Full disclosure on Rajneesh
Full disclosure (amounting to not much):
I said I have had no contact with the Rajneessh orgs: not quite true. First I was one of the first to start reading Rajneesh in 1975 (in the general public in USA), met and lived briefly with one of his sannyasins in New York (who pressured me to join, in vain). I often visited the various centers in their public aspects, and saw sannyasins in New York, on the East Side (in their flowing robes). But I was always on the outside. Then in the eighties I lived in the Ashram in Oregon for three weeks in their homeless persons program.
A spectacular moment when outsiders could gain access to the Oregan chaos. I had heard of this new program in Colorado and took a set of freighttrains to the Oregon spot (no mean feat). To get to the nearest town you had to ride a train from Klamath Falls to Washington State, and get a train back that would stop in the little town near Rajneeshpuram in Oregon. I will always remember the miraculous moment when the freight train stopped in that town, unpexpectedly. From there I walked the twenty/thirty miles to the ashram, where they admitted me. I stayed a few weeks, but couldn’t last, the homeless program being suddenly marginalized, a pity, since a month later Rajneesh started speaking again and produced his classic ‘Rajneesh Bible’ series. Then everything blew up and that was the end of it. The whole experience was downright spooky.
Watching that freighttrain stopped so unexpectedly was an instant shearing of reality. The hobos on the train were dumbfounded, and I walked with some hobo wine jugs to the New City across the Oregan wilds in about a day and a half, guzzling down the hobo wine, trying to figure out how the ‘guru field’ could alter freight train movements. The world seemed suddenly like a cartoon. That experience of the ‘guru’, something that was beyond the figure Rajneesh, yet triggered by his presence several hundred miles away (update: more like forty or so miles) was an eyeopener, to say the least. It had nothing to do with him.
I say that, because if you get ‘too close’, sometimes, you end up very far away again.
That was a real ‘darshan experience, just trying to approach that guru prescence, and walking two days in the Oregon wilds. It was over before I got there, and my visit to Rajneeshtown was almost beside the point after that. Actually getting to Rajneeshpuram was almost a let down (I was so anti-social I couldn;t handle the place) and I realized I had already ‘done it’. One thing was clear, darshan is real, but not in the way you expect.
But observing the place was an important experience. A warning to get the facts, if that is possible.
I never saw an infrastructure as they had put up in Oregon. That it was betrayed is obvious, I guess, but as with everything Osho did, the beginning was a stupendous effort, then everything collapsed.
I was totally lucky to get in briefly still as an outsider.
The critics of that ashram don’t really know what happened there, before the crooks spoiled it. A fully functioning city, with all its parts and pieces at a high level of function. And an awful lot of CIA agents, FBI and other saboteurs.
I never understood why Rajneesh put someone like Sheila in charge, when the general tone of the sannyasins there was the highest level of integrity and massive effort to create a complete society with all its infrastructure. It is amazing what they were able to accomplish.
Small wonder the CIA et al. were absolutely terrified. The experiment was genuinely revolutionary, until it derailed. The powers that be had to destroy it asap. That leaves me suspcious of all accounts. I do not exhonerate anyone here, not Rajneesh’s group, and certainly not the army of hidden goverhment agents out to destroy it.
It is hard to get to the bottom of what happened, and I was there!
But from its ideal aspect, as I noted, it was a genuine and cleverly disguised revolution: if a group of people could produce a social structure at that level of cooperation and justice in a mere three years, the status quo was in deep trouble. The whole thing, like any revolution I guess, suddenly went off its rails;
Then a few years later when Rajneesh died I thought it sad he had died so soon, and applied for sannyas via mail order and was duly sent a mala and name.
With this I attended a large something/what? in upstate New York at the famous New Age center there. I bombed on the first day and disappeared in the woods losing my hard earned money shelled out for the various group dingdangs. I coulnt’ handle being a member and panicked. Further, an Indian sannyasin there told me my sannyas name got by mail order was a Sanskrit mistake and had a double entendre in Hindi and said I shouldn’t use it, which made some of the org people furious. i was so put out by that I invented my own sannyasin name and took off on my own. The name I gave mysefl was Swami Anand Purusha, but none of the sannyasins would acknowledge it. So on I got the message I was in the wrong place and skulked off in disgust/disarray. But that was me: the tone and vigor of the Rajnessh movement was something elemental, whatever the case with what is left.
That’s why I am wary of the vicious and hysterical anger of many of his critics. It is a strange phenomenon, all around.
That’s the grand total of my Rajneesh interactions, a sorry tale. But it has made me observe it from, well, not a distance, but relatively close up.
What I saw doesn’t really correspond to the desperate and hysterical denunciations from some quarters.