When Osho was alive, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of engagement and
openness from the heart that was shared by thousands. There were certain
core values that for years worked to create the magic in our community.
Now, I feel that those of us who lived with Him are losing the opportunity to share this part of His magic with the new and young who visit Pune. This is the story of how I see we are losing this opportunity. This is the story of my bannings.
In 1971, when there was no organization to speak of around Acharya Rajneesh (Osho), there weren’t really any issues of how we should act in public, or guidelines on who could open a meditation centre, or sell books, or represent the Master’s work.
Sometimes the front office would send word to us in the West that we didn’t have “permission” to do this or that. I’d make copies of these letters and send them to Osho with “PERSONAL” marked on the envelope and explain what we were doing. He would always tell me to go on with my work and to continue spreading His message the way I was doing. He said, “Never worry about what others say, even if it is from my own organization.”
Since then working with His organization has became more and more of a challenge. Thirty-three years and several front offices later, I feel that an ubiquitous ideology of repression has developed in Pune that has turned Osho’s great community, with its thousands of participants, into just a shadow of what it once was, with far fewer people. In the past ten years alone many of His brightest and most talented people have left, were banned, or could no longer find even the most basic support for their therapeutic groups or artistic trainings. Only ten years ago there were several thousand friends in Pune, dancing, jamming, and creating amazing art works, while the world’s best therapists clamoured to offer their workshops in our sangha. The likes of Hari Prasad and Zakir Hussein would freely offer their hearts and talent to the “Friends of Osho” programme. Now, it looks to me like the commune doesn’t even come close to what it was back then. These peak moments happen no more, and very few ask why.
The topic of banning sannyasins from the commune has been talked about in hushed tones for years but has rarely made it to print. For many sannyasins there’s a perception that even talking about it might be enough to get banned; the shadow of the whip is very effective. It has broken down the social trust between sannyasins and has been contributing to what I feel is the demise of the community in Pune.
I personally believe there are some good reasons for banning people – for certain behaviors. Since ’78, when I started producing some of the larger sannyasin events, I have had to kick out a few participants. At times there was stealing, sometimes a few guys were pestering the women and girls, or harassing my staff or me. I’d try to have a word with them, but if they were still acting out and disturbing the scene I’d usually ask them to leave. However, I think that kicking people out for arbitrary reasons or because of what they do in the privacy of their home, is wrong, callous, and ultimately stupid.
I have been banned twice by the “Resort,” but the reasons that were given were fabricated. Often the nail that sticks up gets hammered down. The stories that they told about me had the potential of largely cutting me off from the spiritual family that I had been part of since I was a teenager. Some argue that “they did it for my own good” to “get me out of the nest.” There are many ways to help friends expand and leave situations that no longer serve their greater good, but spreading false rumors about them doesn’t feel, to me, like an intelligent or loving way.
In the winter of 1998 I organized what many referred to as the most loving and healing event they had participated in, outside the commune. I’d arrived in Pune a few months before and had been hearing about dozens of kids who had been banned and were just floating around Pune, mostly hanging out at the German Bakery. I asked my friend Veeresh to join me for an evening of sharing with these kids. Preparing for the evening, I invited representatives from the commune’s security office to come. I wanted the kids to hear about the difficulties the commune had in dealing with local residents and the police, and the reasons why they had been banned.
four-hour program we had had over 300 friends come and go, and I felt we got
through to most of them. We let them know that they were still loved, and
that we respected them even if they had been banned. Nobody from the commune
came, but we all felt that the evening was a great success anyway.