When the shadows come back to light, by Philippe Nirav

(edited Nov 18th 2021)

The world of Osho has gone through a few crises over the last decades, but the one unfolding right now reaches unprecedented depths.

Within a few months, snowballing at increasing speed, accusations of sexual abuses against senior and respected members of the Osho community are made public almost daily. Women are coming forward and telling their stories of being raped in Osho’s communes when they were children or young teenagers. A woman recently disclosed publicly how she was raped by over 150 Osho disciples when she was between 12 and 15. Boys were not spared. Osho himself is being exposed.

This is unfolding semi-privately over social media and it will obviously go public sooner than later- for the better and for the worse.

Before I continue, allow me a few words about myself. I arrived in Pune in January 1990, only a few days before Osho left his body. I never met him alive, and I was never in “Pune One” or on “the Ranch”, where kids were around. When I arrived in Pune, there were no children in the Commune and teenagers were only allowed in for 2 hours a day. I indeed found it strange, but I accepted the explanation that “meditation isn’t for children.” With hindsight, I understand that if kids were not allowed, it was because of the abuses of the past which were thoroughly put under the carpet. I remember Osho’s remarks on monasteries not allowing women. “What kind of people are afraid to see women?” he commented “are they monsters or what?” Today I see that Osho’s Commune in the ’90s did not allow children into their premises because too many of them had been abused sexually in the ’80s. In Osho’s own garden, monsters were still around, and ghastly shadows had never been faced.

Pune 3, as it was then called, was all in all a safe and thriving place where I had the best time of my life for over ten years. I certainly felt uncomfortable with the “dirty old men” in the Commune who seemed to jump on young women as soon as they entered the gate. Unfortunately, many of those are still around. A respected sannyasin who has been with Osho since the early ’80s told me recently, “Nirav, I only give workshops so I can get young women into my bed.”

I certainly noticed how therapists, famous bodyworkers, “mediums”, people with a name, misused their fame and power to manipulate innocent newcomers and get sex. But never did I suspect that those predatory behaviors were only tiny fragments of an iceberg of unimaginable proportion that would one day rock Osho’s very legacy…and my life.

I am often asked if I ever regret having missed Osho physically. The answer is no. I have always been aware that true spiritual seekers are a rare species and that being around a master won’t help you wake up if waking up is not what you are after.

Back to here and now. Three months ago, I was informed that a well-known sannyasin was asked to leave a prominent Osho Center where he was resident, because of alleged “repeated sexual misconduct”. Not only that, but from all the places in the world where he could have gone to try and resettle, he chose the little village in Corfu where I live and where many old Osho Sannyasins have settled.

I inquired deeper and soon found out that there was probably more at play here than met the eye- and for him to be asked to leave his home of residence, something serious must have happened. I became convinced that a major cover-up was taking place. I privately informed the local community because I feared for the safety of the hundreds of vulnerable young women who come here. My warning was met with, “Thanks for informing us, we will keep an eye on him, but there is no need to stir things.”

I remember the wrenching feeling in my belly. I knew that all kinds of institutions had the old habit of protecting repeated predatory sexual behaviour. Was that same old dirty game happening around Osho also? How deep was the rabbit hole?

Two days later, a young woman who lives in this village accused a well-known musician of raping her here five years back. That was the very first public exposure and the first tsunami in this community. The ripples of that first and courageous exposure went deep and large, and a few weeks later, other women started to speak and relate their stories of abuse.

As I write today, more and more Osho Sannyasins are being accused of rape and sexual abuse when they were with Osho in the ’80s. Under pressure, most of them are admitting their crimes and are trying to apologize. Many more confessed that they had “relationships”, some of them for months or even years, with 12 or 13 old year girls, but feel that it was okay because those were willing relationships. I even heard aberrations like “consensual sex with a minor”. It seems that some old folks will need more time to review what is “normal”. Consensual sex with a minor is never consensual. NEVER! It isn’t sex either- it is rape with a minor. And so, having a relationship with a 12-year-old when you are in your 30’s doesn’t make it okay. On the contrary.

I have spent the most significant chunk of my life looking inside, trying to uncover my shadows, and before writing this piece, I wanted to find out why I am getting so involved in this happening right now. I planned to end this article with something like, “this isn’t about them only; it is about you and me too!” I took time to reflect on the darker sides of my personality, to look at how I have at times been emotionally abusive in intimate relationships; I discovered that indeed on a deeper level of my psyche, I too have hated women for holding power over me and that a deep-seated urge to take revenge is there in the background. I feel grateful that I have come across the work on time and largely succeeded to live a life where I keep those shadows in front of me instead of letting them run the show from the depths of my unconscious. Fortunately, I never raped anyone, I never had sex with an underage woman, and I never had the slightest drive to experiment with any of that- and all in all, this unfolding had nothing to do with me!

 So, where does this leave us?

 The scandal in the world of Osho that is slowly coming to the surface today has been buried for over 40 years. What we see as I write those words is only the very tip of the iceberg. There are a few reasons for that. Firstly, only one in about eight children who is sexually abused reports it. Secondly, only very rarely does someone abuse children sexually only once. Finally, there are many reasons why victims do not come forward, and there is plenty of literature about it. Still, when it took 40 years for the first victim to gather the courage to speak up and name one perpetrator, how many more crimes did this one-person commit? How many more children were abused? And how many more pedophiles managed to get away?

You do not need a PhD in mathematics to understand the enormity we are dealing with here.

Not all, but many of the people with Osho during the old days had at least one toe in the pot. Some were predators themselves, some saw but looked the other way, some knew but chose to stay silent. Most are accomplices in different degrees.

In the village where I live, where one of its resident has recently been accused (and he has publicly admitted) of raping and deflowering a woman in Osho’s Commune when she was 12 years old, the impatience and discomfort with what is happening now are tangible. There is a tacit understanding that more residents are probably involved and may be exposed soon. What would happen to the local community if the shit did hit the fan? Dozens of Osho sannyasins have chosen to retire here, and the majority stands behind their old buddy; they can’t wait to get to “business as usual” and feel it is time for those stories to disappear. Enough is enough.

“I am done listening to more of that,” said someone the other day. “I worked so hard at the Ranch, and I wasn’t around children. I had no idea this was happening; I am in total shock,” said another, and then to add, “well, we all knew, but, well, it was accepted.”

Another friend living here told me recently, “When I worked on the Ranch, I remember hearing therapists having sex in the next room. I always knew something was wrong, but I never said anything.”

Or, as I heard yesterday, “I know many of them who had teeny girlfriends, sometimes even younger. They are my friends, and I will always stand by them. It was a different time. It was okay then. I don’t even read those reports. Past is past. I don’t want to hear about it anymore”.

It appears that those who were vital in keeping the lid on decades of sexual abuse within the Osho community now feel that a few weeks of airtime is enough.

Why does it seem so difficult for Sannyasins to acknowledge and recognize the criminal activities happening in their own garden?

Why so much resistance to open up their own can of worms?

To the question of why I am getting so involved, I reply that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

 As I mentioned above, I was not present in Pune 1 nor on the Ranch when most of those crimes happened, but I have been involved with Osho Sannyasins for the last 28 years. I know that all isn’t black or white and that there are many nuances to this story (which mainstream journalists will undoubtedly bypass when it all goes public). I was in three long-term relationships with women who became Osho disciple before reaching their teens. Although all of them carry their share of trauma from those days, they are all beautiful women living a deep and balanced life. I never felt that they had anything to envy from the repressed Christian conditioning I grew up with. Many of them still carry deep gratitude for Osho and remember their childhood as a beautiful and extraordinary time. Yes, most of them were sexually overexposed. Most of them did suffer from feeling abandoned in the Osho’s Boarding school. Many feel that they started their sex life far too early, often with men too old. One of them had a direct experience with one of those predators (who was later tortured and murdered, apparently by angry parents). She was 9 when he tried to abuse her. Still, she luckily had a strong sense of healthy boundaries at her young age and found the strength necessary to stand her ground and keep him at arm’s length.

But not all children and young teenagers had that strength, and not all were that lucky. As people started to speak up, this friend just found out that this man who tried to abuse her when she was 9 had violently raped (and deflowered) another 13-year-old girl in Pune 1.

Another woman who was raped by the headmaster of an Osho School when she was 11 related publicly on social media recently: “Today, many of us face issues of anxiety, addiction, mental illnesses, behavioural disorders, shut down, isolation, we’ve had some who have tried to commit suicide and some who have been institutionalised. We are still facing your actions everyday. And if it wasn’t for the bond we have with each other over the years, many of us might not be here.”

I have a connection with Osho, which I will not discuss here. All I can say is that my identity as an Osho sannyasin has been shaken to the roots, to the point where I don’t know my name anymore. There are people and groups I have associated with for years, primarily out of habit and need to belong, and with whom I do NOT want to be associated any longer. I am facing my loss, my disillusion, another night of the soul. I welcome these pains and sorrows with an open heart. I have gone through a few dark nights in the past, and I always came out the other side more alive and more awake.

I hope that this exposing goes all the way, and I urge everyone to support the courageous steps taken by the victims.

This unfolding can have different outcomes. I am not Madame Soleil, but if the cover-up continues or if Osho was involved, it could well be the ultimate downfall of Osho’s legacy.

I hope that this rabbit hole will be followed until its very bottom. Until every child abuser in this community has been exposed and made accountable. Until every enabler has been made answerable. Until the King himself stands naked.

Then, and only then, may Osho have achieved in just a few decades what the Christian church hasn’t started to tackle in 2000 years.

4 thoughts on “When the shadows come back to light, by Philippe Nirav”

  1. Beloved Nirav,
    a lot of what you write resonates strongly with me … maybe “all” as far as that is possible. I’ve been asking myself the same questions “why am I getting involved” … again and again, expressing in words didn’t happen, but dropping into a deeper silence – not a “hushing looking away” pseudo silence, just a deepening before expressing.

    Now today I read your article and here I write. I don’t even know whether this is “private or public” but it doesn’t make a difference to the writing which is as honest as I can be.
    When the first shock waves rose, I spent a while in silent observation, feeling deeply shattered since I know several of the perpetrators personally. Not as a lover or an abuse victim, but as friends, fellow travellers, working together … etc.
    I was on the Ranch as a visitor to the last festival, and in Poona 2 the whole time (almost) until 2000.
    In my past of baby, small child, teenager and adult, abuse of all kinds happened to happen through family members, normal society members, church members and also later through people on the path travelling next to me.

    Personally I am not “especially” moved by the fact that the revealed abuses all happened in Sanyassin Communes. We are fallible people like everyone else. It is a big illusion to believe that the shadows of someones psyche would all lift or become more transparent just because they meditate or even perform great group leading, leave alone because they are “around a master of masters.”
    Maybe we’re ready to deal with it in dignified ways as fellow travellers… maybe not. Can we? And what does that mean? I don’t know that for others. I can only share for myself.
    My (more recent) experience in working on myself and studying the new Trauma Therapy taught clearly that “talking about it” (leave alone in social media) is mainly re-traumatising. One needs to learn to live consciously with the patterns that evolved from the imprints and work with that. I do find it very difficult, I reckon it is impossible to really clear and clean up such situations after many decades. Trauma influences the memory, so does the following healing process if there is one. Again from my experience I can tell how different the stories appeared, the further I moved on on the path … to a place of peace in being exactly WHO I am and HOW I am as it IS, as it WAS …

    What helped me and helps in walking the path together in our master’s heritage, is to face the truth fully and keep breathing while staying O P E N … in the known facts and in the not knowing, both .
    Open is simple, not easy, and in a way all inclusive. It includes to be available to ALL of what mankind can possibly be. In that it’s coming close to the truth of oneness … opening our mind and heart to a depth which gives Love the space to become compassion.


    O.k. Yes, now it has gone “spiritual” … Hooponopono – Love as compassion with (so called) others and oneself. 
Here is how this expresses through me. My tears are rolling with the victims and the perpetrators alike. My breath connects me with both in union of being human.

    The apologies I have heard or read touch my heart as much as the fury and despair behind the sharing of the victims. In surviving abuse (and also not sharing about it for most of the time) I dealt therapeutically with trauma responses and became acutely aware of a trauma vortex, repeating to attract abuse towards me. I got very angry that meditation and growing awareness would not protect me from “attracting” abusive behaviour towards myself.
    While riding the waves of anger about “life being unfair,” peace found me again and again in deepening in silence, beyond the story, without denying any parts of it.

    On the way I was graced with the blessings of embodied forgiveness. By that I mean a forgiveness which vibrates alive in one’s cells. Whether it’s given or received, that is what makes it work. Mainly forgiveness is liberating for the forgiver. It doesn’t mean that I would hang out with or “like” former perpetrators. 

    Still I find that these matters cannot be “fully resolved”. One can learn to live with it beyond the story. Living with the indigestible, while not leaking precious life energy to either judgement or denial, to either glorifying or minimising. Being ALL at heart.
    Those are beautiful and simple words – it’s a big deal when facing the indigestible. And yet – including also the derailments and the downside of mankind in who I am is what is ultimately liberating for me.



    Here’s what inspired me in the past. It was my “Entry to Osho”, the first Satori, reading this letter from Osho in the book “a Cup of Tea” #54, at the very beginning of my path … I’m still walking that path.

    LOVE
    I am one with all things –
    in beauty,
    in ugliness,
    for whatsoever is –
    there I am.
    Not only in virtue
    but in sin too I am a partner,
    and not only heaven
    but hell too is mine.
    Buddha, Jesus, LaoTzu –
    it is easy to be their heir,
    but Genghis, tamer and hitler?
    They are also within me!
    No, not half – I am the whole of mankind!
    Whatsoeveris man’s is mine –
    flowers and thorns,
    darkness as well as light,
    and I nectar is mine, whose is poison?
    Nectar asn poison – both are mine.
    Whoever experiences this
    I call religious,
    for only the anguish of such experience
    can revolutionise life on earth

    OSHO, A Cup of Tea #54

    Namaste
    Much Love

    Adima

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  2. Hope this can be published.
    Dear Nirav,I bow to you & the sincerity of your sharing.It takes a true Rebel to stand up to the Institution of Osho’s Legacy.
    Neither I was in P1,nor the ranch,came in -89 to P2 1th time.
    Was mezmerized by the green lights & white flowing robes,the arrival at the gate,somebody made me enter at once just in time for WR that very evening…Had no idea of nothing,…the Swami making me enter & get a white robe from a locker room in some part of the then Ashram…Osho was not coming out,he had been ill for some time…Security checks were less…The Swami was Proper Sagar…I probably looked at least 5-10 yrs younger than I was,as people thought generally then…The rest could be a story to itself.
    Anyways,that all of this is laid open now,is helping me to heal out for good,I hope!! All & any,spiritual illusion kept around any of all the Gurus & of Osho.
    Just as he said,Just an Ordinary man.
    I want to add;Ordinary Indian Patriarchical conditioning,even this Enlightenment call,does not dissolve the roots.
    So thankful to wake up calls coming in times when I feel the most need. Shukriya Nirav or JM perhaps…My name Ghoshana,I will keep it is my guiding light.To declare or announce.
    Satyam Shivam Sunderam 🙏💖🙏

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  3. Hi Nirav,
    As you are not in the Rajneeshpuram resident’s FB group Isn’t know how up to date you are. As well as women who were children in Pune 1 and on the Ranch still coming out with their stories of sexual abuse, other stories have emerged from older women who were abused by by the master himself both in Pune 1 and on the Ranch..It paints a picture of abuse of sexualty and power from the top down.

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    1. Hi Asanga,
      I am indeed not in RRfbgroup but I am up to date anyway. I did keep a place in my article for the possibility of Osho to be involved. And Yes I concluded my piece with the most optimistic outcome I could imagine.

      Like

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