My thoughts on ‘Bhagwan: The God that failed’ by Hugh Milne
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Written by the former bodyguard of Bhagwan, known as Shiva, this testimonial deserves not to be forgotten.
Needless to say the uproar this book provoked was not quite objective to the reality.
When the book came out, a year before the one by Kate Strelley, Hugh Milne was already an outcast, a dissenter, an ‘unreliable witness’: ex members are seen as evil.
It was easy to lay tons of judgment on him and dismiss his book as a pathological expression of his anger and grudge against Bhagwan and his organization.
I am writing here my perception and my view and how much I disagree with those critics of Hugh Milne’s book. Maybe some of his statements are not completely true, but I am no one to say that.
First of all, Hugh was the first one to describe the initial stage of Bhagwan work starting from Bombay when he arrived in ‘73 where western sannyasin were only a handful. He tells the story of the famous Mount Abu camp meditation, and the experience of the commune Kailash in the pampas of majestic India. The move to Poona and the building of the Ashram structure together with the hierarchical power structure till he left together with the master and Sheela for the US. And there the story goes on, his way.
Maybe more then Kate Strelley’s book this one is describing the torturous and blissful path of becoming a disciple, of his love and devotion and his attachment to those meditative states he was finding it.
‘This meditative state was incomparably beautiful and worth anything. Those who dismiss ‘cults evils’ have no idea at all how rapturous this state can be, and how no other pleasure can begin to compare with it.’ (H. Milne, God that failed)
The thoroughly introspection and narration of his path to become one Bhagwans closest disciples, being not only his photographer but also his bodyguard, living in the Master's house, provides the reader with an opportunity to learn about ‘stories’ of the Bhagwan inner circle, that would be otherwise lost.
He witnessed and foremost had a part in some of those stories.
Why should I not believe what he writes?
I can, yet again, recognize many of the same persuasion techniques and influences in my own experience in Poona 2. I have my shares of ‘stories’ from the time I was working in the Ashram from 87 to early 96. The power trip didn’t finish with Sheela or Deeksha or even Shiva. They just became more sophisticated although not in anyway harmless.
On the contrary!
This doesn’t change my experience with Osho and what I went through with him. The ups and downs of devoting your life to such a Master were full of unpredictable surprise, some of them took you into bliss and some into hell. However, understanding one's roots, the reason of our search and the roots of whom we decided to follow in the ‘here and now’ that he preached, is a must for self realization and self love.
I can only say humbly that for me, Osho was the perfect man to be with in a time of my life where nothing else was worth living for. The multi-faceted dimension of the art of living I had the fortune to experience in the last 3 years of Osho’s life gave me the opportunity to make the impossible possible and to discover in the magic of his presence, the mystery of the unknown. But it was not only that!
There are some points in Milne’s book especially during the US adventure where he starts to feel his dependency from the commune and friends and at the same time he is realizing that something was not quite right anymore. If ever it was.
The split between the desire to leave Bhagwan and his attachment to the sannyas lifestyle and friends increased over the months, after the arrival in US. His positions and status over the time and because of the numerous arguments with Sheela, changed radically at the ranch. He was forced out of Lao Tzu, the Masters house, and had to work long hours on a bulldozer, like any other ordinary rank sannyasin, to build paradise in the desert. To me, that would be enough to make me think what the hell am I doing here!
Many years later I went through a similar psychological abuse and punishment game in another group I became involved after Osho, The Miracle of Love. So, I recognize the anguish and the mindfuck that goes on in those moments, where your dreams are slowly and painfully breaking, you perceive yourself wrong no matter what you do, your own critical thinking surfaces and tells you: “something is wrong here!". But by then, you have become such a true believer that it is hard to listen and recognize your inner voice.
Possible, but not easy.
Good for him that he left, although he needed to go back to the ranch one more time before the final adieu to Rajneeshpuram.
He writes: ‘As soon as important people left or a commune was disbanded, the truth became twisted and altered. Historical revisionism was becoming quite a sannyasin art form, perhaps to replace the now-forbidden one of gossip.’
Not only that, I would add, but you became a traitor and a ‘non existing entity’ you are wiped out of the group/cult world.
His change of perception of Bhagwan was interesting to read for me. Over time in the ranch, Hugh became disillusioned and through that state he started to see his master, in his words, "without my disciple's conditioned vision".
Suddenly the man he adored and guarded for so many years became ‘a lost soul’.
The painful experience in this change of perception and inner reality is great, and no one has the right to disregard the impact of this level of soul betrayal, regardless Bhagwan “innocence” or not.
To conclude I want to demonstrate how the same fact was interpreted in a very different way. I would say opposite. Both are valid and true experiences, not better or worst, just different.
From Milne’s book:
"As I watched Bhagwan on television in shackles and wearing handcuffs I saw a worn, lost, disillusioned look on his face”.
My own experience few hours later watching the European news:
"As I watched Bhagwan in television in shackles and wearing handcuffs a thought cross my mind and pierce through my heart: If the boat is sinking I want to be on that boat."
In that moment I decided to become a sannyasin, after having been one of Bhagwan’s admirers for more then a year.
My father commented, I told you that man was a creep. I slammed the kitchen door, and called Miasto, the sannyas commune in Tuscany.
Everyone that shared in this adventure has had his own way of recalling, lest to speak about it.
Some decided to speak up and not be afraid of the consequences that our opinion may bring. For that I thank Hugh Milne, and for his version of the story.
After all Osho preached: “Courage is the very greatest human quality there is", when he was talking about his childhood mischievous acts.
And courage, I say, is not only jumping into a river after a storm, but to stand strong and speak the truth that we know despite of what other may think.
If no one responds
to your call