Surendra found some passages in Maneesha’s book from the eighties, ‘Osho: The Buddha for the Future’ that throw more light on the ‘edited and missing’ parts of discourses given by Osho in Lao Tzu House, Rajneeshpuram, to small groups of sannyasins in 1984/1985.
In the wake of Wild Wild Country, is an imminent and timely book release, Osho: The Buddha for the Future by Maneesha James, that includes in its later chapters a first-hand account of life and events in Rajneeshpuram. Documented during and soon after the end of the experimental commune, this account includes a wealth of clear evidence and anecdotal information. It illuminates several black holes in the docuseries and helps understand some of the missing links in this extraordinary chain of events.
Maneesha’s very lively and enthralling descriptions also include chapters on her earlier life and many of her years living close to Osho. This book is full of insights, juicy snippets, and factual information woven into a vivid tapestry. Imbued with her devotion to Osho, the account includes many quotations which help to provide a clear presentation of salient aspects of his vision. Like the TV series, you might well want to binge on this one.
Maneesha writes in her book:
“So how, you will wonder, did we reconcile all that Osho is saying about religion and priests versus true religiousness with the fact that we are now ‘Rajneeshees’, of the religion of ‘Rajneeshism’, with a bible called The Book of Rajneeshism and our very own pope, with her papal regalia for special occasions, in the form of Sheela? Osho has reiterated so many times that the last place you can expect to experience God or feel the essence of religiousness is within the confines of a formal religion. Yet that is exactly what Sheela appears to have created – I presume because we were applying for permission for Osho to stay under the category of his being a religious teacher. She wants to substantiate that by having all the trappings of a formal religion. Apparently, our lawyers have advised her that this is not necessary. In fact, it will prove obstructive when it comes to the issue of the separation of church and state.
It’s just a gesture and almost certainly none of us take it seriously. But later I wonder if Sheela used the situation to consolidate her position. For sure many of her strategies to gain and then maintain power have a popish ring about them.
Perhaps, because Sheela is not listening to him, Osho tries to warn us all through discourses that what we are doing, or allowing to be done, to his vision is the very thing that has been done to masters in the past. Perhaps what usually happens only after the master is dead, Osho is allowing to be played out now, while he is still alive, to watch what our response will be and to guide us.
Does any Christian who has any real understanding of Jesus believe that the pope embodies the precepts of Jesus’ vision? What would Jesus find, and what would he do about it, if he came back to earth today and met the pope in the Vatican?
In any case, one incident in particular illustrates Sheela’s popish behaviour: her editing of Osho’s discourses. By ‘editing’ I don’t mean the kind Devaraj, Devageet and I are doing – adding commas or correcting the English, as he has asked us to.
Unknown to most of us, Sheela actually cuts whole sentences and passages from not one but several discourses. Her rationale is that she is protecting Osho and the commune from unnecessary political or legal repercussions; that Osho is speaking on subjects of which he is ‘meant’ to have no knowledge and is thus incriminating himself.
Later, Osho spells out very clearly that not only are his acknowledged enemies trying to stop him talking, even his disciples wanted to hinder his message. He says he knows exactly what he is saying and is aware of the ramifications. But according to several sannyasins who know Sheela, her attitude towards Osho is that he doesn’t understand much that goes on in the world and it is up to her to protect him and to take care of certain matters without his guidance.
That she sets herself up as protector, one might argue, though misguided, is well intentioned. However, consider the position Sheela puts herself into as protector of Osho and censor of his words. Without his knowledge, advice, or consent, Sheela can, and does, interfere with Osho’s message to his sannyasins and the rest of the world.
From one particular discourse (December 19, 1984), she deletes several pages in which Osho talks about how he envisions certain corporations within the commune functioning. These many separate bodies he sees as necessary to decentralize power and avoid a concentration of power in the hands of just one person.
Now, why should the spiritual head of the commune be endangering his status by talking about how to decentralize and so avoid the abuse of power? To say that the discourse implies Osho is involved in the details of running the commune is analogous to saying that if the pope makes a comment about nuclear warfare he is making bombs! The more likely explanation as to why these passages are removed is that they signify a threat to Sheela personally…
[…] It is here that several passages are deleted. I for one would even dispute whether the phrase ‘other religious affairs’ is Osho’s and not Sheela’s; it does not strike me as a phrase that is characteristic of the way Osho talks. I could be wrong on that score but certainly there is no question that two pages later a phrase of Osho’s has been replaced with one that is not his. Osho has been saying that we should learn from the past and not allow organizations to use us…
‘And if you can see all the possibilities that destroy religion…’ Osho continues, ‘and before they get hold of my religion I am going to finish all these possibilities. Sannyasins can have a totally different organization. That promise you can always remember: I will not leave you under a fascist regime.’
But in the written discourse you will find the last phrase reads, ‘I will not leave you in a state of chaos.’
From Ignorance to Innocence, Ch 20, Q 1
Devaraj and Devageet are both present at this discourse, and they remember this particular phrase as originally said. In fact, they remember a good deal of the discourse and are aware, when they see the transcript given to them, that much material has been edited out. Trusting that if it has been omitted it is for a good reason, they ask no further about the matter.
Only some time later I hear that Zeno – who worked in the tape and video department where the initial editing had to be done – does ask about why so many of Osho’s words need to be cut and changed. Subsequently, she is falsely and deliberately diagnosed as having a positive AIDS antibody test and is sent to live with others in a special area set up for those having the syndrome. (This form of incarceration is used as punishment for at least one other sannyasin; apparently, rumour has it, because when asked to be involved in a drug run by one of Sheela’s gang he refused to.)” ¹
“On September 8th we celebrate Mahaparinirvana Day (the day on which we celebrate all those sannyasins, past or present, who have died enlightened). Sheela is absent – it is the first ranch celebration day she has missed – and returns a few days later. It’s common knowledge that Sheela’s trips away from the commune, ostensibly to visit centres all around the world, have become increasingly frequent and lengthy. On her return from this latest visit she writes a letter to Osho saying that she no longer feels so excited when she comes back to the commune, that she enjoys more when her work takes her to Europe, Australia and elsewhere.
Osho responds to this on the evening of Friday, September 13, 1985 in the press conference in Jesus Grove. As it happens, Sheela is not present; she has a cold. Needless to say, Osho’s response spreads rapidly among those of us who are not present.
‘Perhaps she is not conscious,’ Osho tells the forty or so sannyasins present – ‘and this is the situation for all – she does not know why she does not feel excited here anymore. It is because I am speaking and she is no longer the central focus. She is no longer a celebrity. When I am speaking to you, she is no longer needed as a mediator to inform you of what I am thinking. Now that I am speaking to the press and to the radio and TV journalists, she has fallen into shadow. And for three and a half years she was in the limelight because I was silent.
‘It may not be clear to her why she does not feel excited coming here and feels happy in Europe. She is still a celebrity in Europe – interviews, television shows, radio interviews, newspapers – but here all that has disappeared from her life. If you can behave in such foolish, unconscious ways even while I am here, the moment I am gone you will be creating all kinds of politics, fight. Then what is the difference between you and the outside world? Then my whole effort has been a failure. I want you to behave really as a new man.
‘I have given Sheela the message that this is the reason: “So think it over and tell me. If you want me to stop speaking just for your excitement, I can stop speaking.” To me there is no problem in it. In fact, it is a trouble. For five hours a day I am speaking to you, and it is creating unhappiness in her mind. So let her do her show business. I can move into silence. But that indicates that deep down those who have power will not like me to be here alive, because while I am here nobody can have any power trip. They may not be conscious about it; only situations reveal your power trip…’
The Last Testament, Vol 2, Ch 23
How is Sheela going to receive this ‘hit’? We don’t have to wait too long to find out. The following day around 1:45 p.m. I receive a phone call from Mary Catherine who, for the past year or so, has been an editor with The Rajneesh Times. ‘Maneesha, I’m down at Jesus Grove,’ she says breathlessly. ‘I don’t know if you guys are aware of it, but Sheela is planning to leave. I think Osho ought to be told.’ ²
Excerpts from Osho: The Buddha for the Future by Maneesha James
¹ Ch 25, Crocodiles
² Ch 28, Exit Sheela
Comment by Osho News: We hear that the book is being reformatted into an e-book and soon to be released.
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