THANKS to all for the responses to the previous post. A few comments:
Frank said: “The Ranch story, like life itself, is an enigma. I am not sure that this is helped by attempts to interpret all aspects of it as if it had a one unified underlying truth.” And Vartan said: “To call Rajneeshpuram His Magnus Opus is a disservice. Was His work the books, the discourses, or the sannyasins? Clearly, none of them. His Magnus Opus was Himself.”
I accept that others have their own way of understanding the ranch (and Osho). “Magnum Opus” may be a grandiose or even silly term. It suited my needs in what i wrote since i was using it as an antithesis to “debacle,” a term some people use which needs to be debunked imo. Yes, it was a PR debacle, and alienated many, but it was a necessary processsing for those who were going to go further with Osho. More about that below.
There are three more comments to address, having to do with authority and the guru model:
Teertha said: “I think Osho tried to do away with guru-yoga after the Ranch, seeing as it was corrupted at that time, but it’s doubtful if many sannyasins truly let go of that model.” And similarly Young sannyasin said: “About the Holy Man trip, he encouraged this for a while, at the end he cancelled this, but it was also his doing at the beginning.”
Teertha and Young sannyasin are right that there was a progression, a flow from one mode to another. We can enjoy our explanations and understandings of that flow or its why’s and wherefore’s can just be a Mystery, but there certainly has been no one mode that persisted, that “defines” sannyas and Osho.
Lokesh said: “Sannyas was and as far as I know still is a religious cult. If you don’t agree I suggest that you read The Guru Papers for it contains the most concise and comprehensive definitions of what constitutes a cult as far as I know. The Guru Papers demonstrates with uncompromising clarity that authoritarian control, which once held societies together, is now at the core of personal, social and planetary problems, and thus a key factor in social disintegration. It illustrates how authoritarianism is embedded in the way people think, hiding in culture, values, daily life, and in the very morality people try to live by.”
This Guru Papers view needs some serious debunking imo. It goes like this: The GP authors are right to see Authoritarianism more or less everywhere, as a central issue infesting all our cultural, mental and emotional makeup but as Americans culturally ill-equipped to grok the guru model, they may be missing a few key things. Most important is that a truly liberated person can exist and may feel like helping nominal others who want to be liberated. How will we recognise such a person? And what to call hir if not a guru? Any name will do really but if we call hir a guru then the GP authors will complain. But a true guru will be helping people to deal with exactly what the authors see as this big deal central issue.
Osho spoke about authoritarianism too, from the very beginning to the very end. He told us to become aware of this tendency, and wanted us to be liberated from any and all “outside” authorities, even him. But just speaking about it was not sufficient. We needed a big existential lesson. So he sacrificed his commune, millions of dollars and much more so we could have that lesson. It was that important. Liberation could not happen without it.
And because we were who we were, we couldn’t just start at the top of the ladder. He met us where we were and talked about God, the biggest Daddy of all. He “experimented” with a new “loving” authority model, with women running things. There were a thousand and one things to be encountered and processed.
And he had us play the Master And Disciple (MAD) game, which the Indians at least sort of understood. This game, this model, is a hard sell in the West. And it’s okay. There’s no reason everyone should buy into this model. But there’s no reason that we should abandon it either. Nisargadatta Maharaj, who was discussed recently here at http://sannyasnews.org/now/archives/1938 — and i may have something to say about that in another screed — is often held up as an uncompromising advocate of the hard truth, not cluttered with the usual bhakti trappings of Indian guruhood. But he would still make his puja to his long-dead guru Siddharameshwar daily, with flowers in front of his picture. There is sufficient freedom in the guru model for even this.
Alexander Smit, one of Maharaj’s prominent Western disciples, has a nice way of looking at the paradox of needing a guru vs going it alone, quoted at http://www3.telus.net/public/sarlo/Ysmit.htm. He himself went through a deep process described in the interview that was linked to in that Nisargadatta discussion. And “authority” was a central issue in his process. Zen folks talk of killing the Buddha but that has to be done when one is ripe. It is clear that simplistic formulations are just inadequate.
Osho spoke of J Krishnamurti’s “failure,” in the sense of his people listening for fifty years about the non-necessity of a guru but not getting it existentially. The ranch was that existential lesson. We didn’t have to be among the power-grasping few at the top. We could see it happening from the sidelines or even after the dust settled. Because we all knew people who were involved, and/or could partake of it because we are all connected via Osho, he made it possible for us to deal with at least some of those inner authority issues. And this is the paradoxical success of the ranch.