[NOTE: This is a typed tape transcript and has not been edited or published, as of August 1992. It is for reference use only.]
INTERVIEW BY EPOCA MAGAZINE, ITALY
Q: THE MAGAZINE I'M WORKING NOW WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A SERIES ABOUT THE STORY OF BHAGWAN SHREE RAJNEESH AND MAINLY THERE IS NOT MUCH QUESTION ABOUT IT EXCEPT THAT YOU SAY YOUR OWN VERSION OF WHAT HAPPENED IN AMERICA. SINCE THEY ARE DEDICATING SO MUCH SPACE, LIKE THREE SEQUENCE ON TV SHOW, I WAS WONDERING IF WE SHOULD GIVE SOME BACKGROUND.
WE WOULD LIKE TO START FROM WHEREVER YOU WOULD LIKE TO START THE STORY. I WOULD PERSONALLY LIKE TO GIVE SOME BACKGROUND TO START FROM BEFORE AMERICA; JUST LIKE, WHY AMERICA WAS CHOSEN FOR YOUR EXPERIMENT. BUT...
ANSWER: I am a spiritual gypsy, wandering from one place to another has been my life. It has made me aware that there are no races, no religions, no nations; that this whole earth is ours. The religious parasites are there, who have been dividing humanity. The politician monsters are there, who are cutting the earth into pieces.
Not belonging to anyone - it was very clear for me to see that to belong is to commit a crime; not to belong is to remain yourself, authentic, natural, with dignity, self-respect. And there is great beauty in individuality. In the crowd it is lost. You become just a cog in the wheel, replaceable. And that is the utter humiliation, the moment you become replaceable.
Individualty is irreplaceable. There is no one who can take your place, and there will never be anyone who can take your place. Existence wants you exactly as you are, and all these people, political leaders, social leaders, religious leaders, are trying just the opposite. They are imposing ideals on you, and trying to mould you into a certain pattern which is not the wish of the nature.
Nature has given you everything; just if you allow nature to grow on its own, without allowing anyone to hinder it. The world will be full of enlightened people.
Enlightenment is something like a seed, which dies in millions of people without ever becoming a sprout. What to say about coming to flowering, and spreading the fragrance.
I had started my journey unknown. But slowly, slowly, people started joining me, the caravan became bigger and bigger. There was no planning in it. I had not conceived about it. I have never lived according to plans. It was spontaneous, and whatever is spontaneous is natural; and whatever is planned is man-made.
And I hate whatever is man-made, and I love whatever grows spontaneously, because there is freedom.
As these people started joining me, it became necessary that they should have a home, a place. I could have remained a wanderer my whole life. I had so many friends, there was no problem for me. I could have been just a guest all my life, but with so many sannyasins it was necessary that they should have a base.
That's how the commune was born.
In India, it grew to big proportions, never in this country there has been a commmune where seven to ten thousand sannyasins were living together, meditating, dancing, rejoicing, going through all kinds of modern techniques of cleansing the mind before they can enter into meditation.
This is something to be emphasized. The meditation techniques had been developed, perhaps ten thousand years before; and they were developed for a different kind of human being - simple, innocent, just like children. They had no belief, they were yet not contaminated by the priest; they accepted nature as it was. For these people the meditative techniques were created.
In ten thousand years, man has gathered so much rubbish in the name of theology, philosophy, religion, politics, science, that between him and the meditation techniques there stands a thick china wall. That is one of the reasons very few people succeed in achieving meditative consciousness, because the basic work does not start with meditation for the modern man. The basic work is to destroy that china wall that surrounds him. Somebody is a Christian. Now the meditation does not want you to be a Christian, or a Hindu, or a Mohammedan, because those are barriers.
Meditation is pure science. It does not want you to believe in anything. Believing as such is becoming blind, and giving your freedom to somebody, you know not where he is taking you. Perhaps he is also blind and somebody else is taking him. And that's how century upon century, blind people are leading blind people. The first thing to be done is to withdraw all belief. And it is such a relief when you are free of belief. There is no God, no heaven, no hell, no after-life. In fact, there is no tomorrow because that too is a belief. There are no grounds to believe, that tomorrow is going to be. It is open. Maybe, maybe not. You don't have any reason to believe.
So if you destroy belief systems slowly slowly you come upon a strange experience, that all that you have is only this moment. All else is just rubbish.
Only this pure moment is existential.
And to live moment to moment is the life of meditation. Then life becomes spontaneous without any effort; then nobody can make you miserable, nobody can disappoint you, nobody can make you a failure because in the first place you were not trying to be a success; you were not asking the future to be in a certain way. So whatever happens, the next moment you can rejoice. It is always your victory.
But one of the human problems is that the society has lived for centuries in misery, in anguish. They have never tasted any joy, any love. They have hoped, they have hoped for tomorrow. But the tomorrow never comes. They have hoped after-life. But nobody returns to say what happens after life. And remember, only a person hopes whose present is hopeless. He clings to the future, plans for the future, makes great paradises, and goes on living in the present misery. But they help, that this present misery is only for today. Tomorrow everything is going to be good.
Humanity has lived in this ugly way. And when my sannyasins and the commune in India started living in a totally new way, dropping the tomorrow, dropping the God, dropping the paradise, dropping all hopes, all consolations, and concentrating the whole energy in the present moment, they found such a source of joy, of love, of dancing, of songs, of creativity.
It made people jealous. People had everything, but they were miserable. We had nothing; but we had something which cannot be purchased. And what they had can be purchased. And anything which is purchased, purchaseable, is worthless.
The only things in life mean anything which are not purchaseable.
You cannot purchase love, you cannot purchase joy, you cannot purchase creativity, you cannot purchase silence, you cannot purchase enlightenment.
The people around the commune became so jealous, they started creating all kinds of difficulties. And it was easy; because I was teaching my people against all religions, all politics, all theologies. Naturally, they all joined hands - against me, against the commune. They tried even to kill me. And there is a strange parallel, that can show you that howsoever India and America may differ, that the basic animality is the same.
They made an attempt on my life, seven thousand sannyasins were present, and the police has got an anonymous call, that something is going to happen. You reach immediately to the ashram. So twenty police officers were present when the knife was thrown at me. I don't think you can have more evidence. Seven thousand eye witnesses, twenty police officers eye witnesses. The knife was there, and the police made the case. We did not make the case; there was no need, when the police is present, it should be a police case. But still the man was freed by the court. There has been no attempt of murder.
That made it clear that single man who has tried to kill me was not alone; that the whole society, the politics, the religions, were behind him. If they can deny seven thousand eye witnesses, if they can deny twenty police officers, their own top-ranking officers; if they can deny the knife which is a clear evidence and simply leave the man absolutely free, as if nothing has happened.
That was very symbolic to me; symbolic that it is very dangerous to have eyes in the valley of blind people. It is dangerous to be joyous where everybody is miserable; it is dangerous to be loving where everybody lives on hate; it is dangerous to dance and sing songs of joy where people have completely forgotten how to dance, how to sing.
I thought perhaps it is poverty which makes people so miserable, and I wanted to try an experiment in America; just to see whether it is poverty or my original analysis is right. And it proved that my original analysis is right.
People cannot tolerate you to be happy. You are dangerous. You are not doing any harm to anybody; still you are dangerous. You are dangerous because you are giving people the idea that their life is being wasted, that they are living on the wrong notions, that their religions are bogus, that their popes are pretenders, and their politicians are just cheats, frauds. They know only how to promise, but they don't know how to deliver the goods.
We made the attempt in America. We had chosen a place totally different from Poona. It was one hundred twenty six square miles land, the nearest city to us was twenty miles. We thought this way neighbors will not be annoyed by us.
Our laughter will not reach to them, our dance, our song, will not disturb them.
But it seems there is no way.
Our people in four years changed the desert into the oasis. For fifty years it was lying dead, nobody was ready to purchase it at any price. What you will do with a desert? We purchased it, knowingly that it is going to be a great challenge. But to accept challenges has been one of my loves. We accepted the challenge, and jumped into the unknown. Our people worked as hard as people may never have worked anywhere - twelve hours, fourteen hours, sometimes sixteen hours. We poured as much money as our people could manage - two hundred million dollars in the desert.
But, nobody was asked to do it. People simply loved that they are creating something out of their own joy. They were ready to sacrifice anything for it. And within four years, something was accomplished that may take hundred years for others to accomplish.
In four years we were a full-fledged city, with five thousand people living there, with all modern facilities, with all beautiful houses, roads, gardens, lawns. The whole city was centrally air-conditioned; perhaps that was the only city in the whole world. And people were starting their life in the morning with meditation, then they were listening to me, then they were going to work, and in the evening they had still energy enough to dance and to sing late into the night. One never knows how much energy you have, unless you allow it expression.
Even after this much work people were asking me, "Can we do something by the side - painting, poetry, sculpture." People were so much aflame with a creative urge, possessed by creativity. Those four years we made a dream come real. But again the problem arose, as people became aware, as news media started coming, and spreading the news that these people have managed a kind of utopia, the politicians, the priests, became afraid. What you have been doing for thousands of years, if in four years these people can turn the desert - you have beautiful land, you have all the power and all the money, and all that you create is a miserable, suffering humanity.
This comparison is intolerable. They wanted to destroy it at any cost; and they destroyed it. Without knowing that they are destroying their own future, without knowing that they could have used it as a model, they could have made it a university for other people to come and learn and go and change their own villages, their own town on the same pattern.
We had invited them again and again - the governor, the president, the attorney-general; but not even a reply - that you just come and see before you decide to destroy us. We are not asking much; you just be our guest and have a look. Perhaps you may think something is wrong - we will change it; perhaps you may find that something is beautiful, and you may like it to spread into the whole country.
But nobody came. They were afraid even to see it, because they knew it through informations, through agents, through planted informers, through television that the place is just what people have always wanted and have never been given.
And, if this place remains, then we remain criminals. We have exploited people and their hopes, and this place will go on pointing towards us that you are poor, and you are suffering, you are miserable, because of these people. Because in the commune there was nobody poor, nobody rich.
Karl Marx had to write his whole life about communism, Soviet Russia has been for seventy years trying to bring it - it does not come. The country is still poor; and I managed it by a simple thing. I simply stopped money circulation in the commune. There is no need to destroy the rich; there is no need to bring a dictatorship of the proletariat. We simply stopped money circulation in the commune. And if money circulation is stopped, you may have millions of dollars and I may have none; but if the money is not used, who is rich and who is poor?
And everything that you need will be given by the commune; and we had everything - the hospital, the school, the university. We made the desert yield enough crops for five thousand people - vegetables, fruits, milk products. And for the first time I tried an experiment. Vegetarians in India will be very much against it. Vegetarian food lacks few proteins which are absolutely necessary for the growth of intelligence. That's why vegetarians have never produced geniuses. In India, Jainas are the vegetarians, for thousands of years they have not produced anything worthwhile. They had not received a single Nobel prize.
The three Nobel prizes that were received in India were received by non- vegetarians; they were not vegetarians. So it keeps the mind retarded.
I added something to it; the non-fertilized egg, which is vegetable because it has no life. And if you add the non-fertilized egg in the vegetarian food it becomes perfect. It gives all the proteins needed for intellectual growth. Now vegetarians will be angry. Just the name egg will be enough for them to be against me, without trying to understand that it is without life, so there is no harm in eating it. You are not killing anybody. And non-vegetarians will also be angry with me, this has been my fate, non-vegetarians will be angry against me because up to now they had a point. Now they don't have a point. Up to now they were saying that without eating meat, intelligence cannot grow. So meat is essential for intelligence. Now that point is cancelled. Meat is not necessary.
This is how I have been in my whole life influencing people and creating enemies. I say the right thing, and they become the enemy.
They wanted the commune in every way to be destroyed. They made dozens of illegal cases against it, in which they were being defeated; because they were so illegal. Finally they made the country, the state of Oregon, declare the city illegal, for the simple reason because only one kind of people are living in it. Only red people are living in it. It is so stupid; if in a city only Christians are living, it remains legal. A city in which only Catholics are living, it remains legal. But in a city where only my people are living, it becomes illegal, because it is a closed city. Only my people are living.
We were fighting the case, and we would have won the case. And they were afraid of it, that if we won the case then there is no way to destroy us. So they went on postponing the dates, and meanwhile they were thinking somehow either to throw me out of America, or to kill me, so that the whole problem is solved. If I am not there, the people who love me will leave, and will go wherever I am.
And that's what they did in the last attempt. Legally, they found it impossible to win. We had four hundred legal sannyasins, we had the biggest legal firm in the world - four hundred sannyasins were continuously working, fighting the government.
And it is foolish of the government to make a case against me, and they named the case U.S. Government versus Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a single man who owns nothing. The greatest power of the world - they are the fighters; but unconsciously, truth came out of it. That's what was in their mind. Unknowingly they put it on the paper, and exposed themselves, that their whole effort was to destroy me.
They could not arrest me in the commune; they knew that to arrest me in the commune will mean bloodshed. Not that my people were going to kill them, but my five thousand people were not going to let them arrest me unless they all were killed. And that would have been a tremendous blot on America's face. So they were not coming.
For two years, the rumor was coming they want to arrest me, they want to arrest me. It has become so routine that nobody cared about it. It was certain that they have not guts enought to come into the commune and arrest me.
They got the chance to arrest me, because I was going to visit in Carolina one of my sannyasin's house in the mountains, just for two three weeks and this was a good moment for them. As my plane left there was a journalist present on the airport. He immediately informed and we have the affidavit of the journalist that he was the informer, to his press. But his press informed the government. And they arrested me there; and that shows what cowardliness is. Arresting a man who has nothing but a robe on his body with twelve guns pointed at me, loaded at me. And they will not even answer, that where is the arrest warrant, they will not answer why they are arresting me, what crime I have committed.
I have not committed any crime. I was absolutely free to come to Carolina or anywhere in America, and for three days in the court in Carolina they could not prove a single thing against me. Even the U.S. Attorney accepted the fact in his final summarizing statement, that we have not been able to prove anything; neither the other party has been able to prove anything.
Now this is hilarious. The other party need not have to prove anything. It has just to disprove you that you are inventing crimes which have not been committed. Innocence cannot be proved. Only guilt can be proved or disproved.
You have not been able to prove any crime, but still the U.S. Attorney wanted - six other my sannyasins were with me, he was willing to bail them out - but he insisted that my bail should be given in Oregon, because I am a dangerous man. I have unaccountable sources of money, and I have thousands of friends who can do anything for me.
These were my crimes, that was I cannot be bailed out; that I have thousands of friends, that they can do anything for me, that I have unaccountable money sources. So it is better that I should be sent back under police custody to Oregon, and in Oregon court we should decide about the bail.
If there has been any fair-minded judge, he could have seen that these are not crimes. That means no rich man can be bailed out. In fact, if this man has so many friends, that proves that this man cannot be a criminal. And, if so many people love him that they can do anything, even if they have to die they can die, then you cannot call this man dangerous. If so many people are loving him that is enough. In fact this man's signature will be enough a guarantee.
But the judge was not a real judge. She was a woman, and only a magistrate.
And she was waiting for her promotion to be a judge. The jailer told me that it has been absolutely absurd to keep you, but the reason is that that woman is waiting for her promotion to be a judge. She could not bail you. To bail you meant her promotion was finished. She will remain a magistrate, she will never become a judge.
So I said, "Then it is perfectly good to make her a judge. Twelve days in a jail is not bad. Let her become a judge." These twelve days in the jail have been a beautiful experience, in many ways. One, that I could see double faces of man - the jailer will be smiling outside with me, just to be photographed by the news media and the television; and inside the same man will become just like an animal.
I could see that the criminals in the jails - I was in five jails in twelve days - were all black, not a single white man. That seems to be a conspiracy. It seems as if no white man commits a crime. Only black people commit crime. And the black people told me who was in the jails, and who were immensely loving towards me, that we have not even been through the trial. Nine months have passed and we ask when our trial is going to be; they say, "We don't know." They have already punished us without proving any crime.
That's actually what they wanted to do to me, but because of the news media they could not manage to do it. Every jail where I was was twenty-four hours surrounded by news media. Hundreds of cameras, televisions, radios, newspapers - twenty-four hours. And whenever they were taking me from one jail into another, just the small space between the jail and the car and they will ask me, they will say, "Bhagwan, just say one thing, are they harming you? Then we will see them. Have they ever touched your body? Then you don't be worried. The whole world is with you." That made them afraid.
Thousands of telegrams in every jail, letters, poems, hundreds of flowers. In one jail where I was three days, so many flowers came that the jailer asked me, "What shall we do. We don't have space." So I told him to send them to all the schools, small children's institutes in the whole city from Bhagwan. One jailer, who was U.S. Marshall asked me to sign under a false name, David Washington. He said, "This will be your name. You have to sign under it. You will be called David Washington, and you have to answer to this name."
I said, "You are supposed to be the law imposing authority. What kind of law you are imposing on me? On your court is written Department of Justice. You just please keep the court aware at least what kind of justice is this. And you know perfectly well, tomorrow morning it will be all over the world, in every paper and in every television, that I have been forced to sign under a false name by the U.S. marshall himself."
He said, "How it can reach to the news media; you don't threaten me."
I said, "I am not threatening you, but you will see tomorrow morning." Because I had made already arrangements, while I was coming from the airport in the bus, one girl was coming with me; she was going to be released. I told her, that whatsoever happens to me you wait and listen and report it waiting outside the news media. You don't leave before that.
She said, "I will do it; I will do anything for you Bhagwan."
And she waited in a corner, and the Marshall was absolutely unaware that this girl is going to be released. And within an hour she was released, and the next morning there was everywhere the news that the U.S. Marshall has forced. What can be the cause behind forcing? This has never been done. The cause can be only one; that you can kill me and no trace may be found. Because on the register it is David Washington, on the board it is David Washington, on my cell it is David Washington. And you could have released David Washington.
I asked the U.S. Marshall, "Can I contact my attorney?"
He said, "That is not possible, but your attorney can contact you."
I said, "You seem to be absolutely retarded. How my attorney is going to know that I have become David Washington? Then you please help me; you inform my attorney that I have changed my mind and I have changed my name and now I am David Washington. Otherwise, how my attorney will find out? He will phone, and the girl who attends the phone she will say, 'There is nobody something like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.'" And she will not know actually that she is doing anything wrong, because she knows nothing. The whole office knows nothing.
But the tomorrow as the news spread, they immediately changed the jail. They had to change jail to jail for the simple reason because the moment the news media became aware that I am in one jail, then they harassed them, asked them questions, how I am, how is my health, where is the doctor, and we want to meet the doctor. And this was a very dangerous situation that they had put me under David Washington's name, and now everybody knows it.
They changed me into another jail, sixteen miles away from the city, so perhaps no news media may reach there. But they were wrong. News media perhaps in the West has become tremendously powerful in helping individuals, in helping their freedom. It is no more just informing people about incidents; it is something more now. It is a protection against the government, it is the protection against your own government.
They went on lying to me on every point. I was surprised that so much lying; they will take me from one jail to another jail and they will say to me that they are taking me to the airport so that I can be taken to Oregon. Even the pilot of the airport started feeling sad and sorry; and he told me that, "This has happened for the first time. They suddenly change our route. Just to drop you in the middle, somewhere in some jail, they avoid Oregon. They change our route. This has never happened in my life." Because they knew perfectly well, as I reach Oregon and before a judge, I will be released. I will be immediately bailed out because they have done absolutely wrong.
Even on the last day, they told me that "We have reached Portland, Oregon," where I was supposed to reach. It was not Portland, it was Seattle. But I had no idea. Then I am sitting there in the aeroplane, nobody comes, all the passengers are gone. I asked the pilot.
He said, "Don't tell anybody, it is not Portland. It is Seattle. They are lying. And they are keeping you here, they are bringing a small plane which they can take directly to the jail to avoid the news media; because on Portland airport the greatest gathering of news media has happened."
So two hours I am sitting, when they bring a smaller plane, and then they tell me that this is Seattle. I said, "I know this is Seattle. But what was the reason to tell me a lie, that this is Portland? You could have told from the very beginning it is Seattle, and a new plane will take you to Portland?"
But the news media in America is really very alert. When the plane did not reach there, they immediately understood that it has been prevented. They managed to find out where it has been prevented; it is in Seattle. They figured it out that now they will be flying me in a small plane to the jail directly. So the whole media moved to the jail.
They had a small airstrip there, and I told them that "You are simply being stupid, what is the point. All those people are here. You have been trying to deceive the media, but you have not been able to deceive them."
Many things I could see which I may have missed without going into jail; that the people who are inmates in the jail are far more human than the bureaucracy who controls the jail. I will ask for a toothpaste, toothbrush, or a soap, a comb.
Toothbrush will come, toothpaste will not come; it will take one day. And I asked the jailer, that "What kind of stupidity is this? What I will do with this toothbrush if there is no toothpaste; or toothpaste comes, then there is no toothbrush. It seems to be deliberate. I will ask them that "I am a vegetarian. I need fruits, vegetables, milk - that's all. I don't want anything else."
"No, fruits are not available; whatever is available, we will give. And as the jailer will go, the inmates will start shouting to me, "Don't be afraid, Bhagwan. We have fruits." And they will bring fruits to me and they said, "They have fruits they supply to us. Just to you they are saying no." They will bring toothbrush, they will bring toothpaste; and they will say "These are absolutely fresh; we have not touched." And I could see that these people are more human; and unnecessarily they are being harrassed.
The same was their idea to harass me, at least for six nine months from one jail to another; but they could not do it. The U.S. Marshall accepted to me that "We could not do it, because the whole world's eyes are fixed on you. And that will be very bad for America."
I said, "It has already been very bad for America. You have exposed your face to me. Now I am going to expose your face to the whole world. America is no more a democracy. It is a hypocrisy. At least Soviet Union is straight-forward. It accepts it is a dictatorship of the proletariat. You are far worse. You are a fascist regime, with the whole show of democracy. You can deceive, but not long enough."
And I told the U.S. Marshall that, "Remember, you have not only exposed to me your face, you have created a danger for your whole America. Now I am going to tell all my people who are spread all over the world that if there is going to be a third world war, it is going to be not between Soviet Union and America, but between America and the whole world. In fact you are not Americans, this land belongs to the Red Indians, you are invaders, you have already committed a crime. And you have become Americans, and the Americans you have labelled as Red Indians so nobody thinks that they are the real owners of the land. If it is a real democracy, that Red Indians should rule over the country and they should decide whether they want you to be here or not."
"In the whole world, slavery is disappearing. British Empire has disappeared, America is the only imperialist country now, and they have managed in such a way that nobody thinks of it that it is an imperialist country, that it is not ruled by its own people. And the Red Indians are being put into jungles called reservations, which are exactly what in Germany was known as concentration camps, but on a more subtle and psychological level. There are no barbed wires around them, so you cannot say that they are being forced there. But American government gives every Red Indian certain pension, and no work. So all that they do, they gamble, they drink, and they produce children, because the more children they have the more pensions they will be having.
"And they are no more interested in any liberty, any freedom. Why they should be? Because without work you get money, enough money, more than you can get by employment; and they all have become drunkards. They have nothing else to do. So gamble, fight, murder, rape, and drink. Now this is a more psychological strategy than barbed wires, which you can cross very easily. But this you cannot cross very easily. Now to fight for freedom, who is going to fight for freedom.
They are all drunk.
"America has destroyed the natives of America as profoundly as nobody has done ever. And nobody even thinks of it, that the people who you think of as Americans are not Americans. They are Spanish, they are Italians, there are Germans, there are English. All the races of Europe, except the Americans.
"This is the worst thing that can happen to a beautiful land."
They succeeded. I wanted to fight, and I know that all their charges were absolutely false. I could prove it, but my people were afraid that if you fight, then the only thing American government is going to ask that you should not be released on bail. The same reasons, that you are dangerous, that you have infinite sources, that you have so many people that you can manage to escape America.
So as long as the trial will go, they will harass you, they will destroy your health, and we will be in misery and torture. So just for our sake, don't fight.
In my whole life I have lied only once, and that was in the court of America, that I said that, "Yes, I am guilty of all these charges." And I am not guilty of any charges.
But I felt my love is more important than truth. And compassion is more important than truth. And my people are more important. I can lie thousand times for them, if it helps them to be happy, if it helps them to be rejoicing.