Wild Wild Country
I’m currently watching the Netflix documentary Wild Wild Country which is about the Rajneesh movement who in the early 1980s moved from India to Oregon to build a city for several thousand people in the middle of nowhere. The whole thing is just utterly crazy. And the movement quickly gets into an ever escalating conflict with the local populace, who use land use rights to barely veil their xenophobia and get rid of the cult.
At the center of the conflict on the other side is one Indian woman, Ma Anand Sheela, who acts as the personal secretary of a guru who decides to stop speaking publicly for most of 4 years. She therefore becomes the heart of the movement herself, which exists under a constant threat of eviction. Her ways to deal with this are initially quite creative and often amusing (she’s an excellent speaker). But when the pressure rises she takes a few increasingly dark turns to save her commune.
The documentary makes it easy to sympathize with both sides to a certain degree and see the faults in each as well.
Further reading: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/03/read_the_oregonians_original_2.html
I finished watching Wild Wild Country (here’s a good Reddit discussion about it) and the thing that still strikes me the most is how happy these people obviously were…
I’m reminded of that line (from a NOFX song): “His hopes may be false, but his happiness is real.”
When I was a teenager I used to listen to that and think: “Yeah, it would be a lot easier to be able to believe in something.” and then sort of revel in that fake-pain of being too smart for religion. But as I get older I’m beginning to really feel the pang of the fact, that there is nothing else but your own level of happiness to this ride of life. And I can’t help but envy these people, because whatever they saw in this movement, it made them happy in a way that they are still glowing when they talk about it to this day. None of them seems to feel as if they had been scammed, even years later. And that makes me think that they must have found something in their commune. Despite the misuse of power and money that was going on. And what they found was so compelling, that they would have killed or died for it. And the question I keep asking myself is: What if it was worth it?
I’ve looked into some of Osho’s writings and I’ve seen nothing in it that would justify the worship he received. It seems to be rambling thoughts - well meaning, but often misguided and very much tangled up in the mindset of his era. He has some interesting perspectives. But there’s nothing in it that would make me think this guy was onto something big.
It fits with my perception that he was merely a guy who enabled others to have a good experience, not so much by his own (rather selfish) being, but because those people actively sought this experience. It was all inside of them from the start and they just needed an excuse and space to start acting differently.
Which means the world they had found around them didn’t give them much chance to do so before. Because the assumption that everyone was basically good and worth being loved is too easily abused. A few egoistic people can ruin it for everyone. And so we assume that anyone might be an asshole and treat everyone as such, to protect ourselves. But we end up being that asshole.