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Bhagwan: The God That Failed (A Thomas Dunne Book) Hardcover – 1 Apr 1987
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Anyway, it was very well written and I looked forward to picking it up every night to see what would happen next.
Wow, Sheela - definitely sounds like a sociopath! Scary how these people inveigle themselves into positions of power over others.
Yes, all in all very interesting, would recommend.
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When I saw the documentary the first time, I thought it was a balanced look at the Oregon incident and the movement. Not so. When I went back and re-watched the documentary after reading the book by Hugh Milne, I couldn’t help but see Ma Anand Sheela as a ruthless practitioner of office politics, and I doubted as well her view of events.
In the documentary you see only interviews with upper-level members of the ashram, people in Sheela’s circle. You hear from ashram members who had good accommodations, and many perks, compared to the unpaid members of the ashram sleeping in overcrowded rooms, doing the physical labor, and without adequate medical care. Of course the upper-level members are going to have a rose-colored view of the ashram experience!
I see the documentary now as more of a propaganda tool, and a rehabilitation of Ma Anand Sheela’s reputation more than anything – and the documentary succeeds in that regard. When I finished watching it the first time I was so interested in reading more about Sheela!
I also saw the ashram lawyer as a sensitive spiritual searcher the first time I watched the documentary. I see him now, after reading Milne's book, more as a gasbag. The ashram experience he lovingly describes included the perks he received due to being the ashram's lawyer, including the attentions of a woman known for jockeying for better position in the ashram by using sex.
Hugh Milne gets across too many provocative points for me to list them all, but one of the more interesting revelations comes when Bhagwan is tripping on laughing gas and pretty much admits the whole “enlightened one” thing is an act!
Let's hope this book gets reprinted (or made into a Netflix series). Until then, you can read it on Scribd.
Other books about him include Dying for Enlightenment: Living with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh,Ultimate Game: The Rise and Fall of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh,The Promise of Paradise,The Quest for Total Bliss,The Golden Guru, etc.
He wrote in the Introduction to this 1986 book, "This book is the story of my attraction to, involvement with, and final separation from a particularly sensational Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. It is not intended to be some kind of business manager's objective report: it is an insider's view---a view from the heart---of the intimate processes that act upon disciples in their love affair with their spiritual leader... It is a story full of paradox, of contradictions, a story of both deceit and beatitude. It is a story of a man and an organisation that changed so dramatically from its earlier origins as to be almost beyond recognition... Whilst it is obviously impossible to remember word for word conversations held thirteen years ago, I endeavor to stay faithful to their spirit... I have excluded all ... gossip except where I heard it first-hand at the time I write about." (Pg. 15, 17-18)
He notes, "[Bhagwan] was a voracious reader, sometimes getting through ten or fifteen books a day, and liked to keep himself bang up to date with the world literary scene." (Pg. 59) But later, "In Poona he had read ten or fifteen books a day, and now he watched videos just as avidly. It was the fulltime job of three sannyasis to make sure he had a constant supply of videos. His favourite films were George C. Scott's Patton, and The Ten Commandments." (Pg. 248)
He recalls, "Bhagwan gradually began to acquire for use the characteristics of a supernatural being...there was still something beyond the usual range of abilities. He did have paranormal powers, though not perhaps in the measure he claimed or quite in the way it seemed in those enchanted early days when we felt he could do no wrong." (Pg. 71-72) He explains, "Bhagwan set a lot of store by the teachings of Gurdjieff ... Gurdjieff was the main role model for Bhagwan who... had read all Gurdjieff's works and the commentaries both in the original and in the version written by Ouspensky. In particular Bhagwan liked the way Gurdjieff had rebelled against authority and kept testing the strength of his disciples' faith." (Pg. 100) Later, he notes, "Krishnamurti [was] the only person Bhagwan had ever acknowledged as an equal. Krishnamurti had no time for Bhagwan, and particularly objected to the use of the word 'Bhagwan'..." (Pg. 275) He adds, "When Krishnamurti called Bhagwan a criminal, I suspect he was ... referring to his misuse of hypnosis and psychic powers." (Pg. 286)
He notes, "Many people have asked me how a sensible, independent person could be mesmerized by someone like Bhagwan. The answer, as many sannyasis would agree, is that once you had been affected by his energy and experienced the sensation of being touched by it, you knew that there was nothing like it, no bliss to compare with it. Once you had experienced it, you had to go back for more, to try and regain that feeling of harmony and being at one with the universe... Bhagwan's touch would be just as addictive as the strongest drug." (Pg. 179)
But later, "What had begun as the dawn of a new age, a glorious spiritual movement, already had the makings of a fascist nightmare. All my dreams of showing people how to live in love and harmony seemed to be vanishing. I was doing nothing more than working myself into a state of nervous exhaustion... We were being used as slaves under the guise of spiritual surrender." (Pg. 201) He adds, "Bhagwan himself was quite open about the fact that the primary purpose of the ranch [in Oregon] was to make money, and said that if ever money-making became a problem, he would abandon his vow of silence." (Pg. 246)
This book will be of keen interest to anyone studying Rajneesh and his movement.