- On The Death of Enlightenment in America -
In the aftermath of Waco, Ruby Ridge, and 9-11 all but forgotten and buried today is the tragic story of the imprisonment and deportation of Osho (formerly known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) and the destruction of his Oregon commune in 1985.
In this case, as the above quote reveals, the real intent of the American government (aimed at a respected and enlightened religious figure of world renown) was even publicly-stated. Clearly, it was the goal of the Reagan-Meese-Cardinal Ratzinger cabal to both deport Osho and destroy his commune on American soil.
Why the animosity? Why the deadly intent toward a peaceful religious community in rural Oregon, where thousands of meditators explored their inner lives while restoring cattle-ravaged "big muddy" ranch lands to new beauty and purpose... all while facing the incredible hostility of the "Christian" neighbors and locals with their "Better Dead Than Red" bumper stickers?
Having no real reason to arrest a "dangerous" man armed only with a unique vibe, piercing intelligence, and playful humor (sometimes directed at the "Polack Pope"), the Feds apparently proceeded on the idea that, as the titular head of the organization, he must have inspired, and so be guilty of, virtually any immigration violations occurring amongst his many followers.
On this flimsy pretext, a veritable pogrom against Rajneesh and his commune could then begin. Shortly before the raid, however, commune leaders had received word that some 150 heavily-armed, para-military, Federal and state police were on the way, armed with warrants based on trumped-up immigration charges. However, with over 400 lawyer sannyassins in residence at the commune ("the largest law-firm on the west coast") the commune was well-tied into legal circles and so became privy to law-enforcement's plans.
Knowing the intent of the feds and state officials, commune leaders knew Osho had to leave immediately to avoid certain bloodshed being set into motion. The rest is history.
In retrospect, the later tragedy at Waco places what happened several years prior, at Rajneeshpuram, in far better perspective. If David Koresh had the same good sense to leave his compound, especially after notice of an impending raid, the truly tragic results that occurred would have been averted.
In the case of Osho, given a hostile law-enforcement community and virulent antipathies of an "only-son-of-god" crowd toward an Indian Guru, it is understandable why there once was, and remains today, good reason for any outside-the-mainstream group to fear their government. But, with Osho, what exactly lies behind the institutional fears, ludicrous paranoia, and pervasive hostility? Indeed, why the classic persecutions of religious communes by the imperial state - why the establishment hits on Pythagoras, Socrates, and Pontius Pilate's Jesus round-up? In Osho's case, the reasons for persecution go well beyond the reactionary actions and mistakes of Sheila, a commune leader.
To answer these and other questions we might first look to Osho's own words. As he noted, "the commune is the lifestyle of the future. The family is gone and the commune is going to take its place. Much depends on the success of commune life, and we have to make the commune life such a celebration that it spreads like wildfire, that other start communes of their own... We just have to prove that life in a commune is much richer, much more lively, much more meditative, that there is a possibility of living in a different way, different from the way humanity has lived up to now. We have proved it in Rajneeshpuram. It was our success that forced America to destroy the commune. If we were not successful nobody would have bothered about us. Remember this: it was not a failure that we were destroyed; it was our success which could not be tolerated."
To understand the historical hostility of religio-capitalist governments toward enlightened beings, their communes, and cooperative societies in general, we might again quote Osho to grasp the larger implications of his success in America: "the commune was a far superior version of communism. No dictatorship, no money... and the commune was living at a far better, higher standard than any American... the commune was in the midst of a capitalist world... the reason he [Ed Meese] gave for deporting me was: "we wanted to destroy the commune.. that was our priority."
After a medley of second-rate, if not suspect, gurus from the east, a less-than-literate public, and sensation-mongering press ever in search of a new Jim Jones scandal, the establishment media had their reasons to ignore or suppress the real story of what happened at Rajneeshpuram, and its aftermath - i.e., a health-destroying imprisonment and possible poisoning with thalium (an odorless, colorless, substance reportedly favored by the CIA) while he was detained in several Oklahoma jails.
In his "flight" to leave the U.S. and avoid a Waco-style bloodshed, Osho was arrested in North Carolina when his chartered jet set down for refueling. After his arrest, what should have been a simple, five-hour, flight back to Oregon from North Carolina - in the custody of the feds - turned into a curious, twelve-day long, odyssey - whereupon Osho was checked into several jails and even forced to register into one as "David Washington."
The complete story of this latter-day, Socrates-like, tragedy is fully detailed in Max Brecker's "A Passage To America" - a book even this experienced journalist found he could NOT get published, nor publicized, in the United States. The alarming facts this book reveals, and poisoning charges raised, have been blacked out by the American media.
Regardless of any capitalist antipathies to communal lifestyles, or to this particular Indian "guru" and his followers, the media's ignorant and irresponsible attempts to lump an Osho with a David Koresh or Jim Jones was, and still is, to equate true-believer fanatics with a truly rare being - an enlightened man and recognized genius of our age. As the Dalai Lama once noted he was an enlightened master - a potent adjective this respected Tibetan leader has not, to my knowledge, applied to any other contemporary figure.
In short, the cognoscente, as well as those willing to risk exploring the man and his work, were aware of Osho's unique being, wisdom, and genius, and even his detractors admit his enlightenment. Nevertheless, the majority of a westernized, only-son-of-god leaning, public remains misinformed to this day - not to mention largely unfamiliar with eastern ways, inner sciences, or the millenniums-old, master-disciple, relationships and attendant religious practices. For this reason, the average westerner, and a heavily-fundamentalist law-enforcement community, were easy prey for an idiotic media spin about "another Jim Jones." As a result, many wanted the "anti-christ" deported, if not dead.
Short of any knowledge or experience with the man, his work, or inner phenomena in general, how many would not believe the media line, or that any "guru" with those Rolls Royces could be anything but a flim-flam man? Short of any real acquaintance with the man and his work, who would "grok" him or his car-joke on materialism, etc. Clearly, not many are familiar with the ways of unorthodox zen masters like a Chaung-Tzu, Bodhidharma, or a blissful and naked fakir like Diogenes telling Alexander the Great he was an abject failure.
For this and other reasons, who would be likely to wonder today what any such trappings/devices have to do with the fact, or fiction, of his or her enlightenment and work of a great master? Would it have made any difference if Osho's joke included ninety volkswagens? Clearly, we don't villify a Walter Harrah, Malcolm Forbes, or a Jay leno for their large collection of cars for the simple reason their own being and work is neither extraordinary nor challenging to any religious, social, economic or political orthodoxy.
Face it, we like our avatars poor, destitute, and supportive of ancient myths, Ghandian poverty schemes, and conforming to our know-it-all-in-advance expectations. Indeed, we expect a penniless, Nordic-looking, Christ to re-appear. We expect only THIS vision and version of the "son-of-god." There are no daughters of God allowed, nor can any other son come or appear again.
Exactly this imprisoned mentality illustrates how tyrannical our expectations and beliefs can be - whether they be of a wife, husband, child, master or savior. Such closed-loop belief constructs are precisely why new avatars keep getting missed. if not crucified. Expectations are killers.
Short of any real experience or familiarity with Osho's life, being, and work, and given the Jim-Jones nature of mass-media coverage, the general public's misperceptions MUST then be that he was a fraud and con man... and even a dangerous anti-Christ who ought to be "taken out." Never mind that enlightened avatars like Osho have routinely been crucified thru the ages for interfering with only-son-of-god expectations and ridiculing the religious dispensation businesses Osho once termed the "mafia of the soul."
To many otherwise intelligent westerners without benefit of alternative information or experience in this matter, no other "spin" than a "con-man" scenario could likely exist. What a shame. The tragedy of this uninformed misreading is even more evident today as we watch fundamentalists gain new leverage and societal power - ushering in a new Dark Age in the twenty-first century. Abortion protestors kill doctors, fanatics murder "secular-humanist" journalists, and Ayatollahs issue death sentences for blasphemous writers and unbelievers. Exactly such idiotic and fanatic acts are bound to follow any death of enlightenment... just as night follows day.
In the rather dim light of western history, we might understand here that for the masses to arrive at any other conclusion about an Osho, or indeed any other rebellious, enlightened, figure is nearly impossible.. unless personal experience intervenes.
What must the "Jerusalem Times" of the day have said of Jesus?
Clearly, any enlightened master - i.e., yet another being graced by existence - must spell trouble, if not disaster, for any and all infallible truth monopolies and wage-slave economies fearful of competition from cooperation. Enlightenments and cooperative modes of living are ever-dangerous to imperial, enclosed, "free markets" societies of landless wage slaves being spoon fed a religio-capitalist "growth" propaganda serving the interests of the few.
Speaking of communes and cooperative societies, our participation in a FREE commune surely does not make one a "communist" in the Stalinist sense. However, some people are not capable of the finer distinctions. Even more ironic, Jesus was a "communist" or, shall we say, a communalist - and this was most probably the real reason he was crucified by an imperial, capitalist, slave-state. Anyone messing with a fear-guilt based, only-son-of-god, religious-dispensation monopoly, or the money-changer's "free market" wage and debt slaveries, and private central banks, is putting their life on the line.
To opt out of imprisoning societal structures, if even for a short respite, is to freak-out the imperial state. To provide any alternative society and real avenue of escape for the masses is to invite crucifixion... or poisoning. To display, by one's own grace and being, there may be more than one son or daughter of "god," or that such grace may ultimately be the result of lifetimes of effort and insight, is indeed a serious threat to fundamentalist, sky-god, monopolies.
As history has amply illustrated with its Roman crucifixions and Puritans burning books and witches, any new enlightenments, courageous Buddhas, and/or liberated women are dangerous events for a patriarchal status quo.
Lest we emerge here with the impression that Osho, or any other enlightened figure for that matter, was a "communist" or neo-totalitarian, we need only look to Osho's message. Addressing an Indian society mired in millennium's worth of debilitating dogmas, in a series of early discourses entitled Beware of Socialism, Osho once noted "it is necessary to understand what capitalism means. Today the word `capitalism' comes to our minds as a four-letter word... a much maligned word. We rush to condemn capitalism without knowing what good it has done to human society, and that it is the instrument that will lead society to socialism. If all men are ever going to achieve equality. if they all are ever going to be free of poverty and attain to affluence, then a hundred percent credit for it will go to capitalism." So much for the "communist" bit.
The very reason for communes and contemplative societies is to provide a retreat and respite from the normal world of industrial-age enclosure and neo-wage-slavery. The whole point is to provide a place to grow spiritually rather than materially, and so a place where we can freely cooperate rather than compete. For most, the Church that is their commune today is but a one hour a week affair, and hardly a challenge to the existing socio-economic orthodoxy, or any meaningful refuge for the competition-weary.
Still, as he often stated, Osho's commune was never meant to provide a kind of monkish escape from a real world - one in dire need of meditators in the marketplace with an activated bliss. On the contrary, it was meant to be a temporary retreat wherein one gathered their energy and sanity, explored the inner being, and then re-entered the world with new vision, energy, spirit, and meaning - exactly the sort of thing his "Club Med" Indian commune has become.
In short, devoid of alternative societies today, and with so many lacking any natural freedom upon the land, a long list of "free market" societies are proving to be little more than neo-slave prison-states - peopled by a growing landless neo-proletariat devoid of any real independence and choice. For the vast majority, historic freedom in an enclosure-based world is but a joke and something to be gained by the few, often via their superior exploitations within a "free market." Likewise, the totalitarian communist societies without free markets and private property have proved to be nothing but huge labor camps.
For these very reasons, in the world as we find it, a freedom for both material and spiritual advancement depends on diverse freedoms, and dual enfranchisements, acting to chasten both marketplace and cooperative endeavors.
Aside from the socio-economic implications of an all too common crucifixion complex, we might also consider how, for all their rarity during the industrial age, an enlightened man or woman has become an unknown commodity today... akin to an alien from outer space. Both, it seems, are dangerous, if not fatal, to any infallible only-son-of-god orthodoxy or enclosure-based economy threatened by other enlightened avatars, or any great spread of cooperative economic institutions.
Speaking of aliens, the reality of any alien being is problematic for the earth-centric, only-son-of-god, belief system. Yet to have been inside the Osho experience was to relive a latter-day Jesus, Socrates, or Pythagoras happening (an "alien" encounter of the enlightened-kind) complete with government agents pushed by prevailing priesthoods and ruling oligarchies to hang a blasphemous messenger and bury the news. True to the historic dynamic, where true believers and imperial societies are faced with another enlightenment, especially in the form of an attractive master, a new crucifixion or poisoning is sure to happen.
As Osho stated in one of his discourses on other enlightened masters thru the ages:
In our scientific, industrial-age, society (one increasingly removed from nature and producing a spiritual dark-age) we have come to explore everything except the inner, and come to know everything except the knower. Consciousness itself remains a mystery, an unknown realm for scientists peering into every wave-particle-vibration "object" except that of his or her own reality. In a westernized world, our growing estrangement from nature proceeds as enlightenment itself, and new masters of the inner realm, become extinct... the real endangered species.
Caught in an "objective" materialist fundamentalism, our personal links with the realms of vibration (on either side of the portion of spectrum of electro-magnetic vibration we inhabit) and whatever "enlightenment" may portend or represent, seem to have been lost or ignored. Enlightenment, the very spiritual evolution of the species (manifested in the "halo" of the art of many cultures over the centuries) has increasingly become an unknown condition, an impossible realization. It has become an industrial-age "myth" of the ages, and something we have come to associate with knowledge and a pile of facts rather than a mysterious natural process and vibratory happening.
Despite this disturbing trend, I would suggest that not since Socrates, Pythagoras, or Buddha has the world, or western society, seen anything quite like Osho. While other enlightened beings have appeared from time to time, it is often in the nature of many such blessed souls to remain silent after their enlightenment experience - perhaps feeling unable, or unwilling, to express the ineffable or simply not wanting to defile the silence of being. Like a Meher Baba, silence itself becomes the communication and teaching.
Likewise, given their own nature, other blessed beings may become masters of the spoken word - i.e., an Osho or a J. Krishnamurti, etc. Unlike the silent sages, those who speak must invariably come into conflict with the status-quo. To the degree of their success in attracting followers, and supplying any organization for alternative ways of living, they then become "dangerous" to established oligarchies and priestly castes. THIS has been the tragic way of things for centuries.
Given this age-old dynamic, we might conclude that, if there were any form of societal proof of enlightenment, then the actions taken against Osho must surely prove the case. However, we should also understand that Osho's life and commune had always been in danger. For many years fanatic Christians, Moslems, and Catholics worked behind the scenes to censor his talks, television appearances, media exposure, control his movements by getting governments to deny travel visas, and in every way attempt to counter his message and appeal via dis-information campaigns. In the twentieth century yet, the German parliament once passed a law banning Osho from the country... as one who might "corrupt the youth." Shades of Socrates.
Indeed, the "mafia of the soul" cult whose "Polack Pope" and his successor were, and remain to this day, afraid of this unique man, a rare being armed only with an Olympian intelligence, amazing erudition, and great sense of humor. Even the CIA, ever in service to capital and established oligarchies, noted his having the power to "change men's minds." The establishment paranoia was laughable, and the misunderstanding tragic.
We should understand that much of this idiotic paranoia arose in the late-seventies when quite a few of the sons and daughters of the European and American elite begun to wander to India and come back in orange clothes and praising Osho. While a few young, impressionable, runaways in a Jesus cult is one thing, when the best and the brightest (Osho's physician was the youngest man to ever graduate from the Royal Academy of Physicians) begin to drop their own cultural bullshit and experiment with other ways of living and seeing reality, then this becomes a state emergency.
Like the obscene wars against drugs - and its idiotic prohibitions of any natural substance that might cause one to contemplate the ways of the ego and nature of imperial societies - we should realize how, as history illustrates, there is an on-going war on enlightenment, persuasive mystics, and "Original Blessing" apostates like the excommunicated Matthew Fox. The many persecutions by the Catholic Church thru the ages are but the most well-known examples.
Clearly, as Osho's appeal grew, the western establishment went bonkers - i.e., it just had to be hypnosis and a satanic cult. It was then that Osho became the object of government surveillance and the victim of a mindless persecution leading to what may have been, if the facts are ever learned, a government "hit" by a poisoning during his mysterious imprisonment in Karen Silkwood-land.
If this sounds far-fetched, one should read the book by former Reagan advisor Bud McFarland. In his "Special Trust" McFarland reveals how Israeli officials, in a White House meeting, proposed assassinating Ayatolah Khomeini by slowly poisoning his food. Apparently, it looks like Osho got the kind of treatment first proposed for Khomeini. In any case, the American government was successful in first jailing a latter-day Buddha on bogus charges, and then deporting and perhaps poisoning an enlightened man - all to destroy a successful commune and a "dangerous" Buddha on U.S. soil. An epic tragedy it remains to this day.
In my own experience, as well as that of several million others, Osho was/is a rare being and first-rate scientist of the inner man. His insights led him to invent new "dynamic" meditation devices to clear our minds of the crap of centuries - both eastern and western. His daily discourses on many enlightened masters, and lucid critiques of traditional religions, meant that his life was always in danger from various Hindu, Christian, and Muslim sects and their fanatic followers - one of whom once rushed him with a knife during a discourse. Undeterred, his unrelenting vivisection of Popes, priests, and politicians, was but his daily play and way of generating inquiry into un-examined belief systems. His discourses cut thru the bullshit of centuries like a razor.
Unlike so many religious leaders who go out of their way to fulfill your expectations in order to sell you their beliefs, Osho proceeded to destroy our expectations while doing his best to provoke controversy and challenge his followers. Like all true masters, he didn't care about social convention and was absolutely unafraid to stand alone against the world.
His life, and life-style, reflected a thoroughly uncommon courage designed to drive away the mere curious. If you were seeking a safe, unprovocative, and unchallenging master or mentor, he was not your guy. In fact he once stopped speaking in public for several years simply to weed the flock of the merely curious and those who came to see him as a kind of spiritual entertainer, and so were less interested in meditation and relating in silence.
As for my own experience, having read the holy books of nearly all religious traditions, the sutras of many masters, and seen or heard many of the "etceteranandas" of the past forty years, I can simply say this: Osho Rajneesh was a unique being, and a living revelation of the reality of enlightenment, our own spiritual evolution potential, and an avatar of nature's mysterious dimensions.
Arriving at his Poona commune in the late-seventies, I walked down a country lane of walled estates dating from the British era. Behind a beautiful wooden gate out of an Arabian Nights' tale, a lush garden courtyard led to several smaller houses and a large, tent-covered, outdoor meeting hall where women in flowing red gowns were twirling, dervish-style, and dancing in free-form bliss and play. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Coming from the uptight west, the atmosphere of the commune was, in a couple of words, blissful and enticing.
The next morning I attended my first discourse. Due to Osho's back trouble and asmatic condition, his attendants drove him a few hundred yards from a rear house to the side of the open-air meeting hall. When I first saw Osho emerge and float-walk toward his famous discourse chair, I sensed there was something absolutely different, unique, and mysterious about this man - something I had never sensed with any other human being. Later, the experience of his "buddha-field" was raised to yet another power when I was able to get closer to the man - in a more intimate "sannyas" setting. At the time, in the late seventies, as a skeptical thirty-seven year-old seeker, along with my equally skeptical wife and two-year-old daughter, our senses were further heightened in the "darshan" presence of this seemingly ageless being.
In what must sound like alien-encounter terminology, and in terms apt to be readily dismissed by the inexperienced, a certain loss of temporality seems to occur within the reach of the Buddha-field of an enlightened being. Unlike the average person, an arrived being is without ambition, anxiety, or wish to please. Without the motor of ego and insecurity, then time, ego, and urgency disappear into irrelevancy. Apparently, ego-lessness allows the vibration rate of our beings to accelerate, and Osho's un-encumbered, weightless, state produced a different "vibe" to say the least.
In the presence of a rare being blessed by existence the sense of here-now is then raised to the Nth-power. Unquestionably, he was a man with an inexplicably powerful presence and surrounded by a mysterious envelope of timelessness - i.e., a stranger in a strange land.
After our "close encounter" with Osho, my wife and I knew how people must feel who attempt to describe an alien encounter or saucer abductions, etc. Why bother? Who can relate? As many have found out, the risk of derision, job loss, and professional retaliation is great for any "cult" member or alien experiencer... as it was for the disciples of Jesus and others. Indeed, you're only safe and normal as long as you're a true-believing member of a long established, sky-god, cult - preferably one with a long-dead male savior presenting no challenge to the status quo or your own condition.
Much like any alien tale, the natural instinct of those hearing such an "enlightened being" story today is, especially in a western society, to assume the other has lost it or was somehow hypnotized. In this way, the hearer preserves their rationality and objectivity allowing them to go back to their own undisturbing religious views and practices.
Thusly, we can safely deny that such an event, condition, or experience may have happened, is even possible, or is without some alternate "normal" explanation. Indeed, we may even recommend thorazine for all those afflicted with such strange views... perhaps a stay in a mental hospital, or a Jesus fix. In fact, for hundreds of years in the western world, those who experienced the rise of kundalini were often put in insane asylums for the simple reason that people in in the west had no idea of spiritual evolution and its physical precursors.
Again, in the case of any enlightened master or alien being, the "only-son-of-god" crowd may intuit that either of these phenomena spells the end for a cozy, ego-gratifying, only-son-of-god, I'm-saved-and-your-not, belief system. Regardless, for any rational and objective people, what should be of interest here is the very question of enlightenment and its nature, legitimacy, or unreality. Yet even this central metaphysical query is never broached in the western media today. Indeed, in reports about Osho to this day, the dreaded "E" word is never mentioned.
For a man called one of the ten great figures of the century in a poll done by the India Times, the western media has not exhibited any interest in understanding Osho's life, enlightenment, his challenge to our mind-numbing traditions, contribution of novel meditation techniques, or the fact his mother and father, entire family, and about a million others became his friends and disciples.
Enlightened or not, and stripped of any religious context, Osho's legacy of brilliant, extemporaneous, discourses and psychological insights surpasses that of Freud and Jung. All those who missed the man, perhaps for having bought the media line, will be pleasantly surprised when they delve into his spontaneously-spoken discourses with an open mind.
Aside from the message of his being, his immense body of work places him amongst the great minds of mankind. Clearly, he was the greatest "orator" (a word he would hate) I ever heard.
Nevertheless, the western media wanted a Jim Jones-type scandal, not any new revelation. They could not wait to press-fit Osho into this sick mold. Like the shameful conduct of the media in the McMartin child-molestation case, and all the ruling-class crime coverups, editors had a ready-made story, the facts be damned.
As for the open-minded journalists who made their way to Poona, many found that to write anything favorable about the man was to see their material unpublished or worse. To become a sannyassin was to lose your job, and exactly such "objective" professional discrimination continues to this very day.
As for encountering enlightenment, we might here appreciate a common process at work in these matters. For example, I once heard Carl Jung, the famous psychologist, was taken with Ramana Maharshi - an enlightened master living in southern India during the first half of the last century and the "Bhagwan" of his day. As is often the case with the famous and well-positioned in society, they become prisoners of their own egos, public image, and position. Thus, the already famous and well-positioned have a far greater fear of ever going to a "master" - much less of becoming a disciple and risking ridicule and loss of position and prestige.
As the story goes, Jung got within some fifty miles of Ramana's commune and turned around, apparently realizing any surrender of his ego and respectability might be just too big a sacrifice. Better to keep a distance, and write a letter perhaps.
In this fashion, and like many others, even a brilliant man like Jung then missed their chance for an encounter with an enlightened being - all for reasons of their own ego, vanity, and professional security. Likewise, the journalist nay-sayer is always safe and secure in denial and keeping a distance. As a result of this egoic process, and while Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. wait for a cosmic duplicate of their savior to re-appear, we go on missing the blessed ones of our own time - i.e., a Ramana Maharshi, J. Khrishnamurti, Osho or other beings touched by existence.
Unfortunately, those who have only heard of Osho thru distorted media and newspaper reports, and so missed the opportunity to encounter him, hear his discourses or participate in his mystery school, have missed a great opportunity. He was indeed Zorba the Buddha. For the many who had the good fortune to experience his presence, soaring intellect, and wit they are forever changed, expanded, liberated, and grateful for the encounter. He was the gentlest of flowers and a giant among geniuses. May we be so blessed again.
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