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Thread: 'bout 20 years ago today

  1. #1
    Regular Member den4's Avatar
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    Post 'bout 20 years ago today



    It wasn’t Sgt Pepper’s Band that came here to play,
    This group was going in and out of style,
    But the cultists all had their smiles…
    Lemme reintroduce to you, the one and only terror group
    Led by guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh….

    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/op...ICLE_ID=682864

    reminds me of the Aum Shinrikyo of ’95 in the Tokyo Subways, just before they became Aleph….their new name….
    homegrown terrorists….based upon this report, I think the Aum copied the Rajneeshees, since their method of attack was very similar….

    Some other info a friend sent me regarding the former group in Oregon:
    II. History
    The history of Osho, or Rajneeshism as it was formerly known, is a long and sordid one. The guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was a fascinating and evidently rather mesmerizing and convincing man, whose beliefs changed several times during his life. He started out founding an ashram, or residential learning center or commune, in Poona, India, with a few Indian sannyasins: disciples or renunciates. He eventually encountered opposition and tension with the larger Indian society and fled to the U.S. After a brief layover in New Jersey, he started up a new ashram on a ranch in Oregon with many of his old followers. The Rajneeshee were met with suspicion from the very beginning and the ensuing barage of controversy, legal action, and confusion led to the deportation of Bhagwan in 1985.
    Rajneesh was born and grew up in Kuchwada in central India; he was a well-read youth but went through a period of rebellion upon the death of his grandfather. Then the death of his childhood girlfriend in 1947 reportedly sent him into deep depression and malaise which culminated in his "enlightenment" (Carter: 42). He graduated from high school in 1951 and went on to study philosophy at college in Jabalpur but was thrown out halfway through (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77). Attending another college, he went through somewhat of a "nervous breakdown." He dealt with this by running and meditating a great deal.
    Twenty years later he reported that the end of this period was when he became enlightened, after meditating one night in a Jabalpur garden under a maulshree tree (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77).
    He graduated from college in 1955 with an M.A. in philosophy, and went to teach at the Raipur Sanskrit College in 1957. Three years later he was appointed assistant professor at the University of Jabalpur.
    In 1960 Rajneesh began to give public lectures during which he would defend controversial views on taboo and sensitive subjects such as Ghandi, socialism, and orthodox Hinduism, just to have something to argue, not necessarily because he believed the position he defended (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77). He urged that India needed the advancements and technology of modern society.
    In 1968 he spoke about the primal divine energy of sex and that sexual feelings should not be repressed (Carter: 44). Those impressed most by his message, rich Bombay businessmen, were hosted at meditation camps along with their families, hosted by Rajneesh starting in 1964 (Carter: 44). He took his first real disciple, a woman who came to be known as Ma Yoga Laxmi, from one of these families; she became his secretary in 1970 and managed all of his practical matters (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77).
    Rajneesh's style began to change as he made the transition from a lecturing philosopher to a religious man teaching spiritual disciples. The spiritual marketplace in India is very competitive and Rajneesh began setting up "camps" to test-market, in a way, new "devices" to deliver the "product"; that is, the promise of "enlightenment." These devices would serve a market not yet tapped by other systems; an appealing aspect of Bhagwan's devices was that they were drawn from both the East and West (Carter: 45).
    What arose from this was a new method called "dynamic meditation," introduced in spring 1970. In this practice worshippers would begin by jumping around and shouting whatever popped into their minds; then they would dance around quietly for a few minutes and induce hyperventilation and "watch their thoughts go" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78).
    That fall he founded the Neo-Sannyas International Movement and initiated a few disciples in the first steps to spiritually awaken the world. The next year he changed his name to "Bhagwan," calling himself Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and soon told of his enlightenment twenty years earlier (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78). Rajneesh gained many young Western followers in the following years and gave them special attention. He sent them home to set up Rajneeshee centers.
    Rajneesh liked the different way Westerners thought as opposed to Indians. Indians were searching for material wealth to supplement their lives whereas Westerners had already experienced wordly prosperity and had realized it was not enough to sustain their quest for spiritual fulfillment (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78). The contribution of his Western follower extended to integrating many different elements to the "therapies" of Bhagwan, including primal-scream and encounter-group therapies, Gestalt, bioenergetics, and rolfing" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78).
    In 1973 Bhagwan sent out a team of sannyasin to an isolated, primitive site at Kailash and told them to build a commune, experimenting with control techniques and giving different "disciplines" to several disciples. The leader of the group was directed to "test" the group by decreasing privileges and increasing workloads, and then all of a sudden, without reason, the tests were reversed. From the group who stayed, Bhagwan picked those who would serve as trusted staff -- at Poona and later in Oregon (Carter 53).
    In 1974 Laxmi established the Rajneesh Foundation and moved Rajneesh and his disciples to the affluent hillside city of Poona with it's healthier climate. Rajneesh no longer saw his disciples on an individual basis, but only twice a day in a group, lecturing or answering questions (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78).
    Rajneesh soon became known for his lectures and by 1976 he had become one of the main stopping points on the guru circuit travelled by many curious Westerners. They came in great numbers to visit the ashram, and many stayed; by the end of their stay in Poona the ashram housed 600 followers (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 80).
    The therapies become more diverse and experimental as time went on, and in some cases came to involve physical violence and sexual aggression. By 1979, the ashram was decidedly and dominantly peopled by Westerners, and it was encountering problems with the surrounding society in Poona. The public displays of affection, smuggling of drugs by disciples, prostitution by some of the female disciples in Bombay, Rajneesh himself, and rumors of the therapies were all issues facing the ashram (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 85).
    The "market of seekers" at this time was starting to dry up, and attempts to diversify by the Rajneeshee met resistance of differing kinds as each attempt impinged on other systems (Carter: 61). In correlation with the changing face of the ashram, Rajneesh's lectures were changing as well, becoming less and less structured and focused. Because the disciples fed his lack of focus and facilitated his random collections of anecdotes and crude jokes as lectures, the ashram become more extreme under the influence of disorder. Public disapproval with the ashram was widespread, and in 1980 an attempted assault on Rajneesh was committed by a young Hindu (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 85).
    Laxmi attempted several times to move the ashram to a more spacious location, but all her efforts were thwarted by an unsympathetic and suspicious government. With hardly any advanced warning or word to anyone, Rajneesh up and left the country for the U.S. at the end of May 1981 with eighteen disciples.
    Suspicion surrounded Rajneesh's entry into the U.S., especially when he applied for permanent residency six months later. His original claim of needing medical treatment became moot as his condition improved drastically upon arrival in the States. The I.N.S. in fact contended that Rajneesh had a preconceived intent to stay in the country and that false information had been offered in Rajneesh's application (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 86).
    Laxmi's secretary position was taken over by another disciple named Sheela, who first suggested that Bhagwan move to the U.S. Rajneesh's first residence in the U.S. was a castle chosen by Sheela and her Chidvilas Center in Montclair, NJ. (Carter 70). Soon after they arrived in the U.S., the search continued for a site for the new commune. After a complicated set of transactions, the 65,000 acre Big Muddy Ranch in eastern Oregon was obtained (Carter 133).
    Rajneesh had in mind for the new commune a more truly communal atmosphere where men and women would only stay together as long as they loved each other and the institution of marriage was de-emphasized. Children would not know who their fathers were and would belong to everyone. Women would run the commune, and there would be no churches, rituals, or orthodoxies (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 88).
    According to Frances Fitzgerald writing in The New Yorker, when she visited the commune in May of 1983, the Westerners in the commune were having trouble eliminating the dogmatic and ritualistic aspects of their lives, and in an effort to do so, were making the spontaneity and playfulness they desired an insititution itself. The number of rules kept growing (concerning everything from a mandatory joke at the beginning of every meeting to the color of clothes one must wear), as was the population of sannyasins in the commune (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 88-89).
    Lewis Carter visited the commune in 1984 with a team of sociologists and remarked that the everyday life of the sannyasin was in fact quite "'authoritarian' and that it displayed a preoccupation with total control... regimented and regulated even in minutiae" (Carter 31). Carter also notes that "the relationships were more similar in many respects to those in a migrant labor camp or remote contruction site than to what the American team members viewed as a 'residential community'" (Carter 31). Carter thinks that "the authoritarian structure is unavoidable for sannyasin organizations. Without shared norms or a written code, an ideaology of right or wrong, or a body of law however imperfectly honored in practice, [he] suspects that the only remaining way to coordinate large groups is through the authoritarian principle of charismatic leadership" (Carter 265).
    By this time the focus of the community was making money, and the therapies had changed, veering away from experimentation with sex and consciousness. Traditionally church-like institutions were being initiated in the commune, such as group chanting to start off and end the day, an indexing of the talks and lectures of Rajneesh, and the naming of acharyas, or teachers (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 90).
    In July of 1983 the commune published a booklet defining "Rajneeshism." It defined Rajneesh worship as "meditation and the meditative attitude in work and play; the message of Rajneeshism was contained in the lectures of the guru; and Rajneeshee education was a lifelong process of learning self-awareness" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 90). It contained the text of chants, named religious holidays, and outlined religious rituals to be used in circumstances of birth, marriage, death, and caring for the sick. It clarified the organization of the church, and stated that "the formation of a doctrine and an organization around Rajneesh was inevitable, and that since this was the case, it was far better that it should be done while the Master was alive and could give spiritual direction to his followers" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 91).
    Life in the commune was dominated by a pressure to work and an even greater pressure to give money. Most residents had little contact with outsiders and this contributed to great tension between the Rajneshee and their neighbors by the fall of 1983 (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 96).
    By that fall there were 800 disciples living in the Oregon commune. The hostilities between the commune and the surrounding community was due in part to the overtaking of a small neighboring town called Antelope by the Rajneeshee. Starting in 1981 just after the Rajneeshee had moved onto the ranch, the Rajneeshee had slowly but surely taken over the town, first by erecting several housing units to supplement their own and asking for permission to build a large office facility there, and then by blatantly trying to build all of their structures there, in an attempt to appeal to 1000 Friends of Oregon, an environmental group looking out for land-use laws (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 83). 1000 Friends wanted the Rajneeshee to build all their structures not for use with agriculture in Antelope; in retaliation, the Antelope city council refused to give them building permits on the grounds that there was not enough water to support them. Eventually the council held a vote to disincorporate the city so that they could save the town from the development of the Rajneeshee (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 83).
    The Rajneeshee won, but many outstanding lawsuits kept everyone's plans in limbo. Mediators were brought in to settle all the remaining issues; the Rajneeshee were permitted to develop their current properties but were not allowed to conduct any future development. However, the agreement did not last long and eventually the Rajneeshee were able to take over the city council and run out most of the remaining older residents of the town (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 84). They slowly took over the school board and the school itself in Antelope and were becoming more and more infamous in Oregon politics.
    In December 1982, the INS denied Rajneesh permanent-resident status and also denied him classification as a religious worker. These orders were suspected, although not officially to have been issued in response to concerns of Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield who was concerned that the Rajneesh were a threat to the way of life for Antelope and to public safety (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 89).
    These two separate orders were flawed in several ways, however, and were withdrawn to give the Rajneeshee time to rebut them. After a year, the INS gave Rajneesh his priority classification card but not his green card (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 89). The political dimension of the land-use issue emerged because of the vagueness of the laws concerning the incorporation of a city on agricultural land, which is what the Rajneeshee wanted to do. By spring 1983, representatives from Rajneeshpuram went to the state legislature and proposed that they would withdraw from Antelope if the legislature would incorporate Rajneeshpuram. The offer was denied (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 89).
    In July the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission made a set of temporary rules, to be effective retroactively to August of 1981 (Rajneeshpuram was incorporated by the Wasco County legislature in November 1981), that stated that a county had to come to the Commission before incorporating a city.
    More problems arose for the Rajneeshee as Oregon Attorney General David Frohnmayer issued a statement in October of 1983 that "the municipal status of Rajneeshpuram violated the religious-establishment clause in both the state and federal Constitutions" (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 90). From his point of view, it mattered not that religious people were running the government, but that the city was owned and controlled by a church. Two new rulings also came down by a Wasco County Circuit Court that held up money that county and state authorities had already approved for the Rajneeshee school, and also prohibited construction at Rajneeshpuram until the incorporation issue was settled. While the school issue was being worked out, Rajneeshee lawyers were building a case against the county for bigotry (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 90).
    Tensions were building very high in response to all the legal actions and several highly-publicized incidents including inflammatory television appearances by Sheela and the leaking of minutes from two coordinators' meetings. By winter 1983-84, many felt that a resolution would have to take place, seeing as how there were many forces aligning against them and they seemed set on an antagonistic path (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 96).
    In March of 1984, Bhagwan announced that AIDS would terrorize the earth, and that only those living in the Rajneeshee commune would be saved because preventitive measures would be enacted; sannyasins would stop sex or maintain strictly monogamous relationships.
    By the fall of 1984, sannyasins had acquired a great arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, rifles, and handguns. The commune in Oregon began alienating their European counterparts by requiring contributions and moving their facilities to larger communes in big cities. The number of new people in these communes dropped off quite a bit as did gifts to the Rajneesh Foundation International and the commune (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 96).
    The Master's Day Festival that year was disappointing in bringing large numbers of people to the commune and every individual in the U.S. who had ever been a sannyasin or stayed at the commune was invited to come back and stay for greatly reduced rates. When not many people took them up on the offer, the Rajneeshee opened up the commune to almost 2000 homeless people from many major cities (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 98). Many Oregonians guessed that this was done in an effort to throw the upcoming Wasco County elections in the way of the Rajneeshee and indeed it appeared that this might be the case. The Rajneeshee however ended up being outnumbered, and for the most part the homeless people ended up leaving on their own; outsiders estimated that there were 200 or fewer left on the ranch after the elections (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 100).
    In November U.S. Representative James Weaver and a few of his colleagues held hearings on the use of federal land in and around the commune by the Rajneeshee; local representatives introduced bills aimed at the Rajneeshee and started a petition to repeal the charter of Rajneesh City; and in March of 1985, Verne Duncan, state superintendant of schools, threatening to cut off state aid to the Rajneeshee school because it "put public-school children to work in religious organizations" (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 103). Law suits were rampant, concerning supposedly discriminatory investigations of the Rajneeshee, and in October Bhagwan began his public lectures again.
    An announcement was made in September that Sheela and a few other leaders had left the commune for Europe. Bhagwan blamed the consort for almost all of the alleged incidents that people had suspected the Rajneeshee had been involved in -- the poisoning of his doctor and dentist and the Jefferson County district attorney, the mismanagement of commune funds, the theft and arson of the Wasco County planning office, the bugging of rooms and telephones within the commune, and many other offenses (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 108).
    Bhagwan pledged that things would be much different at the ranch now than they had been under Sheela's regime. For example, people could talk to their families and other outsiders again, and they would give Antelope back to its owners. This announcement brought much attention to the commune once more as journalists came in droves and many investigations were started to get to the bottom of Bhagwan's claims about Sheela.
    It turned out that the claims he made were not all true. In fact, Bhagwan had replaced all the officers who fled before they even left the country. So things were not quite as dire as they might have seemed. Getting Rajneesh to truly cooperate with the investigations and speak in any kind of detail proved to be a difficult task.
    At the end of September, Rajneesh announced that Rajneeshism had been nothing more than an invention of Sheela's, and that he had never condoned the notion of himself as religious leader. He encouraged them to burn the Rajneeshism booklets and "sunset-colored clothes" the sannyasins were constantly required to wear. The clothes quickly went back on after he displayed disappointment at the sannyasins so easily abandoning symbols of association with him.
    He declared the dropping of a law suit against state and county officials and the changing of the name of Rajneesh to Antelope (to which it had been changed in 1983) in hopes that his opponents might return the favor and drop some of their suits against the commune (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 110). The investigations continued. Even though Sheela had destroyed a lot of information, evidence was building up and on October 23rd a federal grand jury issued on behalf of the INS a "thirty-five count indictment charging the guru, Sheela, and six other disciples with a conspiracy to evade the immigration laws" (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 110).
    Word was leaked to Rajneesh however and he attempted to flee from authorities, but his jet was intercepted in Charlotte, NC where he was apprehended and sent to jail. His lawyers contended that he couldn't stay in jail because of his health, but he seemed to be doing just fine and was eventually returned to Portland (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 111). He ended up pleading guilty to making false statements to immigration in 1981 and concealing his intent to remain in the U.S. He was given a ten-year suspended prison term, agreed to pay $400,000 in fines and prosecution costs, to leave the country in five days, and to not come back without written consent from the U.S. Attorney General within five years (Carter: 237).
    Sheela was subsequently arrested in Germany and eventually indicted on attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree assault, the poisoning of two county commissioners, the burglary and arson at the Wasco County Planning Department, and wiretapping charges (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 112). She was fined $469,353 (including restitution charges for an incident of arson), ordered to give up her permanent resident status in the U.S., and given multiple concurrent prison terms. She served 2.5 years of her sentences in a federal medium security prison and was released on good behavior (Carter: 237).
    Sheela, as it turned out, had been instrumental in implementing any number of subversive activities including drugging and poisoning those who she thought knew too much about illegal activities or who wanted to leave the commune, tapping phone lines including Bhagwan's own. Bhagwan was not, however, an innocent bystander, as he was well aware of many of her activities and even advised and instructed her in several of her efforts (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 113).
    There is not much published information concerning Bhagwan's exodus from the U.S. and eventual death in 1990. After having been expelled from the U.S., Bhagwan left for Manali, India in the Himalayas, 250 miles north of New Delhi. He was received coolly by the Indian public and officials (Oregonian 2M). The commune continued operations in Oregon, but Rajneesh businesses and disciples found it difficult to deal with local banks. After the former mayor of Rajneeshpuram, Krishna Deva, aka David Berry Knapp, plead guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, the Rajneeshees gave up the commune, and efforts were quickly made to sell off all the property and evacuate most of the residents as soon as possible (Oregonian 2M).
    Bhagwan returned to the original ashram in Poona in January of 1987 (Carter). He subsequently engaged in a search to try and re-establish some sort of community but was met with hostility and opposition almost everywhere he went. He ended up in Uruguay where he was allowed to stay, but only if he did not "indulge in public criticism" and the sannyasin could not join him (Carter). "He abandoned the name of Rajneesh and adopted "Osho." Osho was derived from the expression "oceanic experience" by William James. He died in Poona in 1990. Various rumors spread that he died of AIDS, was poisoned, or had heart failure" (religioustolerance.org).
    The followers of Rajneesh are currently known as Osho, and their leader is Swami Prem Jayesh, aka Michael William O'Byrne. There are about 20 active meditation centers around the world, and Rajneesh is still influential through his writings. (religioustolerance.org)
    I know nothing...except the answer is 42. You know more than I do.

  2. #2
    Mike Cash
    Guest


    Double spacing between paragraphs would make that oh-so-much-more reader friendly.

  3. #3
    The Funky Homosapien. King of Tokyo's Avatar
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    Heh.. I do believe that is correct.. I didn't even attempt to read that. Partly because It's so large and cluttered together, and partly because the topic doesn't spark my interest.. Heh. Spraying poison on salad eh.. Atleast (From how much I read) Nobody died.

    America, land of opportunity, mirages and camouflages - more than usually
    Speakin loudly, sayin nothin, you confusin me, you losin me
    Your game is twisted, want me enlisted - in your usary
    Foolishly, most men join the ranks cluelessly
    Buffoonishly accept the deception, believe the perception

  4. #4
    Cat lover Miss_apollo7's Avatar
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    Salmonella poisoning is a serious thing...a friend of mine had it and was hospitalised for a few days....

    700 people getting sick by the salad bar in Dallas....well, yes this is news I didn't know about.

    Again, I must agree with the others here that the first post I did not read as it needed paragraphing, paragraphing, and the ENTER-button is quite good too when writing long essays, posts etc..

    Hence, I only read the link.

  5. #5
    Chukchi Salmon
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    Wink back by popular demand; this time with paragraphing, hehe

    Now you can read the whole story; let's talk about it !
    Quote Originally Posted by den4
    It wasn't Sgt Pepper't Band that came here to play. This group was going in and out of style, but the cultists all had their smiles. Lemme reintroduce to you, the one and only terror group led by guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

    http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/op...ICLE_ID=682864

    Reminds me of the Aum Shinrikyo of E5 in the Tokyo Subways, just before they became AlephEtheir new name.

    Homegrown terrorists' based upon this report, I think the Aum copied the Rajneeshees, since their method of attack was very similar.

    Some other info a friend sent me regarding the former group in Oregon:
    II. History

    The history of Osho, or Rajneeshism as it was formerly known, is a long and sordid one. The guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was a fascinating and evidently rather mesmerizing and convincing man, whose beliefs changed several times during his life. He started out founding an ashram, or residential learning center or commune, in Poona, India, with a few Indian sannyasins: disciples or renunciates. He eventually encountered opposition and tension with the larger Indian society and fled to the U.S. After a brief layover in New Jersey, he started up a new ashram on a ranch in Oregon with many of his old followers. The Rajneeshee were met with suspicion from the very beginning and the ensuing barage of controversy, legal action, and confusion led to the deportation of Bhagwan in 1985.

    Rajneesh was born and grew up in Kuchwada in central India; he was a well-read youth but went through a period of rebellion upon the death of his grandfather. Then the death of his childhood girlfriend in 1947 reportedly sent him into deep depression and malaise which culminated in his "enlightenment" (Carter: 42). He graduated from high school in 1951 and went on to study philosophy at college in Jabalpur but was thrown out halfway through (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77). Attending another college, he went through somewhat of a "nervous breakdown." He dealt with this by running and meditating a great deal.

    Twenty years later he reported that the end of this period was when he became enlightened, after meditating one night in a Jabalpur garden under a maulshree tree (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77).

    He graduated from college in 1955 with an M.A. in philosophy, and went to teach at the Raipur Sanskrit College in 1957. Three years later he was appointed assistant professor at the University of Jabalpur.

    In 1960 Rajneesh began to give public lectures during which he would defend controversial views on taboo and sensitive subjects such as Ghandi, socialism, and orthodox Hinduism, just to have something to argue, not necessarily because he believed the position he defended (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77). He urged that India needed the advancements and technology of modern society.

    In 1968 he spoke about the primal divine energy of sex and that sexual feelings should not be repressed (Carter: 44). Those impressed most by his message, rich Bombay businessmen, were hosted at meditation camps along with their families, hosted by Rajneesh starting in 1964 (Carter: 44). He took his first real disciple, a woman who came to be known as Ma Yoga Laxmi, from one of these families; she became his secretary in 1970 and managed all of his practical matters (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 77).

    Rajneesh's style began to change as he made the transition from a lecturing philosopher to a religious man teaching spiritual disciples. The spiritual marketplace in India is very competitive and Rajneesh began setting up "camps" to test-market, in a way, new "devices" to deliver the "product"; that is, the promise of "enlightenment." These devices would serve a market not yet tapped by other systems; an appealing aspect of Bhagwan's devices was that they were drawn from both the East and West (Carter: 45).

    What arose from this was a new method called "dynamic meditation," introduced in spring 1970. In this practice worshippers would begin by jumping around and shouting whatever popped into their minds; then they would dance around quietly for a few minutes and induce hyperventilation and "watch their thoughts go" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78).

    That fall he founded the Neo-Sannyas International Movement and initiated a few disciples in the first steps to spiritually awaken the world. The next year he changed his name to "Bhagwan," calling himself Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and soon told of his enlightenment twenty years earlier (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78). Rajneesh gained many young Western followers in the following years and gave them special attention. He sent them home to set up Rajneeshee centers.

    Rajneesh liked the different way Westerners thought as opposed to Indians. Indians were searching for material wealth to supplement their lives whereas Westerners had already experienced wordly prosperity and had realized it was not enough to sustain their quest for spiritual fulfillment (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78). The contribution of his Western follower extended to integrating many different elements to the "therapies" of Bhagwan, including primal-scream and encounter-group therapies, Gestalt, bioenergetics, and rolfing" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78).

    In 1973 Bhagwan sent out a team of sannyasin to an isolated, primitive site at Kailash and told them to build a commune, experimenting with control techniques and giving different "disciplines" to several disciples. The leader of the group was directed to "test" the group by decreasing privileges and increasing workloads, and then all of a sudden, without reason, the tests were reversed. From the group who stayed, Bhagwan picked those who would serve as trusted staff -- at Poona and later in Oregon (Carter 53).

    In 1974 Laxmi established the Rajneesh Foundation and moved Rajneesh and his disciples to the affluent hillside city of Poona with it's healthier climate. Rajneesh no longer saw his disciples on an individual basis, but only twice a day in a group, lecturing or answering questions (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 78).

    Rajneesh soon became known for his lectures and by 1976 he had become one of the main stopping points on the guru circuit travelled by many curious Westerners. They came in great numbers to visit the ashram, and many stayed; by the end of their stay in Poona the ashram housed 600 followers (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 80).

    The therapies become more diverse and experimental as time went on, and in some cases came to involve physical violence and sexual aggression. By 1979, the ashram was decidedly and dominantly peopled by Westerners, and it was encountering problems with the surrounding society in Poona. The public displays of affection, smuggling of drugs by disciples, prostitution by some of the female disciples in Bombay, Rajneesh himself, and rumors of the therapies were all issues facing the ashram (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 85).

    The "market of seekers" at this time was starting to dry up, and attempts to diversify by the Rajneeshee met resistance of differing kinds as each attempt impinged on other systems (Carter: 61). In correlation with the changing face of the ashram, Rajneesh's lectures were changing as well, becoming less and less structured and focused. Because the disciples fed his lack of focus and facilitated his random collections of anecdotes and crude jokes as lectures, the ashram become more extreme under the influence of disorder. Public disapproval with the ashram was widespread, and in 1980 an attempted assault on Rajneesh was committed by a young Hindu (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 85).

    Laxmi attempted several times to move the ashram to a more spacious location, but all her efforts were thwarted by an unsympathetic and suspicious government. With hardly any advanced warning or word to anyone, Rajneesh up and left the country for the U.S. at the end of May 1981 with eighteen disciples.

    Suspicion surrounded Rajneesh's entry into the U.S., especially when he applied for permanent residency six months later. His original claim of needing medical treatment became moot as his condition improved drastically upon arrival in the States. The I.N.S. in fact contended that Rajneesh had a preconceived intent to stay in the country and that false information had been offered in Rajneesh's application (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 86).

    Laxmi's secretary position was taken over by another disciple named Sheela, who first suggested that Bhagwan move to the U.S. Rajneesh's first residence in the U.S. was a castle chosen by Sheela and her Chidvilas Center in Montclair, NJ. (Carter 70). Soon after they arrived in the U.S., the search continued for a site for the new commune. After a complicated set of transactions, the 65,000 acre Big Muddy Ranch in eastern Oregon was obtained (Carter 133).

    Rajneesh had in mind for the new commune a more truly communal atmosphere where men and women would only stay together as long as they loved each other and the institution of marriage was de-emphasized. Children would not know who their fathers were and would belong to everyone. Women would run the commune, and there would be no churches, rituals, or orthodoxies (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 88).

    According to Frances Fitzgerald writing in The New Yorker, when she visited the commune in May of 1983, the Westerners in the commune were having trouble eliminating the dogmatic and ritualistic aspects of their lives, and in an effort to do so, were making the spontaneity and playfulness they desired an insititution itself. The number of rules kept growing (concerning everything from a mandatory joke at the beginning of every meeting to the color of clothes one must wear), as was the population of sannyasins in the commune (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 88-89).

    Lewis Carter visited the commune in 1984 with a team of sociologists and remarked that the everyday life of the sannyasin was in fact quite "'authoritarian' and that it displayed a preoccupation with total control... regimented and regulated even in minutiae" (Carter 31). Carter also notes that "the relationships were more similar in many respects to those in a migrant labor camp or remote contruction site than to what the American team members viewed as a 'residential community'" (Carter 31). Carter thinks that "the authoritarian structure is unavoidable for sannyasin organizations. Without shared norms or a written code, an ideaology of right or wrong, or a body of law however imperfectly honored in practice, [he] suspects that the only remaining way to coordinate large groups is through the authoritarian principle of charismatic leadership" (Carter 265).

    By this time the focus of the community was making money, and the therapies had changed, veering away from experimentation with sex and consciousness. Traditionally church-like institutions were being initiated in the commune, such as group chanting to start off and end the day, an indexing of the talks and lectures of Rajneesh, and the naming of acharyas, or teachers (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 90).

    In July of 1983 the commune published a booklet defining "Rajneeshism." It defined Rajneesh worship as "meditation and the meditative attitude in work and play; the message of Rajneeshism was contained in the lectures of the guru; and Rajneeshee education was a lifelong process of learning self-awareness" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 90). It contained the text of chants, named religious holidays, and outlined religious rituals to be used in circumstances of birth, marriage, death, and caring for the sick. It clarified the organization of the church, and stated that "the formation of a doctrine and an organization around Rajneesh was inevitable, and that since this was the case, it was far better that it should be done while the Master was alive and could give spiritual direction to his followers" (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 91).

    Life in the commune was dominated by a pressure to work and an even greater pressure to give money. Most residents had little contact with outsiders and this contributed to great tension between the Rajneshee and their neighbors by the fall of 1983 (Fitzgerald, 1986a: 96).

    By that fall there were 800 disciples living in the Oregon commune. The hostilities between the commune and the surrounding community was due in part to the overtaking of a small neighboring town called Antelope by the Rajneeshee. Starting in 1981 just after the Rajneeshee had moved onto the ranch, the Rajneeshee had slowly but surely taken over the town, first by erecting several housing units to supplement their own and asking for permission to build a large office facility there, and then by blatantly trying to build all of their structures there, in an attempt to appeal to 1000 Friends of Oregon, an environmental group looking out for land-use laws (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 83).

    1000 Friends wanted the Rajneeshee to build all their structures not for use with agriculture in Antelope; in retaliation, the Antelope city council refused to give them building permits on the grounds that there was not enough water to support them. Eventually the council held a vote to disincorporate the city so that they could save the town from the development of the Rajneeshee (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 83).

    The Rajneeshee won, but many outstanding lawsuits kept everyone's plans in limbo. Mediators were brought in to settle all the remaining issues; the Rajneeshee were permitted to develop their current properties but were not allowed to conduct any future development. However, the agreement did not last long and eventually the Rajneeshee were able to take over the city council and run out most of the remaining older residents of the town (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 84). They slowly took over the school board and the school itself in Antelope and were becoming more and more infamous in Oregon politics.

    In December 1982, the INS denied Rajneesh permanent-resident status and also denied him classification as a religious worker. These orders were suspected, although not officially to have been issued in response to concerns of Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield who was concerned that the Rajneesh were a threat to the way of life for Antelope and to public safety (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 89).

    These two separate orders were flawed in several ways, however, and were withdrawn to give the Rajneeshee time to rebut them. After a year, the INS gave Rajneesh his priority classification card but not his green card (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 89). The political dimension of the land-use issue emerged because of the vagueness of the laws concerning the incorporation of a city on agricultural land, which is what the Rajneeshee wanted to do. By spring 1983, representatives from Rajneeshpuram went to the state legislature and proposed that they would withdraw from Antelope if the legislature would incorporate Rajneeshpuram. The offer was denied (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 89).

    In July the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission made a set of temporary rules, to be effective retroactively to August of 1981 (Rajneeshpuram was incorporated by the Wasco County legislature in November 1981), that stated that a county had to come to the Commission before incorporating a city.

    More problems arose for the Rajneeshee as Oregon Attorney General David Frohnmayer issued a statement in October of 1983 that "the municipal status of Rajneeshpuram violated the religious-establishment clause in both the state and federal Constitutions" (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 90). From his point of view, it mattered not that religious people were running the government, but that the city was owned and controlled by a church. Two new rulings also came down by a Wasco County Circuit Court that held up money that county and state authorities had already approved for the Rajneeshee school, and also prohibited construction at Rajneeshpuram until the incorporation issue was settled. While the school issue was being worked out, Rajneeshee lawyers were building a case against the county for bigotry (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 90).

    Tensions were building very high in response to all the legal actions and several highly-publicized incidents including inflammatory television appearances by Sheela and the leaking of minutes from two coordinators' meetings. By winter 1983-84, many felt that a resolution would have to take place, seeing as how there were many forces aligning against them and they seemed set on an antagonistic path (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 96).

    In March of 1984, Bhagwan announced that AIDS would terrorize the earth, and that only those living in the Rajneeshee commune would be saved because preventitive measures would be enacted; sannyasins would stop sex or maintain strictly monogamous relationships.

    By the fall of 1984, sannyasins had acquired a great arsenal of semi-automatic weapons, rifles, and handguns. The commune in Oregon began alienating their European counterparts by requiring contributions and moving their facilities to larger communes in big cities. The number of new people in these communes dropped off quite a bit as did gifts to the Rajneesh Foundation International and the commune (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 96).

    The Master's Day Festival that year was disappointing in bringing large numbers of people to the commune and every individual in the U.S. who had ever been a sannyasin or stayed at the commune was invited to come back and stay for greatly reduced rates. When not many people took them up on the offer, the Rajneeshee opened up the commune to almost 2000 homeless people from many major cities (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 98). Many Oregonians guessed that this was done in an effort to throw the upcoming Wasco County elections in the way of the Rajneeshee and indeed it appeared that this might be the case. The Rajneeshee however ended up being outnumbered, and for the most part the homeless people ended up leaving on their own; outsiders estimated that there were 200 or fewer left on the ranch after the elections (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 100).

    In November U.S. Representative James Weaver and a few of his colleagues held hearings on the use of federal land in and around the commune by the Rajneeshee; local representatives introduced bills aimed at the Rajneeshee and started a petition to repeal the charter of Rajneesh City; and in March of 1985, Verne Duncan, state superintendant of schools, threatening to cut off state aid to the Rajneeshee school because it "put public-school children to work in religious organizations" (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 103). Law suits were rampant, concerning supposedly discriminatory investigations of the Rajneeshee, and in October Bhagwan began his public lectures again.

    An announcement was made in September that Sheela and a few other leaders had left the commune for Europe. Bhagwan blamed the consort for almost all of the alleged incidents that people had suspected the Rajneeshee had been involved in -- the poisoning of his doctor and dentist and the Jefferson County district attorney, the mismanagement of commune funds, the theft and arson of the Wasco County planning office, the bugging of rooms and telephones within the commune, and many other offenses (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 108).

    Bhagwan pledged that things would be much different at the ranch now than they had been under Sheela's regime. For example, people could talk to their families and other outsiders again, and they would give Antelope back to its owners. This announcement brought much attention to the commune once more as journalists came in droves and many investigations were started to get to the bottom of Bhagwan's claims about Sheela.

    It turned out that the claims he made were not all true. In fact, Bhagwan had replaced all the officers who fled before they even left the country. So things were not quite as dire as they might have seemed. Getting Rajneesh to truly cooperate with the investigations and speak in any kind of detail proved to be a difficult task.

    At the end of September, Rajneesh announced that Rajneeshism had been nothing more than an invention of Sheela's, and that he had never condoned the notion of himself as religious leader. He encouraged them to burn the Rajneeshism booklets and "sunset-colored clothes" the sannyasins were constantly required to wear. The clothes quickly went back on after he displayed disappointment at the sannyasins so easily abandoning symbols of association with him.

    He declared the dropping of a law suit against state and county officials and the changing of the name of Rajneesh to Antelope (to which it had been changed in 1983) in hopes that his opponents might return the favor and drop some of their suits against the commune (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 110). The investigations continued. Even though Sheela had destroyed a lot of information, evidence was building up and on October 23rd a federal grand jury issued on behalf of the INS a "thirty-five count indictment charging the guru, Sheela, and six other disciples with a conspiracy to evade the immigration laws" (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 110).

    Word was leaked to Rajneesh however and he attempted to flee from authorities, but his jet was intercepted in Charlotte, NC where he was apprehended and sent to jail. His lawyers contended that he couldn't stay in jail because of his health, but he seemed to be doing just fine and was eventually returned to Portland (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 111).

    He ended up pleading guilty to making false statements to immigration in 1981 and concealing his intent to remain in the U.S. He was given a ten-year suspended prison term, agreed to pay $400,000 in fines and prosecution costs, to leave the country in five days, and to not come back without written consent from the U.S. Attorney General within five years (Carter: 237).

    Sheela was subsequently arrested in Germany and eventually indicted on attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree assault, the poisoning of two county commissioners, the burglary and arson at the Wasco County Planning Department, and wiretapping charges (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 112). She was fined $469,353 (including restitution charges for an incident of arson), ordered to give up her permanent resident status in the U.S., and given multiple concurrent prison terms. She served 2.5 years of her sentences in a federal medium security prison and was released on good behavior (Carter: 237).

    Sheela, as it turned out, had been instrumental in implementing any number of subversive activities including drugging and poisoning those who she thought knew too much about illegal activities or who wanted to leave the commune, tapping phone lines including Bhagwan's own. Bhagwan was not, however, an innocent bystander, as he was well aware of many of her activities and even advised and instructed her in several of her efforts (Fitzgerald, 1986b: 113).

    There is not much published information concerning Bhagwan's exodus from the U.S. and eventual death in 1990. After having been expelled from the U.S., Bhagwan left for Manali, India in the Himalayas, 250 miles north of New Delhi. He was received coolly by the Indian public and officials (Oregonian 2M). The commune continued operations in Oregon, but Rajneesh businesses and disciples found it difficult to deal with local banks. After the former mayor of Rajneeshpuram, Krishna Deva, aka David Berry Knapp, plead guilty to racketeering and conspiracy to commit immigration fraud, the Rajneeshees gave up the commune, and efforts were quickly made to sell off all the property and evacuate most of the residents as soon as possible (Oregonian 2M).

    Bhagwan returned to the original ashram in Poona in January of 1987 (Carter). He subsequently engaged in a search to try and re-establish some sort of community but was met with hostility and opposition almost everywhere he went. He ended up in Uruguay where he was allowed to stay, but only if he did not "indulge in public criticism" and the sannyasin could not join him (Carter). "He abandoned the name of Rajneesh and adopted "Osho." Osho was derived from the expression "oceanic experience" by William James. He died in Poona in 1990. Various rumors spread that he died of AIDS, was poisoned, or had heart failure" (religioustolerance.org).

    The followers of Rajneesh are currently known as Osho, and their leader is Swami Prem Jayesh, aka Michael William O'Byrne. There are about 20 active meditation centers around the world, and Rajneesh is still influential through his writings. (religioustolerance.org)[/QUOTE]

  6. #6
    Angel of Life Kara_Nari's Avatar
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    Wow, im tired after reading that through one and a half times.... interesting reading however!
    Any idea how many of the other members died of AIDS?
    What happened to everybody else? Did they continue with the meditations? Or did they throw away everything that they had so strongly believed in?
    I recall that after the Tokyo Gas Attack many Aum members gave up on the beliefs, however still felt that they were not prepared to go back to normal society. They continued to meditate as they had whilst living together, as they seriously believed that even though the rest of it was a bit of a hoax, there was truth in the spiritual side of things, and that the meditation, was actually very beneficial to them.

    Kara-Nari Smarty-Pants Wiz-Girl of the Southern Pacific Queen of Communication and International Arbitration and Diplomatic Solutions to Hairy Territorial Issues Her Majesty the Empress コクネ・ you quite rightly deserve the title for your individuality !

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