Part 4 of Roshani’s notes on the Summer Celebration at the Ranch in 1983
The Dutch Ladies
Our tent mate was in her fifties and from a small rural town in Holland. Dear and soft-spoken, she talked with us in bits and pieces over the days. She had been a sannyasin for two or more years, but her husband and children were not, considering it their mother’s passing fancy, but being tolerant of it all. She made accommodations—cooking meat for her husband, even though she remained a vegetarian, wearing her mala inside her clothes when entertaining his business friends. She drives to a center in a nearby city to join other sannyasins for meditations, videos and conversation.
It was Bhagwan’s books which convinced her to take sannyas, his great explication of Jesus being the most dear to her heart. Although bothered by lack of sleep and the aches and pains associated with sleeping on a pad on a tent platform, she enjoyed the festival. She found Satsang beautiful; became quiet after Bhagwan’s afternoon driveby and daily went to hear one of his tapes and do Nadabrahma or Kundalini meditation.
She was personable and much as one would expect a middle-aged housewife and avid golfer to be. We chatted about children and pets and the ordinary things of life. She shared some of the same reservations as Ted about the public displays of intimacy between some sannyasin couples, but viewed the behavior as a generational difference, not a doctrinal one. It is obvious that though being a sannyasin is not easy for her, she has found a quiet happiness in it that brings her great joy.
We developed some ‘in jokes’, as tent mates tend to do—about the Indians’ loud throat clearing in the mornings and about another Dutch woman she met on the plane. She was a constant talker and seemingly followed our tent mate, and later us, everywhere. She always popped up. She was a healthcare worker with the terminally ill at one time. She was one of those unusual people who fancy themselves to be very psychic and need to share their experiences with everyone. She told us about all of her past lives, spoke with seeming authority about the strength of ‘Rajneeshism’ in Europe, predicted she would return to the Ranch soon to stay permanently. She went on and on about her predictions and all—a bit bizarre for a very plain and ordinary woman of 40 or so. All sorts of people come to Bhagwan.
What Brings People to Bhagwan?
A few scattered and incomplete impressions follow. Some sannyasins, like our Dutch lady, have always dabbled in things psychic. The tarot card reading, heightened awareness, parapsychological events, etc., associated with the movement seem to be why some are here. My guess is that some of the young people come for the lifestyle. The physical intimacy, sexual revolution, communal living and idealism are perhaps the strongest attractions for them. No doubt some of the older Indians are attracted by the open sexual mores as well.
I had a rather embarrassing experience one morning as I walked from tent to shower trailer. An Indian man, about 50 and not very physically attractive, said from a few feet behind me, “Hi, Ma.” Being friendly, I turned and said, “Good morning.” He raced to catch up. “Are you liking the festival?” he asked, as he slipped his hand into mine. “Well, holding hands isn’t so awfu” I thought. “Be nice” “Oh yes, and you?” I started to feel relieved as he let go of my hand, but, no, it went to my shoulder. I looked straight ahead so as not to encourage him. He swung his head round to give me a kiss only to find that I’d started, pulled back and he got only my cheek. By my look and my lack of mala, he must have gotten discouraged, said a word and walked on. We laughed about that a lot, my tent mate, Ted and I. A suppressed lechery had almost found freedom of expression! He, too, seemed to pop up everywhere we were from then on, but never a look or a word passed between us.
Others come to Bhagwan for the opportunity to work to some purpose. This is a motive for many of the Germans and Americans, I think. They love to work, and to work in service of an environmental, socially experimental, as well as spiritual cause—what an added joy. For others, the books fill a spiritual void in their lives. Bhagwan’s words ring beautiful and true—and who doesn’t want to be a Buddha?
Doubtless there are many other reasons. The warmth of a family, unconditional love and acceptance, which some may never have known. And then, why discount the magnetic pull of some inexplicable energy. For that is what I feel. This important, I think. This is a way to live one’s life fully, attending to both spiritual and material development at one and the same time.
A Visit to Sheela’s
On Tuesday morning we met Mary Crawford, a dear, sweet little old white-haired lady with laughing eyes. She’s the one who’s offered to adopt Bhagwan as a means of gaining permanent residency. She’s from The Dalles, a decidedly anti-sannyasin city. She’s shorter than I am, busy, helpful, talkative, wearing pink. She’s brought buckets full of daisies from her garden for everyone. My kind of lady! We suffer a case of instant affection; later we adopt each other. She’s very fond of the “Red People” and they of her. Quite by accident and by different paths we end up at Sheela’s house later in the day.
The yard is packed with people. Sheela is having a special meeting with Brazilian sannyasins. Ted overhears some of it as he smokes on the porch. Sheela says they are to find a piece of property in the interior. There is some talk of danger on the coasts—a reference to California falling into the sea and the terrible weather at Malibu. They are all to move to the property and establish a commune. Objections are turned aside. They are all to work hard and double their numbers at the festival next year—only seventy of hundreds came this year. All this is passed on as Bhagwan’s wishes.
Sheela does ‘rule’ in a sense. Ted is a bit disturbed—what if she were someday to tell me to pack up and leave for Argentina—after I’d taken sannyas, that is. He’s doing a good job of keeping me from getting carried away by the festival and taking sannyas on the spot. Though, from what one person I talked to says, it’s a difficult thing to do. He waited in line for three hours and was interviewed at length. “How long have you been meditating? Wearing red? A vegetarian? Have you considered your job, your family?” And I hear that one woman, from the press, I think, had been told to wait for the third year in a row. I wonder about this. Is she more useful on the ‘outside’? Is she neurotic? Is it really so difficult to take sannyas? We had heard that of those who were initiated in the “heat of the moment” during last summer’s celebration, many had later dropped sannyas. A planned carefulness this year was evident. Not good to have too many ‘fallen away’ Rajneeshees, I guess.
Well, back to Sheela’s. She also called special meetings with French sannyasins and those from Vancouver, BC. What was said, we do not know. Could she be preparing potential new homes for Bhagwan, should the INS succeed in their quest for deportation? Hard to tell.
Meanwhile, I sat in the house with Mary. We chatted with Sunshine and Niren’s daughter, Leela, who was the telephone receptionist of the day—and obviously enjoying it. The rooms were packed. A large contingent of Indians was present. Were they there to ask some favor? Pay their respects? There were other miscellaneous sannyasins. Cookies and juice were available for all who waited.
Sheela came in. I was a bit embarrassed to take up her time, but she focused on us and Mary for about ten minutes, as others, waiting longer, continued to wait patiently. Pleasantries, jokes, handmade wedding gifts from Mary—all interlarded with appointment requests by media types. Sheela bore up well—so well all week—seeing hundreds of people. She flew back and forth to Portland for TV shows, met with coordinators, drove Bhagwan and conversed with him daily about the festival and all. And, of course, she was open to interviews by the more than 61 newspaper and TV crews who were there for a story.
Roshani for Osho News