How to get above & beyond the unnatural...

Mental illness Myths


Talk given at Chrysalis Spiritual Center, Nov 30, 2014

Talk on Osho Rajneesh

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was arrested in October, 1985 in Charlotte, North Carolina, held in prison for 12 days, tortured, poisoned with a slow acting, undetectable poison and eventually deported from the United States. There was no arrest warrant, no bail granted and ultimately no conviction of any crime, but I know he was guilty. His crime was unforgiveable, but very difficult to understand. I will attempt to explain, but first a little background. I initially became aware of him in April of 1977. I was a recently divorced 33-year-old misfit, an artist and actor trying to make the big time, but falling far short of that lofty goal. I was a good actor and got great reactions from audiences, good reviews in the local papers, absolutely no money and very little support and so I drank a lot, smoked a lot, acted out a lot, got fired a lot and found myself battling a crippling mental illness called Manic-Depression, now referred to as Bi-Polar Disorder. A certain Doctor Blitz took a close look at my psychiatric history, a cursory glance at my nervously slumped in his office self and wrote a couple of prescriptions for psychotropic medications. They worked!  I was no longer bouncing off the walls, no more manic highs, no more crippling lows. I was cured!  The only problem was that deep inside was an insane idea that life should or could be more than this dull as white bread existence that I was experiencing through the fog of modern chemistry, so I threw away my pill box and was soon living on the streets or to be more accurate living off the kindness of friends and bar mates, waking up in new and strange locations and then hitch-hiking to my part time job, but inwardly, no matter what the circumstance, no matter how much dope I smoked or alcohol I drank I was in fact searching for God, for ecstasy, for meaning, for purpose, divine purpose. I mean, what was I created for? To make money?  To procreate? To go to war?  Nothing made sense to me and when was Jesus coming back?  He said he would be back soon, but that was 2,000 years ago.  I need him NOW!  I need divine intervention! I visited Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, tried Yoga and the meditations of MaharishiMahesh Yogi and Swami Muktananda but was soon back in the bars feeling more connected to spirit there than in any of the aforementioned pathways to God. 

Just when I was settling in to an acceptance that atheism, anarchy and alcohol were the unholy trinity of a Godless universe I wandered in to a New York City meditation center to try something called Dynamic Meditation. I was actually following a young woman that I met at a dance because along with atheism, anarchy and alcohol I also worshiped at the altar of beautiful women. The woman was dressed in orange and wore a necklace consisting of 108 beads and a picture of a guru. I thought at the time that perhaps it was an off-shoot of the Hari Krishna group. A little Indian guy explained the one hour meditation to me but due to his accent and my nervousness I had little idea of what was to happen. He demonstrated a strange breathing technique which was to be used in the first stage of the five stage meditation. It looked kind of insane but I figured I could do it. The second stage he said was something that sounded like kee-tar-sis. I had no idea what that could be but just nodded to hide my ignorance. At any rate the lights were turned off, the taped music came on and off I went into my first Dynamic Meditation. When the kee-tar-sis section arrived everyone in the room seemed to go completely insane. It soon dawned that the word the little guy had used was CATHARSIS. Having knowledge of Janov’s primal scream therapy I joined in. The hour-long meditation had three more stages and by the time it was over I was collapsed on the floor, my mind completely blown, my body exhausted, my heart bursting and my soul or spirit or inner being thrilled beyond measure. When my mind gathered itself to begin making comments on the situation the first thought that emerged was this: THE MENTAL ILLNESS IS FINISHED!

Well, maybe it wasn’t as clear and dramatic as that. I’m a writer and prone to exaggeration, but looking back on that experience from a distance of 37 years I must state it strongly that it has been my experience that at least in my case the diagnosis of manic-depression was a fabrication, a made up illness with a made up cure. I wasn’t mentally ill. I was certainly an alcoholic, miserable, angry, fearful, difficult, self-destructive, lost, a stranger in a strange world, but I was also a seeker, a lover of truth, desiring to know God. I wanted to love, to heal, to be a caretaker of this existence. I was HUMAN.  I was Adam trying to get back to the Garden of Eden. And that brings me back, finally, to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the subject of this talk. The Dynamic was his meditation, invented especially for 20th century sophisticated, neurotic, insane, well educated westerners who seemed to need shocks to the system to get them to sit silently and watch the grass grow. I found out that night that to be a disciple to this man one had to do a few silly things. One had to accept a name change, wear the aforementioned necklace and dye their clothing orange. No way was that going to happen Charley. I was a radical dude who didn’t follow anyone. Six months later as Swami Anand Chintan with a mala around my neck and dressed in my brightest orange clothes I was at the feet of the Master in Poona, India along with five or six thousand others. I spent 5 months in India at the Shree Rajneesh Ashram participating in all the groups and meditations that were offered. The meditations were extremely varied. There was the traditional Vipassana meditation which was simply sitting silently and watching the breath, and there were chanting meditations, Sufi whirling meditations, all sorts of meditations. We danced, whirled, gazed at candles, all sorts of holy stuff. Each morning at 6am, just before sunrise we would begin the day with Dynamic Meditation, or at least I and several hundred other fanatics would. At sunset we would do a dancing meditation called Kundalini. 

The Master gave discourse every morning at 8am. In the evening he worked with small groups of people in what was referred to as Energy Darshan, a truly phantasmagorical experience that is beyond my ability to describe. The discourses, usually an hour and a half in length, covered a wide variety of topics including the world’s major religions, sex, psychology, philosophy, science, metaphysics, relationships, art, in fact just about anything. Many of his comments were like electric shocks to the system. Delivered with love and humor his statements were incredibly unsettling. I remember sitting there day after day during a series of talks on a particular Zen Master named Rinsai and feeling that the very foundation of my understanding of life was being shattered. It is difficult to explain but although I had no allegiance to a particular religion or country or race or even an established philosophy, I still had a belief in a sort of vague way of being that had to do with justice, service to the poor and downtrodden, love of my fellow man, worship of a handful of humans that I had elevated to the status of demi-gods and a duty to rebel against all representatives of the lesser beings who had wronged me in my early life, the parents, the church, the school system, the crooked politicians, and I also had a new and very strong belief that I had found the Christ of the 20th Century and all I had to do was be a disciple and follow this man along with a hundred thousand other orange-clad seekers of truth.  But here he was, this Christ, this Buddha, this being that seemed to float rather than walk issuing statement after statement that strongly said YOU ARE ALONE AND YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE! I remember one question in particular asked by a fellow seeker that was answered in a way that set my poor mind reeling. The question was a sort of lament that the person had been born to parents that had abused him and set him on a path that was devoid of love and nurturing and had driven him into horrible relationships and landed him on the psychiatric couch and that he felt that it just wasn’t fair that he and so many others had suffered so much and weren’t the parents and society to blame?  Osho’s answer was simple: “Next time choose your parents more carefully.”  What? What kind of answer was that? How can a small baby make a choice? I certainly didn’t choose my parents, my birth experience, my kindergarten, my impoverished neighborhood. That wasn’t MY fault! The effect that 5 straight months of being at the feet of this Master had on me was to drive me deep inside my self, to bring light into the dark recesses of my being, to begin to take responsibility for who I was, what I thought, what I did, how I related to others, to my world.

Thrown into a 10-day Vipassana experience I encountered my aloneness. In Vipassana all the props are taken away. For 10 days there is no contact with another human being. There is very little movement. There is absolutely no stimulus from without, no newspaper, no conversation, no music, no books, no TV, no nothing. And in that nothingness you simply watch your breath and you watch your insane mind chattering away and somewhere around the 6th or 7th day of this hell you detach. The mind is still there. The body is still there. The memories are still there. Your psychology is still there.  All is still there, but you, the essential you is simply watching. You are watching as if you are watching a movie, a fantasy, something outside of yourself. Maybe it is a sad movie or an angry movie or a sexy movie, a tragedy or a comedy or a combination, but it is just a movie, nothing to get very much upset about.

In 1981 Osho came to this country. A whole city was established around him. It was called Rajneeshpuram and it existed in central Oregon. It was called a “City to provoke God.” By that was meant the idea that ten thousand people would live and work together to create an energy of positivity, well not positivity as opposed to negativity, more like an energy of passionate openness. This is where Osho’s crime became apparent.  This city to provoke God became a thorn in the side of the Reagan administration and the government of Oregon. Instead of God descending, the wrath of America descended. From its very inception in 1981 to its destruction in 1985 the city was under constant attack by various agencies of government, the INS in particular. The city itself was declared to be illegal, even though Osho’s lawyers dotted every I and crossed every T.

It was a wild four years. I had the privilege and good fortune to be there when it came crashing down. I say privilege and good fortune because what I learned during that time has been invaluable. It has given me courage. It has given me insight into the nature of the human mind.  As we grew this incredible city and as we experienced daily what it means to live in love and joy and peace and harmony with nature and with each other and as we feasted on the humor and wisdom of this incredible man named Osho, the true face of America’s fascism was revealed. Well, not that it hasn’t been revealed before. I mean, ask any so-called Native American or any so-called African-American how they have been treated. As you can see, even as I have come to be a watcher, a meditator that ultimately looks inside and takes responsibility for his life, the revolutionary has not completely withered away.

Back to Osho and his crime.  Here is how I see his crime.  He held up a mirror and we did NOT like what we saw. That was his ONLY crime but it is a crime that in our world must be dealt with strongly. Crucify Him!  Thanks to the fact that he was surrounded by thousands of people who did not run away when he was arrested and thanks to a team of lawyers and news people that kept the light focused on the US Marshall’s office they could only detain him for 12 days and their tortures and poisons did not kill him outright. He lived for almost 5 years after his incarceration and gave hundreds of discourses in which he was able to complete his message. At the beginning of that 5 year period he attempted to settle in 21 different countries as his desire was to not return to India but to establish his commune in a different location. All 21 countries either denied him access or once they had granted a visa, quickly rescinded it, all under pressure from the US government. That 5 month period known to us euphemistically as the “World Tour” is fully documented. One of the countries that not only expelled him but also attempted to arrest him was my beloved Greece, home to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Zorba, the birthplace of philosophy. Shame on them!

In 1990  he left the body, never to return.  But his words live on. For me I’ve kept a fairly low profile for the past 24 years, occasionally surfacing to teach a few meditations or share some of his books and videos with people, but mostly I’ve immersed myself in working with the mentally ill in group homes and residential care facilities, seldom mentioning Osho but always infusing my work with the wisdom he imparted to me. Lately I’ve been feeling a strong urge to resurrect the Osho space and share it strongly. Perhaps Armageddon is on the horizon. Perhaps it is the Kali Luga, the end times. I don’t know. It is just a feeling. Perhaps it is the Scottish warrior in my blood that says, “Do not go gently into that good night. Go up fighting.” I will close this catharsis with one of Osho’s writings. In preparing this talk I scanned a half dozen of the 50 Osho books in my collection to find just the right passage. This is the rightest one I could come up with. I think it demonstrates why Ronald Reagan, Attorney General Edwin Meese and Oregon Attorney General David Fronmeyer wanted him dead.

One of the most fundamental things to be always remembered is that we are living in a hypocrite society.

“Once , a great philosopher was asked: “What do you think of civilization?”

The philosopher said, “It is a good idea, but somebody has to change the idea into a reality. Civilization has not happened yet. It is a dream of the future.”

But the people who are in power – politically, religiously, socially – are in power because civilization has not happened. A civilized world, a mature man, needs no nations – all those boundaries are false – needs no religions, because all those theologies are simple fictions.

The people who have been for thousands of years in power – the priests, the politicians, the super-rich – have all the powers to prevent human evolution. But the best way to prevent it is to convince man, “You are already civilized,” to convince man, “You are already a human being. You need not go through a transformation, it is unnecessary.”

And man’s weakness is that knowing perfectly well there exists no such thing as civilization, there exists no such thing as human sensitivity, still he starts believing in all the lies that the politicians have been speaking, the priests have been preaching, the educationists have been teaching, because it seems simpler to just believe – you don’t have to do anything for it.

To recognize the fact that you are not yet a man creates fear. The very ground underneath your feet disappears.

Truth makes you utterly naked --- naked of all lies, naked of all hypocrisies. That’s why nobody wants truth; everybody believes that he has got it.

Do you see the psychological strategy? If you don’t want to give something to someone, convince him, hypnotize, repeat again and again, “You have got it.” And when thousands of people around you – your parents, your teachers, your priests, your leaders – are all believing it, it seems almost impossible for new arrivals in the world, small children, not to be convinced of this thousands-of-years-old idea. Millions of people have lived and died believing that civilization has happened.

So the first thing I want you to understand is that we are still barbarous. Only barbarians can do things that we have been doing for thousands of years – not human beings. In three thousand years, five thousand wars … and you call man civilized?

In the twentieth century – exactly in the middle of the twentieth century – you can produce Adolf  Hitler, you can produce Josef Stalin, you can produce Benito Mussolini, you can produce Mao Tse-tung, and still you believe man is civilized?

George Gurdjieff used to tell a small story – but it is about humanity. The story is that there was a magician. He lived deep in the mountains and the forests, and he had thousands of sheep. But the problem was that the sheep were afraid of the magician because every day the sheep were seeing that one of them was being killed for his breakfast, another was being killed for his lunch. So they used to run away from the magician’s place, and it was a difficult job to find them in the vast forest. Being a magician, he used magic. He hypnotized all the sheep and told different sheep… to some, “You are a man, you need not be afraid. It is only the sheep who are going to be killed and eaten, not you. You are a man just like I am.”

Some other sheep were told, “You are a lion – only sheep are afraid. They escape, they are cowards. You are a lion; you would prefer to die than to run away. You don’t belong to these sheep, so when they are killed it is not your problem. They are meant to be killed, but you are the most loved of my friends in this forest.”

In this way he told all the sheep different stories and from the second day, the sheep stopped running away from the  house. They still saw other sheep being killed, butchered, but it was not their concern. Somebody was a lion, somebody was a tiger, somebody was a man, somebody was…. Nobody was a sheep except the one who was being killed.

This way, without keeping servants, he managed thousands of sheep. They would go into the forest for their food, for their water, and they would come back home, believing always one thing: It is some sheep who is going to be killed, not you. You don’t belong to this mob. You are a lion – respected, honored, a friend of the great magician.” The problems of the magician were solved.

I am telling you this story because it is literally true about you. You are being told things, and you accept them without even looking all around to see whether those things coincide with the reality of not.

As far as I am concerned, civilization is still a dream, a hope, a utopia. And if we don’t get into the tricks of the magician and start believing that we are civilized people, the hope can become a reality, the dream can become a concrete experience.

And conscience arises only after meditation, never before it.

All these politicians are trying to convince humanity; “You have a conscience.” You don’t have. You will have to grow it, you will have to work upon yourself. You will have to learn how to be silent, and how to listen to the still, small voice within.

Your being is the Garden of Eden talked about in The Bible. That Garden of Eden is not somewhere else on some other star – it is within you. You have been thrown out of it, and you have been running all around but never going in. The moment you go in, you are back in the Garden of Eden. But now, nobody has taken care for thousands of years. You have never been back inside. Everything has gone to seed; now nothing blossoms, no foliage, no greenery. But you can bring it back to life because everything is potentially there.


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