Monday, September 20, 2021

On Medium: The Rajneeshees’ Unmasking of American Hypocrisy in “Wild Wild Country”

Here's on article about how a documentary series shows that American culture is unlikely to be upgraded.


  1. Osho was a conman of the same calibre as Jimmy Swaggart & Oral Roberts -- and yet he failed to sustain his American dream. It would be easy to invoke racism or Christian bigotry to explain why, but then you'd have to wonder why ISKON wasn't targeted by the government; surely the Rajaneesh's take on spirituality was far more amenable to the American ethos than Swami Prabhupada's dour asceticism.

    Regarding oriental philosophy in America: I recall D.T. Suzuki remarking once (I'm paraphrasing here) that selling Buddhism to Americans is as futile as sowing seeds on sheer rock. Any attempt to sway Americans in an easterly direction inevitably backfires because in America nearly anything can be commodified -- just look at what happened to the hippy movement -- and if that fails then it can be demonized. Dr. Leary encouraged young people to quietly drop out of society & the government retaliated by imprisoning him in a cell next to Charlie Manson. Mormon prophet Warren Jeffs is in prison right now for sanctioning incestuous, underage marriages while the Pope & his underlings continue to operate with impunity. You can be anything in America as long as it involves going into debt. I suspect that the only reason the Amish are tolerated in this country is because they don't proselytize.

    1. Do you know for a fact that Rajneesh was originally a con man more than a guru? Is the implication that all successful gurus are con men?

      That's sort of my point about the US: Americans are stuck in their ways and xenophobic, whereas India and China, for example, are more eclectic. Instead of incorporating foreign ideas, as China incorporated Buddhism, the US repels or trivializes (commodifies) them.

      My point was that if some of the world's major cultures need to change to avert ecological disaster, the fate of the Rajneeshees in the US doesn't bode well.

    2. The man owned 93 Rolls Royces for starters. Now I understand that to function in modern society most people need cars; no one should expect a modern guru to ride into town on the back of a donkey. Krishnamurti owned a Rolls Royce that he used to get around in & never received any flak for it because he lived an otherwise simple life. But ninety-three of them?

      “People’s interest in Rolls-Royces shows their mind. They are not interested what is happening here. They don’t ask about meditation, they don’t ask about sannyas, they don’t ask about people’s life, love, the laughter that happens in this desert. They only ask about Rolls-Royces. That means I have touched some painful nerve. And I will go on pressing it till they stop asking."

      Okay Osho, whatever you say... I guess the best that can be said about Osho is he never claimed to be an ascetic or on a mission to save the world (well, not to my knowledge). To me his entire shtick just comes off as the vedic counterpart to the American prosperity gospel -- as American as Donald Trump. There was really nothing 'counter-cultural' about materialism & free love by 1981. Which begs that question: what was it about him that some Americans found so threatening? Couldn't they see that he loved America, loved Americans, & loved American values?

      “In fact, only the very rich, educated, intelligent, cultured can understand what I am saying. Beggars cannot come to me, poor people cannot come to me; the gap is too big. They can hear me but they cannot understand me. So it is natural: I am the rich man’s guru.” ~ Osho

      His hutzpah was admirable. Not much else.

    3. All I know about the Rajneeshees is from the documentary and the Wiki page, but both point out that his philosophy wasn't typical asceticism. He wanted to bridge Western secularism with Eastern spirituality, so he wasn't hypocritical in keeping his riches. Collecting expensive cars is certainly a waste of money and not spiritual or enlightened in any altruistic sense, but I'm not sure it demonstrates he was a fraudster, as in a liar. He was a naturalist, a humanist, and an atheist, so he knew he had only limited time to enjoy his life.

      What was countercultural or at least original in his movement was his combination of Western and Eastern philosophies.

      I think I show in the article why the old, white, conservative Americanized Christians were threatened by the Rajneeshees. The native Oregonians were racist, xenophobic, complacent, sanctimonious, prudish hypocrites. They just wanted to retire in peace and they loved not so much American principles of liberty, which would indeed have protected the Rajneesh movement, but their Republican image of the US. They presumed that the US should be ruled by white family-values Christians, whereas Osho was a rich, powerful, foreign hippie who therefore challenged not so much America's secular humanistic principles and systems but the stale Christian fundamentalist form of American nationalism or hegemony. He literally bought up and almost ran their town. Talk about rubbing their weakness in their faces!

      It's interesting to compare this to how the Saudis own much American real estate, the difference being that the Saudis do so from the background. If the Saudis moved to the US and lorded it over the Christian masses, there might be a similar reaction to kick the foreigners out.

  2. Stairway to Nothing.

    1. Hippie or psychedelic culture may or may not have been driven or co-opted by the military-industrial complex, but entheogen subcultures go back thousands of years. So the question is how psychedelic culture differs from the esoteric religious subcultures that are based on the real transformative potential of entheogens.

      To say there's only a stairway to nothing here is to say the entheogens don't work, no? They may not be supernatural, but they do have the power to reform personalities and to broaden perspectives.

    2. I think he's referring to the human tendency toward escapism. That hasn't caused us too much trouble in the past, but our fantasies are likely leading us to ecological disaster currently. The situation we're currently in requires us to grow up and put aside all delusions/escapism in order to face these problems head on. Personally I'm not too hopeful this will happen, as it appears that many people are sinking further into delusions.