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The Promise of Paradise: Woman's Intimate Story of the Perils of Life with Rajneesh Paperback – 1 May 1992
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This memoir of a woman who joined the Rajneeshi community in a search for ultimate fulfillment, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the cult, describing its beginning to its demise in the 1980s.
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This is the best autobiography that I have ever read. An absolute must read if this is your kind of thing! Actually... a must read even if it's not!
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"I want to show everyone the importance of family!"
"Oh, you will, my dear . . . you will . . ." he said. Jill wondered why he had tears in his eyes.)
That is my summary parable of the book.
In the book, Jill, after the breakup of a torturous marriage, looks for her authentic self. She finds a guru who seems to really see her, to see into her soul with deep insight. She ends up abandoning her three very young children in order to follow Rajneesh, and is given the name, "Satya Bharti." This book tells the story of the intense dedication, appalling behavior, and crushing sorrow of her years with Rajneesh, and after. It also speaks about the predators and controllers that these people attracted---sexual and spiritual predators and authoritarians who feed upon the easy pickings of those who have given their souls to the Bhagwan Rajneesh, who appears to have been the ultimate predator and manipulator.
After 13 years of dedication, it seems that her son Billy was that fuller version of her self that she was looking for all along. He had all her good qualities, in addition to being more grounded and perhaps a bit wiser, seemingly from birth.
After she and her new husband have broken with the commune, and she is getting to know her children better, Billy is horribly and brutally murdered while performing an act of gallantry, by a man who seemingly did not even have any remorse for what he did.
If you saw the documentary, "Wild Wild Country" recently, the book helps to fill in some things that were left out, such as Why did all these educated and creative (and in Satya's case, mystical) people follow this man, Bhagwan, so fervently, to the point where they did whatever he told them to do, or even just suggested that they do?
Appalling, infuriating, depressing, but always interesting and hard to lay aside. I had to pace myself.
No, it's really not. Sure, you can probably learn more about the history of Rajneesh from this book than from a lot of others . . . but that's trivial.
Instead, what you might start to recognize from this book (and even personally experience?) that makes it very SPECIAL . . . is how a Bliss-prone personality can experience Life.
I can be that way myself sometimes, so I found that I readily resonate and trip to the author's account of it -- even while sitting on the sofa just reading.
I can say unequivocally that if I had a choice of meeting her in her 1970s incarnation . . . or meeting Bhagwan in his . . . I know which I'd choose. It's a subtle intuition to have.
Can't say much better than that, I guess . . .
The Rajneesh case was especially interesting to me, because I read a few of his books in the early 1980's, listened to his tapes, met many sanyasins (devotees) and even went to the big annual celebration in Oregon in July 1983. I was pressured many times to "take the plunge", but never even considered becoming a follower. And after reading this book, I thank goodness that my reasonable mind made the right judgment call.
I have to admit that I always thought he was better than other gurus and cult leaders, and valued the well being of his followers. But sadly, I was in for a rude awakening and really shocked to discover what was really going on in the ashrams.
The book is well written and it feels genuine, but it is way too long and repetitive. In my opinion, the book would have been more effective if it was condensed to about three quarters of its size. But the writing style is fluid and the material absorbing, so it's not a big flaw.
I hesitate to discuss more details of the story, because it will spoil the readers' enjoyment. To me the book read almost like a detective story, peeling layer after layer of my illusions about the 'enlightened' Guru and his 'truth seeking' devotees. So the only thing I'd like to add is; If you really want to understand the Rajneesh phenomenal appeal to some of the most educated people in the world, his mixed messages and his tactics of mind control and exploitations, this book is highly recommended.