My thoughts on the closing of Osho's ranch in Oregon
Rajneeshpuram, at the time of its closing, could be found on the Rand McNally map of Oregon. Rajneeshpuram, known to disciples as the ranch, was an ashram founded by Osho in the form of a legal American city. We had a major, post office, police force trained at the Oregon Police Academy, a mall, an airport, a hotel, a gambling casino, a two acre covered meditation space, a large farm, etc.
Osho had envisioned and devised this incredibly beautiful and intelligent ashram to awaken us. He turned the world we know upside down at the ranch. Women ran everything, relationships were discouraged, very little was efficient, it was sexually free, love was in the air. It was a paradise, so different from the "real" world, it took quite some time for many to adjust to it.
There are many points of view about the ranch. Over the years in my discussions with sannyasins here in the San Francisco area, the ranch was a hot topic and perhaps it still is for many. We seem to fall into different camps coming from how we experienced the ranch. I know sannyasins who loved it, as I did, and there are those who disliked it, and those who couldn't deal with it for any number of reasons, mostly having to do with their unwillingness to surrender their ego to a master and his devices.
My point of view about why it ended is not coming from any dislike or feelings against anyone who was there or how it was run. There is nothing wrong in any view to me, but any comment does reflect where we come from, obviously. And in this way, any discussion can be enlightening, or it could turn into a heated argument which many find distasteful, because of how it reflects on their beliefs.
I became a disciple of Osho while living in Holland in 1981. I came back to the US and to the ranch to take sannyas and be with Osho, having missed him in India. I took sannyas at the First World Celebration and then left the ranch. To continue travelling I went to Mexico for 6 months. At this time, I held Osho and the ranch as separate in my mind. When I realized, finally, that the ranch was Osho's device, I committed myself to being totally involved there. Working 14 hours a day in the cold winter of the Oregon desert did not appeal to me, but I trusted Osho and trusted the ranch and it served me magically. Being there was the greatest experience of my life. I became enlightened there.
I saw the potential that the ranch could be a Mecca for every intelligent person on this planet. The ranch, Rajneeshpuram, was a legal American city, with the potential to be a city of 100,000 people living in total peace and harmony. It never succeeded to this point, because the ranch was attacked by the attorney general of Oregon who declared our legal American city unconstitutional on his own opinion, and attacked by many groups with their own hateful agendas. When I saw that our Socrates building was full of lawyers (Osho said 400) suceeding to overturn the many legal decisions that had stopped our building, I saw how dangerous the ranch was becoming. F14 fighter planes from the US military had at this point buzzed our airfield.
If this potential of 100,000 people living in total peace and harmony could have been realized, and I think it was a real possibility, Rajneeshpuram would have embarassed every other city in the world. It would be unbelievable to any who heard of it, against everything known about human nature. Every intelligent person on this planet would have had to come and see how this impossible thing happened. A shining star, created by Osho, who was despised by all politicians and priests.
This vision was Osho's, and maybe it was not. It was a vision I saw, a potential that gives credence to my view of why the ranch ended. I am saying that this vision could have changed the world, and there is no way, in the hell of this world, that the powers that be in the US would have allowed it to happen. In this way the ranch was extremely dangerous. My ending is: Osho was told or realized there was an imminent threat to our safety, so he brought in the media and police to investigate our "crimes", which provided us safety and a way for us all to leave alive. One possible scenario I envisioned was how this imminent threat could have actually happened. I was an officer in the US National Guard many years before and I was taught about nerve gas, an invisible tasteless gas that kills in seconds. All this government would have to do is spray this gas to kill us all, spread cool-aid packages around, and with their total media control spread the message that Jonestown happened again. The masses would believe it!
I don't believe in the crimes at the end or much that most believe about "Sheela and her gang". Yes, there were illegal wire taps, but these were for our and Osho's protection. The old story about food poisoning at a Dalles restaurant was resurrected with us to blame this time. Other crimes were imagined and stated. There is no reason why the media and police were called in, other than to get us out safely. Why bring all kinds of bad press and police into our idyllic commune? All could have otherwise been handled internally, there is no other plausable explanation.
On the ranch there was a department or temple called Ramakrishna, where people problems having to do with relating were handled, very easily and amazingly quickly, by a team of the most intelligent insightful women, all members of "Sheela's gang". I had the "pleasure" of visiting with them on more than a few occasions as did many of us bad boys. These wonderful witches tested my openness to see if I was able to take responsibility for whatever disturbance I was involved in. One time, not willing to see my part, I was asked to leave the ranch. I did and awakened to myself in almost no time, having suffered this terrible banishment. They welcomed me back with open arms after I chilled out a bit longer. There is no way, from my experience and interaction with these loving insightful women that I can ever believe these womwn were part of a gang against the commune or Osho.
I was not on the ranch just before it closed as I was on a sailing trip around Vancouver Island. We heard the news from friends at the ranch, and I distinctly heard that Osho said he wanted to get us all out alive and safely.
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