipped off Rajneesh about his impending arrest. His own sannyasins had not even known that he had left the commune until they learned from the media of the arrest of Rajneesh and several followers at the North Carolina airport. The sad fact was their great “enlightened” guru had secretly abandoned his own disciples, leaving them to face the music all on their own. The luggage of Rajneesh and his companions was searched and found to contain a bag of cash, a box of expensive jewel encrusted watches, and a handgun. [see pictures of the downfall of Rajneesh]
The Rajneesh cult had little luck winning over American television viewers. Ma Anand Sheela disgraced herself on Nightline weeks earlier by bursting into loud obscenities, forcing Ted Koppel to take her off the air. Saturday Night Live later broadcast a skit about an auction with actor Randy Quaid selling off “the Bhagwan’s” over 90 Rolls-Royce automobiles. Years later, the The Simpsons, the FOX television network’s wildly popular cartoon show, produced a spoof of Rajneesh that depicted a white gloved guru driving his Rolls-Royce down a muddy commune road as his disciples felt joy at eating his road dirt. In the cartoon, the great guru tried to escape the commune with bags of cash in a homemade peddle driven flying machine.
“When it comes to gurus, take the best and leave the rest.” – Ramamurti Mishra
During my last visit to the Poona ashram in 1988, Rajneesh was in silence because he was angry at his own disciples. He wanted his sannyasins to demonstrate in the streets against some Indian officials who had spoken out against him. Wisely, no one was interested in creating a new confrontation. This spell of sanity among the flock irritated Rajneesh, who canceled public talks as punishment. I was thus only able to see him on video tape.
On the taped lecture, Rajneesh was ranting emotionally, and factually incorrectly, about how the police in the United States had stolen his collection of jewel encrusted ladies’ watches. He said they would never be able to wear them in public because his sannyasins would see the watches on their wrists at airports, train stations, etcetera, and start screaming out loudly that “you stole Bhagwan’s watch!” His words and manner were so childishly irrational that he reminded me of the suicidal cult leader, Jim Jones. This crazy old man, now called “Osho,” was a far cry from the serene, dignified, and highly eloquent Acharya Rajneesh I had met years earlier.
Obviously, Rajneesh was not “egoless” as he had often claimed. The human brain is a biologically created thinking machine that has evolved for both personal self-preservation and survival of the species. The ego, which is a selfish motivating force, is needed to protect our colony of living cells (the physical body) from danger and to keep our cells replenished with food and water. If you did not have an ego, you would not be able to think, speak, or find food, shelter, and clothing.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging scans (fMRI scans) of Tibetan monks and Hindu yogis have shown that during deep meditation the parts of the brain that gives us a sense of location in time and space are less active. If you slow down the thought process, and at the same time reduce the brain’s sense of location, consciousness loses both its content and its boundaries. You feel infinite, timeless, and empty. This feeling of an infinite Void gives the false impression that ego no longer exists. Egolessness is an illusion because the ego function is a fundamental part of the basic physical structure of the brain itself. Ego cannot be lost unless your brain dies, which will cause your entire body to die.
Many enlightened humans have become fooled by the reduction of the space localization function of the brain and believed they no longer had personal selfishness that could cause trouble. Meher Baba spent much of his life bragging about how great he was, yet in his boundaryless consciousness he felt no personal ego. [see picture of Meher Baba] Meher Baba even proclaimed to the world that “No one loves me as much as I deserve to be loved.” In truth, Meher Baba was very egocentric and he should have realized that even the brain phenomena we call “enlightenment” is no excuse for bragging. The same fundamental misjudgment plagued Rajneesh. He became fooled into thinking that he was above arrogance and greed, but that was simply not the case. The ego is hard wired into our neural pathways and cannot be destroyed unless the physical body dies. [see the scientific study of ‘self”]
Even enlightened humans have to mind their manners and realize that the Atman is the wondrous phenomena they should promote, not their own temporary personalities. Ramana Maharshi had the right approach in this regard, and that is one reason he is still beloved by all. Ramana Maharshi promoted the Atman, the universal cosmic consciousness, but never his own mortal body and mind. [see photo of Ramana Maharshi]
Rajneesh’s spectacular energy was proof that he was enlightened in the Eastern, esoteric sense of the word. The Eastern, esoteric definition of ‘enlightenment’ is an energy phenomena, gained only by those who are totally open to the infinite power of the universe. The Western definition is simply to be a very wise man, which Rajneesh, in my opinion, was not.
Even after returning to Poona, Rajneesh continued his Valium and nitrous oxide use and seemed unable to learn from his own mistakes. Rajneesh had often branded his critics as “idiots,” yet in his final years Rajneesh had no sane voice inside himself to say No! Enough is enough! Like a deranged alcoholic, Rajneesh could not stop his own self-destructive behavior, and the quality of his judgment dropped to below that of even the most ordinary unenlightened human being. Rajneesh had used the myth of Tantra to rationalize his dishonesty and selfishness, and now he could not stop. Earlier in life, Rajneesh had skipped out of paying a hotel bill, cheated a real estate agent out of a commission, and obtained millions of dollars from his own disciples through lies and fraud. In the end, Rajneesh had become a hopeless drug addict as well, and no amount of spiritual rationalizations could alter that fact.
Rajneesh’s lifelong teaching had been that enlightenment is a state of perfect egolessness which brought about wisdom, compassion, and in his unique case, total infallibility. In the last months of his life, Rajneesh, now renamed “Osho,” finally admitted that the ego could not be destroyed, only “observed.” The very basis of his demand for total surrender of his disciples was that the ego contaminated followers had to submit their will to the perfect Master, because only the perfect Master had no ego and thus could do no wrong. If this were not true then why should anyone surrender to another fallible and corruptible human ego?
Rajneesh even finally admitted that there is no reincarnation, and that the very concept of reincarnation was just a “misinterpretation” of other phenomena. This shocking admission meant that his previous frequent claims of being a famous guru in past lives were pure fiction, designed to impress, manipulate, and control his disciples. Rajneesh’s main teaching was based on souls, reincarnation, and achieving freedom from rebirth (moksha) through spiritual practice. His massive drug intake seemed to act as a truth serum at times, allowing admissions of truths that he had previously kept secret in order to remain in control of his cult empire. The course of Rajneesh’s life and his drug induced admissions proved to me that his most basic teachings were wrong and a lie. [see Do you have a soul?]
In his last days, Osho argued with his doctors to ignore their medical ethics and give him even more nitrous oxide. Osho rationalized his drug addiction just as a teenage boy might if caught smoking marijuana by his mother. The God “Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh” had fallen down to the stumble-drunk Osho, and a substantial number of his disciples were so addicted to his artfully seductive words and false image that they could not see what was happening right in front of their own eyes. In late 1989, in a final bizarre act, Osho ordered his dentists to remove most of his teeth for no legitimate medical reason. If Osho had suspected that the mercury fillings in his teeth were causing him health problems, he could have easily had the old fillings replaced with modern white plastic dental fillings. Why Osho wanted to have so many teeth removed is a mystery to this day. Needless to say, their removal did nothing to improve his health.
In the years after Osho’s death, the Poona ashram has been turned into a “cashram” and is run for profit. Color Puncture, Tantric Tarot, encounter groups, and every crackpot scam in the book is being peddled by Osho disciples for large sums of money. I think back to the day when the just turned 40 year old Acharya Rajneesh instructed a Japanese woman that “Meditation must not be made into a business.” The corrupt means have gotten so far out of hand that the original intent of the ends has long been forgotten. It would be wonderful to believe that enlightened men were perfect in every way. That would make life simpler and sweeter, but it would be fiction, not fact. [see picture of Acharya Rajneesh still young]
Christopher Calder email = calderhouse at yahoo.com my home page
Copyright notice: Please feel free to copy, repost, or publish Osho, Bhagwan Rajneesh, and the Lost Truth (© 1998 Christopher Calder). You may repost or publish any of my essays without cost, but you must clearly state that the essays were written by Christopher Calder, and you must not change any of my words or their meanings. I prefer that those who repost my essays install a web link to my home page, but that request is not a demand. This is a 100% free website, published only for the benefit of other students of meditation.
*Dynamic Meditation: (warning) This spectacular meditation method was Rajneesh’s trademark, and it remains a tremendously effective tool for naturally expanding consciousness. Rajneesh never did the technique himself because he didn’t need to. He developed the method simply by observing his disciples, who would occasionally go into spontaneous body movements during his early meditation camps. When his judgment started to decline, he unfortunately changed the third and fourth stages of the method into a pointless torture test. The correct and most effective version of this meditation technique has four stages, each lasting ten minutes.
Stage #1) Start by standing with your eyes closed and breathe deep and fast through your nose for ten minutes. Allow your body to move freely. Jump, sway back and forth, or use any physical motion that helps you pump more oxygen into your lungs.
Stage #2) The second ten minute stage is one of catharsis. Let go totally and be spontaneous. You may dance or roll on the ground. Screaming is allowed and encouraged. You must act out any anger you feel in a safe way, such as beating the earth with your hands. All the suppressed emotions from your subconscious mind are to be released.
Stage #3) In the third stage you jump up and down yelling Hoo! Hoo! Hoo! continuously for ten minutes. This sounds silly, but the loud vibration of your voice travels down to your centers of stored energy and pushes that energy upward. When doing this stage it is important to keep your arms loose and in a natural position. Do not hold your arms over your head as that position can be medically dangerous.
Stage #4) The fourth ten minute stage is complete relaxation and quiet. Flop down on your back, get comfortable, and just let go. Be as a dead man totally surrendered to the cosmos. Enjoy the tremendous energy you have unleashed in the first three stages and become a silent witness to the ocean as it flows into the drop. Become the ocean.
Rajneesh unwisely changed the third stage of the method to rigidly holding your arms over your head while shouting Hoo! Even worse, he changed the fourth stage to freezing in place like a statue with your arms still held awkwardly over your head. This method is not only uncomfortable to the point of torture, it can also be medically dangerous for those with an underlying heart condition. When you stand with arms elevated over your head, you increase your level of orthostatic stress. This means that your heart must work harder to pump blood that has traveled down to your legs back up to your heart and on up to your brain. You could easily pass out in this position, or induce a heart attack in individuals with coronary artery disease.
Freezing in place makes deep relaxation impossible as it keeps your mind’s controlling functions fully operational. This holds your consciousness on the surface, defeating the purpose of the exercise. The point of the technique was to have three stages of intense action followed by a fourth stage of deep relaxation and complete let go. Rajneesh could never have practiced the freeze method himself, not even in his youth. Asking his disciples to do it simply showed that he had lost touch with reality. Rajneesh was a fallible human being, not a perfect God.
I advise students to only use the enjoyable early version of Dynamic Meditation. This wonderful technique was intended to grow with the student and change as the student changes. After a few years of practicing the method vigorously, the first three stages of the meditation should drop away spontaneously. You then go into the meditation hall, take a few deep breaths, and immediately enter the deep tranquility of the fourth stage. Rajneesh intended the method to be fluid, health giving, and fun. Those new students who wish to experiment with Rajneesh Dynamic Meditation should read the section on Cathartic Dancing Meditation in Meditation Handbook for further warnings and details before experimenting with this powerful technique.
There are some links here, which I will post here separately, since they don’t cut and paste.