New York Times Review of “Wild, Wild Country”

 “Wild Wild Country,” a documentary series on Netflix by the brothers Chapman and Maclain Way.

Osho before the Ranch period in Pune One

Jane Stork and Ma Anand Sheela, onscreen throughout the six-hour documentary series “Wild Wild Country” on Netflix, look and sound like friends of your grandmother who have dropped by to reminisce about the good old days.

They don’t look like leaders of an international religious movement known for Rolls-Royces, or women who went on the run to Europe before serving time for crimes that include arson, wiretapping and attempted murder. It’s particularly jarring when the petite, gray-haired Ms. Stork acknowledges that she volunteered to carry out assassinations — twice —  but that’s what their good old days entailed.

Interviews with the two women, now in their late 60s, and with Prem Niren, another former Rajneeshee leader, form the backbone of “Wild Wild Country.” It’s a history of the tumultuous years in the early 1980s when the  followers bought a 63,000-acre ranch in the high desert of Oregon, built an expansive commune called Rajneeshpuram and went to war with the locals, first in the nearby town of Antelope and then with the entire state.

The filmmakers who have taken on this bizarre, complicated story are the brothers Chapman and Maclain Way, both too young to remember the 30- to 35-year-old events they’re chronicling. (Their one previous film is “The Battered Bastards of Baseball,” a documentary about a minor-league team in Portland, Ore., owned by their grandfather.) They’ve done an impressive amount of work, amassing archival film and news clips and tracking down the former  followers as well as a number of their foes.

You sense that after that, it was all they could do to get the story down in reasonably complete and coherent fashion. They haven’t given it much of a shape or a perspective — they go from one mind-blowing event and image to the next, and seem to just adopt the point of view of whoever’s talking at the moment, reinforcing it with correspondingly bright or sad or triumphant music (which becomes increasingly intrusive). Their own attitude, as far as it can be divined, appears to be a credulous sentimentality.

Osho with Sheela in Pune one in what look like happier times


But it is a great story, even if you just turn on the camera and let it roll. One incidental revelation, or reminder, is how breathlessly and exhaustively the events were reported. They were the reality TV of their time, with guns, sex, a mass poisoning and murder schemes. The events may have been playing out in the proverbial middle of nowhere, but that was the point: A movement, or cult, of thousands of post-’60s seekers in orange and purple mufti had descended upon a thin population of ranchers and retirees, who took on the mantle of frontier yeomen protecting American values against foreign invasion.

The battle between the Rajneeshees and the citizens of Antelope prefigures, in a funhouse-mirror way, our current cultural and political landscape — notions of American liberty and morality were being defended against perceived (and actual) outside threats.

“They’re invading,” an Oregonian said at the time. “Maybe not with bullets, but with money and, um, immoral sex.” In the long and successful fight to get rid of Rajneeshpuram — which led to the deportation of  Osho and the jailing of some of his followers — the government used immigration law, accusations of church-and-state violations and the denial of voter registration as tactics.

Paranoia and anger reigned on both sides, though, and the emotional crux of the story lies in the arrogant, tone-deaf and eventually criminal behavior of some of the followetrs.  The Ways supply ample testimony to this, along with lots of shots of the members toting semiautomatic rifles and conducting Al Qaeda-style combat drills. There is also a recurring motif of the newcomers in their monochromatic attire walking around Antelope, where they co-opted the government and much of the real estate. (Some of this footage has been slowed slightly, for an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” effect — like the heavy-handed music, another unfortunate choice.)

Within the six hours — which include more than a little padding and repetition, despite the story’s many twists — the Ways are also able to communicate some of what made the  movement so compelling to its adherents (though the series could use more of this). The shots of the smiling, dancing followers, working with seeming happiness and engaging in frenzied, naked encounter sessions, suggest a trial run for Burning Man (which began in 1986, just as Rajneeshpuram was disintegrating).

What’s most striking about “Wild Wild Country” is how present, and unyielding, the passions of the combatants remain. Mention Osho and Prem Niren still chokes up, while a rancher who led the opposition still spits out the word “evil.”

Wild,  Wild Country
Streaming on Netflix

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50 Responses to New York Times Review of “Wild, Wild Country”

  1. sannyasnews says:

    From Lokesh:
    “I watched the first two episodes of ‘Wild Wild Country’.
    It’s not just good, it is excellent. Recommended viewing for all sannyasins. Sheela is on great form and as mad as a bat.
    She is fascinating in the way she glosses over so much and paints her picture as if it were consensual reality.”

  2. shantam prem says:

    The Pune One swami who has given me the link has the opinion it is the best docu till now.
    Also he has advised, those who don´t have netflix subscription can use one month free trial period.

  3. Lokesh says:

    The review runs on the same track as the film producers in that it is fairly objective. They don’t have the added plus like viewers like myself who can spot old friends in the show.

    So far, Osho comes across as Mister Mysterion Cosmic Vibes and I still find myself amazed at how he was able to be a channel for such a wave of transformative energy. I will watch episodes 3 and 4 this evening, something which I am looking forward to.

  4. vimal keerti says:

    I just watched the doc series on Osho and its Oregon city produced by netflix called ‘Wild, Wild Country’. Despite the initial enthusiasm and the revealing of many interesting facts, the doc ends up disappointing by becoming a sort of spokesperson for Sheela and other local native freaks like cowboys, Christian fundamentalists and corporate legal figures.

    Very little space is given to people who were on Osho’s side, except Nirem (Osho’s lawyer) who is one of the only people with good sense to advocate for Osho and tell the story without prejudice and distortion.

    Sheela it shows worse than the others, a really detestable character and of bad nature, she still tries to be the heroine. Worse yet is that in the end this psychopath tries to come out on top as a saint.

    One of the biggest flaws is that the doc hardly show the speeches of Osho nor lays down the basis of his philosophy for the viewers who do not know.

    And the principals picked up too few testimonials from the sannyasins who were with Osho at the time, giving much space and emphasis to dead dogs and the criminal Sheela and her pit bull at the time.

    There is still a gap…A fantastic story that still has to be told appropriately, exposing the great hypocrisy of the USA and the democratic world in general, it is still worth watching if you can see beyond the words because it contains a lot of information and interesting facts about this complex and intriguing plot. Sheela really stinks..what a piece of shit.

  5. sannyasnews says:

    We will only post comments from those who have actually seen the films.

    • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

      Ok, SN Team, I don´t have access to a Netflix view and will not comment, but would like to pass the question if it´s possible to get some info about the producers and compilers of that piece from some people, contributors here or readers who know more about these young men and their motivation.

      Anything more than the usual flatliners of advertising info available?

      When I´m attending Doc Festivals, which I’ve done and I´m doing quite often, it always gives me a lot to go for a Q&A with the producers.

  6. Parmartha says:

    I have watched episode one.

    Also I lived on the Ranch, especially towards the end. It would be good if moderators also gave those who were actually on the Ranch priority right to comment.

    This did seem to me to be a sort of advert for Sheela, and Jayananda (who was one of her husbands) but the film does not make that clear. Also for Shanti Badra. (Jane Stork)

    Had I been doing such a film I would have had a much wider range of voices; after all, both Sheela and Badra did both spend time in US jails. Many still consider they got so far into their own trips that they betrayed Osho. Niren was also part of the hierarchy of control, the ‘ordinary’ voice of Sannyas is much missing.

    Some of the filmage is very mixed up. Some good stuff from Pune One would confuse those new to the subject, and they would think it is from Oregon.

    • bob says:

      “This did seem to me to be a sort of advert for Sheela…also for Sue…”

      It seems to me you’re confusing some people here, Parmartha. The woman featured extensively here in this film is not “Sue”, but Ma Shanti Bhadra/Shanti B/Jane Stork. There existed another underling of Sheela’s, not in the film – a person called Ma Su/Susan Hagen. As far as I can fathom from the information available, a separate and different entity entirely. Also convicted of crimes at the Ranch I think, but she was not the Australian Ma who stuck Doc Amrito in the ass with a syringe full of killer chemicals (by her own admission, no less). Also part of the plot to murder the U.S. federal attorney, Charles Turner.

      Jane Stork was extradited, tried and convicted in Oregon Court nearly 20 years after the events (around 2005), but did not serve time, as she supposedly had a son dying of a brain tumour, and the presiding judge chose ‘mercy’ over ‘justice’ in meting out the final sentence. She subsequently wrote a book telling her story, titled something like ‘Breaking the Spell’, I think, which Sannyasnews featured in a string a few years back.

      Big P, if you want people to take your idea that Osho’s nitrous oxide use was a contributing factor in his and the Ranch’s spiral downwards, you have to construct for yourself an absolutely solid detective persona that Conan D. would be proud to have fathered…i.e. Sherlock sees that Shanti B is not Su. If I am mistaken here…let me know. Attempted murder is an egregious crime. Nasty to the max.

      You also pegged her as “Sue” in your post a few below this one. Cut and Paste from your mind, perhaps?

  7. samarpan says:

    I watched the whole series. There are major gaps. No mention of Osho being asked to sign in as “David Washington” in a jail in Oklahoma. No mention of Osho being poisoned with thallium while in jail or toxicology confirmation of heavy metal poisoning from samples sent to a lab in London.

    They did show that the trip from North Carolina to Portland, Oregon took weeks. There was no mention of the actual plea Osho made. They show several people saying they were glad Osho pleaded guilty. The actual plea was an Alford plea, a guilty plea by a defendant who claims to be innocent.

    Finally, they jumped from deportation to Pune Two, omitting that Osho was refused entry or forcibly removed from 21 countries (“the world tour”) before returning to India.

    • Parmartha says:

      Thanks, Samarpan.
      I would go even further.
      Unlike a lot of reviewers, etc. I don’t think these are good documentaries, and, unlike a lot of them, I WAS actually there!

      I am not against people like Sheela and Sue having some space, but they have been given an inordinate amount.

    • sannyasnews says:

      As with most media coverage of the Ranch, this series seems to skip a lot…landing only briefly on the most controversial events:
      For example, the bombing of Hotel Rajneesh; the arming of the Rajneeshpuram Peace Force; the Share-A-Home programme involving the many homeless people invited to Rajneespuram; the Wasco County election of 1984; the food poisoning episode in The Dalles; Sheela and her cohort fleeing to Europe; Osho’s revelation of their crimes; Osho’s arrest in North Carolina and expulsion from the US on (very flimsy) immigration charges (conspiracy to arrange marriages, for one).

      There is still what seems like psychological ‘denial’ by some of the main players.

    • vimal keerti says:

      Very well said…I will use your comment.

  8. Lokesh says:

    Watched episodes 3 and4 last night. As the story develops the gaps grow larger.

    I read all the previous posts and it is clear to me that like all else viewed in life, ‘Wild Wild Country’ reflects the viewer’s perception. It is a vast and complex story, so there is no use complaining about what the film makers should have done. They made a pretty fascinating documentary.

    By ’83 the Ranch might have changed its name to Sheelapoohum, because it was all about her. In her present day interviews she comes across as completely delusional. I’d guess she has mental health issues.

    Bhagwan has been pushed to the side. That is one of the story’s big gaps. What was Bhagwan doing during his silent years? He was not being silent, that’s for sure, and he was definitely going downhill. Physically, he appeared pasty-faced and maybe stoned on something. He appeared unstable on his feet etc.

    He breaks his silence when Sheela flies away. He is obviously pissed off about it and complains that she did not even say goodbye to him, which made me think about his sudden departure from Pune One and how he did not say goodbye to the thousands of sannyasins there. Up and left, ho ho ho, it was all jolly good fun.

    Osho’s silence was often broken by meeting with rich and influential people. The wealthy and powerful also got preferential treatment in Pune One, so that had not changed.

    One aspect of the series that I appreciate is how the sannyasins and the ‘enemy’ give themselves away by the way they are. A plus for the directors there. Not often you get to see a sannyasin confessing to attempted murder on TV. I was left thinking that quite a few people running the show on the Ranch really did lose their minds in the worst of ways, making terrible errors in their choices.

    Meanwhile, we have the homeless people. Carry on up the Ranch. Half of those people were mentally retarded if you go by the footage. Yet another example of completely warped thinking, it was obvious why they were invited there and it was not for humanitarian reasons.

    After watching episodes 1 and 2 my wife said, “That must have been fun on the Ranch.” I agreed. Full-on action, everything being done to make it happen in the best of ways. Happy, enthusiastic sannyasins.

    After watching episodes 3 and 4, my wife said, “I am glad we did not go there.” I agreed. What a fucking mess.

    I’ve talked to many sannyasins who lived on the Ranch. Some say they had the time of their life, others say they hated the place. Bottom line, as you believe, so the world will appear.
    I’m looking forward to viewing episodes 5 and 6.

    • swamishanti says:

      I don’t think there is any evidence that Osho was going downhill at Rajneeshpuram. All the pictures and videos that I have seen of him, he actually looks pretty radiant, happy as ever, and in the tv interviews he looks pretty together.

      I remember one pic of him from the old Rajneesh neo-tarot deck, from one of the festivals, where he looks a bit stoned, but that could have been for any old reason. Like, fuck, someone offered him a qualude so why not try one, might help the old back. But that was only one picture.

      By the way, I remember an hour-long old documentary that was Australian, I think, about Poona Two, that was quite good quality and well-balanced. Featured Devageet and Anando. Maybe on youtube somewhere.

      • Lokesh says:

        SS, have to disagree there. When Osho arrived at the Ranch he looked radiant. By the time he broke his so-called silence he did not look well. When Osho was in Greece and later Nepal he looked on top form, later in Poona Two he once more did not look well, which kind of contradicts the poisoning idea.

        Osho once claimed to be the world’s laziest man. In terms of what he achieved that sounds like nonsense. On the level of physical exercise it may well have been true. Current research indicates the importance of keeping fit, in terms of physical and mental health. Even if that just means going for a brisk walk three times a week. Osho did not keep himself fit and in the long run I believe it worked against him.

        • Parmartha says:

          Your observations, Lokesh, if true, would, however, offer evidence for the n2o use! He used it on the Ranch. He never used it when at the Castle in the eastern United States, Greece or Nepal, but began to use it again in Pune Two! Snap.

          On your other point, Osho himself said he swam every day for years, including on the Ranch and that addressed the physical exercise issue, but he often used to exaggerate, as we all know!

          • Lokesh says:

            Well, PM, I am swimming this winter instead of going to gym. Great exercise, great meditation in action, but you have to spend at least 45 minutes in the water to reap any real cardio-vascular benefits. I just can’t picture the old man doing that. He’d rather have watched ‘Patton’ on his big telly, I’m sure. Or, of course, had a wee whiff of Jumping Jack Flash or had a shoe-throwing fight with Vivek.

            “Vivek, darling, what is that little wire sticking out of the smoke detector?”
            “Oh, I don’t know, Osho, sweetie. Just don’t let it bug you.”

        • swamishanti says:

          Well, Lokesh, in the videos of the discourses that I have watched that Osho gave when he first started speaking again, to me he doesn’t look ill.

          I can`t find the first discourse he gave when he started speaking again, but in the early ones he was still wearing his basic robe and woolly hat style. This was before his seamstress started designing the more extravagant costumes.

          Whilst working in sales and marketing, I learnt that “perception is not reality”. If you give people a certain idea about something then that is what they will see.

          The idea of Osho being out of it on drugs on the Ranch has been sown a lot in people’s heads, especially in recent years on the internet, and so people are looking for that, even creating that, when they look at the videos of him in later years.

          When I was watching him in his ridiculous, over-the-top, glitzy costumes, complete with bling and diamond-studded hats, I thought, “He looks like a cross between a king or a despot, or a glam rock star.” In some of these I thought, “He looks a bit out of it.”

          But then I watched some of the old videos of him in Poona in his basic white robe, and I saw that he looked actually the same.

          As far as his exercise was concerned, he did have a large swimming pool in Oregon, did he not? I think I remember him saying somewhere that it was an Olympic one. So I guess he got a swim in every day.

          He could have taken a few disciples in the pool with him, as some kind of Gurdjieffian exercise, but he didn`t.

          I guess he didn`t get that much exercise in Poona Two (apart from a bit of dancing he did before his discourses) but his doctor said that he first started complaining of being very tired in Ireland on the World Tour, and he had to help Osho along the corridor. So this was when he first began to feel that something was seriously wrong with his health.

          But in Rajneeshpuram, in the interviews with the World Press, he looks to me healthy, composed, and clear.

          There was also a lot of dancing that he did before he took to the chair. I tried to find that video which was on SN a while back, of Osho dancing on his way to give his interview, but could not find it.

          Here is one of Osho talking on the Ranch:

          And a press interview:

          I am sure that the whole collection of discourses given on the Ranch is around on the internet somewhere (apart from the one that Sheela destroyed, of course) and it would be interesting to watch a whole one instead of these small clips. He often starts off slow, and then becomes more jolly and animated towards the end.

  9. “Native Freak” says:

    Hello, I am a young college student at OSU and have recently watched the Netflix series and am fascinated by this spiritual movement. I feel like the magnitude of your experiences have been for the most part ignored by Oregon and US history. As a young millennial, I see many aspects of Sannyas that could make sense to my generation as well. However, I do have one question…

    As an Oregon native, I don’t understand why everyone in the Rajneesh film spoke of Oregonians with such contempt. I do admit that we country folk can definitely be bigoted and defensive.

    However, from my parents’ and grandparents’ perspective, a giant group of people were essentially “invading” their small way of life…and one that seemingly mocked and belittled their country bumpkin ways.

    I do feel like you were treated unjustly and that Rajneeshpuram should have been allowed to carry on in Oregon. However, my blood riles when these ‘non-native’ Oregonians were saying they had an inalienable right to be there, and saying that the ‘natives’ were complete idiots!

    BUT I could also argue that these white cowboys did the same and even worse things to the Native Americans that the Sanyasins were doing to them!

    So…First, I want to say that I don’t know what to BELIEVE. I’d really love perspectives from the people who were actually there, and not just the people higher up who were interviewed. So here are my questions:

    Did you feel like most rural Oregonians were in fact ‘native freaks’?

    If so, why did you feel that you, as the incoming party, were justified in this sentiment (or at least displaying this sentiment)?

    Did the average disciple hold this sentiment, or were you more understanding of the locals’ fear?

    I hope this post will be allowed to be seen. I really want to learn more about what you all think on this matter, and don’t want to be inflammatory…just curious, as a young person looking back on the past!!



    • Parmartha says:

      I was on the Ranch, especially at the end. I was just an ordinary commune sannyasin. I did not share the views of the hierarchy, which were built on their delusions of grandeur and in some cases, poor mental health.

      I actually thought that Oregon might be a good choice to have a commune, but the research that Sheela and her cronies did before purchase about land use, etc. was poor or non-existent , and they knew nothing about American law at that time, and acted as if they were in India, where almost everything can be bullied or bought. They also bought in a terrible hurry.

      Osho was therefore showing very poor judgement in selecting her for her post, she knew much less about America than many Europeans, for example.

      The treatment of the small community of Antelope was completely out of order and had normal social and political skills been employed could have been okay. The leadership in Oregon did not have those skills.

      Sheela was in fact quite young and never had any executive experience beforehand and had never done any personal growth or meditation training of any sort, which would have helped her glean such skills.

    • Lokesh says:

      Native says, “I could also argue that these white cowboys did the same and even worse things to the Native Americans that the Sannyasins were doing to them!”

      Yes, that is one obvious argument. Similar tactics also. White men gave the red men blankets infected by smallpox. Sannyasins got busy down in Sam and Ella’s salad bar with nasty bug sprays. Totally warped.

  10. Arpana says:

    “We might start by considering the all-too-black-and-white words themselves: “success” or “failure.” You are either a success, a comprehensive, singular, over-all good thing, or its opposite, a failure, a comprehensive, singular, irredeemably bad thing. The words imply no alternative and no middle ground. However, in a world as complex as ours, such generalizations (really, such failure to differentiate) are a sign of naive, unsophisticated or even malevolent analysis. There are vital degrees and gradations of value obliterated by this binary system, and the consequences are not good.

    To begin with, there is not just one game at which to succeed or fail. There are many games and, more specifically, many good games— games that match your talents, involve you productively with other people, and sustain and even improve themselves across time. Lawyer is a good game. So is plumber, physician, carpenter, or schoolteacher. The world allows for many ways of Being. If you don’t succeed at one, you can try another. You can pick something better matched to your unique mix of strengths, weaknesses and situation. Furthermore, if changing games does not work, you can invent a new one. I recently watched a talent show featuring a mime who taped his mouth shut and did something ridiculous with oven mitts. That was unexpected. That was original. It seemed to be working for him.

    It’s also unlikely that you’re playing only one game. You have a career and friends and family members and personal projects and artistic endeavors and athletic pursuits. You might consider judging your success across all the games you play. Imagine that you are very good at some, middling at others, and terrible at the remainder. Perhaps that’s how it should be. You might object: I should be winning at everything! But winning at everything might only mean that you’re not doing anything new or difficult. You might be winning but you’re not growing, and growing might be the most important form of winning. Should victory in the present always take precedence over trajectory across time?

    Finally, you might come to realise that the specifics of the many games you are playing are so unique to you, so individual, that comparison to others is simply inappropriate. Perhaps you are overvaluing what you don’t have and undervaluing what you do. There’s some real utility in gratitude. It’s also good protection against the dangers of victimhood and resentment. Your colleague outperforms you at work. His wife, however, is having an affair, while your marriage is stable and happy. Who has it better? The celebrity you admire is a chronic drunk driver and bigot. Is his life truly preferable to yours?”

    Jordan B.Peterson.

    • Lokesh says:

      Aww, Arpana, you spoiled it at the end, by letting us know that someone else, other than your self, wrote this very good piece. I was thinking as I read it that you’d really impressed me by writing it.

      • Arpana says:

        Good quote innit!!

        I recommend the book.
        The title is misleading, for the first part.
        Much more for the volume than the first part suggests.

        ’12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’ – Jordon Peterson.

  11. Lokesh says:

    Just in case anyone is interested, here are the trial documents from the legal proceedings against various sannyasins in the eighties. The FBI report from Germany indicates a lot of money was being dished out.

  12. Klaus says:

    Another review of the Netflix sixpack on Oregon and else – just found via a search:

    I have not seen the documentary yet.

  13. Parmartha says:

    I watched the second documentary.
    It fails to point out that as a movement we would never have had such a problem if Sheela, etc. had done her homework before buying the Ranch. The whole thing had become ‘political’, in the ordinary sense, within 24 months.

    I don’t see anyway why we had to have a “city”, such grandiose nonsense.
    We should have just built a road around Antelope and allowed it to carry on as it was.

    There are some revealing comments that Sheela makes against meditators…but actually, the whole point of someone like Osho is simply sitting, doing nothing…that’s the beginning and the end of the spiritual search.

    There were many rumours at the time that Osho enjoyed better health on the Ranch as his asthma liked the desert air. I know this to be true from others who suffer from asthma.
    But there were many rumours also that he did not like the place, and he certainly showed very little interest in it.

    When Savita, Sheela’s number two, was asked why she had left Sannyas and Osho she gave as her reason that Osho was totally uninterested in their achievement of ‘building’ a city, and said to her, “The city is nothing compared to my enlightenment.” I agree with Osho on that!

    • Lokesh says:

      Okay, PM, that’s all very well. The thing is, the two directors set out to make a documentary about a complex subject. It would be impossible to tackle every aspect of that subject and keep it interesting in the minds of a general audience. This series is being broadcast on the world’s most successful entertainment channel. It is quite remarkable that they chose to broadcast it in the first place. Sannyasins represent only a tiny percentage of the targeted audience. They have to keep it interesting or it will not sell. I appreciate the fact that the series is made readily available to us.

      You say, “the whole point of someone like Osho is simply sitting, doing nothing.” Who says? Osho was certainly not sitting doing nothing. He was watching hundreds of movies, getting high on laughing gas, getting zonked on valium, having arguments with Vivek, daily discussions with Sheela, hosting audiences with the wealthy, spending hours on the phone with Rolls Royce dealers, ordering new bells and whistles for his toy collection and a whole lot of other things we’ll probably never know about.

      Do you really believe Osho sat around all day in the eternal now doing nothing? Come, on, are you really so naive, or is it you projecting an idealised vision of how an enlightened man should live? Conceptual thinking created in part by ideas you picked up from Osho in the first place?

      If you ask me, there was something fishy about the whole carry-on in Oregon and it is questionable to what extent Osho was complicit in the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Don’t forget, it was Osho who put Sheela in power in the first place. Osho pushed her to be even more confrontational. Then when the shit hits the fan he plays outraged victim. He would have had to be stupid for that to be true, and stupid does not apply to Osho in such a scenario.

      I dumped my whole idealised vision of Osho decades ago. He was a remarkable man. No doubt about that. No doubts either that he was a man, with all the bells and whistles.

      PM, you conclude by saying, ” “The city is nothing compared to my enlightenment”. I agree with Osho on that!” No surprises there. But wasn’t Osho the one who said drawing comparisons between yourself and anyone and anything is utterly stupid?

      • satyadeva says:

        “The thing is, the two directors set out to make a documentary about a complex subject. It would be impossible to tackle every aspect of that subject and keep it interesting in the minds of a general audience. This series is being broadcast on the world’s most successful entertainment channel. It is quite remarkable that they chose to broadcast it in the first place. Sannyasins represent only a tiny percentage of the targeted audience. They have to keep it interesting or it will not sell.”

        Which perfectly encapsulates the inherent conflict between the interests and tendencies of ‘the masses’ and the quest for historical truth!

        Although, given the number of ‘sensational’ aspects of the Ranch saga, I don’t think “It is quite remarkable that they chose to broadcast it in the first place.” On the contrary, I find it surprising this hasn’t been done before.

        • Lokesh says:

          SD, glad to hear that you are still experiencing surprises,.

            • Lokesh says:

              Seriously, though, SD, why are you surprised that it hadn’t been done before? There’s lots of good guru hanky panky stories out there. Did you see ‘Holy Hell’? Now that even makes Sheela look tame. Oh, golly, I do so love a guru scandal documentary. Pass the popcorn.

              • satyadeva says:

                Because it’s such an extraordinary, fascinating, real-life story, well within living memory and very well-documented, with much sensational content, and apart from the ‘entertainment factor’, one that raises serious social, political, psychological, religious and spiritual questions.

                So I’d have thought people might well have been queuing up to cover it on the screen, not only in print.

  14. Kavita says:

    It took me 2 days to finish this series. Finally managed to write what I could share about it in a very light way!

    This documentary deserves an Oscar nomination.

    The Way brothers have probably put in as much as effort as they could. As far as the making is concerned it seems they have given an objective view with lesser details from Bhagwan’s/Osho’s side. Seems they have been sponsored by Bowerman/Nike, since they have managed more footage than Bhagwan/Osho himself!

    Mrs. Stork somehow reminds me of Shirley Maclaine (‘Terms of Endearment’)!
    Niren & Sunshine mostly provide the comedy & the Oregonians provide the seriousness.

    About Sheela the heroine, she surely seems to put up an act in front of the camera, they may have caught her unawares in the end, for us to all see her hypocrisy; does show now she can’t eat her cake & have it too!

    Two and a half stars from me.

    • Lokesh says:

      Kavita, I really enjoyed Sheela’s performance. She is a bundle of laughs for all the wrong reasons. I heard she has been offered a part in ‘Game of Drones’.

      • Kavita says:

        Yes, Lokie, she is capable of winning the Best Actress at the Oscars, without any doubt!

        • Klaus says:

          There is an interview with the two Way brothers on the docu here on u tube:

          Mark Duplass, Maclain Way & Chapman Way Discuss “Wild Wild Country”

          “When the world’s most controversial guru builds a utopian city in the Oregon desert, a massive conflict with local ranchers ensues; producing the first bioterror attack in US history, the largest case of illegal wiretapping ever recorded, and the world’s biggest collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles. Over six episodes, Directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way and executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass take viewers back to this pivotal, yet largely forgotten moment in American cultural history, one in which our national tolerance for the separation of church and state was sorely tested. “Wild Wild Country” is historical filmmaking brought to life on an epic scale.”

          • Kavita says:

            Thanx, Klaus, for this interview link.

            It seemed that Mark Duplass is into Osho, his lingo suggests that.

            Though wonder how much truth does history have!

  15. Parmartha says:

    There was a quick difference of interests on being on the Ranch between Osho and his household as soon as Osho hit the ground there, and Sheela and her gang wanting to make a city.

    It was never resolved in the four years there. Both sides may have been at fault. Osho’s interest in n2o is often erased from histories but needs to be included. He seemed much more interested in that diversion than the expansion of the Ranch. These documentaries fail to address this.

    Lokesh throws doubt on Osho’s interest in his inner world, and whether it truly mirrored a man who felt the main spiritual ‘business’ was about sitting silently, doing nothing.

    Therefore leaving that aside, I can say it was my own, and many who were on the path at that time. We realised that it was only from a place of complete exhaustion and let-go that one even has a chance of this happening, and we took on those 16 hour days joyfully and with purpose within that context. Sheela and her city was not at all relevant for me, except in that context.

  16. samarpan says:

    “It is frightening to you, Niyama, because then there will be no movement. But I have been in this full stop for thirty-five years and not for a single moment have I felt that I am in a wrong situation. People ask me, “For two hours you don’t move your legs…” I have also thought, “Why don’t I move my legs?” Then finally I discovered that there is no need. I am not walking, why should I move? It is not only here that I am sitting like that, the whole day I am sitting in my chair just like that. And you must be puzzled about what I am doing in my room, just sitting. And there is not even grass growing!

    Nothing is happening and I am perfectly happy; there is not even for a single moment a desire – even to go into the ashram and see what kind of stupid things are happening. Just last night when you all had become enlightened…Nirvano told me, “You should have been there.”

    I heard the noise. I said, “This is enough for me, that my people have become enlightened, just I’m worried what will happen to their enlightenment in the morning.” ” (Osho, Hari Om Tat Sat, chap. 3)

  17. Parmartha says:

    I watched the 3rd documentary tonight (I am not a binger!).
    It strikes me, as it seemed to strike Lokesh, as beginning to go beyond a joke… Sheela was the pop star, more so than Osho by 1983/4.

    No-one is saying that Sheela was not a good orator and had spontaneous abilities in front of the TV camera. Great oratory and totalitarian tendencies have very often been linked through history. She also had charisma, which in some people’s minds at this time seems to have outshone her Master’s.

    Not surprising also that from the conclaves of such power totally crazy schemes began to emerge, bussing in homeless people, almost 6,000 of them, and refusing to accept that she was in America, and not India, where she could have no doubt bought the officials of Wasco County.

    Once I had been asked to get something in a remote part of the Ranch. Suddenly about a mile off I could see what I rightly took to be Osho’s car.

    I pitched down to the road and just namasted from the side of the road. I knew I was not supposed to do so in such a place. But then amazingly he slowed right down, such that I thought he was going to stop. That wave of energy that seemed to pass over me is still with me to this day.

    For me, that connection was the only reason I was ever on the Ranch. I can see through these documentaries many seemed to have lost this, but I was not fully aware of this at the time.
    When he reasserted himself from the end of 1984, Sheela and others actually began to lose interest. People forget that Sheela and her entourage did choose to ‘leave’ the commune, no-one had said they had to.

    • Lokesh says:

      Part 5 could well have been titled ‘War of The Roses’. Osho managed to retain his sense of humour to the point that he was quite serious about it. Niren comes across as a good guy. Meanwhile, Sheela and the gang are eating Wiener snitzel and that Australian bird, who stuck a spike in Devaraj’s ass, is giving big laughs to show what a good time she is having.

      You couldn’t make this shit up if you tried, but it’s not as good as ‘Homeland’, it’s better.

  18. sannyasnews says:

    Niren, who seems to have been somewhat used by the producers of these documentaries, has issued a new statement, 20th March:

    “Certainly not the story I would have told. They de-emphasized Sheela’s fascist criminality, didn’t use all the material supported by facts that I gave them where the government admitted that it had no evidence that Osho was involved in any of Sheela’s crimes. US Attorney Charles Turner admitting, “We were using the criminal process to solve what was really a political problem.”

    The real issue was stated in Governor Atiyah’s public admittance that he “wishes the Rajneesh followers would leave Oregon.”

    And in the end, after the Community was destroyed, the Oregon Supreme Court found that the City “did not violate land use laws,” the basic contention of those who opposed the creation of a city from day one. This then led to the residents of Rajneeshpuram becoming involved in the city of Antelope in the first place, the basic cause of the confrontations that followed!