The reviews are widely staggered between high and low, with some lower-scoring reviewers suggesting the higher ratings have been posted by Osho followers, but we'll take a peer through some of the best available.
A recurring theme of the reviews is the costly nature of the commune.
According to several reviews, visitors are forced to buy maroon clothing, and one went as far as to say "if they could charge you for air, they would".
"If you cannot afford this place or you think that that being spiritual is love compassion and all that nonsense KEEP AWAY," one miffed user writes.
Another user warned to "visit at your own risk".
"...they make you feel extremely awkward at every step you take there: you must BUY overpriced marron and white robes to circulate in there, if you want to use the swimming pool, there's an extra charge, and you can't leave the swimming pool and come back on the same day without paying again, and you must also buy marrom swim wear. The main meditation auditorium is heavily air-conditioned, but you can't bring your own jacket, towels or blankets inside: you must BUY the appropriate colour in the boutique. The meditations itself are interesting, but the people seem a bit brainwashed. The general energy I felt there was more towards desperation and robotic, rather than peaceful and loving. i couldnt wait to get out of there. Visit at your own risk."
The series briefly mentions how David Berry Knapp, aka Swami Krishna Deva, aka K.D., the outspoken mayor of Rajneeshpuram, was one of the only Rajneeshees to flip on the cult and give testimony to the FBI in exchange for a more lenient two-year prison sentence. Knapp, who was interviewed by the FBI several times at their Portland office between Oct. 29, 1985, and Nov. 7, 1985, provided what the bureau called “essential” information concerning the various criminal activities conducted by the sannyasins of Rajneeshpuram, including poisoning officials, immigration fraud, assassination attempts, you name it.
In informal conversations, sannyasins circulated rumors about visitors,
usually first-timers, who developed some emotional disorder during a
workshop or who were sanctioned by a director.12 The subtle impression
was that this paradise was not as harmonious as the magazine Osho
Times intended to convey. Visitors were pounded with the idea that they
ought to express their feelings and opinions, as a proof of inner authenticity.
However, expression was conditioned by a system of expectations,
rewards and sanctions that delimited the scope of permitted behavior,
with very little margin for dissent. As previously seen, even within the
therapeutic setting, self-expression was monitored and even shaped according
to the therapist’s intentions.
Global Nomads, p 159
As a consequence of Osho’s critique of civilization as repressive, the notion
of ‘expression’ gained a central role among sannyasins, often more emphatically
so than the notion of ‘witnessing,’ the core category of his spiritual
philosophy. More than a therapeutic procedure, being expressive was
highly valued and pervasively expected. Therapists urged and sometimes
coerced participants to be assertive (or leave the group). As a source of
jokes and anxieties, visitors often reported the awkward situation in which
they ‘did not have anything to express’ during a cathartic exercise and
wondered, ‘Do I have a problem?’. Spontaneity, flamboyance and even
some bluntness were seen as desirable traits. In tandem, formal politeness
was seen suspiciously as a symptom of repressed personality. ‘Politeness
is a repression from your parents,’ I once heard during an argument. On
a different occasion, Git Prem (a German expatriate from Ibiza) introduced
me to an acquaintance in Pune who plainly refused to shake my
extended hand. Finally, a temporary flatmate, whom I had never spoken
to, angrily demanded that I kept the toilet seat up (rather than down).
As such, ‘being in touch with oneself’ could trigger episodes of sentimentalism
or hostility, which were, at least in theory, accepted by
sannyasins. Their interactions tended to be candid yet intempestive, either
affectionate or aggressive, resulting in that minor confrontations over
minor issues marked much of their ordinary life in Pune.
As a consequence of such ideological pressure, exerted in a bubble-like
environment in a remote country, most visitors reported some form of
emotional hardship during their stay. This was particularly noticeable
during midweek afternoons, when cathartic workshops were peaking.
Observing the number of distressed faces wandering in the resort, Dimitri,
who regularly attended the workshops, noted:
You see all these people in the ashram. They look unhappy and miserable.
It didn’t have to be like that, but that is what they need to go
through for a while. And all these fights . . . They behave like assholes
Eccentric behavior was accepted insofar as it did not challenge order
and authority in the resort. Those running the organization tended to overreact
against any form of unaligned or recalcitrant behavior.
a disagreement over a garment (robe) detail could lead to the expulsion of
a resistant visitor.
Yet, more worrisome is the treatment that the resort
dispenses to mentally derailed visitors. A young Spanish man told a workshop-
mate during a break that he had been brought to Pune by a ‘cosmic
conspiracy’ orchestrated by resort directors – a very unlikely claim. A day
later, while staring at a noticeboard, he froze in a catatonic state. The
gatemen took him to a psychiatrist downtown and left him there alone.
During the appointment, he recovered his mental faculties, as if returning
from a trance state. The physician said that there was nothing to worry
about, prescribed light tranquilizers, and charged Rs. 400 (US$9) for the
consultation. The young man refused to pay and angrily returned to the here because they cannot be like that at home.
So, this is a relatively
safe environment to behave like that, without suffering serious consequences.
In this sense, in order to be peaceful at home, one ought to be aggressive
Because of this intense emotional work, visitors developed
unusual forms of behavior, reasoning and sociability. This could be inferred
from answers given to trivial statements. For example, I invited someone
for a coffee and got a response in gravitas: ‘No, today I am connecting
with myself.’ Or, I told a volunteer at a registration desk that I was not
interested in attending workshops, and heard, ‘What are you escaping
from? . . .’.
Also, visitors often developed acute self-distrust, intensely questioning
themselves, ‘Are these thoughts mine or my parents’?’.
In various degrees, such unusual statements usually came from participants
of high-impact workshops, but excessive meditation in the Buddha
Hall triggered similar effects. Some individuals claimed to have developed
paranormal abilities, and even implied that they had achieved some form
of spiritual awakening. In concordance with this analysis of psychic deterritorialization,
a study notes that, ‘too much meditation may interfere
with logical thought process, because the whole technique is geared to
take one beyond reason and thinking’ (Basnet 2002: 59).
As an example of such transformations, a young woman from Los
Angeles (US) was visiting the ashram for the first time. Apparently sociable
and sensible, she was a dance student in college, spending her vacation
in India. She gave up traveling across the country as planned in order to
spend all her time at the resort. While attending a sequence of therapy
workshops, her behavior altered in strange ways. Wearing the ‘silence’
badge, she moved slowly, with eyes looking somehow mesmerized. She
took Sannyas, broke up with her boyfriend over the internet and extended
her stay in Pune for an extra month, to attend more therapy groups.
Global Nomads pp 161 - 162
Interrogating the fusion of ‘religion’ and ‘leisure’ in contemporary societies, this article analyses how adepts of a countercultural religiosity (Osho sannyasins) have influenced the club and rave scenes in Ibiza (‘clubbing capital of the world’), Pune and Goa (global centers of self-spirituality and digital dance). As ‘rave studies’ has concentrated on the experiential dimension of raving, this article focuses instead on the socio-economic components of a ‘nomadic spirituality’ that underlies multiple forms of digital dance culture throughout the world. It compares four cases of dance parties (exotic, up-market, underground, and resort), all of which are promoted and attended by Osho sannyasins both in Ibiza and India. Such nomadic spirituality is evinced by the conjunction of transpersonal experiences, spatial displacements and expatriate identities found among ravers and sannyasins. The article concludes that the commodification of alternative lifestyles by tourism and entertainment industries indexes not only the ambivalent desires of mainstream societies toward utopian lifestyles; it also suggests that transnational countercultures constitute a privileged analytical site that anticipates emerging social trends and predicaments of complex globalisation.
Taking on the biographies of therapists outlined above, this group of
sannyasins also engendered their own informal networks of personal and
professional interest. In the past, they had followed Osho and assumed
Pune as their main residence. Yet, after his death, they became more mobile
and dispersed globally (Goldman 1999).
Though usually based in one
country (their native or a partner’s), they often deliver therapy workshops
within a cluster of nations, and more prestigious professionals even engage
in annual global tours. In their case, international work is a necessity since
local markets, even in mega cities, are seldom large enough. In this connection,
better transportation and communication technologies has enormously
facilitated their displacement, while practices of self-development
have entered the mainstream under variegated labels, formats and purposes,
enabling these therapists to make a living. In tandem, Osho centers
have multiplied around the world, becoming nodes of support and diffusion
of Osho’s work at a grassroots level.
Standing about 500 km apart, Pune and Goa are interlinked by ongoing
flows of sannyasins, trance freaks, backpackers and tourists, traveling on
buses, vans, trains, airplanes and superbikes. A large segment of these
travelers are young Israelis, estimated at about 20,000 per year (Jerusalem
Post 2004). In Goa, well-off sannyasins stay in the gentrified area of
Calangute beach, whereas younger backpackers and New Agers head
toward the more prosaic beaches of Arambol and Palolem. In the meanwhile,
trance freaks and rebellious sannyasins gather in northern Goa,
around Anjuna beach. As Chapter 5 will examine, Goa is a tourist coastal
state that also hosts, at its margins, the main nodal formation of technotrance
music in the world.
At a transnational level, Ibiza and Pune are interconnected in a unique
Considering the remoteness and smallness of Ibiza and Pune, it is striking
that both places have been sharing the same subjects coalescing into a
single globalized countercultural diaspora. It is also important to note
such transnational flows in their historical and cultural contexts. Expressive
expatriates have been fleeing to Ibiza in various waves since the 1930s.
There they experience the island as a utopian paradise and node of an
international circuit of Romantic traveling. While in India, many of these
Ibiza-based expatriates have become sannyasins, following Osho to Oregon
and then back to Pune. As sociologist Danielle Rozenberg states, Ibiza is
an ‘island of sannyasins’ (Rozenberg 1990: 82).
During the 1980s, while participating in Ibiza’s nightlife, they have
imported various New Age techniques from the US, including the use of
MDMA for therapeutic, meditational and recreational uses. In their interactions
with British and German clubbers on the island, sannyasins have
inadvertently contributed to the emergence of the rave movement, a culture
centered on electronic dance music and digital art. Techno then rapidly
flowed into the mainstream explosion of rave parties and corporate nightclubs
in Western Europe, thus delineating one countercultural genealogy
that runs from Pune, to Oregon, to Ibiza, to London, and to cosmopolitan
segments of the global youth.
Global Nomads 169 - 171