I just finished watching Wild, Wild Country, a deeply engrossing six-hour Netflix series put up just last Friday, March 16. This series held me mesmerized until done. And rather than explaining the mystery of what went on during the incredible tale of utopia and mayhem that attended the establishment of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, for me, the mystery only deepened. Who was Rajneesh, really?
And who am I, that I should be so mesmerized?
And what amazed me most was the unusually even-handed presentation of archival material interlaced with current interviews of the principals showing the jaw-dropping history (and herstory) of this extremely provocative Oregon experiment that has been largely forgotten — until now. Hats off to the filmmakers, who were able to obtain the trust of many crucial people on both sides of the controversy, and show them as fully three-dimensional beings. And yet, as the filmmakers remark, both sides have one-dimensional views of the other.
BTW: notice the way the above interview with the filmmakers is titled: The Daily Beast, where it originated, does not, in my view, share the even-handedness of the filmmakers, but instead instantly paints a sensationalized, negative picture.
I have long been familiar with Bhagwan Rajneesh (Osho), his ashram at Poona, in India, his books. Love his books. Love that he celebrated the full expression of the individual while also situating that expression within community. Much like my own vision of utopia, he seemed to advocate a dynamic balance within each of us of these two principles, that when fully expressed, and integrated, could evolve the human race beyond its usual polarities, pitting too much individuality (chaos, overwrought libertarianism, capitalism) against too much togetherness (hive-mind, communism, socialism).
And, way back in the mid-70s, during the years when I was married to my loving second husband and trying to be a good wife, I was contacted by an old lover who had traveled to India and ended up wearing orange and changing his name from Bob to Bodhisattva. He wanted me to join them there. I was tempted.
And, not quite so far back, in the late ’80s I knew a woman who had been a part of Osho’s inner circle at Poona, by which I gathered that she meant his inner circle of sexual partners, though she never spelled it out. This woman actually left the fold early, prior to the migration to Oregon, though she seemed to have held onto her reverence for the guru.
When they were in Oregon (1980-1985) Bob (Bodhisattva) contacted me again, wanting me to visit. Again, tempted.
What strikes me now is how similar are my visions of a more ideal society to those of Osho. And what also strikes me is that the main “reason” the Oregon adventure failed was because Osho (through those he designated) was forever trying to do too much, too soon.
That’s the short version. The long version as per the Netflix series, is fascinating, especially the thread about Sheela, his “personal secretary” during the Oregon years, who, he said at one point, after he said she betrayed him, that he had never made love to her, that he made a point not to make love to his personal secretary! By which I think he meant, so that way the woman would, not only fall in love with him, but forever long for him! Which, it seems, from watching this series, Sheela still does.
BTW: I can remember, during the time I was publishing Heartland, an anti-nuclear rag for the “deep west” states, and traveling around as, I determined later, a “violent peace activist,” I was also then in touch with the Oregon commune, in fact exchanging our publication for theirs. And I can remember, at some point, recognizing the violence in Sheela, noticing how her editorials completely denigrated all locals. Sheela alarmed me. I didn’t realize at the time how much her mental violence mirrored my own!
The larger reverberations of this docuseries are cultural, and deeply resonant with what’s going on now: the concentration on (and revelation of) secrecy, centralization, the wrong use of power, extreme polarity, gun culture, male/female relations, immigration issues, voter fraud, government versus “the people,” at local, county, state and federal levels — all this and much more, were present in the ’80s when this amazing collective drama was enacted over five years on a reclaimed 18,000 acre ranch in the middle of the boonies near Antelope (pop 40) in Oregon.
I decided to set up an astrological chart for Osho, since I was able to find it on the internet, and found myself utterly blown away by its relevance to now, when Saturn is in Capricorn on its way to catching up to Pluto, in 2019-20. No wonder this docuseries came out now! Astonishing!
For background, see these:
So here goes:
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was born on December 11, 1931, at 5:13 p.m., at Kuchwada, Madhya Pradesh (India). Here’s the chart, found at astrotheme.
What struck me immediately about this chart (and I am not going to attempt a full interpretation, just notice what seems so relevant and resonant now), was the exact opposition between Saturn at 21° Capricorn and Pluto at 21° Cancer. Pluto in this chart, opposes not just Saturn, but the Moon as well, at 15° Capricorn, and squares Uranus, at 15° Aries.
Once again, like now, back when Osho was born Uranus occupied Aries. Plus, transit Pluto happens to sit exactly at 21° Capricorn NOW, when this series was introduced on Netflix, conjunct Osho’s natal Saturn, and exactly opposed his natal Pluto. We find the same mighty, and largely unconscious, forces at work now: individual freedom of expression (Uranus in Aries) and the push-pulls involved in the collective re-structuring of society (Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn), plus, in Rajneesh’s case, an apparently hypnotic power over his followers (Pluto in Cancer).
I have a feeling that this series will engender its own kind of hypnotic power over those who dare to watch it all the way through. And that it will inspire many of us to begin to see through and feel our way underneath the current raging polarization, gun culture, immigrant issues, and so on.
So many many lessons in this Wild Wild Country series, as to what NOT to do as we go forward into the future.
For me as well, like Rajneesh a Sagittarian, so big vision, big Truth, but tendency to want to impose my way. At the ripe age of 75 I think I’ve learned my lessons in this department. Luckily I have good people around me, none of whom are Sheela! And luckily, I, but not Osho, apparently, realize that our focus must be small, local, even tiny. Thousands of tiny experiments, each of which can of course fail, but when they do, the failures can be much more easily absorbed; these experiments are already beginning to link up to others, seeding a vast mycelliac network of good people working for the whole, each in our own small, potent way, and each according to the precise gifts we bring into the world.