Wild Wild Country

On the AYP chat forums, there is a high level of decorum.

I use the word "decorum" because it reminds me of a cross country running coach I once had at a Jesuit high school. Our coach would say to the team (with his stern voice): "We're going to maintain decorum, gentlemen. I'm not going to allow the use of profanity."

Profanity is also prohibited on the AYP forums, as is the insulting of any forum members, gurus, or spiritual celebrities. It makes sense. Profanity and demeaning language tend to threaten the bastions of harmony and cordial exchange, so to ban such dirtiness is a logical move in keeping things clean.

The reason I bring up the issue of protocol/etiquette is because I am writing this blog to review Wild Wild Country, a documentary produced by Netflix. The film traces the rise and fall of the guru Osho, who prided himself in going against the mainstream and breaking traditional rules.

If any guru would be an easy target to bash, it would be Osho.

But I'm not going to do that. I'm going to maintain decorum. [See, my cross country coach really did make an imprint.]

At the same time, there is grave danger in being overly polite or proper, because sometimes you just gotta call a spade a spade. And on that note, there is this observable trend you can sometimes discern in spiritual circles. It's called spiritual bypassing. It refers to the tendency of spiritual practitioners to gloss over, ignore, or deny grimy aspects of reality in order to sustain their personal fantasies and imaginary bubbles.

So, I don't want to fall into the trap of denying reality, just to save face and be nice. I'm much more interested in finding the fulcrum between good taste and sharp insight. Maybe I can strike a balance. You tell me, after reading.

Back to the matter at hand though!

Osho, a.k.a. Bhagwan, a.k.a. Rajneesh, a.k.a. other monikers, started a commune in Oregon in the 1980s and stirred up a lot of trouble in his attempt to revolutionize cultural norms and defy social mores, especially related to sex. He was an advocate of "free love" and polyamorous relationships, and he frowned upon the institute of marriage. Some of his disciples would literally fornicate publicly, outdoors under the blazing Oregonian sun.

I could outline more of the crimes and absurdities that occurred on the Rajneeshpuram ranch, but what's far more relevant and important to me is to reflect upon comments made by a few of his key disciples who survived those scandalous years. How did they learn from the experience? What wisdom can be gleaned from their failed utopia?

Ma Anand Sheela was undoubtedly the most major player in the organization, besides Osho himself. Sheela was his personal secretary and acted as a spokeswoman for the group when Osho withdrew from public speaking for several years. She was charismatic and cunning, but when legal pressure from the U.S. government became insurmountable, she fled the organization and the country...retreating to Germany. Osho tried to paint her as a scapegoat in order to nullify his own responsibility in the shenanigans, but ultimately, they both suffered legal consequences, with Sheela doing prison time and Osho being deported.

Decades later, to watch her recount the details in the Netflix documentary, you can tell how bittersweet her sentiments are, and what a complex person she is. She still clearly holds Bhagwan in high esteem—regarding him as an enlightened master. Yet, she also had to come to terms with the cultish pitfalls that were part of the Rajneeshpuram package, and she acknowledged the damage that was done as a result of him being revered like a god.

Naturally, after watching the movie, I couldn't help but contrast Osho's story to what's currently happening with AYP.

Yogani is holding the quintessential position of being a non-guru...tucked away in his anonymity. Nevertheless, he is still pulling strings from behind the curtain and influencing events like the AYP TTC, which I attended in France. It's not as if he has disseminated the knowledge and stepped away completely. He is still shaping the development of this sapling organization.

Looking down at the AYP emblem tattooed on my solar plexus, it makes me wonder: Am I a disciple of Yogani's?

Here's my answer: Hell no. I'm a believer in the principles and practices outlined in AYP, which go way, way beyond Yogani and his intentions. I believe these practices and principles will take on a life of their own, and be absorbed into collective consciousness by satellites of visible leadership that will function autonomously and in the open-source nature proclaimed in the baseline teachings. As is often said in Alcoholics Anonymous: Principle before personality.

Yet, any group will still need personalities to step into the limelight to stabilize its foundation and operational structure. It's unavoidable. Time will tell as to who those characters will be for AYP.

Thank you for reading. Be still, and flow.