Monday, June 18, 2018

Wild Wild West – Netflix documentary

Back in 2003/early 2004, I remember arguing vehemently with my friend that “Bhagwan” Rajneesh wasn’t truly enlightened and was more half baked :). I was just too stubborn with my arguments and my friend had to agree with me just to end the argument. Come 2018 the documentary Wild Wild West on Netflix totally proved to me that I was right.

The documentary is a 6 part series starts from Poona ashram through Oregon experiment and ends with the death of Rajneesh. It is a great effort with capturing the story from a lot of perspectives including the followers, adversaries, interviews from those time and era, video clips from news casts in those days and so on. 

Overall I would say a well balanced view of the whole episode, worth a watch. It is disturbing at some levels specially if you are of spiritual oneself is an understatement.

Here are my n things
  • Rajneesh (lets call him Mr. R for simplicity) didn’t leave India but was literally smuggled out of India in secret, no one knew where he went and all his visa applications were done in secret and flight also arranged in secret
  • On the flight to USA, they celebrated with champagne, as a spiritual person I thought he would be aware that alcohol affects ones subconscious self 
  • While his top aide Sheila was running the show in the Oregon Ranch by trying to rig elections, poisoning salad bars, plotting assassinations and so on, as her “guru” how come Mr. R wasn’t aware?
  • His aide Sheila keeps repeating, I protected Mr. R while I was in charge of his safety, would an enlightened master really need protection and from what and who?
  • Mr. R secluded himself in the ranch for almost 4 years and didn’t give a single public discourse during that time, Funny part that was the immigration case against him that he didn't do what he said he would be doing, giving discourses.. As a true master were you not interested in the growth of your disciples?
  • Mr. R behaves as president or absentee CEO of a company who has the plausible deniability when all hell breaks loose and blame it on the underlings in this case Sheila. 
  • Mr. R has fascination for finer things and the fascination doesn’t end till he owns it, the Rolls Royce, diamond watch and the list goes on. I am not saying he should not honor his devotees offerings but can he put forth a demand? I am not making this up it is one of the episodes “at one point the Hollywood people started showing up at the ashram and started showing Mr. R the different magazines with expensive things, Sheila had limited access to these for if Mr. R sees them he would want to have them”
  • Towards the end when Sheila leaves the ranch after a series of failed experiments, Mr. R acts like a child who lost his favorite toy or as a scorned lover who is not able to handle the breakup gracefully. It is truly unbecoming of a spiritual master, to an extent one can argue he had a meltdown. Really, can a guru have a meltdown?
  • In the end, when the law starts closing in on Mr. R, he does the same thing he did in India tries to fly away but USA is not India and they arrest him on his way out. I make fun of Saddam Hussein for hiding in a hole, our man as hiding behind the aircraft seat when they came to arrest him. Are you so afraid of death Mr. R?
  • Mr. R while fighting the case in the court apparently said “if they fight fairly then I am willing to go to supreme court but I don’t think they will and (something about body can’t handle)”, wonderful I like that, if that were the case then why did you flee in your own personal aircraft?
  • His death apparently was a case of slow-poisoning and no its not the American Government but his own network and himself are responsible     
I never had a great opinion of Mr. R and this documentary didn’t help the case in anyway. At a higher level, it was, as rightly pointed out was an experiment, that didn’t play out well. It was an experiment on how far one can push the envelope in the name of constitutional rights, an experiment on what happens when one only thinks of rights and forgets all about responsibilities, an experiment on what happens when you let the mind/ego dominate the entire process and not listen to the inner guidance.   

Friday, June 01, 2018

Always good to dust off an old book

For a while now I have transitioned to Kindle books and the my new fad is to switch to audio books (I am holding myself from doing that). Of course most books I have bought off late (in last 6-8 years) are non fiction related to finance, self improvement and the usual works. But I am proud to say I have a collection of paper back and hard bound books in my own small library. Considering the amount of time I spend these days in reading any book either kindle e-books or otherwise they have been eating dust :).

Anyways, I have become an avid listener to Dave Ramsey podcasts and he has been strongly advocating people to read a non fiction book for at the least 15 minutes a day. Come to think of it, it is a great habit and my father-in-law had recommended the same to me a decade ago and I had followed the advice for a while, as with everything in life fell off the band wagon.

With Facebook turned off, Twitter non existent and NPR given a boot, it appeared I had more time in hand and decided to pickup the reading habit again. This time around instead of picking up the ipad-mini and launching the kindle app I went down to my mini library and picked up a non-fiction book.  I had bought this one more than a decade ago and never turned more than 10 pages of the same. For the first couple of days, I literally had to drag myself to keep the book in hand for 15-20 minutes before bed time but in the last week or so I got into the groove and love reading this book.

The one wonderful unintended consequence of my new reading habit is it has caught Avni’s attention and she wants to know what is her dad reading? mind you I have had the ipad for almost 3-4 years and have read few books through kindle app on my ipad but it has rarely spiked her interest. I am guessing a combination of her age and her own reading habits that she has been questioning me constantly about what I am reading? and wants me to explain to her what I am reading? Indeed I am not successful yet at that. 

Anyways, moral of the story is "kindle, audible and other apps are good but sometimes a good old fashioned hardbound book is a great investment too".