This is an edited version of an article I wrote in response to a long interview with former sannyasin Jane Stork in The Age Magazine in 2009. The Age ignored it and it appeared on the SannyasWiki website. In light of recent renewed public interest in Osho I thought it could do with another airing.
In your article entitled Escaping the Bhagwan, April 11, 2009, Jane Stork freely admits to having engaged in a conspiracy to murder Oregon District Attorney Charles Turner and to attacking Osho’s Doctor with an adrenalin-loaded syringe. Surely this begs the question “Who had the lucky escape?” — The residents of Rajneeshpuram danced in the street on the departure of Silverman and her group, of which Jane Stork was a member. So I imagine they had no doubts about the answer to that.
For clarity let me mention at this stage that his disciples stopped using the honorific “Bhagwan” many years ago and he has since been known simply as Osho. It has never been grammatically correct to call him “the” Bhagwan – a point the Australian Press has ignoried for years.
But let’s get back to Ms Stork and her escape. Let’s go along with the conceit that it was Stork who had the lucky escape — considering all this happened 33 years ago it is a moot point whether she escaped at all. I was involved, as were many of my friends, in the same commune as Jane Stork and the events she has obsessed about for so long were for most of us simply grist for the mill – we saw what had resulted from our own unconsciousness and irresponsibility, learned from it, and moved on.
Of course moving on might have been harder for me too had I been naïve enough to get sucked into Sheela’s nefarious activities. The scale of the audience would have been much larger for a start and the temptation to save face by blaming someone else would have been greater. Osho was adept at facilitating the airing of our dirty linen in public and there are on record many instances of his closest disciples having their “trips blown” in public discourse. Most considered it a privilege. Some missed. But, after all, that is why we were all there.
Stork says in the article “To come to terms with that much self-delusion is really difficult, it’s a long, slow, painful process.” I suggest that if she’d had the integrity to take responsibility for her actions at the time she wouldn’t have had to spend so many years constructing a justification for them. She could have moved on long ago. Her lack of a sense of responsibility is glaring in light of the emphasis Osho places on self-responsibility. Wasn’t she listening? Or maybe the question should be: Who was she listening to?
But before we decide whether Stork is any kind of credible witness, let’s ask ourselves: What kind of woman is she? That is, apart from being a self-confessed attempted murderer. Does she deserve the full-colour treatment afforded her by The Age? In these difficult times does she have a message of hope to share with her fellow human beings? Does her extraordinary intellect warrant her being interviewed widely on radio and television including Channel 7’s Sunrise breakfast show, the ABC and A Current Affair?A Current Affair? Really? Sounds like more of the same old, same old, affair to me. Is this woman unable to get a job or something that she needs to squeeze this dry old lemon yet again?
“Stork was introduced to the Bhagwan’s teachings through a psychologist she was seeing because of personal and marital problems. “I didn’t even notice that (the psychologist) was wearing a long orange robe and had a string of beads around his neck.”
Is Jane Stork blind or is she really being disingenuous when she says she didn’t notice that a psychologist she consulted in the Public Health Department was wearing a long orange robe and a string of beads around his neck?”
I consulted the same psychologist around the same time, knowing about the beads in advance, so I can vouch for the fact that his orange robe was orange in the orangest possible sense of the word. He was also sporting far more than the normal complement of hair, both facial and cranial, for public servants of the time. No way could this extraordinary get-up be simply overlooked – that was part of the point for heaven’s sake. So why would Stork make this claim? Is she trying to make out that the psychologist in question was sneakily infiltrating the public health system in search of naïve housewives for his sex cult?
Giving Stork the benefit of the doubt, I am prepared to accept her claim of blindness and naivety, it being my own direct experience that Sheela had no time for intelligent, on-the-ball-people. However, Stork’s stance as an expert on all things connected to the commune strikes a discordant note when coupled with such blindness. Either she’s as dumb as she makes out or she’s not. She can’t have it both ways.
I notice that the personal and marital problems that Stork was experiencing in WA before going to Poona neatly morph into deliberate moves to fragment families and drive a wedge between husbands and wives, parents and children. Suddenly it’s someone else’s fault and Jane is the victim.
Another interesting thing is that Stork seems to think everyone else was as blinkered as she was. She suggests that the Rolls Royces were transported to the commune in covered transports ( why not at that price?), because no one was supposed to know about them or notice their existence? I saw twenty-five of them in a row one day – they were hard to miss and very impressive. Osho also talked about them frequently in discourse and I remember wondering at the time whether he might not even be exaggerating their number, especially when I met the guy whose job it was to re-spray them on a regular basis. I was wrong as it turns out, there was over ninety.
It is a matter of public record that Osho didn’t actually own the Rolls Royces. They were the property of the Rajneesh Modern Car Trust and were the only asset to have appreciated in value when the ranch folded. Thousands of acres of land reclaimed from degradation were not considered to be worth much in Oregon at the time.
“Things began to unravel in 1985 when Kylie was sexually abused on the commune. At the time Stork believed the allegations were lies perpetrated by the enemies of the Bhagwan. ‘I just dismissed it as these people out there, they’re just against us and trying to mess us up’ she says.”
Stork’s fourteen year-old daughter’s affair with an older man was public knowledge in Rajneeshpuram. The couple made no effort to conceal it and it was generally accepted as unremarkable. For Stork to say she didn’t know what was going on beggars belief. My guess is that she thought nothing of it until it came time to find material for her reconstruction of a new “Jane Stork innocent victim”. Jane has moved back into a culture that has very strong opinions about 14 year-olds and their sex lives so now a love affair becomes sexual abuse. Once again Jane is thinking what she’s told to think.
“Stork says it is wrong to describe her as the victim of brainwashing by a purely evil cult. ‘I think I brainwashed myself,’ she says.”
Aha! A glimmer of light has pierced the fog but then Stork immediately does a back-flip blaming Osho in an egregious misreading of his message: “The Bhagwan had one line: the good disciple follows what the master says, the good disciple doesn’t think.” Makes me wonder if we are talking about the same man. How did she manage to overlook the following?
How could he (Hitler) rule so many intelligent people so easily, with such foolish ideas? These people were trained to believe; these people were trained not to be individuals. These people were trained always to remain in discipline. These people were trained that obedience is the greatest virtue. It is not! Sometimes it is disobedience which is the greatest virtue. Sometimes, of course, it is obedience. But the choice has to be yours: you have consciously to choose whether to obey or not to obey. That means you have consciously to remain the master in every situation, whether you obey or you disobey. Osho: A Sudden Clash of Thunder (1977)
Did she not listen? These ideas are not one-offs; they are the major part of what Osho was on about. And I know because I did listen.
The article in the Age article describes Stalk’s real guru, the power crazed Sheela Silverman as “the Bhagwan’s puppet and scapegoat, and ultimately his fall-woman.”
Fall-woman for what? Scapegoat for what? – It was not Osho who conspired to murder the District Attorney, or had salmonella sprinkled over salad bars in a nearby town in order to influence local election results. It was not Osho who attempted to murder his own doctor or his care-giver. It was not Osho who engaged in wholesale tapping of commune residents’ phones.
This pretty scary puppet, Sheela, can be seen on YouTube, flipping back and forth between professing devotion to Osho and painting him as some sort of brain-washing monster in her ongoing, obsessive, attempt at self-justification.
In the end I am left with a feeling of sadness and something of pity for these women, especially when I read the following remark of Stork’s:
“But I’m sure he didn’t give a stuff about doing good and helping people,” she says. “He didn’t care at all for his people. They were just a nuisance, they were part of the show.”
It makes me sad that somehow Jane Stork managed to miss the experience I shared with so many friends. Either she was so blind she did not see and feel it in the first place or her own need to save face forces her to deny the experience now.
My own experience of Osho transformed my life and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.