Can we still Love Osho after watching “Wild, Wild Country”?

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“Why shouldn’t truth be stranger than fiction? Fiction, after all, has to make sense.” ~ Mark Twain

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Have you seen “Wild, Wild Country”? I watched the whole documentary series with barely a bathroom break.

“Wild, Wild Country” is an exposé of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (Osho) and the commune, Rajneeshpuram, built by his followers in some proximity to the tiny town of Antelope, Oregon.

Say what? I had clearly slept through the ’80s and hadn’t explored Osho’s life enough to know he had lived in America, never mind run into trouble with the law. So not only was I missing a piece of recent American history, but I was also completely oblivious to Osho’s bizarre escapades.

At a time when Osho had taken a vow of silence, Ma Anand Sheela, his private secretary, became the voice his sannyasins heard most convincingly. Sheela, as she was referred to in the documentary, oversaw the building of the commune (originally, Big Muddy Ranch) transforming raw cattle land into a self-sufficient community with a farm, airfield, banks, disco, hotel, and restaurants—even providing its own electrical and water supply.

I think that the magnitude of the project was what shocked me first. I was drawn subsequently into the cultural clash between farmers and their families who, by all accounts, were traditionalists with strict, Christian beliefs and free-thinking, free-loving rajneeshees. There could not have been a greater divide in spiritual beliefs, nor lifestyle.

I began contemplating what role the church should have in the politics of a country, dissecting how this whole fiasco could have been avoided had the commune been less invasive to a very (at first) unsuspecting community. I was literally talking to my television screen, asking Sheela if she was serious. Of all the surprising cast of characters in this series, I found her the most unbelievable.

What can I tell you without revealing too much?

Osho loved Rolls Royces. Many, many of them. I likened him, lovingly, to a magpie, when speaking to my daughters about his attraction to collecting shiny objects. He said some surprising things when interviewed, things I would not expect from a spiritual teacher. Sheela made me cringe at times, and yet, I had an unexpected empathy for her as well as the other sannyasins.

That this developed into America’s largest bio-terror attack in history—that there was reason for rajneeshees to build up a sizable stock of arms and prepare themselves for attack, and that 64,000 acres were home to all-maroon wearing disciples—could not have surprised me more. Still I rejected the comparison between Osho and Jim Jones, the cult leader of Jonestown, or the assumptions that his views toward sexuality were perversely unusual. This was utopia as far as the community was concerned, and there is no doubt that Osho was loved and respected for his freedom of thought.

I’m not much for guru worship. I don’t mistake the guru for the wisdom he channels, or the portal of wisdom for home. To me, Osho was a man who, while frail in body, was a powerful font of intuition into the human condition. He didn’t eschew riches. That made him very human; society expects mystics to renounce the world, something he simply didn’t subscribe to. Osho did it his way.

Of course, because his teachings resonate deeply with me, I watched the series with biased eyes. I wanted to believe that Osho was not complicit in all the things he was accused of. I don’t know the truth of it, and you will form your own opinions when you watch.

After setting aside my cautious interpretation of Osho’s organization, my admiration for his dream of a sustainable community, and my surprise and shock, I am left with this to carry me forward:

“Be—don’t try to become.”

“Joy is spiritual. It is different, totally different, from pleasure or happiness. It has nothing to do with the outside, with the other; it is an inner phenomenon.”

“Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny—he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally—you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you.”

“Be realistic: Plan for a miracle.”

“Sadness gives depth. Happiness gives height. Sadness gives roots. Happiness gives branches. Happiness is like a tree going into the sky, and sadness is like the roots going down into the womb of the earth. Both are needed, and the higher a tree goes, the deeper it goes, simultaneously. The bigger the tree, the bigger will be its roots. In fact, it is always in proportion. That’s its balance.”

“Creativity is the greatest rebellion in existence.”

“Life repeats itself mindlessly—unless you become mindful, it will go on repeating like a wheel.”

“The real question is not whether life exists after death. The real question is whether you are alive before death.”

“When your love is not just a desire for the other, when your love is not only a need, when your love is a sharing, when your love is not that of a beggar but an emperor, when your love is not asking for something in return but is ready only to give—to give for the sheer joy of giving—then add meditation to it and the pure fragrance is released. That is compassion; compassion is the highest phenomenon.”

“A healthy man is not an entity; he is a process, a dynamic process. Or we can say that a healthy man is not a noun but a verb, not a river but a rivering. He is continuously flowing in all dimensions, overflowing.”

“Love is a matter of inner nature, not of relationship. Love has nothing to do with relationship, love is a state of being. It is an inner component of one’s individuality.”

“Love can give a new soul to sex. Then, the sex is transfigured; it becomes beautiful. It is no longer sex, it has something of the beyond in it. It has become a bridge.”

I am still a student of Osho. His passion for meditation, mindfulness, sacred relationships, and philosophy stay relevant, despite his derailed sojourn into “Wild, Wild Country.”

~

Relephant:

Osho’s Ten Commandments.

Osho: F*ck the F*cking F*ck.

~

Author: Monika Carless
Image: Flickr/Edson da Silva

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May

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Monika Carless

Monika Carless seems to be following the setting sun—from Europe to Eastern Canada, to mountain and ocean life on Vancouver Island, B.C. Trained as a Reiki Master and Holistic Nutritionist, Monika seeks the Sacred through nature. She is a Mystic who follows the Wise Woman Tradition, facilitating Intuitive Soul-Path Sessions, guiding women and men worldwide on their authentic journey, in the areas of sexuality, relationships, spirit and life-direction. She believes in skinny dipping, laughter with friends, and moonlit walks as therapy for the human soul. A road less ordinary and a heart filled with love is what you’ll find her patiently seeking. The author of two novels, The Dark Pool, and its sequel, The Raven and The Aspen King—tales of erotica, pagan mysticism, polyamory, and past lives. Monika can be reached via her websiteInstagram, or Facebook.

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Dickon Kent Apr 26, 2018 10:17pm

We all have darkness and light within us. And it's incumbent on each individual to act either in a light way, or dark way. I lived in Rajneeshpuram and loved my time there as a teenager, there was good and bad and most people focus on the bad (of which there was a lot). Personally I believe that Bhagwan (Osho) was aware of everything except the wiretapping of his quarters, and the poisoning of those close to him. He has said some wonderful and wise things, and at the same time one would hope that somebody who had so much power by virtue of who he was in that community would've been wise enough to stop what was happening. Bhagwan was a large part of my life from about age 6 to 17 1/2 when I left Oregon. And then I went to India to see him again when I was 19 and at that time it was clear that this relationship was over. I can still appreciate the wisdom he offered, but the darkness that also came out really overshadows the rest. The best thing for me is that because of this experience I know some wonderful people all over the world. I answered a bunch of questions about this here: https://medium.com/@dickonkent/what-wild-wild-country-didn-t-say-57-questions-answered-by-a-teenage-rajneeshpuram-resident-a1d32821a5f8

Travis May Apr 13, 2018 2:11am

I think their idea was good and had promise, but it seems like the people didn't have the proper training or realization to make it happen. I remember early in the series how Sheela said she never really got into meditation and when they were starting the community in Oregon, they brought people who were good at building and getting things like that done rather than spiritual people. It's amazing what they built there, but it seems like what they were missing was people leading it who were more developed from the teachings and practices. I'm not sure how much Osho was aware of what was happening or directing it, but it really devolved into some truly terrible things that sheds a negative light on a lot of other spiritual communities. One thing that really seemed missing is they didn't talk much about the actual teachings or show him giving teachings, mostly just walking around in anjali, or what, if any, practices were being done by the people there.

Ian Faulkner Apr 10, 2018 6:28am

That line about the finger is not his line ... All of Osho's lines come from other mystics. He was a professor of comparative religion.

Ian Faulkner Apr 10, 2018 5:43am

Monika Carless It was a good article. I also write for the Elephant. He was a bad guy in real life. The writings are good, but Osho is nowhere near as good as Rumi or Hakim Sanai!

Ian Faulkner Apr 10, 2018 5:36am

Helen Flores-Duron here is the article Maria Sent https://www.thedailybeast.com/wild-wild-country-a-rajneeshee-cult-insider-on-the-horrors-the-netflix-series-left-out?ref=home

Ian Faulkner Apr 10, 2018 5:35am

Monika Carless here is the article that Maria sent https://www.thedailybeast.com/wild-wild-country-a-rajneeshee-cult-insider-on-the-horrors-the-netflix-series-left-out?ref=home

Monika Carless Apr 10, 2018 4:33am

Thank Travis, yes I too was very interested in it and it's taking me on further explorations in my mind and heart.

Monika Carless Apr 10, 2018 4:32am

Thank you for this, Ian. xo

Travis May Apr 9, 2018 11:19pm

I started watching this last night after reading this article and it's really an incredible series. I didn't know about any of this. I got hooked in and watched for several hours. Very interesting! I'll have more thoughts to share later.

Helen Flores-Duron Apr 9, 2018 7:07pm

Hi, Ian! Which article of Maria Grazia you mention?

Prem Adheesh Apr 9, 2018 9:43am

Did Osho love rolls royce's in 1960 ( ? ) someone gave Osho ,(Acharya Rajneesh) a mercedes , it was a scandal ,in media all over , Osho responded , "- I want one more mercedes" ....Osho's message spread , Poverty is not spiritual ...every religion teach poverty is religious...(celibacy is religious...etc... ) Question everything , don't believe, -including Osho. I am just a finger pointing to the moon , don't bite my finger. - osho.

Ian Faulkner Apr 8, 2018 3:07am

My own final comments on the Netflix "Wild Wild Country" movie about the Rajneesh Cult. There were issues with the film which don't tell the full story ... Thanks Maria Grazia Mori-Oakley for the article by the Rajneesh writer and editor. It really does help fill in the details that NetFlix omitted. I can list a few positive things that came from the Rajneesh Group. The positive things were left out of the movie too: 1/ Ecstatic Dance ... its now wildly popular and is both great for exercise and is a meditation. 2/ NeoTantra has helped North America get over its puritanical sexual attitudes. 3/ The group expanded the use of the word "Meditation" to include anything that brings mindfulness. (There are probably many other positive things that the followers invented) I was in a unique position compared to many Sanyassins. I embraced the meditations but never met the man. As a result my own experiences were 100% positive. I do not give credit to Rajneesh himself anymore. I learned that things like Ecstatic Dance were brought in and cultivated by followers. The magic of the Rajneesh movement must come from the fact that everyone started to believe in themself. Many of my friends who went to Oregon suffered however. One of my best friends now at first was not willing to be friends with me when she heard I once was a Rajneesh follower! She suffered in both India and Oregon. When I told her I never met the man we became best friends. Just doing the meditations, without meeting Rajneesh did very positive things in my life. But it was Rajneesh followers that invented all the meditations. We have to give credit to the group of followers for the amazing positive spinoffs. I joined a group called NeoSannyas the Dark side and was active for the last few years until I was kicked out of the group for being too negative about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh! A few members of the group were too loyal to hear me refer to Rajneesh as the "snake". The group investigated the most negative things that Rajneesh himself was responsible for. Among the old Ranjeesh followers in the group there are some amazing people who are some of the most stimulating people I have talked with in years. There are others who as still suffering. My only criticism of the Netflix movie are ... 1/ It pretended that Sheila was responsible for everything negative. Rajneesh was responsible too. 2/ There were some very good things that came out of the movement which were not mentioned. Its all so interesting to discuss. A yoga teacher from India pointed out recently that Rajneesh has poisoned the word Guru in India. It is however always dangerous to trust someone else to organize Your life and help you grow. Increasing self awareness and growth depends on Your Work. As the historical Buddha said "Who could be a better Guru than yourself well trained?". There is no one person who can hand you "self realization" on a silver platter. It was an important lesson for me to learn!

John Hardman Apr 7, 2018 9:46pm

Monika Carless Here is another take on the significance of the struggle between the Antelope citizens and the Rasneesh's cult. When will we ever learn? https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a19623938/netflixs-wild-wild-country-sex-cult-documentary/

Monika Carless Apr 7, 2018 5:08pm

Thank you for your perspective. I really don't see it that way at all, and still study Osho, but have spoken to a few people who after watching the doc, would agree with you.

John Hardman Apr 7, 2018 4:03am

I, too, watched the series and was amazed how narcissistic and shallow a man he was. His words are recycled from New Age thinkers of the time and nothing original. It was obvious from the videos that he was drugged most of the time and seems to be showing all the signs of NPD - narcissistic personality disorder. It was pretty obvious they killed him to create a martyr and faked a will so they could continue to rake in the money. There are so many other more worthy teachers to follow than this selfish, evil man.