Yes, finally I watched 'Wild Wild Country' too. The stories about the community set up in Oregon in the '80s were already known to me after being in the Osho scene during the past years. What I find astonishing, which is the reason why I write this blog, is to see the huge blinders of many sannyasins when they talk about what happened in Oregon and who was responsible for the downfall of the commune, even after 30 (!) years. With this blog I hope to shed some light on the spiritual scene and the delusory role of the guru.
My time in Pune
Ok, I was born in the year the commune fell apart, so what can I say about it? Three years ago I went to the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune, India. In the following years I visited many other Osho meditation centres in different countries. Let me first say, being in the Osho scene opened me up for allowing and expressing my emotions, for being my own authority, and most of all, dancing & celebration! The active meditations are a unique contribution of Osho and its movement to the mostly strict and serious meditation scene.
In the very beginning of my stay in the ashram in Pune, I was surprised by the new ideas and perspectives on religion, government, society, and meditation, which were shared by Osho in video discourses. After a while, I quickly noticed how people would, seemingly automatically, repeat the same words and ideas over and over again. I encountered very few critical thinkers, people who developed their own view after studying different traditions.. Maybe because I wasn’t in Oregon in the 80s, I could easily recognize the ideas which were shared by the sannyasins, prompted by their master.
Ingroup vs outgroup
Of course it’s common human behavior when an in-group shares ideas that are regarded as 'true', that are distinct and per definition in conflict with the ideas of the out-group. That’s what we humans beings do; we like to be with people who share the same ideas. Same here! No problem so far. But in my perception, spiritual groups (like Osho’s) pretend to be outside and totally free from the restrictive and limited social conventions of belief and expectation. Which tends towards: ‘The others are conservative, imprisoned; we are free '. However, those spiritual groups don’t realize they are exactly in the same social ball game, only based on a different set of ideas. Their freedom becomes their imprisonment. This is what is so beautifully portrayed in the Netflix documentary.
Ideas of enlightenment
Where did the conflict in Wild Wild Country start? In my view, it all starts with the idea of enlightenment. Enlightenment means the end of suffering, and according to some teachings, ultimate bliss. It’s the ultimate attainment in many religions, for instance in Buddhism. So on the one hand there's Osho, who claims to be enlightened, and on the other hand there’s the sannyasins, the followers, who are not enlightened. So the followers want to be in the same state the guru proclaims to be in. This is belief #1: there is something like enlightenment. Nobody experienced it, but people report about other people who proclaim to have attained it. Based on what others say and experience, an idea is generated which has to be attained. Not my own experience is guiding me, but the experience/story of others. The other is the authority in what I happen to belief as true.
Ideas of truth
From belief #1 comes belief #2: the enlightened speaks from truth. So first there’s the idea of enlightenment. There’s a master who is enlightened, and with this attainment, the master speaks from an apparent ‘ultimate’ truth. This means, he knows better what is good for you, then you yourself, because he's enlightened. He knows what is true, what is ‘real’, but also what is false and ‘unreal’. For example, in the documentary: Osho says Sheela betrayed him --> everybody follows, apparently without questioning.
Ideas of master and disciple
From these two basic ideas, the so called master-disciple relation is born. According to the sannyasins, only total surrender to the master, who holds ultimate truth, can lead you to where you supposedly want to be: enlightenment! So belief #3: a disciple has to surrender to it's master. This disciple-master relationship is by the sannyasins viewed as a relationship of love, but in my view it's a relationship of dependency and hierarchy that perpetuates itself as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously, as long as I will keep asking the questions, the other will keep giving answers. As long as I will follow, the other will keep guiding. As long as the other holds the truth, I am bound to surrender to his truth.
Who's in charge?
With sannyasins I always experienced Osho to be the anchor of truth, the authority of truth. In the sannyasin world, whatever is shared will be compared with what Osho had to say about it. Either they will agree, based on Osho’s words (ideas), or they will disagree, based on other words by Osho. And with 10.000 hours of recorded paradoxes, the master is always true! And truth (and it’s messenger) is worth fighting for, like we all saw in the documentary. In this documentary, it’s shocking for me to see what people are capable of when they hold on to ideas and representers of ‘truth’.
Root of conflict
Unfortunately, the makers of this documentary didn’t dig into the fundamental belief structure of the sannyasins (‘seeker of truth’) and their master to understand why people could behave in the way they did, to understand how different views on life can lead to conflict and violence. And really, the conflict is not just in sannyasins, but in all spiritual seekers. Actually, in all human beings! The (inner) conflict between the higher and the lower awareness, the liberal and the conservative, the awakened and the sleeping, the wealthy and poor..
Once you see clearly how all your seeking and craving is rooted in beliefs or ideas of ‘a better place’ where you’ll find everlasting happiness or security, you’ll immediately drop any effort to get to this imaginary place.. What’s the point of chasing a mirage?? Only when you see these ideas for what they are, you’ll be able to be satisfied with the simplicity of where and who you are.
The end of searching
Calling off the search, what are we left to do? Feel how you like to express yourself. Find a way to do so. You can join meditations, sharings, have conversations with your partner, friend or colleague. You can dance, shout, cry, sing, however you like to express. Only when it feels comfortable, there’s no necessity to force anything. How could there be? A necessity for what? Where do you want to be? And why?
Then when it comes to (spiritual) teachers: don’t believe anything they’re saying! Don’t believe anything you are saying! Just see these are all ideas which have zero truth in them. Yes, truth for you, but only for you, in this moment.. Maybe in the next moment a different idea will be prevalent and truthful. Especially listen to the teacher who is telling you you’re not in the place where you should or could be. The teacher that tells you there’s something more, higher, or deeper.. Every famous guru with a following has this delusional feature; just watch a short movie on YouTube and you’ll be able to recognize it. One talks about more awareness, the other about less ego.. If they didn’t have something ‘special’ to offer, they wouldn’t have people coming back, they wouldn’t have disciples. And let me be clear on this: I’m not saying they consciously hold out illusory carrots to people. They are human beings, just like you and me: experiencing emotions and thoughts, trying to help others in gaining clarity, and, holding on to illusory ideas. The source of guru-hood is exactly the same source of your seeking. With the chase comes the conflict, the Wild Wild Country. Don’t let the guru deceive you. Or better, don’t deceive yourself by holding on to ideas from the guru, or from yourself.
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