An article by Chaitanya Keerti published in HappyHo on 19 September 2019, where he cites an excerpt from Maneesha James’s book, Osho: The Buddha for the Future, and adds quotes by Osho.
It is a matter of great interest for Osho lovers and the people who have been seeking answers to their question: Why did Ma Anand Sheela, his dynamic secretary, leave Osho and the Rajneeshpuram commune, she herself had really worked hard to create it? Her dedication to the creation of the commune was certainly a great source of inspiration to thousands of Osho’s disciples who had come to the commune to support her efforts for such a wonderful historical project. They were very grateful to her and supported her with their money, love, and energy. They were ever grateful to her and did not doubt her love for the master.
And then one day, they got a rude shock from Sheela, when suddenly, she decided to leave the commune along with a few other associates. Why did this happen? Who was responsible for this departure? Was Osho responsible, as Sheela never confessed any responsibility?
One book Osho: The Buddha for the Future by Maneesha James written in those days has the answer:
“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 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…’
(Osho: The Last Testament, Vol 2, Ch 23 )
Being with the enlightened master and growing into consciousness, one basic requirement is to remain aware not to fall into the traps of one’s own mind and ego. On many occasions, the master creates some unique devices to show us the mirror, so that we examine our growth in consciousness.
During the creation of Rajneeshpuram commune, when Osho was in total silence for over three years, Ma Anand Sheela was projecting herself on the world-stage that she was representing the master… and Osho lovers trusted her fully. The master himself trusted her.
He told her that he was going to break his silence and start speaking, as his people had been waiting for too long to listen to him. This declaration by the master saddened her deeply. At this point, her own ego became her enemy and the disciple forgot her discipleship. This became a real test for the disciple who failed at the last moment. Had she remained aware of the trap of her mind this moment, she would have grown more towards her enlightenment. It was a very significant moment of intensity in her life to grow – and she lost it.
It is really strange that during all these years, she has not been able to perceive this simple fact. She continues to justify her unconscious behaviour. I am sure, one day this fact is going to dawn on her and, her heart will say: Buddham Sharanam Gachchhami! I go to the feet of the awakened one!
To sum it up, I would conclude with one question, a disciple asked Osho:
Beloved Master, yesterday I was sad when you said, “I take the blame for everything that has happened.” Why should you be blamed? Every moment you are trying to make us loving, meditative and celebrative. If there is any blame, we are all responsible. We are not loving, meditative and alert, and that is why Sheela and her gang could dare to do such evil actions. Please tell us how to become more meditative, loving and responsible.
Osho: That′s why I have said that I am responsible for whatever happened – because you are fast asleep. You are not alert, aware; you live like a somnambulist, walking in your sleep. How can you say that you are responsible for it all? Neither can I say Sheela and her group are responsible. They belong to the same category as you. They just had power and in their sleep they did whatever sleep allows you to do. You had no power, you followed them, because what can a sleeper do? So the whole responsibility is basically mine. I should not have gone into silence and isolation.
But it has been a great experiment, and a great experience that a man like me should not leave you alone in the hands of people who are just like you.
The law, perhaps, may not allow it, but this is my deepest longing: that Sheela and her group should be forgiven, and if any punishment is needed they should give it to me. Only I am responsible, because I went into silence. I had never thought that silence can lead to such calamity.
(Osho, From Bondage to Freedom, Ch 6)
Note: Keerti wrote this article on the occasion of Sheela visiting India from 26 September to 25 October 2019.