Subhuti’s journey from journalist to ghost-writer, memoir-writer, novelist and finally to published author with ‘Wild Wild Guru’.
“Someone should write a book about it.”
The words jumped out at me from an editorial in The Bulletin, a newspaper published in Bend, Oregon, one of the small cities close to Rajneeshpuram.
Well, I didn’t need much encouragement. At the end of November, 1985, as the tumultuous saga of our commune on the Big Muddy Ranch came to an end, I was more than ready to sit down and start typing.
But where to go and write it? The answer came from a friend of mine who’d loaned money to the Ranch and couldn’t get it back. Using his credit, he gave me a free stay in the Ranch hotel, while someone else loaned me a word processor.
And so, as a chill winter wind blew through the dying city of Rajneeshpuram and snow fell steadily from a grey Central Oregon sky, I stopped being a commune worker and became a guest.
Paradoxically, it was a gift of luxury in a moment of apparent hardship. The Ranch was falling apart, but the hotel stayed open and its cosy rooms and outdoor hot tub were welcoming me.
However, for better or worse, the writing didn’t work out. It was more of a catharsis than a book and a few months later, having left the Ranch and moved to Mill Valley, California, I tossed the manuscript into the back of a passing garbage truck.
In 1987, when it was clear Osho’s world tour had ended – no country would allow him in – I flew to India and joined the community that was regrouping in his revived Pune ashram.
A couple of years later, in 1989, I was again in the writing game, this time for someone else. Margot Anand, the French-born Tantra teacher, was making a name for herself and an American publisher in Los Angeles was begging her to produce a Tantra manual.
Margot had already burned through two ghostwriters, then found me. I needed the money, so I flew back to Mill Valley and for the next six months helped Margot put together her book.
In the line of duty, my girlfriend and I volunteered to pose naked for the Tantric illustrations, because the artist couldn’t draw from her own imagination. She needed photos. When they took a close-up of my erect manhood, I joked that they needed a wide-angle lens.
Margot’s book, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, was the first Western Tantra Manual and became a classic in the field. It was a bestseller in the New Age market.
Back in Pune once more, Osho left his body and I stayed on through the 1990s, watching the transition from commune to resort and working on the Osho Times magazine.
But the word was out that I could help people write books and, from my side, cash injections were always welcome. So, I helped a German tennis player called Peter Spang (Niket) write a book called Zennis.
Then I teamed up with inner-world wizards Wadud and Waduda to produce an Esoteric Science Manual, complete with chakras, subtle bodies, auras, etc. It was fun and financially rewarding – the ideal combination.
At the turn of the millennium, I left the Pune resort and was never again a full-time resident. But my new career in ghostwriting was keeping me afloat.
Next, came a book called Tantralife with Radha Luglio, a juicy Italian Tantra teacher who’d been one of Osho’s mediums, followed by a delightful book with Meera, the Japanese painter, called ReAwakening of Art.
Meanwhile, lots of books were being written about Osho and the controversies that had surrounded him.
I noticed they fell into two distinct categories: the negative books were accepted by mainstream, Western publishing houses, while the positive ones were rejected and could only find outlets through self-publishing, Osho organizations, or publishers in India.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful,” I thought to myself, “If I could write a book that recognized Osho as an enlightened mystic and could still find a Western publisher?”
So, the longing to write my own book stayed with me, although, frustratingly, I couldn’t find the right formula to make it happen.
Then an old friend of mine, Savita, started collecting short stories from people who’d had personal interaction with Osho, for a compilation titled Encounters with an Inexplicable Man.
With my journalistic background, writing short stories came easily to me and so, within a couple of days, I gave Savita three of them.
“Nice, but I’m only going to use one,” she told me.
“That’s a pity,” I thought, because obviously, like any author or journalist, when I write, I want people to read what I’ve written.
Then it hit me. Why not keep writing anecdotes? Why not fill my own book with short, witty, hopefully-interesting, short stories?
This magic formula unleashed my long held-back desires, the anecdotes flew out of my laptop, and within a few months the book was complete.
I called it: My Dance with a Madman.
Naturally, I thought I had a best-seller on my hands, but a sobering reality gradually dawned.
I found a literary agent in London who liked the book, but he, alas, could not find a publisher. To most of them, Osho was a forgotten, outdated story.
Fortunately, self-publishing had by now become an affordable alternative and soon I was launching my book at a party in Koregaon Park, signing copies for eager buyers. How very satisfying!
Meanwhile, earning a buck was still a priority and ghostwriting continued, including three books for Svagito Liebermeister: one on family constellation, one on counselling and one compilation called Osho Therapy.
I also wrote and self-published more books myself: a collection of humorous stories about India called The Pune Diaries, a romantic novel, set in India, called The Last White Man, and a collection of my musical shows and plays, called The Professor Who Lost His Mind.
But the dream of writing a book for a major publisher continued and finally it seemed like the time had come when, in March 2018, the Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country, became a global hit.
Suddenly, Osho was back in the news. I wrote a few more stories, expanding My Dance with a Madman, and then started sending it around.
I came agonisingly close to clinching a deal with a giant London publisher, but in the end my book was turned down. How very frustrating!
Months went by and then, last December, I was drinking an early morning cup of tea at my mother’s house, in the UK, when, on a whim, I opened my laptop and searched on Google for “new literary agent.”
To my surprise, I found one. I sent him the manuscript. He liked it. He sent it out to six major publishers. One said “Yes, we want it.” It was that simple.
Well, not quite that simple. In fact, the hard work was just beginning.
The anecdotes in My Dance with a Madman added up to a grand total of 56,000 words.
“Not enough,” said my new agent and asked me to add more stories, bringing the length of the book up to 80,000 words, before he sent it out.
“Not enough,” said my new editor at the publishing house, after the contract was signed
He wanted more detail about the mystical powers of gurus, the significance of Osho’s approach to spirituality, a day in the life of a Rajneesh sannyasin and, most of all, answers to all the controversies and question marks that had surrounded us.
I kept writing as fast as I could. By the spring of this year, the word count was up to 110,000 and my earlier book had disappeared into a publication nearly double the size.
It was a lot of work, but it was a blessing.
This new book isn’t just a collection of anecdotes. It’s an epic story, not only of my personal journey with Osho, but of the whole amazing saga we passed through.
And, as I await publication, I can feel that another saga has also been completed:
After 29 years of wishing to write a book about Osho that would be published in the mainstream, it came to me as a gift.
Wild Wild Guru: An Insider’s Account of His Life with Bhagawan, the World’s Most Controversial Guru
by Subhuti Anand Waight
The book will be launched on September 19 by Coronet, an imprint of the London publishing house, Hodder & Staughton
Pre-order on amazon.com – amazon.co.uk – amazon.de