Rattan Gujadhur

[Rattan Gujadhur] Wild Wild Country – Review from a Buddhist’s Perspective

Mardi 5 Mars 2019

After I had watched the popular Netflix documentary, ‘Wild Wild Country’, the hugely popular showdown at Rajneeshpuram, Wasco and Antelope, I decided to pour myself into research of early Buddhist sutras, to find an interpretive tool, to break this documentary down to shreds.


I had gone in headlong watching this documentary with a partial feeling of the greatness of the mind of Osho.

I honestly have always liked his subtle rhetoric, which I found novel, funny, and definitely not boring, without ever idolizing him. I do not think he was a messiah, Jesus or the second Buddha. I was not amongst those to be convinced to judge and condemn Osho, just because some of his well-known ‘devotees’ and ‘mother’ Sheela herself indulged in wrongful malignances. 

I had also already known even before watching the documentary, that the ‘Christian Puritans’ of Wasco and Antelope, being the expected essential  bigots that they already are, one realize that there was going to be in this drama, a dialogue between two blindfolded men in a dark room, trying to find the door to truth. This well-known perennial misunderstanding of the common battle of religious ideas !

Of course, whenever we talk of, and about religion, for that matter spirituality de masse, therein, emerges our old friends; the mechanics of power grabbers and their quest for mind control, politicians and their band of lawyers, fake Gurus and their equally fake mentors. Welcome to the Paradise of Rajneeshpuram and Antelope !

[Rattan Gujadhur] Wild Wild Country – Review from a Buddhist’s Perspective
I have no reason to jump into a massive review of the documentary for intellectual masturbative purposes, but suffice to say that I decided to use the commentary of the Tevijja sutra (a very early Buddhist sutra) to explain this momentous (and crazy by all accounts) Rajneeshpuram drama. This felt to me an appropriate sound strategy.

Why so? The Tevijja, as an early buddhist rationalist sutra (or dialogue) is not contaminated by later interpretations of Buddhist doctrines.

It is classified by the well-known translator, Monk Piya Tan, as:

The Tevijja Sutra (also translated as “the Discourse on the 3 Knowledges”) is the last of the thirteen suttas of the first section or volume—the Sīla-k,khandha Vagga (Chapter on the Group of Moral Virtue)—of the Dīgha Nikāya. In the Introduction to his translation of this Sutta , T W Rhys Davids notes that this is the only sutta of the thirteen , whose teaching does not lead up to arhat-hood. It leads up only to the cultivation of the divine understanding. 

I instantly liked this Sutra was because it was simple, direct, and no-nonsense interpretation of  the often known big and bogus claims of religious ideals and their leaders.

Two brahmins (belonging) to two different schools, but who were close friends, Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja, both belonging to rich cultivated families, approach the Buddha with a question that they had been genuinely debating.

The question they have been told by their respective teachers was“This is the only straight path, the direct path, that leads to salvation for one who works for companionship with Brahmā’’. Brahma being the father of the world, the Zeus of all the Hindu Gods. Buddha answers like a well-trained post-modernist professor.

In a debate, that makes this sutra a classic of Pali literature, the Buddha starts dismantling them respectfully from the very start. Referring to their two teachers and their ancestors, the Buddha asks“Is there even a single one of the teachers of these brahmins learned in the three Vedas who has himself seen Brahmā face to face?” The answer is a categorical ‘NOPE’. 

So, the Buddha argues that if one sees, or adopts, the sun and the moon, as one`s father, and one prays to them, is it reasonable to tell anyone that ‘one’ categorically knows the way to the sun and moon, and/or one can take others directly to the moon. 

What the Buddha is arguing on, the philosophy of religion, is that the Brahmanical notion of knowledge of gods, is in fact only, and only ‘ideas’ about God, hence they ‘remained’ ideas.

If these ideas contribute to moral and spiritual wellbeing, then all is great, but the second they start enslaving en masse the minds of people it becomes a negative vibe, a snake, to be bluntly rejected.

A few parables are used to describe this philosophy, which I do not have time to cover here, suffice to use one simple example.

A man faces a great wide river. He covers his head with a black cloth, sits on one river bank, and starts praying that he will somehow cross the river. Will be cross the river?

The answer from Vāseṭṭha and Bhāradvāja: NO !

In other words, we are always ‘prescribed’ by others of what to do for our religious salvation, the Buddha instructs the two questioning brahmins to look for the answers on their own accord. To turn the table of their own ‘minds’, inside out, and use lovingkindness, gladness, equanimity and compassion, using the tool of meditation as weapon, and moral precepts as their guide, to reach true Dharma. Not to be swayed by bogus promises, and by flowery words that no one even know the validity and veracity of. 

In the Rajneeshpuram debacle, Ma Sheela, Rajneesh`s shrewd secretary admits at the very beginning of the documentary, that Rajneesh is alike to a sensitive and expensive ceramic work of art, of great innocence, to be treated and taken care of, because the technique he preached could spin money like never seen before.

So, at the beginning itself, we start to get the hold of this unfolding drama. People were already so much in awe of Rajneesh, his fame was spreading like wild fire, such that his promises of a land of joy that knew no bounds, and ruled by a ‘new fearless breed of men’, reinventing a new civilization for their true happiness, was what he had set to create, and ‘was’ creating.

It was now then left to the able hands of Sheela to spin this corporate bandwagon around, and fly them out to Oregon to create a new franchise, a product. All great wonderful corporate ideas. 

Suffice to say that they hit of crowd of folks in the same ignorant abode as them. A group of bigoted pseudo-Christians who believe in the absolute sanctity of their own values, and feel that anyone not of the same color as them, or not of the same creed as them, were born to be banished. Jesus would have shed a tear to know what mischiefs were, will and are, being done in his holy name. The blinded sannyasins had met their blind neighbors, the residents of Antelope.

In a way, both parties were delusional to the core, with what the Tevijja sutra could diagnose to be, a beeping arrogance based on their own self-beliefs. Rajneesh was a professor of philosophy who was indulging in what he was best known for, Philosophy.

It is the weakness of people who tend to grab every Guru as their new savior, and their gullibility to buy any projected product, which was the true crux of the matter. Religious ideas, promoted by a good orator, with a great marketing matter, is always a sure winner on wall street ! 

The bigots of Wasco country and Antelope are today the spitting image of the Trump supporting mid-western states, that have and will continue to vote him, except this time around, the enemies are now dark immigrants, and not orange clad Rajneeshpuram Sannyasins.

Rédigé par Rattan Gujadhur le Mardi 5 Mars 2019