Oregon 1981 – 1985
“Now the greatest challenge is how to maintain the balance of nature,
how to maintain ecological harmony. It was never there before, it is a new problem.
We have lived on this earth for millions of years. Slowly, slowly we had been growing
more and more expert technologically, but we had not yet been able to destroy the
natural balance; we were yet a very small force on the earth.
Now for the first time our energy is bigger, far bigger, than the earth’s energy to
keep its balance. Man has become so powerful that he can destroy the natural balance.
The modern mind has been too aggressive against nature, and it has created the
ecological crisis. Our whole approach is wrong, it is destructive. We only take
from the earth, and we never give anything back. We only exploit nature; we only
go on taking, and all the resources are being spent.
But things have now gone to the extreme. Either man has to drop his aggressive
attitude or man has to get ready to say goodbye to this planet. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.”
City of Rajneeshpuram: Comprehensive Plan. Vol I. Colophon. (RCC 1982)
5.0 Rancho Rajneesh, Oregon
It is no wonder that a fleet of 93 Rolls-Royces, jewelled watches and pearl-studded caps provided Osho (aka Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) with continuous headlines in the local and national press during his years in Oregon. In this way he succeeded in speaking the easily understood language of American materialism, but he also challenged American values in a way that made him an easy target for those vested religio-political interests that finally drove him out of ‘the land of the free’.
However, as the quotation above indicates, next to his spiritual work the communal experiment that was Rancho Rajneesh was a pioneer on American soil with its ecological planning, recycling and reclaiming of the land in the overgrazed and barren farmland of the Big Muddy Farm in the dry desert of Oregon. These achievements are documented and so is the energy of the sannyasins working to bring alive one more utopia within the American tradition. The arduous daily work was interrupted when thousands of visitors arrived for the annual celebration and to sit in satsang with their master, in silence since March 1981.
Outside pressure and a number of criminal acts by his secretary Ma Anand Sheela made this spiritual and rural experiment implode in late 1985, culminating in Bhagwan’s arrest and incarceration for immigration fraud. His treatment in a number of jails proved fatal to his health and for the rest of his shortened life this event was to influence his living conditions and his ability to address his disciples.
After 1.315 days Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh ended his silence in October 1984, and began speaking to a wider audience during the summer festival of 1985. The outcome of these discourses were ‘The Rajneesh Bible’ (1984-87 in 8 volumes, including some alternate titles), and a large number of press interviews published in ‘The Last Testament. Interviews with the World Press’ (1985-86 in 6 volumes). In his discourses he answered questions from his disciples on about everything, but unlike in Poona none of his discourse series were commenting on sutras and other religious paths. A compilation ‘Jesus Crucified Again. This Time in Ronald Reagan’s America’ (1988) documents his years in Oregon and the political theatre which developed around him.
A chronological continuation of ‘The Sound of Running Water’ (1980) edited by Ma Anand Sheela was ‘This very Body the Buddha This very Place the Lotus Paradise’ (1984) with many photos from the constructing and cultivating at Rancho Rajneesh, and she also made up a small tract called ‘Rajneeshism’ to facilitate Osho’s stay as a religious figure and make immigration authorities acknowledge his rights in this respect. All in vain, and after Sheela’s exit any attempt to institutionalize a religion from his work was out of the question; soon Osho was to start his World Tour, where US intervention was at his heels in almost every country he tried to visit and clearly showed that there ‘was no room at the inn’ for a man of his stature.
The assaults on Osho’s health during his incarceration was not the first time he was physically threatened. When a fanatic Hindu threw a knife at him during his discourse in Poona May 1980, in his discourse the next morning Osho said that there would be other attempts on his life, and he urged his followers not to be angry if one should succeed. This is what he said:
“Don’t think that there will be only one man: there will be many more. But no anger should arise in you, nor should there be any place for counter-violence in you. Even if someone succeeds in future, even if my body is snatched away, your love, your bliss, should remain as it is. I am happy that no one among you caused that man any injury. What he did was trivial, but what you did has an immense significance. You have made me immensely happy. You carried him with love. Even police officers were surprised because they thought you might beat him, but you did not even slap him once…
That is why I am thankful to you – that you ran and picked him up as one picks up someone who has fallen in the street. You treated him with love, with respect, with goodwill. This should be the quality of a sannyasin. This is the mark of religion…
For centuries Hindus, Christians and Mohammedans have been murdering each other in the name of religion. But no person who is truly religious can be a fanatic. Religion has nothing to do with fanaticism.” Sumiran Mera Karain, #3.
5.1 Moving to U.S.A.
Osho’s arrival in Oregon was not the first time influence from the East was to reach the Westcoast of North America. This part of USA has always been closer connected with the Orient compared to other states and in a racial mix in the cities of California, immigrants and their Eastern culture were to be integrated with Chinese and Japanese Buddhist sanctuaries and a growing Zen minority in San Francisco.
A big jump back in time shows us that evidence af pre-Columbian Chinese voyages to the Americas has been found in abundance. Wrecks of Chinese junks apparently from Zheng He’s fleet in 1421 was carried ashore on the coast of Oregon by a tsunami; as well as other findings – old Chinese coins, ceramics and plates and figurines of brass and bronze – all implying Chinese contact with the Western hemisphere years before Columbus and Amerigo set foot on this part of the world. Columbus was in fact sailing to discover the Americas following a Chinese map.
(Note: See: 1421: The Year China Discovered the World / Gavin Menzies (2003).
A more lasting impact on American culture was to take place in the mid-20th century when from California Alan Watts (1915-1973) constructed the intellectual bridge between Eastern mystical traditions and Western psychotherapy. With the scholar D.T. Suzuki he introduced Zen Buddhism to the Western hemisphere and locations on the Ranch in Oregon were to carry his name. Alan Watts is mentioned with reverence by Osho in ‘Books I Have Loved’ (1985, p. 247), including in its very last session Watts’ ‘The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are’ (1972) calling it a tremendously important book and a testament of Alan Watt’s whole experience with Zen masters and Zen classics. Osho’s book is indeed dedicated in memory of Alan Watts, a major recognition and a spiritual relationship for others to investigate more closely.
(Note: Shunyo Suzuki, who had no relation to D.T. Suzuki other than name, arrived from Japan in 1959 and founded the San Francisco Zen Centre which remains a magnet for seekers on the coast).
Alan Watts was in the 1950s head of ‘The American Academy of Asian Studies’ and he became an outside figure in the so-called San Francisco Renaissance of the 1960s. Living on his houseboat in Sausalito near San Francisco Watts could watch the upcoming Beat Generation with authors like Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs who started to rock the American boat their way. Neither of these movements and their affinity for Buddhism were much loved by the same fundamentalist Christians in that cowboy land in Oregon where Osho was to settle for four years in the early 1980s. And the Bay Area nearby was densely populated with spiritual seekers and people interested in personal growth. They were soon to head for the hills of Oregon when Osho and his followers started their activities in the summer of 1981. One of the distant neighbours to Rajneesh in Oregon was Ken Kesey, author of ‘Who Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1962) and a leading celebrity in the psychedelic movement of the sixties on the American Westcoast, playing his role from his communal farm near Eugene in Willamette Valley as the missing link between the Beat Generation of the fifties and the hippies of the sixties.
“The possibility of cross-fertilization between the energy of democratic America, and the contemplativeness of the East had long fascinated influential American writers from Emerson and Thoreau to Jack Kerouac and Allan Ginsberg. By the 1970s this possibility seemed almost a necessity to Eastern religious leaders as well as to Americans who adhered to Eastern traditions or those who joined the new religious and consciousness-expanding groups that were influenced by them. Tibetan Buddhists, Zen practitioners, Hare Krishnas, Moonies, esties, and many others, as well as Rajneesh’s sannyasins, all shared a common conviction that a fruitful, if not worldsaving, marriage of East and West, of meditation and materialism, would happen first in experimental, affluent, democratic America.” (Gordon 1987, p. 235)
In the wake of the demise of the Ranch in late 1985 a number of sannyasins settled in the San Francisco Bay Area and around Boulder and Santa Fe in Colorado. Here in Boulder Alan Ginsberg (‘Howl’ 1957) had founded and financed the first Buddhist university in USA, ‘The Naropa Institute’, where classes and research took place within their two main domains, Buddhism and the literature of the Beat Generation, named ‘The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics’. The Tibetan lama and writer Chögyam Trungpa was in the 1970s and early 1980s attached to the institute.
An almost constant wave of Indian masters has been reaching out to Western and American audiences of spiritual seekers, most notably the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda line which produced scores of books and established Vedanta centres all through the Western world, among those the ‘Vedanta Society’ in New York 1894. More recent Maharishi, Maharaj Ji, and Satchidananda. Meher Baba visited the US six times, some of his journeys improvised and abrupted. For a comprehensive account of this tradition, including Osho, see ‘American Veda’ (Goldberg 2010). Also American writers like Ralph Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were influential in introducing the philosophical aspects of Hinduism to America, and we find in Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ (1855) an extended homage to India and it’s riches called ‘Passage to India’. Excerpt:
To the south the great seas and the bay of Bengal,
The flowing literatures, tremendous epics, religion, castes,
Old occult Brahma interminably far back,
the tender and junior Buddha,
Central and southern empires
and all their belongings, possessions,
The wars of Tamerlane, the reign of Aurungzebe,
The traders, rulers, explorers, Moslems, Venitians,
Byzentium, the Arabs, Portuguese,
The first travelers famous yet, Marco Polo, Patouta, the Moor,
Doubts to be solv’d, the map incognita, blanks to be fill’d,
The foot of man unstay’d, the hands never at rest,
Thyself O Soul that will not brook a challenge.”
“It has been asked of me, “Before you there have been Hindu monks, Jaina monks, Buddhist monks, but nobody was so much condemned. Why was your commune destroyed by America by force?”
The reason is clear.
Vivekananda was the first to enter America from India, but he behaved like a politician: he praised Christianity, and he said, “All religions are one” – and he did not take anybody out of the Christian fold. He never criticized a single Christian dogma, so naturally there was no question. He had no commune, he was just a visitor, praising. People loved him, because their religion was being praised by an outsider.
The same was done by Ramateertha, and the same has been done by Maharishi Yogi and other sannyasins of Hinduism. They all praise Christianity, so Christians are happy.
I am not going to praise any lies, any poisons, any untruths. I am going to say straight forwardly what is what. That was the problem for them. They could not understand how to argue with me.” Christianity, the Deadliest Poison & Zen, the Antidote to All Poisons (1990). Chapter 6, p. 213.
Indian saints going to the West
“In the Kumbha Mela of January 1884, Mahavatar Babaji gave darshan to Shri Yukteshwor Giri and told him, “The future of the world is only possible if there is equal exchange between the East and the West. There has been great materialistic growth in the West but no spiritual progress to match the proportion. I hear the cry of many western souls who are seeking spiritual solace. Very soon I will send you a disciple whom you will have to train in the secrets of Kriya Yoga and send him to the West.” Later that inspired young man became Paramhansa Yogananda.
It must be the same spiritual call that inspired Swami Vivekananda, Shivapur Baba, Prabhupad, Maharshi Mahesh Yogi and Osho to go to the West. And it is the same call for which my Guru wants me to travel around the West and conduct spiritual activities.” (Arun 2015, p. 53)
“Schon in Poona hatte ich vorausgesehen, dass Rajneesh früher oder später nach Amerika gehen würde, wie alle anderen grossen Mystiker dieses Jahrhunderts. Sie waren von der gleichen Idee besessen: Sie wollten das spirituelle Know-how des Ostens mit dem Power-Potential der Neuen Welt verbinden.” (Elten 1990, p. 11)
Kopp writes on Oregon’s utopian heritage
“Anyone familiar with Oregon’s past, communal or otherwise, may note the omission from previous discussions of two communities that have left a lasting mark on the utopian heritage landscape of the state. One of these likely is more widely known as it dominated the news of much of the mid-1980s in Oregon and elsewhere. This was the Rajneeshpuram settlement in north Central Oregon, also known as Rancho Rajneesh and by other names. The second is lesser known and much smaller than the Rajneeshees but also significant in exploring Oregon as a place for seeking perfection in one manner or another. This group existed early in the twentieth century and was popularly known as the Holy Rollers but also the Brides of Christ, followers of an individual named Franz Edmund Creffield.” (Kopp 2008, p. 169)
Davisson writes on the American religious tradition
“The history of the United States began with religious dissent – the puritans forging a life in the wilderness of New England to escape persecution. It is also a history of repressing religious difference. The same puritan pilgrims established a cluster of communities ruthlessly intolerant of religious difference – Cotton Mather and the Salem witch trials being but one example extreme among many. Attorney General Frohmeyer asserted that a city founded by adherents of one particular religion was unconstitutional. If American history is to suggest anything, the opposite would certainly seem to be the case. Many U.S. cities were established by religious followers in an attempt to establish their own area where they could freely practice their faith. The setting of Utah and the incorporation of Salt Lake City is an obvious example. The ant-cult movement has been an equal and counter-running form within the history of religion in the United States. Just as so-called “new religious movements” have been common since before the revolution, anti-cult movements have been equally ubiquitous. It was this strain of intolerance that necessitated the moves which led to the establishment of new cities based on religious communities. Philip Jenkins argues in his book ‘Mystics & Messiahs’ that anti-cult paranoia has frequently taken hold of the American mass psyche. Philip notes that the arguments of this reactionary movement were solidly in place by the late 19th century – lurid stereotypes, xenophobia, accusations of mind-control and stories of sexual scandal. We can see all these elements displayed in concerned voices speaking out against Rajneeshpuram . “When a modern critic attacks a deviant religious group as a cult,” Jenkins writes, “the images evoked are ultimately a mélange of rumors and allegations variously made against Catholics, Masons, Mormons, Shakers, radical evangelicals, and others.” (Jenkins, p. 25) He further argues that the concern over cults does not necessarily correlate to actual threats posed by the cult’s activities. Jenkins observes that “the level of public concern about cults at any given time is not necessarily based on a rational or objective assessment of the threat posed by these groups, but rather reflects a diverse range of tensions, prejudices, and fears.” (Jenkins, p. 20)
So, again, one has to ask, were the Rajneesh sannyasins “evil” for attempting to build their City on a Hill? Or were they simply victims of a cyclic resurgence of the pernicious hatred of difference that has run through the darkness of America since it’s earliest days?…
Throughout the creation of Rajneeshpuram, Sheela´s arguments and public appearances became increasingly vitriolic and provocative. Also through this time, the commune and its residents were the victims of an escalating bombardment of harassment and threats of harm. The threats and intimidations came from multiple directions and was fully supported by several arms of the federal government. Against this opposition and with the backdrop of the unwelcoming sagebrush desert, it is amazing that the Rajneesh sannyasins accomplished what they did – creating a sustainable, ecologically friendly city capable of supporting thousand of residents.” (Davisson 2003)
Reasons for going to America
“Bhagwan had said on numerous occasions over the years in Poona that he would never go to America and had spoken derisively of those “gurus” – like Muktananda and Paramhansa – who had gone there to peddle their wares and become another item on the shelf of the California spiritual supermarket. India had a background of enlightened beings and that flavor was still in the air. By contrast, America was quite devoid of any spiritual heritage and held no appeal for Bhagwan.” (Forman 1989, p. 359)
Sheela interviewed by FBI agent 1981
“”When Rajneesh’s ashram in India became so popular, everyone wanted in, but there was no room. The government in our country prevented him from expanding because of its regulation of the land. They were unfair to Rajneesh and cancelled his tax exempt status. Then they billed him for millions in back taxes. I came to Oregon and found this place. Here we can keep to ourselves, it has a good climate, and we can find room here for many followers.” She smiled as she contemplated a bright future for Rajneeshpuram.” (McPheters 2009, p. 145)
Going to America
“Then we passed an American Indian reservation and I understood why those images had filled my mind only minutes before. It was a different energy, a different approach to nature, with more sense of interiority – you could also call it ‘soul’ – than the rest of the country we’d been through. But when I saw the poverty of the reservation and the dismal-looking faces of its Native American inhabitants, completely destroyed by Western culture and all its perversions, images of diabolical invasions came to me, carried out by the white man as he ventured into Indian lands.
No! In this part of the world, I certainly didn’t feel my heart opening, my mind relaxing or my spirit soaring as had happened when I walked the ordinary streets of India. But, like it or not, the Master had chosen this place to play out the next instalment of our spiritual drama. I don’t know if he chose the ‘land of the invaders’ on purpose. I don’t know the motivations that prompted Osho to agree to come to America. Indeed, it took me many years to understand even some of the reasons why others had pushed him to come to a place that was so hostile to the spiritual dimension.” (Rosciano 2013, p. 163)
Press interview question on health. Lynn Hudson, India Abroad
“Q: Well, how would You describe the thing that brings You all together?
A: I had not come here to stay. I had come here because my health was bad. My back was so bad that we tried everything… Experts from England were called but they could not fix it. I was suffering from asthma so much that sleep became difficult. I am allergic to all kinds of perfume, smoke, dust; any small thing immediately triggers my coughing and then it goes on for hours.
Otherwise, why should I choose Oregon? It is a desert, dry. Humidity is dangerous for me. Whenever I went to Bombay, attacks of asthma would immediately increase. And whenever I went to the desert part of India, Rajasthan, it would settle down. That gave me the clue that it is not a question of medicines; I had to find some desert place, and big enough. For simple reasons… If I was living in the city and at somebody’s house they were having a fire or celebrating a Hindu festival with firecrackers, that was enough to trouble me. You cannot stop them just for my allergy. So I needed a big place, and this place is big enough. It is 126 square miles.
My sannyasins know what my troubles are, so they don’t do anything that can trouble me. And the climate is dry. I had never come here with the intention to stay. I came only so that I could get healthier, and I have been getting healthier. I am far better than I was there, but my troubles are such that they can be triggered any moment. You just come here and you have been smoking, that is enough. You are not smoking here, just talking, and if I get the smell of tobacco, you have done it.
So it has become a problem. My Indian commune is there. They are waiting for me; but I know that if I go back the same problem will arise again. I was 180 pounds when I came; now I am 132 pounds. Just the dry climate helped me to reduce the weight without any difficulty.
So I am going to be here. And I am not a person to just sit and watch whatsoever goes on, because I don’t think America belongs only to Americans and India belongs only to Indians. This whole earth belongs to us. I am feeling perfectly good here, healthwise, so I am not going to leave.” The Last Testament (1986), p. 566.
Samsara on Osho arriving in US
“My film department and I landed in New York in May 1981. Bhagwan’s coming to America was history, and it was my job to film it. He and his entourage of personal maids, a laundress, cook, doctor and assorted companions planned to stay at an estate called The Castle in New Jersey. Although we tried to keep him away from the press once he arrived, news traveled fast. The local residents heard some rumors about a sex guru in their quiet suburban neighbourhood and two weeks later, the front door of the The Castle was fire bombed… Before any further attacks could ensue, Sila [Sheela] bought the ranch in Oregon on July 10th. That was the way everything was done. Fast. No hesitation. 64,000 acres at the cost of 5.75 million dollars was purchased after what seemed to me like five minutes of discussion. The money probably came from wealthy sannyasins. We were encouraged not to ask too many questions nor look at a bigger picture. Sarah’s [Savita’s] financial department handled all the money transactions effortlessly. In September we left for Oregon, traveling one by one, on busses so as not to attract attention… In November, the first trailer homes were shipped and construction started on other buildings. By spring, several small two-story houses appeared, along with a large house of beautifully landscaped grounds for Bhagwan, a cafeteria, a mall with shops and restaurants and an artificially engineered lake and dam.” (Longo-Disse 2006, p. 151-55)
The Castle in Montclair
Initially Osho settled in Kip’s Castle in Montclair, New Jersey, on the hill just above Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center.
Roshani Shay in her chronology
“1981. May 15: Castle and grounds purchased by Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center, Inc. (CRMC) in Montclair…
Nov 4: The Dalles Chronicle features story on CRMC in Montclair, New Jersey; Center is selling house for $110,000 and castle for $2 million (originally purchased for $600,000, but extensively renovated)…
1984. June 14: 30 resident Rajneeshee announce that the Center located in an 80 year old castle on 15 acres near Montclair, New Jersey has been sold to a law firm for approximately $1 million and a clearance sale of contents will continue to be held until June 29.” (Shay 1990)
(Note: In quoting from Roshani Shay’s chronology all references to newspapers and magazines have been left out. Any interested reader looking for references and abbreviations will have to consult the archives and libraries mentioned in Volume III / Sources)
“As I already knew, Osho had stopped in New Jersey for several weeks on his way from India to Oregon, living in a mansion on a hilltop, with a wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline from his bedroom window. The mansion was known affectionately by sannyasins as ‘the castle’ and was still functioning as a centre…
The mansion was a miniature version of an old Renaissance castle, with many turrets and balconies, plus windows stained with coloured glass in shades of orange and yellow. The entrance was a large rectangular space, leading to a magnificent winding staircase that led to the upper floors, reminiscent of any chateau on the Loire river. Osho, by the way, never used the stairs. He preferred the elevator…
The bathroom was really beautiful. On the floor and walls there were scintillating reflections of light and colour, emanating from deep green marble everywhere and an enormous mirror about ten feet wide and seven feet high. The bathroom window was relatively small, however, when compared to the enormous window in his bedroom that allowed him to see the lights of Manhattan at night.” (Rosciano 2013, p. 199)
Vasant Joshi writes
“For security reasons, it was decided to try and keep his presence in Montclair quiet. But Osho was not easy to hide and soon the word got out. Sannyasins began to trickle in to see their beloved master, to offer to help with the work, and to sit with him. A musical troupe always accompanied Osho. Whenever he sat with his people, the musical satsang used to start.” (Joshi 2010, p. 160)
Sheela on finding the location
“Als ich in den USA eintraf, setzte ich mich mit meinem Bruder Bipin in Verbindung. Ich gab ihm alle Informationen, wie das land aussehen sollte, das wir für die neue Kommune kaufen sollten… Nach ein paar Tagen hatte ich mir einige Anwesen in Tennessee, Colorado und Arizona angesehen und verlor langsam den Mut… Dann sagte er [Bipin]: “Ich habe bereits organisiert, dass jemand kommt, um dich mit nach Oregon zu nehmen. Dort kannst du dir ein Grundstück ansehen. Es ist gross und teuer..”… Die ganze Bergkette und über 15 Kilometer des John-Day-Flusses, alles erschien mir unwirklich. Es gefiel mich gut. Ich sagte dem mann, dass ich das Grundstück gerne kaufen möchte.” (Sheela 1996, p. 193)
Veena on buying the Ranch
“Just in case people have the idea that Osho chose to live at the Muddy Ranch, I want to put it on record that he had no idea that Sheela, his secretary at that time, was buying the Ranch and that she only told him about it after it had been purchased. He was not consulted. My understanding is that he thought he would be in New Jersey for a few months, while we all had a break from the trials of living in India and regained our health, and would then return to India to a place in the mountains which Laxmi and other Indian sannyasins had been instructed to buy.” (Veena 2012, p. 76)
“His flight had been postponed over a hang-up with either his Indian passport or his American visa. Finally, the day of his arrival dawned, and we cleaned the whole place spotless…
I spent two more magical weeks at the Castle. We saw Osho almost every day, often just walking around the premises accompanied by either Vivek, Sheela or her husband Jayananda. He was so ordinary, it was extraordinary! He showed up in the laundry room; he walked through the carpentry garage while sawdust flew around, and it didn’t seem to bother him. We were asked to simply greet him and get back to work: Let the man have his freedom…
An article soon appeared in the New York Times about our arrival; one neighbour said there was concern for “our property values, our children and about this becoming an international headquarters for a free-sex cult.” The article went on to describe persistent rumors about the group’s buying more property nearby, bizarre sex rituals at the Castle… and leaving red and orange dye in the washing machines at a local coin laundry. Oops!” (Abhiyana 2017, pp. 273-78)
Jayapal recalls the time when Osho was staying at Chidvilas
“Sheela’s brother offers a place in the high desert of Oregon. She snaps it up so my job is over. Next I become a 1) chauffeur for Laxmi and 2) a chauffeur for Gayan and Vivek as we go to New York almost every day to buy fabrics, sunglasses, hats for you know who.
Osho’s arrival. It was beyond belief that he could be here in my backyard. We had worked so hard to prepare for his landing. We considered a white Cadillac limo to fetch him from the airport but felt that would be too showy so we used a black Caddie. The night before his arrival I was vacuuming the car aiming for pristine. I thought I was going to have the gig driving him from the airport but Jayananda preempted me. He was married to Sheela.
Osho arrives and we are sitting totally blissed out as he comes out Namaste-ing and looking as if he had just driven from Lao-Tzu house to Buddha hall. Beautiful. We had installed a mini-lift to get him up the castle stairs but he ignored them and trotted up into the building after a brief satsang.” (Osho News 2014/03)
Video 1. Osho at Kip’s Castle in Montclair, New Jersey. 07:00 min. OIF, 1981.
At Kip’s Castle
“Amid rumors, the moment arrived. “He’s here,” Taruna whispered in my ear.
Where? At Kip’s Castle on the hill just above Chidvilas, and she was going to make sure Nancy and I got to see Him. The following clear summer morning we were at the sprawling castle overlooking New York City amid a scene charged with energy. With live sitar music and a dozen sannyasins seated on the ground, Nancy and I took our places, and as bright as the summer sun He emerged from the castle and Namasted each of us. We realized in that moment that we had always wanted to take sannyas.” (Shant Louis. Viha Connection, 2017:4)
“Disciples in Pune, who had sacrificed everything to live near their master, were left to move to the United States, or return to their original countries, as best they could. Over 80% of the disciples in Pune were not from the United States and were therefore not eligible for work visas. J.S. Gordon (1987, 94) has described the chaos, tears, anger, and bewilderment that followed this development, noting that of the possibly 40.000 sannyasis worldwide, 10.000-15.000 dropped ‘sannyasa’ following the move to the United States.” (Aveling 2012)
But soon Osho was to move to a very different scene: The deserted hinterlands of Oregon.
5.2 Settling in Oregon
Roshani Shay on the Ranch in her chronology 1981
“July 15: 64,229 acre Big Muddy Ranch (19,184 acres in Wasco County and 44,342 acres in Jefferson County) purchased by CRMC [Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center] from the North Plains Land and Investment Co,. Inc. of Amarillo, Texas for $6 million ($1.5 million cash and downpayment raised from contributions and at least $3.5 million in the form of a mortgage to the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company) (Oregon 8-12)…
Aug 30: Ranch named Ville de Rajneesh… plans for school with staff for up to 25 children and a library to house a 150,000 book collection; 2 Rolls Royces…
Aug 31: Bhagwan arrives…
Sept 1: In a meeting televised by CBS the Antelope City Council grants permits to the Rajneeshee Balance Corporation (BC) for the sale of construction, consumer and engineering goods, and to CRMC for the sale of books and tapes.” (Shay 1990)
Antelope and the purchase of Big Muddy Ranch
“A former sheep station in the southeast corner of Wasco County, Antelope was first incorporated in 1892. Begun as a stage stop on the line to Canyon City gold mine, Antelope later attracted stockmen to its hotels and saloons. The town’s population fell steadily through the first decade of the 20th century, then rose slightly during the next… By 1960, the Antelope of gold-trail fame had earned a reputation as one of Oregon’s best preserved ghost towns. But after a fire destroyed the last of the old hotels, Antelope attracted few tourists. For 20 years it remained a small, isolated town of never more than 50 residents, mostly Portland retirees. Change came quickly, however. In July, 1981, a boarded-up coffee shop received a fresh coat of paint and a new sign, “Zorba the Buddha Cafe,” while scores of people in red, looking like aliens from another planet, filled the sleepy streets of Antelope….
Turned pioneers, the Sannyasins (disciples of Bhagwan) from the Chidvilas Meditation Center of Montclair, New Jersey, purchased the gullied, overgrazed, and parched Big Muddy Ranch. At one time the Big Muddy, owned by the Prineville Land and Livestock Company, virtually ruled the ranges of the Muddy Creek watershed. During the past decade, however, the poorly managed ranch could not turn a profit. The property, almost 100 square miles including the BLM grazing lands, exchanged hands three times in ten years. Then in the summer of 1981, the Sannyasins purchased the property for $6 million. Antelope, the town closest to “Rancho Rajneesh,” became the temporary headquarters for Oregon’s newest community…
In 1981, 40 people lived in Antelope; three years later it had 110 residents – four-fifths of them Sannyasins. The current major [April 1985], Ma Prem Karuna, is a Sannyasin, as are the seven city council members. Since Antelope is an incorporated town, business and commercial operations are permitted there. Oregon’s strict zoning laws do not allow commercial activities on land designated for agriculture, which is how most of the ranch is presently zoned. The Sannysin political checkmate over Antelope occurred in November, 1981, when the townspeople tried to disincorporate. By that time, however, there were enough registered Sannyasins living in Antelope to soundly defeat the measure at the ballot box. Immediately following the disincorporation attempt, Wasco County approved a petition to incorporate 2,135 acres of the ranch as the new city of Rajneeshpuram (“essence of Rajneesh”).” (Price 1985, pp. 15-19)
James Kopp writes
“The story of the Big Muddy Ranch at three stages of its existence – in 1901 as a working ranch; 1984 as the site of Rajneeshpuram; and in the late 1990s as it developed into the Young Life’s Washington Family Ranch at Wildhorse Canyon – is captured in Jane Kirkpatrick’s historical novel, ‘A Land of Sheltered Promise’ [Kirkpatrick 2005].” (Kopp 2009, p. 357)
Tim Guest writes
“There was another slightly different, more personal, story to the purchase of the Ranch. Sheela had fallen in love when she saw the broad, dusty landscape. In a euphoric moment, as the deal was signed, she confessed to the Ranch foreman that she felt this would be the place her dead husband, Chinmaya, would be reincarnated. Some of the other sannyasins in Bhagwan’s inner circle asked questions about the suitability of the land, and about Oregon’s strict zoning laws. No matter. Sheela now had Bhagwan’s complete confidence. Sheela wanted ‘The Big Muddy’, as the Ranch was then known, to become Rajneeshpuram. So it did.” (Guest 2005, p. 189)
Shiva writes on the purchase
“Shunyo – Helen Byrow – was detailed to check out southern Colorado, accompanied by Jayananda and Jaya, the English nurse. While in Colorado, Jayananda received an urgent telephone call from Sheela telling him to come and meet her in Arizona. From there they flew to Oregon, met an estate agent, and took his car to a desolate place known as the Big Muddy ranch – the barren site of several John Wayne westerns
As they caught their first sight of Bid Muddy, Sheela said on impulse “I’ll buy it!” They had not even checked it out, and it seems that at the time she did not even know the asking price. Sheela promptly phoned sannyasis looking for property in various parts of America to tell them they could now call off the hunt, as she had found the perfect place. It was in eastern Oregon, which everybody assumed was all high desert country, but Sheela told her lieutenants that the place she had found was full of trees, had a small retirement town sixteen miles away, and was blessed with wonderful mid-seventies temperatures all the year round, with three hundred days of sunshine a year.” (Milne 1986, p. 198)
FitzGerald on name change in Antelope 1983
“A few months later, the city council changed the names of all the streets in Antelope; Main Street became Mevlana Bhagwan Street, College Street became Mansoor, and so on. In reporting on this, one Oregon journalist recalled the colonization of American Indian country by white settlers.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 93)
Abbott on purchasing the Ranch
“The deal was agreed on June 13 and concluded on July 10, 1981, with ownership taken by the Chidvilas Rajneesh Meditation Center, a New Jersey nonprofit that also owned the Montclair mansion. The negotiator was Sheela’s second husband, and the purchase required a loan from the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, which was still owed $3.5 million after the demise of Rajneeshpuram.” (Abbott 2015, note 6)
Buying and settling at the Ranch
“A year and a half earlier, “the red people” had paid six million dollars for the Big Muddy Ranch, in Wasco and Jefferson Counties, which was one of the biggest ranches in Central Oregon: a hundred square miles of dry hills and canyons sloping down to the John Day River. They had come from Poona, India, via Montclair, New Jersey. At first, just a few of them had come to farm the land; then more and more had arrived. Now there were six hundred “red people” living on the Big Muddy Ranch; and the town they had incorporated, Rajneeshpuram, was the largest town in the area next to Madras (population 2,260). The Rajneeshees had also taken over the tiny town of Antelope, twenty miles west of them, buying most of the properties and electing a city council of their own people, and creating a good deal of ill feeling in the process. In addition, they had bought a hotel and a combined restaurant and night club in Portland. Many people thought they were some kind of sex cult, but this was not clear. The guru did not speak anymore. The ranch was run by a thirty-three-year-old Indian woman called Ma Anand Sheela, the guru’s personal secretary, but most of the disciples were Westerners – Americans and Europeans – with a great deal of money and the best lawyers in the state.
I first heard of the Rajneeshee in March of 1983, while visiting at a university near Salem, in the Willamette Valley. Several of the professors were fascinated by them, and one had taken a bus trip, four hours out and four hours back, to visit the ranch. The Rajneeshee did not seem to fit any of the usual cult pattern; for instance, they gave guided tours. Moreover, they were not kids but adults, and many of them were well-educated professional people: accountants, doctors, lawyers, even professors. In the beginning, they were thought to be dirt farmers, but now they seemed to be building a model city for themselves out on the range. They were already farming some hundreds of acres with modern equipment, and they were building housing, roads, and an airstrip. The scale of the enterprise was extraordinary. The Rajneeshee said they had put some thirty million dollars into the development – and, apparently, that was only the beginning. They had seriously alienated their neighbours, but that – in the professor’s view – was perhaps inevitable, for there were a lot of fundamentalists in Central Oregon, who couldn’t be expected to take to an Indian guru.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 46)
Punya on Antelope
“At any rate, the population numbered just 40 – mostly retired folks – before we came, and many properties had been standing empty and up for sale for many years. When we first arrived we were interested in having a base in Antelope for the handling of book distribution, a business which would not have been permitted on a farm. Now that the legality of Rajneeshpuram as a city was disputed, there was more reason to take root there.
The ‘Antelope Store and Café’ soon became the vegetarian ‘Zorba the Buddha’. a stopover for visitors to and from the Ranch (the avocado pita bread was memorable) and the population increased to 95 (inevitably sannyasins outnumbering the original inhabitants)… (The change of name from ‘Antelope’ to City of Rajneesh’ was decreed much later, in autumn 1984).” (Punya 2015, p. 259)
Abbott on Antelope
“Rajneesh assumptions about the need for a defensive perimeter and about the inevitable decline of Antelope justified its aggressive conquest. The first stage was the legal takeover. In the early months, Rajneeshees bought several Antelope properties for retail and office activities. When their presence continued to grow, the town tried to deny further permits for much larger operations, only to be overruled by Wasco County. Local residents then moved to disincorporate the town, an action that Rajneeshees blocked by moving a large group from the ranch into town and taking advantage of Oregon’s liberal voter-registration law. After defeating disincorporation 55 to 42 in April 1982, Rajneeshees won control of the Antelope City Council in November and took office in February 1983.
The second step was harassment of old-time residents. The council raised taxes, burdening retirees on fixed incomes. The town became Rajneesh, and the streets were given the names of Hindu holy men, turning elderly residents into strangers in their community. Law enforcement was contracted to the Peace Force, which patrolled with assault rifles. They directed searchlights through living room windows and shadowed residents on their daily rounds. The council located a landfill for Rajneeshpuram garbage next to the local church and dubbed it “Adolph Hitler Garbage Dump.” Rajneeshees also took control of the local school district, bringing to the school children who had accompanied sannyasins to the ranch. Ranchers in the surrounding region had already arranged for their properties to be shifted from the Antelope school district to Jefferson County schools, in effect retreating from the Rajneeshees. Intimidaton worked. A number of the older residents were driven from town, reflecting the argument of theorist Lorenzo Veracini that “settlers’ colonial projects are specifically interested in turning indigenous peoples into refugees.” By renaming Antelope streets they delegitimized local claims to authenticity, since the locally preferred Anglo-American names themselves memorialized the process of white occupation of Indian land.” (Abbott 2015)
Settling and naming
“By the end of the first year, after spending $20 to $30 million on the ranch, The Rajneeshees had established Rancho Rajnesh as one of the largest, most developed, and richest commune experiments in the United States. By the summer of 1985, it accommodated 2,500 permanent residents and as many as 2,000 additional long-term visitors at any time.
Besides the physical transformations, Rancho Rajneesh terrain was further altered by place-names that reflected Rajneeshee religious eclecticism. In addition to Krishnamurti Lake and Gurdieff Dam, streets were given names such as Zarathustra Drive; the eating hall was christened the Magdalena; orchards were known as Jesus Grove, and Walt Whitman Grove; and bus and air transport were coined Buddhafield Transport and Air Rajneesh… Likewise unforeseen by either side at the start, this series of events culminated in dynamics not unlike settler colonialism. Different from traditional colonial models, in which invading foreign minorities govern an indigenous majority according to the dictates of a distant metropolis, the settler context is one in which the native, not the colonist, is superfluous… In 1984, after the sannyasins took over the Antelope city council and many original residents had moved away, the council voted to change the names of the Antelope streets. Originally named for ranchers, Indian fighters, and timber barons, the streets were now given names of saints and sages significant to the Rajneesh community. Main street became Mevlana Bhagwan Street, College Street became Mansoor, and other streets were given names such as Kabir Road and Gurdjieff-Bennett Drive.” (Dempsey 2012, pp. 80,83,84)
FitzGerald on controversy
“Controversy, I later discovered, had surrounded the Rajneeshee ever since their arrival in the state. The main point of contention was Antelope. Just three months after they moved onto the ranch, 1000 Friends of Oregon, a public-interest group dedicated to maintaining the strict Oregon land-use-laws, had told them they would fight any effort to construct buildings on agricultural land which were not intended for farm use. The Rajneeshee had responded by buying properties in the nearest township – or “city” in Oregon law – for residential and commercial purposes… Since taking over Antelope, the Rajneeeshee had been engaged in a new series of legal struggles. Wasco County had given them permission to incorporate a “city” on the ranch, but the local ranchers and 1000 Friends were now challenging the incorporation, on the ground that the county had not submitted it to state land-use-planning scrutiny. If the Rajneeeshee lost, they might have to tear their city down. Then, in late December of 1982, the Portland office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service had issued orders denying Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh permanent-resident status, and his disciples were now fighting his deportation to India… All in all, there were fifteen lawsuits in process.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 47)
Sanders writes on theocratic communities
“The case of Rajneeshpuram was no less problematic. The State of Oregon successfully attacked the legality of the incorporation of the city of Rajneeshpuram, on the grounds that the action violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and Article I, sections 2, 3, 4, and 5, of the Oregon Constitution. Those who appreciate the value of religious free exercise realize that at least some of the judgements in cases such as these should come down in favor of theocrats, presumably. Where regulation seriously interferes with the religious practices of religious communities, they propose, legislation should be altered or members of religious communities exempted from applicable laws, within reason. But when it comes to actual legal standards under which to provide such treatment, sympathizers and defenders are at a loss. What sort of treatment should theocratic communties be given? What sort of legal framework would delineate proper boundaries of governmental interaction and interference with those group, and on what grounds would it be justified?” (Swaine 2001, p. 307)
Abbott on land regulations
“The legal challenge that most galled the Rajneeshees was a land-use challenge mounted by six nearby ranchers working with 1000 Friends of Oregon, a nonprofit organization established with the blessing of Gov. Tom McCall to defend the Oregon planning system… In the preceding decades, the land-use lawyers with 1000 Friends had won a number of suits that blocked efforts to weaken or circumvent the state regulations. They were particularly adamant in fighting to maintain protections for agricultural lands. The incorporation of an entire new city on rural land was a red flag. The land itself was not of high value for agriculture, but 1000 Friends were lawyers, and lawyers think in terms of precedents. If Rajneeshpuram was legal, what would prevent a similar “city” from popping up in the middle of the immensely fertile Willamette Valley? So the organization challenged the basic legitimacy of the incorporation and won the first round, securing rulings in 1983 from the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) and the Land Development and Conservation Commission (LCDC) that invalidated the city, initiating a four-year sequence of appeals and judicial actions.
This is the point at which Frohmayer attacked the legitimacy of the city from a second direction. In October 1983, he issued an opinion that Rajneeshpuram, despite some of the trappings of a city, was in factual terms “the functional equivalent of a religious commune.” As such, the constitutional separation of church and state rendered the settlement ineligible for state funding and participation in services intended for government entities (such as access to law enforcement data). The basis of the opinion was the monopoly of land ownership in the city by a nonprofit that was clearly an agent of the recently proclaimed church of Rajneeshism. The next month, the state filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the city on the constitutional basis.” (Abbott 2015)
“In September Osho arrived. I had missed him as I had missed Rashida and my kids. Fifty of us stood on the newly laid lawn outside his house to welcome him, singing, jumping up and down, laughing and finally sitting cross-legged in a profound silence. I remember at one point opening my eyes and seeing us, by now nearly a hundred souls, dwarfed and inconsequential amidst the endless vistas of barren hills, twisted junipers dried up creeks and eroded valleys. But we were here with Osho, beginning to green the desert and raise a city.” (Maxwell 2012, p. 169)
“The day I arrived there was only one house, which they had made for me. There was not a single bird. I was amazed to see, it looked like a nightmare! All around just bare mountains with no trees, with no birds. In the morning you could not hear a cuckoo, you could not hear any chirping and tweeting of all kinds of birds. Neither in the evening could you see thousands of birds coming back to their trees. It was a dead desert.” Communism and Zen Fire, Zen Wind (1990). Chapter 7, p. 301.
Shunyo remembers Osho arriving
“Osho arrived that morning to find a handful of sannyasins sitting on the instant lawn singing songs. He sat with us in meditation, and His silence was so overwhelming that the music petered out, and we were all silent at the foot of the rugged mountains. This was the beginning of Osho’s four years of silence. He stood up and looked around, and then walked up the steps to the trailer and we could see Him on the front porch, hand on His hip. He was to say that He was shocked that there were no trees at all on so much land, and He had never seen a house “standing naked” before, meaning the absence of any garden or plant of any kind. It was indeed the complete opposite of the exotic and lush jungle that surrounded His home in India.” (Shunyo 1999, p. 71)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1982
“Oct 29: It is reported that the Air Rajneesh Travel Agency has opened; Zorba the Buddha Bakery and Cafe opens in Portland with a media tasting party; it is reported that the Rajneeshees are already marketing baked goods to a restaurant in The Dalles; it is reported that a Rajneeshee cable television program is a finalist for an award in the International Film and Television Festival in New York; 5 to 6 A frames per day are being built out of recycled festival tent platforms and will serve as 2 person housing units to accommodate temporary workers now living in tents; 60 have been constructed and sited to date.” (Shay 1990)
Marion Goldman writes on population
“Jews were stunningly overrepresented among sannyasins at 20 percent, in relation to the small national proportion, which hovered at about 2 percent. Any reader skimming over publications by and about devotees could not help but notice American Jews, a number of whom were highly visible and relatively powerful within the Rajneesh organization (Franklin 1992; Rockland 1989)… There were small reminders of Jewish traditions everywhere at the ranch, from Hassid Cafeteria to the klezmer music Rajneesh musicians played during the July festivals to the naming of the “Chosen Few,” who first heard Bhagwan break his silence.” (Goldman 1999, pp. 231,233)
Nature, ecosystem and wildlife
“Then, too, the settlement lay in cowboy country and the landscape of Hollywood Westerns. Ninety miles south of the Columbia River, the foothills of the Blue Mountains rear up out of the wheat land, and from there on it is open range, where deer and elk, and even antelope, roam. Rivers cutting their way through soft volcanic rock have left dramatic, towering cliffs, buttes, and tabletops. The dry hills are covered with sage and juniper, and the slanting afternoon light turns them purple and blue.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 48)
“The run-down ranch was sixty five thousand acres of semi-desert land on the dry, eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon. How big is sixty five thousand acres? A hundred square miles. Twenty six thousand three hundred hectares. Stand there in it and it is humungous. Enormous. Overwhelming.
There were minimal facilities; a ranch house, a bunk house for the cowboys, a barn and a few dirt tracks that swirled a fine clay dust into every aperture and every pore of the body. The first arrivals were to prepare for a larger second wave who would prepare for a larger third wave and so on.” (Maxwell 2012, p. 168)
“The vision of all previous owners of the land had simply been to exploit it to the fullest by grazing the largest number of sheep and cattle possible. This had a devastating effect because the animals grazed on all the grassy slopes that led into the valleys and streams, and when they wanted water they trampled all over the delicate ecosystem – the life around the water’s edge – so when the rains came, the natural growth of grass, the natural flora, was no longer there to prevent the loss of topsoil from the mountain sides. Hence valuable soil was swept away into rivers and ultimately into the Pacific Ocean…
[Wadud:] “To prevent topsoil being swept away in the rains, we built hundreds of little dams, which served to slow down the flow of water. The water would, instead, sink into the earth. You’d have grass starting to grow again around these little dams, and eventually we started to turn the mountain sides green again, and made the land more permeable by creating a sponge effect. Basically we had undertaken one of the largest private land reclamation projects in the country, and we were a model project. We wanted to have model programs and have them studied by outside people to demonstrate that these things could happen. And we succeeded. Another project was recycling; we recycled seventy percent of our ‘waste stream’ – which is the amount of garbage you create in the farm of bottles, paper, plastic, cans and so on…
[Neehar:] We had our sewage system worked out in a way that all the sewage gathered at one point; it was then pumped up into a lagoon, went through a biological breakdown, was sent down a pipe right through the bottom of the valley, and popped up at the dairy where it irrigated the fields. Then the cows would eat the grass and make milk, and the milk would go to the cafeteria, and the people would drink it, and then they’d later take themselves off to the toilet, and that waste went back into the system and back up the hill, and so on.” (Forman 1988, p. 307ff)
Madhuri writes in her ‘The Poona Poems’
We roll through the light days
and pale nights:
Black hills tilt against the sky
And we climb ever upwards
pausing to make tea
with wet stones rubbed to flame
and the shooting rays
of a night sun
Sitting back to see
Now we lie down
in unremarkable joy
on the rocky mountain
The picnic ground
(Madhuri 2017, p. 97)
The ‘Twinkies’ tour guides
“The Twinkies had their office ‘downtown’ in an air conditioned trailer between the main house and the barn. Isabel, Veena, Sunshine, Rosalie and Sarita (a selection of beautiful girls, all as beautiful as their names) welcomed me with a cup of tea – they had a small corner with electric kettle, drinking water and a few settees where visitors could wait for the tour to start.
Soon I was invited to participate in one of their tours and wrote down the information (in order of appearance) that I would need to memorise, underscoring the new words for my new American-English vocabulary. I would start with:
– Ranch size: 126 square miles, 64,229 acres (of which 15,000 acres was rented from the Bureau of Land Management)
– 20 miles from closest town = Antelope (population: 39 in 1980 census)
– Bought in July 1981 for 6 million dollars
– City incorporated 18th May 1982
From the Ranch’s past I would mention that it was locally called ‘The Big Muddy’ or ‘Muddy Ranch’ (now called Rajneeshpuram i.e. ‘Essence of Rajneesh’) and that John Wayne had starred in the movie ‘Big Muddy’ which was filmed here (which, as I check today on Google, was not absolutely correct; there was no movie of that name although he starred in several movies filmed on this ranch). (Punya 2015, p. 230)
(Note: The ranch was where John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn filmed ‘Rooster Cogburn’ (1975).
Osho on the etymology of Adam
“The English word ‘Adam’ means mud. God made man out of mud. In America we had our commune, Rancho Rajneesh. Before we went there it was called the Big Muddy Ranch. I always wondered, perhaps God took all the mud from this Big Muddy Ranch and created humanity. There wasn’t any mud at that Big Muddy Ranch, it was a desert. And certainly it was big, one hundred and twenty-six square miles.
All the words… for example ‘human being’ – ‘human’ comes from ‘humus’, and ‘humus’ means mud. Religions have degraded man into puppets, made of mud.” The Miracle (1988). Chapter 3, p. 75.
Cultivating and Constructing
Fitzgerald on constructing
“The valley was an astonishing sight in the midst of that empty rangeland. From some slight elevation above it, I could see two big Caterpillar bulldozers and a backhoe at work, and, beyond them, a line of traffic – yellow school busses, trucks, and automobiles – moving around a system of roads. Driving down the canyon, I passed a dirt airstrip with a hangar and five aircraft sitting out in front of it: a DC-3, a Mitsubishi executive jet, and three light propeller planes. Beyond that was a machine shop, and next to it was a small factory under a shed roof, with a big pile of lumber beside it. Red-clad figures were carrying lumber, stacking wooden platforms, and lifted what looked like a small A-frame house onto the back of a flatbed truck. The roads converged on an old farmhouse and two big grey barns – clearly the original ranch buildings. The barns now fronted on what looked like the main street of a gold-rush town. (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 50)
Punya on developments taken from her a tour guide list
“My list continued with :
– Zarathustra Valley with Patanjali Lake and distant wheat fields.
– the nursery and the geodesic dome greenhouse (named Yari)
– the new greenhouse 2.2 acres (88,000 square foot), not yet in use…
– Atisha chicken farm (we eat unfertilised eggs only), geese and emus from Australia to keep coyotes at bay
– Vineyard project with dripping irrigation
– Rabiya dairy farm with 52 Holsteins – there is a huge Swiss cow bell hanging outside (a Swiss man is in charge)
– Surdas vegetable farm near the John Day River (now renamed ‘Radha River’)
– Mention the waste water lagoon project which recycles treated sewage water for farm irrigation via long pipes…
The tour notes also listed details about our restoration programme and erosion control:
– 1 million willow trees planted along the creeks
– 200 silt dams (check dams) built…
Then there were all the new buildings in the industrial area (11,000 sq. ft.):
– RBG, which stands for Rajneesh Buddhafield Garage
– Rahul petrol pump
– Gorakh recycling centre (paper, cardboard, cans, glass, compost) in a remote valley
– the welding shop (3,500 sq. ft.)
– Sahara, the carpenters’ workshop.
On the right we could already see the 23,000 square foot foundations of RIMU, Rajneesh International Meditation University. This building did not really make sense to me as everybody I knew was a worker; but the plan was that soon we would have visitors to attend courses in meditation.” (Punya 2015, pp. 231,240)
Osho on Gurdjieff’s working method on the Ranch
“Suraj Prakash, the method that was being used in Rajneeshpuram comes from Gurdjieff. He himself got it from ancient Sufi sources…
In the commune… and this was misunderstood all over the world; this is how everything is misunderstood. People understand only that for which they have been conditioned. They think that is all, while in fact the whole has no boundaries and you can go on exploring in any dimension, to any depth, without coming to the end. People were working twelve hours a day and sometimes fourteen hours a day. To outsiders this looked like they had been hypnotized – otherwise who is going to work fourteen hours continuously?
But the reality was that these people were under a certain program of evolving consciousness. It is somewhere from twelve to fifteen hours that the first layer disappears, is finished. If you have been working hard for twelve hours, the first layer will be burned out. Ordinarily you stop, it is time to take your supper and go to bed.
This is where Gurdjieff comes in. He says, “If you can continue now, when there is no energy, you are completely empty of energy as far as you know – those hidden layers are not known to you – continue!”
A moment comes when suddenly all day-to-day energy is exhausted, and immediately the second layer becomes available to you. You are flooded with an energy so powerful that people who have come to that energy have felt that now they can do anything. Nothing is impossible, the energy seems to be so great.
But before you can reach the second level the first has to be exhausted. And there is no way of giving you any proof, argument or evidence. You have to do it and experience it.” Sermons in Stones (1987). Chapter 10, pp. 231,233.
Gurdjieff and worship
“But where Gurdjieff’s ideals were probably most employed was during the first couple of years of the Oregon commune when only determined back-breaking labor succeeded in transforming a desert wasteland into a thriving town. Gurdjieff drove many of his students very hard in the early years of his Fontainebleau commune all the while teaching them a type of conscious labor that made hard physical work a direct meditation. This is not an idea original to Gurdjieff – many monastics of different traditions combine their meditation or contemplation with hard physical work. But Gurdjieff had a unique approach in which he integrated self-remembering and self-observation with physical toil. Osho (or more accurately, Sheela) adopted something very similar in the early days of the Oregon ranch, even going so far as to replace the word ‘work’ with ‘worship’. You did not get up at 6am to work at landscaping or washing dishes, you rather got up at 6am to worship at landscaping or washing dishes. The idea is that what was being ‘worshipped’ was the vision, the ultimate purpose of the commune, as a vehicle for the sangha, the spiritual fellowship. The commune (ideally) functioned as an oasis for thousands of seekers of truth around the world and thus was worthy of worship as a type of karma yoga.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 584)
“It felt awkward in the beginning when we stopped ‘going to work’ but rather ‘went to worship’ and one was no longer working in a department but in a ‘temple’. Because Rajneeshism had been introduced for political (immigration) reasons, the concepts of worship and temple probably came from the same idea. But calling work ‘worship’ made us aware that this was no ordinary work but something more, something one was doing for oneself, where the gain was in the present and not at the end of the month in the form of a pay check.” (Punya 2015, p. 299)
Madhuri writes in her ‘The Poona Poems’
Beloved beloved / thank you / for the long day / of work that is the sowing / and reaping and milling of you, / the baking and / grinding and serving and living / of you, the writing and shuffling / and papers of you, the beautiful / way you are in us and of us / and we are in you all day, / cutting and serving you / We are milled with you, and sown, // Thank you, / And my feet are just a dance on the road / and my body moves even / in easy quick swings / and nothing, nothing is / but uplifting / And joy weeps, weeps / under the yellow curve / of the moon / Thank You.” (Madhuri 2017, p. 113)
Maneesha on building
“The setup was certainly impressive. Rajneesh Mandir, where satsangs were to be held, was a huge, open-ended construction through which you could look onto the mountain ranges. Bhagwan’s residence was set snugly into a mountain side. You could see nothing of the house itself from the road as it was surrounded by trees. Sprinkled about, just below his house, were several “trailers” – prefabricated wooden housing units, each complete with a kitchen, two bathrooms, several bedrooms, a sitting room and a “mudroom,” where you deposited your mud-caked or snow-laden footwear depending on the time of year.” (Forman 1988, p. 228)
“Rajneesh Mandir will be the new name for the meditation hall at Rancho Rajneesh. Formerly known as Buddha Hall, this huge structure is the setting for celebrations in Bhagwan’s presence and for daily meditations.
‘Man’ means mind, ‘dir’ means going in. The name conveys the true function of a temple: a place where one can go into the mind so as to transcend it.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1983:18)
On working and worshipping
“Most of the credit goes to the commitment of the sannyasins. Their dedication is total. Working on average a twelve-hour day, seven days a week, and despite the fact that they only receive pocket money (eight or so dollars a week) they surely represent one of the most highly motivated workforces in the world. Why are the sannyasins so highly motivated? Any answer must surely take into account that they are working in a Buddhafield, enlivened with the presence of their Master. They regard all that they do as acts of worship, to be performed with care, willingness, concentration; as opportunities to express their devotion. At the same time, in keeping with Bhagwan’s pronouncements on the dangers of seriousness, the sannyasins work in a convivial atmosphere that undoubtly enhances job satisfaction…
Another fact which has made a significant contribution to the success of the Rajneeshees is the very practical organization of the commune. Each person has to concentrate on simply one daily activity. Each has a specific job allocated to them and the rest of their needs are met by the commune. The Rajneeshees are free to worship secure in the knowledge that meals are being prepared for them, that their living quarters are being cleaned, and that their laundry is being done. This means that they are better able to work long hours. It means that they are surrounded by concrete evidence of love and care. It also means that their ability to be meditative is enhanced. Their concentration is not broken by thoughts of other things they have to do.” (Thompson 1986, p. 92,93)
FitzGerald touring the ranch with Veena in May 1983
“”This is Jesus Grove,” Veena said, negotiating her big Blazer jeep through the crowds on the main street. “Each part of the ranch is named after a saint. There’s Buddha Grove, the Magdalena, Siddhartha, Zarathustra Drive, Alan Watts, and here’s Walt Whitman Grove. We had some trouble finding an American saint.” She explained that the old ranch house was a vegetarian restaurant for visitors and disciples – or sannyasins, as she called them, using the Hindi name. The settlement had begun just around it, with trailers and mobile homes. By now there were eight hundred sannyasins on the ranch, and more to come shortly. They were building out into adjacent canyons – on nonarable land within the city limits… Veena pointed out a post office and trailers housing a planning office and a city hall. At the end of the main street, another canyon opened up, its entire floor covered with construction. Four long wooden buildings were near completion and foundations were being laid for two more; beyond them, a tent city was going up for the festival visitors. Sannyasins, perhaps a hundred of them, were laying out platforms for the tents, digging postholes, pouring concrete, and fitting windows…
Veena’s tour of the ranch projects began with the water-conservation projects. The lake I had seen on the way down turned out to be a forty-five-acre reservoir held by a four-hundred-foot earth dam. In the summer, Veena said, the lake would be used for swimming and boating – there was so much water around. Up in a nearby canyon was a series of open pits build as a natural sewage-treatment plant… We drove down the main canyon alongside a creek, Veena pointing out check dams that had been built to slow the course of the water, and juniper cuttings that had been put in to fortify the eroded banks. In many places, the banks were now thick with vegetation. “You’d be amazed how much greener it’s got in two years,” Veena said. Past the center of Rajneeshpuram, the canyon opened out into an expanse of irrigated fields along the John Day River. We passed several greenhouses and stopped at a dairy, where a row of sleek Holsteins stood in a concrete-floored milking shed. Across the road was a poultry farm with the same expensive, well-cared-for look. A large, airy shed housed two thousand Rhode Island Reds, and in an A-frame chicken coops, beside it were a variety of exotic fowl, including several peacocks and two emus. The emus, Veena explained, were used to keep off the coyotes. Down the road, on the riverbank, was a fifty-acre market garden, with neatly plowed furrows. Like the dairy and the poultry farm, it resembled something conceived and maintained by an agricultural school. In the distance I could see several sannyasins working with a truck and a tractor; nearby, where the rows were already green with lettuce and spinach, several more were raking and weeding.” (FitzGerald 1986, I pp. 51-52)
“Our next stop was one of the new housing developments for the sannyasins – a group of small A-frames set into the hillsides of a subsidiary canyon. With space for just two single beds, each A-frame was nearly made, with a window, a heater, air-conditioning, and carpeting on the floor. The structures, Veena explained, were an invention of a Rajneeshee designer. After the previous summer’s festival, the Rajneeshee had hundreds of tent platforms but no housing for the new permanent residents, and someone had figured out a way to make a house. In this complex, the A-frames had electricity but no water, so there were bath and toilet facilities in a central building at the mouth of the canyon. In the newer complexes, the designers had put four A-frames together on a single platform and added two bathrooms on the middle to serve the four.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 52)
Early building in September 1981
“There were no residential buildings yet. The seventy people working on the ranch lived in a conglomeration of tents we had named “Tent City,” and the trailer crew was busily levelling sites for the first residential trailers for workers to arrive. By way of an answer, Dolma told me to see Vivek in Osho’s triplewide trailer situated in the newly-named, Lao-Tzu valley, a beautiful valley about three miles further along the John Day River… Later, over a cup of tea, Vivek told me that Osho had himself designed his personal trailer to include a tiny dental room directly behind his living quarters… His living room was very large and very empty, except for three plastic buckets strategically placed to catch water as it dripped through the ceiling. The roof tiling had clearly not been completed. Except for the buckets, the room was virtually bare. The linoleum floor covering made it seem even more so. In one corner of the room, in a little alcove I noticed a small, beautifully crafted dining table, with a solitary chair. Asheesh’s work again.” (Devageet 2013, p. 63,95)
Murphy writes on cultures colliding
“In his book about Rajneeshpuram, Kirk Braun used the subtitle “Cultures collide in a search for Utopia.” This aptly describes the situation. There was a head-on collision between people who clung tenaciously to the simple, uncomplicated life of the past, and the sophisticated and up to the minute, (some might say a bit ahead of the minute), Rajneeshes, who travelled the world and revelled in a present where technology provided new dimensions to a world already filled with wonders.
They could never understand each other. Several efforts were made. Mediators were sent in from outside; and they all sat down to the table together and signed agreements. Newspapers gave out the welcome news that a settlement had been reached. But that was wishful thinking. Promises were made, and just as quickly broken.
Whenever the Rajneeshes made friendly overtures toward their neighbors, they were curtly rebuffed. Once they staged a gala street party in Antelope, and invited all the townspeople to participate. There were mimes and magicians and jugglers. A platform was provided for dancing; and two dance orchestras composed of highly-trained musicians took turns providing music. A place was set aside where artists from neighboring towns could display and sell their work. But local residents either left town for the day or remained behind closed doors. About thirty people showed up to display arts and crafts; and of course some members of the press attended. (Members of the press always like parties.) But as a gesture of friendship, it failed miserably with the people of Antelope.” (Murphy 1986, p. 69)
Osho in Silence
Osho on words and silence
“The really significant things in life can never be said through words; only silence is capable of communion. Words are utilitarian – they belong to the marketplace – hence when you really want to say something of the heart you will always find it unsayable. Love cannot be uttered, gratitude cannot be spoken of, prayer is bound to be a deep silence inside you.
And this is of fundamental importance to understand because we are brought up through words, with the idea that everything can be said: we try to say it, and by saying those things which are not sayable we falsify them.
Lao Tzu says, “Tao cannot be said. The moment you say it you have already falsified it,” Truth cannot be communicated – no word is adequate enough, big enough to contain it. It is so vast, vaster than the sky, and the words are so tiny. They are good for day-to-day things, utilitarian ends, but as you start moving towards the non-utilitarian you start moving beyond words.
That’s exactly what religion is: transcendence of words and transcendence of the world that belongs to words. The mind consists of words; the heart consists only of silence, profound silence, virgin silence, unbroken silence.” Tao. The Golden Gate (1985). Vol II; The Book (1984). Vol III, p. 507.
At the Ranch in Rajneeshpuram Osho stayed in an extended trailer, Lao Tzu House. It contained an empty, spacy room with linoleum covered floor and just one chair for looking out of the vast windows.
From Savita’s Glossary: Lao Tzu House
“On the Ranch, Lao Tzu House was a triple-wide trailer home surrounded by lawns, fir trees and peacocks. Unlike Poona One and Two, on the Ranch, only his direct support people shared the house with him – his cook, cleaners, doctor, etc.” (Savita 2014, p. 265)
Indradhanu recalls Osho’s daily routine
“For a long period on the Ranch I lived in Osho’s residence, Lao Tzu House, and because I was the housekeeper, I was in the house day and night. So besides my occasional duties as a radiologists, I was also trained to stand in for Vivek and Chetana, Osho’s laundress, in case someone was needed to jump in to take care of Osho and neither of them was available.
To learn the routine, I spent a day shadowing Vivek as she went about her daily care-taking tasks.
We were up and showered to wake him at six, when we took him in a cup of tea made with milk, which we served in a floral Chinese porcelain mug with a lid.
He was asleep when we arrived, and Vivek said there was no point in calling out to him to wake him up.
“You need to shake his shoulder to wake him” – and she promptly shook him vigorously. My first thought was, ‘How can I shake my master to wake him up when his job is to wake me up’?
When he stirred he took out these humungous earplugs…
Osho slept with big earplugs because a midnight security check on the crackling Motorola roused all his beloved 40-odd peacocks, who then made a wild raucous racket that regularly woke up the whole household.
He put them down on the sheet for the cleaner to pick up later, and sat up on the bed to receive his cup of tea, and we waited while he slowly sipped. In the meantime, we opened the curtains and arranged the bathroom with a fresh towel and a fresh robe, Japanese ‘tabi’ socks and hat, which Vivek selected for the day – all color-coordinated.
The bedroom curtains covered a plate-glass door to his living room, which had a picture window to the garden, and they had to be opened remotely first, using buttons mounted on a panel.
Then, as we went into the living room, Osho got up and moved to the bathroom to wash – one of his favourite occupations, I gather – and we left.
The Canadian woman who took care of his meals, would prepare the lunch for him. The food was always carefully calibrated by his doctor to fit with his diabetic needs, and at that time at least, largely unvaried. It consisted of one big vegetable patty fried in a pan, very crumbly. There’d be rice and two large sprigs of parsley and a couple of different chutneys and maybe more tossed vegetables.
Lunch was at about 12 noon, all prepared on a special ‘thali’, an Indian steel tray with small bowls in it, and to be presented in a certain sequence.
He ate alone at the dining table by the window – there was only one chair – while we stood to one side ready to wait on him. He used a simple spoon and did not drink with his food.
At some point while he was sitting at the table, he looked up at me and said, “Oh, she’s as tall as Chetana!” – referring to his beautiful, willowy laundress. He had seen me before, of course, as his radiologist, so he knew how tall I was; so I assume this was one of his ways of putting me at ease.
After lunch, he received his pills, which Vivek had put into a pill box – maybe five many-colored tablets I was to pour into my hand, and then tip into his open palm. Then I gave him a crystal glass of water.
Osho was very present with his meal. Except for that one mention of me and Chetana, no conversation took place. The only time he spoke on my trial day was when I put the dishes in front of him in the right order, and he said to Vivek, with a glint of humor in his eyes, “Now she has proved she can do it.”
Once he had finished eating, which took a very short time, he went to the bathroom and we collected the dishes. Then he had his nap and that was when I prepared him tea before the drive-by.
His afternoon tea, made by Vivek or whoever went with him on his daily drive through the commune, was at about 1.15 pm, before the outing. He drank a Chinese tea, ‘lapsang souchong’ – his version, which was made with a bottle of boiled Perrier water. We threw just a few of the smoky-flavored tea leaves into the simmering water, and as soon as the water came to the boil, we’d take it off and strain it. This very weak concoction was served to him in the same kind of china as before, with its little lid.
After the drink, Osho went on his drive-by and I joined the others at the foot of the hill just inside the gate as he rolled past.
At six o’clock he got his evening snack, which varied, but on my day, consisted of a tall glass filled with fruit, accompanied by a long-handled soda spoon.
And that was it.
After his snack he would go into the bathroom and we would close the curtains, and that was the end of his day. I did another hour’s work cleaning the laundry room, and then it was the end of my day.” (Indradhanu. In: Savita 2014, p. 167)
Shunyo writes on Osho’s daily schedule
“The years of silence that were to follow, somehow made Osho seem more translucent, more fragile and less in His body. He had always said that talking to us kept Him in His body and as time passed His connection with the earth seemed less…
Now He sat silently in His room, alone. He still got up at 6.00 a.m. and took long baths and swam in His pool, listened to music, but He had no contact with His people, except for the car ride once a day.” (Shunyo 1999, p. 74)
Osho on his daily life in Oregon
“Six o’clock in the morning, I wake up. Furthermore, my caretaker, Vivek, has to wake me up; otherwise I will not wake up. Who cares to wake up again? I have been waking for half a century again and again, it is enough!
But she wakes me up, gives me a cup of tea. Just to be respectful to her, I drink the tea. My tea is not much, it is just water and tea leaves. No sugar, no milk – if that kind of tea is served in heaven, all the saints will start moving toward hell. Then – I have always loved water, from my very childhood – for one and a half hours in the morning I am in my bathroom enjoying the bathtup, the shower; and the same in the evening, one and a half hours again.
After my bath, immediately I have to get into the car and move to the auditorium where my people are waiting. Back to my place, it is lunchtime. I take my lunch at eleven and go to sleep again, which I have done most of my life. I had to miss my classes when I was a student – and my teachers allowed it because if they did not allow, then I used to sleep in the class. I said, “There is no way… I have to sleep these two hours.”
At two o’clock I wake up, and for one hour I go for a ride. I love driving, and I have certainly one of the most beautiful roads because it is made by my sannyasins only for me. There is no traffic, so I need not bother whether I am driving on the right or on the left. The whole road belongs to me. One hour there and back home.
One and a half hours I simply sit silently in my chair doing nothing and let the grass grow by itself. Then my bath.
After the bath I take my supper, and after the supper I am here for the press interview. I will be back in my room near nine, nine-thirty. Then comes my personal secretary with letters from all over the world; news cuttings about me from all over the world, anything that the personal secretary feels I need to know – because I don’t read. I have stopped reading anything, books, newspapers, magazines, anything. The clippings that my personal secretary brings, she has to read; I simply listen. Near about eleven, I go to bed again.” (Sarito 2000, p. 150)
“The second faction was that of the ‘Lao Tzu residents’, the group of caretaker disciples who lived closest to the master, in his residential complex called Lao Tzu House. These were basically his companion caretaker, Vivek, his doctor, Devaraj, his dentist, Devageet, his cook, Nirgun, his book editor, Maneesha, and one or two others. These disciples were not involved in the administrative running of the commune, so they lacked secular power in the organization, but they had tremendous status nontheless simply by virtue of their proximity to Osho.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 284)
Osho’s trailer home
“The roof of Osho’s sitting room leaked when it was raining and it was a miserable thing to see him sitting there with a bucket either side of the chair, to catch the water. The room was empty except for a low oak table and chair. His rooms have always been simple and without the usually clutter of furniture. There were no pictures on the walls, no ornaments, no possessions at all except a cassette player, but the emptiness of a plastic room did not have the grandeur and Zen-like quality of a marble room. It hurt me to see Him in this setting, although I noticed that it made no difference to Him. He was at home anywhere and I have never seen Him complain about how or where He lived. He accepted that this was what existence had come up with and I always felt He was grateful, knowing and trusting that in our love this way was the best we could do.
But it wasn’t the best we could do and work was started on an extension to the trailer, which was to be an emergency living space and medical facility. When the extension was finished about nine months later, it was so beautiful that Osho moved into it rather than His plastic trailer. This caused a lot of friction between Sheela and Vivek, because for some reason Sheela did not want Osho to move. The extension had ben built by Richard, Vivek’s boyfriend, and the bedroom and sitting room were panelled in wood; the bathroom was the nicest bathroom Osho has ever had – large with a jacuzzi. A long corridor led to an Olympic size swimming pool and in the medical facility there was a fully-equipped operating room with all the latest hospital equipment.” (Shunyo 1999, p. 72)
Nirgun on Osho’s room
“A strange room. The ceiling, walls and floor glowed with mellow parquet. It should have been distracting; parquet isn’t often used with such extravagance. But the dark and light patches flowed together in dramatic contrast to the emptiness of the room. A curtained alcove hid the giant bed, a dining corner sported a wood table and two chairs. In the living room stood a table, an upholstered chair, and a stereo system built into a sleek cabinet. The only ornament, a dramatic ebony Buddha, sat solemnly on a many-layered platform.
On three sides glass walls opened onto the new forest. Weeping willows spread their branches over a curving line of pools and streams. The room echoed with the splash of a cascading waterfall that Saguna had helped create in the garden outside. Lines of waving poplars and a grove of silver birch aflame with blue and red ranunculus led my eye to the distant hills.
The living area reflected the tranquillity of nature; the bathroom exploded into the human dimension. An oversized, pale green jacuzzi filled up half the space. And on its oversized, pale green ledges sprawled in glorious disarray the finest products of the consumer mind: odorfree soaps, conditioners, and shampoos in myriad shapes, colors, and sizes.
Walls and floor of the bathroom were drenched with water. Huge white soaking wet bath towels hung or lay everywhere. Some mischievous boy had spent hours here, enjoying. I mopped and dried, chuckling at the chaos, delighting in the discovery of this uninhibited, fun-loving side of our reclusive master.
As in Poona, Bhagwan stayed in his room day and night. He saw no one during this time except his caregiver, his secretary Sheela, his doctor, dentist and robemakers as needed and two outside visitors – Bob Davis and reporter Kirk Braun. For three and a half years he went out only for his daily drive and rare visits to a completed project.” (Hamilton 1998, p. 104)
Radha on Osho’s room
“Osho was sitting in a comfortable chair in the middle of an empty room, with big floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the garden to the hills beyond. As usual, he was wearing a plain robe, a little thicker than the kind he wore in Pune, and looking perfectly at ease in this strange new environment. Osho in the Wild West was no different than Osho in the Mystic East… Osho’s house was set back in a small hollow in the hills where nobody was allowed except his personal staff…” (Radha 2005, pp. 143,150)
Satyananda recalls visiting Lao Tzu House
“Nur das Plätschern des Wasserfalls und gelegentliche Pfauenschreie unterbrachen die Stille. Ich hatte das Gefühl, mich an einem magischen Ort zu befinden. Jeder Stein, jede Pflanze war hier von liebevoller Hand an die rechte Stelle gesetzt worden. Natürliche Ursprünglichkeit und geistige Disziplin verbanden sich zu eimem harmonischen Ganzen, drückten Vitalität aus. Klarheit, Ordnung. So müssen die alten Zen-Meister gewohnt haben. Mir kam es so vor, als hätte ich das alles schon einmal gesehen, und ich fühlte mich wohl hier.
Ein blasser junger Mann zeigte uns, wo und wie wir unsere Schuhe abstellen sollten: am Treppenabsatz und wie mit dem Lineal ausgerichtet. Dann öffnete er die Glastür zu Rajneeshs Zimmer. Schweigend traten wir ein. Der Raum war etwa 30 Quadratmeter gross. Fussboden, Wände und Decke waren mit Holz ausgelegt – einem feinen, spiegelblanken Mosaik aus lippenstiftgrossen Mahagoniplättchen. Kein Teppich, keine Gardinen. In der Mitte des Zimmers stand ein schwarzer Ledersessel. Daneben ein Glastisch mit einer supermodernen Leselampe, die üben den Sessel ragte, so dünn wie ein Spinnenbein. Auf dem Tisch lag ein Fernbedienungsgerät für die Video- und Hifi-Anlage, die an der Wand zur linken stand. Darüber eine Filmprojektionsfläche. In der Ecke schimmerte ein Bronze-Buddha auf einer Granitsäule…
Bhagwan ging nun zu den kleinen praktischen Details seines Testaments über. Sein Körper solle im Krematorium der Kommune verbrannt werden. Das Holz müsse Sandelholz sein und aus Indien eingeflogen werden. Sein Haus – das Lao-Tse-Haus – solle in ein Museum verwandelt werden. Die leitung werde Vivek übernehmen, seine engste Vertraute. Die wohlhabende griechische Mukta, eine seiner ersten westlichen Sannyasins, solle nach seinem Tode in das Wachhaus ziehen. Fast alle Meister der Vergangenheit hätten den Fehler begangen, keine oder nich genug Gegenstände zu hinterlassen, die zu ihren Lebzeiten mit ihre Energie in enge Behührung gekommen seien. Deshalb sollten seine Kleider hinter Glas aufbewahrt werden, und sogar die Rolls Royces sollten Bestandteil des Museums sein. “Für jedes meiner Lebensjahre wird es einen Rolls Royce geben”, sagte Rajneesh.” (Elten 1990, pp. 33,35)
Vivek and Osho
“Es war unser erster Winter auf der Ranch… Vivek, die für seine persönlichen Bedürfnisse sorgte und sich benahm, als wenn sie mit ihm verheiratet wäre, setzte ihm wegen seiner Liebesabendteuer mit anderen Frauen zu. Sie war äusserst eifersüchtig auf alle anderen Frauen, die sich ihm näherten. In ihrer verrückten Eifersucht versuchte sie öfter, ihn zu erpressen. Sie schrie ihn an. Sie drohte ihm damit, ihn zu verlassen und ihn dann zu zerstören, indem sie der Welt die Wahrheit über ihre Beziehung mitteilen würde. Ich fand die Art der Wahrheit, die sie im Sinn hatte, nicht so schlimm. Viele Frauen gehen ihrem Leben durch so eine Phase.
Sie lebter mit ihm wie seine Frau. Sie hatten sexuellen Kontakt. Er bestand darauf, dass sie verhütete. Er stellte klar, dass er keine Kinder wollte. Er glaubte nicht an Heirat oder daran, Kinder aufzuziehen. Eines Tages, es war i 1978, wollte sie ihm eine Lektion erteilen, denn er hatte seit längerer Zeit nicht viel Interesse an ihr gezeigt. Sie hatte Sex mit ihm, ohne zu verhüten. Das Ergebnis war offensichtlich. Sie war schwanger. Das war eine äusserst skandalträchtige situation, besonders für einen heiligen Mann wie Bhagwan in Indien. Seine Anhänger behaupteten oft, er lebe im Zölibat. Das wird von Heiligen so erwartet.
Doch zum Glück war einer seiner hingegebenen Sannyasins ein bekannter Gynäkologe in Poona. Obendrein besass er noch eine Privatklinik für Frauen. Viveks problem der Schwangerschaft wurde schnell gelöst. Er machte bei Vivek eine Abtreibung und Sterilisation. Das war keine grosse Sache.” (Sheela 1996, p. 206)
Osho on celebacy
“Right now I am celibate, but if my health gets better I am not going to be celibate. I have never been celibate. I do not do anything against nature. Right now I am celibate not because celibacy has any value, but just because I am sick. I don’t have any energy to make love to a woman and do all the gymnastics, no. I have enough energy to talk to my people, to talk to you. If I get healthy again, I promise you, I will not be celibate.” The Last Testament (1986). Chapter 15, p. 384. 22.07.1985.
Subhuti on celebacy
“Much water flowed down the Ganges… and in 2010 I wrote a book about my life with Osho called ‘My Dance with a Madman’. I talked about Osho’s sex life, something that hadn’t been done before. When I arrived in Pune the following winter, I was called into Krishna House and was informed by two senior members of the management that I couldn’t represent the Osho Resort in a black robe – leading group and meditations – if I didn’t drop the sex chapter from my book. Fair enough. I didn’t blame them for their attitude. But I didn’t feel like changing the book, so I had to let the black robe go. Again, it was a question of being ready to give up a certain image – this time as a hotshop group leader – in order to feel good about myself. Then several female friends gave me feedback on the same issue. For them, it wasn’t talking about Osho’s sex life that was the problem. It was the way I’d done it… a bit cheap and sleazy, rather like the English journalist I used to be. At the same time, I found a quote where Osho actually talked about His sex life (July 22, 1985, ‘The Last Testament’) and so, by rephrasing the story and including the quote, I managed to satisfy my critics, while at the same time keeping my own sense of integrity.” (Subhuti. In: Viha Connection, 2015:5)
Shanti Bhadra on celebacy
“The other discourse I remember was the one in which Bhagwan announced to everyone’s great mirth that actually he had been having us on all along and he was not celibate at all. He presented the news wrapped in a package of jokes that had people rolling in the aisles. I laughed with everyone else and repeated my mantra that Bhagwan was perfect and whatever he did was perfect too. He could change his story any time he wanted to…
Vivek was always next to him in the passenger seat, except on those rare occasions when he took Sheela with him instead, to point out to her the young women he would like her to bring to him in the evening. These young maidens were given to understand they had been chosen by Bhagwan to be vessels for his transformative energy in the world. In order to facilitate the transfer of this energy from the master to themselves, they were instructed to wear no underwear and to clothe themselves in a loose flowing gown. Sheela chauffeured the young woman in question up to Bhagwan’s house, and waited outside in the car to drive her back again.” (Stork 2009, pp. 177,156)
Letter from Sheela
“Beloved Friends, Love.
We have all shared a sacred moment before on April 11, 1981 when Bhagwan first declared that we were ready for silent communion. Now Bhagwan has told me to make a declaration to all of you that as we have grown even further and are able to communicate even more deeply wih Him in meditation and silence, He will no longer be speaking with anybody except His personal secretary and His medical staff regarding His health.
Bhagwan has offered us another beautiful opportunity to go within and learn to communicate in silence. Remember that silence is the only way.
His Blessings Ma Anand Sheela. Personal Secretary to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1983:15)
Maneesha moved into the residents’ quarters in Lao Tzu House in 1985 where she were to live with Devaraj Bhagwan’s physician, his dentist Devageet, Vivek, Gayan and Veena who were Osho’s seamstresses. Also Asheesh, Nirgun the cook, Chetana doing his laundry were there. And Haridas the electrician, Nirupa cleaning Osho’s rooms and Mukta the gardener. (Forman 1988, p. 392)
Maneesha in the residents’ quarters of Lao Tzu 1985
“Vivek’s room, the darshan room, the dental room, a medical room with a fully equipped operating theater, Bhagwan’s room and swimming pool, were all in an adjoining trailer, reachable through his kitcen. Not that one has cause to be popping in and out of Bhagwan’s room, but you knew he was not too far away.” (Forman 1988, p. 394)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1983
“Dec 11: Bhagwan’s 52nd birthday celebration with 2000 visitors, including a Buddhist nun from Japan; four new books published; 200 lb. birthday cake; Swiss Rajneeshee wins Rolls Royce drawing; street fair.” (Shay 1990)
Lao Tzu House crew
“It seems Sheela considered those who lived in Lao Tzu House as a group apart from the commune, people who did not “melt” into it. The fact is, because all the residents of Bhagwan’s house were involved in work directly related to Bhagwan – making his robes and shoes, doing his laundry, cleaning his rooms, editing his words, and so on – they didn’t have a great deal to do with jobs around the commune, although certainly they met friends and lovers after work hours to eat or socialize… In a way, Lao Tzu House was a world unto itself because of its location and the fact that only authorized people could enter it. This, plus the nature of the resident’s work, meant that the house did not come under Sheela’s jurisdiction, and this was, to put it mildly, a source of some irritation to her… The following year, when I moved into Lao Tzu House, I was to feel for myself the strange vibe that existed between people Sheela sent to work or guard in Bhagwan’s house and Lao Tzu residents…
That evening then [in 1984], a meeting was held in Lao Tzu House, in Bhagwan’s presence – with Devaraj, Devageet, Chetana and Vivek, plus several Jesus Grove people, along with Sheela. Bhagwan talked about the rift between the two houses, of how people who lived close to him would feel differently than those who did not; that those who didn’t live with him would feel a separateness about his household. For this very reason, from the earliest days of Rajneeshpuram Bhagwan had invited Sheela to live in Lao Tzu House. However, she had chosen to set up and preside over Jesus Grove instead. He commented that in a private meeting with him recently, Sheela or Savita had said, in passing, that Jesus Grove was the heart of the commune. This was not so, Bhagwan said. He made it clear to them now how they had come to believe that their house, Jesus Grove, was the commune’s heart, how they had forgotten the whole purpose of its coming into being. Building houses, roads and dams were simply a by-product of the real purpose of Rajneeshpuram, which fundamentally was a mystery school, the heart of which was the master.” (Forman 1988, pp. 323ff,342)
Deva Peter remembers
“One of the most moving moments I ever have with him is when he calls me up to his room in Lao Tzu House to tell me the whole boating experience is coming to an end. He wants me to know personally, and directly from him, that that is what is going to happen.
This is the first time I am invited to see him in his house. We meet in his sitting room. It is quite austere, with a Zen vibe. It has a linoleum floor and white walls and is furnised with only his chair and a TV. When I walk in, the TV has “snow” on it, as though he has just finished watching a video, but hasn’t turned off the set. (I have an inner chuckle thinking he might have actually been watching the snow itself, as some form of a meditation.)
In a corner on the floor is his watch carousel. Sun must be entering the room, because the four or five bejeweled watches spinning round and round send rainbow prisms reflecting onto the ceiling, walls and floor.” (Haykus 2016, p. 41)
“A week later as I came home from work, tired, dirty and exhausted, the chief chambermaid asked me to carry the heavy video screen into Bhagwan’s room. She assured me that he was not in the room, so I could go in unwashed. In Poona he had read ten or fifteen books a day, and now he watched videos just as avidly. It was the fulltime job of three sannyasis to make sure he had a constant supply of videos. His favourite films were Georg C. Scott’s ‘Patton’, and ‘The Ten Commandments’. He had watched ‘Patton’ five or six times already.” (Milne 1986, p. 248)
Laheru from Bomay at darshan, June 1982
“Osho was sitting in his chair, in a beautiful small hall in his special trailer. Vivek and other four or five sannyasins were also there. I went to Osho, bowed down, touched his feet, and emotionally paid obeisance to him. He expressed very much happiness on seeing me, made me sit near him and told Vivek to bring a cap, same type as he wore, and put it on my head with his own hands. After that, he talked with me for about fifty minutes. First, he asked about me. Then enquired about Pune Ashram in detail. Then he talked about Mrudula and Laxmi. For Laxmi, he said to me, “I have advised Laxmi to take rest now, and have arranged adequately for taking care of her, because in America it is not possible to work like Pune. But because of her nature Laxmi cannot sit silently.” After that, he talked about Rajneeshpuram a little.” (Laheru 2012, p. 144)
Subhuti back in Lao Tzu House, January 1986
“I reach the car porch then veer left, walking across the garden to a pair of French windows. Gently, I slide one of them back. Taking off my snow-covered boots, I step inside on to wooden parquet flooring and find myself in an empty room. This is where Bhagwan spent his daytime hours, sitting in this room, doing nothing.” (Subhuti 2011, p. 132)
In her ‘Glimpses of my Master’ (2012) Veena has given us some rare insights into her work as his seamstress in Oregon and Poona Two.
Veena on Osho’s robes
“Possible the single biggest event was a change in the style of the robe. For one festival – it must have been shortly after I was back sewing – Arpita made a robe, which I jokingly described as a cross between a samurai outfit and something from Star Wars. Whatever. It was really beautiful and after the festival, when we could relax a little, Nirvano [Vivek] came into the sewing room with the robe. She said that Osho had liked the robe and had a suggestion for a new style based roughly on this design. According to his suggestions we made a sketch and she took it back for verification. Yes, that was more or less it, so we set about working out how to construct it. This was the prototype of his signature outfit which he was to wear until the day he died.” (Veena 2012, p. 141)
“Minx as she was, Nirvano [Vivek] kept us in suspense for some few hours but suddenly appeared grinning broadly, and carrying a large plastic bag filled with hats. ‘Success!’ she smiled. ‘He loves it! Now please remake all the hats to match the robes! Veena, you knit. Gayan, you sew!’ It seemed that the hats were still to be my sadhana. This was the hat with the three lines of fluffy yarn separated by a few rows of plain knitting. He was to wear this style of hat, along with the newly-designed robe, until he left his body in Poona, 1990…
Disaster struck on the second day of the festival. When Osho put the white hat on it had stretched so much from hanging on the stand that it almost covered his eyes. That was the festival when he bizarrely decided to wear horrible sunglasses and he had a pair of white ones encrusted in sparkling stones à la Dame Edna from Australia. Not a good look! The only redeeming feature of the glasses was that they held up the sagging brim so that it didn’t totally cover his eyes. I was unaware of all this drama until he appeared on the podium. Oh god! I had blown it!” (Veena 2012. p. 146)
Fabric checked for TV
“Because so many people were coning from all over the world to see the amazing work we were doing on the Ranch, Osho was busy giving away robes and hats as gifts as fast as we could produce them. To distinguish the various robes we started to give them names. We made little name-cards to attach to the robe and its matching hat, socks and shoes, so everything was colour co-ordinated. Even then we weren’t safe because sometimes, although the colours looked fine to the normal eye, they occasionally looked completely different when they appeared on video. When one considers that most of the world saw Osho on video we realised that this was an important element to be taken into account and so before each festival we arranged a session with the cameramen. We took all the fabric, yarn and shoes onto the podium, put all the spotlights on and the cameramen filmed the samples. We were then able to select or reject according to what we saw on the TV screen.” (Veena 2012, p. 148)
Veena on her favourite robe
“I think that of all the robes I made, my all-time favourite was the ‘Chinese Emperor’ robe. This was an occasion when I really stuck my neck out and knew I was in danger of a potentially fatal chop. Two pieces of fabric had caught my eye. One was a totally gorgeous black satin fabric with a fine rust-orange stripe. The other was a piece of brocade in a deep rust-orange, patterned with black Chinese motifs. But Osho had said on many occasions that he hated orange, despite dressing us in orange for so many years. In fact, he did then qualify his statements by saying that orange was for his sannyasins, not for him. As he had mentioned this on a number of occasions he obviously felt quite strongly about it – and here I was proposing to make a robe partially in orange!…
In fact, he loved that dress and it was one of a handful chosen to go with him when he left the USA. The photo shown was actually taken in Nepal. Later, back in Poona, when we started up robe production again, he sent a message that that robe was never to be given away but was to be kept as an archive robe along with the special robes worn on the final day of each festival. I am glad I followed my intuition that day.” (Veena 2012, pp. 148-151)
Maneesha on Osho’s dresses
“From the Poona days when Bhagwan had worn a fairly straightforward white gown, his wardrobe had expanded. During the Rajneeshpuram years he began to wear colors other than white, and because of the cold weather, knitted robes and coats were made for him. Then the style of his robes began to change as the seamstresses came up with new ideas. It was Arpita who had hit on the idea of the panels on either side of the gown which characterize all the robes Bhagwan has worn most recently. They also made undervests, kimono jackets, socks, and so on. Every piece of his clothing is made by sannyasins.
For each festival at Rajneeshpuram – and there were four in a year – the sewing team began to make a departure from the simplicity of Bhagwan’s day-to-day gowns. Very lavish robes embellished with sequins and synthetic jewels, with gold or silver thread were made. However, with Bhagwan’s departure from the United States, those gowns had been put in storage. During all his traveling, Bhagwan was wearing the more practical gowns, some of which now needed repairing or replacing.” (Forman 2002, p. 343)
Roshani Shay in her chronology
“Mar 21: Celebration of the 31st anniversary of Bhagwan’s Enlightenment; over 1000 visitors to Rajneeshpuram; drawing for 1982 Rolls Royce Silver Spur won by Ranjeeshpuram resident who refuses to claim her prize, saying that the rose she had received earlier in the day from Bhagwan was enough…
Aug 19: Deposition taken in $1 million defamation suit lasts 80 minutes, as Bhagwan breaks 3 1/2 years of public silence; followers line streets of Rajneeshpuram to greet Bhagwan on the way to and from the conference room with music and rose covered carpet..
Aug 20: Videotape of Bhagwan’s deposition shown to jurors and reveals oath taken on the Book of Rajneeshism; Bhagwan had no knowledge of the letter in question until 2 days before the deposition; President of Academy of Rajneeshism [Sheela] has full authority over Rajneeshee business and legal affairs; Bhagwan does not read newspapers or watch TV, but speaks to President of AR about 4 times a week and to others to discuss their personal growth and, he states, “‘I’m no more concerned with the Commune, its day-to-day work… I’m retired completely.'”
Mar 23: Bhagwan begins to wear eyeglasses due to eye deterioration from diabetes.” (Shay 1990)
Drive-by and Rolls-Royces
“Drive-by with singing and dancing – now six months since it was initiated – was a very definite part of our daily lives, with particular groups playing along certain parts of the road. Once you found the group you felt good being with, you tended to stay there, so a real group cohesiveness began to form. Perhaps eighteen people in all formed the nucleus of the group I was in, with friends putting in sporadic guest appearances as they felt inclined… Drive-by was like the energy darshans in Poona, but a lot less refined, if you like. On that dusty road in the middle of a sunny afternoon, many times I felt my energy moving higher and higher, just like in energy darshan or a sexual orgasm, climaxing, diminishing, and spiralling upwards again. It was like making love to my own energy; often I would imagine I was in embrace with the sky and the mountains around us, open my arms and dance myself to a point of expiration.” (Forman 1988, p. 398)
Shunyo on afternoon drive-by
“Osho loved to see His people happy and He drove so slowly that the Rolls Royce engine had to be specially tuned. He moved His arms to the music and stopped at certain groups and musicians. Maneesha, who had been one of Osho’s mediums and was to become His “recorder” (as Plato was to Socrates), would be there with her small group of celebrators. Osho would stop opposite her, and I could see her disappearing into a wild, ecstatic cyclone of colored tambourine ribbons and joy. Her long dark hair would fly around her face, her body leapt in the air, and yet her dark eyes were fixed silently and still on Osho’s.” (Shunyo 1999, p. 88)
Prem Pravira interviewed by Bhagawati on playing her violin
“At the time some sannyasins had just started to play some impromptu music during Osho’s daily drive-by. At first a bit shy (Pravira had never met Osho so close up before) she plucked up her courage and joined a group of Italians joyfully singing and playing tarantellas and other juicy Italian songs. Soon enough Osho stopped the car, rolled down the window and started dancing with His arms and hands to the music, scanning each musician with His infinite brown eyes, encouraging them to go wilder and wilder into the music. “It was absolute, ecstatic madness and just so addictive!” Pravira glows. From then on playing for Osho at the side of the road became a daily highlight, and Pravira was often seen at the corner of Lao Tzu with Yoga Taru and many Indian sannyasins playing bhajans and celebrative, devotional songs.” (Prem Pravita. In: Viha Connection, 2017:2)
Nivedano on making music at drive-by
“Drive-by in itself was already epic! Thousands of seekers from everywhere coming to see the master, the new Buddha, the contemporary holy-man who can say the word ‘fuck’ as a prayer. This synthesis alone was already such a remarkable feature of his approach to divine expression that it is enough for 99% of humanity to have something to digest for the next generations, namely that to fuck and to pray is the same. Nowhere ever has such a thunderous moment taken place on this earth… My drum at that time was plain metal and we decided to paint a beautiful sea-side scene on it… And it so happened that, when Osho saw the painted drum there was recognition. His smile that day was from a different depth, something like saying, “Ok, you’ve got the message!” And from that day on, he always stopped near us and until the very end he continued to honour the drum as a divine tool, a sacred possibility, always available for the one who can play within his silences, his soundless poetries.” (www.oshonews.com, 12.09.2014)
Deva Peter recalls
“The daily drive-by on the Ranch is only the beginning. For this amazing event, thousands of sannyasins line up along the main country road as Osho slowly drives by in the Rolls-Royce of the day. People place fresh, long-stemmed roses on the hood of the car, laugh, cry, or just bliss out. Others dance, play percussion instruments, or jump up and down. This must be experienced to be believed. It is an energy phenomenon.
Osho holds his left hand aloft in greeting. Occasionally he will stop in front of a sannyasin who is radiating some heavy energy, make eye contact, and move both of his hands up and down to conduct the beat. It is thrilling!” (Haykus 2016, p. 61)
An outside observer writes
“As if drawn by magnets, more than 1,000 people stop work and converge at the heart of this central Oregon commune. They form a line that stretches far along one of its dusty gravel streets. The colours of their clothes – various shades of purple, reds and yellows – contrast with the drabness of the surrounding barren hills. Some of the people talk. Others hug. A young boy shouts ‘Bhagwan is coming.’ And sure enough here he comes, cruising towards the sea of red in a silver Rolls Royce. Most of the people clasp hands in front of their faces and await in prayerful meditation.
He drives by the people slowly, one hand on the steering wheel, the other raised in a waving salute. The smile seems to send out a high-voltage connection that melts into the hearts of the believers. He is gone in a matter of minutes. Then, in the afterglow shed by the presence of their ‘enlightened spiritual master’ the sannyasins embrace or linger in silent meditation. Slowly the line crumbles and they return to work smiling and talking happily.” (Alan Gustafson. The Statesman Journal, 03.07.1983. Quoted from: Thompson 1986, p. 93)
Gilhus writes on The Joking Guru
“Bhagwan’s body was considered important because it was the abode of his divine consciousness. It was a gateway to divinity and was treated as an icon: when, in Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, he drove by in one of his many polished Rolls Royces, hailed by his adherents, we recall the vehicles and beasts used to carry the godhead in the mythology of India and elsewhere. We are also reminded of the old Indian image where the soul resides in the body as a charioteer in the chariot. Analogously, the car with Bhagwan inside could be read as an image of body and consciousness. Bhagwan, ‘the blessed one’, was the ideal man, and therefore his was the model body. This body was taken excellent care of and was meticulously groomed. Bhagwan was clad in long robes, usually white, made with loving care by some of his disciples. He had matching hats and a beautiful beard.” (Gilhus 1997, p. 127)
Roshani Shay on Rolls-Royces in her chronology 1985
“Nov 22: Feature saying the sale price of the Rolls Royces is about $5 million for 86 of the 93 and that many inquiries have been made…
Nov 26: Bob Roethlisberger agrees to pay $5-6 million cash for 82-84 Rolls Royces, the remaining 9-11 to be sold to individual sannyasins…
Dec 5: Bob Roethlisberger and 85 Rolls Royces (several of them handpainted with special murals) arrive on 12 trucks in Dallas, TX after a 4 day trip; he says thousands of inquiries have been made and he has had four offers to buy all 85 as a package; he says he paid about $7 million for the cars (which sannyasins say will go to repay those who loaned the money to buy them) and figures he can get between $8 and $10 million on their sale…
Dec 20: Bob Roethlisberger has sold a collection of Bhagwan’s jewelry including diamond stick pins, 88 gold key chains studded with diamonds, and 25 watches, many of them gold or platinum, at a display at Jewels by Batky, and exclusive Dallas shop; the jewelry was insured for $1 million.” (Shay 1990)
“Somehow I got the job of bringing limousines up to the castle for Osho to inspect. Until the Rolls limo arrived from Pune the idea was to buy an interim stretch limo. I contacted limo services to bring up Cadillac and Lincolns for Osho to look at and test drive. I had to tell the services that the driver must wear no scented after shave lotion, must not smell of cigarettes, etc. Now most of these drivers were tough, New York Italian guys and were puzzled by this strange request. And then when Osho walked down in his Little Prince outfits with his flowing beard and started asking the drivers questions “how long is this car, how fast does it go” they were quite nonplussed. To hear him speak to these drivers in his sweet, innocent sounding voice was really something to see. And he made sure to tell them all that he had a Rolls limo coming from India.” (www.oshonews 2014/03)
“And the Rolls-Royces? It all started with one: a 1981 Silver Spirit in which Osho was given lessons when he arrived at The Castle in New Jersey from India. Once at the Ranch, Osho was gifted with three sporty, two-door Camargues. Finally, Osho settled on the Silver Spur as his Rolls-Royce model of choice. In time, he ordered Sheela to start buying more, adding to his Rolls-Royce “collection.” He had something up his sleeve, this “Master of Masters.”” (Haykus 2016, p. 11)
Osho on Rolls-Royces
“Ninety-three Rolls Royces… but I have not looked back at them, at what happened. They were not mine, and I am as happy without them as I was with them. I never went to see those Rolls Royces in the garage. The director of my garage, Avesh, is here. I went on saying to him, “One day I am coming,” but that day never came. I have never seen those cars together. It was he who would bring a car for a one-hour drive, it was his choice. And I have not looked back.
Those cars fulfilled their purpose. They created jealousy in the whole of America, in all the super-rich people. If they were intelligent enough, then rather than being my enemies they would have come to me to find a way to get rid of their jealousy, because it is their problem. Jealousy is a fire that burns you, and burns you badly. You are in the hands of somebody else… Everything that I have done in my life has a purpose. It is a device to bring out something in you of which you are not aware.” Beyond Psychology. Talks in Uruguay (1988). Chapter 9, p. 84. Punta del Este, 16.04.1986pm.
From introduction to ’93 Rolls-Royces’
“Along the way, the group accumulated a total of 93 Rolls-Royces for the guru’s exclusive use. That’s NINETY-THREE Rolls-Royces, the vehicle that most symbolizes the trappings of wealth, power, and prestige in America.
This was the most ostentatious display of materialism since King Midas. It made people’s heads explode, overloading their value systems and sense of decency. It was a slap in the face to materialistic America. To those more aware and alert, it was a wink-wink, nudge-nudge practical joke.
And – it was arguably the most successful PR campaign in the nation’s history.” (Haykus 2016, p. 5)
Osho on his Rolls-Royces
“I had allowed my friends to make a trust with those ninety-three Rolls Royces. Even the president of the Rolls Royce company came to see me, because I was the greatest customer in their whole history; never before, never after, is anybody going to have ninety-three Rolls Royces!
What was the purpose of it? Because I used only one Rolls Royce; I never went to see the garage which the Rolls Royce president went to see. He could not believe his eyes: that my cars were kept in a condition even his new cars could not compete with, because they were given out of love, and taken care of out of love… My interest was something else: to provoke the jealousy of the American so-called rich. And I succeeded absolutely.” Yakusan. Straight to the Point of Enlightenment (1990). Chapter 3, p. 92.
Deva Peter painting the Rolls
“Soon I am called to Osho’s house again, this time to answer his questions about painting the cars different colors. I tell him, “You only have a small selection of different colors available from Rolls, so you won’t get much variety choosing from their stock. I can show you custom color chips and materials that will excite you. Actually, I can paint anything you want on a car!”
At that, Osho’s eyes light up in amazement. Later, I provide him with the Metal Flake Company’s paint color catalogue. I also show him examples of graphic designs from various car magazines. This opens up a whole fantastic world for him…
Painting all the cars is exciting, but the last eleven – the “graphic cars” – take me to another level of creativity.
Designs come from many sources. Some are inspired by his teachings and stories. All of them are individually discussed with Osho for his approval…
By 1985 we have 93 Rolls-Royces. There are always multiple cars in various stages of completion. In the world of custom auto restoration, an individual project can take years. But Osho wants these cars quickly, so even the most complex job takes no more than a month. We’re able to accommodate him because perfection, in a worldly sense, isn’t our goal. Presenting our Master with a gift, in the shorter amount if time, is…
The flag is similar to the sort that you’d see on a diplomat’s car. It’s about 12″ square with the Rajneesh Foundation International logo on it: a circle with two birds in the center. The larger bird is white and represents the Master; the smaller bird, flying behind, is red and represents the sannyasin.” (Haykus 2016, pp. 45,52,57)
Marion Goldman writes
“Rajneesh’s enthusiastic embrace of materialism stimulated media feeding frenzies. In the Unted States, his collection of nearly 100 Rolls Royces remains a lasting symbol of Rajneeshpuram for many of the movement’s American critics. The extravagant cars represented both Rajneesh’s embrace of the corporal world and his tweaking of Westerners’ automobile worship. He owned his first Rolls in India, where there was a tradition of the car’s association with royalty that dated back to the British Raj. His collection, however, only reached epic proportions after he settled in Oregon. Sannyasins appreciated the humor behind the swarm of Rolls Royces and mourned when they were sold to pay off the movement’s American depts. They also rejoiced in their teacher’s luxury watches and other appointments in the same ways that devout members of many other groups, including many Roman Catholics, appreciate their leaders’ splendor.” (Goldman 2014, p. 187)
Heading: Bhagwan in Guiness Book of Records
“The unrivalled collector of Rolls-Royces was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (b. 1931), the Indian mystic of Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. His disciples bestowed 93 of these upon him before his deportation in Nov. 1985.
This entry appeared under “Most Expensive Standard Cars” in the 1988 Revised Edition of the ‘Guinness Book of Records.'” (Rajneesh Times International (India), 1988:21)
The PR campaign
“We broke the Rolls-Royce story on Friday, November 19, 1982 (the ‘Rajneesh Times’ was a weekly newspaper that always came out on Friday).
The way we did it was like this:
A couple of days earlier, we lined up nineteen Rolls-Royces on the bridge over Muddy Creek, not far from Osho’s house, to get the photo. Then we printed the photo (black and white) right across the centerfold of the newspaper.
Because of all the rumours circulating about “Bhagwan’s Rolls-Royces,” we used the headline: “Yes, it’s true and here they are to prove it!” The subhead was: “Don’t bother counting, there are nineteen here and two more in the garage.”
The story went national and international.” (Haykus 2016, p. 95)
Press photo on Rolls Royces hits the fan
“… dispatching two photographs (one of Osho and one of a line-up of some of the 65 Rolls Royces we owned at the time) and a short caption to press agencies and to all local and some national papers… We had never expected that the photo of the cars would attract so much attention… The usual procedure of pasting the articles onto individual sheets, marked with title and date of publication, was quickly abandoned. We decided to file them according to States and created special folders called: Rolls – Ohio, etc. The number of clippings could then be measured by the bulking of the individual folders.” (Punya 2015, p. 269)
Urban quotes Narayan
“As one sannyasin, Swami Anand Narayan, aptly notes, most Americans today only remember the outrageous wealth and the spectacular collapse of Rajneeshpuram, forgetting that this was also an incredible progressive and briefly successful communal experiment: “Even today, people may not remember ‘the Ranch’ with its incredible vitality… They may not remember the innovative agricultural project that reclaimed thousands of acres of semi-arid over grazed land in the middle of Oregon. But they can’t forget those Rolls-Royces.”” (Urban 2015, p. 190)
Amrito in interview on Rolls Royces
“Also, by the way, we havn’t mentioned the other famous subject: of course, his Rolls-Royces. He thought: ‘In a society obsessed with stuff, I can write, I can produce 600 books on meditation and no one is interested. But get 93 Rolls-Royces and the world will never forget’. Basically, here is this nonwhite male from India who wears a robe and a funny hat, and drives around the city where everyone wears red and doesn’t get paid, they’re all vegetarians with no interest in the family or private property, right in the middle of cowboy country – you could see how the inevitable game unfolds. But by having cars, and driving these cars, and having 93 of them in the country which has the biggest and the best – you know, ‘make America great again’ – if anyone’s going to have the most cars, we have to have the most cars. And here’s the nonwhite guy, he’s got more cars than we have. So it turns into kind of a joke about consumerism. Fantastic.” (Bhagwan’s Doctor Gives His Take on ‘Wild Wild Country’. Interview with Amrito by Anna Silman. In: The Cut, 24.04.2018. www.thecut.com/2018/04)
Shanti Bhadra writes
“Together with his young English companion, Vivek, he took the white armoured Rolls-Royce which had been brought from India, and drove out along the country road towards Antelope.” (Stork 2009, p. 135)
“In fact as the story goes, one time Osho was stopped for driving over the speed limit while he was in Oregon and he said to the police officer, “That’s impossible, because I have a speed-breaker on my speedometer.” His Rolls Royce was incapable of speeding, and he asked the officer to actually time him one more time because he was going to have his lawyer write to Rolls Royce. Osho got a speeding ticket to no one’s surprise and I don’t know if he ever heard back from the Rolls Royce people. Osho was indeed lucky he didn’t get two speeding tickets. He was also lucky never to crash and burn, even though it is rumored he ran off the road here and there. It appears he was attracted to soft-shoulders. The Karmapa was the same way when he came to speedy America.” (Krishna 2011, p. 149)
After a car incident Osho recalls from India
“Then Osho related a story about a time when he was in India and his driver went off the road and the car rolled onto its side. Osho was in the back seat and could smell gasoline. He nudged the driver and told him to get out of the car, saying, “The car’s going to explode.” The driver said, “I can’t. I’m dead!” Osho said, “You’re not dead. If you were dead, you wouldn’t be able to hear me!”
Finally the driver got out and was able to help Osho out. Osho tells Avesh and me to “tell Anandadas, ‘If I was going to die in a car accident, I would have died then,’ So, not to worry about me on the ride.” To me, it’s another example of Osho’s profound compassion for a disciple.” (Haykus 2016, p. 67)
Deva Peter on selling the Rolls-Royces: End game in Dallas
“Someone once said, “Art begets art,” and that is certainly the case with the Rolls-Royces. A Dallas photographer named Bill Summer sees an article about the cars in a city newspaper and recognizes what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to record the collection on film. He comes to European Auto Group and gets permission to take the photos. Some of them later appear in the prestigious automobile magazine, ‘Automobile Quarterly’…
The media shows up in big way to cover the Dallas Rolls-Royce extravaganza. In addition to ‘Life’, the ‘New York Times’, and a variety of car magazines, including ‘Automobile Quarterly’, they come to report on the cars. TV reporters show up. Rolls-Royce corporate officials and dealers from around the country make an appearance, too.” (Haykus 2016, pp. 75,77)
Urban on the Rolls Royces
“His first two Rolls-Royces were a Corniche and Silver Shadow, which were shipped from the Pune ashram to the Oregon ranch; and these were soon joined by an expanding fleet of cars that would eventually number ninety-three… Even Rajneesh’s embrace of the marketplace and conspicuous consumption was presented as a joke or a bit of satire. As he later reflected, his absurd collection of ninety-three Rolls-Royces was an ironic parody of the materialism that runs through American politics and religious life itself, as exemplified by bloated Congressmen and billionaire televangelists: “The American thinks they are the richest people in the world. But I created a simple joke with ninety-three Rolls-Royces, and all their pride was gone. Even the president became jealous, the governors became jealous, the clergymen became jealous… I destroyed the pride of America! I don’t need ninety-three Rolls-Royces. It was a practical joke.” We will see, of course, that Rajneesh’s collection of luxury automobiles was a good bit more complicated than a practical joke; yet his unique postmodern sense of irony, his playfulness, and his unabashed
consumerism remain quite clear.” (Urban 2015, p. 15)
Osho on his practical joke to challenge American materialism
“I was teaching meditation to thousands of people. America was not interested in it. The whole of the news media were continuously talking about 93 Rolls Royces.”
“Perhaps in a poor country this could be expected, but I destroyed the pride of America. It was a joke, and not even a single so-called intellectual could understand it.” (Press Release. 26.02.1988. 93 Rolls Royces Were My Joke On America, Says Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Sw Chaitanya Keerti)
The selling of the Rolls-Royces
“Bidding against Schwartz was Bob Roethlisberger, an obscure Texas car dealer from the Dallas suburb of Carrollton. Roethlisberger, owner of the European Auto Group, loved the custom paint jobs and reflected his feelings by adding a premium for each of the customized cars. His offer was estimated at just over $6 million.
In November 1985, 15 auto transport trailers rolled out of Oregon taking the 85 cars to their new home in Texas…
At he time of his death [23.04.1986], 35 of the 85 cars had been sold. Those remaining have moved slowly out of the showroom continuously since then. Last fall, at a major classic car auction in Auburn, Ind., 33 more cars were sold.
Executives in Lyndhurst [Rolls-Royce U.S. headquarter] say that for them the matter is now finished. Most of the cars have been reabsorbed by the market, and, regardless of the issue of repainted versus factory-painted cars, they are dispersed. Although the world’s largest fleet of Rolls-Royces automobiles no longer exists, repercussions are sure to echo in the years ahead. Just as Beatle rock star John Lennon’s repainted Rolls-Royce, which incidentally Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Inc. disapproved of, constantly reappears in different locations with different owners, the legacy of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s cars will long be around – to amuse some, to antagonize others, and most certainly to be a reminder to the executives in the corporate suite at Lyndhurst of one of the strangest customers they ever had.” (Peter Schroeder. In: Business Journal of New Jersey, May 1987, pp. 100-102)
Urban writes on organizations
“With the help of some sophisticated legal and business management, the movement created an extremely complicated system of parent companies and subsidiaries that was incredibly confusing to virtually everyone except Rajneesh’s lawyers (including government agencies, and perhaps intentionally so). Three separate but mutually reinforcing organizations were formed, which supported one another in an interlocking structure. The parent organization was the Rajneesh Foundation International (RFI), which was managed through the Rajneesh Investment Corporation (RIC) and the Rajneesh Neo-Sannyas International Commune (RNSIC). The RIC was a for-profit corporation to which ownership of the ranch was transferred and which then served as the depository for funds taken in from other centers around the world. The RNSIC or “commune,” on the other hand, was established in 1981 as a nonprofit, tax-free “religious community” to provide subsistence for members who donated their labor to the construction of the ranch. Through the interlocking of these three corporations, and through their skillful combination of religious (tax-exempt) and secular enterprises, the movement was able to maintain a remarkable fluid structure.” (Urban 2015, p. 109)
Sheela had been raised in Gujarat in India, some would say as a spoiled darling of a middle-class family with six children. At seventeen she joined two brothers and a sister who had immigrated to USA, enrolling as a fine arts major at Montclair State College in New Jersey. Sheela was first married to Marc Silverman, a student in physics and a US citizen whom she had met while studying art. They both took sannyas and he became Chinmaya and died of Hodgkins lymphoma in 1980. Sheela was from 1981 married to a homosexual Swiss, Dipo, a former banker and now co-ordinator of the Osho Commune in Zürich. She also stayed with Jayananda (Jay) during the time in the USA. After her imprisonment she founded a home for elderly people with another Swiss, Urs Sager.
FitzGerald on meeting Sheela in May 1983
“The second time I met her, she told me a bit about her background. She was born in Baroda, in Gujarat province, she said, and had been brought up there and on the family farm in Madhya Pradesh; her father belonged to one of the great industrial families of the region and, as a young man, had been a close supporter of Mahatma Gandhi. At Gandhi’s suggestion, he had gone to Oxford, and had returned to make a fortune in cotton spinning and real estate. This, I later discovered, was not quite the case: her father was a relatively small businessman and a farmer (he had managed the farm in Madhya Pradesh); as a young man, he had fought for Indian independence and had travelled to England, but had then returned to live quietly in Baroda. Sheela was the youngest of six children and, she said, “the spoiled child of the family.” Two of her older brothers and a sister emigrated to the United States, and in 1967, at the age of seventeen, Sheela followed them. She enrolled in Montclair State College, in New Jersey, and there met and married an American. (He died some years later, of Hodgkin’s disease.) On a trip home in late 1972, she was taken by her father – an admirer of the Indian religious philosopher Krishnamurti and of the poet Kahlil Gibran – to see Rajneesh, and a month or so later she became a sannyasin. Her husband followed her to India, and both of them joined the ashram in early 1973 [1974?].” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 72)
Vasant Joshi writes on Sheela
“In an interview that Ma Anand Sheela, Osho’s secretary, gave in 1995 to ‘Viha Connection’, a monthly magazine published by the Osho Viha Meditation Centre in Mill Valley, California, she said, ‘I had nothing to do with meditation before; I have nothing to do with meditation now.’ In this forthright statement she sums up the very genesis of the calamity that was going to fall on Rajneeshpuram. As the leader of the project Rajneeshpuram, she was clearly the most powerful, fearless and talented individual. Tragically, however, she had to shoulder the heavy responsibility of being Osho’s secretary, but this gave her an outrageous sense of egotism and vanity – the ugliness of which only a meditator can be aware of.” (Joshi 2010, p. 168)
Maneesha writes on her time with Sheela in the Poona ashram
“My path and Sheela´s never had any reason to cross. The little I knew of her I didn’t care for a great deal. She was loud, even coarse, brusque, abrasive, and made it known that she thought meditation and growth were for the birds. She stood out from all other sannyasins of her vintage in this respect; and I always felt uncomfortable when I heard her voicing her views because, although it was always with laughter in her voice, I felt she was undermining Bhagwan’s work and the whole reason for us all being there. And if she wasn’t living at the ashram for either meditation or growth, what was she there for? However, as I have said, I had little to do with her: I lived in Lao Tzu House and I didn’t come under her jurisdiction.” (Forman 1988, p. 150)
Mistlberger on Sheela in Poona
“Throughout the 1970s, Osho’s chief administrator had been Ma Yoga Laxmi, but in 1981 in what would prove to be a fateful change, she was displaced by Ma Sheela (Ma Anand Sheela). Sheela, a young woman of just over thirty years of age, had a fire and drive that Laxmi didn’t, and Osho saw in her someone he judged to have the right characteristics to lead the administration of his organization through the next crucial phase of its growth… As a disciple, Sheela was noteworthy for a few things, one of which was an exceptional strong personal energy, and the other was a strange habit of sleeping through her master’s morning lectures. This latter fact is attested in some surviving photos of the time: Osho lecturing on the podium, dressed in his simple white robe that in those days (the 1970s) he always wore, and before him, several hundred orange-robed disciples, all sitting, either listening attentively, or eyes closed in meditation. And there, amongst all of that, was an Indian woman in the front row lying on her side – snoozing.” (Mistlberger 2010, pp. 272,289)
Sambodhi on Laxmi treated as persona-non-grata
“Sheela’s position as Bhagwan’s secretary probably became official once the decision to move to America was made. During my stay at Utsava, Laxmi had come to the ranch and was asked to leave. Shortly thereafter, all centers received a directive from ranch administration (i.e. Sheela) instructing them not to welcome Laxmi if she came through their town. She was to be treated as persona-non-grata, the equivalent of excommunication for Catholics or shunning in the Amish tradition. The message further explained that this directive had Bhagwan’s blessing; that sometimes what may seem cruel from one perspective is precisely what is needed at that particular time for an individual’s spiritual growth. We were not to assume otherwise and interfere with her process…
As troubling as this incident was, I was nowhere near ready to consider that we were heading in a dangerous direction. I concluded that this was a manoeuvre of Sheela’s to solidify power, although (and this was the troubling part) sanctioned by Bhagwan. There was no other way to explain Laxmi’s absence from the ranch. For the next three years she stayed with various former sannyasin in different parts of the country. She was welcomed again at the ranch during what turned out to be our last year, but she never stayed more than a month or two at a time. When Bhagwan returned to India, she followed and remained devoted to him.” (Clare 2009, p. 152)
Shiva on Laxmi’s attempt to buy land
“At about this time, Laxmi had a private darshan with Bhagwan where she outlined a plan that had been forming in her head for some time. She knew of a ranch near San Francisco, she said, which had immediate zoning for five hundred people and was isolated in a beautiful redwood forest, yet had a good metalled road. She had already approached the Governor of California and met with an encouraging response. The asking price was six million dollars…
The story came out. Sheela had discovered Laxmi’s project and had presented Bhagwan with an “it’s her or me” ultimatum. She had won. Laxmi was immediately ordered to cease all worldly activities and hand over financial affairs to Sheela. She was ordered to stay on the ranch from now on. Any more letters she wanted delivering would have to be handed to the sannyasi in charge of shopping. In another meeting Sheela told us that Laxmi was now an ‘ordinary person’, and should be treated like anybody else. Bhagwan had told her the time had come for her to focus on her individual enlightenment, which was very close. So she had to be allowed her privacy, and nobody was to visit her any more.” (Milne 1986, p. 229)
Shanti Bhadra on Sheela in Jesus Grove
“… I would often drop in at Sheela’s house in the evening to be there when she returned from visiting Bhagwan. I was not the only one who was hungry for news of him. Others came, eager to know how he looked that day and to hear what he had said. We sat at Sheela’s feet and listened in rapture to her recounting her visits with him. Bhagwan spoke of his vision of transforming the Big Muddy into a great ‘Buddhafield’, and gave her very specific instructions as to how she was to go about it. He took an interest in every detail of progress so that Sheela’s meetings with him were a daily debriefing, during which he would give her directions for the next steps, which she would in turn pass on to those who were to carry them out. She was the master’s voice… A few weeks later Sheela directed me to move into her house… The room was at the far end of the house in the new wing, quite removed from Sheela’s room, but from that day on I was at Sheela’s beck and call, as were all those who lived in her house. The house had been extended a number of times and was like a small hotel. Thirty or forty people lived there, all of them in some way or another of service to Sheela. A few others lived in A-frames nearby.” (Stork 2009, pp. 160,137)
Maneesha on Sheela’s role as secretary
“It was obvious she relished the daily personal contact she had with him. As he was in silence, she was the only connection we in the commune had with him, so naturally we were eager to listen to any amusing gossip she brought from her meetings with him. But I, who had sat at his feet for so many years, had had a very different relationship with Bhagwan, and I balked to hear Sheela speak of him in a way that seemed disrespectful and totally inappropriate for a disciple in reference to her master… That Sheela deliberately misquoted and misrepresented Bhagwan to the commune, and no doubt the commune to Bhagwan, continuously throughout her time as his secretary, that she used – and abused – our love for Bhagwan, is one of her crimes against Bhagwan and the commune that was never aired when she was publicly exposed the following year. Yet this was the pivot on which she was able to maintain her power for so long, as far as I can see… Perhaps, though, where I only saw an abrasive, unrefined ego, Bhagwan could see in Sheela an uncut diamond, a woman with a great deal of raw energy and the potential to use that energy creatively. But from the early Poona days Sheela used that energy to ascent the ladder of power, elbowing Arup – Laxmi’s other assistant – aside and almost certainly helping to bring about Laxmi’s removal. Already she had begun selecting those women who were “her people” – as opposed to Arup’s or Laxmi’s.” (Forman 1988, pp. 261,360,513)
Osho on choosing Sheela as secretary
“So when I had chosen Sheela to be my secretary, my reasons were: the secretary has to be pragmatic, practical in worldly affairs, because she will be taking care of the commune. And she will have to manage the commune amidst a world… she has to be alert and aware about worldly affairs. She was not very educated, she had no university degree – she has been a waitress in a hotel in America – but I did not want a very intellectual person to be my secretary, because the intellectual person will destroy my messages by his intellect.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991). Chapter 5, p. 51. 19.09.1985.
Sheela on her team
“Vidya, Savita und ich funktionierten als eine Einheit. Wir bildeten zusammen das Management. Ich kümmerte mich um Bhagwan und seine Verrücktheiten, Savita regelte die enormen Finanzen und Vidya organisierte die Arbeiter, gute wie schlechte.” (Sheela 1996, p. 223)
FitzGerald on Sheela’s loyal crew
“At the same time, she created a coterie of sannyasins loyal to her. The membership of this coterie changed over the years; Sushila, for example, was in it until 1984, when Sheela read her out of the movement. Also, it had various circles within it: Isabel, for example, remained in an outer circle, while in the inmost circle were people like Savita, who knew everything about the movement’s finances, and people like Su and Shanti Bhadra, who worked closely with Sheela. Puja was perhaps the nearest to the center, for Puja supplied Sheela with Percodan, Valium, and Demenol, the drugs she increasingly needed to keep going; also, Puja who ran the medical clinic dictatorially, had ways of dealing with Sheela’s enemies.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 113)
Samsara on organizing
“Belle [Samsara’s codename for Vidya] headed Rajneesh Legal Services (RLS) and The Rajneesh Neo Sannyas International Commune, (RNSIC) a multi-national corporation, with satelite centres around the world. These corporations together with Sarah’s [Savita’s] Rajneesh Financial Institute (RFI) held meetings in Portland regularly. Sila [Sheela] was head of the Religion of Rajneeshism, complete with its non-profit “church” status. Ruby controlled Rajneesh Hotel. The hotel was a convenient link to the world. By 1983, several hundred thousand people across the globe were involved. Often as many as two thousand were on the Ranch at any given time. Nearly ten thousand came to the July Festival.” (Longo-Disse 2006, p. 173)
Maneesha on management crew
“Vidya had changed immensely from the days I first knew her in Poona. Gone was her lightheartedness, her appreciation of a good joke. I was to see this change in other people too – people who in Poona had had no particular status and were now in some position of authority. Nirmal, Shanti Bhadra, Patipada, Dolma, had all been likable, warm, enthusiastic people. Now they were coordinators or “mums” – a word I could never bring myself to use over my years in the commune.” (Forman 1988, p. 258)
Savita was an accountant by training… Ma Prem Karuna had a Ph.D. in adult education from Boston University… Krishna Deva (David Knapp), the mayor of Rajneeshpuram, was a clinical psychologist by training; he had an M.A. from Lone Mountain College, in San Francisco, and had worked with handicapped students at Santa Monica City College. For his Ph.D. dissertation, at the Fielding Institute, in Santa Barbara, he had done a study on three hundred American Rajneesh disciples in Poona… Deva Wadud, the city planner, had been practicing psychic for six years before coming to the ranch. Before that he had been a city planner in San Mateo and San Luis Obispo, California. He had a B.A. from the architecture schol of the University of Michigan and an M.A. from the Harvard Graduate School of Design… Neehar, the farm coordinator, was an Australian with a Ph.D. in linguistic philosophy. He had run an ecological farm in Australia… Anand Videh, coordinator of the water systems, had a degree from Harvard in visual and environmental studies, and his office was staffed by professional geologists and engineers… Ma Yoga Vidya, head of the personnel department and president of the commune, was a former systems analyst for I.B.M. and Univac, graduated from the University of South Africa with honors in math and had then studied computer science at the University of London… Prem Niren, head of the legal team, was a graduate from the University of San Franscisco Law School and partner of the California firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Tunney, in Los Angeles. His wife, Ma Prem Isabel, a Chilean of French extraction, who ran public relations, might, most journalists agreed, have done P.R. for any large corporation… The chief lobbyist for the group, Ma Mary Catherine, was an Oregonian with a Ph.D. from Yale and a decade of experience in Portland city politics. (Based on: FitzGerald 1986, I pp. 57-58)
When Sheela was absent from the commune Savita and Vidya would replace her and see Osho with secretarial work. (Forman 1988, p. 513)
Maneesha on medical facilities
“He [Devageet] did mention that sometime earlier in 1984, Devaraj and he had got hauled over the coals by Sheela because they’d been involved in a plan to extend the dental facilities in Lao Tzu House. The project had been approved by Vivek, but Sheela was away at the time and her people had delayed starting work until her return. When she did come back she was distinctly displeased to find her authority seemingly usurped; a fuss was created and finally the whole project was abandoned… With a firm hold on the reins of the Medical Center, Puja took it on herself to constantly meddle with the diagnosis and treatment of those admitted to the ward. This was to be extended to the administration of countless drugs to Sheela, to commune members seen to be needing “straightening out,” and finally to lending her medical skills in the attempted murder of Devaraj.” (Forman 1988, pp. 329f)
Rosciano on Osho and Sheela on the Ranch
“Many things have been written about Osho’s saga in the United States, and of these many focused more on his secretary, Sheela, rather than on Osho himself. In a way, it was inevitable, because of her provocative confrontations with an American government that tried in every way to get us out of the Ranch, out of America, by both legal and illegal methods.
For a long time Osho gave no discourses and conducted no interviews with journalists. Once he went into silence, very little could be said about him, so media attention focused on his secretary, who acquired the position of sole interlocutor with the government, with journalists, with the American legal system and with everything regarding the public life of the commune. As a result, Sheela quickly became notorious as a kind of antagonistic, spiritual Don Quixote who fought against any kind of obstacle, real or imagined, that she saw in front of her.
Osho’s global image also began to change. The man who’d been labelled ‘the sex guru’ in India now became known as the money guru, mainly because of his growing fleet of Rolls-Royces and the commune’s seemingly limitless financial resources.” (Rosciano 2013, p. 168)
FitzGerald on management
“The commune, I gathered, had no formal hierarchy, but it had, along with the department heads, a group of people called coordinators, who met with Sheela once a week and made the major decisions for the commune. These coordinators then passed the decisions along through departmental meetings. Anyone could criticize or object, but no votes were taken at any meeting. Within the departments, the coordinators acted as personnel managers in a rather extended sense: their charge was to see not only that their departments were properly staffed but also that people worked well, individually and as a group… In a commune where such values were paramount, the difference between the coordinators and the department heads seemed to be analogous to that of “red” and “expert” in Mao’s China.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 72)
Navino on job structure
“The work environment at Rajneeshpuram was absolutely unique. I, and the vast majority of the people who lived there – the so-called rank and file – flowed through a variety of jobs that created the community and served one another. The structure included these characteristics:
There was little supervision. People were given a job and told to “go for it, have fun, stay aware.” There was no other direction and no job performance evaluations. People were offered incredible latitude in how they went about their work.
People performed many jobs, depending on the particular needs of the community. This included a flowing in and out of the management positions, and a flowing in and out of so-called professional and menial positions.
When people changed jobs, there was no change in economic status or in physical comforts.
People could take on new jobs without any training. Anyone might be sent to operate a bulldozer, or to put together evidence for a court case.
Generalization prevailed over specialization. People could expand and broaden their work responsibilities easily.
There was an underlying attitude and understanding that the work was, first and foremost, a device to help people in their growth and meditation.” (Navino. In: Webber 1990, p. 77)
From Ava’s testimony on her answering letters written to Osho
“Ava: I went to [Ma Prem] Geeta and she said I was going to be assigned a really special job. And Saba [sic, “At Utsava I”] had worked at the legal team. I thought I was going to be doing legal typing. She said actually you are going to be answering Bhagwan’s letters that disciples have written to him. And there are only a few people that do this. You feel like you are really sensitive and you know this is kind of a privileged job. You have to be special to be able to do this. And this is the job that we are going to give you.
Glick: What do you mean, you are the one that answers Bhagwan’s…?
Ava: Bhagwan received letters from around the world from his disciples asking for spiritual advice. Instead of Bhagwan answering the letters personally the typist in the typing pool would answer them. We would read them – and this had been going on for a long time. There were books that had quotes about love or relationships and death or whatever, any number of subjects. So we would read the person’s letter and write a few lines of advice and then Sheela would sign for Bhagwan…
[Brecher:] For as early as the autumn of 82′, she was being asked to participate in an, according to her, ongoing deception and conspiracy.
Not against the people of Oregon and the rest of the human race, but those trusting sannyasins around the world who thought they were addressing their most intimate and immediate issues to their master, but were actually getting by the numbers answers from an intermediary as clueless as them. And from what she’s just “what’s the problem?” admitted in open court, obviously even more so. The irrevocably blind leading those with a chance of recovering their eyesight. One of the worst crimes in Rajneesh’s universe, if not the worst.” (Brecher 2014, pp. 489,490)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“Feb 24: Reported that the Pres. of Academy of Rajneeshism will leave in a few days for a tour of Europe to include Brussels, Bonn, Cologne, The Hague, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Vienna, Zurich, Milan, Rome, Madrid, Paris, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Berlin; she says she is “‘going to let the world know once and for all that we are a religion.'”…
Oct 14:…feature on Sheela in Portland, Oregon, The Oregonian lists her titles as President of the Academy of Rajneeshism, President of Rajneesh Foundation International, President of Rajneesh Humanity Trust and Personal Secretary and adoptive sister to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (see also for biographical material on Sheela).” (Shay 1990)
Incorporation of Rajneeshpuram as a city
“In November of 1981 we had set the ball rolling to have Rajneeshpuram “incorporated” – that is, to have the status of a city. We could only have certain facilities we needed if we incorporated as a city: we had to have more than the five telephone lines we were using; we needed commercial zones to start a mail order book business; we wanted to be able to have a reception booth for visitors and a gas station… So even though in 1982 the lower courts had granted us city status, because their decision was challenged first by “1,000 Friends” and then by the attorney general on the church-state question, the whole issue became a long ping-pong game from the higher courts to the lower courts and back again… Meanwhile, Antelope, the nearest town, was eighteen miles down the road; it had been a sheep town in the early 1890’s, with a population of around one thousand at its peak. Its current population was approximately forty; and it was incorporated as a city. So in 1982 we bought some land in Antelope and put on it a trailer in which four or five sannyasins lived. We then set about looking at how to establish a mail order book business in a commercial zone there… So by 1984 we were in the middle of these legal and constitutional issues, which were going to take at least another year to resolve. Late in 1985, after two and a half years of litigation, the brief decision on the status of Rajneeshpuram was pronounced. It was, according to Vimukta, one of the major landmark constitutional cases in American history. Curiously, the judge provided no reasoning or rationale for her decision – simply stating that Rajneeshpuram was unconstitutional due to the intermingling of church and state and declaring the incorporation null and void.” (Forman 1988, pp. 299,300,304)
Osho on Rajneeshpuram
“I would not have come to know all this about the Mormons and their city… Just by chance, where our commune was situated in Oregon, three magistrates had to decide whether to give Rajneeshpuram the status of a city or not. One of them was a Mormon, and he was the most influential of the three. One was against; the other was just wavering, but because of the Mormon he voted for the city. The Mormon judge used to come to the commune, and he loved the place. And he himself told my secretary, “You should be alert and aware, because what happened to our leader… We were not doing any harm to anyone, but our leader was shot. And the man you are following is saying such outrageous things that the danger is always there. And what happened? because of this Mormon judge the city was recognized. For two years the city was on the map of America…” Hari Om Tat Sat (1989), p. 46.
FitzGerald on her visit in May 1983
“The Rajneeshee had achieved an extraordinary amount in less than two years – and with very little outside labor. They had begun with sixty-four thousand acres and some federal land, most of it of very poor quality; overgrazed by sheep in decades past, the ranch had not been worked profitably for twenty years. (For the past ten years, it had belonged to a real-estate trust.) Since July of 1981, the Rajneeshee had cleared three thousand acres and, they said, had planted winter wheat, sunflowers, vegetables, vines, and fruit trees. They had built a three-hundred-and-fifty-million-gallon reservoir, fourteen irrigation systems, with underground pipes taking the water to the fields, and several artesian wells for drinking water. Their truck farm now provided ninety per cent of all the vegetables consumed on the ranch; their poultry farm and dairy produced all the necessary milk and eggs. The infrastructure for the city now included a ten-megawatt electrical substation, an urban-use sewer system, a telephone and computer communications center, and eighty-five school buses – or the fourth-largest public-transportation system in the state of Oregon. They had started with a single farmhouse, and now had a quarter of a million square feet of buildings. With thirty-eight new residential quadriplexes, they could house a thousand people over the coming winter. The tent city they were building would accommodate fifteen thousand people for the week of the Master’s Day Festival.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 54)
“The daily ‘gachchamis’ before and after work had been introduced after a general meeting held in the Mandir. We already knew the melody and the words from the celebrations. The salutation was to be directed towards Osho, which meant that we had to work out the direction of Osho’s house, a bit like knowing where Mecca is. ‘Oh, well, why not,’ I thought – until I could not live without doing them.” (Punya 2015, p. 289)
“Bhagwan often reminded us in discourse that our goal is to transform the ordinary, mundane, things into extraordinary, spiritual things: that our work is our worship.
Whereas for most of the world “work” implies drudgery, boredom something out of duty, or for economic gain and competition, at Rajneeshpuram, we recognize that our work is our worship, an opportunity to watch, to become aware, to gain greater meditativeness. For instance, the Commune is divided structurally into “temples”. The person whose worship is farming is a member of Dadu Temple, and the heavy equipment operator worships in Mahavira Temple.
As Sheela explains it, “The Commune doesn’t regard its departments in the same purely functional way as other organizations and businesses do. These are really the temples in which we worship, so that is what we call them. We treat the building where the worship is happening as temples. They are maintained and recognized as temples.”
Each temple begins and ends each day of worship by chanting together the traditional prayer:
Sangham Sharanam Gachchami
Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami
I go the the feet of the Commune of the Awakened One.
I go to the feet of the Ultimate Truth of the Awakened One.
(Note: “In Gautam Buddha’s original Gachchamis the line “Sangham Sharanam Gachchami” was the third but Osho changed the order and made it second; perhaps that indicates how much importance Osho gave to the sangha.” (Sw. Dhyan Paritosh. Viha Connection, 2018:1))
“On celebration days, as in Poona, Osho would come and meditate with us. The first one I attended was Enlightenment Day March 21, 1982 in the newly constructed Magdalena cafeteria…
There were five days of Satsang in the giant meditation hall known as ‘Rajneesh Mandir’; to get past land-use laws, we had to pretend it was a greenhouse. I don’t think anybody was fooled. It is difficult if not impossible to describe the joy of seeing Osho with thousands of his disciples singing, swaying, crying, sitting in silence. To one who wasn’t there, it must seem crazy, cultish, rave-like. But it was none of these for us. We had no time for any other daily meditation besides the work/worship, so the gift of sitting for a few hours with the master… priceless!” (Abhiyana 2017, pp. 290,299)
Name of locations on the Ranch
“Naropa is the name of the publications department. The original Naropa was a Tibetan Buddhist Master who had been a great scholar, the keeper of rare scriptures in a university. One story Bhagan told is that Naropa had a dream in which he had to admit that he understood only the words but not the sense of the scriptures… whereupon he never again touched a scripture in his life. He sought reality instead…
Buddhaghosha is the temple that handles the sale and shipping of Bhagwan’s books. It is named for a 5th century Buddhist author and scholar who wrote a compendium of Buddhism. He is considered largely responsible for the preservation of Buddhism in written form…
Buddhagosha Rajneesh Bookstore…In the bookstore, popular items included audio tapes of the new Satsangs and color photos of Bhagwan in His beautiful Satsang robes. Also popular were the new pocketsize editions of Bhagwan books which were published for the celebration. Towards the end of the week, the Satsang and Darshan videos were also available for purchase and viewing in the Video Theater at the rear of Buddhaghosha Rajneesh Bookstore…
Zarathustra is a ranch building used primary for the storage of books, but which also houses several temples such as Buddhaghosha and Baal Shem. It is named for the Persian mystic who taught a total affirmation of life. The building was once used for farm storage, and the story is told that Zarathustra once said that his only book was the book of nature. One anecdote says that a king traveled a long distance to ask Zarathustra for an explanation of the mysteries of life and the universe. In answer, Zarathustra handed him a grain of wheat. The king, not understanding, kept it in a golden box for years. Only much later was it explained to him that the seed must disappear to attain its destiny as a plant…
Buddha Hall is the main assembly hall where thousands of disciples of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh from all over the world will gather in satsang with their Master during the Second Annual World Celebration…
Alan Watts Grove is one of the residential areas, named for the 20th century American writer on religion and mysticism. Watts was interested in Eastern culture at the age of 12, and at 20 published his first book: The Spirit of Zen. Bhagwan has quoted several times from another book by Watts entitled: The Wisdom of Insecurity.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1983:7,10)
(Note: See also Names of Locations in Appendix).
Christians trying to reach out for Osho during drive by
“You couldn’t help being touched by the people who seemed truly concerned about the Bhagwan’s immortal soul, and the souls of all those bright young people who gathered around him. Many of these people were sincerely convinced that if they could just persuade them to read the Bible they would become instant Christians and be saved. One or two even tried to hand the Bhagwan a Bible as he glided slowly past in his car. But he would only smile and keep right on driving. And why wouldn’t he? After all, he had an advanced degree in religion and philosophy and could hardly have escaped reading the Bible! Reading it very thoroughly in fact.
During August and September of 1974, before he came to America, Bhagwan gave twenty-one discourses on the sayings of Jesus from the Gospel According to Thomas. These are available on audiotape and were published in a book, “The Mustard Seed.”
Two series of discourses about Jesus were published in four hardbound volumes in 1975 under the title of “Come Follow Me.”
Nineteen of Bhagwan’s discourses on the sayings of Jesus were published in two volumes in 1977. These are entitled “I Say Unto You.” (Murphy 1986, p. 55)
“… Rajneesh dress restrictions changed dramatically. First, red, the color of her friend’s ideal suit, was allowed. Then maroon was permitted. Within two years sannyasins wore every color from the sunrise. Approved shades ranged from pale shell pink, to deepest purple. Bhagwan continues to dress in sharply contrasting hues of white, blue, or grey.
Styles also changed. The gauzy orange robes women and men both wore in humid Poona gave way to more conventional clothing. By 1982 fashionable Italian-cut suits and soft silk outfits were de rigueur.” (Goldman 1999, p. 155)
“The followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh proliferate, and their livery, the colours of the sunset and the dawn, is everywhere to be seen.” (Rushdie 1991, p. 389)
“Sannyasins owned caches of objects representing their intimate emotional connections with their master. Along with the ubiquitous ‘mala’ and locket with his picture, the women also wore gold rings or necklaces decorated with facsimiles of Bhagwan’s signature or the communal emblem of one bird flying in the shadow of another. Wooden boxes, like the one Shanto received when she took leave of Bhagwan in Pune, often lay under their pillows at night.” (Goldman 1999, p. 242)
Devika writes in 1984 on different vibrations in India
“… I have a deep connection with India. There is a different vibration in the air in India which I miss – something ancient, sacred – as though the very air is India is sympathetic to spiritual seekers. I have never liked America, but as we come into Rajneeshpuram, it seems to be a world of its own…
I think perhaps the air in India is a good conductor of thought waves, of energy vibrations – that is how it seems to me, anyway. I do Kundalini meditation one afternoon and I cannot reach the same depths in my meditation as I can in India. However, the celebration on Gurupurnima Day with Osho is very beautiful.”
(Devika 2008, pp. 118,122)
“In the name of security we had introduced a badge system. Residents of the Ranch wore a golden (brass) bead on their mala; those from the meditation centers wore a silver bead – many of them worked on the Ranch in an exchange programme; paying guests wore a blue plastic armband and the participants of the ‘Share-a-home’ programme now had a pink one. Blue and pink armbands had no access to the townhouses where the residents were living. And as a bus driver I had to check that no one breached this rule.” (Punya 2015, p. 312)
Entertainment and reading
“The commune had movies every week of so, and, during the year, a variety of other kinds of entertainment. But there was no television on the ranch and, as yet, no library. Sannyasins could order newspapers, magazines, and books by mail, but most of them read very little, if at all. Apart from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the most popular author on the ranch was Louis L’Amour.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 60)
(Note: Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) wrote 89 widely read novels from the western frontiers).
Reading at the Ranch
“Besides sex and gossip, the main form of entertainment on the Ranch was reading. It was not Osho who was the most widely read author, but a guy named Louis L’Amour, who’d written eighty-some Western novels. Everybody was reading them, not only us wanna-be cowboys, but also those tender mas. The novels provided the perfect dreams for the physical environment we were living in.
It was always really the same story. The dudes would ride around on the range, prospect for gold, rustle some cattle and sit around campfires, drinking coffee that was “black as sin and strong enough to float a horseshoe”. The bad guys were pursued through deserts and canyons, and finally would meet their fate in page-long fist- and gun-fights. The good guys would always triumph in the end and ride off into the sunset, a beautiful woman by their side. Well-told, simple stories that would go in and out without leaving any damage, and we loved them.
The paperbacks were passed around from hand to hand and there seemed to be an endless supply. During my first two years on the Ranch I must have made it through more than 150 western novels. Then came a point where that genre seemed to have exhausted itself. I went through a brief identity crisis, and then graduated to thrillers and adventure novels (which is still my preferred reading material today).” (Bodhena 2016, p. 108)
Sambodhi writes on reading and paperback library
“Newspapers and magazines weren’t available on the ranch itself, but those whose work took them off the ranch – like me – could get them, and several people had subscriptions of one kind or another because a variety and newspapers were always passed around. (I have a friend who subscribed to The New Yorker and received her weekly copy the entire time.) Mostly we read books we received in the mail or checked out of the commune’s small paperback library that had a large collection of fantasies, thrillers, westerns (Louis Lamour was a favorite), a few classics and a smattering of poetry. We also listened to a broad range of music. Almost everyone had a tape recorder, and cassettes were widely shared. Television and radio reception in our rural area was spotty, but occasionally someone who could afford a television/VCR combo had it installed in the trailer’s living room and anyone who lived there (plus invited guests) could watch movies.” (Clare 2009, p. 185)
Aveling quotes Latkin on the reading of newspapers
“One example of the outside losing its relevance was that although The Oregonian, a daily, statewide newspaper, could be purchased on the ranch, few Sannyasins chose to read anything other than the weekly Rajneesh Times, which had little coverage of state, national or international news. What was reported in newspapers was not felt to be relevant to ranch life.” (Latkin in: Aveling 1999, p. 327)
Dell Murphy writes on available books in a school library
“We also got around to checking on the number of Bible-related books in the library of a nearby elementary school. And we found the following books listed: “The Holy Bible,” “The Christmas Story,” “Animals of the Bible,” biographies of Moses, David, Joseph, Daniel and Simon, three books on Genesis, one of Psalms, two on Bible poetry, the Bible Story of Noah’s Ark, and a book entitled “The Christ Child.” They also had a book about the Quakers and one about the Mormons.
We asked the librarian why they didn’t have any books on Buddhism. (Did you know there are a lot of Buddhists in Oregon? They do a lot of chanting and seem to get a lot of pleasure and comfort from their religion. There are also Hindus, but they generally keep a very low profile.)
The librarian, a very conscientious person, immediately set about trying to get some books on these other religions; but had some difficulty finding any listed in their catalogs. She finally located one each for Buddhism, Hinduism, and one called “Islam.” They were very thin, with a lot of pretty colored pictures and a little of the mythology that would interest small children. Nothing that would really enlighten anybody very much; but you have to give her A for effort.” (Murphy 1986, p. 123)
Webber on postal system
“Rajneeshpuram, Oregon 97441 (community post office-contract station of Madras, Oregon 97441) opened on October 4, 1983. The story-and-a-half building boasted the U.S.P.S. emblem, red, white and blue with flying eagle, over the door. A small sign RAJNESHPURAM, with a second smaller sign centered under it, POST OFFICE, was on the front of the building. At the south end was a flag pole on which an American flag was hoisted every day. There was a letter drop slot in the outside wall of the building.” (Webber 1988, p. 39)
Webber on magazines
“The news stand at the mail offered magazines covering a broad spectrum of interests. On rack shown, these ranged from Playboy, People, Rolling Stone, The Saturday Evening Post, to Bazaar.” (Webber 1990, p. 74)
“By the end of 1984, Rajneeshpuram had a downtown area that featured two restaurants, an ice cream parlour, Buddhagosha Bookstore for Osho’s books, Omar Khayyam Bar, a post office, a bank, a travel bureau, a boutique, a gambling casino, and, last, but not least, a beauty parlour where residents could get free haircuts by top-notch hair stylists.” (Bodhena 2016, p. 144)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“July 31: Date of publication of press release containing an open invitation to all Americans over age 18 by Rajneesh Humanities Trust (RHT) to spend three months at the Ranch at a cost of $250 per month room and board to participate in “the great experiment.” (Shay 1990)
Tim Guest writes on use of language
“The Mammas were absolutely dedicated to Bhagwan. They audibly capitalized their ‘h’s whenever they referred to ‘Him’. They aped his mannerisms; they adopted his vocabulary; they pressed their palms together in greeting; they littered their conversation with Bhagwan’s favourite words, like ‘good’ and ‘beautiful’. Good meant varyingly ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘welcome’, ‘we are finished here’. ‘Beautiful’ could mean anything. When people went a little too crazy at the Ashram, they were sometimes shipped off to a local asylum for tranquillizers and rest care. When they recovered and came back, someone would say, ‘That is beautiful.’ When they didn’t recover, they were drugged and propped up on the seat of a plane back home. Someone would say, ‘That is beautiful.'” (Guest 2005, p. 183)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1982
“May 10: It is reported that the Rajneeshee summer festival brochures outlining the basic fee of $350 and rules for the key five days have been mailed out; 5000 are expected to attend…
July 2: Festival formally begins; 5800-7000 attend; 1800 units in three tent areas erected; 50 school buses; 88,000 sq. ft. greenhouse completed and used for meditation sessions; water and sewage systems completed; it is reported that preparations for the festival cost $3.5 to $4 million; store sales average $75,000 per day; 275 residents…
July 6: Guru Purnima Day, highlight of the festival; Britten-Norman Islander plane drops 1/4 million rose petals on Bhagwan during drive-by where sannyasins line the road; news features dynamic meditation, stories of followers and details of festival…
July 7: Festival formally ends with no serious incidents reported, nearly 1000 reported to have taken sannyas, and Bhagwan having predicted that WW III will begin in 1993; approximately 90 reporters covered the event.” (Shay 1990)
First Annual World Celebration 1982
“The First Annual World Celebration was from 3rd to 7th July, 1982. The wording felt like an exaggeration when I first saw the bookmarks which we had started to give out to the visitors and journalists, but – to my surprise – over 5,000 people came from all over the world. Each day Osho came to meet us in the big greenhouse for morning satsang. The fertile soil was now covered with a huge stretch of uneven linoleum and a wooden podium was installed. Upbeat songs at the beginning and the end of each gathering replaced the instrumental pieces we were used to. They were more fitting to the new locale…
Osho’s drive-bys at two o’clock reached kilometrical proportions. It was a long walk to get to the end of the line of people if you didn’t want to be hidden three-deep behind the front row. The highlight of the Festival was on Master’s Day when thousands of rose petals were released from our little piper plane onto Osho’s car (which now was a Rolls Royce) and onto those standing in line.” (Punya 2015, p. 234)
“During the World Celebrations, we lay around in sunhats, ate Soya bacon sandwiches, swam in Krishnamurthi Lake and gossiped with old friends and new. Bhagwan had, after all, told us only those who gossip can be truly silent. In between shopping in the mall, drinking in a bar, we danced in one of the discos to Prince and Michael Jackson, thrilled to be cool international lovers. But the soul of it all was Bhagwan.
Each day thousands of us would sit in silence in the vast Rajneesh Mandir Hall until Bhagwan arrived, driven in one of his Rolls Royces. He sat on a podium smiling down at us in his bright robes, a startling flash of turquoise and green, or blue, yellow and silver, or dark black and gold, amongst the thousands shades of orange, going on pink, purple, red, magenta, crimson, damson, puce, cerise… While he smiled, we chanted the three Buddhist vows, bowing down in succession to our Tantric Buddha, our own Sangha, and the Dhamma of all life. The ancient Sanskrit reverberated around the hall and faded into the distance. Then was complete silence. Just the sounds of crickets, birds and the wind rustling in Juniper trees. The only movement in this stark stillness was the rhythmic rise and fall of our breath as we communed with the silence lying under all things. An hour later the note of a flute sounded through the hall and music began, for the celebratory singing, dancing, and all the ecstatic abandonment you could wish for. At least on my first visit. Future visits I had to work.” (Geraghty 2007, p. 191)
“The first satsang: we must have been fifteen thousand or so in Rajneesh Mandir, awaiting the first glimpse of Bhagwan in just over a year since many of us had last seen him. The car drew up, and in he walked. He looked stunning! His long white, shapeless robes had been replaced with a wardrope – which we were to see over the next days – of exquisite, variegated, often ornate gowns, with matching knitted hats, and he now wore socks with his sandals. He namasted us all and sat down. I was many, many rows away from him, and I felt a pang of anguish. Perhaps I would never again sit as close as I had in Poona, never again have the extraordinary connection with him that my role as darshan editor had given me. It was almost disorienting: he was there in front of us, we were at his feet; all that had changed was that I was some hundred yards further away from him than I’d ever been, but it felt like everything was bewildering different. Devaraj, whom I’d seen briefly the day before looking frightfully dashing on a motorbike, read excerpts from a discourse book, This was followed by a period of silence and then of humming.” (Forman 1988, p. 231)
Amrito recalls satsang
“Satsang lasted an hour with periods of silence, music, and readings from Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’… After a few days it was decided that I should do the readings after all. Someone else then opened the door, and I took up position with Taru at the back of the hall, with the musicians and the microphones… About the reading I had received a message from Vivek. “Don’t practice it, just read it spontaneously.” (Meredith 1987, p. 307)
Satya Bharti writes
“The commune maintained meticulous records of every sannyasin in the world, past and present, a coded history of each person’s life in mysterious hieroglyphics that I didn’t understand, and wasn’t supposed to, even as I updated the files day after day… The next night, a video of Sheela’s recent TV interview was shown in Rajneesh Mandir (the recently-built meditation/lecture hall that was officially touted by the press office as “the largest greenhouse in the world”)… On the first day of the ten-days-long First Annual World Celebration 7.000 people gathered in Rajneesh Mandir for satsang. Outside of two small satsang celebrations for ranch residents, it was Bhagwan’s first public appearance since India… Teertha and Sangit had both been invited to the festival to initiate people into sannyas… the first morning’s satsang… As the music built up to a frenzy, Bhagwan arrived in his long, white, bulletproof Rolls Royce, dressed like an ostentatious monarch. I preferred him in plain white… “Buddham sharanam gacchami,” 7.000 people in Rajneesh Mandir chanted in unison, bowing our heads to the floor. “I go to the feet of the commune of the Awakened One,” a voice intoned over the PA system. Before long, the gacchamis (as we took to calling the traditional Buddhist prayer) became an institutional part of ranch life, each work day ritually beginning and ending with it… Shiva left soon afterwards, writing magazine articles and impassioned letters to sannyasins denouncing Bhagwan and Sheela… we were all advised to close our hearts, minds and homes to Laxmi, Deeksha, Shiva, Sangit and other disgruntled “late” sannyasins.” (Franklin 1992, pp. 196,200,202,203,206)
First Annual World Celebration 1982
“The morning meditation is extraordinary – thousands of us, from all over the world, gathered in this polished-floored tent, sitting in expectant silence as we wait for him to come. And there he is again, beaming and Namaste-ing up on his podium. He sits in his chair and closes his eyes. He’s gone into silence, no more words, except when he has meetings with the world’s journalists. Sheila and her team are in charge.” (Wills 2009, p. 141)
Drennen writes on synchronous events
“The American Indian has an age-old myth that whenever a highly spiritual event is to take place, there will be a shower for purification of the local atmosphere. On July 6, for the only time there, Bhagwan was to come at 7:00 p.m. for a ‘Darshan’ or a special master’s day celebration, with singing and the like. That evening’s celebration was really the climax of the week’s festivities. We were singing our special songs composed for this event and Bhagwan, awaiting his arrival. Not a drop of water had fallen since that first muddy night (July 2). At exactly 7:00 p.m., the thunder and lightening bolts began, with hurricane winds and rain for about fifteen minutes before and during his arrival. Shortly after he arrived, the sky cleared and the calm was very serene. Some purification that was! There were other synchronistic happenings – just chance? To have witnessed the first great celebration with these new age people together in an obvious synergy of community relationships did my heart good. My mind’s computer suffered from an overload – “it does not compute.” (Drennen 1983, p. 96)
“Guru Purnima has for millennia been the day Indian disciples pay their respect to the master and traditionally it is celebrated on the first full moon night in July. The full moon had fallen the previous year – for the First Annual World Celebration of 1982 – on the 6th of July, and this date was kept for all celebrations to come, regardless whether the moon was full or not. Why this was so, I have no idea.” (Punya 2015, p. 255)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1983
“June 1: It is announced that 9000 have pre-registered for the Second Anual World Celebration festival; participants in longer therapy and meditation programs begin to arrive…
July 3: More than 15,000 followers reported present for festival, approximately one half of them from Europe, with all paying from $500 to $3050 for a one-week to three-month stay…
July 6: Guru Purnima Day (Master’s Day) which is the highlight of the festival; state authorities report that everything has gone peacefully.” (Shay 1990)
‘Rajneeshpuram. The Second Annual World Celebration 1983 in the presence of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’. July 2-8. Master’s Day Darshan July 6. Morning Satsang July 2-8. 14 pages. Illustrated.
Heading: Message to all Rajneesh Meditation Centers
“During the Second Annual World Celebration, Bhagwan will be giving satsang for seven days from July 2 to July 8. There will also be a darshan on the evening of July 6, Master’s Day.
All Rajneesh Meditation Centers, Ashrams and Communes should close for the satsang period and all sannyasins should take this opportunity to come to be with Bhagwan. Afterwards, everyone should allow ten days to return home to their centers where they can have a local celebration to share the joy and love they experienced here in the presence of Bhagwan with those who could not come. Please make plans for your post-festival celebration before arriving at the Ranch for the Second Annual World Celebration.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1983:5)
Second Annual World Celebration 1983
“The Second Annual World Celebration was now being prepared. As more than double the number of guests were expected to come (at least 15,000), the tent city spread deeper into the valleys. Whereever there was a spot of fairly even ground, we could already see platforms set up for tents. In the Zarathustra field a stretch of concrete was laid down. This was going to be the Festival kitchen, roofed and partially enclosed… Devateerth Mall was the other project which would certainly astonish the visitors to the Festival. It was a wooden two-storey building totalling 30,000 square feet… The top floor was to be dedicated to departments like Publications (Osho’s books and our weekly newspaper The Rajneesh Times), and our lawyers. The ground floor was going to house a pizzeria, a gourmet restaurant, a jewellery workshop with its sales shop in front, a travel agent and a bank. On arrival the Festival visitors could leave their money with the bank and in return receive an electronic cash card with which they could do their shopping and eating out… For the satsangs that year Osho wore flowing robes in soft colours – beige, light blue, light green – colours which blended in with his long grey beard… Osho got up, greeted everyone and walked from the podium to his car while we sang to our hearts’ content. Many got up and moved to the edges of the hall to get a closer glimpse of Osho’s smile while he drove around the Mandir (anticlockwise as in Pune – in case this should have an esoteric meaning).” (Punya 2015, pp. 248,253,256)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“June 29: Festival busses bring participants every 20 minutes or so as thousands arrive for peak period…
July 1: Festivalgoers find 4 discos, social gaming house, sit down restaurant, buffet, fast food restaurant, huge cafeteria, recreational activities (boating, canoeing, rafting, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, windsurfing, bicycling), the publication of 10 new books of Bhagwan’s teachings plus an in-depth photobiography of the 1978-1984 period, 4 bands which have created 28 pieces of original music for the celebration…
July 6: Gurupurnima (or Master’s) Day, culmination of the festival, complete with morning and evening meditation in the presence of Bhagwan, thousands of rose petals, a parade of musicians and dancers and a celebration feast dinner; over 6000 have purchased Rajneesh Currency Cards…
July 7: Festivalgoers begin to depart; no arrest or major injuries are reported during the festival; one follower dies of an acute asthmatic attack in the RMC clinic despite treatment; according to Rajneeshism, since he died within 24 miles of Bhagwan, an Enlightened Master, he too became immediately enlightened at death.” (Shay 1990)
The Third Annual World Celebration 1984
“Each Master’s Day festival in July, The Annual World Celebration, Osho would sit in satsang every day for seven days before about 10.000 residents and visitors in the gigantic Rajneesh Mandir – an auditorium the size of an aircraft hangar. They would come from all over the world for this sacred week, and sitting with him this way would be the highlight of their day. And the 1984 festival was fast approaching.” (Indradhanu. In: Savita 2014, p. 162)
“The Third Annual World Celebration in which we expected over 20,000 people to participate was so well organised that we even had loudspeakers on each lamppost broadcasting celebration songs during the line-up for Osho’s drive-by.” (Punya 2015, p. 308)
“In spite of all these internal goings-on, the weeks of festivities arrived in due course. We sat in Bhagwan’s presence while Devaraj read beautiful extracts from some of Bhagwan’s past discourse books. Bhagwan’s robes were always ever more magnificent, causing us to gasp, and he to grin broadly whenever he rounded the wings of the dais and was revealed in something even more exotic than whatever he’d bedazzled out eyes with the preceding day.” (Forman 1988, p. 362)
Satsang in Mandir
“He didn’t speak. We meditated together in silence and then there was music. The whole thing lasted between 80-90 minutes. Part of me was happy to see him again, even though I had the feeling this was no longer the same man I’d met in Pune One. I understood why many old sannyasins never came to the Ranch, but I also understood that Osho was a Master of a thousand transformations who played each role as totally as possible… The silence with him was wonderful. This was completely different from the past, when we were accustomed to hearing him speak every day, his discourses transporting our minds into the skies and opening our hearts to the explosive joy of laughter at his daily jokes. Now everything had changed. The silence had spread out, like a night sky without a moon, its mysteries weighing on us all. Now the path was a solitary one, no longer indicated by his words. Now Krishnamurti could be satisfied with the non-interference of the Master.” (Rosciano 2013, p. 192)
Niranjan remembers from the Third Annual World Celebration
“It was the last day of the Third World Annual Celebration. Osho arrived at 8.00 a.m. at Rajneesh Mandir for the Morning Satsang meditation. After his usual long Namaste, he took his seat and closed his eyes and the meditation started. A band of fifty sannyasins was playing music for the meditation. At the end of the meditation, Osho would open his eyes, alight from his seat and start his Namaste with folded hands and leave the hall. Simultaneously the music would also stop. But that day when the concluding music started, Osho remained seated with his eyes closed. After two minutes or so he opened his eyes but did not rise from his seat… His look was so intense that the sannyasin girl to whom he was looking also realized it. Then with his right index finger Osho gestured her to some to him. She was puzzled by his unexpected invitation. She stood up with tears flowing from her eyes, and holding her mala in both hands, somehow managed to utter the words, ‘Me, me, Osho, me?’… The moment she was on the podium, Osho rose from his seat, went near her, held her hands and started dancing with her. The twentyfive thousand sannyasins who were sitting in Rajneesh Mandir were in total astonishment about this unexpected happening, also stood up and started dancing. The musicians who were somewhat confused also started playing loud but melodious music. Osho must have danced with that sannyasin for two minutes and then left her hand. She continued to dance around that big podium as if in a trance, like a butterfly.
Osho looking at the sannyasins dancing in the Rajneesh Mandir gestured at them by raising his hands to come on the podium. In a few seconds about 500-600 people climbed on the podium and started dancing with Osho.” (Niranjan 2012, p. 233)
Audio 1. First reading by Devaraj from Nirvana: The Last Nightmare. Chapter 1. Rajneesh Mandir. Second Annual World Celebration Satsang. 03.07.1983. 6:54 min.
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1985
“June 16: Rajneeshpuram Festival goers already beginning to arrive; official festival dates are June 1-July 15; guests paying $500 for one week tent accommodations including meals; china dishes used in outdoor cafeteria to serve 5000; new dishwashers capable of scrubbing over 6000 dishes an hour; new Burger and Fry Restaurant and juice stands, as well as an “esoteric” arcade; last year’s festival said to have made $5 million in profit…
June 20: Festival arrivals increase; guests from the US, Germany, Japan, Australia, England, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy, will pay $509-3,379 per person for room, board and program; festival is expected to cost $2 million and generate a profit of more than $4 million; Bhagwan will give morning discourses from June 30-July 5…
July 8: Announced that Bhagwan’s afternoon “drive-bys” will be discontinued in favor of discourses every morning.” (Shay 1990)
Heading: Ma Anand Sheela welcomes beloveds
“Beloved Friends, Love.
This year at the Fourth Annual World Celebration we will have the very special gift of sitting at the feet of our beloved Master, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and listening to Him speak.
I look forward to welcoming all of you to this beautiful occasion to celebrate whith all of His friends and lovers.
His blessings Ma Anand Sheela President Rajneesh Foundation International.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1985:7)
Fourth Annual World Cerlebration 1985
“The highlights of the week-long Summer Featival were the discourses in the morning and the evening celebration on Master’s Day. The first morning Osho came for a silent ‘satsang’ but, as the audience had been too restless and noisy with coughing, he decided to speak for the rest of the Festival.” (Punya 2015, p. 321)
“A week or so later, the Fourth Annual World Celebration began. Stacks of people had been arriving by the busload during the preceding days, and so finally, by June 30th, there must have been around twelve thousand of us there to greet Bhagwan after his absence of so many weeks. Each day we sat in morning discourse with him, and after lunch we greeted him in drive-by. July 6th would be the culmination of the festivities, being Master’s Day itself – with satsang in the morning and then the grand finale of a celebration that evening… [Devaraj] would be reading the passages selected from some of Bhagwan’s discourse books as part of satsang… The music that morning was particularly jarring. I hadn’t cared for the music that had evolved at Rajneeshpuram for festival days. It was under the direction of one or another of Sheela’s coordinators, and I’d felt it to be increasingly inappropriate as a background for our sitting with Bhagwan. This particular morning it had a surreal, aimless kind of sound to it, a cacophony through which the saxophone’s cry reeled drunkenly. Not exactly the kind of music I found brought out the meditator in me. I remember looking up at Bhagwan sitting in the chair on the dais in front of us: he was surrounded by this raucous din that was our offering to him, and he looked so fragile, yet so magnificent. I felt embarrassed by us, for us…
We sat in silence for some minutes, then sang the gachchhamis, after which Devaraj read the first selection from Bhagwan’s words. Then began fifteen minutes of humming – quite an elevating sensation when twelve thousand people are doing it together in a vast hall – followed by silence again, this time made even more potent as it came immediately after the sound and vibration of the humming. Then Devaraj began the second of the two readings, which was the one I liked mostly and was to prove, for Devaraj personally, paricularly significant… The rest of the satsang proceeded, until the music swung into awful action for the last time, and Bhagwan rose to leave, his arms encouraging us to dance even more ecstatically whereever we were sitting.” (Forman 1988, p. 431)
“It’s the Fourth Annual Festival, July 6, 1985. The enormous meditation hall overflows: 15,000 disciples have gathered to sit in silent communion with their master. We are unusually sober. The anger of church and state – inflamed by Bhagwan’s ridicule and Sheela’s outrageous tactics fanned by media headlines – threatens to explode. The suspense has thrown many into the present, fiercely determined to live each moment as it comes.
Noises of the outside world do not penetrate here. The silence is deafening, throbbing with life. Morning sun rays turn the rocky hillsides into a golden cathedral.
Bhagwan appears on the podium. A hushed gasp, more felt than heard, greets him. Showman extraordinaire, his robe is a theatrical “Star Wars” costume of black and gold with shoulders accented to look like embryonic wings. The full sleeves, solid with gilt sequins, complete the illusion as he raises his arm. A glittering gilt band circles his black hat like a crown of fire; the skirt of the robe is embroidered with purple and silver.
He greets us as always, making eye-contact slowly down each long row. Minutes pass. Then he sits in the chair, crosses one leg over the other, folds the left hand into the right. His eyes close.
Silence. Music erupts. Startling music. Not the soaring, evocative strains of flute and sitar as in the past, this music is chaotic, abrasive: cymbals and heavy drumming, a blaring trumpet. I am stirred by its sheer raw energy, and disturbed by it. The music seems to reflect the harsh reality of the world we are living in.
Taru, an enormously fat Indian woman with the high, sweet voice of a child/angel, stands and sings an old Buddhist chant.
Devaraj reads, a short selection of Bhagwan’s words. He sits at the back beside the musicians and the microphones. His exquisite delivery, his resonant British voice command attention. The huge gathering is still, as if Bhagwan himself were speaking.
Silence. Again, the wild arasive music.
Bhagwan rises, namastes, leaves. I sit on, listening to the silence filling with sound – rustles, whispers, movement as the throng of sannyasins comes back to this life.
I hear the sound of running feet, feel a surge in the crowd. An ambulance careens into sight, pulls up at the far end of the hall. A murmur starts: Devaraj. Devaraj is ill. They’re putting him in the ambulance.” (Hamilton 1998, p. 151)
Satya Bharti recalls
“It was the first morning of the Fourth Annual World Celebration, and the first time in four years that Bhagwan was going to be lecturing publicly. 12.000 people had come for the festival; we’d counted on at least twice that number. Festival pre-registrations had been scant until it was announced that Bhagwan would be speaking… The helicopter was hovering outside the hall by now, the music building to a peak. At any moment Bhagwan would arrive. Video lights were glaring as outside press crews, as well as the ranch video department, filmed the lecture and festivities. As Bhagwan entered, resplendent in a gilded robe and his trademark hat, the audience went wild. He was back with us again: physically present, lecturing… Guards with Uzi machine guns stood on either side of the raised dais, a familiar sight around Bhagwan these days. It wasn’t my idea of holy… His lecture that morning was anti-climatic to say the least. He made up for it the next day with a disquietening story about Laxmi’s ordeals over the past few years with American authorities… “Laxmi’s back!” he announced happily. “Sitting in the second row!”… Filled with fire one day, Bhagwan’s lectures were tedious beyond description the next. He spent half his time talking about Indian politics, anticipating perhaps his return to India… Timed to coincide with the festival, The Oregonian published a series of in-depth articles on the Rajneesh story, the result of a ten month investigation that we’d been hearing portentous warnings about for months… Two days after Nancy left, Bhagwan began a ludicrous pre- and post-lecture routine that I was glad she’d missed. Entering the meditation hall every morning, he danced an awkward, old-man’s dance in time to live music; then after the discourse he was joined on stage by Vivek and several other women in a Ziegfield Follies extravaganza that had little grace or charm to it, Bhagwan shuffling along clumsily in the center of a chorus line of women, who had no idea what they were supposed to do but were clearly delighted at the privilege of having been selected to do it.” (Franklin 1992, pp. 263,275,278)
Abbott on summer festival
“Perhaps because of the negative publicity, the stream of worldwide income and contributions that had built the city began to dry up; attendance at the summer festival just topped 3,000, down from 13,000 the year before.” (Abbott 2015)
Festival tent city
“Little settlements of trailers were to be found in various sites all over the ranch, but the most startling feature of the landscape at festival time was the thousands and thousands of tents set up to shelter visitors. In fact the land wasn’t as bleak as I’d imagined it; I’d thought it would literally be miles and miles of flat desert with the occasional sand dunes and cactus. The commune was situated in a valley between beautiful, juniper-covered mountains, and a creek with a waterfall ran from Jesus Grove down through to Rabiya, the dairy farm. However, it was hot as blazes and very dry. Tents during the day were no place to seek relief; they were like infernos.” (Forman 1988, p. 229)
“The festival, which lasted through part of June and part of July, featured Satsang and Darshan in the big meeting hall, and a wide choice of entertainment: The lake provided swimming, (with a special private corner for sunbathers), and canoeing. Then there was river rafting, rockhounding, a tour of the ranch by airplane, horseback riding or hiking through the hills, and dynamic meditation. There was Happy Hour from 6:30 to 7:30, with live music from a piano or guitar, and soft recorded music for another hour. Then dancing in the disco until 11 p.m. There were two bands providing the music for that. A Rock band and a Country band. New arrivals were showered with rose petals from a low-flying plane. When Rajneeshees celebrate, they really celebrate!
There was special excitement in 1985 because the Bhagwan broke his silence that year and began again to give his live – and lively – discourses from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.” (Murphy 1986, p. 138)
5.3 Library and Reading
During his time in Oregon Osho’s eyes had become so weak that his reading had to stop and he started wearing sun glasses now and then. His eyes were from now on so bad, that no reading activities were seen neither on the Ranch nor on the World Tour.
“I have not read anything for years because the doctors said that if I read I will have to wear glasses, and I hate glasses. I cannot think of myself wearing glasses. I would rather close my eyes. I don’t want to create any barrier, even that of transparent glass, between me and that which surrounds me. So I have to depend on someone to read for me.” Glimpses of a Golden Childhood (1990), p. 262; (Sarito 1990, p. 262)
His entire library from Lao Tzu in Poona was shipped to USA by sea cargo. The library books remained in the wooden crates on the ranch, later to return to Poona also by sea.
Library arriving to Zarathustra
“I started to work in Chuang Tzu, the construction department, and joined a crew that was finishing off the interior of Zarathustra, a large sheet metal building that was supposedly for the storage of agricultural produce, but was in reality housing hundreds of wooden crates containing Osho’s books and library that had been shipped over from India. We hung drywall in the office part of the building, and put in doors and windows.” (Bodhena 2016, p. 105)
“The Bhagwan’s 150,000-volume library ,said to be one of the world’s largest private collections, escaped harm [in Poona early 1981] however. It was shipped along with 12 tons of the guru’s luggage, to New York before his departure. The crated library is now stored in a shed at the Ville de Rajneesh in Oregon.” (Los Angeles Times. 30.08.1981, p. 21)
A less correct version is to be found
“Bhagwan has had a house built for him in the secluded Lao Tzu Grove, and a library has been constructed to house his complete works.” (Thompson 1986, p. 90)
When Osho arrived back in Poona after leaving the ranch and World Tour, his books had in this way been in crates for many years. They had actually not been unpacked since they were packed and shipped by sea cargo to Oregon in 1981. So in reality the books went on a world tour and never got unpacked as they were no more of actual use for Rajneesh since he had stopped reading. For a former voracious reader this meant quite another daily schedule from now on. His reading was partly substituted by listening to music and watching video, but most of his day was now spent in a meditative state of no-mind.
Osho on his reading
“For the past few months now I have not read any book. I have stopped reading for the simple reason that what is beautiful has already been understood. Now it is pointless to read. I don’t even read the Vedas, the Bible, the Koran. There is nothing that can be added to my experience, so I have stopped. Why waste your vision, your eyesight? It is not worth it. When my doctors started saying that if I still wanted to study I would have to use spectacles, I said “To hell with all books because I hate spectacles.”I hate all kinds of specs because they obstruct, they come in between. I want things face to face, directly, immediate. So I have stopped reading books. And the library is so rich, and so big, containing all that is great. But it no longer matters to me, I have gone beyond the words… Sooner or later you will have to make something like Rajneesh-English. If there can be Indian-English, American-English, then why not Rajneesh-English, with all its absurdities? I am laying the foundation for it.” Notes of a Madman (1985), pp. 77,83.
“He stays alone in his room. All he does is watch videos. “In Poona he had read ten to fifteen books a day, and now he watched videos just as avidly. It was the full-time job of three sannyasins to make sure he had a constant supply of videos. His favorite films were George C. Scott’s Patton and The Ten Commandments. He had watched Patton five or six times already.”” (From Milne 1986. In: Sam 1997, p. 130)
“[In Oregon] The sannyasins worked such long hours – a hundred hours per week or more – that they had little time or inclination for any intellectual or artistic activities. Their favorite author seems to have been Louis L’Amour, a prolific writer of Westerns. This was surprising in view of their educational status… Whereas he [Bhagwan] had previously spent nearly all his day reading, he now watched videos instead. His favorite films were Patton and The Ten Commandments… He was said to be taking 60 mgm. of valium a day, and his dentist gave him inhalations of nitrous oxide, ostensibly to relieve his asthma, but probably to cause temporary euphoria.” (Storr 1996. pp. 58,59)
Osho on reading
“In India, when someone is reading an ordinary book it is called “reading”; but whenever somebody is reading Gita we have a special term for it: we call it ‘path’. Literally translated it will mean “lesson”. Ordinary reading is just reading – mechanical; but when you read, so deeply absorbed in it that the very reading becomes a lesson, then the very reading goes deep in your being and is not only part of your memory now but has become part of your being. You have absorbed it, you are drunk with it. You don’t carry the message in so many words, but you have the essence in you. The very essential has moved into your being. We call it ‘path’.” The Search (1977); The Book (1984). Volume III, p. 7.
“Actually Osho stopped reading around 1980. Often I heard Him say, that He is a lazy man, and he could read more than 200 books a week in His reading days. But the moment it stopped, it stopped completely.” (Kavisho. Unpublished manuscript. 1999. See Appendix)
Reading of newspaper
“I wondered how Osho had come to hear of this [art(ificial)-wool] and could only conclude he had seen some ads in the daily newspapers which he like to read every day.” (Veena 2004, p. 102)
“A photo from Osho’s book “Glimpses of a Golden Childhood,” showing Osho resting in his room with a pile of books from his library. The top book is ‘Miracle of Love’ by Neemkeroli Baba [mentioned by Ram Dass in his Be Here Now]. Another photo shows Osho reading the book.” (Osho Times International. 1999, Fall issue)
“I don’t think any other country could compete with Russia. If you count only ten novels of the world, just out of necessity you will have to include five Russian novels, leaving only five for the whole remaining world.” Glimpses of a Golden Childhood (1990), p. 4.
In his introduction to the first edition of ‘Glimpses of a Golden Childhood’ (1985), Devageet writes on dental sessions and books
“The third series was a recollection of books Bhagwan had read and treasured in His reading lifetime. He used to read up to twenty books each day! It was on his doctor’s advice that he stopped reading, but he loved books, particularly those which give a glimpse into the unknown, whose words are bathed in light and whose beauty of expression can lead their readers to share their poetry and inspiration. This volume is called ‘Books I Have Loved’, and it is a master’s view of the world of enlightened literature.” (Introduction. First edition. 1985)
Devageet on ‘Books I Have Loved’
“Six sessions later, he just as suddenly announced the start of the third series of notes. It was to be a journey in which he recalled many of the inspirational books he had enjoyed throughout his lifetime. Osho was a lifelong bibliophile. As a student, he had starved in order to buy books of his choice. Throughout his life he had always possessed a large collection of fine books, and in Pune, his library was vast; in fact, his whole house was one large library. From the dental chair in deepest Oregon, Osho spoke of those rare books whose words echoed the eternal essence of the mystery of life that is hidden in all forms, the formless mystery into which he had dissolved when he became enlightened. I felt he was transmitting that same mystery as I wrote his notes from the dental chair…” (Devageet 2013, pp. 131-137)
On Osho’s reading and Books I have Loved (1985)
“Silence Speaks in its Own Way. Osho speaks on 10 books, among them The Brothers Karamazov and Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Osho read an uncountable amount of books on every conceivable subject, approximately between 150,000 to 200,000. He once said of his immense interest that he read so extensively to explore all paths, collecting the fragrance of man’s wisdom and experience upon the earth, so he could give it to his disciples and others. While undergoing dental treatments, Osho spoke during 16 sessions about the books he considered most important. What he said was recorded by hand.” (www.oshonews.com, 13.04.2011)
(Note: All books mentioned in ‘Books I Have Loved’ are listed in: Vol I / Appendix)
“In the library there are thousands of books; there are over one hundred thousand volumes in the beautiful library. I love the library. It contains all the best that has ever been written. I am giving it all to our university [Multiversity]. Of all the thousands of books I have told Vivek to carry only one. That is my only book now. It is written by a man who has not reached but come very close, very, very close – Kahlil Gibran. I wanted to talk about his book many times but did not. The time was not yet right. The man was only a poet and not a mystic, not one who really knows, but he reached to the heights in his imagination. Walt Whitman is the only American to talk of these heights, but he also missed.” Notes of a Madman (1985), p. 5.
Osho on Mahatma Gandhi’s secretary
“His own secretary, a very talented man… Many people have written on Gandhi, but the two books that Pyarelal has written are just the best. They are big volumes; perhaps each volume is twelve hundred pages. Pyarelal fell in love.” The Path of the Mystic. Talks in Uruguay (1988). Chapter 28, p. 296. Punta del Este, 18.05.1986 am.
Osho on holy books
“There are no holy books. All books are human, but each religion has been deceiving people that their book is the only holy book. And by saying, “This is the only holy book,” they are saying that it is written by God… So the first thing to remember: there are no holy books, there are only books well written or not well written. Yes, there are masterpieces, but none of the so-called holy books comes into the category of a masterpiece. I want to insist on the fact too: that not only are they not holy, according to human standards they are not even masterpieces.
For example, Mikail Naimi’s book, ‘The Book of Mirdad’, or Kahlil Gibran’s book, ‘The Prophet’, or Rabindranath’s book, ‘Gitanjali’ or Fyodor Dostoevsky’s book, ‘Brothers Karamazov – these are masterpieces. None of the holy books – the Vedas, the Gita, the Koran, the Bible, the Thorah – no holy book even comes near to these masterpieces. So they are not only not holy, they are not even worth calling masterpieces… So first I want to say, there are no holy books – including mine. All books are human. Yes, there are well written books and there are not-so-well written books, but there are no categories of holy and unholy.” The Rajneesh Bible (1985). Vol I, p. 378)
Rajneesh International Meditation University (RIMU)
Rajneesh International Meditation University (RIMU)
“The Rajneesh International Meditation University is an educational institution. It teaches you everything about meditation. It makes you knowledgeable about the art of meditation, but it is not existential or experimental. It is educational – just the way all other universities are… Let me emphasize: it is about meditation, but it is not meditation.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991) Chapter 26, p. 318. 10.10.1985.
Advertisement for RIMU
“Rajneesh International Meditation University offers over sixty-five innovative and dynamic workshops, programs and training courses – and individual sessions – covering the whole spectrum of human possibility, human growth, human flowering.” The Book (1984). Vols I-III.
Mistlberger on Multiversity
The Multiversity was arguably equally important. Not only was it extremely profitable, pulling in millions of dollars a year – money needed to finance the construction, maintenance, and expansion of the commune – it also played a key role in the social dynamics of the commune. The therapy groups were, in many ways, the most effective means of developing relationships within the commune.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 273)
Roshani Shay in her chronology
“June 1: Reported that Gandhi’s 33 year old great grandnephew will announce plans to build a $22 million ‘university for peace’ to teach methods of non-violent social and political action; he is the head of the LA based Gandhi Memorial International Foundation which will locate the university near The Dalles 5 mi. south of Mosier on 101 acres of donated land…
June 4: Wasco County Planner responds to news of Gandhi Peace University by saying that the proposed site is zoned for forest use, which would not permit a university; Gandhi emphasizes at press conference that the proposed project is not connected with Rajneeshee…
Jan 27: Rajneesh International Meditation University (RIMU) said to draw 39,000 students a year, has 10 departments and about 30 teacher/therapists; courses range from a few days to several months and cost from $90-$7,500, which covers meals and housing; subjects range from tarot, astrology and chrystals to body alignment, massage and counseling…
Nov 22: Mayor of Rajneeshpuram tells meeting that the commune will be disbanded, that it is not economically vialable, having been built on donations and loans, considering Bhagwan’s departure and the enormous recent legal costs and the move of RIMU to Europe; RIMU’s “Buddhafield Express” touring groups will continue with stops in Montreal and Vancouver, Canada, Laguna Beach, San Francisco, Honolulu, Boulder, Houston, Nashville, New York and Boston.” (Shay 1990)
Survey on sannyasins on the Ranch
“According to the University of Oregon survey, eleven per cent of the commune members had graduate degrees in psychology or psychiatry and another eleven per cent had B.A.s in the field. But, with all the years of academic training represented, there was not, as far as I could determine, a single straight Freudian or behaviourist on the ranch. The sannyasin psychologists had done their university work and then gone off to study with such people as Fritz Perls, Alexander Lowen, and Carl Rogers. In addition to the qualified psychologists, there were a number of other people on the ranch who practiced growth-movement therapies: rolfing, primal screaming, bioenergetics, and encounter therapies. Added to these were practitioners of every kind of New Age specialty, from shiatsu, through acupuncture, to past-life readings. (FritzGerald 1986, I p. 68)
Avikal writes on sannyas initiation October 1983
“The evening comes and off I go, calm yet eager, to the university where the initiation for the new Sannyasins will take place. Teertha, one of the oldest disciples of Bhagwan is the one who calls out people and gives initiation, telling each one their new name, explaining its meaning and putting a ‘mala’ around the neck, a necklace of one hundred and eight wooden beads with a medallion bearing the photo of Osho on one end. In Indian tradition, dressing in shades of red or orange and wearing the mala around the neck are the traditional signs of a sannyasin; for those who have taken the decision to dedicate their life to truth – the Dhamma.
The room is packed with people; of course there are the people who are taking sannyas and then their friends and many others who are just here to enjoy the atmosphere of the event, which is a real celebration with music, dancing and some very touching moments.
Next to Teertha there is an incredibly beautiful woman with long blonde, almost white, curls with an ethereal air and penetrating gaze. When Teertha calls the next one to be initiated he hands her the mala and a certificate with a photo of Bhagwan and the new name that has been given. The energy around them is almost tangible, as if there is a fluctuation in the air and their faces are lit by an inner light that radiates joy and also a subtle challenge, as if they know something that you can not imagine, as if they are opening a door, inviting us to come, knowing that once inside there is no return.” (Avikal 2016, p. 13)
Susan Palmer writes on The RIMU Marathon held in 1985
“Shortly after Sheela’s defection and following Rajneesh’s announcement that he was not a Guru but a “friend”, the Rajneesh International Meditation University (RIMU) held a week-long free therapy session for commune residents in which they were encouraged to express all the “negativity” they had kept bottled up under Sheela’s “facist regime”. A testimonial to the cathartic efficacy of this event was offered in the ‘Rajneesh Times’ (1985c: 5 [October 18, 1985]) “after eighteen hours of the most intense thunderstorm of my being… the sky cleared, and through it all the RIMU folks were just there – accepting, supporting and encouraging.”
A special therapy group was organised for the sixty-odd children living in Rajneeshpuram who appeared to be exhibiting anxiety at the prospect of leaving their “kids commune” which had fostered strong peer attachments and discouraged the parent-child relationship.” (Palmer. In: Aveling 1999, p. 285)
FitzGerald on therapists
“Curious about these therapies and how they fitted into the spiritual enterprise of the ranch, I went to see Swami Prem Siddha, a senior therapist at the Institute for Therapy. Siddha told me that he was a graduate of the U.C.L.A. School of Medicine and the U.C.L.A. Neuropsychiatric Institute… Siddha, under his given name, Leonard Zunin, had written a pop-psychology book called “Contact: The First Four Minutes,” on how to meet people.” (FritzGerald 1986, I p. 70)
“Swami Anand Somendra was excommunicated from the Rajneesh cult for being too independent of the Bhagwan. Somendra would be another source for the Oregonian’s investigative series in the summer of 1985. After leaving Pune, he did not go to live at the ranch in Oregon, but instead developed his own residential center in Europe, surrounded by his own “mediums” (women who dance in front of a spiritual “master” and transmit his energy to the audience). While visiting the ranch during the first annual international Rajneesh festival in the summer 1982, he was asked to attend a darshan with Rajneesh; he refused. His mala was taken away, and the next day Ma Anand Sheela and Ma Prem Arup announced that Somendra was “dead” and the other sannyasins were never to utter his name again.” (McCormack 2010, p. 287)
Heading: Exciting changes at university, says Devageet
“The new vice-chancellor of Rajneesh International Meditation University moves fast…
We had a meeting two days ago with the whole university staff and everybody ‘got in touch with their feelings’ – I believe that’s the correct expression… “In other words: wept, screamed and generally twitched everywhere, using up boxes of tissues.. sodden bits of clothing… it felt beautiful…
Once the catharsis was over, the university staff went on to talk in general terms about what they’d like the university to be…
One of the biggest changes at the university has been that commune residents are now coming there for personal counselling. Formerly counselling was handled by Ramakrishna the commune’s personnel department.
“We have called every commune temple, letting them know that if any worshipper needs to talk, discuss anything that is bothering them, then they can come here and talk with one of the staff,” Devageet said. (Sw Anand Subhuti interviews Devageet. The Rajneesh Times, 1985:5. 27.09.1985)
Academy of Rajneeshism
Roshani Shay in her chronology
“Jan 26: Proceeds from a second Rolls Royce giveaway reportedly to go towards building an Academy of Rajneeshism which will house a library…
Feb 1: Announcement of planned spring construction of two Academy of Rajneeshism (AR) buildings, each to be two stories and 10,000 sq. ft. and one to house a library, complete with landscaping and a 30 ft. fountain…
“Oct 16: Rajneesh Foundation International to be renamed Rajneesh Friends International and the Academy of Rajneeshism to be renamed Rajneesh Academy in corporation reorganizations.” (Shay 1990)
Osho talking on name change in September 1985
“And then, outside the temple, we will be having a bonfire to burn all the books on Rajneeshism, all the stationery that belongs to the Academy of Rajneeshism. That “ism” is an ugly and dirty word, and I don’t want it to be associated with me. Now it will be called Rajneesh Academy; in short, RA. ‘Ra’ is an ancient Egyptian word which means “the highest experience of consciousness.”
We are going to change the plague before the Mandir, because here also they have put “Academy of Rajneeshism.” That will be changed before Monday. We have to clean up all the rubbish that they have done here.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991). Chapter 13, p. 156. 27.09.1985.
Sheela on Academy and Library buildings
“He wanted two buildings. One Academy which would house historic art effects of Bhagwan and other valued items in the world.
Library building was to house His personal library and his books. They would be museumslike buildings.
Architectural designs were finished. He had also chosen which design He wanted.” (Ma Anand Sheela. E-mail. 27.02.2015)
Sheela on new buildings
“Die Rajneesh-Akademie und das Bibliotheksgebäude waren schon auf dem Reissbrett geplant. Bücher wurden planmässig veröffentlicht, Festivals fanden statt. Die Kontroverse in Presse und Fernsehen hatte ihren Gipfel erreicht. Alles lief nach seinen Vorstellungen.” (Sheela 1996, p. 224)
Later on in Poona Two we would se the pyramid shape being used in several constructions including the new Buddha Hall in black marble with its surrounding ponds.
Heading: New Building for Academy of Rajneeshism and Library
“Construction will begin in the spring of two beautifully designed new buildings in the City of Rajneeshpuram. One will be the home of the Academy of Rajneeshism, the other will house a library.
The Academy of Rajneeshism is the ecclesiastical organization of the religion which oversees the appointments of ministers of Rajneeshism. Its other functions include the preservation of archive material pertaining to the life and work of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, as well as overseeing religious elements of Rajneeshee celebrations.
The 10,000 square-foot Academy building will have two stories. The upper level will be enclosed in a 75 foot by 75 foot pyramid of bronzed mirror-glass. Its geometric proportions will duplicate exactly those of the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
The upper level of the Academy building will contain a permanent display of the tens of thousands of books used and read by Bhagwan [library collection from Osho Lao Tzu Library]. The lower level of the building will provide offices for the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar of Rajneesh International Meditation University and house archives of Bhagwan’s teachings. These consist of the original recordings of Bhagwan’s discourses on audio and videotape, original photographic material, as well as documents and manuscripts.
The library building will have the same design and will contain, on its upper floor, a general lending library which will include the complete published works of Bhagwan. Its lower level will house an audio/video lounge, as well as periodical and study rooms.
The new buildings will be located on a plateau by Nirvana Road, close by Rajneesh Mandir in the Jesus Grove area of the city. The approach from the road will give access into the upper stories of each building. Between the buildings will be landscaped gardens and a majestic 30-foot fountain.
Part of the funds for the construction of the Academy of Rajneeshism will come from Rajneesh Foundation International’s ‘Sweepstakes to build the Academy of Rajneeshism’. The prize for the Sweepstakes is a 1982 Rolls Royce which has been graced by the presence of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The drawing will be held on March 21, 1984, after the Darshan celebration of Bhagwan’s enlightenment held in Rajneesh Mandir.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1984:22)
Goldman on Academy
“I finally wrote in favor of a request for special permission to build a proposed Academy of Rajneeshism housing comprehensive archives that would be available to outside scholars.” (Goldman 1999, p. 64)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
July 24: Rajneeshpuram files motion asking that 1983 injunction against new construction be lifted given the July 9 SC decision; new projects sought are expansion of cafeterias, medical facilities and new Academy of Rajneehism buildings for archives.” (Shay 1990)
Osho on Academy
“Rajneesh Academy is an existential, experimental institute. It does not give you knowledge about meditation; it gives you the experience of meditation. The Academy also gives titles, because the meditators – although they experience the same space of blissfulness, of eternal life, they come from different paths, and after their experience their expressions are different. For example, ‘siddha’ is one of the titles that the Academy gives. He knows the meditation, he knows the ultimate experience, he knows the deathlessness – but he cannot express it, he cannot say anything about it. In fact, the experience is inexpressible, and the siddha remains silent…
The second category is the ‘arihanta’. He is very articulate, but the way he expresses himself is rarely understood because he tries to remain close to his experience, rather than thinking of the audience. He does not come down into the valley; he remains on top of the hill, and from there he speaks. So you can hear a few sounds, but you cannot make any sense of it…
The third category is the ‘acharya’. He is the most articulate of all the three categories. His effort is to come closer to you, to bring the truth in such a way that it can become of some use to you. He does not speak in mysterious language, he speaks in ordinary language. He creates devices so that he can lead you towards the way. He helps the biggest number of people…
Rajneesh Academy is an experimental university; the Meditation University is informative. It creates teachers, the Academy creates masters – and there is a great difference. The teacher is only saying what he has learned from his teachers, from the books, but he cannot support it by his own experience. The master does not care about the books, about the teachers. He is his own authority, he is his own scripture.
Hence, I have made two differing institutions. The University will prepare you to be acquainted with meditation, so that you become interested in having the real taste of it. It will lead you towards the Academy. The Academy has a far higher status than the University.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991). Chapter 26, p. 318. 10.10.1985.
Heading: Museum planned by Bhagwan’s disciples
“Rajneeshpuram – Works of art, literature and music dedicated to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh are being collected by Rajneesh Foundation for a museum.
The museum will contain a complete collection of books, articles and reference materials on Bhagwan, His religion and His disciples. As part of this new project, Rajneesh Foundation International is requesting information about literature anywhere in the world that mentions Bhagwan and the Rajneeshees.
“Bhagwan has become the subject of many publications in many different countries and we would like to know about all of them,” explains a Foundation official.
“This is an opportunity to document the inspirational effect of Bhagwan and His religion while He is still alive, and to provide a wealth of resources for future generations,” the spokesperson added.
Material for the museum’s archives and any relevant information may be sent to: Rajneesh Foundation International (Museum), P.O. Box. 9, Rajneeshpuram, OR 97741.” (The Rajneesh Times, 1983:51)
Osho on three management groups, pre Inner Circle
“I have told you about these three titles – siddha, arihanta, acharya – which are experimental. I have also created three groups which will be active only when I leave the body. So you will have to wait a little for them to become active. While I am here there is no need for these three groups to be active. But these three groups belong to Rajneesh Academy.
The first group is the mahasattvas. These are the people who will become enlightened before my death. The second group is the sambuddhas, who are already enlightened, but because I am here, they will remain anonymous just out of their gratitude. The third group is the bodhisattvas, who will become enlightened before their death.
So I have chosen names for these groups, and I have directed the groups about their numbers – that these numbers should remain constant, and if one person dies, how he has to be replaced. I have given them all the instructions. But that is not of any use to you.
When I am not here, then the people who will be running the commune will need elders for guidance. These groups will provide all kinds of guidance. They will not have any power; they will not be holding any posts, but they will be available to all the people who are running the communes here and around the world for any guidance.
When I say they will not be holding any post, that does not mean that anybody who is holding a post cannot be a member of any of the groups. As a group member, he will not be holding the post, but as an individual he can hold the post. But while he is on the post, he cannot function as a member of the group.
I want these groups completely free from any politics, so they can have a very nonpolitical vision. And if they need to, all three groups can meet and take decisions, and their decisions will be absolute. All their decisions have to be unanimous. Unless they come to a unanimous decision, it is not of any worth. So it is not a political thing, that majority decision will win. They have to argue, discuss, persuade, and come to a unanimous decision. Then only can they advise the people who are in power to follow it. Rajneesh Academy will become your source of religion.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991). Chapter 28, p. 340. 12.10.1985.
FitzGerald on the religious organization
“Then, too, another tendency in the commune had developed in two years: in ceremony, costume, and hierarchy, the religious organization had become elaborate, even baroque. The degrees and titles awarded to the leaders had, for example, increased four times over. Sheela was now formally known as Bodhisattva Ma Anand Sheela, M.M., D.Phil.M., D.Litt.M.(RIMU), Acharya. One of the editors of the guru’s lectures was called Sambodhi Ma Prem Maneesha, S.R.N., S.R.M., R.M.N., M.M., D.Phil.M.(RIMU), Acharya… For a year or so now, Sheela had been dressing for special occasions – such as press conferences – in long red robes with the Rajneeshee symbol embroidered on the front, a mala with pearl or diamond beads, and, on her head, an embroidered scarf. It was papal raiment. But then for a year or more the guru himself had been dressed up like a Christmas tree in glittering robes and diamond watches. In Poona, he had worn plain white. He had always liked a little theatre, but now he went in for pageantry… In the lecture hall, he sat flanked by four guards, two of them with Uzis at the ready, and four more guards on a catwalk overhead raked the audience with their binoculars.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 105)
On the organization of the ministry
“The religion, then, is meant to provide a clearer and more comprehensive statement of the path. At the organizational level a ministry was introduced overseen by the Academy of Rajneeshism. A considerable number of the developments had to do with ministerial duties. Once qualified, activities performed by particular ministers depended on the kind of ‘energy’ they possess. ‘Arihantas’, those whose ‘basic energy is outgoing, extroverted’, are best able to ‘reach the state of godliness through serving others’. They thus performed the newly introduced marriage and birth ceremonies. ‘Siddhas’, whose energy ‘is basically introverted’, are best able to reach godliness by ‘working on themselves’. They were ’empowered to perform’ the sannyasin death ceremony. Finally ‘Acharyas’, combining both forms of energy, could perform all three kinds of ceremonies, as well as being ’empowered to initiate new disciples into Neo-Sannyas’.” (Thompson 1986, p. 25)
“Sheela did everything possible to suppress the information. She did not make the announcement to the commune, making it instead to a group of visitors who had arrived for the summer festival. She would not make the list of names available and cancelled the article which was to have appeared in ‘Bhagwan Magazine’. Finally, she edited Bhagwan’s comments about the committees out of videotapes which were being made each night as he spoke to a group of sannyasins in Lao Tzu House.” (Appleton 1988, p. 74)
More on the ecclesiastical organization of the religion overseen by the Academy of Rajneeshism is to be found in ‘Rajneeshism. An Introduction to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and His Religion’ (1983).
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“July 1:… the day before, President of Academy of Rajneeshism announced plans for the future spiritual leadership of Rajneeshism, which include a 36 member Mahasattva Sansad (Committee) with 36 alternates, a 21 member Sambuddha Sansad with 21 alternates, all 42 of whom are declared to be enlightened, and a 112 member Bodhisattva Sansad with 112 alternates, all from all over the world: all Sansad members are predicted to become enlightened within three months of Bhagwan’s death or sooner.” (Shay 1990)
Declaration of enlightenment May 1984
“Just before 7:00 p.m. a commune bus rolled up and conveyed us along the road up to Lao Tzu House, through the gates and then along the pebbled drive, flanked by lush green lawn and large trees, until we pulled up in the porch area. We passed through a short corridor into a room with a chair in it. That was about the only furniture, apart from a stereo with a statue of Buddha, sitting cross-legged, on top of it… What words he used exactly I cannot remember; I do recall he worded the news in such a way that while it was not as direct as, “You lot, from this moment on, are enlightened,” he left us in no doubt that that was the case. We were twenty-one… Those of us in the room (not including Sheela, Hasya and Vivek) were to form part of the ‘sansads’ or committees that would become operational on Bhagwan leaving his body. We would be known as ‘sambuddhas’, and ‘sambodhis’ (the latter being the female version)… The sambuddhas and sambodhis would form one of the tree committees – the ‘mahasattvas’ forming the second, and the ‘bodhisattvas’, the third. The first category (in which I was) were enlightened now, the mahasattvas would become enlightened some time before Bhagwan left his body, and the boddhisattvas would become enlightened before they left their bodies. Together, all three would form an organic whole, just like a tree; so there was no distinction of higher or lower between them. All three were necessary for the continued existence of Bhagwan’s living religion…
The work of the mahasattvas – who numbered thirty-six – would be “esoteric and introverted… not known by the world,” while the work of the one hundred and twelve bodhisattvas would be “extrovert, and working with the outside world.” Bhagwan then said that Maitreya would be the president of the sambuddhas/sambodhis, Siddha, and Amitabh (another therapist who wasn’t present), would be the vice-presidents, Devaraj would be secretary and Rajen and myself vice-secretaries. (Boo-hoo! I cried in response to hearing my post, and continued crying with renewed impetus)… At the sansad meeting in Lao Tzu House we had been told to use our “title” when signing our names, and that we would be given certificates. The latter I did receive some months later, and hung it – upside down – by my bed… On November 18th, 1984, in response to somebody’s question, Bhagwan spoke publicly for the first time about the list of the enlightened ones.” (Forman 1988, pp. 345ff,354)
Osho on Sw Anand Maitreya
“Sometime in 1984 Maitreya became enlightened, but he had chosen to remain silent, so he remained silent. He did not even tell me what had happened to him. But the day it happened I called a small meeting of a few sannyasins in Rancho Rajneesh in America. I declared that there were going to be three special committees: one of mahasattvas, the great beings who are destined to become enlightened in this very life; the second of sambuddhas, who have already become enlightened; and the third of bodhisattvas, who will also become enlightened… but perhaps they will take a little longer than the other two categories, but certainly before their death.
Because I had included Maitreya’s name, he was shocked. He wanted to keep it completely to himself, not to say anything about enlightenment to anybody. As he left the meeting, he told a few people outside, “It is very strange, I have not said – I have been trying to hide it – but somehow he has seen it. And not only he has seen it, he has declared me enlightened.”
And his response was truly of great love. He said, “Bhagwan is really a rascal.” All these years before his enlightenment and after his enlightenment, he just remained absolutely ordinary, with no ego, with no desire, with no greed.” Ta Hui. The Great Zen Master (1988), p. 79.
Mistlberger on this event
“In 1984, during the Oregon commune years, a fascinating event occurred in which Osho one day summoned twenty-one of his closer disciples to his private residence. Once they were all gathered, he announced that they were to be divided into three groups. The first was now enlightened. The second would become enlightened sometime before Osho died. And the last would become enlightened after Osho died… After some six months, Osho gathered the group together again and told them that it had all been a big joke – or more accurately, an elaborate device. Told that they were not in fact enlightened, some laughed, but others mysteriously felt their ‘enlightened state’ suddenly dissipate. The entire experiment, regardless of Osho’s underlying motives for initiating it, was an interesting glimpse into the relationship between authentic spiritual realization and blind trust in a guru. It was reminiscent, on a larger scale, of something Gurdjieff once did with a group of his students.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 179)
List of 21 enlightened beings
“Osho had recently published a list of twenty-one names of people who were enlightened and he [Haridas] was one of them.
I knew all those who were on the list. One of them was Maneesha who had edited all the darshan diaries and who had been with us in the Saswad fort. Each one of those on the list reacted in a different way. One of them, apparently, started giving satsangs and talking to people on a tent platform behind her house. Swami Maitreya, the man who had arrived at the Ranch with a broken leg, showed off on the Mall how he could enjoy smoking a cigarette in an ‘enlightened’ way. When he had received the news that he was declared enlightened, I was told that he said: “Osho is a rascal.” And when I asked Haridas about his enlightenment he just gave me a smile…
Even people like Teertha, one of the first therapists and meditation leaders, was not on any list. This game created a great stir, some of it lived out in secrecy as in my case, some of it more publicly.” (Punya 2015, p. 307)
(Note: The number of 21 names on this list equals the 21 members of the Inner Circle later on in 1989)
Anando writes on the committees declared by Bhagwan
“Sheela did everything possible to suppress the information. She did not make the announcement to the commune, making it instead to a group of visitors who had arrived for the summer festival. She would not make the list of names available and cancelled the article which was to have appeared in ‘Bhagwan’ magazine. Finally, she edited Bhagwan’s comments about the committees out of videotapes which were being made each night as he spoke to a group of sannyasins in Lao Tzu House.” (Appleton 1988, p. 74)
People declared enlightened
“Somendra immediately sent a telegram to Teertha, saying, “I have got it – what about you?” He was continuously in competition – that was his problem, that he should be higher than Teertha. And this was a good chance. He has dropped sannyas, he has not been in any contact with us, but my declaration of his enlightenment – that he accepts. Sannyas he has dropped – he is no longer part of my family – but enlightenment… immediately a telegram: “I have got it – what about you?”
It was a device to see how people would react. Your response to it was perfectly beautiful.” Beyond Psychology. Talks in Uruguay (1988). Chapter 10, p. 95. Punta del Este, 17.04.1986 am.
Shanti Bhadra recalls the declaring of Bodhisattvas
“Early in 1984 Bhagwan raised a number of his sannyasins to the rank of ‘bodhisattva’. In other words, he declared them to be enlightened. Such a thing had never happened before. My name was not on the list. Sativa’s was, and the high priest’s, and Vivek’s, and Bhagwan’s doctors, and many others who were either useful, rich or both, It was like being made a knight, or awarded an MBE or a Medal of Honour.” (Stork 2009, p. 159)
5.4 Discourses in Lao Tzu House
All discourse series from Oregon are presented in Volume III / Bibliography / Oregon, where bibliographic data as well as excerpts from introductions and opening discourses are to be found.
While in India, in his discourse series Osho had talked on religious sutras and enlightened beings throughout the history of mankind. Within a certain series discourses were mostly alternating between commentary and the answering of questions from his disciples. This had been the format in Bombay and Poona 1970-1981 and would again be resumed when he returned to Poona in January 1987. But in his discourses in Oregon from October 1984 until October 1985 and again during his World Tour all discourses were on answering questions from his followers or from visiting reporters. Whether this was due to some lack of fertile ground in the West for his elaborating on spiritual masters and sutras or he had felt the necessity for an extended dialogue with disciples and press I’ll leave to the reader to ponder upon. But still he did continue to tell ‘the naked truth about religions’ and he also said ‘I don’t need to speak on other religious Masters anymore’.
Vasant Joshi writes on the new phase
“On 30 October 1984, after a silence of 1,315 days, Osho started to talk and opened his heart before his disciples once again. When Osho began speaking, the need for it slowly started to become clear. These meetings, addressed to the ‘chosen few’, were dynamite. A totally new phase of his work began from there. When he went into silence, in 1981, he had said he wanted to get rid of all those who were with him simply for intellectual reasons. Now he wanted only those who could be with him in silence… In those few months of night discourses to a select group, he methodically tore apart the history of humanity into pieces. God, heaven, hell, Jesus, figures on whom he had talked highly in the past, along with all the religions and societies now came under severe criticism. He would give praise where it was due, but also criticise where it was necessary. He had waited nearly a decade to do so.” (Joshi 2010, p. 170)
New discourses starting
“On October 30, 1984 Bhagwan’s personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, asked Ma Yoga Vidya, M.Sc.,M.M.,D.Litt.M.(RIMU), Arihanta, President of Rajneesh Neo-Sannyas International Commune, to make an historic announcement to the whole community. Vidya told the excited audience in Rajneesh Mandir that Bhagwan was ending more than three years of silence to speak on His religion. The outburst of joy was tremendous, erupting into dancing and singing for the next half hour.
Even as Ma Yoga Vidya was sharing this special news with the community, the first of Bhagwan’s talks had already begun and was being videotaped for viewing by the commune the following evening.
The series of talks is entitled: “The Rajneesh Bible, special talks for a group called THE CHOSEN FEW who are going to be the messengers of Rajneeshism for the world at large.” The series of discourses making up The Rajneesh Bible is available on videotape and audiotape through Rajneesh Foundation Internationsl and will appear in book form at a later date. Selections from the discourses will also be published in Bhagwan Magazine, The Rajneesh Times, and the Rajneesh Foundation International Newsletter.
Each evening, during meetings with His personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, Bhagwan will answer questions on Rajneeshism from disciples, friends and visitors. Questions should be forwarded to: Discourse Questions, Rajneesh Foundation International, P.O. Box 9, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon 97741.
All questions submitted by sannyasins should be signed with the full sannyas name, name of temple in which you worship and the center, ashram or commune where you are living.
As this latest adventure with Bhagwan begins, the whole world is blessed with the wisdom of His words and the guidance He provides for a struggling mankind. In these excerpts from His response to the first of many questions to come, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh reveals to all why His religion is the first and the last religion.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1984:16)
Heading: A Few Touches Here and There
“Softly, His voice flowed into our hearts, into our being as we sat in Rajneesh Mandir listening to the Master speak. After one thousand three hundred fifteen days of silence, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh began a special series of discourses on October 30, 1984 entitled “The Rajneesh Bible: Special talks for a group called The Chosen Few who are going to be the messengers of Rajneeshism for the world at large.”” (Bhagwan, 1984:11)
“Six days later, after three and a half years of public silence, Bhagwan began to speak again.
Before entering into silence in Poona he had spoken to the full commune every morning. Now meetings were held in the evening, in Lao Tzu, in the small living room of his old trailer; it could hold only fifty people. The house staff and some therapists could attend every night; the rest of the commune came by invitation on a rotating basis.
New soft drapes billowed around the windows, shining new wood covered the old floor. The space was small, intimate; each night we pressed together, filling every inch of the room.” (Hamilton 1998, p. 146)
Osho talking on The Rajneesh Bible
“Vivek has just asked me, “Why are your discourses called ‘The Rajneesh Bible’?” They are called “The Bible” just to make it clear to the whole world the “bible” simply means the book, it does not mean the holy book. That’s why you say “bibliography. Is there anything holy in a bibliography? A bibliography simply means a list of books, It is really just “the book”, and I want it to be clear to the whole world that a bible has nothing to do with holiness.” From Darkness to Light (1988). Chapter 13. 13.03.1985.
The Rajneesh Times (British edition) of November 5th, 1984, reported the next major development of the year
“‘As softly as a door opens and as spontaneously as a bird takes flight, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh has begun to speak again. After 1,315 days of silence, Bhagwan has started a series of special talks on October 30 1984, entitled The Rajneesh Bible’.
One reason for Bhagwan breaking his silence is that he wanted to put some ‘finishing touches’ to his teaching. He also felt that the time had come for him to talk directly to his sannyasins. His sannyasins, he said, had developed to a point where they could be told ‘the whole truth’. His disciples responded with joy. Not many were especially surprised: sannyasins are well accustomed to Bhagwan’s mercurial temperament. For their Master to break a wow of perpetual silence is par for the course.” (Thompson 1986, p. 27)
“Sheela’s power was diminishing, not least because, in late October 1984, Bhagwan started giving discourses again. One fine day during his lunch-time drive through the Ranch, he pulled up next to a Portland TV camera crew, powered down the window of his Rolls Royce Silver Spur, and answered a question about his spiritual movement. “Tell those guys this is the first and last religion,” he said with a smile, then drove off. (Subhuti 2011, p. 99)
Brecher on Osho’s first message
“On October 24, 1984, Rajneesh stopped on his daily driveby and gave a four minute discourse in front of a Portland television camera on why he thought his religion was the first and possibly the last religion. Six days later, after three and a half years of public silence, Rajneesh began speaking each evening in his house to an audience of about forty sannyasins. The discourses were videotaped and played before a larger sannyasin audience the next day in the meditation hall.” (Brecher 1993, p. 216)
Question answered during drive-by 24.10.1984
“On October 24th came the rarest of occurrences. During His daily drive-by through Rajneeshpuram, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh stopped His car and answered a question from Ma Anand Sheela. Television reporters, who were visiting the city, were standing nearby and recorded Bhagwan’s response. He spoke on the nature of His religion and the impact it will have on the world.
Sheela said: “This morning some journalists asked me, ‘Why do you call yourself a religion?’ and I told them that I would find out and let them know.”
Ours is the only religion in the history of the world. All other religions were only experiments that failed. So not only say to them that we are a religion, say to them that we are the only religion. Christianity has failed, failed his Master, Christ. Mohammedanism has failed. Buddhism has failed. Hinduism has failed. Up to now, perhaps man was not mature enough to become religious, so only individuals have been religious. This is the only commune in the whole history of man which is religious.
“So tell those guys this is the only religion. All others are just premature experiments which have failed. And we are not going to fail. For the simple reason because we don’t have any belief that can be proved untrue. We don’t have any dogma that can be criticized. We don’t live on fictions like Christians believing in God and the trinity which they cannot prove. Hindus, Mohammedans, Jains, Buddhists, they all live on fictions which have no logical roots, which are not scientific, but superstitious, utterly superstitious.
“We have no superstition. Hence, nobody can criticize it. Nobody can destroy it. So, I say to you that this is the first religion, and perhaps the last religion. There may not be any need for any other religion. We may fulfil all the needs of a religious man. Good, Sheela.” (The Rajneesh Times, 26.10.1984; Rajneesh Newsletter, 1984:16)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“Oct 30: Bhagwan breaks 3 1/2 years of public silence (since March 1981, 1,315 days) in Rajneeshpuram.” (Shay 1990)
Video 2. First discourse of The Rajneesh Bible. Lao Tzu House. 30.10.1984 pm.
Opening discourse by Osho, ‘Silence, the pull of the innermost zero’, on the first evening, 30.10.1984. Question is asked by Sheela. Excerpt:
“BHAGWAN, Why do You call Your religion the first and the last religion?
It is a little difficult for me to speak again. It has been difficult always, because I have been trying to speak the unspeakable. Now it is even more so.
After one thousand three hundred and fifteen days of silence, it feels as if I am coming to you from a totally different world. In fact it is so.
The world of words, language, concepts, and the world of silence are so diametrically opposite to each other, they don’t meet anywhere. They can’t meet by their very nature. Silence means a state of wordlessness, and to speak now, it is as if to learn language again from ABC. But this is not a new experience for me; it has happened before too.
For thirty years I have been speaking continually. It was such a tension because my whole being was pulled towards silence, and I was pulling myself towards words, language, concepts, philosophies.
There was no other way to convey, and I had a tremendously important message to convey. There was no way to shirk the responsibility. I had tried it.
The day I realized my own being, it was such a fulfilment that I became silent. There was nothing left to be asked…
Now I have found my people, and I have to arrange a silent communion, which will help in two ways: those who cannot understand silence will drop out. That will be good. That will be a good weeding. Otherwise they will go on clinging around me because of the words, because their intellect feels satisfied. And I am not here to satisfy their intellect. My purpose is far, far deeper, of a different dimension.
So these days of silence have helped those who were just intellectually curious, rationally interested in me, to turn their back. And secondly, it helped me to find my real authentic people who are not in need of words to be with me. They can be with me without words. That’s the difference between communication and communion.
Communication is through words, and communion is through silence.
So these days of silence have been immensely fruitful. So now only those are left for whom my presence is enough, my people is enough, for whom just my gesture of the hand is enough, for whom my eyes are enough; for whom language is no more a need.
But today I have suddenly decided to speak again – again after one thousand three hundred and fifteen days – for the simple reason: that the picture that I have been painting all my life needs a few touches here and there to complete it. Because suddenly, that one day when I became silent, everything was left incomplete. Before I depart from you as far as my physical body is concerned, I would like to complete it…
Sheela has asked why I call my religion the first and perhaps the last religion.
Yes I call it the first religion because religion is the highest flowering of consciousness. Up to now man was not capable of conceiving it.
Even now, only one percent of humanity is barely able to conceive it. The masses are still living in the past, burdened with the past, conditioned with the past. Barely one percent of mankind is in a state now to conceive religion. All the old religions are based in fear. Now, a real religion destroys fear. It is not based in fear…
All these religions in the past are anti-life. Nobody is for life. Nobody is for living. Nobody is for laughter. No religion has accepted a sense of humor as a quality of religiousness.
Hence, I say my religion is the first religion which takes man in his totality, in his naturalness, accepts man’s whole, as he is. And that’s what holy means to me – not something sacred, but something accepted in its wholeness.” The Rajneesh Bible (1985). Volume I, pp. 2-13.
Maneesha remembers the first discourse
“Most of us saw the video of the previous discourse at night, after work, in Rajneesh Mandir. Perhaps forty others were invited to sit in Bhagwan’s presence for the discourses in Lao Tzu House. The talks were dedicated – so we read on the video screen before each began – to “The Chosen Few,” who would be the messengers of “Rajneeshism” for “the world at large.”… Some time later someone did ask Bhagwan who exactly these chosen people were; and he had responded that we all were.
If you listen to the tape of the very first discourse in Rajneeshpuram, you can hear the truth of his opening words, when Bhagwan said, “It is a little difficult for me to speak again. It has been difficult always, because I have been trying to speak the unspeakable. Now it is even more so. After one thousand three hundred and fifteen days of silence, it feels as if I am coming to you from a totally different world. In fact it is so…”
His voice sounded husky as though it would have to become accustomed to communicating again: even though he might have been talking to Sheela every day, speaking to us as a group for an uninterrupted two hours or so must have been physically taxing, initially. Bhagwan went on to say that he had recommenced talking because the painting that is his life’s work needed some finishing touches. He also commented on the value of the past several years’ silence, saying that he had helped “those who were just intellectually curious, rationally interested in me, to turn their backs. And secondly, it had helped me to find my real, authentic people who are not in need of words to be with me. They can be with me without words. That’s the difference between communication and communion… Now only those are left…for whom just my gesture of the hand is enough, for whom my eyes are enough; for whom language is no more needed.” (Forman 1988, pp. 377-78)
FitzGerald on Osho’s lecturing
“[Bhagwan] was by this time speaking in public again – just as he had promised he would “if money becomes too difficult.” He had begun giving lectures to small groups of sannyasins the previous fall. (The lectures were videotaped and shown to the ranch population the day after.) His first lecture was on October 30th – a week and a half after the Rajneeshee decided to boycott the election and give up on the Share-A-Home program. The guru lectured to small groups for the next eight months. On June 30th, just before the 1985 Master’s Day Festival, he began giving public lectures, mornings, in the meeting hall. Asked why he had resumed lecturing, he said that he had stopped in order to create a hiatus in his own work and to get rid of a lot of people who had been hanging around him just for his words… When the festival was over, Rajneesh held a press conference – the first he had given in the United States – and thereafter granted interviews to virtually any journalist who put in a request.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 103)
Sheela putting on microphone
“I had entered the wood-paneled room in Rajneesh’s triple-wide mobile home more than two hours earlier, leaving my shoes outside in the frosty Central Oregon night air…
This was the ninth talk in a series that began last week after Rajneesh decided to end a three-year silence. Video and audio tapes of the sessions are being produced under the title “The Rajneesh Bible.” They are described as “special talks for the chosen few who are going to be the messengers of Rajneeshism for the world at large.”
About 30 Rajneesh disciples followed us into the room, which was bare except for Rajneesh’s chair, two television cameras, two banks of lights and some recording equipment at the back of the room…
A few minutes later the guru shuffled in, wearing a long gray robe and a thick gray stocking cap, peering over the steeple formed by his fingers.
Sheela’s hand trembled like that of a schoolboy pinning a corsage on his prom night date as she fastened a diamond brooch concealing a microphone on Rajneesh’s robes.” (Mike Stahlberg in: The Register-Guard (OR), 09.11.1984)
“It was around this time that Bhagwan started speaking again. Each night a small group of people from around the ranch were invited to his house for an intimate discourse. This discourse was videotaped and shown the following night to everyone else. It had been years since he had spoken to us as he had been in a silent phase since before leaving Poona.” (Patipada 1997, p. 93)
“Three months into the discourses, Bhagwan revealed that in fact most of the question which he used for discourse were his own! (I know not all of them were because I submitted at least two which he answered.)…
Some time into the very first discourse on October 30th, 1984, Bhagwan reminded us that we should drop the idea – if somewhere along the way we’d collected it – that he was in any way a redeemer, a savior, a Mr. Fix-It:
“I don’t say, ‘You have to follow me, then only you can be saved.’ That is absolutely egoistic,” he said. “Jesus says, ‘Come, follow me.’ Even my book on Jesus is titled ‘Come Follow Me’. That is not my statement, it is Jesus’ statement. If you ask me,” Bhagwan continued, “I will say, ‘Never! Don’t follow me, because I am myself lost. Unless you choose to be lost forever like me… then it is okay.” (Forman 1988, p. 378)
Goldman on lectures
“On October 30, 1984, Bhagwan partially broke his public silence…
Facing the disintegration of his movement, Bhagwan began a series of evening lectures to several dozen devotees designated the Chosen Few. Shanto was among those rich or influential devotees who had been selected to sit before the master. They gathered in his compound, Lao Tzu, but videotapes of these conversations were later shown to everyone who gathered in the evenings in Rajneesh Mandir.” (Goldman 1999, p. 114)
The setting in Lao Tzu House
“Around 6:30 each evening the group of those attending discourses would be driven through the gates of Lao Tzu House, and up the drive to be dropped off outside the wood-paneled room that had become “the darshan room.” Maitri (of conjunctivitis fame), Vasumati and Divya, Rajen, Santosh, Siddha, Teertha, and some other therapists, plus Indian Taru, Maitreya, Vinod, and Neelam – an Indian woman of my own age whom I didn’t know very well but had always liked by sight – as well as the residents of Lao Tzu House and the Hollywood group, attended almost every discourse. In addition, people were invited for an evening or on a regular basis of one evening a week.
The room was so tiny that whereever you were sitting you were fairly close to Bhagwan. Certainly we were all closer to him than was possible in Rajneesh Mandir, or even Buddha Hall of Poona days. You were caught between just wanting to gaze at him for the entire two hours, letting your eyes travel over each loved and remembered line and curve, crease, dimple and shadow of his face and hands; or closing your eyes and basking in the delicious feeling of his presence.” (Forman 1988, p. 391)
Veena on the setting: The Frozen Few
“Sheela had done her best to make life as difficult as possible for the people working in Lao Tzu House and taking care of Osho. She was insanely, viciously jealous because she wanted to be closer to him but was kept at arm’s length in Jesus Grove – her interpretation. One incident that affected us in the sewing room was the heating system. When Osho started talking to small groups (which Sheela already didn’t like as suddenly the focus was back on Osho, not her) the room next to the sewing room was used. As many people know, Osho liked to be really cold, so no heating could be turned on in this room. The problem was that our sewing room shared the same heating system so we could have no heating either and, as it was a cold Oregon winter with the temperature constantly below freezing, we were naturally rather chilly… We actually never did get any heating until she left for a trip to Australia. Vidya took over in her stead and when Osho put the problem to her she got the job done in one day. It was nice to be warm again.” (Veena 2012, p. 156)
Anando on Sheela’s attitude
“Sheela often said to her confidants that Bhagwan was threatening to speak again, but that she did not want him to because of his health, the security problems it would create for her, and the animosity he would create by telling the truth about American politicians. What she did not say is that she did not want him to talk because she would no longer be in the limelight. She described Bhagwan as a helpless person who needed her to take care of him, because his enlightenment made him unable to care for himself. If Bhagwan were to become ill so that he was unable to speak, Sheela believed she would be secure in her position as the head of Rajneeshism. After the intoxicating taste of power and fame, she was loath to let it go.” (Appleton 1988, p. 70)
Aveling on Osho
“Rajneesh remained in silence until almost the end of this period. His routine was unvaried: he awoke at six, spent one and a half hours “enjoying the bathtub,” drove to be with his people, took lunch and slept again, woke and drove for an hour, sat “doing nothing,” bathed again, ate, saw his secretary, and then slept once more (Osho 2000, 150-151). He also incessantly watched videos (Milne 1987, 248) and took large doses of diazepam and nitrous oxide (Gordon 1987, 158). He acquired Rolls Royces (some 93, according to one count; Sam 1997, 134) and “hundreds” of jewel-encrusted watches (Osho 2000, 150-151). H. Milne (whose objectivity is severely questioned by sannyasis) describes him as “an empty shell of a man, a defeated relic with only sadness and ruined pride in his eyes” (1986, 249), relieved that he did not “have to pretend to be enlightened any more” (1986, 232). Because of mounting government pressures related to his religious status, Rajneesh began speaking in public again on Oct 30, 1984, first to a small group of disciples and then later, in July 1985, to slightly larger audiences (Gordon 1987). He spoke on the nature of true religion, freedom, politics, and the possibility of AIDS killing a large portion of humanity before the end of the century.” (Aveling 2012)
Two corresponding periods of silence
“Magga Baba was the one who made Rajneesh speak again after his first period of silence, and Rajneesh remembers from their talk:
“He himself had remained silent his whole life. Nobody heard about him; nobody knew about him. And he was the most precious man I have come across in this, or any of my lives in the past. His name was Magga Baba. Once in a while, particularly on cold winter nights, I used to find him alone; then he would say something to me. He forced me to speak. He said, “Look, I have remained silent my whole life, but they do not hear, they do not listen. They cannot understand it; it is beyond them. I have failed. I have not been able to convey what I have been carrying within me, and now there is not much time left for me. You are so young, you have a long life before you; please don’t stop speaking. Start!” The Rajneesh Bible (1985). Vol I. Chapter 1, p. 5.
So between 1981 and 1984 in Oregon Osho observed a second period of silence also lasting 1.315 days, exactly the number of days in his first period of silence following his enlightenment. Osho has indicated that although Magga Baba did encourage him to teach, at the same time he warned Osho not to declare his enlightenment in public as this would create antagonism among his listeners. Osho did not publicly acknowledge his enlightenment until he told Kranti about the event in November 1972 more than a year after he had changed his name to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and stopped his arduous and sometimes life threatening travels in India.
Osho is speaking on Sheela and discontinuity of his speaking
“She [Sheela] must have been thinking that I am going to be silent forever. The moment I started feeling that something was going wrong, I came back. But this experience was immensely good. In my whole life I have never felt that anything bad happens. You have just to use it in a right way. And we will use it in a right way, we are using it in a right way. The commune is more clean, unburdened, fresh, more joyous, more aware. And these three and a half years’ silence were needed for me to get disconnected with all that I have said before. Now I am speaking on my own authority, on my own experience. That discontinuity was absolutely needed. And you will see the difference.
I have spoken on Jesus before; I am speaking on Jesus now too, but now I am saying exactly what I see, feel, experience. Then I was choosing from Jesus’ sayings because I was trying to find my own people.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991), Chapter 8, p. 97. 22.09.1985.
(Note: See also Epilogue on present management’s emphasis on later phases of his work)
Subhuti on discourses and missing videotape
“Three days later, he began giving discourses every evening in Lao Tzu House, his trailer home, to a select gathering of disciples – group leaders, Ranch managers and his personal staff – whom he called ‘The Chosen Few’…
The night he broke his silence, Bhagwan came into the room looking like he’d returned from another galaxy. He sat in his chair, gazed into a mystical distance just above our heads and, after an eternal pause, said slowly, “It is a little difficult for me to speak again…”
I was cold in that room. Very cold. So cold, in fact, that the regulars began calling themselves ‘The Frozen Few’. I was an occasional guest and was warned ahead of time to wear several layers of clothing.
If Sheela didn’t like Bhagwan reclaiming the spotlight – the TV cameras were now trained on him, not her – then worse was to come. On December 19th, Bhagwan said he would destroy any possibility of his religion being exploited by an organization adding: “That promise you can always remember: I will not leave you under a fascist regime.”
The videotape of this discourse mysteriously disappeared – the fascist regime stole it – but thirty people had heard it and our extremely efficient bush telegraph spread the news like a prairie fire.” (Subhuti 2011, p. 99)
Shanti Bhadra writes on INS and the press
“It was the INS who provided the impetus for Bhagwan to begin speaking again. Ever since they had been obliged to issue him a visa as a religious leader, they had kept a close eye on him. Observing that Bhagwan did not speak to his people, they threatened to cancel his visa. At first he began teaching privately to a select group in his house, but eventually he began speaking publicly again in Buddha Hall. It was at a time when public opinion and dozens of lawsuits were exerting enormous pressures on the community. Bhagwan had always believed in using the press as a deterrent to the authorities taking any overt action against himself or the community, so when he resumed public speaking he also began inviting members of the press to private audiences.” (Stork 2009, p. 156)
Sarita on The Chosen Few
“The Chosen Few was the name Osho gave to the select 25 or so sannyasins who were invited each night to attend his discourses up at his house when he began public talking again after four years of silence. This moniker even appeared at the head of the discourse videos of the period. But because of the temperature in Osho’s living room, which for his benefit was kept at 50’F (10’C), the guests were jokingly known as the Frozen Few. After the Ranch folded, the title was withdrawn from the videos.” (Savita 2014, p. 141)
Huth on Elten and Oregon
“Nach der Aussage von Jörg Andrees Elten anlässlich seines Vortrag in Frankfurt am 7.4.1990 (“Abschied von Rajneesh”) lässt sich das auch erklären.
Elten meint, dass Rajneesh in seiner Zeit in Poona bis zur Übersiedlung des Ashrams nach Oregon vor allem Sannyasins und Interessierte aus Deutschland und Amerika bei sich hatte. Deshalb hat er über die zentrale Figur des christlichen Glaubens, Jesus, auch vor allem in positiver Weise gesprochen, um diese Menschen nicht abzustossen, sondern anzuziehen und ihnen neue, unbekannte Seiten von Jesus zu zeigen.
Später dann, in Oregon, sprach er zu den “Chosen few”, also einem inneren Kreis vor Jüngeren, und da sprach er ungeschminkter, sowohl über Buddha und Krishna, als auch über Jesus.
In Oregon mag hinzugekommen sein, dass die Konfrontation der Sannyasins mit christlichen Fundamentalisten die Stimmung zwischen Rajneeshies und den (fundamentalistisch-) christlich geprägten Amerikanern in der Umgebung des Ashrams die Stimmung angeheizt hat. Rajneesh nimmt in Oregon wiederholt in seinen Lectures Bezug auf Briefe von christlichen Amerikanern, die ihn angreifen wegen seiner Lehre oder wegen seiner Arbeit im Ashram.” (Huth 1993, p. 105)
Shunyo recalls Vivek being poisoned
“Vivek went to Jesus Grove for a meeting with Sheela. After drinking a cup of tea she became sick and Sheela brought her home. I saw them from my laundry room window; Sheela was supporting Vivek as though she could hardly walk. Devaraj examined her and her pulse beat was between one hundred and sixty and one hundred and seventy, and her heart was abnormal.
A few days later Osho broke His silence, and started giving discourses in His sitting room. There was room for about fifty people, so we attended on a rota system, and the video of the discourse was shown to the whole commune the next evening in Rajneesh Mandir. He spoke on rebellion, as against obedience, freedom and responsibility, and He even said that He would not leave us in the hands of a facist regime.
He said that at last He was speaking to people who could accept what He had to say, that for thirty years He had to disguise His message amongst sutras of Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, etc. Now He was going to tell the naked truth about religions. He emphasized again and again that to be enlightened you need not to be of virgin birth; in fact, all the stories surrounding enlightened people were lies invented by the priests…
His talks on Christianity were outrageous, even to someone who had been listening to Osho for many years. He was calling a spade, a fucking spade.
It was these talks that must have stirred fear in the hearts and stomachs of the fundamentalist Christians, not the possibility that He didn’t have the right tourist visa.” (Shunyo 1999, pp. 95-97)
Punya remembers Osho’s state
“In his house he spoke at meetings which had the subtitle: ‘To the chosen few who are going to be the messengers for the world at large’. It was an expression which sometimes made me feel excluded and other times included, depending on my own degree of self-esteem. The people invited were those of his household and some workers on rotation and, most importantly, the cameraman. The discourses were recorded on video and shown the next night in the Mandir meditation hall… Seeing Osho again, up so close, was like seeing an old friend, an intimate acquaintance, who had changed a lot after a long absence, maybe after a long illness. His voice was so weak that, despite the short distance, I could hear him only through the small speakers on both sides of his chair. I was so worried about his lack of strength that I could not pay attention to what he was saying. I could just take in the walls and floors lined with wooden squares; the tan chair and his tan robe; Mukta sitting as usual on his right side; and the heavy clanking sound of the video cassette when it was removed for a new one.” (Punya 2015, pp. 314,315)
Satya Bharti recalls
“I listened to the Magpie Queen explain that Bhagwan would be speaking to a small group of people in Lao Tzu House every night, she didn’t know who, and videos of his talks shown to the rest of us the following evening before dinner… “Now that I have my own people, I don’t need to speak on other religious Masters anymore. I’m ready to speak my own truths.” Night after night, Bhagwan derided Buddha, Christ, and all the enlightened Masters he’d honored in the past, offending both sannyasins and friends alike; outraging people… The only thing I envied about Sampurna sitting on the floor in a freezing cold room listening to Bhagwan’s talk was the fact that she got to leave work early… When I was finally invited to attend one of Bhagwan’s lectures, I spent the whole evening wishing it were over.” (Franklin 1992, p. 255)
On The Chosen Few
“Here, the moment you become a sannyasin you have chosen yourself. Every sannyasin belongs to the chosen few, and nobody is doing the choosing – it is you who are doing it, hence there is freedom. If you feel difficulties, you can drop out of it.
Nobody prevents you from becoming a sannyasin, nobody prevents you from dropping sannyas. Your freedom is intact…
Here I am not proclaiming anybody as chosen, but I am giving you an opportunity. If you want to be chosen, there will be difficulties. My sannyasins everywhere are going through all the difficulties. One has to pay for everything. You want to be the chosen few for free? – it is not possible. You will have to pay for it.” The Rajneesh Upanishad (1986). Chapter 27, p. 641.
Mistlberger on Osho’s gestures
“I can say with certainty that of all the teachers I personally experienced, he was the most extraordinarily non-physical. In his lectures his body would assume a position, generally one leg crossed over the other, and there would be no movements in the lower part of his body at all, often for up to two (or even three) hours. Only his hands and head would move, but only very slowly. He rarely blinked. All this can be seen in many videoed lectures of his freely available on the Internet.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 343)
Satya Bharti recalls
“When he first began lecturing to small groups of people in Lao Tzu House, there was little Sheela could do to prevent it. She (or one of her subordinates if she was away, generally Savita or Vidya) was always present when he spoke. He gradually began to invite people other than Lao Tzu residents to his evening talks: therapists, Poona mediums, the Hollywood crowd. Soon representatives from every ranch department were taking turns attending the meetings; they were video-taped and shown to the community at large. When Sheela tried to stop Bhagwan from speaking, or the videos from being shown, ranch residents protested vehemently and she nearly had a revolution on her hands. She “compromised” by showing the videos at ten o’clock at night when few people had the energy or inclination to see them. It was only when the commune was in dire need of money, and few new people were showing up to replenish the coffers, that Bhagwan was finally “allowed” to speak publicly again. Before it was announced that he’d be lecturing at the annual celebration in July ’85, only a small number of people had registered for the festival: the community’s major money-making event.” (Franklin 1992, p. 357)
Maneesha writes on plenum meeting with Sheela
“Finally, a voice from the back shouted, “Why can’t Bhagwan keep talking in the evening to the small group, and the rest of us will work longer and then see the video at the end of our day’s worship?” This was seized on as the best suggestion yet, and, in the event, adopted, but what seemed satisfactory in theory was almost absurd in practice. Now our working days was prolonged, and after twelve hours of work and a quick supper, even the most energetic or devoted sannyasins were not able to stay awake to hear the video in Rajneesh Mandir. Starting the videos after supper also meant that we no longer had the opportunity to discuss the content of each day’s video over supper as we had been doing. Having the choice between listening to a discourse until 11:00 p.m. or even later and just somehow making it through the following day, or taking an early night in order to have enough energy for tomorrow, many people began to opt for the latter. Those who were determined to go to the video found that however well-intentioned they were, they invariably fell asleep during it. And, curiously, the hall was always either overheated so it was all too easy to become drowsy and lose attention, or so cold as to be uncomfortable and so one became more concerned with staying warm than listening to what Bhagwan might be saying… As it happened, Bhagwan continued to talk to the small group only for another few weeks after this meeting. In April  he contracted an ear infection, perhaps caught while he was taking his daily swimming exercise in his indoor swimming pool… Even though Bhagwan’s ear infection was being treated and had begun to resolve, discourses ceased, as did drive-by, and they did not resume – as it turned out – until the summer festival three months later.” (Forman 1988, pp. 420,422,424)
Shunyo on Sheela
“Sheela was losing her stardom. She was no longer the only person to see Osho, everybody saw Him, and not only that, we could ask him questions for discourse. What Osho was talking about was opening people’s eyes…
Sheela called a general meeting for the whole commune, and it was to be held in Rajneesh Mandir. Vivek suspected that Sheela was going to try and stop Osho talking, so we made a plan that a few of us would spread out in the Mandir and call out “Keep Him Talking.” This way people would understand what was going on and everyone would start chanting to keep Him talking!
I sat at the back of the Mandir and switched on my tape recorder, hidden in my down jacket, just to record the meeting correctly…
… – and we, unknowingly, made our compromise which meant that Osho would talk to a few people each night and the video would be shown after everyone had done twelve hours’ work and had their dinner. Even the most devoted disciple fell asleep during the video. Nor only were His words not heard, people felt guilty into the bargain for not being able to stay awake!” (Shunyo 1999, p. 97)
“Osho who had been silent up until then, started speaking again after three years of silence. A group of specially selected Sannyasins would be invited to go sit with the Master. Videos were made of the private sessions and shown the next evening in Buddha Hall… The more he began to talk, the more Sheela became unneeded. The press no longer wanted to see her; they wanted Osho.” (Satish 2002, pp. 70,87)
“I think author Tom Robbins got it right when he described Osho’s Rolls Royce fleet as “the funniest spoof on consumerism ever staged.”… In fact, he [Osho] joked on several occasions that his biography should be titled ‘How to make Enemies and Influence People'”… “When Osho started to speak again in 1984, after more than three years of silence, things only got worse. For a start he called his new discourse series The Rajneesh Bible, a title guaranteed to incense Christian fundamentalists… Osho did have some good things to say about America. He praised Abraham Lincoln, the visionary poet Walt Whitman, and Paul Reps, one of the first people to introduce Zen to the West. He also praised the American Constitution, but said the preamble about “pursuit of happiness” was written by fools because happiness could never be pursued, only discovered by relaxing into your own being.” (Radha 2005, pp. 153f)
Tom Robbins writes
“Typhoon Bhagwan is not whistling Dixie. He is not peddling snake oil. He won’t sell you a mandala that will straighten your teeth or teach you a chant that will make you a millionaire. Although he definitely knows which side his bread is Buddha-ed on, he refuses to play by the rules of the spiritual marketplace, a refreshing attitude, in my opinion, and one that stations him in some pretty strong company. Jesus had his parables, Buddha his sutras, Mohammed his fantasies of the Arabian night. Bhagwan has something more appropriate for a species crippled by greed, fear, ignorance, and superstition: He has cosmic comedy.
“What Bhagwan is out to do, it seems to me, is pierce our disguises, shatter our illusions, cure our addictions, and demonstrate the self-limiting and often tragic folly of taking ourselves too seriously. His pathway to ecstasy twists through the topsy-turvy landscape of he Ego as Joke. Of course, a lot of people don’t get the punchline. (How many, for example, realized that Bhagwan’s ridiculous fleet of Rolls Royces was one of the greatest spoofs of consumerism ever staged?) But while the jokes may whiz far over their heads, the authorities intuitively sense something dangerous in Bhagwan’s message. Why else would they have singled him out for the kind of malicious persecution they never would have directed at a banana republic dictator or Mafia don? If Ronald Reagan had had his way, this gentle vegetarian would have been crucified on the White House lawn.” (Wild Ducks Flying Backward / Tom Robbins (2005). Quoted in: Abhiyana 2017, p. 291)
“My invitation only came once. I was warned that the room is colder than a walk-in fridge and we could not bring a cushion to sit on. Since his enlightenment, Osho’s body was constantly on fire inside. He kept his room at around 40 [degrees] F. In Chinese medicine, it’s called steaming bones syndrome and is a sign of extreme Yin Deficient Empty Heat, but what do I know about enlightenment’s effect on the body? It was exciting to prepare for a special evening discourse again, showering and shampooing several times with unscented soaps, making sure my clothes had no perfume smells.
The room was really cold! Thank God I dressed in multiple layers. It was exquisite to sit close to him again. His aura, his charisma, his sphere of awareness had not diminished one iota from the last time I sat near him; if anything, it was even more radiant. I don’t remember what he talked about. but I felt like a man suffering from thirst for a long time, who has been given cool water from a deep well.” (Abhiyana 2017, p. 337)
Komala Lyra remembers
“It is amazing to think that not so long ago, this entire operation happened without computers, faxes or cell phones…
It may have been at that time that Bhagwan started to give discourses at his house to small groups. These evening gatherings were by invitation only. I was privileged to be invited a few times. The coziness of the room, his presence showering serenity, as well as vehemently suggesting a new quality of inquiry… A few days later I was called again to the evening meeting at Lao Tzu, and I was invited to sit exactly in front of Bhagwan. Usually that spot was allocated to Teertha, who was then behind me. In this sandwich of energy, I listened to Bhagwan talking and looking straight into my eyes…
I guess just after the 1984 summer festival, after a few years in silence, Bhagwan resumed giving public discourses every morning at Buddha Hall. In the evenings he would meet journalists from all over the world, especially invited to the ranch. They would ask him questions. A few residents were invited for those meetings held in Jesus Grove. The morning discourses often involved political issues. That was not interesting to me, though it was delightful to sit with him again. I was invited to Jesus Grove in the evening for two weeks every day and then several other times sparsely. Bhagwan was extremely vivacious, humorous and charming. His answers were poignant. It was strong to sit a few meters from him in a small room, during these intimate and powerful gatherings…
A few days later he was arrested and put in jail by the American government. We gathered at Buddha Hall to watch the news on a big screen. It was pathetic to see such a man in prison clothes. His responses at an interview were piercing and unforgiving, and the diamond quality of his presence was as clear as ever. He expressed anger, though as calm as always. Finally he returned to the ranch for a while, and we sat again in Buddha Hall drinking of his silence. Not for too long, as he was forced to leave the country a few days later. That was the final goodbye! From the Portland courthouse he flew to India… There will be as many different versions of “life at the ranch” as there were people living and visiting. As a genuine mystery school, the multidimentionality of that experiment will never be expounded in words, no matter how rich or alluring a specific account might be. (Lyra 2005, pp. 162,167,178,180,182)
“… while sitting on a podium wearing His “Little King” outfit, also simply being an ‘ordinary man. Toward the end of the Ranch, Osho often had meetings with journalists so that He could spin His version of the debacle that had resulted in a plethora of crew. Cut, scrubbed FBI agents descending on our community. And while these journalistic dialogues took place in Jesus Grove, formerly the fortress of Sheela and her acolytes, small groups of sannyasins were invited to attend the meetings. Musicians would work us up into a frenzy while Osho was arriving and departing. Osho would work His arms up and down like engine pistons, with an energy not befitting a normal human being in His frail physical condition. All of the time He had a puff-cheeked look of exquisite joy on His face.” (Jayapal. In: Viha Connection, 2008:1)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“Dec 17: Bhagwan denies being a “cult” leader in discourse attended by 24 or so disciples and two reporters. (Rajneesh Times, 1984:21).” (Shay 1990)
Osho on answering questions
“I never answer any question, I simply destroy the question! It is not answering it, it is destroying it. It is hitting the question from all sides. It is a kind of murder: murdering the question, and, if possible, the questioner too! So nothing is left, because if the questioner is left he will ask again…
Everybody comes here with a lot of questions, but whether you ask them or not they are worthless. I answer them just to keep you engaged here, to keep you occupied. And side by side the real work goes on: in meditations, in therapy groups, I have put people to cut your roots, I go on answering so that you feel that your philosophical enquiry is satisfied, and you remain occupied with questions and answers. And I have put my people… meanwhile they are cutting your roots. Sooner or later your roots are gone, then leaves disappear of their own accord.
When all questions disappear, the answer is found, never before it. The answer is never found by questioning, the answer is found by dropping all questions, questioning as such, because the answer is your own experience of silence, joy, godliness. That is the answer. Unless that is found, questions will go on arising… All questions are ridiculous and stupid.” I Am That (1984); The Book (1984). Vol II, p. 529.
5.5 Discourses in Rajneesh Mandir
All discourse series are presented in Volume III / Bibliography / Oregon, where bibliographic data as well as excerpts from introductions and opening discourses are to be found.
His lectures were now growing more political and his commentaries almost entirely limited to harsh criticism of priests and politicians while his vision was becoming more concerned with the bigger picture and no longer focusing on individual masters and faiths as he had been doing earlier on in Poona One.
Osho on Mandir
“The Hindu temple is called ‘mandir’. The boundary wall represents the mind, and if you go inside, at the center there is the statue of God. The Jaina temple is called ‘chaityalaya’ for the same reason. If you can pass totally through ‘chitta’, the layers of mind, you will reach to consciousness which is the center of the temple.
In Japan there is only one temple which represents more precisely than any other temple the reality of mind and no-mind, mind and consciousness. It has only walls. Inside it is empty; there is no statue of Buddha, there is nothing. You simply go inside and sit in silence. It has been asked why this is so, but even the priests cannot say why, because they have forgotten the symbology. It has nothing to do with the temple, it has something to do with human mind.
For five hundred years after Gautam Buddha’s death, in no temple was there any statue of Gautam Buddha. Instead, on the wall inside the temple the bodhhi tree was engraved in the marble. And underneath the tree where Buddha had sat and become enlightened it was empty. It was a strange symbolism but very significant; by the tree they have indicated the place where Gautam Buddha became enlightened – but when he became enlightened there was no Gautam Buddha. It was empty, it was nothingness, it was just silence. Those temples were beautiful, but they have all disappeared, been destroyed.” The Path of the Mystic. Talks in Uruguay (1988). Chapter 8, p. 77. Punta del Este, 08.05.1986 am.
Blue prints for Rajneesh Mandir
“In the original application for building inspections to the Oregon Department of Commerce, a Rajneesh representative swore, under penalty of perjury, that the 2.2-acre, 80,000-square-foot steel greenhouse structure “would not be used for a purpose other than growing plants” and would “not be a place used by the public.” Nevertheless, after building that greenhouse the Rajneeshees said they discovered that it had a “serious design flaw” (“less than ideal solar configuration”) and transformed it into the commune’s principal public meeting hall, Rajneesh Mandir.” (McCormack 1987, p. 204)
Punya on Rajneesh Mandir’s legal status
“As we had lost our city status, I was no longer allowed to mention the sewage lagoon which was now illegal. With the incorporation, our 2.2 acre ‘greenhouse’ had become a ‘meeting hall’, our Rajneesh Mandir. What would it be now that the city was dis-incorporated? While I was away, the construction team had enclosed it with solid walls and glass at each end to give shelter for the winter celebrations.” (Punya 2015, p. 242)
Goldman on Rajneesh Mandir
“Rajneesh Mandir, a huge, hangarlike lecture hall, was the ranch’s spiritual center. On special days followers convened there to glory in Bhagwan’s silent presence and to view him on video and, in the summer of 1985, again in person.” (Goldman 1999, p. 35)
Mistlberger on Rajneesh Mandir and Multiversity
“In additions to all the trappings of a small town, two central features were Rajneesh Mandir and the ‘Multiversity’, which included the therapy chambers. The first was a very large outdoor auditorium that served as a meeting place in which to do group meditations, attend ‘satsangs’, watch videos of Osho’s lectures, and after late 1984 when Osho broke his silence, to attend his live lectures.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 273)
“I went to Rajneesh Mandir every night, excited and eager to hear him after 4 1/2-years. Regrettably, it didn’t take long for me to notice that he was repeating himself again, just as he had in India before entering silence. He only had this bit to say, this postscript, and he kept making the same few points over and over, using the same few examples or anecdotes or recollections.” (Carter 2009, p. 242)
‘From the False to the Truth. Answers to the Seekers of the Path’ (1988). Discourses 1 and 2 are from 01.04 and 02.04.1985 in Lao Tzu Grove. Discourse 3 is from 30.06 when Bhagwan started speaking in Rajneesh Mandir during the Fourth Annual Celebration and discourse 34 is from 01.08.1985 in Rajneesh Mandir. Only 33 out of 34 discourses are listed in Table of Contents. Each discourse from July 1985 in this series contains answers to several questions.
“June 30, 1985, 8:30am, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon
Walking gracefully onto the dais of Rajneesh Mandir, the enlightened Master, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was greeted with thunderous applause by more than 14,000 disciples, friends and guests. They came from every corner of the world to sit with this living Master and to hear His message of wisdom and truth.
On this beautiful sunlit morning, Bhagwan would end more than four years of public silence to speak for six days to the participants of the Fourth Annual World Celebration. But there was an additional surprise that came near the end of this memorable week.
On Master’s Day, Bhagwan’s personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, announced to an ecstatic audience that the following day, July 7th, Bhagwan would begin speaking daily in Rajneesh Mandir. Everyone was invited to submit questions for Bhagwan to answer.” (Bhagwan, 1985:7)
Maneesha writes on dancing in Mandir
“We had expected Bhagwan to talk to us during the festival because that had been advertised in advance, but totally unexpectedly he then continued giving morning discourses to us in Rajneesh Mandir. Now all of us had the chance to listen to his discourses live! At first we all went every morning; later most of us could go only every other evening. The rest of July and August passed by, with Bhagwan giving both morning discourses and evening press conferences regularly, with some of us invited once as a guest. Drive-by was now something of the past, although Bhagwan still took his daily drive…
For me personally, just after the festival, one of the most exciting experiences happened. When discourse concluded each morning and the music began, Bhagwan would stand, namaste us, and slowly make his exit. One morning he indicated that Vivek, sitting next to me, should come up onto the stage; whereupon, he began to dance with her! Everybody went beserk – it was so amazing to see Bhagwan not exactly jumping about, but certainly moving his arms and head in rhythm to the music, facing Vivek, who danced with abandon. The next day, Bhagwan again motioned to Vivek, and then seemed to look straight at me too! I hesitated, he kept looking: I took a chance, leapt up out of my seat and joined him and Vivek on the stage! I know I’ve never danced before as I did that morning and on subsequent mornings.” (Forman 1988, p. 451)
Osho dancing at disco
“One night, after a press conference in Jesus Grove, he stopped off at the Omar Khayyam Disco for a few minutes, totally zapping those who happened to be there that night. And he began dancing with us at the end of the discourse – often beckoning to Vivek, or Sunshine who was one of the “Twinkies,” or P.R. girls, or to me to be on either side of him. If we wouldn’t take him off the pedestal we’d set him up on, Bhagwan was going to clamber off it himself and dance right there, in our midst!” (Forman 1988, p. 382)
Shanti Bhadra on speaking in Mandir
“By this time Bhagwan was speaking publicly again. He came down to Buddha Hall every day and gave a discourse, just like in the old days. Well, almost. Gone was the austerely dressed sage of Pune. Now he wore fantastic flowing robes with matching caps and sparkling jewels on his wrists. His chair was grand and throne-like and sat atop a raised podium. He was guarded by a bevy of armed guards who stood around the periphery of the hall, constantly scanning the assembled crowd sitting on the floor. To make up for the menacing guards there was music and dancing girls, who danced at Bhagwan’s side, keeping time to the music and his vigorous two-handed conducting of them, before he sat down and began to speak.” (Stork 2009, p. 176)
Punya on discourses
“But Osho’s discourses were refreshingly down-to-earth. They were all answers to our questions. He emphasized the importance of accepting our humanity and not striving to become a superhuman. We even wrote a celebration song starting with his own words: “Just an ordinary man.” He was so special to me that it was difficult to accept that he was just an ‘ordinary man’, but I got the point and, through that, felt him much closer to me again.
Priests and politicians were again on the receiving end of his verbal daggers, but this time I saw them not in Delhi or Rome, but right here among us, me included. I heard him talk about respecting the other and respecting nature, as if for the first time, and I took it to heart and decided to give more respect to the sannyasins around me. His hilarious recollections of his rebellious childhood and his student years was a wake-up call for me not to follow the crowd.” (Punya 2015, p. 316)
Satyananda recalls discourses in Mandir
“Später, in Rajneeshpuram, wehte ein anderer Wind. In der riesigen Meditationshalle erschien mir der Meister oft körperlos, wie eine Symbolfigur. Das war nicht mehr der Mann, den du fragen konntest, der auf dich einging und der dir die Hand auf die Stirn legte. Die Regie seiner Auftritte erschien mir bombastisch, fast gewalttätig – eine Mischung aus Kölner Karneval und “Miami Vice”. Zu beiden Seiten des Podests überwachten uniformierte Scharfschützen mit weit aufgerissenen Augen die friedliche Menge der Sanyasins – schussbereite Maschienenpistolen in verkrampten Fäusten. Die breithüftigen Frauen aus Sheelas Power-Riege standen mit gespreizten Beinen wie in den Boden gerammt neben dem Eingang – schwere Revolver und Funksprechgeräte am Koppel. Mir herrisch aufgeregten Gesten dirigierten sie die Sicherheitsleute, wenn Bhagwan die Halle betrat. Der Meister faltete die feingliedrigen Hände vor dem strahlenden Gesicht, so als ginge ihn das aufdringliche Zeremoniell überhaupt nichts an.” (Elten 1990, p. 53)
“I live in a timeless space. I don’t know what day it is, I don’t know what date it is. I use the watch only for you – in the morning discourse, in the evening interviews for the press – otherwise, the whole day I don’t use it. I don’t have any need to know what the time is. What am I going to do with the time?
Just for your sake… because I am such a crazy man that I may go on speaking and speaking – three hours, four hours, five hours – the watch prevents me. It is simply for your sake, a compassionate gesture.” From Bondage to Freedom (1991). Chapter 17, p. 208. 01.10.1985.
“What made these discourses in Rajneeshpuram so different from any we’d heard before was that they had a very liberal smattering of anecdotes Bhagwan recalled from his days as a child, a student, a teacher, and later, as a professor. Most of his childhood pranks had been aimed at the pompous, the hypocritical, and while he had gone on at them until they had got the point, none of the “victims” of Bhagwan’s jokes had seemed to take offence, or at least not for very long.” (Forman 1988, p. 402)
Mistlberger on discourses
“Ultimately, Osho was only concerned with the awakening of the individual. He taught that masses do not awaken, only individuals do. But owing to his exceptional powers of oratory and personal charisma, he attracted a large and very devoted following and so inevitably his thoughts turned to the larger picture. In the 1970s, he usually lectured exclusively about enlightened mystics of the past and how their teachings were to be understood. By the 1980s, his lectures were growing more political and his political commentary was almost entirely limited to withering criticism of politicians and priests. Either way, his vision was clearly becoming more concerned with the bigger picture and the state of the masses… Although Osho spoke respectfully of Jesus as an enlightened master in most of his 1970s discourses by the mid-1980s he was skewering Christianity and Jesus more and more. This seemed to coincide with his years in Oregon and particularly toward the end just prior to the destruction of the commune. For a good example, see ‘The Rajneesh Bible’, Volume III (Rajneeshpuram: Rajneesh Foundation International, 1985), PP. 308-317.” (Mistlberger 2010, pp. 159,688)
“During the month that followed Sheela’s exit flight [September 1985], Osho talked three times a day (about seven to eight hours) to disciples and journalists. For such a self-acclaimed lazy man He was doing a tremendous amount of “work,” and was obviously getting tired.” (Shunyo 1991, p. 69)
This author is among those people who a couple of times have experienced US Navy A-6 fighters dive down over his head while sitting for morning discourse in Rajneesh Mandir in 1985. Osho never seemed to bother much – he just kept his silence until the sound had ended – but occasionally he used the event to make a comment on their play in the sky.
Video 3. Morning discourse 25.10.1985 with Osho’s comments on two low flying Navy jets streaking through the narrow valley and diving over Rajneesh Mandir. 4:38 min.
Last question in Mandir answered the day before Osho’s arrest in Charlotte:
“Beloved Master, Would You talk about Sheela and her gang?
“My God! Such an old story. And you must be real lazy and late to ask such a question. I can talk about Adam and Eve – that is far more fresh. But I do not want to waste my time and your time about Sheela and her gang. It is finished! Okay?” From Bondage to Freedom (1991). Chapter 43, p. 500. 27.10.1985.
5.6 Press Interviews in Jesus Grove
Published Press Interviews are presented in Volume III / Bibliography / Oregon, where bibliographic data as well as excerpts are to be found.
Maneesha on the first press conference, 17.07.1985
“As I remember it, the very day that Devaraj arrived back from the hospital, the first press conference to which international press were invited, was held in Jesus Grove. That was July 17th, 1985. In retrospect there was a certain significance in Bhagwan’s now going into Jesus Grove every evening from this date on. Up to this point it had been Sheela’s domain, her castle, her fortress. Now Bhagwan’s regular visits meant that the whole routine of Jesus Grove was changed to revolve around the evening press conferences. If the residents there had not been quite sure who was master in this particular neck of the woods, Bhagwan’s was making it abundantly clear. But he made the point with typical grace. Sannyasins would form lines either side of the path by which he entered Jesus Grove, and Bhagwan would stop and dance with sannyasins here and there along the line. Those residents of Jesus Grove who were disgruntled to find Bhagwan entering “their territory” stood out like sore thumbs when Bhagwan’s smiling face turned to them and his arms moved to the music, encouraging them to dance.” (Forman 1988, p. 447)
Press conferences begin
“On the same day that Devaraj returned home from the hospital, Osho began giving press conferences in Jesus Grove. This was the long bungalow where Sheela and her gang lived, and a large room was kept at an exceptionally cold temperature for Osho to speak at night. Journalists from all over the world had interviews with Him. Music accompanied Osho as He arrived and left Jesus Grove and He danced with the people filling the corridors and driveway to the house. Any of Sheela’s people who had been in doubt as to who their Master was, now had the opportunity to see.” (Shunyo 1999, p. 102)
Maneesha on press conferences
“It was quite an experience to watch Bhagwan respond to the different individual reporters, and to listen to his replies – vastly different from attending discourses where we heard responses to questions put to Bhagwan that were mainly from sannyasins, and mostly about meditation or other aspects of our inner growth. There, our questions were asked in love and trust, and the answer accepted similarly.
Now reporters from all over the world were facing Bhagwan with questions that I found for the most part facile, predictable in their perspective. These people are interviewing a living mystic, I thought, and they waste the opportunity trying to cross-examine him about why he has watches and cars and exactly how many. But if the questions were predictable, equally predictably, Bhagwan’s replies were not.” (Forman 1987, p. 448)
Anando writes on Sheela
“Meanwhile, Bhagwan began speaking every morning in Rajneesh Mandir to the entire commune and each night in Jesus Grove to members of the press. Sheela was incensed. “Who invited him to come to ‘my’ house anyway?” she growled to one cleaner. Each night she would bring Bhagwan to ‘her’ house, where people waited eagerly to greet him and hardly gave her a second glance. If he danced with anyone more than one time she would stand by watching, her face suffused with anger. She began to see him less and less, sending Savita or Vidya as secretary in her place, and finalizing plans to leave a situation that had gotten too hot to handle.” (Appleton 1988, p. 76)
Heading: My Meeting with Bhagwan. September 1985. Excerpts:
“In the early evening at Jesus Grove, dozens of sannyasins stood in wait for Bhagwan’s arrival, though only a few would be allowed to listen to the interview. Cameras were pre-focused on Bhagwan’s chair and on me; tape recording devices were set up. We waited. Then came the tell-tale whirl of the helicopters, the Rolls Royce, the music, the dancing. Bhagwan, in his usual regal robes, moved through the crowd, hands in air. When he reached his chair, about three feet from mine, the music stopped. He sat down and focused his eyes on mine. For the next two hours, he looked only at my eyes…
The other phenomenon which occurred during the interview was more elusive, but just as real. After looking into his eyes for about an hour, I sensed that his eyes did not merely look at mine. It seemed as though they looked through my throat and into my belly. I felt a physical sensation of the pathway of his eyes through my body.” (Carolyn Shoulders. In: Rajneesh Times International (India), 1988:24)
“[from October 1984] Bhagwan was once again in regular contact with all of his devotees, lecturing to large groups and appearing in public. In the evening, after media interviews and darshan for a small, intimate group, he danced with bemused reporters or with sannyasins lining the path between his Rolls-Royce and Sanai Grove, where he had just lectured.” (Goldman 1999, p. 210)
Rosciano on Osho speaking in Mandir and at press interviews
“One day the Master decided to start speaking again, after nearly four years of silence. He began giving discourses every evening to a select group of disciples in Lao Tzu House. Videos of these discourses were then shown the following night to everyone in Buddha Hall after work and dinner.
A few months later, Osho started giving morning discourses to the whole commune in Buddha Hall, and in the evenings agreed to give interviews to the press, using a room located in Jesus Grove, the cluster of trailer homes that was Sheela’s headquarters. Many journalists from the American and foreign news media arrived soon afterwards, hungry for news coming directly from the guru. In this way, the centre of attention of the commune shifted from Sheela and began to revolve again around Osho, who little by little took upon himself the energy of guiding the whole commune.
Osho was beautiful during the press interviews, which we could watch on video. It seemed like the years of silence had changed his energy, refined it even more and making him more spacious and light, like a cloud in the sky. He made all the journalists laugh, even the most serious ones, who burst out in big belly laughs at the sharpness and subtlety of his reasoning. He caught them off guard, and helped them to laugh at themselves, with his jokes about their own beliefs and false morality.
The lion was back his tract of forest. The journalists were showing the whole world, through the interviews they were reporting to their news organizations, what the Rolls Royce Guru was really about.
When Osho started speaking to us all, in his daily discourses in Buddha Hall, his words were fire. He spoke a lot about doubt as a fundamental requirement for inner growth, saying it is important to doubt everything because only with subjective experience can we create an energetic centre that will remain immutable over the years.” (Rosciano 2013, p. 240)
Abhiyana participates in the dancing
“In late 1984, Osho began giving press interviews each evening at Sheela’s home in Jesus Grove. Forty of us stood on either side of the walkway to the entrance and danced, with musicians behind Osho playing wild gypsy music. The Ranch population rotated in, so everyone would have a chance to participate. Osho stopped in front of me, looked me straight in the eyes, and danced for what seemed an eternity. At once, my body was melting and jumping straight up in the air; he was leaning into me so much that I almost landed on top of him! My eyes closed, then opened again to see he was still there, staring into my soul, his hands pumping the music to a wild crescendo. My body was really levitating in that totality out of time. These moments were a taste of no-mind, and a glimpse of what is our birthright to live 24/7. To not fall on him, my body bent backward and my low back continually hit the handle of the door I was standing in front of. My spine hurt for weeks, but it was worth it! We waited outside during the press interview, then repeated the wild dance on his way back to the Rolls.
I sat inside once during a press interview. It was wonderfully intimate, not more than 20 sannyasins, and as voices were not amplified, I had to be really attentive to hear. Osho poured out so much light and love during the interview; he was very playful with the journalist, even inviting the man to come visit his bathroom!” (Abhiyana 2017, p. 339)
Punya on press interviews
“After the celebration the morning discourses continued and Osho decided to hold interviews with the press in the evenings. These were held in a specially build large room adjoining Jesus Grove where Sheela lived. It was spacious enough to accommodate the press people, the cameramen and a few dozen invited sannyasins. We had reporters from ‘Good Morning America’, ‘Der Spiegel’, ’60 Minutes Australia’, ‘Seattle Post Intelligencer’, ‘The Guardian’, and many others. There was an opportunity to be invited, either for the line-up at the entrance or, best of all, to the interview itself. For that occasion we had to dig deep into our winter clothes to find polo necks and long johns as Osho liked very cold air conditioning.
We lined up on the rose-petal-strewn path from car to house, and greeted Osho on the way in and out. Two Russian musicians, a fiddler and a guitarist, walked behind him and we all danced to the wild gypsy airs. Sometimes Osho stopped in front of one of us in the line-up and danced with that person. I would have loved him to stop for me, but it never seemed to happen.” (Punya 2015, p. 322)
Rosciano on Osho ending his silence
“Osho continued to throw out fire and brimstone for days, giving interviews and public discourses in which he clarified what had happened in these years. He explained he had entered a state where it was impossible for him to communicate to the world and told us that the man we were seeing now with our own eyes was no longer the same person we had known in India.
His body was still alive, thanks to our love and our need to be with him, but he was in fact ‘dead’ and his body was now more an absence than a presence. He said that other enlightened ones had entered into silence and understood that if it persisted for more than 1000 days – I think that was the number – it wouldn’t be possible to speak again, which was why he had intercepted his silence. And then, with all that we had done in those years, it was necessary for him to take the reins of the commune again.” (Rosciano 2013, p. 241)
“Since the July festival Bhagwan had been giving morning discourses to the entire commune in our meditation hall. On the day Devaraj came home from the hospital, he began giving evening interviews to the international press in Jesus Grove, Sheela’s headquarters. These meetings were small, by invitation only; I went every night.
On the evening of Friday, September 13, Bhagwan referred to a letter Sheela had written to him a few days earlier, saying that she no longer felt so excited when she returned to the commune from her trips abroad. I looked around; Sheela wasn’t present.” (Hamilton 1998, p. 153)
Dharmabodhi in his ‘There Is Utopia’
“He always used to arrive in a beautiful Rolls Royce limousine. Escorted by live music He passed down the line of dancing sannyasins. Everything was a celebration.
Just before Bhagwan entered the room, where about 30 sannyasins were waiting with me, my fears disappeared. Here is a man who – without any restrictions – love and accepts me more than I do myself. Why be afraid?
The interview lasted for one hour and a half. I sat in a chair directly opposite to Him. Throughout the entire interview He never looked away or blinked an eye once. I felt totally seen and understood. A unique Master speaks to his disciple with a grace and truth all of its own. He speaks for all and for me alone.” (Keyserlingk 1988. p. 10)
“The Last Testament: a series of Osho’s responses to questions from the world press, delivered between 1984 and 1987. Some were published, many were not.” (Savita 2014, p. 266)
Interviews from Jesus Grove were published in
* The Last Testament. Interviews with the World Press. Volume 1. Editors: Sw Svadesh. Sw Anand Bhavo. Sw Krishna Prabhu. Introduction: Sw Das Anudas. Ma Deva Sarito. Design: Ma Deva Sandipa. Printed in the U.S.A. Publisher: Rajneesh Publications Inc., Boulder, Colorado, June 1986. First Edition. 820 pages. Volume 1 of 1. Paperback. Period: 17.07 – 21.10.1985. 31 interviews. Volume 1 was the only volume to be published in book format in this series: Vol I, 17.07.1985 – Vol VI, 13.08.1986. See also: www.sannyas.wiki. Abridged second edition ‘The Man of Truth. A Majority of One’ (2008).
- The Blessed One. Ken Kashiwahara, Good Morning America. ABC Network, USA. July 17, 1985.
- Moment to Moment. Jo McManues, Western Mail, Australia. July 17, 1985. Appendix 1.
- You are Totally Free. Ma Yoga Pratima. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. August 24, 1985. Appendix 2.
- The Intelligent Way. Ma Prem Isabel. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. August 26, 1985. Appendix 3.
- I Change with Reality. Erich Widdeman & Rainer Weber, Der Spiegel. Hamburg, West Germany. July 19, 1985.
- Awareness is My Successor. Ma Yoga Pratima. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. September 3, 1985. Appendix 1.
- Whirlwind of Awakening. Ma Yoga Pratima. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. Appendix 2.
- The Fruits are Ripe. World Press Conference, Open Forum. Rajneesh Mandir, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. July 20, 1985.
– Sally Hale, Associated Wire Services, USA.
– Peter Gillins, UPI Wire Services, USA
– Mark Haas, KATU TV, Channel 2, Portland, Oregon.
– Greg Hoy, 7 Network TV, Australia.
– Richard Draper, KOIN TV, Channel 6, Portland, Oregon.
– Jon Tuttle, KGW TV, Channel 8, Portland, Oregon.
– Don Lattin, San Franscisco Examiner, San Francisco, CA.
– Romano Giachetti, Epoca Magazine, Italy.
– Marilyn Deutsch, Public Broadcasting System, USA.
– Peter Coster, Australian Newspaper Service.
– Bruno Glaus, World Press Institute, Switzerland.
– Ma Mary Catherine, The Rajneesh Times, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon.
– Enrico Franceschini, La Rapubblica, Italy.
– Tarcisius Munaku, World Press Institute, Zimbabwe.
– John Ng’anga Thuruo, World Press Institute, Zimbabwe.
– Nevil Aschen, National Public Radio, USA.
– Howard Sattler, 6PR Radio, Australia.
– Tom Senior, KPTV, Portland, Oregon.
– Carlo Silvestro, Grazia Magazine, Italy.
– Burt Rudman, Komo Television, Seattle, Washington.
– Sw Ramateertha, Die Rajneesh Times, Cologne, West Germany.
– Bob Chase, Kex Radio, Bend, Oregon.
– Kathleen Stone, KBND Radio, Bend, Oregon.
– Penny Allen, Esquire Magazine, USA.
- You Cannot Betray Me. Ma Yoga Pratima. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. September 7, 1985. Appendix 1.
- Organism, Not Organization. Ma Prem Isabel. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. September 9, 1985. Appendix 2.
- Make it Clear to the World. Ma Prem Isabel. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. September 11, 1985. Appendix 3.
- Religion is Just Rubbish. Ma Yoga Vidya. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. September 13, 1985. Appendix 4.
- Come Again and Again. Jeff McMullen, 60 Minutes, Australia. July 21, 1985.
- The End of Heroes. Ma Yoga Pratima. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. September 22, 1985. Appendix 1.
- Be Ready. Howard Sattler, 6PR Radio, Australia. July 22, 1985.
- It is Up to You. Ma Yoga Pratima, Bhagwan Magazine, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. July 23, 1985.
- The Time is Short. Sw Anand Maitreya, Bhagwan Magazine, India. July 24, 1985.
- Commune is the Way. Denise Kovacevic, KATU TV, Channel 2, Portland, Oregon. July 25, 1985.
- Witnessing. Ma Yoga Pratima. Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. October 6, 1985. Appendix 1.
- Your Politicians are Responsible. Sw Shanti Prabhu, The Rajneesh Times, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. July 26, 1985.
- My Work has Just Begun. Ma Anand Rose, Die Rajneesh Times, Cologne, West Germany. July 27, 1985.
- No God but Godliness. Bob Fleming, Davis Enterprises, Davis, California. July 28, 1985.
- A Fellow Traveler. Lynn Hudson, India Abroad, New York. July 29, 1985.
- America is a Hypocrite. Laura Parker, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Seattle, Washington. July 30, 1985.
- The Function of a Master. Roberta Green, Santa Ana Register, Orange County, California. July 31, 1985.
- I Am Not a Prophet. Christopher Reed, The Guardian, London, England. August 1, 1985.
- The Future is Always Open. Ma Prem Arup, De Rajneesh Times, Amsterdam, Netherlands. August 2, 1985.
- You are Alive. Willem Sheer, Pers Unie, The Hague, Netherlands. August 3, 1985.
- It is Possible. Mike Wolfe, KBND Radio, Bend, Oregon. August 4, 1985.
- Half of Humanity. Carlo Silvestro (Sw Swatantra Sarjano), Panorama, Milan, Italy. August 5, 1985.
- The Last Before the First. Ma Yoga Pratima, Rajneeshpuram, Oregon. October 21, 1985. Epilogue.
Introduction by Sw Das Anudas & Ma Deva Sarito. Excerpt:
“Let me set the scene for you.
It’s early evening in Rajneeshpuram. Although it is mid-summer, the sun will soon be hidden by one of the hills south west of us; the change in temperature will be surprising, unless you are used to the contrasts of the high desert.
Throughout the ranch, no matter who, no matter where, there is an awareness of the hour. At six, the activity in Jesus Grove becomes noticeably more intense. At around 6:15 if you drive from Magdalena Cafeteria towards the downtown area, you see at each bus stop along the way, friends in what the rest of the world calls their “Sunday best.” They went home early, showered and dressed in anticipation of meeting Bhagwan at one of His nightly press interviews.
By 6:30, except for some forgotten last-minute detail, there’s nothing to do but relax into the waiting. The crew from Dadu have created a carpet of rose petals for Him to walk on from His car to the entranceway. The photographers and video team check their equipment one more time. The musicians are there – perhaps tonight the “Russians” – guitar, violin, maybe a flute or clarinet, warming up.
And with them, those fortunate to line the path that evening warm to the music, swaying, singing, clapping in time. Inside, a large, many-windowed room is arranged with a focus on His chair. About thirty of Bhagwan’s friends sit on the carpeted floor facing the chair. They hear the music outside, they move with it and begin, themselves, to clap rhythmically.
Between them and His chair, the evening’s interviewer, a representative of the world media, sits looking over some notes, the evening’s questions. Tonight it may be a reporter from a large European news weekly or a canny columnist from a city paper in California, aware that this will be no ordinary interview.
If you’re sitting inside, you know when it’s 7:00; you know that Bhagwan’s limousine has entered the grounds; you can’t see outside, but you can hear the change in the music, the clapping, the surge of the singing voices. You can’t see it, but you know how the Rolls stops at the end of the rose petal path and how, when the door is opened, He steps out, raises His hands in namaste, smiles that still unbelievable smile, and begins to move along the path, slowly slowly stopping to dance with friends, urging them with His own dancing energy to be even more total in their dance.
Then you know He’s entered the house, He’s moving down the corridor and – there He is! – greeting all, His gathered friends, the eager interviewer.
It is your privilege to read here the text of those interviews. It was our privilege to sit with Him, it was our joy, on those mid-summer evenings, to dance with Him.” (Introduction. The Last Testament (1986). Interviews with the World Press (1986). Vol I)
Press Conference in Rajneesh Mandir
“The following evening there was a large press conference in Rajneesh Mandir. Of course, because the press had been coming to Rajneeshpuram for the past few months, they already had had that connection established with us, and so were quick to respond to the invitation to hear what Bhagwan had to say about the exit of Sheela and company. But first we were introduced to the new corporate members, memorable among them being Niren, the lawyer, now the new mayor of Rajneeshpuram, and Hasya, as Bhagwan’s secretary.” (Forman 1988, p. 486)
(Note: Ma Prem Hasya’s legal name is Francoise Ruddy, her husband Al Ruddy. A Factsheet with Biography Of Ma Prem Hasya, International Secretary To Osho Rajneesh, was published by Rajneeshdham Press Office in March 1989)
Last interview in the series, ‘The Last Before the First’, with Ma Yoga Pratima, on October 21, 1985. Epilogue. Excerpts:
“QUESTION: Bhagwan, why have You called this series of talks to the world media The Last Testament?
ANSWER: The word testament is immensely significant. It is my testimony. I am speaking on my own authority. It is my experience.
There have been two other testaments. The Old Testament is mostly rubbish, but here and there are a few sentences which indicate that whoever said them must have known. For example, The Song of Solomon is one of the best songs that has ever been written in any language. It contains tremendous beauty. It is a symbology. But you will be surprised that both Jews and Christians are ashamed of the song. They don’t want to discuss The Song of Solomon. They would have liked it to be edited out, but now it is too late.
And that is the only thing in the whole testament which is still living. Something in it is still vibrant. It is the testemony of Solomon, who has known love and its highest peak, truth and its deepest meaning, and has sung it as a song in a very allegorically way. So only a few, only those who have experienced those heights and those depths, can understand it. Others will think there is nothing in it.
Then there is the New Testament. Jesus was not satisfied with the Old Testament. It was good but not good enough. His testimony is very small, just four gospels. They are four versions of the same story, too – four disciples writing about Jesus, his statements, his works – so it is a very small statement. But it is significant… a quantum leap from the Old Testament.
The Old Testament says that God is very jealous, very angry. Be afraid of God. He never forgives. He never forgets, either. Jesus says God is love. It is great change, a great evolution, and certainly his words should be called the New Testament. But two thousand years have passed. On the words of Jesus much dust has gathered. Moreover, he himself was not an enlightened man. He was a man of great intelligence – uneducated, illiterate, but of sharp intelligence. But that does not make much difference to me…
This is my testemony, and I am speaking from my being – neither from the heart nor from the head. And because it is my testimony, I would like it to be called ‘The Last Testament’.
But remember, the last existed even before the first, because being is first, then comes the heart, then comes the head; without being, they are nothing. So although I am speaking thousands of years after the first testament, what I am saying is existentially far deeper, far greater. It transcends both the New Testament and the Old Testament.
I could have called it the Third Testament, but I am calling it ‘The Last Testament’ for the simple reason that a fourth is not possible. There is nothing beyond being. So I am saying the last word. And it is time that the last word should be said…
And whatever I am saying, there is no way to improve upon it. I have removed God, now what are you going to improve upon? Jesus improved. He changed jealousy into love. I have removed God himself. Now there is no question of any improvement.
Hence, I call it ‘The Last Testament’. I am going to cover slowly everything that is essential for the explosion of religious consciousness. I am going to destroy everything that is non-essential and a hindrance to religious consciousness.
I am taking the greatest risk anyone has ever taken. I am creating as many enemies as anyone has ever created, for the simple reason that I know what I am saying is not a quotation from a scripture. I am saying it on my own authority. It is my own truth, and truth knows no defeat.
The final victory is always going to be of the truth. Okay?”
The Last Testament (1986), pp. 785-86. 21.10.1985
Press Interview. Question from Willem Sheer (NL)
“Q: But is there an unchangeable nucleus, then, in Your vision?
A: Yes, my consciousness, my awareness. But that you cannot find in the books. That you can find only in yourself.
I am absolutely alert. Whatsoever I am saying, I am not saying according to some dogma, according to my own philosophy up to this moment. No, I am simply responding to this moment, to you. And I don’t care about anything else for the moment. I am a man who lives moment to moment. And whatsoever happens in the moment, I am available to it.” The Last Testament (1986), p. 697.
Leaving residents had group darshan with Bhagwan
“The moment you start thinking of the Way, you have started thinking of time, effort, will, struggle, seeking, searching, desiring, dreaming. You have created the whole world and the misery that comes with it. The very idea of truth being distant is false, utterly false. You have never left your home. See it! Seeing it, the whole search disappears. Relax. Rest into your being. Rather than thinking of going, think of coming. Alright Rajo?
‘Thank you. When I think of coming home I have realised that inside me is a desert. After all this time in your commune I have both dreaded and desired to be alone in it.’
‘There is a desert called the mind and a garden called the heart. Only when you loose yourself to both will you perhaps regain your way.’
‘You talk in paradoxes.’
‘And you will have to live them.” (Maxwell 2012, p. 178)
McCormack on press interviews
“In July , Rajneesh launched a major public-relation drive, appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and holding his first, full-scale press conference since coming to the United States. He labelled himself “the rich man’s guru” and said: “This is my circus. I enjoy it immensely.” Asked about the takeover of Antelope by his followers, he replied, “If a few people decided to make a dead city alive, why should I interfere?” He also said his followers would never coexist peacefully with their neighbors in Oregon.
On July 19, the Rajneeshees filed suit in U.S. District Court accusing state officials, including Governor Vic Atiyeh and Attorney General Dave Frohmayer, of conspiring to drive them out of Oregon. Rajneesh continued giving press interviews and making virulerative comments throughout the rest of July, August and early September. He admitted at one point: “I would rather be attacked than ignored.” (McCormack 1987, p. 217)
Satya Bharti writes
“We were sitting on the sundeck of Jesus Grove, now called “Sanai Grove.” One of the first things Bhagwan did when Sheela left was to rename things. The city of Rajneesh was suddenly “Antelope” again… It was a year before Deeksha told me that even Bhagwan had been involved. “Sheela wanted to get rid of you, bella, Rajneesh agreed. He didn’t need you anymore. He wanted Norman Mailer to write about him not you. They only kept you in Oregon to keep you quiet.”… His talk tonight was delightful, though… It wasn’t until he stood up to leave, dancing with the woman who’d been interviewing him, ranch musicians playing sentimental Russian melodies in the background, that something soured for me. What had felt light and frivolous before suddenly seemed forced… As Bhagwan glided out the door namasté-ing, Vivek and his new secretary beside him he turned to a giddy, rotund American heiress and gazed at her intently until she began shrieking and babbling.” (Franklin 1992, pp. 291,298,303)
Veena on Osho’s robes
“… the news came that he would no longer be talking each night to a small gathering in his house but would move to Jesus Grove where there was room for many more people. More people could now have the opportunity to come and sit with him – and even more journalists were arriving when they heard the news that they could now see him and talk to him in person. Each one of them wanted a word on the Rolls-Royces! He sent us the message that he wanted a new robe every night.” “When one considers that most of the world saw Osho on video we realised that this was an important element to be taken into account and so before each festival we arranged a session with the cameramen. We took all the fabric, yarn and shoes onto the podium, put all the spotlights on and the cameramen filmed the samples. We were then able to select or reject according to what we saw on the TV screen. Actually for the festival days we even colour co-ordinated the Rolls-Royces! We would prepare a little card with a sample for the robe-of-the-day and Arvesh would chose a car with an appropriate colour! Life was idiotic, but fun… When Osho started talking to small groups (which Sheela already didn’t like as suddenly the focus was back on Osho, not her) the room next to the sewing room was used. As many people know, Osho liked to be really cold, so no heating could be turned on in this room… so we could have no heating either.” (Veena 2004, pp. 76,85,93)
Interview in the evening after Sheela left
“Unwittingly the journalist who’d arranged to hold an interview with Bhagwan on the evening after Sheela left, landed himself a scoop. He zoomed right in on the central issue – that of the misuse of power. Our society is such – and our conditioning not just from this life but from many past lives – that we are programmed to lust after power, Bhagwan explained. If you have power, you always want more; and your gaining power necessarily means others’ loss of freedom. “So the real struggle,” Bhagwan said, “is between the instinct of power and the value of freedom.”
Of course, when people are so conscious that there is no lust for power, there is no problem, but meanwhile how could the issue be best looked at? Bhagwan suggested the decentralization of power – so that the power was not in the hands of just one person or just a small group – and there should be no hierarchy. This was what Bhagwan’s vision for the commune had been, but because he was not in the know about daily activities in the commune, Sheela was able to indulge her desire for power.” (Forman 1988, p. 45)
“Osho asked the FBI to come to the Ranch and make the necessary enquiries about the wrongdoings of ‘Sheela’s gang’. The evening talks to the press were moved to the Mandir meditation hall where everybody could follow the interviews. This meant that we heard Osho speaking morning and night – and he brought many things to light.” (Punya 2015, p. 324)
Osho had during his phase in Poona One been covered extensively in European and Indian media only, and when he arrived in America 1981 he was more or less a ‘tabula rasa’ in USA.
“In comparison, Rajneesh was almost universally unknown in America. Reports about the ashram were relegated to small esoteric periodicals like ‘Yoga Journal’ (January/February 1979) and ‘Sufi Times’ (July, 1978).” (Brecher 1993, p. 38)
This was soon to change, and in a large number of research papers we find documentation for academic interest and studies of attitudes towards this new Utopian experiment taking place in the hills of Oregon.
Research Papers on Press Coverage
See also: 5.10 Research Papers
(Collins 1986) Media Coverage of the Rajneeshees: A Dramatistic Analysis / Catherine Ann Collins. Paper presented to Northwest Communication Association, Idaho, 1986.
(Latkin 1986a) Oregonians’ attitudes toward Rajneeshees: A statewide survey. Student award paper presented at the Oregon Psychological Association meetings, Kah-Nee Ta, Oregon, May 1986. Unpublished.
(Myers 1986) A study of attitudes toward the Rajneeshees through content analysis of newspapers / Paul R. Myers. Honors College Thesis, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, 1986.
(Van Driel 1987) The print media and the downfall of Rajneeshpuram: A cross-national study / Barry Van Driel and Jacob Van Belzen. Presented to the 19th International Conference for the Sociology of Religion, Tübingen, 1987.
(Van Driel 1988) Research note. Categorisation of new movements in American print media / Barry Van Driel & T.J. Richardson. Sociological Analysis, 1988, 49, 171-183.
(Van Driel 1990) The Downfall of Rajneeshpuram in the Print Media. A Cross-National Study / Barry van Driel & Jacob van Belzen. In: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 29(1), p. 76-90.
(Collins 1992) Ma Anand Sheela: Media Power through Radical Discourse / Catherine Ann Collins. Chapter Nine, pp. 115-131. In: Postmodern Political Communication: The Fringe Challenges the Center / Andrew King. Westport, Praeger Publishes, 1992.
(McCormack 1985) The Rajneesh Files 1981-86. Oregon Magazine Collectors’ Edition / Win McCormack (Editor). Portland, New Oregon Publishers, 1985. 117 pages. See text below.
Win McCormack was Editor-in-Chief of Oregon Magazine and the author, from 1983 to 1985, of Oregon Magazine’s monthly column “Rajneesh Watch.” Those columns are included in his highly critical collection of articles from Oregon Magazine arranged in the following sections: I. Rajneesh Mind Control. II. The Rajneesh Cult in India. III. The Rajneeshees in Antelope. Photos. IV. Rajneeshpuram: The Land-Use Issue. V. Inside Rajneeshpuram. VI. The Theory and Practice of Rajneeshism. VII. The Rajneesh Cult and Money. Editorial. Appendices: 1. The Anti-Semitism Letters. 2. Chronology of the Rajneesh Cult. Writers.
Among the contributors is Bill Driver, an Oregon free-lance writer who won two awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers’ Association for his coverage of the Osho story in Oregon.
“Freelance writer Bill Driver, who won an award from the Oregon Newspaper Association for his coverage of the Rajneesh story in the ‘Dalles Weekly-Reminder’ was a literal sine qua non of some of the best pieces in this book; without his intrepid research, they could not have been written.” (McCormack 2010, p. 358)
(Shay 1995) Better Dead than Red. Local Letters and the Rajneesh Movement / Roshani Shay & Ted Shay. Page 131-151. In: Religion and the Social Order. Sex, Lies, and Sanctity: Religion and Deviance in Contemporary North America / David G. Bromley (editor). Jai Press, Greenwich, Connecticut, Volume 5, 1995.
Excerpt from Abstract: “Examines letters to the editor written in all Oregon newspapers from August 1981, when the sannyasins of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh first purchased the Big Muddy Ranch, through July 1983. Analysis of the 823 letters reveals some Oregonians’ efforts to shape public opinion and defend values against perceived threat by the use of a variety of standard propaganda techniques such as Name Calling and Guilt by Association. The paper contrasts the factual events with the perceptions conveyed by the letters in discussing how unconventional groups may face ever widening rings of fear.”
Excerpts from Conclusion: “Despite the later scandals and evidence of some crimes, despite intense formal and informal scrutiny, most of the charges leveled in letters to the editors were never substantiated. They represented ever widening rings of fear, growing both more intense and also spreading farther throughout the state… Sentiments in letters to the editor indicate parameters which may shape wider debates. Letters can frame the inevitable tension between a new religious movement and the wider culture… It is impossible to measure how much letters to the editor actually generated increasingly vitriolic conflict and how much they actually reflected it. But they are a crucial source of understanding how new religious movements may be negatively defined. Hostile definitions in letters to the editors of newspapers contributed to the conflict surrounding Rajneeshpuram.” (Shay 1995, p. 151)
Collins on Sheela
“For three-and-a-half years, as the chief spokesperson, Sheela’s linguistic impieties, mocking laughter, and inappropriate behavior were the symbol through which the group spirit of Rajneeshism was expressed. The symbolic expression did not change with her exodus from Oregon, even though the object of derision changed from Oregonians to the Bhagwan. Those same symbols were employed by the remaining members of the commune to mock and minimize Sheela.” (Collins 1992, p. 126)
Roshani Shay on press coverage in her chronology
“June 5: La Grande Observer publishes first of Kirk Braun’s series on the ranch…
June 16: Redmond Spokesman publishes first in Kirk Braun’s series on the ranch…
Sept 19: Bhagwan grants his first real interview to a local reporter, Steve Graham…
Oct 31: CBS “60 Minutes” television news program airs segment on Antelope and Rajneeshpuram filmed largely in April at the time of the Antelope disincorporation election…
Nov 5: A cable television program produced by the Rajneeshees wins a bronze award at the 25th Annual International Film and Television Festival in New York… The Rajneesh Times replies to the “60 Minutes” television segment, calling it a “hatchet job”, accusing it of omitting positive aspects of Rajneeshpuram and Rajneeshism, and of having a negative impact on public opinion of the Rajneeshees…
Nov 14: Bhagwan has second meeting with local reporter, Tom Stimmel of the Oregonian, who also does features on Antelope and Rajneeshpuram printed on this date…
Nov 28: “Town Hall”, Channel 2, television program taped at the ranch on November 16 is aired…
Nov 29: Los Angeles Channel 4 television station begins a special week-long series of reports by Laurel Erickson on the ranch and Bhagwan…
Dec 22: Bhagwan grants first interview to local television reporter, stating, among other things, that there was no surprise at the INS decision and it would be appealed…
Dec 31: Radio Station KYXI rates Bhagwan “Newsmaker of the Year”; the Associated Press lists the “Rajneeshee” story as Number 3 in importance in Oregon for the year; it is reported that the Keizer newspaper and property owners having dealings with the Rajneeshees have received threatening phone calls; Bhagwan on Public Access Cable TV in Seattle…
Dec 13: Meeting of the Willamette Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists addressed by 2 Rajneeshee who say coverage of Rajneeshpuram generally fair except for the Willamette Week, The Dalles Weekly Reminder and a KATU-TV reporter…
Jan 1: Bend Bulletin rates Rajneeshpuram as No. 1 story of 1983; Associated Press stories in Salem Statesman-Journal and Portland Oregonian rate Rajneeshpuram No. 3 story of 1983; Oregonian rates Bhagwan and personal secretary (Pres. of Academy of Rajneeshism, AR) 1983 Persons of the Year; Improvements to date: lending library…
Jan 5: The Dalles Weekly Reminder rates Rajneeshpuram the No. 1 story of 1983…
July 21: ONPA presents its 1984 Better Newspaper Contest Awards to 39 Oregon newspapers including to The Dalles Weekly Reminder for “Investigative Coverage of a Single News Event (weekly)” and to the Tigard Times for an Editorial (weekly), all of which related to Rajneeshpuram or Rajneeshees…
Aug 8: Oregonian editorial calls for a “constructive approach” to Rajneeshpuram by state government, “In short, a cooperative effort is in order to help the Rajneeshees establish what it is they want in ways that are compatible with federal and state constitutions and the environment of Wasco and Jefferson counties.”
Jan 1: Bend Bulletin writers and editors select Rajneeshpuram related matters No. 1 local news story of 1984…
Jan 24: The Dalles Weekly Reminder says that recent public opinion surveys on Rajneeshpuram are “Informed, not prejudice”; Condon, Oregon Times-Journal says “strong negative views about the Rajneeshees… aren’t necessarily prejudiced, biased or bigoted”…
Jan 30: Rajneeshpuram and media speakers generally agree on fairness of media coverage in a “congenial two-hour discussion” panel at University of Oregon; reporters complain about being monitored by security; “60 Minutes”, Oregon magazine and The Dalles Weekly Reminder are listed as not having been fair and Rajneeshees complain about the use of “buzz words” such as “cult”, and the invasion of private lives…
Apr 5: Prof. Shay, asked by the Statesman-Journal to respond on accuracy of Mar. 22 story on his study of government actions against Rajneeshpuram, is critical because it did not deal with the data in his report or the accuracy of Rep. McTeague’s charges against it, and unnecessarily highlighted the fact that his wife is a sannyasin…
Apr 14: KGW-TV Channel 8 in Portland is one of 29 winners of the Peabody Awards given by the University of Georgia School of Journalism and Mass Communication for a series named “Rajneesh Update”…
June 30: Review of “West 57th” news show, whose longest segment is on Rajneeshpuram…
July 15: First in a series of “insider” articles on Rajneeshpuram by a sannyasin for The Kauai Times [Four articles July 15-18. Fourth article includes questions and answers with the author].
July 19: Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association announces The Dalles Chronicle wins a third place award for a series of articles on Rajneeshpuram and SAHP…
July 20: Bhagwan meets with world press (reporters from Europe, Africa, Australia, US) and sannyasins for 2 1/2 hours…
July 25: The Dalles Weekly Reminder says it will continue to cover Rajneeshpuram story even though it was not invited to Bhagwan’s recent “world” press conference…
Aug 1: Approximate date of article in Ukranian newspaper, The Young Guardians, (Kiev) about Soviet sannyasins and Bhagwan, who it is claimed is being aided by the CIA and US State Department to infiltrate the USSR…
Aug 11: Announced that new TV prime time news program “West 57th Street” will debut on the 13th, with a lead story “focussing on Shannon Ryan’s view of the Rajneesh cult.”…
Aug 12: The Oregonian columnist pokes fun at “West 57th” team for considering Win McCormack of Oregon magazine a “cult specialist” and says their coverage of Rajneeshpuram is “highly sensationalized (with) ominous references to Jonestown…
Aug 27: Feature on media interviews with Bhagwan in The Oregonian…
Sept 4: The Madras Pioneer runs edited text of their reporter’s Aug. 23 interview with Bhagwan…
Sept 22: Editor of The Rajneesh Times writes guest column for The Oregonian entitled “Why didn’t I understand what was happening?” (fear, exile, ego, browbeating, logic, paranoia of Rajneeshpuram and Oregonians; editor of Oregon magazine writes guest column for The Oregonian entitled “With Rajneeshees, one thing certain: It’s not the way it looks”…
Sept 24: Reported that a 25 page interview with Sheela is to be printed in Stern magazine in West Germany this week… Stern bought exclusive rights to the story and has Sheela “stashed” somewhere in Germany…
Oct 29: Portland, Oregon, The Oregonian columnist congratulates KGW-TV for Sunday scoop on Bhagwan’s departure from ranch and recounts how they tracked the plane across the country and knew that Bhagwan would probably be arrested in Charlotte…
Dec 24: UPI subscribers select Bhagwan as the No. 1 news story in Oregon in 1985…
Dec 28: The members of the Religion Newswriters Association select Bhagwan and the closure of Rajneeshpuram as the No. 9 news story in the nation in 1985…
Dec 29: The Associated Press poll names “Rajneeshees” the No. 1 story in Oregon in 1985…” (Shay 1990)
Brecher quotes from The Oregonian 01.11.1981
“The state’s number one newspaper, The Oregonian, which was to turn against the sannyasins three years later, originally flew flags in their favor. “Rajneeshpuram would not be the first Oregon community settled by a religious group,” one editorial commented. “The community of interest in Rajneeshpuram is understandable: a group of people sharing one religion, a common lifestyle, and seeking to cultivate agricultural land that, until their settlement, was only marginally productive. In fact, that sounds like the way many cities throughout the United States got their start. In addition, many company towns have become cities.” (Brecher 1993, p. 84)
Letter from Ma Prem Isabel in 1982
“Hi, One of the most heartwarming aspects of my role as a spokeswoman for Rajneeshpuram during the past year has been the friendly relations which we have established with journalists and TV news teams in Oregon and elsewhere.
Many of those who came here in search of sensationalism have become real friends of ours. Initial scepticism quickly gave way to admiration for the tremendous speed and enthusiasm with which our community has grown, and the real “clincher” came last July with our beautiful festival. Everyone marveled at the superb organization and the festive atmosphere.
Also, reporters have developed a genuine sensitivity in their approach, as was touchingly demonstrated when Bhagwan visited the US Immigration offices in Portland recently. Not one of he journalists thrust a microphone in front of Bhagwan, contenting themselves instead with Sheela’s answers to their queries. It was a beautiful example of how the press has come to love us, and to appreciate our concern for our Master’s health and well-being.
The public, too, is warming to our presence more and more. Over 100 people a day now visit the ranch and enjoy guided tours by our “Twinkie” hostesses, whose fame is spreading throughout the state. All in all, we could not have hoped for a better start to our new adventure in Oregon.
Love to you all, His Blessings, Ma Prem Isabel.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1982:17)
Press Office work
“Our crew was enriched by a new member: Ma Margaret… We sat on two grey desks next to each other like two archivists in the Vatican library.
The local newspapers wrote so many articles about us that soon we had to have a separate drawer for each: ‘The Bulletin’ from Bend, The Corvallis ‘Gazette Times’, ‘The Register-Guard’ from Eugene, ‘Hood River News’, ‘Herald and News from Klamath Falls’, ‘Madras Pioneer’, ‘The Oregonian’ (Portland), ‘Willamette Week’, ‘The Dalles Chronicle’, and last but not least the ‘Statesman Journal’ from Oregon’s capital, Salem.
The national newspapers had their own place. They included the ‘New York Times’, ‘Washington Post’ and the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’. We were lucky to have a positive two-page article from the latter. This clipping was laminated and often photocopied. It was the best part of our press kit.” (Punya 2015, p. 257)
Sambodi on collection of clippings
“Instead of the switchboard, I was assigned to a computer task force that summer. We were charged with entering articles about us containing specific key words into a data bank. There was a staggering four-year collection of statewide and national newspapers and magazines, and our legal department needed easy access to this material to develop their cases. The computers were in use all but three of 24 hours per day. I volunteered to work the night shift for the solitude and darkness it offered, an environment I welcomed as support for my considerations. Gopala helped…
Arguably the tight controls were protecting our community from an outside enemy, but surely I wasn’t the only one who noticed we were simultaneously destroying ourselves from within. Even our computer task force was supposed to be a secret from the rest of the commune. If someone asked about my job, I was instructed to change the subject or say I didn’t want to talk about it. Either way, the questioner would understand that the topic was off limits. Even discussing articles with other members of the task force was frowned upon. It was explained as a good exercise in discipline, to practice preventing slip-ups should we one day be in another, more sensitive situation. Essentially, secrecy was being cultivated as a lifestyle.” (Clare 2009, p.250)
Press coverage in Oregon
“Central and north central Oregon were better advised as to the inroads Bhagwan was making due to the superior newspaper coverage delivered by the ‘Bend Bulletin’, and ‘The Dalles Reminder’. In the densely populated Willamette Valley the ‘Willamette Weekly’ in three editions carried factual information as well as ‘Oregon Magazine’ whose writer Win McCormack did noteworthy investigative reporting. Oregon’s largest newspaper, the Oregonian, favored press releases from the public relations staff of the Bhagwan until 1985 when it was apparent the Rajneeshees had lost their battle to establish a separate state within our state.” (Quick 1995, p. 72)
Susan Palmer writes on the role of the media
“The Rajneeshees, naive to the nature and habits of news reporting, assumed that the media would be dispassionate and report on their praiseworthy activities, such as their land proclamation and high yield farming practices. The Rajneeshees held the belief that the media was impartial and objective, i.e., there is one-to-one correspondence between what is reported and the event itself, and the proper place for reporters’ opinions is on the editorial page. This view of the media is common (Smith, 1979). The Rajneeshees were shocked and upset by the coverage they received, which focused on conflict and the negative. The Rajneeshees would regularly view television news clippings of them, which were almost uniformly negative and at times highly inaccurate (Myers, 1986). This portrayal led them to believe that the media and the state were prejudiced, bigoted, and out to destroy them. Furthermore, as the news reports were at times inaccurate, the Rajneeshees tended to discount the accurate reports as well.
Rajneeshee leaders did little to foster a positive media image. They believed that there was no such thing as bad publicity; all press was good press. In an interview with the author, Sheela stated that Rajneesh himself had taught her this – using Richard Nixon’s career as an example. Sheela stated that Rajneesh claimed that the negative publicity Nixon received as a senator and during his first presidential campaign helped him in his subsequent presidential race.” (Aveling 1999, p. 352)
Dell Murphy writes
“During July of 1982, the Oregon Journal carried a series of articles authored by Tom Stimmel that were unbiased and carefully researched in the best journalistic tradition.” (Murphy 1983, p. 43)
“One year later, the new Commune in Oregon decided to open its doors to the world and to invite all the sannyasins and friends to come for a visit, so he managed to have an endorsement from a magazine called ‘La Domenica del Corriere’, which included a check for expenses and a paid ticket to fly to Oregon. A week later he arrived.
The editor of this magazine had come to know that in the new Commune there was, amongst others, the former Nicoletta Macchiavelli, who had been a very famous actress during the sixties and seventies. Hence this paper had the brilliant idea of having her narrate the whole story, which was published later in two parts with the title “Come to Oregon – We Are Building a Paradise!” by Nicoletta Machiavelli (text composed by Carlo Silvestro).” (Sarjano 2016, p. 126)
Press “When Attorney General David Frohnmayer filed his church-and-state suit the following year , he was taken to task by The Oregonian editorial page (which would continue to take the Rajneeshees’ side almost until the very end) for picking on a “religious minority.” It was not until the summer of 1985 – a scant few months before the whole Rajneesh saga in Oregon would abruptly end, and a full four years after it began – that The Oregonian produced an investigative series about the group. Even then the series completely missed the main event: the Rajneeshees’ attempt, in the fall of 1984, to influence the results of the elections to the Wasco County Court through a scheme involving the importation of the street people into Rajneeshpuram as potential voters, the poisoning of two of the three county commissioners while they were on a visit to the ranch, and the food poisoning of several hundred restaurant patrons in The Dalles. It also would overlook the episode’s main import: the grave threat to public safety posed by the Rajneesh Medical Corporation… The Oregonian’s editorial page called the attorney general’s brief a “generally negative document” based on “flawed assumptions” that “further polarizes the Oregon political and social climate for this religious minority… The possible connection between the unprecedented salmonella outbreaks in The Dalles and the raging political conflict in Wasco County over the legal status of Rajneeshpuram also went almost completely unexplored in both the Oregon and national press… At a particularly tense point during the crisis, Oregon Governor Vic Attyeh told a press conference that he had “contingency plans” to deal with any outbreak of violence in Wasco County. He told the press and the Oregon public that he was “not a pussycat.”” (McCormack 1987, pp. 203,208,210,214)
(Note: Parts of The Rajneesh Story by Win McCormack were originally published as ‘Bhagwan’s Law-Stretching,’ ‘Bhagwan’s Year of Troubles,’ and ‘Bhagwan’s Big Gamble’ in Oregon Magazine, 1982-1986)
Abbott on Frohnmayer
“Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer later commented that “part of our job was to keep the peach with people who agreed with the legal position we took but were impatient and even furious with the slow pace of the courts” and that his office attempted to reassure Rajneesh officials (oral history transcript quote in Goldman, Cultural Capital,” 318-20). Carter, charisma and Control, 222.” (Abbott 2015, note 54)
FitzGerald on press relations
“Isabel and her colleagues put a great deal of effort into charming visitors and cultivating journalists. Always reasonable and diplomatic, they were patient with people they felt were hostile, warm and jokey with everyone else. As a result, the Rajneeshee enjoyed generally good relations with the Oregon press. The major newspaper in the state, the Oregonian, championed their rights in editorials and ran friendly feature pieces about them. (In mid-1984, it undertook an investigative series on them, but the series did not run until June and July of 1985.) For every attack on them in the Central Oregon press, there was a favorable story about them elsewhere.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 89)
Shay’s research on local letters to the editor
“During this period [August 1981 – July 1983] Bhagwan’s personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, apparently began to antagonize outsiders deliberately (Carter 1990). But the Rajneesh public relation group and other Ranch officials were still trying to accommodate nonsannyasins and make peace with influential politicians and groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. Letters to the editors of newspapers undoubtedly generated increasing mistrust between the Rajneeshees and other Oregonians. They set the stage for growing political battles. And letters were part of the wave of negative publicity which separated Rajneeshpuram from the rest of the state, and which led many Oregonians to define the sannyasins as fundamentally different and problematic… Aside from letters written by devotees of Bhagwan, a mere 70 of 823 letters published during the period under review were supportive or even uncritical. (Shay 1995, p. 132)
Press coverage May 1983
“When I returned to Oregon to visit the ranch, in May of 1983, the press was running two or three stories a week on them. And when the stories were put together they yielded rather little information about the nature of the group or the substance of Rajneeshee beliefs… Most journalists now visited it as they might visit a Chinese commune, hesitating, weighing one thing against another, reporting the information given to them by their guides, and expressing some scepticism.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 48)
FitzGerald visiting in May 1983
“I stopped at a trailer, marked “MIRDAD – INFORMATION,” and found Veena, a sun-frosted blonde with big blue eyes and a soft English voice. I had talked with Veena on the phone before coming, and she had sent me a press packet with slicky printed brochures and copies of newspaper articles favorable to the Rajneeshee. She and four or five other attractive young women, known as Twinkies, dealt with the press and the steam of visitors coming to the ranch. She offered to take me on a tour – her fourth of the day, it turned out. Before me, there had been two busloads of senior citizens and a busload of college students doing “in-depth” studies on the Rajneeshee.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 50)
Extensive press coverage in both state- and nationwide newspapers and magazines from September 1984 onwards on the Share-A-Home-Program (SAHP), continuing also after election day 06.11.1984.
Roshani Shay an AIDS in her chronology 1984
“Mar 9: President of Academy of Rajneeshism announces Bhagwan’s prediction that AIDS is the disease which will kill two-thirds of the world’s population during the next ten years, fulfilling a prediction by Nostradamus; several protective measures are suggested: if one is ready, to drop sex altogether; or to remain with one partner; to use condoms and rubber gloves, avoid oral and anal sex and wash carefully; RMC begins to provide free condoms and surgical gloves to Rajneeshpuram residents and visitors.” (Shay 1990)
FitzGerald on AIDS information retrieval
“The Rajneeshee doctors had clearly read all the AIDS literature available, for they published the most current information week by week in the Rajneesh Times.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 105)
Punya on AIDS precautions
“The press release, dated March 1984, was strongly ridiculed, although it must have left a mark on the international collective unconscious. Three or four years later these exact same preventative measures were proposed to the public in posters and advertisements all around the world – without, of course, mentioning Osho’s initial contribution.” (Punya 2015, p. 273)
The Oregonian in Portland
“Yes, the press loved us. In fact, for the Oregonian in Portland, the largest daily paper in the state, we were the “number one newsmaker”, and that for three consecutive years, 1983 to 1985. There was seldom an issue without a story on “the Bhagwan” and his “red-clad followers”, often on the front page. Facts, rumors, fiction or any combination thereof, it was printed and gobbled up by the readers.
I dare say that nobody, journalists, readers or even the residents at the Ranch, knew or understood what was really going on there. Only Osho might have been able to provide that answer, and he was in silence. And at least as far as he was concerned, he never cared about whether he was getting “good press” or not – as long as they were writing. (What does the moon care if a dog barks at it?)” (Bodhena 2016, p. 114)
Roshani Shay in her chronology on The Oregonian’s feature 1985
“June 29: Feature on Rajneeshpuram festival; announcement about The Oregonian feature to begin June 30 and run daily through July 19, based on a year’s work, travel to India and Europe and the accumulation of 24,000 pages of documents…
June 30. Part 1: “Rajneeshees falter in face of opposition.” The article opens saying that officials of RFI and Rajneeshpuram refused to answer a list of 21 questions sent to them… of Sheela “You are briefed on all articles that will appear in The Rajneesh Times. What is your authority for such review? How often do you exercise any veto or edition authority over Rajneesh Times articles?”
July 1. Part 2: “Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh – Small-town boy makes guru.”
July 2. Part 3: “Crowding, hostility prompted passage from India.”
July 3. Part 4: “Rajneeshees leave legacy of unpaid taxes in India.”
July 4. Part 5: “India seeks disciples in currency-smuggling investigation.”
July 5. Part 6: “Guru’s departures from death’s door, India coincide.”
July 6. Part 7: “Sheela’s brother figures in acquisition of Ranch.”
July 7. Part 8: “Sheela wields sabre, sledgehammer for guru.”
July 8. Part 9: “Guru’s city opens door to development.”
July 9. Part 10: “Rajneeshees establish security forces, extensive armoury.”
July 10. Part 11: “Threads of paranoia infiltrate ranch as Rajneeshees cast security net.”
July 11. Part 12: “Rajneeshee legal antics raise eyebrows.”
July 12. Part 13: “Loving followers amass fleet of 74 Rolls-Royces for master Rajneesh.”
July 13. Part 14: “Rajneeshee financial arm stays in touch with ranch.” Including Glossary of Rajneeshee Institutions.
July 14. Part 15: “Moneymaking grows in importance for sect.”
July 15. Part 16: “Troubles cloud Rajneesh’s vision of global network.”
July 16. Part 17: “Rajneesh’s followers pour millions into coffers of movement.”
July 17. Part 18: “Rajneeshism, one of 2,500 cults.”
July 18. Part 19: Immigration problems plague Rajneesh disciples.”
July 19. Part 20: “Influx of Rajneeshees catches Immigration Service napping.”
Aug 5: The Oregonian runs ads for reprints of its 20 part series on Rajneeshpuram…
Dec 30: The Oregonian 10-page special section on Rajneeshpuram, entitled “On the road again”: lists names, ages, charges, custody dates, status of cases and penalties for Bhagwan and 34 sannyasins; prints chronology of major events at Rajneeshpuram; sums developments in 1985; sums Sheela’s “dirty tricks”; profiles Niren; details developments since September.” (Shay 1990)
The Oregonian investigative series 1985
“On June 30 , coinciding with the opening of the Fourth Annual World Festival at Rajneeshpuram, The Oregonian launched a twenty-part investigative series about the group. The articles portrayed a movement in decline, troubled by shrinking financial resources and dwindling numbers of followers. The series revealed, among other things, that Sheela and her brother Bipin, a non-Rajneeshee, had personally profited from the purchase of the Big Muddy Ranch in 1981, and showed how Sheela’s overbearing behaviour had helped to undermine Rajneesh’s movement around the world.” (McCormack 1987, p. 216)
“The Oregonian series is archived at http://www.oregonlive.com/rajneesh/index.ssf/rajneesh_story:archieve.html. A retrospective series of articles in April 2011 by Les Zaitz, the key Oregonian reporter on the story in the 1980s, features the community’s criminal activities and final collapse (http://www.oregonlive.com/Rajneesh/) .” (Abbott 2015, note 68)
FitzGerald on Sheela and The Oregonian
“By June of 1985, Sheela had come to believe that the authorities would soon be coming to arrest her and Rajneesh… and she knew that the Oregonian was about to publish its long investigative series on the Rajneeshee… The previous year, Sheela had created a “dirty tricks” unit to carry out her attacks on The Dalles. Now she and her group planned to sabotage the microcomputer system used by the Oregonian reporters. K.D. was dispatched to reconnaitre the building, and so were two Rajneeshee women posing as employees of a maintenance company. The women were discovered and ejected from the building, however, and the plan broke down. The unit also drew up a “hit list” of Rajneeshee enemies – a list that included Charles Turner; David Frohnmayer; Dan Durow; Leslie Zaitz, the chief Oregonian investigative reporter; Helen Byron and her daughter; Laxmi; and Vivek. Sheela and three others obtained false identification papers and bought handguns in Texas; a team of Rajneeshee women then staked out Turner’s house in a Portland suburb and made an elaborate plan to ambush his car and shoot him. The plan, however, came to naught.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 119)
Maneesha on the investigative series
“And if one was still in doubt as to the bias of The Oregonian, it was made absolutely clear in that paper little over a year later. An advertisement in the January 6th, 1987 edition, shows a photograph of the “The City of Rajneeshpuram Welcomes You” sign that stood outside the city. The caption underneath reads: “One Place Where Our Investigative Reporting Didn’t Exactly Develop a Cult Following.” The copy reads: “Perhaps the most massive investigation undertaken by a newspaper in recent years was our 20-page report on the Rajneesh movement… Just how powerful was this story? Well, along with our continued scrutiny of Rajneeshee affairs, it contributed to the demise of the Rajneesh commune in Oregon and the banishment of the Bhagwan.” (Forman 1989, p. 372)
Becher on the series
“How did The Oregonian frame the Rajneesh story? What were its working hypotheses and ‘point de départ’ in its nearly 90,000 word, 20 part series, “For Love and Money”? While the basic message was relentless humped home in practically every oxygen sucking sentence and syllable, it wasn’t explicitly spelled out until nearly a year later in an article called “Dissecting a Sect.”
Written by fellow Oregonian Ron Lowell, “Vivisecting a Sect” would have been a more appropriate header. Because at that time of the 13 month research (beginning in the spring of 1984) and publication – between June 30 and July 19, 1985 – the city-commune and sannyasins were still very much alive and kicking…
In The Quill article Dick Thomas noted that the series had the full support of top management from the start. That included a separate Radio Shack TRS 80 with a 15 megabyte hard disk drive (another 15 megabyte was added later on) and an escalating budget eventually weighing in at $250,000. By the summer of 1985 “the team had collected 25,000 pages of documents and compiled information on 4,400 people. By spring 1986, it had collected 40,000 pages of documents.” (Brecher 2014, pp. 460,461)
(Note: Dissecting a Sect / Ron Lovell. The Quill, May 1986, p. 9)
Leslie Brown writes
“Last summer The Oregonian in Portland ran a twenty-part series on Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and his followers, the Rajneeshees. On their attorney’s advice, the three reporters who wrote the series declined to discuss it with CJR. For at least a year, or until the statute of limitations expires, the reporters have been advised to remain silent out of regard for the Rajneeshees’ reputation for litigiousness.” (Brecher 2014, p. 462)
(Note: The Cult Beat / Leslie Brown. Columbia Journalism Review, November/December 1985, p. 46f)
Osho on press coverage
“The attorney general of America wanted my commune to be completely destroyed. America’s richest man, Rockefeller, wanted me to leave America. The archbishop of America was certainly after the president continuously. They wanted me to leave the country but for that they needed to say no to extending my visa. And they were afraid to say no because once it went to court then it could take twenty years… from one court to another court…
These people were trying hard that the newspapers, radio, television, cable television should not report me, for one thing. Every pressure was put on all kinds of media: “Either report negatively or don’t report at all.”… Coming in contact with the news media people, I was surprised: these people were beautiful, they tried to do their best. And later on they informed me – “We are sorry. The bosses are editing things out, adding things, changing the whole flavour. And we are poor people; we cannot risk our jobs.” When their news reports came out on television, it was totally the opposite of what was felt in the direct encounter with the person…
One journalist told me, “If we write exactly what we feel, the whole staff thinks we have become hypnotized. If we don’t put something against you… And it does not matter whether it is right or wrong; something against you is a protection: They will not say, ‘You are hypnotized.'” Sermons in Stones (1987). Chapter 11, p. 253.
Subhuti on Press Releases in Oregon
“The first thing I can tell you is that there were very few press releases after we got Oregon.
And the reason is simple: we didn’t need them.
Our arrival in Oregon was big news, so local television news stations and local newspapers were always interested in what we were doing.
For example, if Sheela went to Portland to apply for immigration status for Osho, the local media would be waiting for her outside the immigration office, asking her questions, holding microphones in front of her mouth, and she would be on the evening television news and in the morning papers.
If they had questions at other times, they would call her, or her representatives. So there was no need for us to send out written press releases. In fact, as I recall, there was no press office as such. There was a “Welcome Center” which greeted new arrivals on the Ranch, and the women in the Welcome Team would sometimes act as intermediaries between Sheela and the press, passing on messages. A key figure in this team, especially in the early days, was an American woman called Ma Prem Sunshine…
After about a year, we also started The Rajneesh Times, or weekly newspaper, so we were putting out our own views through the paper as well. On some occasions, we would get messages from Osho, even though he was in silence. For example, at one time we exposed a local senator, Mark Hatfield, as a hypocrite, because he sent a sympathetic letter to us, while sending a sympathetic letter to someone who was hostile to us. One of our lawyers, Niren, was getting ready to hold a press conference (I think it was in Portland) and the message was given by Osho that we should use Hatfield to shoot at President Ronald Reagan, pointing the finger at him as well.
And of course, Osho was guiding Sheela at his daily meetings with her. So whatever Sheela had to say, on his behalf, she said it directly to the press, not through a press release…
I don’t think there was any intentional decision to stop issuing press releases when we got Oregon. It just didn’t happen, because it wasn’t needed. We were getting all the publicity – and more – without this kind of formal procedure of sending out written statements. The news travelled much faster, directly between Sheela and the press, because we were always in the news.
When Osho came out of silence, he started to hold his own press conferences, and was also conducting nightly one-to-one interviews with journalists who wanted to meet him personally.” (Subhuti. E-mail. 07.11.2017)
Bhagawati on Press Releases in Oregon
“During the Ranch times we had the Rajneesh Times and I remember that there were some press releases… The only thing that is on the silver platter from the ‘Silent Period’ when Osho was in silence are answers Osho gave in spite of the silence that were then published in the Rajneesh Times. Quite possibly, some of what he said went also into press releases. All the press clippings that were collected during the years in the US were collected and pasted into Black Boxes (so called because they were large black-covered binders) that as far as I know were held for a long time by Roshani and then she gave all those Black Boxes to Niren. So in those Black Boxes there would be also any press releases by us that were in turn published by the press.” (Bhagawati. E-mail. 05.11.2017)
Subhuti on press relations
“Sunny [Sunny Massad aka Ma Prem Sunshine] was working with a woman called Isabel, who was the nearest thing we had to a press officer, and she was part of the Welcome Centre team, where Sunny was also working.
Whenever we had news that we wanted to get into the papers and TV stations, Isabel would call specific journalists, with whom she had already made contact, and give them the story. She began by calling the two wire services, which I think were UPI and AP, as these services gave out news to all US media (and beyond)…
By the way, the Welcome Centre team on the Ranch consisted of about 4-5 women, who were soon given the nickname “Twinkies” (given by us, not the press). Why? Because one of the most popular snacks in the US at that time was called Twinkie (sponge cake with creamy filling) and it was made and distributed by a company called Hostess Brands. These women were our hostesses… hostess… Twinkie… okay?” (Subhuti. E-mail. 12.11.2017)
Roshani Shay on the Black Books
“I did have all of the Black Books, which I worked hard to update with all newspaper and magazine coverage during the time of the Ranch, 1981-86. I passed them on to Niren, with his promise that after his research he would make sure that they got to the University of Oregon Archives’ collection on Rajneeshpuram. That is where they are now. With duplicate copies of each article attached to dated papers and filed in order. I also gave them boxes and boxes of other documents related to the Ranch: city council meeting minutes; court documents; etc.” (Roshani Shay. E-mail 10.11.2017)
Carter writes in 1987 on press sources
“Thousands of popular articles report activities of the movement over the past three years. Some coverage has been stimulated by Rajneesh with press releases and news conferences. Remaining coverage is of four types: (1) neighbours’ anxious reaction to perceived threat; (2) human interest reports of flamboyant aspects of Rajneeshpuram; (3) serious investigative reporting of legal and financial arrangements; and (4) public relations coverage of staged events. A handful of articles are pleas for tolerance by regional scholars or liberal religious figures. Until recently, West Germany accounts focused on the financial success of Rajneesh enterprises while Indian newspapers and magazines take snickering pleasure in the troubles of the Rajneesh with barely restrained contempt for the gullibility of the West.” (Carter. In: Aveling 1999, p. 190)
5.7 Reading and Listening to Osho
From numerous accounts we might get an idea of what it was like reading and listening to Osho while he was in Oregon and elsewhere.
Osho on reading
“It is easy to love me while reading my books, because books are dead. I am not. It is easy to love the books because you can interpret what is said in the book according to your mind. You can manage to read only that which strengthens your ego, and bypass that which destroys your ego.
The books have never been heard to make anyone enlightened. What can the books do? You are the master of the book. It is in your hands to manipulate it in any way you want.
So if you want to continue loving me extremely, please don’t come near me. Then I am almost dead for you. Those books are far more valuable to you. They support you. You choose to hear, read, only that which is in tune with your mind and your mind is the problem. Your mind has to be hammered. All your defences have to be destroyed.
And when you come to me you are taking a risk. If you really come to me, you will return a totally different man, with no ego, no defences. Against whom are you creating defences?” From the False to the Truth (1988); alt.t. The Rajneesh Bible. Vol VI, #21. (Reprinted in Rajneesh Newsletter, 1985:12)
Osho talking on the importance of his books
“I wanted to make it clear to you that the roses are there, but the juice is flowing from the roots.
Whatever I have said in these thirty years – and I have been speaking continuously, except these few years when I was silent – every single word is important, because they are all interconnected. You may find contradictions, you may find inconsistencies. Don’t be afraid. Life is full of contradictions, full of inconsistencies. And I don’t know any other God than life itself. I have never said that my book of the past are not important.
But this goes on happening. I say one thing, you hear something else. I have said only, that what I am saying now is the highest flower on that tree that I have been growing for thirty years. So if you have to decide, decide for this moment’s statement, and don’t be bothered about inconsistencies, contradictions.
And I have also said to remember this for tomorrow also. Tomorrow this day will be old, gone. Newer flowers will be blossoming. Be always in the present, and you will be always right. And don’t be afraid when tomorrow you will find even a better thing. Then don’t cling with the yesterday. It was beautiful, but it was beautiful yesterday…
My concern is to remain flowing with existence, life, truth. And whatever wants to speak through me, I will speak.
I never hesitate to contradict myself, because who am I to interfere? It was a life force that have said that. The same life force is saying this. There must be some inner connection which you cannot see.
My books of the past are more important, because that will be a test for you – whether you can grow with me or you have stopped long before…
You are asking me why I have said that my old books are not important.
Either you want to divide me in two parts – my old books and my present message to you – so that you can choose. I will not allow you such a convenient way.
My old books are immensely important. Unless you understand them, you will not be able to understand me. But remember, it is a constant flow and change. So don’t be bothered with inconsistences, contradictions. If you go on, soon you will be able to find the truth. And once the truth is revealed, all contradictions and inconsistencies dissolve. Then you can see crystal clear that it is a single message from the roots to the flower. It is a single organism.” From the False to the Truth (1988); alt.t. The Rajneesh Bible. Vol VI, #11. (Reprinted in Rajneesh Newsletter, 1985:12)
Osho speaking on going beyond words and published books
“I speak to seduce you into silence. I use words so that you can be persuaded towards the wordless existence. Books are there to lead you beyond, so don’t cling to them. At the most they are bridges. But if you make your house on a bridge you are a fool. Pass through it!
Right now, you cannot understand silence, you can understand only words. I will have to use words to give you the message of silence. Between the words, between the lines, sometimes, if you hang around me long enough, you may one day start hearing silence – then there is no need, then burn those books with other Vedas, Bibles and scriptures. Everything has to be left behind. But right now you are not ready. When you are ready there is no need for any books.
Those books are not published for those who understand. Those books are published for those who have a desire to understand – but yet don’t understand. Their desire is beautiful. They have to be helped. And if I am to help you I have to come close to you. Before you can come close to me I will have to come close to you – that is the only way. Before I can take you to the place where I am I will have to come down to the place where you are.
These books are not necessary. Their need is because of you. If you can jump them, avoid them, bypass them – beautiful… Nobody gains through books, but books can help you to go beyond. All the scriptures say the same thing…
The point from where words turn back and cannot go beyond – that is the point, the door. The Bible, the Koran – they all exist to help you to go beyond them. If you have been carrying them on your head it is your stupidity; you have not looked into them. Because they say: Don’t cling to words, don’t cling to theories, to concepts, philosophies. All is rubbish!
My books are there to be transcended. Enjoy them on the way but don’t cling to them. And get ready to go beyond.” Tao. The Three Treasures (1976). Volume III; The Book (1984), p. 128.
FitzGerald on listening to Osho
“To listen to Rajneesh lecture, however, was to understand some of his attraction for his disciples. He was – in a way that could not be appreciated on videotape – a brilliant lecturer. He spoke slowly – the right pace for a large lecture hall. Every sentence was well formed, and his timing was perfect. The gist of his lectures was familiar to me from his books, but what I had not gathered from reading the lectures was his talent as a comedian. The jokes sounded better than they read, but far better were the cosmic riffs he would go off into once or twice in a lecture – little experiments in language and the play of associations. Also, Rajneesh was a world-class hypnotist. One of his lectures ended with a description of a dewdrop sliding off a lotus leaf and being carried down a stream to the ocean. It put virtually everyone in his audience into an alpha-wave state at ten in the morning. But Rajneesh’s talents as a speaker did not come across in his television interviews. The interview was not his force – he needed the long form to draw the audience into his world – and television was too close and intimate a medium for a stage performer.” (FitzGerald 1986, II p. 105)
Mistlberger on Osho’s appearance
“In his lectures his body would assume a position, generally one leg crossed over the other, and there would be no movements in the lower part of his body at all, often for up to two (or even three) hours. Only his hands and head would move, but only very slowly. He rarely blinked. All this can be seen in many videoed lectures of his freely available on the Internat.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 343)
“The biggest gift I received from the time in the ranch is to trust my feelings. To not only trust, but to follow my feelings. No matter what. As I write this, I remember that I had written to Bhagwan, my first letter, in 1977 after reading Until You Die, a series of beautiful discourses from the early Poona days. His answer to me was to follow my heart and to trust my feelings and I would never go astray.” (Patipada. In: Webber 1990, p. 63)
Media images of nourishment
“A lapsed sannyasin describes Osho’s tapes as “so nourishing and so tasty” she can usually forget about his insentivity and egoism. Most of the others, whether they were active sannyasins or not, also depicted their spiritual relationships with Osho through images of nurture and sustenance. They spoke of themselves as “starving” for connection after his death and “gorging” on his tapes, books, and pictures.” (Goldman 1999, p. 265)
Susan Palmer writes on number of followers and their listening
“If a leader’s charisma can be measured by the number of his followers, Rajneesh’s authority has been considerable, extending to approximately 350,000 Sannyasins, or initiates, according to the claim of the ‘Rajneesh Times’, October 14, 1983. The Oregonian notes, “Figures supplied by Rajneeshee officials and by outside observers… were often wildly different” and quotes an “insider’s figure of 60,000” (Oregonian, 1985:3). Rajneesh manifested his charisma through his “discourses” or public lectures, which have been translated into several languages in over 350 books and also recorded on videocassettes. The discourses have had an extraordinary effect on his followers. Several sannyasins I interviewed said they “fell in love with Bhagwan” through exposure to his discourses. Even his critics attest to the power of Rajneesh’s presence. Sally Belfrage, who wrote a rather disparaging account of life in the Rajneesh Ashram in India, confessed on viewing him in person, “He was AB-SO-LUTE-LY-R-IVET-ING” (Belfrage, 1981:131).” (Aveling 1999, p. 368)
“He taught a seminar based on Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s Book of Secrets’. Penny felt it had been written for her. “I thought it was one of the most incredible things I had read. There was someone reading my personal mail.” (Goldman 1999, p. 103)
“I was startled at Rajneeshpuram to find many respondents were unaware of most of Rajneesh’s published work; they had been attracted by a single book or discourse.” (Carter 1998, p. 235)
“Then a friend recommended Rajneesh’s book ‘Only One Sky’.
“When I first read it, I thought, “This is really ridiculous. What is the big fuss everyone is making over this book?” Then I read it a year and a half later and I was absolutely blown away by it.”” (Goldman 1999, p. 142)
Nirav recalls from shopping in 1984
“It was one of those days where I had spent hours looking through so many books, in search of the one that would touch me to the core and change my life. I was about to walk out when I stumbled upon a picture of Osho that caught my eyes. It was a big book on spiritual Masters of our times, and I only read the back flap; it ended with Osho’s words: “I am an invitation.” I looked again at the picture of this longbearded man on the front cover, stared into those big, piercing eyes and that unique giggle, and left the shop. How looking into someone’s eyes on a book cover and reading four simple words could change the course of my life so radically is something beyond my understanding; but it happened for me.” (Sw Dhyan Nirav. Viha Connection, 2017:5)
Lani listening to Osho
“I will never forget when David sent me a package to Israel: it had a red velvet robe, a newsletter from Rajneeshpuram and a discourse cassette in it. Every time I put on the tape I fell asleep, I could not understand a word. I knew he was speaking my language, but I could not understand a word. And the newsletter had an article about David working on the farm in Rajneeshpuram. I said to myself, “My brother is working on the farm? Getting his fingernails dirty? There must be something happening there…
On the plane everybody is excited and crying and I was so curious, “What’s going on?” I later understood that it was not a regular day. Osho was going to come to the Mandir and be with the commune after the Festival was over. It was at the end of July 1983. Amitabh announced, “Fasten your seatbelts, if you have one,” and then they started distributing bubble gum and Dramamine to everybody. I think we were about 25 people in a DC-3. I was visiting the Ranch for a week.
Osho came out for a dancing darshan (when a dancer would dance around Osho on the podium). That’s when you walked me over to the Mandir. I was really taken care of. It was my first introduction to Osho because I hadn’t read his books. There was live music. I had never felt so much joy in one place. Aahhh, it was like “wow!” I’ll never forget Taru singing the Gachchamis; I burst into tears.” (Ma Shantam Lani. Interview. www.oshonews.com 09.04.2017)
“Before I went to Rajneeshpuram (formerly a huge ranch), I had only read six or seven of Rajneesh’s books (there are over a hundred). The books struck me as discourses by either one of the biggest egotists in the world or a person transcendent to all false humilities and probably enlightened. Such was their assertive impact – ‘I am the Gate’ (1976c), for example. Since I had delved deeply into personality theories and was interested intellectually and existentially in Western/Eastern mystical, esoteric, and spiritual psychologies, I was fascinated with his brilliance, his humour, and his complete frankness. Prior to my trip, I had come to view Rajneesh as extremely insightful with regard to universal principles of holistic personality, and perhaps more than just another spiritual/existential Guru. For example, his ability to confront/accept and synthesise human sexuality with spirituality seemed unique.” (Drennen. In: Aveling 1999, p. 244)
Two surveys using questionnaires were conducted by Carter at the Ranch indicating the impact of reading Bhagwan’s books/tapes
“In response to the question, “How did you first hear of Rajneeshism?” 40% mentioned friends, 30% books or taped materials of Bhagwan, and 10% through visiting a Rajneesh centre. No specific source was mentioned in more than 3% of the cases.” (Carter in: Aveling 1999, p. 223)
Connection with Osho
“I have a connection with Bhagwan that is beyond what I think or feel about it. Sometimes you hear rumours about him – but they don’t touch my connection with him. And when I heard him talking again I thought it was pretty boring actually. But again, that’s irrelevant to my connection with him.” (Thompson 1986, p. 84)
“Bhagwan’s face lost its balance and luminosity, his eyes lost their timelessness and depth, his discourses (when he began them again) lost their fire, originality, and grace, and his creation of Rajneeshism lost him all those who had loved him for his once eloquent disregard for all “ism’s.” An absurd number of Rolls Royces were bought for him… armed guards appeared, paranoia accelerated, work became known as “worship,”… and Bhagwan, looking more and more drugged, appeared to be oblivious to it all.” (Milne 1987, pp. 275-76)
“Rajneesh’s ‘writings’ are edited transcriptions of his oral discourses. While I assume the editors have done their job well, the print medium nevertheless inevitably fails to capture the special nuances of “live” presentations (facial expressions, gestures, vocal intonations, etc.) that are frequently important for an accurate interpretation of the intended communication.
Rajneesh’s teaching style is highly atomistic and situational. The content of his discourses is shaped always by his perception of the specific needs of his audience at a given moment. This accounts in part not only for the inconsistencies that abound in his published works, but also for the bizarre and/or outrageous remarks that the reader occasionally encounters. Rajneesh does not play the role of a metaphysician or philosopher seeking to elaborate a coherent conceptual system.” (Clarke 1983, p. 1)
“The proof of Rajneesh being a spiritual leader is in his hundred of books explicating and commenting on other spiritual leaders, such as Buddha, Sufi mystics, Zen masters and Lao Tzu. Books, which have made many an aspiring writer – myself included – livid with envy. How had he managed to write so many? But when they get over their initial aversion, sometimes verging on burning hatred, and start reading what’s under the covers many find them to be impressive, refreshing, amusing and, well, enlightening.
There’s an aphorism currently making the rounds on the Internet. “The truth will set you free. But first it’s going to piss you off.”
In my opinion – and it’s not necessarily the opinion of all good and rational sentient beings, or “the truth” – Rajneesh had managed to crack the code. That is, translate the often weird and maddening metaphors, symbols and paradoxes of the ancient esoteric literature I had long struggled with into terms that modern sceptics like me could relate to and just begin to fathom. He had something original and powerful to say on well recognized spiritual subjects. Love, life, meditation, death, and the quest for something beyond the merely mortal.” (Brecher 2014, p. 459)
Osho’s moving to Oregon was a full stop for all further publication of the exquisite hardcover editions from Poona days, with their artistic design, illustrations and photos. Now the pointer was towards production of affordable paperbacks for the mass market, swiftly printed and without any illustrations and number of copies in the first run up from 5000 to 10,000. In this format we saw not only the new discourses and press interviews, but also darshan diaries and some translations of Hindi discourses from Poona One and even way back before 1974.
Roshani Shay on publishing in her chronology
Jan 18: … sale of books and tapes yielding $60,000-80,000 per month…
June 7: Oregon Journal article on book sales (approximately $70,000-100,000 per month) and festival plans…
May 20: Largest single book order received (for $26,000 from B. Dalton chain)…
June 17: Harvard College library orders several of Bhagwan’s books…
July 29: Book and tapes sales reported to average between $120,000 and $160,000 per month…
Sept 9: Four new books published on last day of Mahaparinirvana Celebration… Sept 30: RFI has begun a project to supply 150 volume sets of Bhagwan’s works free to US prison libraries…
Oct 7: Over 200,000 of 12 newly published books to appear in 1983; 43 additional books planned…
Feb 10: A comprehensive Italian Book of Citations includes three quotations from Bhagwan; prison libraries in Pennsylvania, Washington, Texas, Virginia, California and Wisconsin have been supplied with free sets of Bhagwan’s books by RFI…
Mar 23: Publication of a Neo-Tarot deck, over 600 decks sold in first 24 hours and classes in neo-tarot being offered by RIMU; 7 new books of Bhagwan’s teachings published, bringing those in English to a total of 154…
May 16: A translation of one of Bhagwan’s books into Chinese by a resident of Taiwan and recent Rajneeshpuram visitor nearly complete; Canadian professor from Toronto visits to finish research for a book on the Rajneeshee which he expects to complete in June…
June 1: More than 1000 retail stores in West Germany selling Bhagwan’s books..
July 1: Over $2 million in books were sold in 1983 (a 50% increase over 1982).
Feb 5: Announced that the first volume of The Rajneesh Bible, a 800 page paperback compilation of discourses which began in Oct. 1984, will be released on March 20 with 10,000 copies selling for $6.95 each.
Mar 1: Feature on Rajneeshpuram book titles says 30 are translated into German, 20 into Dutch and many into Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, Greek, Hebrew, Danish, Chinese and Hindi…
Apr 26: Books and tapes at San Francisco Whole Life Expo for third year.
Apr 28: Book review of Vol I of The Rajneesh Bible (The Oregonian 28.04)…
Dec 2: Rajneeshpuram leavers said to be talking about setting up small communes in Italy (to publish books and named The Master’s Press, for one)…
Dec 13: The extensive order [encumbering Rajneesh assets] also blocks the move of Rajneesh Publications to Colorado.” (Shay 1990)
Sheela on publishing
“Publishing policy was simple and clear. Bhagwan decided the priority of the publication. He chose design and layout of the book. He would be presented with three different designs for each book. When He did not like any of the presented designs then more designs will be presented.
It was also clear that no one was to remove or edit His spoken words.
Credits also Bhagwan decided. His instructions were followed exactly.” (Ma Anand Sheela. E-mail. 27.02.2015)
Printing plant in Antelope
“That fall , the first in a long series of bitter disputes between the Rajneeshees and town residents erupted when the Rajneeshees applied to the Antelope City Council for a permit to locate a printing plant in the town; the City Council denied the request, citing the town’s limited water supply, and Ma Anand Sheela threatened that the Rajneeshees would move to take political control of the town if the council did not relent. Rajneesh followers began moving onto the Rajneesh Investment Corporation’s (RIC) Antelope properties.” (McCormack 1987, p. 206)
Satya Bharti on publishing policy
“In the early days of the ranch, the woman who’d been running the book distribution and publishing department in Poona, and was still doing this at the ranch, asked me to stop by her office one day; there was something she wanted to discuss with me in private. Once we were alone, Nandan asked me if I knew my books weren’t being marketed or sold through either the Rajneesh Foundation itself, or at Rajneesh centers. The situation was so upsetting to her that she was on the verge of leaving (as she soon did, “dropping sannyas”. She’s now a clinical psychologist and professor in Santa Fe). Sheela had told Nandan, long before the move to the States, that my books were not to be made available to anyone, under any circumstances. Individuals, Rajneesh centers, and bookstores that wrote requesting copies of my books were to be told that they were no longer available.
Despite the much-interest in Bhagwan since his move to the States, Sheela had instructed Nandan to tell Grove Press and the other publishers of my book(s) that they were not to be reprinted. My books were a distraction, Sheela said. They interfered with ‘His’ work.
According to Nandan, people who had learned about Bhagwan through my books often asked to meet me when they visited the ashram or ranch. She’d been told that my books were in competition to Bhagwan’s own books, an attitude that mystified both her and me, but continued throughout the ranch years…
Despite my books being officially boycotted, journalists visiting the ranch still asked to meet me, although, again I was unaware of this at the time. It was only when Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist Frances FitzGerald insisted on meeting me, saying she wouldn’t write about the Rajneesh community without interviewing me, that I met with anyone from the press. (To have a prestigious writer like Frances write about the community was a coup that no one wanted to prevent from happening. Her report appeared in both ‘The New Yorker’ and her book, ‘Cities on a Hill’).
The Press Office was reluctant to let me be alone with Frances. Isabel (who ran the Press Office) made it clear that she would be with us, but Frances said she wouldn’t interview me in the presence of a chaperon and Isabel finally left, the caveat being that we’d remain in the outdoor seating area of the ranch restaurant, a public place, filled with sannyasins.
Frances asked me if I was often interviewed by the press. She was surprised to hear that this was the first – and, indeed, last – time this occurred. She told me that the first thing any reputable journalist would do before coming to the ranch was read my books, and the first thing they’d do upon arrival was ask to meet me. She thought it “rather peculiar” (her exact words) that visiting press people weren’t given access to me, and asked me why.
I had no answer. It had never occurred to me that I was an obvious person for the press to interview. My work, whether in the kitchen, laundry, garage or mail office, had kept me isolated from the public. On rare occasions, a new ranch resident might ask, “Hey, aren’t you Satya Bharti, the writer?” when dropping off a pile of laundry, but all I’d do was nod; it seemed irrelevant. And on that level, of course, it was.” (Satya Bharti. E-mail. 27.07.2015)
Mann writes on publishing
“In 1982 according to Braun’s article, “The budget for RFI for the publication and distribution of the Bhagwan literature is $5 million. Another $10 million is budgeted for the commune, all of which will go into ranch improvements, buildings and farm operations.” $10,000 is spent monthly on phone calls alone. “The total operating budget of $15 million is considerably more than the 1981 income of $6 million for the religious arm and $3 million for the commune, but financial spokesmen point out that sales of books and tapes have nearly doubled since Rajneeshpuram has been bathed in publicity after coming to Oregon.” (Braun, ‘Redmond Spokesman’, July 7, 1982). In his book, ‘The Unwelcome Society’, Braun said “The sale of books, tapes, pictures and other Bhagwan-connected items (was) estimated to be over two hundred thousand dollars per month.” (Braun, 1984, p. 111)” (Mann 1991, p. 126)
Satya Bharti on obstacles to her writing
“Grove Press publisher Barney Rossett phoned me at the ranch a few times to say that Grove would publish anything I wrote. He was incensed to hear I wasn’t writing, yelling at me that I was supposed to be writing, regardless of the situation. “That’s what writers do!” he reminded me- “They write!” I told him he’d have to speak to Sheela about it, but never heard anything more from him.
But after my interview with Frances FitzGerald, it felt like it was time for me to start writing again. Knowing that Sheela would never let me take the time off from work to do this, I began writing in the little free time I had, hiding my notebooks in my room, under my clothes. When I finally asked for permission to use a ranch typewriter in my off-hours to type up my manuscript, Sheela said she’d have to ask Bhagwan if it was okay for me to be writing.
I was called into the office to see Vidya who told me I wasn’t allowed to write. “Even in my spare time?” I asked her, upon which she began yelling at me, saying I had some nerve wanting to write my own books. What was I trying to do? Compete with Bhagwan?
As noted above, this wasn’t the first time I’d heard such nonsense. My books were in praise of Bhagwan and his work. I said I’d be glad to let the ranch hierarchy review what I wrote before sending it out, but the answer was still no. I wasn’t to write. Not that Vidya would tell me what I could or couldn’t do in my spare time, she hastened to assure me, I was free to do whatever I wanted, but surely I didn’t want to compete with Bhagwan?
What? I didn’t get it.
But the next day, my notebooks were gone from my cupboard. They’d vanished. No one had seen them or knew anything about them. They were gone. (After Sheela & Vidya left the ranch, we learned that one of the essential jobs of the ranch cleaners had been to investigate people’s “private spaces” – essential, their clothes cubbies – and report to the office what they’d found, confiscating it when warranted).
That same day, one of the office cleaners handed me a note she’d found the night before in Vidya’s wastepaper basket. In Sheela’s handwriting, it said: “Tell Satya Bharti she can’t even write a cookbook.”
My partner (now husband) Kirti and I decided to leave the ranch, knowing we would need to sneak out to do it. Sheela and “her gang” left before we had time to, though, and there was hope among many that things would change. Arup (Garimo) urged me to stay, telling me I’d be able to write full-time and could write whatever I wanted, without censorship. “There’s an amazing story to be written about this place,” she said, adding that Bhagwan wanted me to be the one to write it. But it was too little, too late, and within days, Kirti and I left.” (Satya Bharti. E-mail. 27.07.2015)
“Technically, these are tape-recorded discourses of Bhagwan’s “utterances” which are edited into books by others. To maintain tracking of different “editors and compilers” at different stages of the movement, I have generally included the names of these in references to Bhagwan’s books.” (Carter 1990, p. 298)
The discourse series held in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, were published in paperbacks, entitled ‘The Rajneesh Bible’ vol I (1985b) to vol 12 (1989). The volumes all had on their first page: ‘Special talks for a group called The Chosen Few who are going to be the messengers of Rajneeshism for the world at large’. And in the Introduction written by Krishna Prem to the first published volume in March 1985 (10.000 copies), it says, “The Rajneesh Bible is not a holy book. Nor is it a scripture. It is an open and loving invitation. It is an invitation to come and drink from a river that runs broad and true and free.”
The series consist of twelve volumes of which only the first four volumes were ever published under the name ‘The Rajneesh Bible’:
During the World Tour the series continued to vol 12. All titles were changed later, vol I now ‘From Unconsciousness to Consciousness’ (1998) and last volume no. 12 from Uruguay now entitled ‘The Transmission of the Lamp’ (1989).
The Rajneesh Bible series from Oregon are publishing the questions from disciples and answers from Bhagwan, and it may be notable that during his time in USA and the following World Tour, no sutras or masters from any religious path were commented upon by Osho. Rather general commentaries on priests and politicians.
Urban writes on the publishing of The Rajneesh Bible
“”She [Sheela] collected few of my sentences from here and there… and managed to create it in a more organized, fascist fashion: a religion, a hierarchy.” However, this claim seems a bit disingenuous when we consider the fact that the very first talks Rajneesh gave after breaking his period of silence in late 1984 were entitled “The Rajneesh Bible” and were clearly designed to present something like a “scripture” for the movement. Advertised in ‘Bhagwan’ magazine with the announcement “Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Speaks Again! Series of Talks on His Religion,” this was to be the Master’s return to public speaking after his years of silence. In the introduction, the editor, Swami Krishna Prem, describes the text as a unique example of an enlightened being writing his own Bible, and doing so while still alive and still on earth, unlike the world’s other major scriptures, which were all written by disciples long after the founder’s death: “THE RAJNEESH BIBLE is pure, direct communion. It is the living enlightened Master Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh speaking on His religion, on the vital, unfolding religion of Rajneeshism.” The text itself, meanwhile, declares Rajneeshism “the first and perhaps the last religion” insofar as it is the first based on acceptance and celebration rather than fear and repression.” (Urban 2015, p. 121)
Heading: Rancho Roundup. The Rajneesh Bible
“Swami Prem Purushottama and Ma Deva Aneesha are on the road calling on bookstores throughout the United States. They are taking orders for the first volume of THE RAJNEESH BIBLE which will be published in March, followed by Volume II in April and Volume III in July. There are hundreds of advance orders for the first volume. Many people are eagerly waiting to see His most recent message in print.
“Reception from bookstores has been tremendous,” said Rama. Major book dealers, such as B.Dalton’s and Walden Books, representing 1,400 retail stores throughout the United States, have shown particular interest…
Each day throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia, videotapes are being screened and sold, with the demand increasing daily. As growing numbers of people discover that Bhagwan has begun to speak again, they enjoy viewing the tapes and discussing them with their friends. Before long, the friends want to see the tapes for themselves. Swami Anand Rama, sales manager for Rajneesh Publications, describes the sales as “an incredible mushrooming across the country and around the world”.
“We have done almost no advertising,” Rama said. “The whole phenomenon has happened through word of mouth.” Each day audiotapes of the previous evening discourse are mailed all over the world to fill standing orders. A videotape rental program has begun in response to the swelling demand for Bhagwan’s words.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1985:24)
FitzGerald on codification September 1983
“The Rajneeshee, I discovered, were developing all the institutions of a church. For some months, the editors in the publishing department had been codifying the guru’s works; that is, making a subject index for all the lectures and darshan talks, so that Rajneesh’s dicta on any given topic could be retrieved at will.” (FitzGerald 1986, I p. 90)
Goldman on codification
“Bhagwan was at once his sannyasins’ teacher, their therapist, and their divine inspiration. He tacitly approved of Sheela’s labeling a series of his 1985 discourses as ‘The Rajneesh Bible’ … After Sheela’s departure he denounced her establishing the religion of Rajneeshism and claimed that every codified, Western-style religion contradicted his philosophy (Carter 1990, p.227-30).” (Goldman 1999, p. 226)
Savita’s Glossary: The Last Testament
“The Last Testament: a series of Osho’s responses to questions from the world press, delivered between 1984 and 1987. Some were published, many were not.” (Savita 2014, p. 266)
In the other series from Oregon ‘The Last Testament’ the press interviews from Jesus Grove are published. From Ken Kashiwahara in Good Morning America on ABC Network 17.7.1985, to press conferences and interviews in late September and October, following the leaving of Sheela in September 1985 and prior to the arrest of Bhagwan in Charlotte, North Carolina. Of these ‘Last Testament’ series, Vol I to Vol IV, all master tapes are missing, except 12 lectures. These tapes are missing together with quite a few tapes in ‘The Rajneesh Bible’ due to inconveniences caused by his secretary Sheela. Tapes with remarks not too flattering for her ego and interests were simply removed and disappeared.
Satya Bharti writes
“Then on to theories about the tapes which Sheela claimed in interviews to have, proof that Bhagwan was behind everything she did. As many of us knew, she’d had a wide variety of Bhagwan’s discourse tapes edited over the years till they only said what she wanted them to say, while ashram/ranch videos and films had been judiciously spliced and edited, rewriting history. It was a process many of us, including me, had been involved with in one way or another. Whatever tapes she had in her possession proved nothing.” (Franklin 1992, p. 315)
Mann writes on publishing
“Developed in the early and mid 70s, another major technique for promoting Rajneesh were the books produced by the editing of his daily discourses. (This technique of publishing books from lectures probably was first initiated by the anthroposophical leader Rudolf Steiner early in the 1920s and was later “copied” by Krishnamurti and others.) In the early days [Poona One], these were mainly printed in hard covers. Their special appeal within the cultic market place consisted in colorful and unusual titles, and secondly in their variety. We have already indicated in chapter three, the unusual range of mystical and religious topics covered by Rajneesh’s books. Catchy titles, such as the following were used…
The great majority of the books were published by small houses or by the cult’s own printing facilities. But as time passed, innovations in this book publishing enterprise occurred. By the late 1970s, Rajneesh had won the interest of major Western publishers like Routledge & Kegan Paul of England and Harpers & Grove Press of the U.S. and these big houses handled some of the books, according their contents the stamp of respectability as well as excellent marketing facilities. Meantime, translators working in Poona turned out translations in German, Dutch, Japanese, and other languages so that by 1983, some of Rajneesh’s books were available in more than 17 different languages. By mid July 1983, his books were for sale in over 2,000 American bookstores. “At this time, books published by the Rajneesh Foundation International totalled 146 titles in English, 150 in Hindi and 50… in seventeen other languages…
A Foundation official says 157 titles remain to be published.” (‘Asiaweek’, July 29, 1983, p. 33). According to the head of their publishing operation in 1983 “total sales of books, audio and video tapes, posters and cards… range(d) between $120,000 and $150,000 a month.” (‘Asiaweek’, July 29, 1983, p. 27). A number of books were on display in 1984 at Rajneeshpuram’s large and colorful book centre. Then in keeping with market demands, in the early 1980s, some books in English came out in cheaper, pocket editions, including the cult’s “Bible” called ‘Rajneeshism’.” (Mann 1991, p. 148)
Carter on publishing
“The movement was moving toward mass marketing, as indicated by a greater reliance on paperback editions of previous expensive books…
In 1985… the major contact in West Germany was centralized in Rajneesh Verlag, apparently a replacement for a Cologne center which changed names three times in as many years…
The “Boulder Group” is actually a cluster of organizations and includes the major (post-Oregon) Rajneesh publication in the United States.” (Carter 1990, pp. 61,284,285)
“I’ve got a wonderful job. I’m transcribing the interviews that Bhagwan has been giving to the world’s press. It’s inspiring and brilliant and sometimes very funny, but no wonder they were trying to get rid of him. Once again he’d been exposing the hypocrisy in politics and religion. I’m working with another woman up in the press office.” (Wills 2009, p. 176)
“I heard from the people running Almasta Publishing House that Glimpses of a Golden Childhood was already translated by Uttama into French, but OIF didn’t want that book on the market for some reasons. ‘Une enfance en Or Osho’ might be a compilation from Glimpses of a Golden Childhood or the whole book. As far as I know there are no life stories of sannyasins publiched in French, but last summer I edited/corrected the French translation of Margot Anand’s autobiography at Trédaniel Éditions.” (Kavisho. E-mail. 26.03.2017)
It is not too clear what happened to Rajneeshpuram archives. Early documents and booklets from 1950s in last copy had been sent to the archives including a unique 3-minutes film sequence from Nikalank. (Nikalank. Interview. Poona. 1999).
According to Ishwarbhai old editions from the ranch are by now in Germany. (Ishwarbhai. Interview. Bombay. August 1999).
Heading: Largest order for Bhagwan’s books
“The largest single book order to date, valued at $26,000, as received this week by Rajneesh Foundation International, the religious organization which distributes the teachings of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The order came from B. Dalton billed as “America’s Favorite Bookseller,” and will supply 350 bookstores throughout the USA.” (The Rajneesh Times, 1983:38)
Satya Bharti remembers
“When Barney Rossett and his wife, Lisa (my editor and publisher at Grove Press) visited me while they were on their honeymoon, Laxmi invited them to darshan… I rode down to Zarathustra, the so-called farm storage building where Vidya’s new office was. The bottom of the metal warehouse building was filled from floor to ceiling with Bhagwan’s books, the top floor jam-packed with desks, all of them occupied… father: Even with you giving cult headquarters the rights to your books – stupidest damn thing I ever heard: books out in a dozen languages and you don’t see a penny of the money… And with all that, Sheela still got something against you writing.” (Franklin 1992, pp. 132,192,217)
“I suddenly thought about the TV tour I hadn’t been allowed to go on; about all my manuscripts from India being “lost at sea”; about the one unpublished manuscript that my Poona roommate (now a “late” sannyasin) had managed to retrieve and send to me in New York, borrowed by the editor of Rajneesh magazine a year ago, ostensibly to excerpt, then promptly “lost”; about the commune publishing coordinator who’d furtively told me that all the Rajneesh centers had been instructed not to buy my books, the publishers not to reprint them. “When we’re selling 10.000 Bhagwan books a week,” she’d mumbled apologetically, “Sheela says we can have your books on the market, not till then.” She’d quietly left the ranch shortly afterwards, eventually testifying for the American authorities in its case against Bhagwan… If my first interview with Frances [FitzGerald] was an eye-opener, the second one was a shocker… I answered Frances’ questions guardedly, not knowing how much I could get away with telling her… As FBI agents, police officials, and reporters swarmed the ranch, I interviewed everyone who’d talk to me, trying to piece the whole sordid story together; I assumed I’d write about it some day.” (Franklin 1992, pp. 220,283,294)
Book Division in Zarathustra
“Many of you will remember Gabriele (aka Prem Gatha) working in Vipassana Go-Down (book warehouse) and sniffing and tying scarves around people’s heads before darshan. In Rajneeshpuram she was in charge of the book division in Zarathustra, the truck department, and later the entire Portland operation.” (Bhagawati. Viha Connection, 2014:5)
Anand Rama in publishing
“In Pune One he worked with Pratima and the books in the Godown and was a samurai. At the Ranch… he was also the coordinator of Buddhaghosha (book department)…” (Viha 2012:4, p. 7)
Gordon on moving publishing activities
“The commune grew smaller each day; RFI moved its copies of Rajneesh’s books and tapes to Boulder, Colorado, assigned its copyrights to the Rajneesh Foundation Europe.” (Gordon 1987, p. 205)
Pritish Nandy on The Rajneesh Bible
“In these talks given in America Osho examines brick by brick the edifice constructed by almost 2000 years of Christianity – its beliefs, its underlying psychology, and its profound influence on the social and political life of modern man. Richly embroidered with hilarious personal anecdotes and statements that shocked even his own disciples, these volumes make it clear why Osho has become the nemesis of established religions and political hierarchies all over the world.
“People say that I am brainwashing people. I am certainly washing their brains – and I believe in dry cleaning!”
“Having spent some of the most beautiful hours of my life in his commune at Rajneeshpuram, I know one thing – just one thing – that I will perhaps never again experience anything like that. I don’t know anything about religion or faith. Nor am I interested overmuch in such things. But what I saw in Rajneeshpuram is possibly the closest I will ever get to the spiritual experience.
Any civilization that can produce a man like Osho, even once in a century, has nothing to be ashamed of. And yes, read these books.” , ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’.”” (Reprinted in: One Seed Makes the Whole World Green (1990), p. 181)
In early 1985 Pratima told Maneesha that from now on she was to start helping in the editing of Osho’s discourses, working with Devaraj and Devageet in Lao Tzu House.
“The office I shared with my co-editors was in fact Devaraj and Devageet’s tiny bedroom. They had bunk-style beds made so there was now room – just – for our three desks and chairs… Devageet would “transcribe” each evening’s discourse, that is, type it out while listening to an audiotape of it. Then Devaraj and I would look at the discourse to see if any spelling or grammatical changes were needed, one checking the other’s work so that any changes we made in Bhagwan’s words were agreed on by both of us. The discourse went to “our man in Naropa” (the publication building), who gave it a final read-through, and referred any questions he came up with to us. Once we were happy with the result, a book full of discourses would be sent to the typesetters and printers.
In the past, when I was working on the darshan diaries in Poona, I had worked fairly independently and tended – rightly or wrongly – not to defer much to others for a second opinion, once it was seen that I had retained the rudiments of grammar from school days and understood what “editing” Bhagwan’s words actually meant. And because I was also writing commentary to accompany Bhagwan’s words, I had worked at a frenetic pace, so I couldn’t afford to umm and ahh too much over each comma and semicolon.
However, Devaraj and I now planned a mass assault upon those brain cells we hoped to be able to rely on to help us punctuate the words of our master, as appropriately but unobtrusively as possible. We wanted to be able to explain – in a court of law if it came to that – why we had used a comma in this instance and not a semicolon; or vice versa.
We took delivery of ‘The Chicago Manual of Style’ which became our bible, as well as a pre-world war two edition of someone’s grammar which didn’t really help a great deal but looked good on our shelf, and two slim volumes of grammar by a Karen Gordon, whose lively face on the back flap held the promise of a grammar book that was not going to be run-of-the-mill. Photo or not, you couldn’t go wrong with a book on English called ‘The Transitive Vampire: A Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed’.
Karen, as we fondly came to refer to her, turned out to be a loonbag of the very kind we liked. She had the happy knack of being able to formulate the most extraordinary bizarre thoughts in sentences that were meant to illustrate what a split imperative or a casual lilt or comma splice were. The only catch was that you became so intrigued by her examples that you forgot what you were meant to be studying them for. I finally gave up and just read the book for fun the first time round. Just as the blurb said on the front flap of one of the books, Karen had made an effort to “take the pain out of punctuation and put the perversity back in.”
Raj, Geet and I had hilarious times together, so good that they couldn’t possibly resemble the most liberated boss’ notion of work; but happily, the closest identifiable person we had to a boss was Vivek, who was about as easygoing a coordinator as you could wish for. In addition, like me, she couldn’t bear the notion of “mums,” and certainly had no motherly aspirations in regard to Lao Tzu House and its residents.” (Forman 1988, p. 395)
New space for editing
“He [Davaraj, returning from hospitalization 17.07.1985] seemed very happy to be back, and was thrilled to see that Devageet, he and I now had a new space in which to work on the books. The two of them had their bedroom to themselves and we were to work in what had once been Bhagwan’s bedroom – a beautiful space that looked out on the green lawns and treed gardens, and beyond those, to the mountains.” (Forman 1988, p. 445)
Devageet on editing the dental sessions in Jan-Feb 1982
“I continued the mammoth task of typing and editing the huge pile of notes into readable form. Devaraj was happy to leave the donkeywork to me, until the day when Osho asked him how the book was going. He didn’t know… The raw material included pages of comments about the ranch, about America, and some highly personal asides, and after many weeks of editing, we finally hammered out three recognizable books. While we edited madly, Osho would periodically insert a shaft of urgency by asking Devaraj about the book’s progress. After having been told that the first draft was complete, Osho sent word asking if there were any points that needed clarification. There were, especially around certain dates and times. He suggested that we write the queries down as questions, and he would set up another, final, session to give us the answers we needed…
It took three years to type and edit the notes from the dental chair. Finally, at the end of 1984, they were ready for publication. Osho did not read them. He had told us he never read any of his books. He trusted us.
We sent him a message saying the book had become three volumes, and they were completed except for their titles. He replied, asking Raj and I to send him a list of suggested titles from which he would choose. We pondered and brainstormed, making and discarding titles by the score. Our tiny room was littered with paper. Vivek, who had never liked the idea of the notes from the outset, walked out of our room one day muttering, “Nobody’s going to read this book. It’s just the bloody notes of a madman.” Looking at each other, Raj and I quickly wrote her words at the top of our list: Notes of a Madman, as a suggested title for the first volume. Of course Osho chose it.
The second volume to emerge from the notes, has the title, “Books I Have Loved”, must surely be the only volume by an enlightened Master speaking of the writings of poets and mystics whose vision of truth he recognized and appreciated. This volume is a tribute to their poetic insights being as one with Osho’s personal experience of eternity.
“Glimpses of a Golden Childhood”, the third volume, became an instant bestseller in the sannyas world and beyond. As a book it is simply unique: it is a Buddha telling something of his budding.” (Devageet 2013, p. 139-143)
Shanti Bhadra on editing
“Bhagwan paid a lot of attention to his public image. There were the dozens, if not hundreds, of books of his discourses that had been published in India, plus large coffee-table photographic accounts of his life, the ashram in India and the community in Oregon. He chose the photographs to be used and stipulated the title and layout of each book. Bhagwan also liked to dress up and pose to have his photo taken. The thousands of tasteful images of him in all manner of elegant costumes with carefully chosen props illustrate one of the ways in which he filled his days, and the extent to which he kept his seamstress and his court photographer busy.” (Stork 2009, p. 172)
Devageet on editing
“After he went to America, I also became His note-taker. I typed what He spoke and edited it. That was when I transcribed ‘Glimpses of a golden childhood’, ‘Books I have loved’ and ‘Notes of a Madman’. It was also after Oregon that He told me to write a book about His life. He also gave the name – ‘Bhagwan, Messiah of Life, Love and laughter’. At that time He had not yet thought of the name ‘Osho’.” (Devageet. In: Keerti 2000, p. 43)
Maneesha on her editing at the ranch
“[In Rajneeshpuram, November 1985] I decided to postpone thinking of the future until I, and the two editors with whom I was working, had completed the editing of the remaining three or four discourse series… Sarito, Anudas and I worked together in what had at one time been Bhagwan’s bedroom – a pine-timbered room, the front of which was made entirely of glass… There was a strange timelessness in the room: the three of us bent over Bhagwan’s words, quietly reading, inserting a comma, removing a semi-colon – one of us occasionally breaking the silence to ask for a second opinion, while the snow drifted down outside, making a Christmas card of what had been, months before, semi-desertland.” (Forman 1989, p. 59)
“That was when I saw Devageet [on Crete]. Bhagwan’s dentist, Geet – as his friends called him – had worked with Devaraj and me on the discourse books during 1985 – he typing the spoken discourse from a audio take then Devaraj and I editing the manuscript.” (Forman 2002, p. 196)
The editing of Osho’s chapter headings
Bhagwan was deeply involved in the editing of his books and laid out his guidelines for all matters in the entire process, including the naming of chapter headings, adding up to their thousands if we consider all editions since the Bombay days. It looks like he might have had a jolly good time in choosing these headings, as we may see from a few samples:
The Rajneesh Bible (1985), Vol I:
Discourse 2. Don’t follow me – because I am lost myself
Discourse 8. Will-to-power: the cancer of the soul
Discourse 18. Marriage – the coffin of love
Discourse 22. Theology – the jungle of lies
Discourse 29. I teach you reverence for life
The Rajneesh Bible (1985), Vol II:
Discourse 4: Danger: Truth at work
Discourse 12: Faith: the suicide of intelligence
Discourse 15: They say believe, I say explore
Discourse 24: Imitation is your cremation
Discourse 28: Baptism: wading for Godot
The Rajneesh Bible (1985), Vol III:
Discourse 1: Man is born with a question mark in his heart
Discourse 11: God – the phantom führer
Discourse 12: Death: the ultimate orgasm
Discourse 24: Infallibility: just a pope-dream
Discourse 29: Belief – just a blind man’s bluff
The Rajneesh Bible (1987), Vol IV:
Discourse 5: Sex to ecstasy
Discourse 9: Courage is a love affair with the unknown
Discourse 14: Don’t walk on water – jump into consciousness
Discourse 16: The Master: a gesture to the light within
Discourse 23: You’ll never find a lion in the Lion’s Club
Maneesha recalls Sheela’s editing
“I any case, one incident in particular illustrates Sheela’s popish behavior: her editing of Bhagwan’s discourses. By “editing” I don’t mean the kind Devaraj, Devageet and I were doing: she actually cut whole sentences and passages from not one, but several discourses. Her rationale was that she was protecting Bhagwan and the commune from unnecessary political or legal repercussions; that Bhagwan was speaking on subjects of which he was “meant” to have no knowledge, and was thus incriminating himself.
At a later date, Bhagwan was to spell out very clearly – for any disciple still in doubt as to the wisdom of allowing their master to say exactly what he wanted to say – that not only were his acknowledged enemies trying to stop him talking, even his disciples wanted to hinder his message. He said he knew exactly what he was saying, and was aware of the ramifications. But according to several sannyasins who knew Sheela, her attitude towards Bhagwan was that he didn’t understand much that went on in the world and it was up to her to protect him and to take care of certain matters without his guidance. That she set herself up as protector, one might argue, though misguided perhaps, was well-intentioned. However, consider the position Sheela put herself into as protector of Bhagwan and censor of his words. Without his knowledge, advice, or consent, Sheela could, and did, interfere with Bhagwan’s message to his sannyasins and the rest of the world.
In one particular discourse, that of December 19th, 1984 [The Rajneesh Bible, Volume 2 #20], Sheela deleted several pages in which Bhagwan talked about how he envisioned certain corporations within the commune might function. These many separate bodies he saw as necessary to decentralize power and avoid a concentration of power in the hands of just one person. Now, why should the spiritual head of the commune be endangering his status as just that by talking about how to decentralize, and so avoid the abuse of power? To say that the discourse implied Bhagwan was involved in the details of running the commune is analogous to saying that if the pope makes a comment about nuclear warfare, he is making bombs! The more likely explanation as to why these passages were removed is that they signified a threat to Sheela personally.
The question on which the discourse was based was: “Isn’t organization necessary for a religion to survive?” Bhagwan replied that unfortunately it was – religion did need some kind of organization to survive. However, an organization needed no religion to survive; in fact it was in itself not only not religious but it was political. That, he said, was the crux of the problem…
He continued, saying that Krishnamurti had tried to avoid having an organization, preferring to help people individually instead. But as he became older he realized his words would not be preserved unless he set up some kind of organization, which he did: the Krishnamurti Foundation.
“Around me,” Bhagwan said, “the effort from the very beginning has been to decentralize power. So around me many parallel organizations are slowly being created, and each organization is autonomous, functioning in one direction. For example, Rajneesh Foundation International will be looking after my words and other religious affairs…”
It was here that several passages were deleted. I for one would even dispute whether the phrase “other religious affairs” is Bhagwan’s and not Sheela’s; it does not strike me as a phrase that is characteristic of the way Bhagwan talks. I could be wrong on that score; but certainly there is no question that two pages later a phrase of Bhagwan’s had been replaced with another which is not his. Bhagwan had been saying that we should learn from the past and not allow organizations to use us…
“And if you can see all the possibilities which destroy religion,” Bhagwan said, “… and before they get hold of my religion I am going to finish all these possibilities. Sannyasins can have a totally different organization. That promise you can always remember: I will not leave you under a fascist regime.” But in the written discourse you will find the last phrase reads, “I will not leave you in a state of chaos.”
Devaraj and Devageet were both present at this discourse, and they both remember this particular phrase as originally said. They remembered a good deal of the discourse, and were aware, when they saw the transcript given them, that much material had been edited out. Trusting that if it had been omitted, it was for a good reason, they asked no further about the matter.” (Forman 1988, pp. 413-15)
(Note: On this issue see also: www.oshonews.com/2018/04/08)
‘From Darkness to Light’. Discourse on 19.12.1984
“On December 19, 1984, eight days after his 53rd birthday, Rajneesh was asked if organization was necessary for a religion to survive. He talked generally about the organization of religious communes throughout history. Then, twenty minutes before the end, he turned his sights on Rajneeshpuram itself and the world sannyasin movement.
The discourse, which was called “Number 20” by those who were there, sent shudders of fear and rage through the power elite at Rajneeshpuram, and was immediately “lost” by them. In fact, it was deliberately destroyed…
After much protest from those in attendance, who were not part of Sheela’s inner circle, a watered-down version of “Number 20″ was reproduced in The Rajneesh Times. All barbed and resonating insinuations that Rajneeshpuram was functioning under a fascist regime and that Sheela was not the totally reliable conduit of Rajneesh’s vision were edited out.” (Brecher 1993, p. 222)
Heading: The Lost Osho lecture from 1984. The destruction of Osho’s Discourse, December 19th, 1984
“December 19th, 1984, was a watershed in every sense for both Osho and Sannyas.
For the first time Osho publicly criticised the organisation that Sheela had created around her. Up until that point at least publicly, Osho had always seemed to support the organisation and Sheela unequivocally.
Just a few weeks before on October 30th, 1984, he had broken his three year (public) silence by beginning to speak to disciples once a day as he had done before in India (apart from periods of illness) from 1974 to 1981.
There was however an important difference. Osho spoke initially to a small group of about 40 so-called close disciples and the video of the discourse was played the following day for the rest of the commune.
Sheela was visibly distressed by Osho’s decision to start giving discourses again. According to Prem Sangeet, the then Rajneeshpuram City Attorney “Sheela cried for several days and begged Osho not to speak again”. In fact Osho originally wanted the videos to be played early in the morning before work, when the disciple’s mind and body was fresh, but Sheela argued huge back-logs in work that needed to be done for the city commune, and in the end videos of these talks were played after work – just as disciples were tired after long day’s labour. It was not uncommon for half the audience to fall asleep.
From December 19th Sheela must have known that the game was up – the game of the strange autocracy she had grown into.
At first Sheela ordered the 19th December video to be “lost” and the so-called “Number 20 discourse” was consigned to the flames – as soon as it had been delivered to the 40 or so people who heard it. No video of the day before was played to the commune on the 20th December to which communards had by that time become accustomed.
Those few who were not part of Sheela’s circle who heard the discourse recall that Osho called for autonomous centres and communes again, and not ones merged with the Ranch organisation – as had increasingly happened since 1983. He also said that no-one could henceforth claim they were speaking on his behalf. (A common trick by Sheela and her group).
Finally he underlined that he was not intending sannyasins to be left under any kind of “Fascist Regime”.
Just a month later in January, 1985, Osho sent Sheela back to India to look for a place for the new commune, together with Jayananda her husband and Krishna Deva and other then leading lights of her group. At a stroke, Osho was making it plain that the dream of a sannyas city state was not his, but Sheela’s. As he told Savita (Sheela’s number two) when the Ranch was collapsing six months later, this experiment of yours is as nothing compared to my enlightenment and the enlightened contact with my sannyasins. And Osho clearly fell about reconsolidating his real work and connection with his people without intermediary from October, 1984.
One may legitimately wonder why for several years Osho allowed this group to take over the whole of his temporal work, and for that he could be held accountable. Nonetheless once it was clear that to him the leadership of the commune had gone severely off the rails as outlned above he began to put it right with an alacrity that many accounts do not acknowledge.
Comments on topic are welcome. Parmartha.” (http://sannyasnews.org/now/archives/986)
Maneesha continues to put more light on the editing process
“I heard only some time later that Zeno – who worked in the tape and video department where the editing had to be effected – did ask about why so many of Bhagwan’s words needed to be cut and changed. Subsequently, she was falsely and deliberately diagnosed as having a positive AIDS antibody test, and was sent to live with others in a special area set up for those having the syndrome. (This form of incarceration was used as punishment too for at least one other sannyasin; it was rumored he refused to be involved in a drug run asked of him by one of the gang.)
It was Devageet’s habit to collect the tape of each discourse the day after it was spoken. On this particular occasion, when it failed to reach him at the usual time, and Devageet made inquiries as to why, he was told it was not ready. When it still wasn’t delivered to him the next day, the explanation was that there was no record of the discourse left due to some technical trouble.
Sheela held a communal meeting a day or so after the evening of this discourse. She was furious: she’d heard rumors that people were saying the tape had been interfered with, not that there was no record of the discourse available because of a malfunctioning of machines, as we had been told. She denied the rumor in no uncertain terms. Days later, a version of the discourse appeared in The Rajneesh Times. It had been reconstructed “with Bhagwan’s help,” the reader was informed. At the time I had no reason to believe that Sheela’s version wasn’t true: I have to hand it to her – she was a convincingly good actress, if nothing else.
A week or so after the discourse in question, Geet was finally notified that he could pick up a transcript of it, i.e., a typed copy. But his habit was to collect the tape; and even when Sheela continued to edit out pieces from Bhagwan’s discourses for the public, Geet was given the unedited tape. Why, im this particular instance, was he not given the tape?
The tape certainly existed – undamaged, with a completed and clear recording of the evening. Geeta, Sheela’s secretary, was asked to transcribe the discourse, she recalls. After she had done so, the typed material was taken from her; and when she got it back for retyping, passages had been crossed out. She remembers that seven of the pages were in question; she’d typed the new version which was minus three pages of Bhagwan’s words.
A month later [From Darkness to Light, 31.03.1985] Bhagwan commented at some stage during the evening discourse, “Almost every sentence of mine is going to create trouble for anybody who wants to organize a religion around me.” And a month or so later, he told us, “Be a little alert because there are so many crocodiles around, religious crocodiles. Just be watchful…” (Forman 1988, pp. 415-16)
“The AIDS test also became a political tool. Zeno worked in the video department, and had videotaped Osho telling Sheela that she had turned the city into a fascist concentration camp. (The tape was “accidentally” erased and never played.) She told the FBI a few years later: “I knew there was wiretapping going on, but I didn’t have positive proof. We were told over and over again it was for Bhagwan’s security and that we couldn’t say anything about it.” In December 1984, after calling her parents on a bugged pay phone to complain about the way the commune was being run, Zeno was called to Pythagoras medical clinic for an unknown blood test. The next day she was told she was HIV positive and sent to live in Desiderata. Her lover was not even tested! I believe she was the only woman among ten gay men. No one was allowed to visit except medical personnel. Zeno told me later she was in agony and thought often of committing suicide. What a punishment! Just two days after Sheela and her gang left, Zeno was retested, found negative, and released from her apartheid sentence.” (Abhiyana 2017, p. 325)
Parmartha on destroying tapes
“Rajesh describes in his text “The day we got guns” (his account of his sannyas life between 1983 to 1985 on the Ranch) where Vidya, one of Sheela’s lieutenants tells him to destroy six of Osho’s lecture tapes. SN [Sannyas News] give attention to this, partly because many people do not believe it, though we have no reason to doubt Rajesh’s testimony, and whilst this event is acknowledged by Ranch insiders, they say that only one tape was destroyed, the one where Osho described the fascism within his own organisation. Rajesh says it was six…
[Vidya:] “It’s your American legal system that can’t cope with the truth. And we have copies, minus the embarrassing parts. It’s a few sentences, here and there, that we’ll lose. We already know what Osho says – he never fucking shuts up. He’s published more books than anyone in history. Just erase these six tapes. You can do it with your machines”…
[Rajesh:] “I contemplate my task. I am going to have to erase them. I can’t do it. I can’t assent to this. I remember Bhagwan (Osho) saying we should never introduce one iota of variance in our documentation of what he says; it’s critical to remain absolutely faithful to his phrasing, his nuances, his pauses, even his apparent omissions. And I am not changing his words, I am destroying them… I erase the first tape. Just like that. I drag the master’s reel of verbiage repeatedly over the bulk eraser, in multiple directions, scrambling the magnetic patterns into meaninglessness; order, back into chaos. Glancing out of the window, I imagine burying the remaining tapes instead of erasing them. I could return late one night in the future, a stealth grave robber under the moon, and exhume them for posterity. Bhagwan couldn’t care less if I erase these tapes. Nothing matters to him. Shit, I’m enjoying this. I do it – all of them – the eraser buzzing, history undone. He’s said it all ten thousand times anyway.”” (Sannyas News, archives/5684) (Note: Those six tapes were probably copies of the very same discourse)
Dhanyam on editing
“From the False to the Truth… there is a three month gap between two of the discourses. One is dated April 1, 1985 and then the next discourse is dated June 30, 1985. Will someone out there please remind us what happened in the three months between these dates?” (Dhanyam. Viha Connection, 2004:1)
Satya Bharti on the selling of her books
“While Bhagwan (sometimes via Laxmi or Vivek; other times directly) encouraged me to write books and articles about both him and his teachings, Sheela wouldn’t let my books be sold at Rajneesh centers, or the ashram itself for that matter, a pattern that has continued to this day. I’m unaware of any Osho online site that has ever mentioned any of my books (other than in advertisements I paid for). As even Sheela’s book is mentioned on some of these sites, as are highly critical books by ex-sannyasins such as Shiva, I seem to be in the unique position of being the only former devotee whose work has been banned… It’s ironic to see Sheela’s books, and not mine, listed on Osho sites. She hated me “writing my little books” while she did “all the work.” (Satya Bharti. Personal information. 11 & 18.06.2015)
From last chapter: About the author, in Krishna Prem’s book
“Initially, his work in the commune was editing – rewriting Osho books that had been translated into English by Indian editors and, as a result, were often difficult for Westerners to read and understand. The titles he rewrote include ‘From Sex to Supersonsciousness’ (published by Rebel Publishing, India), ‘The Perfect Way’, ‘Pointing the Way’ and ‘The Long and the Short and the All’ (all published by Motilal Banarsidas, India).
Following this period of editing, he worked as press officer for Osho in India and was his spokesman for Indian and Western press visitors. This included considerable public speaking as well as television appearances for BBC programs and the UK’s ‘Whickers World’. In 1980 Osho gave him the task to write a book about his time in the commune, which he named “Osho, India and Me: A tale of sexual and spiritual transformation”. (Allanach 2010, p. 254)
Sheela editing ‘Glimpses of a Golden Childhood’
“Sometime after August 1984, the manuscript of Rajneesh’s reminiscences about his early years, ‘Glimpses of a Golden Childhood’, was given to Sheela. Along with her associates, Sheela forged Chapter 29 and inserted the fabricated adoption story. “We were staying with a certain man, Ambalal Patel,” the forgery reads, “who were my father’s friend. He was so loving towards me that I found in him another father.”” (Brecher 1993, p. 177)
5.9 Audio-Visual Media. Photos.
Roshani Shay in her chronology
“June 8: 136 videos of Bhagwan’s teachings, 20 videos of Ranch and celebrations, RFI TV programs broadcast in over 60 cities in US, Philippines since 1981 and in Europe since 1980; new Rajneeshee band at Portland Disco…
Sept 28: Bhagwan videos reportedly being shown on public access cable TV stations in 60 cities in US, including Salem (8:30am, Thursdays, Ch 3), Corvallis (9:30am Wednesdays and Fridays, Ch. 11), Portland and Eugene; cable companies say they have had some complaint from Salem and Convallis, but not many…
Dec 1: Spin Magazine profiles ten of the most prominent new-age music figures, two of them sannyasins (Kitaro and Deuter).” (Shay 1990)
Laheru on Rajneesh Audio Center
“During the meeting with Osho in Rajneeshpuram [June 1982], I said to him, “The recording of your discourses in Pune Ashram has been stopped, so if you tell me, I will start the work of recording.” At that time, I had almost all Hindi and English discourses of Osho, recorded in spools. I had the hobby of recording from the beginning. I expressed my desire to him and after taking his consent, immediately, after coming to Mumbai, I arranged for making master audio cassettes of Osho discourses from spools and then copying them and making them available to every Osho center and music house under the name of ‘Rajneesh Audio Center’. For this, I brought in modern equipments like new recording machines and made a huge investment for publicity etc.
After starting Rajneesh Audio Center, I took selective discourses like ‘Sex to Super-consciousness’, copied five discourses from it in four cassettes and made an album. I made an album ‘Meera aur Bhagwan’ from discourses on Meera (Indian Woman Mystic) by Osho, in which the devotional songs of Meera were sung by Taru Ma. I got those songs sung by renowned artists with professional musicians and got them recorded in studio. Then I prepared them in the form of audio cassettes. I also prepared other discourses of Osho, but I could not be successful in running this Rajneesh Audio Center and I had to close it down within a year.
In 1983-84, it was told me from Rajneeshpuram, America, that whatever recorded discourses of Osho I had with me, I should send all of them to Rajneeshpuram, so that they could be preserved there systematically, and could be converted from spools to audio cassettes according to new technology, and made available to everybody. Accordingly, on Osho’s instructions I sent about 400 spools of about five thousand Osho’s discourses recorded 1965 to 1980 to Rajneeshpuram.”(Laheru 2012, p. 152)
“Kirti had been working in the audio department since the festival, sitting at Bhagwan’s feet several times a week to tape his by-now nightly press conferences…” (Bharti 1992, p. 282)
Satya Bharti writes
“Kirti had been working in the audio department since the festival, sitting at Bhagwan’s feet several times a week to tape his by-now nightly press conferences…” (Franklin 1992, p. 282)
Heading: Sahajo Sounds
“When sannyasins gather for celebrations in the presence of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, their love is expressed in an interplay of sound and silence. Extraordinary beautiful music is produced for these occasions, ranging from the delicate, meditative rifts of morning satsang music to the joyous heartful songs of evening darshan.
Sahajo, the commune’s audio temple, takes responsibility for the original recordings of these occasions and the production of audio cassettes for Rajnesh Foundation International.
An impressive array of high-tech equipment fills its studio, where recording are mastered for the highest quality. In this way an ever increasing audience is able to share the musical magic inspired by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.” (Rajneesh Newsletter, 1984:23)
Samsara on video department
“Yes at Sheela’s urging I began a Video and Film Department. My job was to supervise the filming of Bhagwan’s discourses and all the events that occurred in the commune, creating inspirational films and a historical record.
“From one camera, a small cassette recorder and a single cameraman, housed in a tiny Poona office in 1979, we grew to have three state-of-the-art video machines, our own editing machine, duplicators, a sound and production laboratory, a 23 member-crew, and hundreds of archive and film tapes by 1983.
“Along with my colleague in the audio department, we also had an international production and distribution business, whose sales to centers and bookstores around the world helped support commune operations. We were even making films for Cable T.V. about Bhagwan’s work in a tiny trailer on the Ranch.” (Longo-Disse 2006, p. 96)
“And in the latter days of Rajneeshpuram a video was made of taped television material by outsiders, ominously entitled, ‘Fear is The Master’, which drew a parallel between Bhagwan, Jim Jones and Adolf Hitler – as, supposedly, men who had followers so fanatic that they would kill or be killed unquestioningly for their beliefs.” (Forman 1988, p. 379)
Video got lost
“The discourses held in Osho’s house were not only shown in the Mandir the next night but were sent out to the centres, where the sannyasins watched the videos also at the end of their twelve-hour shifts. But one day there was no discourse. Despite my usual naïveté, I immediately thought: ‘Osho probably said something which Sheela would not like us to hear.’ Interestingly, this was the first thought of my close friends too, although the official story was that the video ‘got lost’. Sheela even called a general meeting and we were informed that it was absolutely not true that during the discourse Osho had given her a hit, as some people had insinuated, but that the video had truly disappeared. Amiten tells me that his friend, Zeno, who was the video operator that night, was sent to work at RBG garage the next day, and when we were all tested for HIV she was moved to Desiderata and kept in isolation (although, as it later turned out, she tested negative). (Punya 2015, p. 317)
(Note: See also section 5.8 Editing on this point).
Sheela on YouTube
“Finally, it should be noted that Sheela herself, after over twenty years of seclusion, surfaced in the public eye again. A series of videoed talks given by her were downloaded to YouTube in 2007. In these talks her manner of speaking is peculiar, with mannerisms oddly reminiscent of her master, as she presents her case and tries to promote her essential innocence. Judging by the viewer’s comments attached to these videos, she has been unable to shake the general perception of the public that she and she alone, was responsible for the Rajneeshpuram Orwellian nightmare.” (Mistlberger 2010, p. 296)
Roshani Shay in her chronology 1984
“Nov 12: 45 rpm record written by a KKRZ-FM Portland, Oregon DJ and called “Shut Up, Sheela” goes on sale, flip side has comedy piece by “Rajneesh Dangerfield”, DJ says all profit will go to social services agencies for the homeless (Bend Bulletin 13.11).
Dec 11: K105 radio station says it is getting favorable listener response to 45 rpm record “Shut Up, Sheela”, which sells for $1.69 with proceeds said to be going to the homeless (World, Coos Bay, Oregon).” (Shay 1990)
(Note: Also on YouTube. The name of the DJ was Dan Clark working on the Z100 FM Morning Zoo, Portland).
Dell Murphy writes on TV covering of Rajneeshpuram
“KATU, Portland’s ABC television network ran a seven-part series about the Rajneeshees in November, 1983 that was so biased and inaccurate that even the Oregonian’s TV reviewer, Peter Farrell said that it had a strong stress on the negative,” and that it “added considerable fuel to the hostility many Oregonians feel toward the commune residents.”
They once again dredged up the old films made in Poona during the time when psychologists were conducting encounter group sessions. And they brought in two witnesses who testified that they had become disenchanted with the Rajneeshees. One was the ubiquitous Bill Driver, who had established himself a career of sorts by making startling “revelations” about the Rajneeshees: and the other was a girl who, according to our sources, had defected after Niren married Isabel.
Anyway, following this series, the number of threats and obscene phone calls to Hotel Rajneesh in Portland escalated dramatically. And at 3:30 a.m. on December 2, an unknown assailant fired a rifle through a window, narrowly missing a female occupant asleep in her room.
In 1985, Jon Tuttle of KGW Channel 8 in Portland, filmed a documentary entitled “Rajneesh Update.” He and his crew were so thorough in their research that they even visited communes in Europe. They gave a historical perspective on the Rajneeshees and the emergence of the commune in Oregon. This show won the coverted Peabody Award for national journalism….
In 1985, Jon Tuttle of KGW Channel 8 in Portland, filmed a documentary entitled “Rajneesh Update.” He and his crew were so thorough in their research that they even visited communes in Europe. The gave a historical perspective on the Rajneeshees and the emergence of the commune in Oregon. This show won the coverted Peabody Award for national journalism.” (Murphy 1986, pp. 163f)
Veena on photo of furhood robe
“A few years later, on the Ranch in Oregon, a strange event occurred which does, frankly, still puzzle me. He suddenly told Sheela that he wanted one special photo which was to be used in every one of his meditation centres around the planet. Every centre should be sent this photo as a gift. He asked her to bring him the huge files in which all the photos were stored so he could make the choice. The next evening he showed Sheela which one he had chosen. It was the one with him looking straight into the camera wearing the fur hood and cloak modelled on the Canadian fur parka. Apparently – I wasn’t there – Sheela, Savita and the rest of the gang didn’t like the photo and decided to choose another one and ask him to use their choice instead.
I was there in Jesus Grove the next evening when Savita returned from the evening business session with him. She had gone for Sheela who had a slight cold. Savita was SHATTERED! That’s the only word can use! We sat her down on the sofa, gave her a cup of tea and shakily she told us what had happened. She had told him they didn’t approve of his choice and showed him the photo they thought would be most appropriate. Apparently, he hit the roof and told her in no uncertain terms what he thought. As close as I can remember, his words were: ‘Whenever I do something I do it for a purpose. I have chosen this photo for a special secret reason. You don’t know what levels I am working on when I choose to do or say something. Go back and tell everybody to never again dare to question anything I do or say!’
Phew! That was very much a Zen Master’s hit. But for me, having made the hood, and remembering his unusually very specific instructions the event was mystifying and even today I honestly have no idea why he went to such lengths to have that hood made, yet never used it until years later on the Ranch. Needless to say, the photo was sent to every centre in he world.” (Veena 2012, p. 127)
Sarjano writes on photo-pictorial nude scene
“When the Festival was about to finish, Sheela sent somebody to tell him [Sarjano] that she wanted to talk with him, and even if he didn’t have any sympathy for this woman, because she was definitely the most dictatorial character that he had ever seen around Osho, he decided to go and see her, to find out what the hell she wanted from him. When he arrived in front of her and her eternal court of beggars, he addressed her in Neapolitan language, saying simply “Che Buo’?” (What do you want?)
She certainly didn’t understand the expression, but she got the sense of it and answered: “Last year we saw that Italian monthly magazine called ‘Playmen’, where you published a mega photo-pictorial about that Commune of sannyasins in Sicily, do you remember it? It had been full of splendid images of beautiful, naked girls, covered only by the mala around their neck, and the photos of the meditations were beautiful too, and now we would like you to do some photos like those ones here!
“If you can manage to stay here a few days more until the place gets rid of all these visitors, after they have gone, we can all go to the naturist’s lake, where we can lie totally naked under a tree, and you can make some of your beautiful pictures: what do you say?”
He told her that it was really a great proposal and confined he would stay at the Ranch a few days more; meanwhile he would go around looking for some beautiful girls, just to make the pictures a little juicier.
After three days he was taken to the lake in Sheela’s car by her driver, along with Premal and a beautiful blonde friend of her, who was the daughter of Osho’s lawyer, so at least he had two great models, and for the rest he would see later.
As soon as they arrived at the lake, Sheela immediately removed all her clothes, which seemed very strange to him, given her position of President of the Commune, and besides the fact that she was Osho’s secretary, but since she was surrounded by a dozen beautiful girls, he started shooting happily. After half an hour he had made at least ten rolls of film, and the photos would not only be published in a huge reportage in ‘Playmen’, but were eventually seen all over the world thanks to his idea of sending copies of these pictures to four large photo agencies – one Japanese, one German, one Italian and one American.
Too bad that later (much later) he would come to know that Sheela had done this – amongst others even meaner things – with the only intention to defame the Commune, to show it in a bad light, or at least in a libertine light!
Later he would get to know that Osho hadn’t appreciated this kind of publicity at all, but at this point it was already done, and all that he could do was to retrieve all these images from the four agencies and destroy them, which he did in no time.” (Sarjano 2016, p. 146)
For audio and video recordings see Volume III / Sources.
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