Bhagwan’s thoughts and the way of life he propagated had a big impact on me. I realized he had a vision. He wanted to unite people irrespective of culture, race and religion. He envisioned a community that would make reflection and self-awareness its goals; that would, through meditation, create a free world, a world that brimmed with positivity. Thousands of people from all over the world participated in this experiment.
This is what Rajneeshpuram was all about. A wonderful experiment for harmonious living based on love and togetherness that attracted people from different countries. No one knew where it would lead us. I supported him unconditionally in the realization of his vision.
Bhagwan had once said: ‘Seela came to me like a blank sheet of paper. Nothing was written on her. She was open and empty, and without any prejudices. Immediately she understood me. She completely opened up for me. Seela was perfect. She could repeat what I said to her.’ (The Last Testament, Vol.1, 30.07.1985).
I had never before experienced the depth of love I felt being with him. It was beyond my imagination. Even after all these years, I have no words to describe how it changed me as a person. It made me realize my potential. It gave me the confidence that I could deal with all emergencies and situations. It made me fearless. I was ready to live life on its terms.
I had only one desire: I wanted to be close to Bhagwan. I visited him as often as I could without being a nuisance. Just to look into his eyes or put my head at his feet or to be near him was heaven for me. Fourteen years flew by. It was like being on an island; realities outside were completely alien to us. I performed every task Bhagwan gave me. His trust made me grow beyond my limits. I thought, ‘If this wonderful man gives me a task, it’s because he knows my potential.’
The last few months with him, however, I was at the mercy of a great inner struggle. There were certain activities in Bhagwan’s house I was uncomfortable with. Going against his own teachings, Bhagwan consumed drugs. Even though he always said, ‘I am against drugs because if they become addictive they will be the most destructive for your journey towards the self. Then you become enchanted into hallucinations.’ (The Last Testament, Vol. 4, Discourse #6).
There was also his immense craving for luxury goods, which I could no longer reconcile with my values. I was not just his ‘beloved Seela’ and his secretary. I was also responsible for the community. I was torn within. I loved him so much that I was ready to forget everything—my values, the responsibility and the people in the community. It would have been easy to shut my eyes and continue as before.
Faced with this distress, I remembered the advice of my parents. ‘Every person must follow the inner truth. No one needs to be afraid of their feelings.’ Their teaching became my guiding light. I knew that I could not compromise with the values they had ingrained in me. I did not want to sell my soul in the name of love. I could not be with my beloved Bhagwan anymore. I could not breathe near him anymore. It was time for me to leave Bhagwan. I trusted my instincts and followed my heart. I believed that everything would turn out to be fine. I returned all his expensive gifts, which had been an expression of his love, with a goodbye letter.
My parting caused a wave of disappointment and shock. Something no one expected had happened: Bhagwan and Sheela, who had been one heart and one soul, who had stuck together like the sun and the moon, had finally separated. Bhagwan was deeply disappointed in me. My leaving the commune hit him at the core. At the same time, he had to fortify his position in order to retain the trust of his people as many others were contemplating leaving too. Negative stories were spread about me and I was vilified.
This excerpt from Ma Anand Sheela’s By My Own Rules: My Story in My Own Words has been published with permission of Penguin Random House India.