Interviewing The Bhagwan

A fundamental, yeah even paradigmatic, example of conversational dysfunctionality. It occurred back in the 70's or 80's. The Bhagwan Shree Raghneesh was in the Pacific Northwest along with a large number of his followers. And, for many reasons, not all of them comprehensible, the Bhagwan began to attract national attention. Until, finally, ABCNews decided: Barbara Walters must interview the Bhagwan.

There was one snippet of dialog that sticks with me still. It went something like this:

At which point, the camera cut to a shot of Barbara, in the studio, looking triumphant because, after all, she had just exposed the Bhagwan as an illogical poseur.

Of course, I think the interview is priceless not because Barbara triumphed (she didn't), but because it revealed a fundamental schism in the way two people thought about the same things.

-- WilliamGrosso


But Rajneesh was a poseur.

So? How is that relevant, or otherwise, to what he was trying to do?

If this had been OralRoberts? you wouldn't have asked that question. Why do people give greater credence to charlatans of non-Christian background?

You first.

(Presuming that challenge has sat unanswered for a while, I'll have a stab...) Well, it means he was trying to do something different (to a non-charlatan saying the same things), doesn't it? Specifically, get a 38th Rolls Royce. He engineered a Koan-esque situation not for didactic purposes but for his own amusement/financial gain. Thus the only thing the situation highlights is that both sides were playing different games (and thus they both won). The interviewer got to look dominant, the charlatan got air-time. Of course, whether the interviewer actually won depends on whether her employer liked their interviewers foolish, which in turn depends on their viewers' whims in that direction. It sounds like the charlatan had a wider appreciation of the situation, certainly. -- AnAspirant

Nope, I don't think so. You are considering the wrong value-system. He could just as well have set fire to the money/things. But that would have been to reinforce materialism by negation.

That's a joke, right?


This reminds me of a short interview presented in the appendices of TheIlluminatusTrilogy. It goes something like:

I guess the moral of both stories is "Arguing with hippies is a waste of time."

Or Zen masters.
The student Doko came to a Zen master, and said: "I am seeking the truth. In what state of mind should I train myself, so as to find it?"
Said the master, "There is no mind, so you cannot put it in any state. There is no truth, so you cannot train yourself for it."
"If there is no mind to train, and no truth to find, why do you have these monks gather before you every day to study Zen and train themselves for this study?"
"But I haven't an inch of room here," said the master, "so how could the monks gather? I have no tongue, so how could I call them together or teach them?"
"Oh, how can you lie like this?" asked Doko.
"But if I have no tongue to talk to others, how can I lie to you?" asked the master.
Then Doko said sadly, "I cannot follow you. I cannot understand you."
"I cannot understand myself," said the master.
- Mumon, as quoted in GoedelEscherBach.

Poor Mumon.

See Also: MesopotamianPiety


The Bhagwan was a tantrik holy man in the Indian style, which is a "pattern" that has a long and stable tradition there. The pattern is this: provide certain safeguards (ashram grounds, mental expectations) in which people can pursue all their desires for sensual pleasure until they get sick of them, after which they will be "ready" to move on to "higher things", or at least have a different relationship to sensual pleasure. There are various traditional subpatterns for encouraging persons moving through this process to do so more or less quickly and painlessly; explaining that all things are part of God and nothing is Not-Holy is one of them. Anyway, the significance of the Bhagwan's interesting sojourn in the USA is that this traditional pattern doesn't work exactly the same way in the USA as it does in India, not least because the amount and variety of sensual pleasures *easily* available in the USA is so much greater that the aspirant might drop dead before running out. And, despite the differing context, the interview that gave rise to the "pattern" on this page revealed the Bhagwan just phoning in the same old routine. Does that mean that the Bhagwan had not personally attained any advanced personal insight? It does not. Does that mean that the Bhagwan's understanding of the traditional pattern was limited, much more limited than the aspirants who voluntarily subject themselves to the pattern process are caused to believe? It does. Does that mean that the Bhagwan's pattern had no value? It does not.

A better use of the pattern name "Interviewing the Bhagwan" would be, then, "the inability of experts in one system, who do not recognize or understand the patterns of another system, to conclude that the other system must be either extremely advanced (i.e. ascribing pseudomagical powers to alleged holy men) or extremely meaningless (i.e. insisting that Bhagwans are all frauds) when in fact the other system is more probably a stable, but mediocre example of its genre."

That was a good explanation.

See Also: TheSecretOfPower


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