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Outlook Magazine, October 15, 2012

The Osho commune, nay Meditation resort is best with fraud charges

Osh Begosh...

  • Osho trustees, Swami Jayesh and co, accused of transferring ashram funds to their own outfit
  • Ashram land ‘gifted’ to little known ‘Darshan Trust’ in Delhi 
  • Commune renamed as Osho International Meditation Resort,
  • Entry fees hiked, fewer visitors, “90% of programmes” shut down
  • Crass commercialisation on, traditional celebrations stopped, fears that ashram will shut down

Trouble has been brewing in this Pune paradise ever since Osho, aka Bhagwan Rajneesh, left his body—as his devotees like to put it—about two decades ago. However, of late the split in the ranks has become unbridgeable, battlelines clearly drawn and court cases getting more bitter and complicated by the day. In the eye of the long-blowing storm are the three foreigner administrators or trustees—Swami Jayesh (Michael O’Byrne) and Swami Yogendra (Darcy O’Byrne) from Canada and Swami Amrito (George Meredith from the UK)—who Osho’s ex-secretary Ma Neelam once reportedly referred to as the “three dictators”.

They began by changing the commune’s name to Osho International Meditation Resort but the other alterations have been more wide-ranging and have piqued other disciples. “They want to change everything...it’s throw out the old,” says long-time Osho disciple and ex-Osho spokesperson Swami Chaitanya Keerti. “They are ruining the movement,” says artist and follower Jaya Dixit Nag Peralta. Over the years, the opposition to the ‘dictators’ has been growing and they, in turn, have reacted by banning many of the antagonistic Osho followers from the ashram. “Anyone who questions them is labelled anti-Osho and banned from the ashram premises,” says a follower. Many, like Swami Keerti, have left the commune to work independently. Now social network sites are emerging as the platforms to air grievances.

The latest point of conflict is the allegation of misappropriation of funds—that the trustees have been clandestinely transferring funds from the trust to themselves. They have allegedly been transferring benefits of the Osho trust directly in their own favour as directors and shareholders of a company called Osho Multimedia and Resorts Pvt Ltd. “As a result, the trust is being deprived of income and benefits. For example, any income accrued from visitors staying at the Osho Guest House (held by the trust) gets directly siphoned off to Osho Multimedia and Resorts Pvt Ltd,” alleges Yogesh Thakkar aka Swami Premgeet. He, amongst others, is demanding that a proper inquiry be initiated by the authorities and the administrators prosecuted for said criminal offences, and the trust’s money retrieved with interest. “According to the Bombay Public Trust Act, the trustees can’t directly transfer any benefits for personal favour...the trustees can’t be the beneficiaries,” he says. Thakkar’s stand is categorical: that the public charitable trust established by Osho is gradually getting turned into a private limited company.

Earlier this year, he initiated another legal battle against the trustees. There have been allegations that parts of the Osho ashram land (6,600 sq ft, worth Rs 50 crore) in Koregaon Park were surreptitiously disposed of and transferred to outsiders through gifts by the Osho International Foundation. The transfer had allegedly been made to a little known, obscure ‘Darshan Trust’, registered in Delhi and controlled by Mukesh Sarda, a trustee of the Osho International Foundation. A writ petition was filed, challenging the arbitrary order passed by the charity commissioner, Mumbai, on the grounds that “the gift” was not “clean and thoughtful”. Subsequently, the Bombay HC issued notices to the charity commissioner and the trustees of Osho International Foundation and Darshan Trust. So is this an attempt to shut down the ashram by selling it piece-meal? (Since the case is sub judice, the trustees expressed their inability to respond to Outlook’s queries on this and the other allegations against them.)

Over the years, the trustees have also moved a chunk of the Osho archives, documents, recordings etc, abroad.

Now for some history. The first inkling of trouble started soon after Osho’s death in 1990, when Osho International Foundation (OIF), Zurich, tried to register the trademarks of Osho and his meditations in the US. Based upon its claim to trademarks and copyright ownership, OIF even launched legal action against Osho Dhyan Mandir, Delhi, in an effort to prevent them from using the word, ‘Osho’ in the domain name, oshoworld.com. The verdict, however, went in Osho Dhyan Mandir’s favour. Also, later the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled that Osho and his works cannot be trademarked. As Swami Chaitanya Keerti puts it, “Meditation is a gift of the Eastern mystics. It can’t be a trademark.”

But these malpractices apart, Osho followers are also upset that the sanctity of the samadhi is no longer being maintained, that Osho’s objectives are getting compromised in the new, ruling commercialism. As Ma Neelam put it, the commune is being turned into a corporation. “Osho’s pictures are being removed. They don’t believe in ‘samadhi’. It’s not even called an ashram now, but a luxurious meditation resort,” says Peralta. “The place where the ashes are kept is universally called samadhi. They are now calling it Osho Chuang Tzu,” says Swami Keerti. Over the years, the administrators are said to have shifted a chunk of Osho’s archives—documents, paintings, photos, audio/video recordings and personal belongings—outside India.

The entry fee to the ashram has gone up 15-20 per cent to Rs 480 for Indians and Rs 980 for foreigners (which detractors claim as reason for the sharp drop in visitor numbers). In the peak season, November-February, the ashram used to attract 1,200-1,500 visitors a day, now its reportedly down to 150. “The Multiversity School of Meditation is on the verge of being shut down with only 10 per cent of the programmes going on as compared to five years back,” says Thakkar.

The traditional celebrations have also been stopped. Osho’s birthday, enlightenment and nirvana are no longer marked. “The new message is that everyday is a celebration,” says a follower sarcastically. So instead of observing Guru Poornima, Bollywoodisation is the new mantra. Dancing to Sheela Ki Jawani and Bollywood karaoke nights were the highlights of a recent monsoon festival. Again, another indication that the ashram, as we have known it, will eventually shut shop? Will it shift to another country? Devotees predict the worst, they say it’s not just Osho’s legacy but India’s heritage and philosophy that are at stake.

 
Let Life Be Your Friend, Always
 

Times of India, New Delhi, September 30, 2012

Friendliness is the highest form of love. In love, some lust is bound to be there; in friendship, all lust disappears. In friendship, nothing gross remains; it becomes absolutely subtle.

It is not a question of using the other, not even a question of needing the other, but it is a question of sharing. You have too much and you would like to share. And whosoever is ready to share your joy with you, your dance, your song, you will be grateful to him, you will feel obliged. 

Not that he is obliged to you, not that he should feel thankful to you because you have given so much to him. 

A friend never thinks that way. A friend always feels grateful to those people who allow him to love them, to give them whatsoever he has got…Love as we know it is really nothing but greed masquerading as love—it is hidden greed.

Making friendships with the idea of using people is taking a wrong step from the very beginning. Friendship has to be a sharing. If you have something, share it — and whosoever is ready to share with you is a friend. It is not a question of need. It is not a question that when you are in danger, the friend has to come to your aid. That is irrelevant — he may come, he may not come. If he comes, you are grateful, but if he does not come, it’s perfectly okay. It is his decision to come or not to come. You don’t want to manipulate him, you don’t want to make him feel guilty. You will not have any grudge. You will not say to him that, “When I was in need you didn’t turn up — what kind of friend are you?” Friendship is not something of the marketplace. Friendship is one of those rare things which belong to the temple and not to the shop. But you are not aware of that kind of friendship, you will have to learn it.

Friendship is a great art. Love has a natural instinct behind it; friendship has no natural instinct behind it. Friendship is something conscious; love is unconscious. 

What we call love is more animalistic than human. Friendship is absolutely human. It has something for which there is no inbuilt mechanism in your biology; it is non-biological. Hence, one rises in friendship, one does not fall in friendship. It has a spiritual dimension.

If this moment is full of friendship and the fragrance of friendship, why be worried about the next moment? The next moment will be born out of this moment. It is bound to be of a higher, deeper quality. It will bring the same fragrance to a higher altitude. There is no need to think about it — just live the moment in deep friendship.

And friendship need not be addressed to anyone in particular. Rather than creating friendship, create friendliness. Let it become a quality of your being, a climate that surrounds you, so you are friendly with whomsoever you come in contact.
This whole existence has to be befriended! And if you can befriend existence, existence will befriend you a thousand-fold. It returns to you in the same coin but multiplied. It echoes you. If you throw stones at existence, you will be getting back many more stones. If you throw flowers, flowers will be coming back. Life is a mirror, it reflects your face. Be friendly, and all of life will reflect friendliness. People know perfectly well that if you are friendly to a dog, even the dog becomes friendly to you. And there are people who have known that if you are friendly to a tree, the tree becomes friendly to you. 

The Dhammapada: The Way Of The Buddha

 
You’re Gifted
 

Times of India, New Delhi, September 23, 2012

Creativity means loving whatsoever you do—enjoying, celebrating it as a gift of existence. Maybe nobody comes to know about it. Who is going to praise Paras for cleaning this floor? History will not take any account of it; newspapers will not publish her name and pictures, but that is irrelevant. She enjoyed it. The value is intrinsic.

So if you think that when you become famous like Picasso, then you are creative – you are missing the point. In fact, then you are not creative at all: you are a politician, ambitious. If the fame happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, good. It should not be the consideration. The consideration should be that you are enjoying whatsoever you are doing. It is your love affair.

Touch of Love

If your act is your love affair, then it becomes creative. Small things become great by the touch of love and delight. If you believe that you are uncreative, you will become uncreative – because that belief will obstruct, continuously negate all possibilities of flowing. It will not allow your energy to flow because you will continuously say :”I am uncreative.” This has been taught to everybody. Very few people are accepted as creative: a few painters, a few poets – one in a million. This is foolish! Every human being is a born creator. Watch children and you will see: all children are creative. By and by, we destroy their creativity; we force wrong beliefs on them; we distract them. We make them more and more economical, political and ambitious.

When ambition enters, creativity disappears—because an ambitious man cannot be creative; he cannot love any activity for its own sake. While he is writing a novel, he is looking ahead; he is thinking, ‘when am I going to get a Noble Prize?’ when he is painting, he is looking ahead. He is always in the future – and a creative person is always in the present.

We destroy creativity. Nobody is born uncreative, but we make 99 percent of people uncreative. But just throwing the responsibility on society is not going to help – you have to take your life in your own hands. You have to drop wrong conditionings and suddenly you will see you are creative.

A creative act enhances the beauty of world; it gives something to the world, it never takes anything from it. Money, power, and prestige are not only uncreative, but destructive activities. Beware of them and you can become creative very easily… I can promise you that deep inside, you are full of joy and celebration. Your life will be a life of benediction. But it is possible that outwardly you may not be famous, nor have any money. But to succeed in this so – called world is to fail in the inside world. What will you do if you possess the whole world and you don’t possess yourself? A creative person possesses his own being; he is a master.

Be a giver. Share whatsoever you can! If you can smile whole- heartedly, hold somebody’s hand and smile, then it is a creative act. Just embrace somebody to your heart and you are creative. Be creative. Don’t be worried about what you are doing – one has to do many things – but do everything creatively, with devotion. Then your work becomes worship.

Look For Ideas

People have a very limited idea of what being creative is—playing the guitar or the flute or writing poetry – so people go on writing rubbish in the name of poetry.

You have to find out what you can do and what you cannot do. Everybody cannot do everything! You have to search and find your destiny. And it is good that one has to search for it – in the very search, something grows.

A sudden Clash of Thunder, courtesy Osho International Foundation, www.osho.com