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Wild Wild Country

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I found this show fascinating. And I was a little too young when this was happening to remember most of it except the Bhagwan had a bunch of Rolls Royces so I was a bit shocked to see what a huge story it was at the time. What I found interesting as I watched it unfold is that my opinions kept wavering. My final opinion was that I didn't really like any of the players. The Bhagwan was an avaricious con man and seemed pretty sexist to boot, Sheela seems to be a sociopath, the townspeople, who should have been sympathetic, came off as xenophobic and racist. And the assorted followers interviewed all seemed kind of divorced from reality. Truth really is stranger than fiction. 

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1 hour ago, Lillith said:

I found this show fascinating. And I was a little too young when this was happening to remember most of it except the Bhagwan had a bunch of Rolls Royces so I was a bit shocked to see what a huge story it was at the time. What I found interesting as I watched it unfold is that my opinions kept wavering. My final opinion was that I didn't really like any of the players. The Bhagwan was an avaricious con man and seemed pretty sexist to boot, Sheela seems to be a sociopath, the townspeople, who should have been sympathetic, came off as xenophobic and racist. And the assorted followers interviewed all seemed kind of divorced from reality. Truth really is stranger than fiction. 

I live (and lived at the time) in Oregon.  I was young when all this happened, but old enough to have a fairly good memory of it all.  It was actually a *huge* story here locally and it is something that is really a part of our history.

I haven't finished the show yet (it's not something I can watch with the kids around, so I'm hoping to see the rest of it once they are back in school next week), but your opinions of the players are spot on in every case.  I was actually surprised that Sheela was still alive, honestly....

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I do think the show does a good job of showing both sides. I was initially more sympathetic towards the Rajneeshees because the conservative Christian folk do come off  as intolerant and xenophobic. I live in a rural area though and if thousands of people moved into the neighboring farm and started putting up unapproved housing and making a lot of noise I would be unhappy.

I don't think the Bagwhan was genuine. He played people. One of my friends commented to me that the Bagwhan seemed not too bad but that Shiela was a piece of work. That just shows how clever the Bagwhan was. He's preaching to mostly privileged western people that are seeking some kind of meaning in their lives that materialism and spirituality don't have to be mutually exclusive and that free love will help you reach enlightenment. He tells them what they want to hear, he gains followers and money and then he takes a vow of silence so he doesn't have to keep working. He gets Sheila to do all the work and take the blame when things go wrong.

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12 hours ago, Lillith said:

I found this show fascinating. And I was a little too young when this was happening to remember most of it except the Bhagwan had a bunch of Rolls Royces so I was a bit shocked to see what a huge story it was at the time. What I found interesting as I watched it unfold is that my opinions kept wavering. My final opinion was that I didn't really like any of the players. The Bhagwan was an avaricious con man and seemed pretty sexist to boot, Sheela seems to be a sociopath, the townspeople, who should have been sympathetic, came off as xenophobic and racist. And the assorted followers interviewed all seemed kind of divorced from reality. Truth really is stranger than fiction. 

I agree. I came out of it still not "rooting" for anyone.

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6 hours ago, snowwhyte said:

I do think the show does a good job of showing both sides. I was initially more sympathetic towards the Rajneeshees because the conservative Christian folk do come off  as intolerant and xenophobic. I live in a rural area though and if thousands of people moved into the neighboring farm and started putting up unapproved housing and making a lot of noise I would be unhappy.

I don't think the Bagwhan was genuine. He played people. One of my friends commented to me that the Bagwhan seemed not too bad but that Shiela was a piece of work. That just shows how clever the Bagwhan was. He's preaching to mostly privileged western people that are seeking some kind of meaning in their lives that materialism and spirituality don't have to be mutually exclusive and that free love will help you reach enlightenment. He tells them what they want to hear, he gains followers and money and then he takes a vow of silence so he doesn't have to keep working. He gets Sheila to do all the work and take the blame when things go wrong.

Excellent points. My reaction was the same. I was inclined to be more sympathetic to the townspeople because I only knew the basics of the story and who wants their town totally taken over? But many (most) of the Antelope natives came off as such xenophobes and even a bit racist to it totally put a damper on my sympathy. 

The Bagwhan was foxy as hell. I find it hard to believe he had no clue what Sheela was up to. I also suspect at least part of it was with his direction and/or approval. And what happens when she leaves? He pulls the "she was totally hot for me but because I didnt' want her she went psycho" route. Sheela is something else too, she comes off as so likeable in her present demeanor,  until you really listen to what she's saying. She's actually scary. 

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1 hour ago, Lillith said:

The Bagwhan was foxy as hell. I find it hard to believe he had no clue what Sheela was up to. I also suspect at least part of it was with his direction and/or approval. And what happens when she leaves? He pulls the "she was totally hot for me but because I didnt' want her she went psycho" route. Sheela is something else too, she comes off as so likeable in her present demeanor,  until you really listen to what she's saying. She's actually scary. 

Once Sheela was outed as an attempted murderer, the Bhagwan turned on a dime, and in the worst possible way! Rather than express shock and distance himself, he made a lot of crude remarks about "sleeping with the secretary" and calling her a bitch! His eyes were as cold and cruel as a snake's. That anyone continued to follow him after that was astonishing to me. 

I agree that this whole clusterfuck was a perfect storm of horrible people, avarice, and delusion. The locals were a lot of bigots, the rajneeshees were arrogant carpetbaggers. Sheela was a sociopath. The lawyer who figured so prominently in the film was clearly still a believer, what a chump! 

Sheela's talk show clips were fascinating! She could really turn on the charm, and she knew how to play the hosts, the audiences, and everyone watching with her combination of humor, saltiness, and unabashed cheerleading for all the bhagwhan's excesses. I can see how she could draw people in and be very persuasive. 

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This was just...wow. What a complete worst case scenario of everyone’s darker instincts. 

I was probably most sympathetic to the townspeople, but I didn’t like them exactly. They seemed pretty closed mined and prone to dislike any change just because. However, I feel like Sheela was looking for a fight by that time and twisted the townspeople’s concern into an excuse to go full on sociopath! 

Sheela scared the crap out of me. She lacked any empathy whatsoever. The level of self absorption and narcissism was amazing. 

And speaking of....next on my skin crawling creep out list was that lawyer. That was one smug mother fucker. I did not believe anything he said. He came across as such a scummy liar. The kind of guy who’s a friend of your parents and subtily hits on you and then tries to convince you you’re just uptight.

Next on my creep out list was that space cadet woman Australian who tried to poison the doctor. It was like she had absolutely zero sense of self and was just waiting around for someone to completely control her. I just it’s good she hooked up with this group instead of the Manson Family. This way she only attempted murder...that we know of.

Edited by FozzyBear
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I understand he had some rich followers but I really wish they had a forensic accountant to explain all the money. It wasn't just the Rolls and watches that was chump change compared to the money it would take to so quickly build that infrastructure from the ungerground secret living space complete with hot tub tp a real power grid for 10,000 and it all happened in a fairly short period of tine.

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I too wanted to know more about the money. I know they got donations, they got money for selling merchandise and I read that they charged for enlightenment courses and for attending their events. They made millions off their followers.

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I was curious about how the town worked. They had a pizza place and a clothing store and other stuff? Did residents pay cash? Did they work in exchange? Did they pay rent?

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I'm watching this with my husband, and we're not quite done with it. He grew up in Oregon and had family in Wasco County, so I watched this to humor him. I remembered it from my teens, but I didn't know a lot of the details. Boy, it is really gripping. Definitely a binge watch.

I used to love documentaries, but then they seemed to become more propaganda than the unbiased documenting of events that I grew up on, and I lost interest. This reminds me of the documentaries of old. It's just letting the people on both sides tell their story and letting the viewer decide. I am so excited just about that.

Edited by tobeannounced
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I could not be the least bit sympathetic towards the townspeople. They were bigots who tried to bully the Rajneeshees out by walking around with guns and threatening signs. They absolutely escalated the situation and hoped in the grand tradition bigotry and terrorism that it would force the Rajneeshees to capitulate and leave. Unfortunately, they happened to target Sheela who is a sociopath and wasn't backing down. Except for all of the innocent people Sheela was willing to poison or kill, I almost feel like they all deserve each other.

My biggest question is about what the experience was like for a regular Rajneeshee person. How did they experience this mishegaas?

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I understand he had some rich followers but I really wish they had a forensic accountant to explain all the money. It wasn't just the Rolls and watches that was chump change compared to the money it would take to so quickly build that infrastructure from the ungerground secret living space complete with hot tub tp a real power grid for 10,000 and it all happened in a fairly short period of tine.

yes -- and as mentioned many times the compound was 20 miles outside of Antelope -- and -- the entire episode unfolded, crashed and burned over about 5 years.-- at which point they were able (afaict) this vastly improved and re-zoned property .... I can't find that "she" was ever prosecuted for those "millions embezzled" or how she cleverly managed to stash the money. Obviously money enough to burn and/or walk away from for all parties.

There's very little "religious rigor" at all .... yes, I think he was a con man who recognized that the popular "ashram" tourism in India (Eat, Pray, Love, anyone?) could be all the more profitable in English in California ... I never heard a bad thing about Rajneesh and Rajneshpurim and I knewpeople casually who made the pilgrimage and wore the amulets.  That he quickly transformed himself into a "Zen Master" without portfolio, Osho is even more dubious and reminiscent of Diamond Mountain's guru/sage/fraud/disaster ....

https://info-buddhism.com/geshe_michael_roach-Death-and-Madness-at-Diamond-Mountain.html

So much vengeful violent plotting ... disproportionate given the many legal victories scored.... they weren't very good as spy-novel bad guys although I gather they made a lot of people very very sick (Dalles).  The attempted assassination by syringe was left very murky indeed as was Ma Anand Sheela's parole ... 

Rajneesh just selling old wine in new bottle should have been ashamed ... doesn't seem like he took any responsibility .... this film wants to use the old drug addict using addiction as excuse for bad acts or failing to act ... meh,I don't buy it.

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This documentary series has gotten massive, extraordinary disproportionately admiring media coverage.  I suspect Osho still has influential "followers" eager to "clear his name" and excite curiosity to draw in neophytes.  There are massive narrative gaps and strange lack of attribution for "facts" .... I've wondered repeatedly when and where Ma Anand Sheela's interview was filmed ... The lawyer/mayor fellow has been working on a book .... soon to be a wannabe best seller ... with the intent of clearing Rajneesh's name and reputation ... 

Over at netflix the reviews are overwhelmingly positive however many many refer to Rajneesh as Osho, so I suspect positive bias ... ymmv.

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6 minutes ago, SusanSunflower said:

This documentary series has gotten massive, extraordinary disproportionately admiring media coverage.  I suspect Osho still has influential "followers" eager to "clear his name" and excite curiosity to draw in neophytes.  There are massive narrative gaps and strange lack of attribution for "facts" .... I've wondered repeatedly when and where Ma Anand Sheela's interview was filmed ... The lawyer/mayor fellow has been working on a book .... soon to be a wannabe best seller ... with the intent of clearing Rajneesh's name and reputation ... 

Over at netflix the reviews are overwhelmingly positive however many many refer to Rajneesh as Osho, so I suspect positive bias ... ymmv.

Sheela is now living in Switzerland and it was stated in the first episode that her interview was filmed there.

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Yeah, I think not a lot of good behavior on either side here. I get how upsetting it must have been to the people of Antelope, but that's life, right? Things change. Nothing stays the same. You can't force your will on other people without bringing negative consequences on yourself.

That being said, the Rajneesh were assholes. If they were really what they said they were, they would have totally understood the townspeople's fears and formulated a plan to integrate into the community in a more thoughtful fashion. People who are truly full of peace, love and understanding are full of peace, love and understanding for everyone. And don't even get me started on how they used and tossed away the homeless. 

Edited by tobeannounced
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There is no explanation of why the Rajneeshes went to heavily armed, battle-ready quite so quickly ... so in-your-face provocative from the get-go .... again Antelope was 20 miles away with a population of under 40 souls and dwindling ... it was someone's decision (perhaps 1000% Sheela )  and things didn't seem to ever get better.  I have no doubt there was plenty of religious bigotry ... and likely if it hadn't been one thing it would have been another ... but when the guns came out, I suspect things changed irrevocably. (day #3 or 4??)  

Sheela had too many "accomplices" to conveniently blame it (as seems to be popular) on her psychopathology, sociopathy ... particularly since she (to my knowledge) continued to function well otherwise .. Yeah, I'll have to wait for the book ($$$).  God knows there have been other "communities".  Driving one of the many long roads into town (I live in the mountains in Colorado ), I passed 3 religious communities that have been in existence for a long time, ... and a very large non-blingy non-resort summer camp ... all travelling the same dirt roads and dealing with each other peacefully.  (Much of Colorado is staunchly palpably Christian) 

Yeah, the use and abuse of the homeless -- so many of which seemed genuinely thrilled to start their "new life" -- again heartless and shameless ... That sort of "sociopathy" doesn't vanish and yet Sheela is apparently managing (hopefully) at arm's length, nursing/care homes ... which means I think that she passed criteria to do so, at least the corporate owners ... all too mysterious, like her pardon ...  There seem to be many many "friends in high places" throughout this story (on all sides) .... why?  to cleanse the memory of a two-bit poseur who smiled beatifically and made everybody believe everything was gonna be allright! 

 

eta:  My absolute least favorite plot line is "crazy person did crazy things because they're crazy" ... that's my biggest problem in the end with Wild Wild Country ... so little actual "owned" motivation. 

Edited by SusanSunflower

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1 hour ago, tobeannounced said:

 

That being said, the Rajneesh were assholes. If they were really what they said they were, they would have totally understood the townspeople's fears and formulated a plan to integrate into the community in a more thoughtful fashion. People who are truly full of peace, love and understanding are full of peace, love and understanding for everyone. And don't even get me started on how they used and tossed away the homeless. 

The incident with the homeless was when the Rajneeshees lost any sympathy they had from me. I know they did some terrible things but the way they took advantage of vulnerable people to further their agenda and then discarded them when they were no longer of use was truly heartless. 

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30 minutes ago, DangerousMinds said:

They didn't stay 20 miles from Antelope - they bought up much of the real estate and essentially took over.

Right, while they started 20 miles from Antelope, in only a couple of years they had completely taken over the town and were aiming to take over the county.  The actual problems (no just the complaints of the Antelope residents) began when they started to expand outside the ranch.

I'm still working through this episode but one thing I hadn't realized was how the voting laws in Oregon had allowed much of what happened.  As an Oregonian, I am proud of the voter accessibility in our state, but I think just about anything can be exploited...unfortunately.

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It was clear that winning "fair and square" was never part of the Rajneeshpuram calculus.  They won a lot of the challenges and apparently  -- as rich folks do -- said damn the torpedoes and wen ahead while things were being adjudicated. 

Antelope's resident similarly were significantly (massively) "shored up" by "1000 friends of Oregon" ...  http://www.friends.org/latest/rajneeshpuram-and-1000-friends-slice-oregon-history

welcome to the internet age and the power of astroturf 

What I found so unexplained, since victory may well have been within grasp .... the immigration "fraud" issues seeming routine and unexceptional rather than massive and shocking,.. was "why decamp 100%" leaving thousands of believers clutching straw or sand.  That Decision to abruptly abandon the project "speaks volumes" but appears to mean/say nothing at least so far ... see also allegations of Rajneesh drug abuse/addiction ... real life doesn't really condone walk-aways. 

 

eta:  There are many many religious "cults", many Christain, others not.  That RAjneesh and Company could not make Rajneeshpuram work in Oregon does not make them "special" ... given the evidence, they are special only in their asshole-ness  IYKWIM 

Edited by SusanSunflower

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11 minutes ago, jennylauren123 said:

I'm surprised that people aren't taking sides. When one side poisons 700 people and tries to kill someone, I tend not to take their side. 

I don't think it is a case of taking sides.  This all happened 30+ years ago and the facts show that Rajneesh were not just some feel-good hippie cult that was misunderstood--they were what they were.  There is also the case of the townspeople being xenophobic--which they were.  But, then, there were about 40-50 of them.  While I can see fault with both parties, I don't think I need to take sides between thousands of people who broke the law and tried to murder, or at least seriously harm, innocent people and then tried to take over local government. and 45 folks who didn't like their new neighbors.

 

For me, the lesson  of this documentary is how movements like this can expoit and use laws for their own purposes.

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This reminds me of that show on ID called Fear Thy Neighbor. You have two pig-headed sides that are determined to have their way, and it just ratchets up and ratches up until there's an explosion. For me, there is really no side to take.

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One thing that I don't recall being mentioned in the documentary was the problem of a rising awareness of AIDS as a heterosexual risk ... along with other STDS.  It wasn't an auspicious time to be promoting a cult of "free love" ... There were apparently efforts to introduce "safe sex" practices (as understood at the time) but I have wondered if this "outside factor" was part of the abandonment of the project (in addition to legal entanglements) 

AIDS Virus Found at Free-Love Guru's Commune

September 05, 1985|United Press International

http://articles.latimes.com/1985-09-05/news/mn-24711_1_free-love

""But 18 months ago Rajneesh issued a stern warning about AIDS, predicting the disease would become the next great plague of mankind. He asked those living at the commune to avoid kissing and to use condoms and rubber gloves while lovemaking.""

-----------------------------------------------

also:  https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1986/09/29/ii-rajneeshpuram

""On Monday, Sep. 16, 1985, Rajneesh called a press conference. He said that Sheela and a dozen other commune leaders, including Puja (of the Rajneesh Medical Corp.), had left the commune over the weekend and gone to Europe. Calling them a "gang of fascists", he charged them with attemtping to poison a number of people. He also said Sheela had mismanaged the commune finances, stolen money, & left the commune 55 million dollars in debt. Tells about other charges he added later on. I"" 

 

(for context from wiki: ""The first effective therapy against HIV was the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI), zidovudine (AZT). It was approved by the US FDA in 1987.""    AIDS was very much still a "black box" with no known treatment at the time Rajneeshpuram was shuttered. 

Edited by SusanSunflower

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4 hours ago, jennylauren123 said:

I'm surprised that people aren't taking sides. When one side poisons 700 people and tries to kill someone, I tend not to take their side. 

The "proof" of the alleged poisoning remained murky for me.

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The extremely generous plea agreements and Sheela's parole and the terms of Rajneesh's departure all "smell funny" ... as if the evidence were lacking or wrongdoing against the Rajneeshis were being "atoned" for.  When people get off that "easy", there's sometimes (often?) a civil countersuit being avoided.    And -- on the otherhand  -- the lack of detail as to who did what to whom based on whose orders ... etc. again also "smells funny" ... the authorities really wanted the Rajneeshe inner circle gone and they obliged by leaving.  These plots would seem to need to involve at least 4-6 people (if not more) over weeks of involvement and subsequent "silence".   

Was this really just a case of "money walks" or was it also friends in high places.  Rajneesh said Sheela left the project 50 million dollars in debt ... as well as stealing millions more -- did anyone ever verify those numbers?  Was she ever prosecuted for embezzlement/theft? 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_Rajneeshee_bioterror_attack

""he commune leadership planned to sicken and incapacitate voters in The Dalles, where most of the voters resided, to sway the election.[14] Approximately twelve people were involved in the plots to employ biological agents, and at least eleven were involved in planning them. No more than four appear to have been involved in development at the Rajneeshpuram medical laboratory; not all of those were necessarily aware of the objectives of their work. At least eight individuals helped spread the bacteria.[11]""

Edited by SusanSunflower

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I found myself hating everyone.  At first I thought the townspeople were racist and there was no way that they would have reacted the same way had a Christian group (say the FLDS) come in.  But then the Rajneeshpurams started poisoning people and arming themselves.

Sheela is something else.  I would not want to be on her bad side. . . .

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3 hours ago, meatball77 said:

I found myself hating everyone.  At first I thought the townspeople were racist and there was no way that they would have reacted the same way had a Christian group (say the FLDS) come in.  But then the Rajneeshpurams started poisoning people and arming themselves.

Sheela is something else.  I would not want to be on her bad side. . . .

Actually, they probably would have reacted in a very similar way had the FLDS moved in.  The way FLDS communities have established themselves is not that different from what the Rajneesh were originally doing.

There was a lot going on with the Rajneesh, so it is hard to make a blanket statement BUT it seemed like the very small population of Antelope was used to a high degree of non-interference.  They had their local government, but they were really too small for the county or state governments to care much about what was going on (which I think was part of the reason the situation got as far as it did with the Rajneesh.  This wasn't really conveyed in the show, but I do remember Rajneeshpuram being in the news as sort of an oddity for quite some time before people outside of the area took it seriously.  I think it was the vote to unincorporate Antelope that made the rest of the state sit up and take notice).  So, when a group--no matter who it was--came in and tried to exert any sort of influence over them, they would fight back in whatever way they could.

I don't think that the Rajneesh were recognized as a "religion."  A cult, yes.  A bunch of hippies, yes.  But I don't think anyone was giving them the legitimacy of calling them a religion, besides themselves (until they said they weren't???)

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The current series of arrests and impending prosecution of NXIVM is interesting wrt issues of adults "freely" entering into subservient (pretty much master/slave) relationships, pledging money, participating in rewards-for-completion assignments (compared to a "pyramid scheme")  ... interesting summary (not sensationalistic) if you are interested from rolling stone 

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/nxivm-what-we-know-about-alleged-sex-trafficking-forced-labor-w518483

I've not seen this sort of high-level federal prosecution of a "cult" (because folks crossed state lines) with accusations of "human trafficking". .. It will be interesting to see if a personal freedom counter campaign is born.  

In my various readings wrt Rajnessh, the "massive immigration fraud" consisted of, irrc, 35 "fraudulent" marriages between an American citizen and a foreigner in search of permanent residency / green card status ... which doesn't strike me as "massive" given the age and relative sophistication (international travel as one indicator) of the Rajneesh population ... remember the Andie McDonnell/Gerard Depardieu movie of the name "Green Card" ... In an age of rampant divorce (particularly wrt hasty impulsive marriages)  a "fraudulent marriage" to help out a friend didn't seem much like a "crime" 

eta:  I am fascinated (at my age of 65) by the younger generations insistence on law enforcement's "help" in dealing with things like this.   Straight forward personal legal suits about undue influence and fraud leading to "fortune teller" style financial legacies being signed over to charismatic leaders have long precedent ... Apparently the leader (fairly longterm how-to-succeed-in-life guru among many) had longstanding personal support of the Bronfman family  -- money talks, friends in high places -- still the personal freedom to "follow you bliss" and make your own mistakes is worth conserving. 

Edited by SusanSunflower
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I really enjoyed this series. I was somewhat aware of the whole thing because I live in Oregon for a few years (recently) and had vague awareness of the Rajneeshees when I was growing up (I grew up in Australia, but it was big there too; Australians referred to them as "the Orange People"), but really had no idea of the extent of what went down and just how big the cult was at its peak. 

I agree no one acquitted themselves particularly well -- the guy in the overalls who inadvertently wound up in some elected position seemed the be the least objectionable, as he seemed more fascinated with the Rajneeshees than offended by their sexual predilections as most of the others were (outwardly anyway). Before he actually had dirt on the group, even the US attorney openly expressed disgust for their free loving and that it must mean they're bad people, which is odd to watch in this day and age.

One thing I felt the documentary didn't really explain enough was what the Rajneeshees believed and why they were so drawn to the Bhagwan in the first place. I've since read the book "My Life in Orange" which has filled in a lot of those blanks, and given more of an on-the-ground perspective from someone who wasn't senior and influential in the organization, as all of the interviewees in the show were.

Like others here, I also wanted to know a bit about how they got sooo much money to begin with, which this book doesn't entirely answer but does offer some insight: for one, they were already operating loads of communes and centers around the world that made money selling meditation and therapy and sundry other businesses before building Rajneeshpuram. Plus there was money from selling books and recordings and beads etc. Rajneeshees around the world were called on to donate and to borrow money from friends and family to help build Rajneeshpuram. The ashram in India also seems to have been involved in the drug trade and devotees could pay for their stay by couriering drugs back to their home nations. 

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I thought the Bhagwan was the real creep in this  - yes, Sheela was nuts, but I think she was doing everything she did at the behest of the Bhagwan. This guy had not even the tiniest bit of empathy or care for his followers. He bought 90 Rolls Royces, ffs, when there was not enough money for food and clothing for his followers. He had tantrums about getting a million-dollar Rolex! He made young women get sterilised so no babies would be born on the commune. He 'picked out' women for sex like a rock-star. He utterly disgusted me. Sheela might've been a sociopath but she worked damn hard and made a lot of things happen. Huge infrastructure. Incredible achievements. AND she went to jail (he didn't). The way Bhagwan dissed her when she left  - 'she's just cut because I wouldn't have sex with her' - was about the most unenlightened thing I've ever heard. What a snake! All credit to Sheela, I say... he was a lazy, demanding, spoiled, selfish child, unworthy of two seconds' attention by any sane person! And that lawyer -- tearing up when talking about poor Bhagwan's hardship. Oh please, spare me! The minute the guy thought he was in danger, he abandoned his loyal followers without thinking twice. What an UGLY case of sub-human chicanery!

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3 hours ago, edprest said:

What an UGLY case of sub-human chicanery!

Indeed. I think there was enough in the doc that no matter how many people follow this man, he had all the appearances of con man and creep. I think Sheela learned a lot from him. Sheela is a sociopath and Bhagwan knew her issues. He was able to manipulate her devotion in particular especially after the death of her husband. He had her sedated for three days and then told her it was a "time to work". The use of drugs and sedation was heavily used before Sheela became secretary. Sheela, in her madness, said multiple times how she was devoted to his/their cause. Yes, it warped to her narcissistic mindset, but clearly Bhagwan approved or nudged her to do these things. She knew he was a greedy person. The fact that some of his followers acknowledge his love of finer things made him oddly relatable to them, but it seems abhorrent to me considering all his preaching of love and community.  It does seem like his charisma was powerful, but he had very problematic views and management of his ashrams.

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2 hours ago, edprest said:

And that lawyer -- tearing up when talking about poor Bhagwan's hardship.

That guy was pitiful. Is he the last Rajneeshi in Oregon? I don't even know the status of the Bhagwan's organization now. Is he back in India?

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I came across this article today from The Oregonian:

Inside the Rajneeshee secret files

I can't remember if it was in this article or another I read about the "secret files," but they are still waiting on an authenticity check.  While I'm still inclined to believe these, it does seem a little opportunistic to "discover" these *now.*

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52 minutes ago, Pepper Mostly said:

 I don't even know the status of the Bhagwan's organization now. Is he back in India?

They touched on it at the end of the series, but the organisation is actually still popular. I think like a lot of New Age spiritual movements, it gained a resurgence in the 90s. One of the people who recommended the doc to me was born and raised in India and she said that the movement has always been one of the most popular  ones in India. There are many teachings and gurus to compete as well. The ashram in Prune has a meditation resort and it's one of India's most popular attractions as people can go for meditation retreats, teachings, etc. According to wiki, the body that heads all of the Bhagwan/Osho's stuff is the Osho International Foundation. I think Sheela also referenced the infighting that happened after Osho died. Sheela was crazy but she was not stupid and knew there would be disputes about money and his legacy. She probably would have been the head of it if she and Bhagwan were still on good terms at his death. 

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For the sake of discussion, I will assume the pages are genuine and note that they seem to implicate a lot of people both in the commission and coverup of these crimes ... something I read said that the physical compound was sold to the christian youth camp people by the county ... 

There appears to have been a mad rush to put this controversy to bed as quickly as possible, perhaps to get the moneys, perhaps to avoid legal discovery of past deals made (now that almost all Rajneeshi were not around to complain about promises unkept or misrepresentation by law enforcement (except for those with legal action pending with vast incentives to not make waves in return for plea bargains and lighter sentences and parole recommendations).  Much of rural America is ruled by the large landowners and their almost dynastic families who have often held political office (and major employer status) for generations.   Where I live our town manager was just removed from office -- according to the local paper -- but nothing tells me why except her "behavior" was inappropriate ... oddly not the first town official removed in the last decade or so (we knew why the last time -- she had fired office staff who reported her mishandling of fees paid, they sued and sort of won, but iirc, in her departure they insisted she had done nothing wrong (not even to create a petty cash slush fund from undeposited fees) 

 

ETA:  Like Colorado, Oregon was transformed from a very very conservative bastions of a lot of the usual vices (like racism) by the influx of many Californians seeking relief from exorbitant real estate prices and over crowding ... real estate was cheap and plentiful.  My neighbors (school teachers) bought a modest country retreat which they loved for a while but were very surprised by the hostility to "foreigners" like themselves.  ( I think this was in the 80's)  There were also few jobs, even for k-12 teachers 

Edited by SusanSunflower

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I started watching this but the first episode seemed so slow. I know they're trying to explain the cult and the members, but there's something about these types of groups that just drive me crazy, so it's hard to watch. 

I have never understood how people fall under the thrall of one person to the point they do.   I've heard it's a great documentary so I'll try it again I guess. 

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24 minutes ago, teddysmom said:

I have never understood how people fall under the thrall of one person to the point they do.   I've heard it's a great documentary so I'll try it again I guess. 

I'm similar to you in that I am very averse following any spiritual or political leaders. I found the first episode a little slow as well, but it really picks up over time as they add more non-cult individuals. I do find the members interesting and abhorrent as well because it's a look at how humans justify their actions and their behaviors for causes they think are greater for whatever reasons.

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I'd say they start as "seekers" for something eternal or spiritual or "bigger than themselves" (even just the obscure and exotic or often something as mundane and concrete as  enhanced "personal power") ,,, The people I knew enthralled by Rashneesh had been enthralled by Muktananda and various prior guru types ... Even with their prior disappointments or disllusionments, the desire to remain within the seeking community was strong ... "Eat, Pray, Love" is just a most recent story of a pilgrimage of a sort that goes back literally decades ...  Seven Years in Tibet dated to 1957,,  In of the Sixth Happiness to 1958 ... see also Lopsang Rampa and others. 

My parents, an atheist and an agnostic, seemingly immunized me from most "following" tendencies but I've become convinced over a lifetime that many many people are desperate to get a chance at "getting back to the garden" (idealized and fantasy as it may be) of this sort of community.  The desire is deep-seated and authentic., like wanting to "go home" 

eta:  I think assuming this "homing instinct" is a character deficit or fault is in many cases a mistake.  The desire to "find my real family" or sacrifice for a noble cause disappears for many with the passing into "adulthood" ... for others, not.so.much, only some join "cults". 

Edited by SusanSunflower
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10 minutes ago, Athena said:

I'm similar to you in that I am very averse following any spiritual or political leaders. I found the first episode a little slow as well, but it really picks up over time as they add more non-cult characters. I do find the members interesting and abhorrent as well because it's a look at how humans justify their actions and their behaviors for causes they think are greater for whatever reasons.

This is regard to Scientology as well.  I can never figure out what is missing in a person's life that they pay thousands and thousands of dollars to an organization to find themselves or their true meaning or whatever the issue.

I have a friend who needs to have some inspirational, positive quote on her computer screen, "you're good enough and smart enough and people like you" all the time, she cuts out little sayings and puts them all over her cubicle.  I have a feeling if she was exposed to something like this, she might join. She's unhappy, and always looking for something she thinks will fix it.   

This hanging your daily happiness on a quote from a calendar or new age jazz music, I just don't get.  I guess it helps some people. 

18 minutes ago, SusanSunflower said:

'd say they start as "seekers" for something eternal or spiritual or "bigger than themselves" (even just the obscure and exotic or often something as mundane and concrete as  enhanced "personal power") ,,, The people I knew enthralled by Rashneesh had been enthralled by Muktananda and various prior guru types ... Even with their prior disappointments or disllusionments, the desire to remain within the seeking community was strong ... "Eat, Pray, Love" is just a most recent story of a pilgrimage of a sort that goes back literally decades ...  Seven Years in Tibet dated to 1957,,  In of the Sixth Happiness to 1958 ... see also Lopsang Rampa and others. 

My parents, an atheist and an agnostic, seemingly immunized me from most "following" tendencies but I've become convinced over a lifetime that many many people are desperate to get a chance at "getting back to the garden" (idealized and fantasy as it may be) of this sort of community.  The desire is deep-seated and authentic., like wanting to "go home" 

I have to say the first episode where they roll out the red carpet and put flowers on it and dust buster it, I was lmao. 

Do you think they ever find what they're looking for, or is the seeking enough.  

I don't mean to bash anyone's need to look for happiness, I get the feeling people think life is supposed to be euphoric and bliss, and I just never felt that way.  Maybe I'm the one missing something.  My dog and cat and garden and something to binge on tv/Netflix and a good book and a good job seem to do it for me. 

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yeah, I could never get past the first Rolls-Royce, not to mention the Rolex ... and an embrace of materialism ... It's too long ago for me to remember what I thought my friends were seeking but there was an idealistic quest to find a place to be one's "real" and "better" self ... which I guess is also part of where I fall away because the assumption that your "real" self is a "better" self should not be assumed, as we see so often with the lieutenants of these groups who, given an inch, take a mile and become abusers, often blatantly self-interested abusers.... which does not mean that "intentional" communities do not dot our landscape, many are invisible and quite a number are Christian (as I discovered after moving to Colorado and discussing Waco with my coworkers many of whom had family members living in compound or communities too-close-for-comfort).  In California, they tended to be considered weak-willed loonies, a self-serving dismissal not only of Waco but also Jonestown (where a lot of more recognizably "good people" died) 

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I wanted to at first chime in that I thought the Rajneeshees were being first class d-bags. They needed to get the hell over themselves. "Ooh, we are so free! We are so smart and creative! These people whose town we took over and made no effort to even introduce ourselves to let them know who we are just don't understand."

Anyone else get the feeling that Bhagwan set up Sheela with the recording of the drugs and his "death?"  It seemed like he knew he was being recorded. And the attempt on the Dr's life is what really got her.. and what forced Sheela away for Oregon. 

Edited by Real Trippy

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I wanted to at first chime in that I thought the Rajneeshees were being first class d-bags. They needed to get the hell over themselves. "Ooh, we are so free! We are so smart and creative! These people whose town we took over and made no effort to even introduce ourselves to let them know who we are just don't understand."

Completely agree. I cannot imagine my hometown having this happen and anyone being very happy. I will grant that many of the townspeople did come across as bigoted but man the people from the cult ... were far more irritating to me.

Quote

I have never understood how people fall under the thrall of one person to the point they do. 

I never understand this either. I'm looking at these cult members and just cracking up at the nonsense. I can't even figure out what it is they believe in. Like what is it you are following?

I feel the same way when I watch the Lean Remini show about Scientology. People spending thousands and thousands of dollars to finally find out about aliens? My head spins at the mere idea.

I get that people are seeking something but I guess I've never been that type.

That lawyer guy was just tiresome.

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