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IamA Former teenage resident of Rajneeshpuram AMA!

Apr 6th 2018 by dkkent • 11 Questions • 186 Points

My short bio: In 1981 I moved to Rajneeshpuram with my mother. She is briefly in Wild Wild Country, episode 6, a little english woman. I was in Sheela's house when Shanti B told her kids they were leaving. I visited Sheela and Shanti B in prison in Pleasanton when they were incarcerated, I went with Shanti B's (Jane Storks') son who was my best friend.

My Proof: https://dickonkent.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/us-3.png This is a picture of myself (in middle) with Jane Stork's son Peter before we left the ranch.

Q:

How did most of the kids you knew view their time at Rajneeshpuram? Were you longing to have a 'normal' childhood / high school experience or did you enjoy it? Do you think that things would have gone differently had the community had different leadership or if Sheela would have been less combative?

A:

How did most of the kids you knew view their time at Rajneeshpuram? Were you longing to have a 'normal' childhood / high school experience or did you enjoy it? Do you think that things would have gone differently had the community had different leadership or if Sheela would have been less combative?

Life on the Ranch was “normal” for me. My mom had been involved with Rajneesh since I was about 6 years old so this was all very familiar to me. I definitely enjoyed it as a teenager. I worked hard at my job, long hours editing video, building electronics projects (including the security system for Sheela’s house), running the teenagers disco, and a lot of other things. It was really fun in many, many ways. I had good friends, good work, good food, and too many red clothes!

The ranch was zoned agricultural so just buying that particular property in hindsight was a really bad idea. It was doomed from the start in many ways because of that. Would it have fared better somewhere else? Perhaps… but ironically, one day Sheela came to the school in Antelope (during the short time I actually attended that school) and she was the first person I ever heard saying “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. I think whenever you give a single person too much power - whether they be a guru, leader of sorts, politician, god, etc. you give up your own personal will to a certain degree and lose personal responsibility. There are many, many things that contribute to success or failure of a group like this. In it’s essence it was a beautiful ideal, to create a sustainable community with everyone working towards a common goal, it just didn’t work in this case, and I am unaware of any other situation where it has worked! Perhaps a symptom of the human condition?


Q:

What was so amazing about Rajneesh? How did you view him back then? How do you view him now?

A:

What was so amazing about Rajneesh? How did you view him back then? How do you view him now?

I was a teenager, so what was amazing for me was the energy of the community around him, not so much him. I was younger so did not really listen to what he was saying and didn’t participate in the meditations. I was there because this was my life - not because I was a spiritual seeker (like my mom was).

He was “my master” because on the ranch he was everyone’s master. Once it all fell apart I did go back to the Ashram in India one time, I was about 19 and I wanted to go see what all this was about, from a slightly more mature place in myself. It was nice to see old friends, I was in Poona for about 4 weeks, I worked again at the Ashram, and I heard him talk. It was nice to see my friends, interesting to see Bhagwan (I never call him Osho - to me that name is propaganda to try and forget what happened in Oregon) but I din’t reveal any desire to be a disciple or follower any more.

Now, I feel like he was at one time a very well read university professor who was very good at combining eastern mysticism, philosophy, elements of religion and some good jokes to create a compelling message that resonated with people looking for something different. More and more people came and I thin he got swept up in the fame and adoration of all that attention. I do not for a second believe that he was innocent in all that went on. He may not have known about some of the details but there is too much testimony that implicates his collusion and telling Sheela about what needed to be done to protect the community.

So for me he had some good things to say, and obviously many people love his books and spoken word. But I think this serves as a warning to anyone who follows someone else. Whether that be religion, sect, cult, whatever name you want to give it. Take what is life changing for you, and move on. Or if not, take what is life changing and then own up to the darkness and say “Yes - this man is my master. And he has done some really messed up things and hurt a lot of people, but I am sticking by his side because his wisdom outweighs his dark side”.

As humans we give up our own individual power easily, I think there is something genetic that predisposes many people to want to follow someone or something else. I just think we all need to discern a bit better who we are following.


Q:

Fantastic answer. I appreciate your taking the time.

A:

You're welcome!


Q:

Was the high school Catlin Gabel?

A:

Honestly I don't remember the name of the school, sorry. I just know it was an unconventional high school and there was a girl named Danni (not sure about the spelling). It was really fun though when those kids came down. We met them in Antelope and then drove together onto the ranch. I remember them being very open and curious and it was nice to meet some kids from the "outside".


Q:

How do you think that living in the community has affected your values and politics as you've gotten older? Do you currently follow any religion?

A:

How do you think that living in the community has affected your values and politics as you've gotten older? Do you currently follow any religion?

I choose not to follow any organized religion. I do believe that there is something out there tying us all together, but my feeling is that's a relationship I need to explore for myself and I wouldn't want any man made doctrine interfering with it.

Perhaps we are a product of our parents. Mine were both pretty open minded. My grandparents on my mom's side were Quakers in England - a very accepting group. My father's mother was a Jehovah's Witness - not so accepting. But my dad was the first in our family to travel to India and see Bhagwan. That was when Bhagwan was still in Bombay, before Poona. My father told Bhagwan he though his ego was too big and didn’t really become a follower. Then my mom went once Bhagwan was in Poona - she came back in red clothes and her mom freaked out.

I think the point I am trying to make is politically, socially, and spiritually I feel I am pretty open. I know I don’t have all the answers and I also know that for me, life is a very interesting adventure. If someone has a better idea than I do about something, liberal or conservative, I am happy to listen and support if I feel it’s in the best interest of all people.


Q:

Did you ever find out if you were being drugged? The homeless population that was brought in members admitted to drugging using beer served at meals, has there been any proof that this wasn’t done to original members as well.

A:

Did you ever find out if you were being drugged? The homeless population that was brought in members admitted to drugging using beer served at meals, has there been any proof that this wasn’t done to original members as well.

I was not drugged. I was under age so wouldn’t have been given beer (we kids did steal some though from the fridges behind the kitchen - but it was in cans so not tampered with). And I think when the homeless people were given beer it was in a different area from where most of the residents ate and drank. We had two cafeterias at that time and I usually ate at the one named Magdalena, which was far away from the A-frames where the “share a home” participants were housed.


Q:

How hard was it to adjust to life outside the ranch after everything went south?

Do you think the more wealthy members of the community were kind of the catalyst to the downfall.

How were the meditation sessions?

A:

How hard was it to adjust to life outside the ranch after everything went south? Do you think the more wealthy members of the community were kind of the catalyst to the downfall? How were the meditation sessions?

It was tough, I was 17, left the ranch on a cold thanksgiving night with $25 in my pocket. Some friends and I were headed to San Diego with the plan of opening an under 21 nightclub (with no money so it obviously didn’t happen). I’d never lived ‘outside’ as an adult (well, barely an adult) so this was my leaving home. I had very little formal education and ended up sleeping on the floor of a motel in San Diego for a few weeks until we found a condo to rent. I just had to figure it all out as I went along, so got a job at Jack In The Box, and then worked construction. I guess it would be the same as a 17 year old leaving home from anywhere else with no support other than from their friends who were in the same boat, but with the addition of a red wardrobe that needed to be replaced!

When the “Hollywood group” came to the ranch you could definitely feel the tension between the old guard and this new group who seemed to appear out of nowhere. I don’t know this for a fact but I think again, Bhagwan was seduced by the representation of money and power that they brought with them. As Jane Stork says in the documentary - he liked shiny things. At this point though with all the outside pressures we had they weren’t the catalyst, the ball was already rolling. But they could have well increased the speed of the internal downfall especially as it relates to Sheela’s hold on the power.

Personally I only meditated once or twice, but I know a lot of people who really enjoyed the mediations. They were very freeing and meditation is scientifically proven to help people - it may look a bit crazy but the feeling is good. The thing to remember though is that for us full time residents, we weren’t meditating because we were too busy working. Most of the footage you see of people doing to Dynamic or Kundalini meditations were visitors, not residents.


Q:

What happened to Jane Stork's husband? She's married with kids when they went to Oregon and then in her closing in the last episode talks about meeting her husband, presumably her second husband. I'm guessing it got lost in editing but it bugged me.

A:

What happened to Jane Stork's husband? She's married with kids when they went to Oregon and then in her closing in the last episode talks about meeting her husband, presumably her second husband. I'm guessing it got lost in editing but it bugged me.

I knew them quite well because Peter (Santosh), Jane's son was my roommate and best friend. Riten (Jane's husband) left the ranch when it all fell apart and eventually went back to Australia, they were not romantically involved in Orgeon, I assume they broke up when they lived in India years before. Unfortunately Riten passed away a few years later in Australia at too young an age. So yes, by the time Jane was in Germany she was single when she met George.


Q:

Thanks for clarifying! So when you say roommate, did kids not live with their parents?

A:

Exactly, ever since I arrived on the ranch I did not live with my mom. I always shared a room with another kid, or kids. Most other kids did the same except of course for much younger kids.


Q:

What sort of work did you do?

Were you trained in firearms while on the ranch?

A:

What sort of work did you do?

When I first got to the ranch I worked in the nursery (plants) for a couple of weeks, then I was moved to Edison which was the audio, visual and electronics department. I spent most of my time on the ranch working there. Initially spending a lot of time duplicating the tapes of Bhagwan’s discourse, but that expanded to a whole host of projects involving audio/video gear and installations.

Were you trained in firearms while on the ranch?

I was not trained in firearms, I was too young and it was only a select few who actually were trained. I do remember the paranoia though and at some point I started having dreams about crawling through the brush in fatigues (red ones) with a weapon.


Q:

We drove through Antelope to get to Hancock Field Station this summer (I stayed in one of a few A-frames they got from the commune after it dissolved). Was the little school always as creepy as it looks now? Weren't y'all pretty far away from the town?

A:

We drove through Antelope to get to Hancock Field Station this summer (I stayed in one of a few A-frames they got from the commune after it dissolved). Was the little school always as creepy as it looks now? Weren't y'all pretty far away from the town?

The school was always a bit creepy outside, but when it was our school it was very cush inside. In the upper school we had big comfy chairs and a huge conference table in the classroom. I didn’t spend much time there because once Sheela was visiting the school and I said I learned more from working on the ranch, rather than being in the school. So we then created an Oregon accredited ‘vocational’ school, which really wasn’t a real school but it allowed those of us who wanted to go back to work to do so. And yes Antelope was far away from the ranch. I never understood why all the kids were sent to Antelope, other than to go to school there, but that was weird. I never lived in Antelope but did sleep there a few times because we built a disco in the school basement (where the city council meetings were previously held) so sometimes slept over rather than ride back to the ranch late on a Friday or Saturday night.

Personally I didn’t like being in Antelope, and my ‘permanent’ room was always back on the ranch.