Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers Productions

Cult Following

Netflix original documentary Wild Wild Country dropped March 16, 2018.

#WildWildCountry chronicles the rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram.

rottentomatoes: 100%

metacritic: 79

imdb: 8.4




Bhagwan Rajneesh, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers Productions

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Indian spiritual guru Bhagwan Rajneesh relocates his disciples to a rural town in Antelope, Oregon in 1982.


Bhagwan Rajneesh, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers Productions
Bhagwan Rajneesh, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers Productions

“I’m not special in any sense.  I’m not claiming that I am the son of God.  I’m simply saying one thing: that I was asleep, now I am awake.  You are asleep and you can be awake also.  I will go on trying to help people to be awake.  The awakened man will be the new man.  He will not be Christian.  He will not be Hindu.  He will not be Muhammadan.  He will not be Indian.  He will not be German.  He will not be English.  He will be simply an awakened being. The East has remained lopsided of the so-called spirituality.  It has remained poor, unscientific, without any technology.  And the West has chosen materialism.  But man is very empty and meaningless.  Without spirituality, there will be no center.  Man is falling apart.  The Western man… is half.  The Eastern man is half.  The effort here is to create the whole man.  Now there are two ways: either repress sex as it has been done by the so-called religious traditions of the world or transform it.  I am for transformation.  Hence, I teach my Sannyasins to be creative.  Create music, create poetry, create painting, create pottery… create something!  Whatever you do, do it with great creativeness.  Bring something new into existence… and your sex will be fulfilled on a higher plane.  You have to be given a safe place from where you can work.  A place where ordinary things taboos, inhibitions are put aside.  And this is only the beginning.  Many, many more are going to come.  They are on the way.  The others who will come… the coming of millions more… hence, your responsibility is great, because you will be preparing the way.  We are materialist spiritualists.  Nothing like this has ever happened in the world.  This is a new experiment, a new beginning.  And it has a great future for it.  All communes in the past have died because of this stupid idea that you should not create wealth.  Now 1,500 Sannyasins are working in the commune.  They need clothes.  They need medicine.  They need everything.  This commune is going to live, and the only way for it to live is to be rich.  This will be the first Sannyasin city.  Within five years, 50,000 Sannyasins will be there.  And within ten years, 100,000 Sannyasins will be there.” — Bhagwan Rajneesh


John Silvertooth, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsJohn Silvertooth

“I was walking down our home to the post office, which is about three or four blocks, and standing out in the middle of the street, kind of slight built guy… I figured he was not an American.  You could spot Europeans by the shoes.  They were fashionable leather shoes, not cowboy boots.  He said, ‘do you live here?’  And I said, ‘yes, I live here.’  And he says, ‘They are coming.  Others are going to be here.’  And he says, ‘This is going to be a lot of trouble.  There’s going to be many people here.’  And it sounded kind of incredulous.  Who would expect that, you know, it could unfold the way it unfolded, you know?  You couldn’t imagine that, in your dreams, initially, you know?  Far scarier than anybody could have ever imagined.  Antelope was a quiet little spot in the middle of nowhere.  Pretty much isolated from everything.  There was a little teeny article in the paper.  It was just about two or three sentences. Like the rich man’s guru with a Rolls Royce bought a ranch in Antelope, and I just thought that was crazy.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Out there, there’s nothing, just a couple of little old buildings and 60,000 acres of rocks.  People had no idea, you know, what they were really doing. We wondered, you know, who these people are.  Why are they here?  How long are they going to be here?  You know, what’s this about?  A lot of people were suspicious that they had a long-term plan.  Nobody could imagine that it would be something of the scale that unfolded.  I tell people now, you know, and they still don’t believe you, ’cause it’s just too incredible.  How could this happen?  You know someone will write a book about this, and I will guarantee you that when that book comes out, the people that read it will say that it’s fiction.  We had no idea that we were going to run into the largest poisoning case in the history of the United States, into the largest wiretapping case, and the largest immigration fraud that had occurred in the United States.  She had been involved with the Bhagwan for a large part of her life.  I don’t know if you want to say bred for the job, but certainly ingratiated into that circle to where she was a very trusted lieutenant.” — John Silvertooth


Rosemary McGreer, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsRosemary McGreer

“The city of Antelope… …just a sleepy little old town that was compromised of about 50 people.  And it was just small, quiet.  Had a post office.  The store.  The old school house.  And the old church that was in Antelope.  Antelope, it’s definitely quiet.  No.  No.  Right away, they tried to have all the roads around them closed so people couldn’t come in.  And then you started wondering, ‘well, what is it that we’re worshipping here?  And it wasn’t long before the Bhagwan came and we got to see what it was.” — Rosemary McGreer

“I think it’s that Edmund Burke quote that I mentioned way back when that ‘All that’s necessary for evil is for good men to do nothing.’  That’s true.  You have to do something sometimes, even though this is nothing you’ve planned in your life, that there are things that you have to do.” — Rosemary McGreer


Jon Bowerman, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsJon Bowerman

“Everybody in Antelope knows everybody else.  And everybody got along and everybody helped one another.  There were community barbecues and community Christmas parties and whatnot.  It was pretty much working class people that had retired and for the first time found a house they could afford to own.  They were just going to enjoy their final years in peace and quiet… …and enjoy a certain degree of being alone.  They bought the Big Muddy Ranch, which was about 80,000 acres.  Steep, rocky, rolling hillsides.  It is wild and rugged.  Some of my neighbors over towards Antelope could see all these building materials and mobile homes being moved in, truckload after truckload.  And it was obvious that it wasn’t needed to run a ranch.  Early on when they first arrived here, they stopped in and introduced themselves, and their main thing was all we want to do is farm our ground, follow our religion, and be good neighbors.  And I guess you would say the problem started when Sheela got here.  Ma Anand Sheela was the Bhagwan’s personal secretary.  So, she was his spokesperson.  She was, in my opinion, essentially running the whole commune.” — Jon Bowerman


Kelly McGreer, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsKelly McGreer

“We just heard that this cult had bought a– or it wasn’t– they didn’t call it a cult then, did they?  I don’t know.  A bunch of people had bought an agricultural commune, which seemed a little strange.  And all of a sudden, the phone rings and he said, ‘I’m a rancher up here and these guys come in,’ and he says, ‘you do everything you can do to keep those guys from getting in out there.’  What’s going on here?  I thought a whole new world just opened up for me here apparently.  There were these rumors going around that his vision was a city of 50,000 in the desert somewhere.  And the little deal got to be a big deal in just a matter of a week or two.  She had her agenda and she couldn’t believe anybody would get in her way.” — Kelly McGreer


Ma Anand Sheela, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsMa Anand Sheela

“With every crown comes the guillotine.  Without the guillotine, you cannot wear the crown.  And it was my fate.  But why do one has to put somebody under guillotine?  Because of their strength.  They want to destroy their strength.  And in spite of guillotine, they haven’t killed me yet.  They haven’t killed my spirit yet.  No matter where I go, I will always wear crown… while I’m not afraid of being under guillotine.  I have been accused of a laundry list of heinous crimes.  Of course, all of them attempted.  Normally, I succeed in what I do.  That is a joke.  So the world has assassinated me and my character so often.  I have nothing to lose.  What have I to lose?  My first meeting with Bhagwan… I was just a young girl of 16.  We were all told by our father that we are going to visit Bhagwan.  He said that if this man lives long, he will be a second Buddha.  He had Saraswati on his tongue.  Goddess of knowledge on his tongue.  And we went in his apartment.  I sat in the back against the wall with my father.  Living room had a beautiful December morning breeze coming in.  All the walls were covered with hundreds of books.  And… I saw Bhagwan and that was the end of me.  Bhagwan came from back like this in his white shawl and a lungi and nothing underneath, with beautiful hairy chest.  And then, all I realized that tears were rolling through my cheeks.  I saw this smile and these open arms.  And I just went into his arms.  And my whole head melted.  It was in this moment… if death would have come… I accept.  My life was complete.  My life was fulfilled.  Bhagwan was very modern.  Very hip.  A fashion.  He appealed to the intellectuals.  Intellectuals who were tired of the tradition and mundane lifestyle.  The time that I came to know Bhagwan, he was on full power.  It was unstoppable power.  Bhagwan went and spoke to small groups of people and there he found some followers.  Cream of the society, he attracted.  He started then publishing his own books.  And before we know it… he was bigger than a rock star.  Stadiums were full.  I would say 20,000, 30,000 people.  I remember one day it started raining, and few people started getting up… and one shout from Bhagwan… ‘so these are the seekers.  They can’t take a few drops of rain.’  Everybody stood there.  There was a pin drop silence.  And he carried on talking.  And we went to this lecture.  And suddenly, Bhagwan calls me in the front.  I was sitting half a meter away from his feet.  He blessed me, and he said, ‘Sheela, you are in love with me and I am in love with you.’  He was not shy of provocation.  He spoke on spirituality, capitalism, sexuality.  He was so revolutionary.  More and more Westerners were coming out.  He wanted to create an international commune.  A community where he can meditate and create an energy field.  So Bhagwan then decided to move to Poona.  It was a necessity to be near him.  His physical body was so important to us all.  Bhagwan wanted to create a new man.  A new man that lives in harmony with one another… lives in harmony with nature, where all nationalities, all colors, all religions… sit together.  this new man has only respect for one another.  The average guru rejects everything, all material, all sexuality.  In old days, that brand worked.  You could sell it off good.  Good.  But now we are in a modern time.  Bhagwan was… attacking all this.  You can be spiritual without rejection.  Bhagwan did understand finances.  The Westerner came with dollars instead of rupees.  Meditation was a product.  It was the product that brought the money to do the work he had in mind to do.  I was not a meditator.  I don’t have interest in this.  It’s not my cup of tea.  I like working.  But it was not a conflict between me and Bhagwan.  I knew his marketing ability.  I knew how to create organization… how to create capitalistic working community.  Here is at least three– 4,000 Sannyasins… and they can loan us the money.  And we set up overnight a little bank with card system.  It was definitely a big cash flow.  We were floating several hundred thousand dollars… and that’s a lot of money for India.  Bhagwan’s teaching was we don’t have to isolate ourselves, sit in the Himalayas, and meditate.  We should be part of the marketplace.  The more we do, the bigger we become.  We were getting hordes of people.  Followers started coming over the wall.  There was no stop.  Bhagwan was observing me.  He wanted to test me, and I never felt that I was not adequate to say what I want to say to him.  Hindsight, I can say… he had a close eye on me.  Role of personal secretary of Bhagwan is you carried the cross for him.  It’s a mad role.  And Laxmi’s role was be Bhagwan’s spokesperson.  Bhagwan didn’t want people who were coming for mental entertainment.  He wanted people who can support a community.  Bhagwan wanted to create a new commune, a Buddhafield.  This Buddhafield was a promised land.  We had to have enough space for 10,000 people.  We needed housing facility and Bhagwan needs to move on to a different plateau, different level.  Bhagwan sent Laxmi out to look for new land, and he said not to come back until she has finished the deal.  He sent Laxmi to Delhi… Kutch… Bombay.  The problem was… it was time of Mrs. Gandhi, the prime minister.  And politically we came into this gridlock.  They saw us as a threat to their society.  It was Poona time.  There was a fundamental Hindu who stood up in the middle of the discourse and threw a knife at Bhagwan.  Knife didn’t hit Bhagwan, but it was a close call.  It was clear then to Bhagwan that now we have to take other measures to protect him, his ashram, and his people.  One evening, I come out of the shower and telephone message had come.  And I was called to Bhagwan’s room.  And he said, ‘Sheela, you come in the front.’  And he asked me, ‘what do you think about Laxmi?’  I said to Bhagwan, ‘I don’t see a good hope there.’  Laxmi was not capable of organizing a land for him.  And he asked me, ‘where do you take man like Bhagwan?’  So then I said, ‘maybe I would know how to deal in America.’  It was like he was shining.  And I tell Bhagwan it was my conviction that in U.S. we will have no problems.  The constitution, I thought, was very sacred.  And then he says ‘Sheela, I have something for you.’  He put his hand on my head.  I just looked at him… tears rolling from my eyes.  And then he says, ‘Sheela, you are my new secretary.’  And the next thing he says, ‘okay, look for a place in America.’  It was in ’68.  I was 17 years old.  Our father told us, ‘I am sending you to learn in America.’  What excited me about America?  Everything, I guess, in that moment.  America was land of promise.  I was fascinated with the idea of freedom, to see the equality among men and women.  And color… was important.  In my first class, in Montclair State College, I met my husband, Mark.  He was not Chinmaya yet.  A beautiful man.  My first love.  He had a totally Jewish humor that used to make me laugh.  I would have stomachache.  We enjoyed walking on Canal Street, these huge buildings, eating pickles, you know, from the big barrel.  And I felt so good.  But he was a sick man.  Mark had Hodgkin’s disease.  He battled with it 13 years.  Death was a naked sword, and it was always there sitting.  Night before he died, I look myself in the mirror and I suddenly see my face grey.  I knew something was wrong with Chinmaya then.  And I said to Bhagwan, ‘I think Chinmaya is dying.’  And he said, ‘you feel correct.  But I don’t want you to have tears in your eyes because if he sees tears, it will become difficult for him to die.’  And I did not let a tear fall in front of Chinmaya.  I have not known sorrow as deep as that.  Bhagwan told the doctors to put me to sleep for three days.  When I woke up after three days… he says, ‘this chapter is finished.  Now you bury yourself in the work.’  When Bhagwan stopped giving public lectures, I became his spokesperson as his secretary.  Everything was put on my shoulder.  We did not want Bhagwan to come under any direct conflict with law.  And this is why I was given power of attorney, irrevocable power of attorney.  One gives such powers only to someone that one trusts so immensely.  I had a big meeting with my team.  I declared that we are going to America.  I said, ‘Understand what it means… to take this giant tree… that is in middle of India… spread out his branches and roots.’  It was massive danger involved.  I had to present to these people what it means to hold your tongues.  no one should have a little bit of idea of what’s going on, because if people know, it won’t happen.  I went to Bombay.  I started application to the visa.  I went to Immigration.  I said, ‘I want to speak to you in person.’  I can see the paper in front of my eyes, this long telex where they say grant Bhagwan a visa.  And we had to go in the middle of the night to the airport.  We had taken a 747… Pan-Am, and upstairs, blocked it completely for him.  This is this beautiful photo where I poured him my first drink, a glass of champagne.  And then he took the bottle in his hand.  ‘Now for my Sheela.’  And he poured me and gave it to me.  And we left India.  Bhagwan, he was porcelain… very fragile… very precious… millions of years old.  And I was lucky enough to have the responsibility to transport him from one country to another… at a very young age.  It was an adventure of my life.  Rajneeshpuram is a big living opera.  Sheela a soprano.  Bhagwan a tenor.  Rajneeshpuram the setting.  Operas are, at the end, always tragic.  But there were so many facets, so many dimensions in this opera.  I would like to say, ‘People of Oregon… think yourselves lucky that this opera came your way.'” — Sheela

“I remember we came to Oregon… people saw with the magnitude of the ranch, what is happening is historic.  It was heaven on earth.  It was heaven.  There was nobody else there.  Nearest town was 19 miles.  Village of Antelope.  And there I didn’t even see five people walking around.  And I stood over Big Muddy and you see these thousands of hills.  It was size of Manhattan.  Sixty-three thousand acres.  They told me, look as far as you can see, that everything you can see belonged to you.  It was so clear we arrived at the promised land.  We decided to have self-government.  A hundred and fifty U.S. citizens can create their own city.  This provision… it’s a fundamental right.” — Sheela

“A very beautiful city, a city, one which has never existed on the universe where people live in harmony, people live in love.  Beautiful city, example for the universe.  We feel proud that we had all this done.  You know, unless you see it, you don’t get it.  I say this is Shangri-la that everyone dreamt of.  Everybody wanted to be part of that Shangri-la, but never made it.” — Sheela

“We had a job ahead of us.  Lazy people, we don’t want.  Meditators… later priority.  Now is the time for work.  We worked day and night, in three shifts, four shifts, whatever it required.  We just constructed, constructed till body got tired.  We built our own electric power that would be sufficient for 10,000 people.  The women had a very special part in building Rajneeshpuram.  They felt they are equal to the men and they want to also be a truck driver.  They enjoyed getting into the mud and dirt.  The work was going beautifully.  We built our own airport.  We built a very big damn.  It is a monument we created there.  And you feel so good being young and seeing that you’re doing something that is so creative, so constructive.  We brought back nature.  We make this land alive with our sweat and our hard work.  They should have offered us a Nobel prize.  I felt so proud of not just me, proud of whole community.  That we could present this to Bhagwan.  I felt like a newly married bride preparing to receive her husband on the first night.  We rolled out 4,000 square feet of green lawn carpets around his house.  And the people at the ranch who are preparing, they want to make sure it is spotless.  We brought animals, like peacocks.  Little music welcome.  It was like a beautiful Fellini movie.  And Bhagwan comes and he sits in his chair.  Looking at the people in silence… and to see the Bhagwan smile and his beard flowing in the wind… such a– such a reflection of love from his eyes towards me.” — Sheela

“It’s a ridiculous comparison.  Our way is of living, not of suicide.  We are life affirmative, not life negative.” — Sheela

“To know myself was my strength.  And we have to pull our strength together and go forward.” — Sheela


Jane Stork, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsJane Stork

“Roger and I, we married in 1966.  And in those days, where we lived in Western Australia, it was absolutely normal that you got married and had a family.  So two years after we married, our son was born, Peter.  But the dream we had been living… young people, they meet, they fall in love, they get married, they have children, they live happily ever after.  Oh, it’s not the way I think it is.  It’s different.  And I was resentful and I was angry.  Roger and I were having real issues in our marriage.  I would bottle everything up, bottle it up, bottle it up, and then… … I would just explode.  I just said to myself, ‘I don’t want to come to this place again.  I don’t like this.  I got to do something about this.’  A neighbor, a young neighbor, had told me once about a psychologist at the public health department.  And Roger came with me.  I was very, very nervous, and this man came out of the little building and walked towards us.  I didn’t even notice that he was wearing a long orange robe… and a beaded necklace around– I didn’t even notice.  He said, ‘You know, we’re going to make a meditation center here.  This is just small now.  This is just the beginning.  And we’re going to do a meditation.’  I was like, ‘Meditation?  What’s that?’  We were invited into the small building there.  There were a number of other people also wearing orange clothes.  And there were very large, um, photos of Bhagwan.  Really luminous eyes… like… deep wells.  The psychologist, he gave Roger and I a mask so that we couldn’t see.  He had told us to breathe very fast and furiously in and out of the nose for the first part of the music.  In the second part, we were to just let it all go.  Scream and shout if we felt like it.  Whatever came, we just let it out.  And then the third part, we were to put our hands over and jump up and down.  And every time your feet hit the ground, you say, ‘Hoo!  Hoo!’  And then the fourth part… was a quiet part then.  You just get very quiet and still.  But when it was over, I just cried.  I just– that was my release.  I just cried.  Roger sought me out among the group of people.  It was quite a big group of people, and he was pulling on my clothes.  He was pulling me really hard and he was shouting, ‘Come back!  Come back!’  But he was just hanging on and, ‘Come back!  Come back.  I became very impatient to go India to meet Bhagwan.  some people who came to the meditation had been for a visit and come back.  They were talking about the ashram, about Bhagwan and that you could sit at his feet.  And I developed his need to sit at the feet of my master.  And at some point I just said, ‘I’m going to India.’  From the very beginning, I was completely overwhelmed.  So many people, so many different smells, fragrances, all mixed up, and noise.  When the gate opened and I walked through with Roger, it was into another world.  It was really peaceful.  It was very green, lush green.  There were little groups of people in orange sitting around or standing around taking quietly to each other.  It was a real oasis.  And Bhagwan’s house was just visible through the greenery.  There was a huge sense of… ‘finally, I’ve made it.’  Bhagwan gave a discourse every morning, and that was the first time that I actually physically saw Bhagwan.  In those days, Bhagwan wore a very austere white robe, long sleeves down to his ankles.  He had a long beard.  He certainly looked the part of the sage.  And he came out of that door with his hands joined in the namaste, which is a greeting, and moved from the door to his chair.  And for me it seemed as though he didn’t touch the ground.  He just glided there.  There was a slight movement in his beard from the movement that he made.  And then he sat down.  I can’t even remember how I– what I thought, but I found myself sitting at Bhagwan’s feet.  And then he spoke to me.  It was, for me, as though a door burst open, because Bhagwan was very eclectic.  He was very well read.  He was a professor of philosophy, and he spoke about things I’d never heard before.  And he spoke about all different religions.  He spoke about Buddha and he spoke about Zarathustra, and I was very attracted to his irreverence.  I found that very refreshing.  For me, that was, ah, wonderful.  You can laugh about things.  You don’t have to cry all the time about life.  One of the first things we did was to go to the front office.  This was a glass-fronted office.  When you came in the front gate, it was right there.  There was a very tiny Indian woman sitting in a very big chair in the middle.  She was clearly the boss there.  And they told us this is Laxmi.  This is Bhagwan’s secretary.  So I went to the office to ask for work.  Laxmi had to her right-hand side a very vivacious young Indian woman.  And that was the first time I met Sheela.  She said to me, ‘oh, you want to work?  Oh, very good.  W e need a responsible cleaner.’  Cleaner?  I came all this way to clean?  And cleaning public toilets was my job for the first year.  there came a day when Bhagwan announced to us, a discourse in the morning, that now enough of us were ready to commune with him in silence and that he would not be speaking anymore.  Unheard of.  Unbelievable.  But he stopped speaking.  My boss at the booking office called to come outside.  And we looked at him questioningly, but… we should just stay.  And the next thing, the gate opened and Bhagwan’s white armored Rolls Royce drove out of the gate, down the driveway, and out of the ashram gate.  In the four years I was in India, he had never gone out of the ashram, and suddenly he was gone.  Slowly but surely, everything that was movable in the ashram was dismantled and sold and taken away.  I had taken my children, my husband, and gone to India to live with Bhagwan.  Everything I had known, my whole world was taken apart.  I– yeah, I felt as though someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet.  But I was determined to wait.  I knew he would come back.  Because if he didn’t come back, what was I going to do?  Well, he didn’t come back.  He didn’t come back for seven years.” — Jane Stork

“I was woken up early and told to get ready.  You need to go and buy clothes that will be okay in America like jeans, and till in orange, but get pants and shirts.  I would be flying on to Oregon.  I didn’t even know– I think I didn’t even know where Oregon was.  I mean, I was– It was all a big blur for me.  And when we left Antelope, this sleepy little town and started going to the ranch, I was a bit overwhelmed because it was just so wild, so… rugged.  But vast.  Really wild country.  A city was going to be needed.  The community itself could issue its own building permits, could have its own law enforcement.  It could be independent.  It was a huge effort, especially those first few months. The people who were there were really very, very enthusiastic.  They were ready to do anything.  There was nothing, you know– like we’re doing something really great here.  There was a huge push to put in roads.  I couldn’t believe it, because where before there’d be nothing, now there were whole settlements.  And then a shopping center was built.” — Jane Stork


Swami Prem Niren, Philip Toelkes, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsSwami Prem Niren

Philip Toelkes

“First you have to understand that the majority of Sannyasins today became Sannyasins after Osho died.  They never saw him.  They never heard him.  They were never at the ranch.  Those who were at the ranch… tend to share a bond.  It’s maybe like going through a war together or something, you know?  You share a bond of having gone through an extremely intense experience where you relate to each other… with a very, very deep connection and bond that’s really sort of beyond family, you know?  Uh.. love.  Those of us who were there.  I was born at the best time and the best place for anybody to be born in the history of the world.  I was born in the United States in the late 40s, after the war, when middle class people finally broke through and could have a decent living.  Where if you were smart, you didn’t have to have money, you could get an education.  So I went to law school.  And, uh… I was smart.  And I was aggressive, and I was hostile.  And in that arena, for the first time in my life, it really paid off.  I got recruited by a firm in Los Angeles, the Manatt firm.  At the time, it was the fastest growing law firm in the United States.  I was the second senior litigator.  Really was good at cases.  The adversary process.  It was like I was born to do it.  I represented Jack Kent Cooke and the Lakers, Linda Ronstadt.  I had a big case for Shaun Cassidy.  It was pretty cool.  But I was working my ass off.  I was fucking toast.  I was done.  I had a pal, one of my best friends, he was going to India.  I actually picked him up when he came back, and we went up into the mountains.  It was a ’64 Volkswagen van, camp conversion, you know?  He had, like, transformed.  He had lost 20 years.  His face had lightened up.  He was smiling like a kid, you know?  Sam brought along some tapes of Osho… I had never heard tapes of Osho before.  And I just knew that my life was changed.  After– after I got divorced, I really– when I’d get up in the morning, I’d think, ‘what am I doing?’, you know?  What am I doing?  Eating too much, drinking too much.  Working too much.  For what?  I then decided enough is enough.  I resigned my partnership.  People thought I was crazy to walk away from the gold mine.  So I went to India.  I remember the first time I flew into India.  I come off the plane.  I’m in a taxi.  It’s these two-lane roads and these Indian truck drivers and bus drivers all dodging each other.  And there’s the biggest slums like you could never have seen in your life.  And in the middle of that, there is this… ashram.  And there was a gate.  It was a sunny day, beautiful.  There was lots of trees, these beautiful old trees, full of parrots, like thousands of parrots, and all of these people, a sea of people, walking, wearing maroon robes.  But it was a very gentle movement, you know?  People talking to people.  People sitting and having a cup of tea.  People hugging.  I just wanted to be there.  I felt like I had arrived.  I felt like after a life of being somewhere where I felt I don’t belong here… …including my family, I felt like I had come home.  I was leaning up against the mosquito nets at the back.  I was a nobody.  And it was so powerful to listen to him and be with him.  It was so powerful.  He was controversial and very popular.  He had qualities that were immense.  When you would sit with him in a hall with six– 7,000 people… and everybody in the room who was open to him is stoned.  I mean ‘stoned’ in the sense that when after the discourse, people would get up to leave and they would stumble if they got up too quickly.  He would channel this incredible energy into people.  Everybody felt that they were there at the beginning of the great experiment.  And we really saw it had the potential to transform the consciousness of the planet.  We really did feel… like we were the chosen people.  Sheela was smart.  She was enjoyable.  She was cunning.  She had a feel for power.  Being personal secretary to Osho was more than you might think.  Osho’s personal secretary was primarily responsible for administering everything.  And there’s this Sannyasin sitting next to me in the garden for breakfast.  I said, ‘How’s Osho?’  And she said, ‘he’s in silence.’  I had come all this way to sit in front of him and listen, and he’s in silence.  And that also meant seclusion.  He wasn’t seeing people.  When he goes into silence, who’s gonna speak?  So I get back to L.A., and I didn’t know what I was going to be doing, you know?   I was hanging out with an old girlfriend on a Sunday morning, and I remember I was drinking coffee and eating pastries in bed with her.  And she brings in the L.A. Times.  And there was this big article by Russell Chandler.  Osho was in the United States.  I pick up the phone and call 503 information, and I said, ‘I want to talk to those people in Central Oregon.’  And she said, ‘Hold on, I’ll connect you.’  Everybody knew who he was and what was going on.  And I just said, ‘Listen, I’m a lawyer in L.A. I took sannyas recently and I want to know what I can do.’  Thirty seconds later, I was talking to Sheela.  And she said, ‘are you admitted in Oregon?’  I said, ‘no.’  She said, ‘get admitted to Oregon and come up here.’  And so I did.” — Niren

“It’s like this.  We’re in the geographical center of nowhere, you know?  It’s like nothing.  I got picked up by a guy in a bus and drove out to the ranch.  It’s a really windy road, narrow two-lane road.  And as you come down, you’re seeing the valley, you know?  And it’s beautiful.  In the state of Oregon any group of people living in a community have the right to incorporate.  It’s called home rule.  You have the right to create your town, and it’s embedded in the United States constitution, freedom of assembly… freedom of association.  I don’t think there has ever been a city that’s been laid out and built like this.  A city that would be based on love and compassion and sharing, rather than ownership and greed and anger.  And we… the people who lived there… actually knew they were building that.  We were in a grand experiment to create something from scratch.  From scratch.  People were working their asses off and were happy.  People were working their asses off and are all laughing and joking.  If they worked a 16-hour day, nobody complained.  If you can imagine building a city, we built everything you would have to build.  We built infrasctructure.  Put in plumbing, pipes going all over the ranch.  They were the biggest bulldozers made.  You see these guys get on the D-9’s and push tons and tons of earth.  They’re actually up there like this, carving away at the side of the canyon.  I mean, it scared the shit out of me.  It was city planning on a level that nobody had ever seen, to build something of this size and scope.  We built small A-frames.  We had a banking operation.  A pizza parlor.  A boutique.  The color range was a bit limited.  There was a meditation hall.  And it was big.  It could hold 10,000 people.  Understand, when we bought the ranch, it was all… not usable land.  So, in addition to all the building, we built the farms.  It was the cutting-edge of environmentally conscious, land reclamation, low water use, intelligent farming.  We completely built this whole series of check dams.  We were literally turning the desert green.  And as it was recovered, wildlife were coming back because it was being rebuilt.” — Niren

“These anti-cult experts were hilarious because they’d give definitions of what a cult was, you know?  It was like rule-oriented and one leader and supporting the group over the whole, which applied better to the U.S. Army than us.  We were a group of crazy individualists who just happened to be organized enough to build this community because we wanted to do it.  We didn’t like being told how to believe, how to pray, how to live.  We wanted to be free.  And the anti-cult people, who could– who said we were conditioning people, in fact, were terrified of individual freedom.  Terrified.” — Niren

“For Osho, all of this was a game.  All of this was a game of consciousness to transform consciousness.  There was a guy named Gurdjieff… who was a famous mystic… who would create what he called devices. And he put people in difficult psychological or physical situations.  And by facing these situations, people would be forced into themselves and learn about themselves.  In some ways, the whole thing for Osho was a big Gurdjieffian device.  It was a device for the United States of America, for them to see who they were.  It was a device for Sheela to see who she was.  It was a device for all of us in the community to see what we could do under pressure.” — Niren

“I think the United States has failed.  The United States has failed to recognize the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen.  I think the United States has failed to recognize the contribution that he had to offer to this country and to the world.  I think it’s a tragedy.” — Niren


Jayananda, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsJayananda

“I had basically a business finance background.  I got a job working in an international bank on One Wall Street.  I wanted to create this holistic community, and I had wanted to do that long before I was a Sannyasin.  I establish a company called Neo-Balance to facilitate the flow of goods to India and lay in the basic infrastructure for that community to thrive on.  At the time, we were coming into the Vietnam era.  And what we were being told by our government, by our culture wasn’t exactly what was going on.  We were expected to go to college, get a job, raise a family, and people were beginning to question the validity of our religions, our governments.  And I think that’s what so many of the youngsters at that time were reblling against and looking inward to find these answers.  Osho was part of the New Age awakening that was happening.  And inside of the ashram in Poona, there were the most dynamic New Age therapies that were existing any place in the world.  Circulating through India were these Europeans and Americans who were coming in to see what the East was like.  This was providing a steady flow of income to satisfy the needs of a very growing community.  She was very charming.  She knew how to deal with people.  She knew how to operate a new commune.  And money was needed.  We needed housing.  We needed to buy new land.  And I come up with the idea.  The perception from the outside was that it was a classless society.  But when you actually went to ashram, you found that there were people who had different degrees of power.  We amassed in the early days highly trained intellectuals, doctors, lawyers, city planners.  I mean, our vision was to create a community that could be used as an example for what was possible in the world.  So we were looking for land that had that potential to sustain a large enough population and had the potential to grow.  And I’m thinking here he is, this fantastic spiritual teacher who can’t even, in his own country, be able to express himself.  At that point, I go into his library and get a copy of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.  The United States gives the right for all people to practice a religion.  And I’m thinking getting out of India was something that we should really explore.  Knowing many Sannyasins over the years, we knew who we could call on for expertise.  We would bring in experts to instruct, teach, and develop our own potential.  So, very early on, we could develop resources like solar power, irrigate.  We could heal the land.  We could feed the people in a holistic fashion.  We are producing most of the food, most of the milk, most of the cheese by ourselves within our own community.” — Jayananda


Ma Prem Sunshine, Wild Wild Country, Netflix, Duplass Brothers ProductionsMa Prem Sunshine

“I went because I thought it was going to be really exciting to build a community from the ground up.  We’re going to be at the ground level of the most historical community that ever was in this country.  I was working in press relations.  We were opening our doors to the press because we were proud of what we were doing and who we were and what we were creating.  Taking the most creative people from your whole pool and being able to brainstorm and come up with really innovative stuff.” — Sunshine

“Well, what we’re doing is trying to build a shrine for Bhagwan while he’s still alive.  It’s probably the first attempt by mankind to put advanced technology to use, where we could live in harmony with nature together.” — Sunshine

“His agenda, as I understood him, was simply to raise the consciousness of humanity.  That was his goal.  That was his effort.  That was his only reason for speaking.” — Sunshine



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