Osho Samaya Ashram
Metanoia Gardens Commune
CAUGHT IN A CULT: Australia’s Osho Samaya Ashram is far more than a meditation retreat
CONTRIBUTING WRITEROCTOBER 29, 2017COMMUNITY BUILDING
Earlier this year, I was working as an au pair in Brisbane, Australia. Things were going well until I found myself in a wild relationship filled with drinking, drugs and hotel rooms. We started to argue, and I noticed my mental health deteriorating. I needed to get away, be somewhere pure and come back to myself.
I looked for volunteer opportunities on Workaway.info and, in April, left for Osho Samaya Ashram (also known as Metanoia Gardens Commune) in the Byron Bay Hinterland.
This self-sustainable spiritual community had a tight schedule. We got up at 5.30 a.m., before sunrise, and had a jam-packed day of meditation, Yoga, ‘meditation in action’ (work) and vegan meals. In the evenings, we had Sangha. During Sangha, we danced in the candlelit Bush Sanctuary, and then sat in a circle and meditated. Swami Prem Samaya, the 80-year-old Italian guru and owner of the ashram, would then give a talk. He didn’t hang around much, and that was usually the most anyone saw of him, unless you arranged a time to see him privately. By 7 p.m., the moon-illuminated forest led us to bed.
My mask was soon ripped off when I had my first mental breakdown. Afterward, I was congratulated. My mental breakdown was genuinely congratulated, followed by, “I knew you could do it, Charmaine.” I was feeling suicidal, being mentally poked and prodded, and pushed to my limits, yet I was being congratulated.
No one asked if I was OK. No one asked if anyone was OK. We were all mentally vulnerable, fragile people, and we had to wear our insanity on our sleeves, or we weren’t doing it right. After this mental collapse, I was in Samaya’s good books. I wondered why he had time for my weakness, but not for my strength. I also wondered if he liked us being weak so we’d stay at his side.
We were told to make love to each other
Samaya called us his family and said we were all brothers and sisters. However, I quickly noticed that he was contradictory, and as a person in healing under the guidance of a guru, this constantly threw me off and made me question not only my beliefs, but his too. One night, he invited us to all make love to each other. I was quickly being mesmerized by a man who felt that community living in the forest meant not washing!
n hindsight, we were truly lucky. We were lucky things didn’t get worse, and we were lucky because we got out. After speaking to the local council to complain, they told us they had no record of people living at an ashram down in the forest. It suddenly clicked that the website showed pictures of something else entirely, and nothing showed the ashram’s existence—not the ashram that we lived at, anyway. It was well and truly off-grid.
Our story has been told in order to raise awareness of Samaya Ashram and other spiritual places that can fall under the category of a cult. These places can be immensely dangerous, and even the most strong-minded person can be sucked into a place of control and manipulation, never to emerge again.
There are still people at Samaya Ashram now, people Madita and I really care about. If we can stop people from going there, and expose this place to backpackers on their journeys through the East Coast of Australia, then our experiences were well worth it.
Spiritual places aren’t meant to expose or highlight your weaknesses; make you uncomfortable; make you sick; or control, bully or manipulate you. If you start to question a particular place, listen to those inner questions and ask yourself why.
Have confidence in the way your body communicates with you. Places like this should make you feel as free as a bird, growing each day with strength, beauty, love and radiance. You should feel happy, independent, inspired and most of all, encouraged.
For the entire article, go here:
Comments follow this article. Here are a couple:
This article describes the Samara Madhouse to a T. Could have written this myself. Some things never change!
November 10, 2017
I arranged to go there 2 years ago. But when I arrived for a tour and went to meet him, he told me he’d changed the entry requirements. I now had to ‘donate’ $30 per day for a full 6 months in advance, then I could move in next to his house, tend to his personal garden and do other tasks as required by him, and then – if and when he was satisfied with me – I could move up and stay in the ashram. But if at any time he decided I wasn’t ‘suitable’, I would have to leave without a refund.
Hmm. Big investment? No security? Dependent on pleasing a raving narcissist? Needless to say, I changed my mind.
I also couldn’t agree to never leave the ashram site – as if it were a prison – except if I ever became sick and unable to work, in which case I would have to leave for good. It sounds like that’s what happened to you.
As for his assertion that you will give your baby to him, that takes it to a whole ‘nother level…
Well this is one of the people mentioned here and I can say this is all absolute psychopath RUBBISH. Brilliant Samaya wrote it here (they deactivated their Facebook page due to people commenting underneath). I have so many witnesses of Samaya screaming at me almost daily, physical violence. There was no love. The reason I never came back to the ashram again was due to a lot of screaming to myself and others. We are all in touch now.
November 15, 2017
Carol – So happy to hear you are out ????
I left in 2012 after a 7 month stay. Everything the women above are saying is correct. I personally watched Carol be continually abused and manipulated. I had to stop reading Samaya’s response after a couple of paragraphs (I stopped when i felt it was a complete invasion of Carol’s privacy)….. The victim blaming does not surprise me though. His comments about the space not being one for mentally ill people made me laugh… I have memories of walking the streets of lismore while looking for one of the ashram residents who had been dropped at the psych ward a few days before and we were going to collect and bring her back to the ashram. She had the funds to be able to pay alot of money to stay, so perhaps its a case of “those with mental illness are welcome as long as they are cashed up”.
I am really able to laugh at my experience in this crazy place. Unfortunately it is not the same for many of the wonderful people I met there. Years later, I know quite a few are still really troubled from their experience.
November 16, 2017
Hi there Jade,
My name is Charmaine and I wrote the article and I am in contact with Carol, and many other men and women who knew Samaya and had awful experiences with him. Through writing this article, many people have emailed and messaged me, telling me they have all had the same experience, so we have all decided to take action.
Would you be happy to provide us with a supporting statement saying that you witnessed the emotional, mental, and physical abuse?
We are now a number of 13 people, who has either been emotionally, mentally, or physically abused by Samaya, OR, seen this abuse happen to someone else. These are people that voluntary stepped forward. While 13 already seems like a lot of people, I just want the police and council to see just how many people have come together for this.
We have an overwhelming amount of people coming forward after reading this article, but once physical abuse was mentioned, we decided to take serious action.
Samaya, if you are reading this, you may be able to pin the blame on others, and you may have money, and land. But we have numbers, and I am absolutely disgusted in you and the ashram. Bribing young girls to go to bed with you, manipulating fragile women, beating women, taking peoples money to the point where they have nothing left to do but stay there with you. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourself. And, you can sit down behind your computer and write about myself and Carol, but if I were you, I’d be more worried about all the other men and women. You can’t speak for them, and you can’t speak for us.
So good luck trying.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/25/2018 08:05AM by corboy.