Last updated on 6th June 2018
I just finished watching the last part (part six) of the Wild Wild Country documentary video-series, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Wild_Country, on the Rajneesh movement, especially their commune in Rajneeshpuram in Wasco County, Oregon, USA.
As somebody who is deeply interested in spirituality, religion and contemporary spiritual & religious movements, I found the documentary to be compelling viewing. In the recent past I have done a fair bit of reading up on Rajneeshpuram with my comments on it being captured in this blog post: On being asked about Osho Rajneesh, Sathya Sai told a devotee, Rajneesh's path is dangerous, Sathya Sai path is safe - A related conversation, http://ravisiyer.blogspot.in/2018/03/on-being-asked-about-osho-rajneesh.html, 19th March 2018.
The documentary brought this whole lot of readings and video interviews to life in a way that only good documentary videos can. It shows clips of videos of Rajneeshpuram featuring some notable people, and follows it up with interviews done recently with the same people! This includes Ma Anand Sheela.
It seems that the documentary makers tried hard to provide a balanced view by sharing views and events that showed the good of the Rajneesh movement and not only bad but evil aspects of some leaders & their assistants in the Rajneesh movement.
Ma Anand Sheela is a vital figure in this documentary. Ma Anand Sheela's book, 'Don't Kill Him', gives her view of the matter where she does not confess to or show remorse for any of the heinous crimes (bioterror, plot to murder) she was accused of being involved in, in Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, USA. But the documentary video shows an interview of one (Australian origin, I think) lady who says on camera about the heinous crimes (attempt to murder) Ma Anand Sheela asked or commanded her to do! I mean, this is some documentary video.
The video series also clearly shows how much love and devotion many of Osho Rajneesh's followers had for him. There was clearly something great about Osho Rajneesh that he could attract such level of devotion. However, it is inescapable that a lot of bad and evil too happened in his ashram, and that some of his teachings/views are a threat to traditional family values of almost all, if not all, religions (Christianity, Hinduism, Islam etc.).
I think spiritual commune leaders, members and even those who plan to join a spiritual commune, should see this great documentary video to learn about the good and bad of the Osho Rajneesh communes, especially the Oregon one.
One clear learning for me is that if a spiritual commune cannot, over time (say a few years), have a peaceful and at least tolerant, if not good, relationship with the larger community in which the commune is based then it is just a matter of time before the larger community, through its political leaders and community leaders, forces the spiritual commune's closure. And any threats of violence towards the state from the spiritual commune leaders, even in the name of self-defence, will only attract harsh measures from vastly more powerful state and union/federal government agencies.
The aggression displayed by the Rajneeshpuram commune towards the local, state and federal agencies in the USA, by the Rajneeshees having significant level of sophisticated guns and ammunition, is something that went way beyond plain self-defense and protection from some arsonists. They were clearly perceived as a threat to Wasco County and Oregon state. That, I think, sealed their fate. How could a spiritual commune ever be a match to the might of state and federal security agencies of the USA! That was a colossal blunder they made and I think spiritual commune administrators should learn from this blunder the Rajneeshpuram commune leaders made, by never allowing their commune security force to be viewed as a security threat by local, state and union/federal government agencies of the country the commune is in. It does not matter whether the country is USA or India. The reaction from the government will be similar.
An interesting related article: The Scot who was the sex guru's bodyguard, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-44300915, 4th June 2018