Osho and Bhagwan

Posted: 10/04/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle
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I am not a fan of Osho. I examined his work several years ago (1 and 2), and I have no reason to change. There are great teachers around for whom there isn’t doubt such as the Buddha, Eckhart Tolle, why take the risk of teachers who present questions about ego.

When I criticised Osho I was not using his history as Bhagwan because I was unable to be certain enough of what I was reading. There was a recent Netflix documentary series, “Wild Wild Country” (6 hours plus of fascination), that gave me sufficient certainty, and there is much that documentary brings into question.

I am not a fan of “following gurus”. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha spoke of not believing him, learn for yourself. I believe the Guru tradition asks followers to trust the Guru completely, I don’t have objections to many Guru’s teachings but I try to learn for myself. I also understand that a Guru has a responsibility for all those s/he teaches. When I look at this documentary series I am always asking when did the Bhagwan take responsibility?

I have the feeling that the series is well researched and accurate, but it is the media so I can never be sure. My first question is why did the community go to Oregon, why did they leave Poona, India, in the first place? The documentary suggests there were doubts about the Bhagwan when he left Poona the first time. But why the inimical community of Oregon?

Was it respectful to establish such a spiritual community in a US backwoods traditional Christian community as Antelope, Oregon? As the US worships the power of the buck, by their terms it was legitimate but I don’t think so. Where should they establish a commune? Don’t know, a very different question.

My interpretation of the series was that there were no doubts that the Oregonians escalated the issues, and then the US legal apparatus continued the escalation. Firstly the Oregonians attacked the community on the land use issue, the response of taking over Antelope was based on this. And then there was the bombing of the hotel that led to arming the Rajneesh community. I have no doubts who were the aggressors. But then the responses – no excuses, especially from a Guru.

The whole documentary was absolutely fascinating. I was alive during all of that and yet I knew none of it.

What struck me so strongly is the love these Sannyasins had, but wisdom – I don’t know, wisdom seemed not to be valued. I rarely meet spiritual people where I live, but those I do are ex-Bhagwans. They have some sense of being lost, perhaps because they never broke the chord of Guru following, I don’t see them as “complete” – one was clearly disturbed. If I had gone East to the Bhagwan just after my upheaval – just starting on the path (never crossed my mind then), I could imagine I would have been completely enraptured as well. A frightening thought, and a warning about such a powerful Guru. I will not pick up an Osho book, I would not know where he would be sucking me the wrong way.

During the documentary there was a movie shown the Christian Oregonians, the sexual practices frightened them. This movie, Ashram in Poona, can be found here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

I found this movie frightening, throughout I was thinking they were playing with stuff that should come out naturally over time. It is the same feeling I have about LSD and, I think, ayahuasca; it jumps the gun. But this approach was definitely directed spiritually – so risky. Sure there is energy, sure there are emotional blocks, this is part of life and we must find ways of releasing them. But we …. If it is a technique, if it is laying-on of hands (transmission?) then maybe we aren’t ready, aren’t equipped. How many of those Sannyasins were sorted, were able to cope with life? Was the rest of their life just dependent on the Bhagwan experience and that they were always harking back to it rather than moving forward?

In the documentary there was an old white Oregonian saying that the Rajneeshis were just looking for God. Well it’s the same thing. But is the way the restrictive Christian right have found God in America any better? At least the Bhagwan wasn’t funding global war or attacking women.

I have to point at something which is so important in teaching – sila – moral integrity, the backbone of any teaching must be sila. Especially when people are coming from western societies this sila is so important, as the West doesn’t necessarily provide any. Immediately the Oregonians would say the Rajneeshis have no sila because of sexual misconduct (one of the 5 precepts) – their view of the promiscuity. I am unwilling to comment on this because although it appears there was sexual misconduct it does not appear that their sexual conduct was hurting them. But I don’t know. The ex-Bhagwans I know are open to question concerning sexual desire – many expats are in Thailand in the game of mutual exploitation of younger women. The Rajneeshis in Oregon seemed genuinely happy amongst themselves, this does not indicate misconduct. But I wasn’t there, I don’t know.

But definitely spirituality requires a moral backbone – sila, and from what I have seen Osho offered none. That is sufficient for me not to go near Osho’s teachings given so many other alternatives. Energy without sila is dangerous.

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