Before coming to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Juliet Forman was involved in traditional Psychiatry and the Humanistic Growth Movement. Because of her training, she was led to the home of Anna Freud they youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud and attended her as nurse during her last days. From this background, one that intimately connected her with an important figure of the Psychoanalytic Movement, the author was to find herself drawn to India and to Bhagwan, and coincidently into the company of other seekers who were to become disciple or sannyasins of Bhagwan the great-granddaughter of Machiavelli, the granddaughter of Nietzsche, the great-niece of Nikos Kazantzakis, the great-grandson of the last emperor of Germany, the Marquis and Marchioness of Bath, the chaplain of Churchill College, Cambridge University, the well-known English actor Terence Stamp., Bernard Gunther, The American writer, and countless others.
The one question about Bhagwan very few people need to ask these days is, Bhagwan who?
Yes, his name has become a household word across the world, but who exactly is he? Without doubt he is one of the most controversial figures of our day, and behind that controversy lie the beginnings of an understanding of his work, and why he is someone none of us can afford to ignore.
This book, Bhagwan: The Buddha for the Future, is the most fascinating, revealing, and important book yet to be written about this extraordinary man. It is the first book told by someone who has lived with him in his household for the last thirteen years, through the days of the phenomenal growth of the ashram in Poona, the days in America when a city literally grew up around him out of the desert, to the time of his dramatic arrest by a modem day posse of fifteen government agents bristling with weapons.
How could a man who for thirty-five years has done nothing but sit in his chair, talk to his friends, take his food and go to bed, manage to drive the world's most powerful nation to this absurd and violent reaction? As this extraordinary tale unfolds, we see how just one man, his words and his ideas, could shake the confidence of the most entrenched establishments.
In 1974 a young Australian nurse, beautiful, intelligent and successful, dropped into the Poona ashram just to look. She became a disciple and remains with Bhagwan to this day. In this book she recounts with a delicate clarity the intimate details of the world around Bhagwan, against the backdrop of increasing world recognition of Bhagwan as the most radical man of our• times.
What was it actually like to live with Bhagwan in what was the most daring religious experiment of the modem age? What was it that brought young, successful people in their thousands to listen to discourses on Jesus, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Pythagoras, while churches and temples elsewhere were slowly emptying as their elderly congregations died? What was the nature of that exciting experiment, and did it work? How did it actually affect the disciples who sat at the feet of their master?
The book describes in detail the building of Rajneeshpuram, the city in Oregon that was built by Bhagwan's disciples as a model settlement for the future. Did it succeed or did it fail? - and what part did betrayal and surrender play in the dramatic collapse of that commune in a blaze of criminal and civil legal proceedings. Was it yet another "covert" operation by the White House? Describing these events, unraveling these issues, the book reveals the lives and loves of those who lived through it all.
And above all it is a story about Bhagwan, the man priests and politicians love to hate. It is the story about a man who has ranged against him the most incredible coalition in history. Never before has one man been so roundly condemned by the complete spectrum of the powers that be. Never before has one man ruffled the feathers of a greater number of more powerful people than has Bhagwan; and it is the scope of this opposition that gives us the first glimpse of his extraordinary vision.
That the world is in crisis is no longer an issue confined to the fringe constituencies in our societies: even the most un hysterical observers now realize that no matter where we look, our beautiful planet is in deep trouble. Whether it is in the unprecedented weather pattems, the destruction of our atmosphere, the disappearance of species thousands of times faster than in the past 200 million years, the world arms bill that passes the trillion dollar mark, the starvation in Africa while surpluses elsewhere are dumped in the ocean, Chemobyl, AIDS ... the list seems not only endless but almost too horrific to contemplate.
Yet contemplate it we must, lest we reclimb the trees back into a primitive and animalistic past. One thing is for sure, whether we like it or not, events cannot continue as they have - and herein lies the first open secret about Bhagwan's notoriety. Alone amongst men he is pointing his finger uncompromisingly at aJJ those in power - the people who continue to issue bland reassurances about the state of the world while presiding over an era in which, for the first time since humanity appeared on the scene, man's very survival is an open question.
Those power elites - whether political, religious or intellectual - have led us to our present sorry state. Nations fight nations, religions fight religions, ideologies fight ideologies, and the mass media choreographs it - meanwhile, Rome bums. While they lead man against man, and man against nature, including man against his own nature, they are able to agree on nothing - nothing that is, except that Bhagwan must be condemned. They rule over a fragmenting world; Bhagwan exposes their failings: they unite to condemn him. The equation is so obvious ... and that makes it all the more important that we decide for ourselves about Bhagwan.
If he were simply wrong it would be easy to point out why. If he were merely mad then it would be natural to ignore him. Those in power can do neither. In fact the extraordinary Iengths they have gone to persuade you, the reader, that he is Big Bad Bhagwan is evidence enough that something more profound is cooking.
While the pope explicitly bans the Catholic media from mentioning Bhagwan's name, the KGB arrest sannyasins in the Soviet Union; the right-wing government in the U.S. pressures twenty-one Western countries to deny Bhagwan access to their lands, while socialist India refuses sannyasins entry to that country. The right-wing government in Britain jails Bhagwan rather than risk allowing him to wait in the airport lounge, and the socialist Greek government crumbles under pressure from Orthodox Christians - the archbishop of Crete personally threatened to dynamite Bhagwan and his household - arrests Bhagwan and expels him at gun point.
Conservative Canada even refuses his plane permission to refuel, while socialist Spain is too cowardly to permit him to stay. Christian fundamentalists rail against him in the U.S., and Hindu shankaracharyas denounce him as the greatest threat to society. As the American Nazi Party campaigns against him, U.S. atheists denounce him. Redneck cowboys in Oregon want to shoot him, urbane East coast Jews want him expelled, and all the while, save for perhaps only one solitary voice, the intellectuals of the world remain silent.
Isn't it strange that among all the things that we have been persuaded are true about Bhagwan, no one has mentioned that he is the author of four hundred books - elucidating not only all the major religious traditions in man's history but also exploring the issues that lie at the very root of man's current plight. Even more importantly, Bhagwan is pointing precisely the way forward towards an intelligent, harmonious world of authentic individuals.
Of course parallels spring to mind. Throughout history men of vision have suffered at the hands of their contemporaries, until they are safely dead and can be worshiped posthumously. D.H. Lawrence, Wilhelm Reich, Oscar Wilde were ostracized and humiliated in their time - they too raised the forbidden issue of sex. Galileo had to pretend that the earth went round the sun to avoid the wrath of an infallible pope who would have found space between the charred bodies of burned women for yet another execution had Galileo refused.
In Jerusalem, Jesus Christ brought a message of love for which he was sentenced by due process and crucified by the appropriate authorities. Twenty-five centuries ago Socrates stood alone in the face of the "public opinion" of the first great Western civilization. He was condemned and sentenced to death for his uncompromising stand. At about the same time, Gautam Buddha challenged the authority of thousands of years of Hinduism and left an indelible mark on Asia; his flame still bums in the embers of Zen.
But while these parallels seem appropriate, on closer examination such comparisons fall short. For example, to compare Bhagwan with Jesus is wrong. Jesus was not a revolutionary, he was in absolute agreement with orthodox Judaism. In fact he was claiming to be their prophet for whom they had been waiting for thousands of years. He irritated his contemporaries, not by being in revolt against tradition, but by being a pretender, a prophet, a savior - in short, superior to his people. This superiority, and the claim that "I am the only begotten son of God" was what annoyed the Jews.
With Bhagwan the situation is totally different. Bhagwan is against all the traditions that have existed on the earth. He is against all those people who have promoted themselves as prophets, saviors, incarnations, because to Bhagwan the very concept is basically a humiliation of the whole of humanity.
For Bhagwan these people were purely pious egoists. He cannot even dream that other human beings are inferior to him. They may be asleep, but that does not make them inferior. He declares the supreme value of the individual. Because of this, Bhagwan is against all kinds of organizations - religious, political, racial, national. His supreme value is reverence for the individuality of the other.
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