Osho Rajneesh Drive-by in Rajneeshpuram. © 2003 Samvado Gunnar Kossatz

Wild Wild Country

Books, Music, Art, Movies

Last night I finished watching the Netflix docu-series, “Wild Wild Country.” I have thoughts about it.

I think others do, too, because my little ranty post about Rajneesh  has gotten a lot of views lately.

First of all, I thought this documentary was superbly done on all levels. The storytelling was fantastic. The visuals were stunning. It was very balanced and the story was presented from many sides, which I really appreciated.

This post will probably have spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the documentary series and you have no idea who this Rajneesh guy is or what this weird event that happened in Oregon in the Eighties is, then I highly recommend watching it first.  After you watch it, I’d be very curious about what you think!

More on Osho/Rajneesh


I don’t mean to harp on this subject but  the only thing that I have to entertain me are my thoughts and this is what is on my mind lately. I feel like I need to get it out.

There is a writer that I’ve been reading for the past year and I have really liked her work. She writes about intuition and how it pertains to spirituality. She has a podcast that I subscribe to. I have really enjoyed it. My gut (ha) told me to check the bibliography of her recent book to see if Osho is listed there. Osho is, indeed listed in her bibliography. Not once but twice. So not only have I been reading these tarot cards I have been reading books and listening to podcasts by a person who has been influenced by Osho/Rajneesh. I kind of can’t believe it, but there it is in black and white. It makes me wonder about how pervasive Osho/Rajneesh’s philosphy is? Where else can it be found? I feel like I can’t trust anything. I don’t think this is a bad thing, actually. It is another example of non-attachment.

It seems like the only thing I can really trust right now is the practical.  can trust what is right there before me, the issue at hand.  Everything else is just conjecture. The one thing that I continue to do everyday is zazen. That is nothing more than sitting down, shutting up, and breathing. That is all there is to it.  So that is what I will continue to do.

Can I just point out a few things about Osho/Rajneesh that have me baffled? Let’s pretend  for a moment. If you were a spiritual leader and the group of people that you were leading committed horrible acts (like carrying out single biggest bio-terrorist act in U.S. history), wouldn’t it make you think about yourself a little bit? I mean, if you were so bothered by these acts to the point that you reported your own followers to the authorities, wouldn’t you have the tiniest shred compassion? And having that shred of compassion wouldn’t you, at the very least, think, “Hm. maybe, since my own followers are doing these horrible things, there is something wrong with the way I am doing things. Perhaps I should not be a leader for awhile. Perhaps it is time for  me to lay low and figure out why my followers did such horrific things.” Right? I mean, if you were a compassionate person, who cared about the well being of your fellow humans you would do that. But Osho/Rajneesh did not do that. Instead he went back to India and changed his name and reinvented himself as a “zen teacher.” He re-branded himself. He changed anything that had the name “Rajneesh” associated with it to Osho. This tells me that he didn’t care at all about the way his teachings affected those who were listening to them. I don’t find this at all compassionate. I don’t think he cared one bit about his followers.  Because of this, but most importantly, because of the heinous  behavior of his followers, I will never trust anything that comes from him or any organization that is associated with him. I don’t care if his teachings seem like they sound good (they only sound that way because he stole philosophies from other religions). Anything that he taught, or continues to teach byway of his current followers is totally irrelevant. It is irrelevant because he was a freaking cult leader. It is irrelevant because  his followers committed horrible  and terrifying acts. If I find out that a person  has been influenced by him in any way I just can’t trust what they have to say, plain and simple. I don’t care how wonderful or genuine that person is. If they have been influenced by Osho/Rajneesh their philosophy is tainted.

The Rajneesh Cult

Thoughts and Opinions

I mentioned in my post from the other day that my current read has renewed my interest in cults. Specifically, the Rajneesh cult in central Oregon in the 1980s.

I was talking about the book, Influence, with a couple of coworkers who are also reading it.  In the book’s chapter on Social Proof, the Jonestown Massacre came up as an example. Jonestown and  Rasjneeshpuram became a topic of conversation (this being Oregon and all). My coworker mentioned that the daughter of Leo Ryan, the U.S. Representative that was murdered at Jonestown, was a member of Rajneeshpuram. Did you know that?!? I didn’t. It is hard to find information on this – I watched a documentary on Rajneesh the other night and she was interviewed. I also found an old article in the Spokesman Review (of all places) where she denies that she is in a cult.

I am getting ahead of myself here. As you can see, this conversation sparked some interest and I began to do some research. Later that afternoon I helped a patron find a book.  Guess what the name of the book was. The Rajneesh Chronicles. How serendipitous can you get?!? I mentioned that I was talking about this topic that very afternoon and joked that I would have to read the book when she was done with it. She gave me a tip that there was an older edition for sale in the Friends of the Library Bookstore. So I bought it! I started reading it that night. I learned that this cult planned to poison the water system of The Dalles, and they actually managed to follow through with a bio-terror attack on The Dalles (I actually remember this and remember being terrified by it!). This really hit close to home for me, literally. The Dalles is only a couple of hours away from where I live.

Osho („Rajneesh“ Chandra Mohan Jain)

Osho („Rajneesh“ Chandra Mohan Jain) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, long story short, Rajneesh = cult-leader-murderous-bastard. That was pretty much already established in my head in the 1980s but good reminder, nonetheless.

As I was doing my research and reading the Wikipedia entry on Leo Ryan I noticed the tiniest  little blurb about his daughter’s involvement with the cult:

After his death, Ryan’s daughter Shannon Jo changed her name to Jasmine and joined Osho

It is interesting that it doesn’t mention the Rajneesh Cult. Instead it says that she joined Osho, and it doesn’t say anything about Osho being a cult. However, if you click on “Osho” you will be taken to the Wikipedia entry for “Rajneesh Movement.” Links to the person Osho go to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

I was familiar with Osho, but didn’t know Osho was  related to Rajneesh.  I am familiar with Osho because I downloaded  a seemingly harmless iPhone app called “Osho Zen Tarot,” which is based on a tarot deck. I bought this app awhile ago and everyday it deals out a “tarot card of the day” in which I am notified. Sometimes I read it and sometimes I don’t.  I don’t take readings very seriously but am amused by them on a certain level. Sometimes these cards help give me perspective on a situation. I liked that this deck came from a zen perspective, for obvious reasons. But in the back of my mind I always wondered who this “Osho” was.

I saw the connection in the Leo Ryan article and thought, “No. They can’t be connected.” But when I did the research I found out that they are! In fact,  Osho = that Rajneesh murderous cult-leader bastard! I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe it! He went back to India and reinvented himself as a zen leader and even from the grave is duping people.  The Osho website is surreptitious. If you surf around the site on the surface you will think you are at a legitimate zen center site. I had to click around to find a connection to Rajneesh. I finally found it when I clicked on the Osho.tv video page.  There you will find  videos from Rajneesh. But the only way that you know that it is Rajneesh, cult leader extraordinaire, is if you know what he looks like.  

I was so afraid of  this cult when I was younger.  I was very aware of what he was, and still am (hence, my lifelong interest in this). And yet,  I STILL got duped in to paying for an app that came from his organization. And I even read his teachings on these cards! Everyday for nearly a year!

I am still blown away by this and am not sure what to make of it. It makes me realize how important critical thinking skills are.   I am so grateful that I have a brain and that I have the capacity to use it.

On Social Proof


I am reading a fascinating book called, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. One of the chapters is about Social Proof. This is when groups of people decide to do something – or decide not to do something – because the group is doing it or not doing it. One of the examples he cites was a case in a New York City neighborhood in which a woman was murdered in the streets and nobody did a thing about it. Apparently it was very loud and it went on for hours, the perpetrator coming back to the scene several times to stab the woman more. Not a single person called the police. Why is this? because, according to the power of Social Proof, the neighbors assumed someone else was taking care of it. In fact, nobody took care of it at all and the woman bled to death in the street.

Social Proof can cause seemingly normal people to behave in bizarre ways. I witnessed this bizarre behavior one day while driving to work in San Jose and was caught in a small traffic jam. I watched as a car merged on to a freeway entrance, noticed that there was a traffic jam, and turned his car around – going the wrong way on the freeway and the freeway entrance. This caused other drivers to do the same thing and I watched in disbelief as this freeway entrance became a snarled mess. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I really couldn’t believe that people were being so stupid. I moved along through the traffic jam and in five minutes things cleared up. If this driver had just been a little patient he would have been out of the traffic fairly quickly. But he ended up in a worse situation than the one he perceived.

The thing that caught my interest was when the author talked about Social Proof as the reason why people join cults. I am super fascinated with cults. I wonder why normal people decide they are going to follow an insane person and do whatever this person tells them. I was a kid when there was the Rajneesh cult in Central Oregon, which wasn’t very far from where I lived. The Rajneesh cult freaked me out when I was younger and is probably the reason why I am interested in this subject. It was great to see the topic addressed in this book because it helped to answer some of the questions I’ve had. It caused me to revisit this interest, which I will discuss in tomorrow’s post.