the teachings of rajneesh

Indian spiritual guru, Rajneesh, had many intelligent and often controversial ideas. Among them, his own Ten Commandments, theories about ego and the mind, and teachings on the power of meditation. His legacy is said to have been "liberating the minds of future generations from the shackles of religiosity and conformism." Despite being seen as one of the most controversial spiritual leaders of the twentieth century, he often delivered sound advice. For example, one of his Ten Commandments advises, "Do not swim - float," and another "Do not search. That which is, stop and see."  These concepts resonate with me.

Rajneesh emphasized “complete inner freedom and the responsibility to oneself, not demanding superficial behavioral changes, but a deeper, inner transformation.” He recognized that the mind is structured to look to the past for primitive survival purposes, making it difficult for us to concentrate on the present - where happiness and life reside. Again, I draw inspiration from these ideas.

Rajneesh; however, also delivered some misguided, dangerous advice, in my opinion. For one, he advocated that "material poverty was not a genuine spiritual value," and supported materialism as the self-proclaimed "rich man's guru." He wore handmade watches and was known to have driven a different Rolls-Royce every day for a period of time. This makes one wonder if he might have been exploiting his audience and the very concepts he advised on. I certainly don't agree with embracing materialism and I question spiritual leaders who do. To me, this seems contrary to teachings of inner transformation.

Of all Rajneesh's teachings, one set of ideas now sticks out to me, like a sore thumb caught in a fucking blender. Rajneesh advocated for “euthanasia for the crippled, blind, deaf and 'dumb' children” and for genetic selection. If you know the story told on this blog, it should be obvious why this topic is worthy of my attention.

There is one part of Rajneesh’s argument here that I agree with: overpopulation is the root cause of much of our suffering. Overpopulation leads to more people than resources, more competition, more conflict, more war, more suffering.

If we could stem the population problem, we wouldn’t have to pilliage the earth for resources, destroy one another to fulfill basic needs, obsess over positions of power or “create” jobs that serve little value to the world. Overpopulation has to be dealt with in some way if we are to survive. I believe in education and prevention (after having twins unexpectedly, I immediately pursued a vasectomy). Without getting too political, I also believe in the power of choice for men and women during pregnancy - for all, not just fetuses with differences. 

The part of Rajneesh’s argument that I cannot support is the targeting of children with special needs or with a different genetic makeup. In the past, I might have understood his logic, to some extent, but now I cannot accept it. And that is because I am now informed and enlightened in a way that Rajneesh and I were not in the past. Rajneesh contradicts his other teachings, as having special needs should not prevent one from having a spiritual self, from meditating and from having a beautiful, uninhibited soul. Children that are born with differences don’t have to suffer. The people around them don’t have to suffer.

In fact, these children, these people, can add tremendous value to the human condition. They can teach us all that we need to change what we see as important. The things we often define as progress and advancement in today’s societies are often misguided.

Too many of us plant flowers in our yards to impress our neighbors, rather than to enjoy the profound impact they can have on our senses. Too many of us buy and build houses, rather than homes. Too many of us explore the world through the internet, rather than in nature. Too many of us look at the clock often, but forget to live in the present moment. Too many of us take jobs to make money and spend until we are broke, instead of just getting what we need and stopping there. Too many of us “demand superficial behavioral changes, rather than a deeper, inner transformation.”

There is so much that blind, deaf and special needs children can teach others that see themselves as “normal.” Too many of us see these children as “challenged” or “disabled.” Please understand that viewing others this way cripples you. The mentality disables us all. It prevents us from focusing on the value of the soul as a sense in itself - even more important than our tangible physical and intellectual senses. It challenges the very meaning of our existence. 

So, Rajneesh, if I could go and whisper into a flame that would re-ignite your ashes, I would tell you that I think you are right and that you are wrong. Then I would tell you that there is no right or wrong, only existence and experience  - and I am sure you would agree with that. 

And if your spirit was transferred into another body as you believe, and if that body was allowed to be born with a different genetic makeup than most, I hope that you are happy and that you are more enlightened than ever before.