Ma Prem Sangeet: Open letter to the OIF management and the Inner Circle (source document)

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Ma Prem Sangeet writes, as of June 20, 2000:

I have recently read the Pune Management Team’s letter to the Indian centers, the full-page ad placed in the Indian press, Vatayana’s cover letter sending that ad out to all the centers, and some of the details about the domain name complaint filed against an Osho center in Delhi. I am accepting Vatayana’s invitation to respond.
I want to start by saying that I was deeply concerned by the attack on Neelam, which I can only describe as vicious. I was particularly concerned about the use of an alleged quote from Osho to try and prove that Neelam is in some way wrong and at fault in the current situation. The attack on Neelam appeared to argue that Osho had rejected Neelam, so all "good" sannyasins should reject her too.
The participation of Anando and Shunyo in this reminded me of the time that Osho told both of them to move out of Lao Tzu, because of their bad attitudes. He only relented at the last minute, after they had packed all their things, because Amrito intervened for them. Does this mean that we should all reject Anando and Shunyo? Of course not. It means that they, like the rest of us, have plenty of issues and that Osho has worked with them with tremendous love and compassion, as a Master of much-loved disciples.
Whatever Osho may have said about Neelam, He also said as a Master working with a much-loved disciple. I have heard Osho say that after He has left the body, we should always say, "I heard Him say," before repeating something we believe Osho said. That’s because we hear everything through our minds/egos/personalities. The preface, "I heard Him say," acknowledges that we did not and cannot actually hear what He says. Whoever "heard" Osho say something about Neelam needs to acknowledge this limitation. The rejection, anger, judgment, and resentment that came across in the Management Team message, did not come from Osho. It came from the minds of those who claim to have "heard" Him speak about Neelam.
I suggest that we should immediately distrust any statement about what "Osho said," that is not prefaced by the statement, "I heard Him say." Anyone who refuses to use this phrase is demonstrating her or his own lack of understanding of the limitations of the mind and ego.
Osho loves all His disciples, and He loves them equally. Why? Because, whatever absurd ideas we may have about separateness, I have heard Him say that there is ultimately no such thing as separate egos and personalities. There is only Being, and Being is one. I once heard Him say that, "You have no idea who is close to me." And that is true. Squabbling about who Osho liked best is sheer stupidity and a waste of time. If we want to "do" Osho’s work, we have to live it, and this is not the way.
When Osho left His body, Neelam was His secretary for India and a member of the Inner Circle. She was not an "ex-secretary." Osho’s actions in leaving Neelam in her positions speak for themselves. I am not interested in Anando, Shunyo, Amrito or anyone else’s interpretation of what Osho "really meant." There is no way they would know. We all need to show respect for our Master in this.
Putting mudslinging aside, let’s move on to the real issues. One of the reasons I am writing this letter is to emphasize that recent events are not an Indian v. non-Indian conflict or a case of troublesome Indian sannyasins. The issues being raised are about Osho’s work and are relevant to all sannyasins and lovers of Osho around the world.
I felt that the discussions of issues in the Management Teams’ recent letter and ad were a combination of "divide and conquer" and misdirection, so I want to clarify some points. I’ll address several issues, one by one.
Issue 1: Trademarks of Osho’s Name, Meditations, Artwork, etc.
The Management Team documents seem to argue two things about trademarks: a) they are being filed for the purpose of protecting Osho’s work, and b) trademarks have been filed before, so Osho must have wanted them.
Protecting Osho’s Work
To begin with, it is important to understand that trademarks do not protect content. Trademarks will not prevent someone from changing a meditation. Trademarks are just what they sound like: marks used in trade. A mark is something that identifies goods and services in the marketplace. Trademarks are used to get a monopoly on a marketing symbol. One business entity claims that it has the exclusive right to use a mark to sell goods. There is no other reason for filing a trademark.
So, let’s be frank. The only reason for OIF to file for trademarks is to claim a monopoly on Osho, certain logos, His signature, and His meditations as marketing symbols. This action does not protect Osho’s work from changes.
The conclusion that the trademarks are about creating a monopoly is borne out by the recent domain name complaint filed against an Osho center in Delhi. In that complaint, OIF claimed that the center could not use the domain name OSHOWORLD.COM because "Osho" belongs to OIF. The complaint said that the Delhi center had no legitimate interest in using the name "Osho," and that it was acting in bad faith to file for the domain name OSHOWORLD, even though the center has had a galleria called Osho World since 1996. OIF knew about the center and what its galleria is called, because the opening, which was attended by Anando, was featured in the Asian edition of the Osho Times.
The domain name complaint was filed by OIF only after Keerti, who has been spending some time at that center, spoke out in the Indian press. What does this kind of behavior by OIF mean? Who will be next? Will OIF attempt to shut down every Osho center or business that disagrees with OIF in any way or refused to allow OIF to control it?
Previous Trademarks
As for the argument that Osho approved trademarks that were filed in the past, we have no way of knowing that. We know that some trademarks were filed. We don’t know if He approved them or what He thought trademarks were. One thing we DO know is that trademarks were never used to prevent Osho centers from doing His work while Osho was in the body.
The first trademark for "Rajneesh" was filed with the U.S. trademark office in 1979, for printed material, artwork, and photos only. The next trademark was for the design of the two flying birds, filed in 1982 for marketing films and audio and video cassettes. In 1984, a trademark for "Bhagwan" was filed, but only for the purposes of marketing a magazine by that name that had been started on the Ranch. Then, a trademark was filed for the bird design again—this time with one black bird—to be used for marketing therapy courses. Next, the Meditation University filed for "Rajneesh," but only for a certain style of print that was to be used to market university courses and programs. Nowhere was there an attempt to trademark Osho himself or all His work.
The Management Team’s ad says, "Osho’s meditations, photos, signatures and various logos were copyright and trademark protected as early as the 1970s and 1980s in India, Germany, USA, and other countries." However, I have carefully searched the U.S. Trademark database, and there were no filings for trademarks on Osho’s meditations (or signatures) in the 1970s or 1980s. Why is the Management Team giving out this inaccurate information?
Furthermore, there were no filings for trademarks during the Pune II period, before or after He started using the name Osho. The first trademark filed by OIF was in 1991. I am certainly not convinced that this was done at Osho’s direction.
Current Trademark Status
In fact, Osho’s meditations are not actually trademarked now. OIF has only applied for trademarks, they have not been approved. The application for a trademark on "Osho Active Meditations" is about to be published for opposition, which means that the public can submit objections. The applications for Nataraj, Nadabrahma, Dynamic, and Gourishankar meditations have not even reached that stage yet. The application for a trademark on Kundalini meditation has been abandoned by OIF. (Anyone interested can check this information at:
The trademark for "Osho" for the purposes of marketing educational services, conducting session, etc., has also not yet been published for opposition. The trademarks for "Osho" to market books and printed material, audio and video tapes, and a computer network have been registered, but can still be challenged.
Issue 2: Copyright for Osho’s Books, Tapes, Videos, and Photographs
OIF Switzerland also claims ownership of all the copyrights in Osho’s work. The Management Team material said in its letter to Indian centers:
"As the owner of copyrights to his own work, Osho assigned them to a foundation in the US while resident there, and later transferred them to a Swiss-based trust and directed that they remain there."
This was amended in the Management Team ad to read:
"As the owner of the copyrights to his own work, Osho assigned them to a foundation in the USA, and later asked that they be transferred to a Swiss-based foundation. He directed that they remain there."
Neither version is accurate. In actuality, Osho assigned His copyrights to Rajneesh Foundation in India, not to an American foundation, and the assignment was filed in India and the US. The details of that assignment have not yet been revealed. The foundation in America, Rajneesh Foundation International, only claimed copyright on the basis of a very questionable alleged assignment of rights from Rajneesh Foundation to Rajneesh Foundation International that was arranged by Ma Anand Sheela, who controlled both foundations. The rights of RFI were allegedly transferred to a European foundation in the late 1980s, but it is unclear whether RFI had any rights to transfer. There are many questions still to be answered with regard to the copyright issue.
Why is the Management Team putting out inaccurate information? Why hasn’t the documentation the Management Team refers to been produced?
Who Is Controlling the Copyrights?
OIF Switzerland is claiming full legal control of Osho’s copyrights, as well as everything else related to Osho, including His name. OIF does not have a staffed office anywhere, but operates through its affiliates or subsidiaries, Masterzone, Ltd. and Osho International in London, and Osho International and Osho Foundation America in New York.
On the boards of OIF and the other corporations, five names occur again and again. They are: Jayesh (Michael O’Byrne aka Michael Byrne), Amrito (John Andrews fka George Meredith), Pramod (Klause Steeg), Yogendra (D’Arcy O’Byrne), and Sahajanand (Peter Kreutzfeld). A few others, like Ramarshi (Bill Aaronson) and Mukesh (Mukesh Sarda) also occur. These are the people—all men—who claim to have taken sole, exclusive, and complete control of all of Osho’s work, of His name, and of His vision.
This is a group that is effectively controlled by and, to some extent, financially supported by Jayesh. There are no checks and no balances in place to guarantee a fair and balanced point of view or an appropriate handling of Osho’s work. Anyone of this group who disagrees with Jayesh can simply be fired. Yogendra is Jayesh’s brother, Amrito is one of his closest associates, and Pramod and Sahajanand are two of Jayesh’s long-time personal assistants, who owe their positions entirely to Jayesh.
Protecting Osho’s Work
The claim made by OIF and by the Management Team is, again, that the purpose of copyrights is to protect Osho’s work. However, the greatest threat to the integrity of Osho’s work is not from some amorphous "them" outside. The greatest threat comes from, perhaps well-meaning, sannyasins who believe they know what Osho’s teaching is and will edit and interpret it for others. This can be done by limiting access to some of the work, changing Osho’s words, and creating an official "Vision." It is because of this threat that a broad-based control of Osho’s copyright is so important.
One of people who has demonstrated a willingness to change Osho’s words is Amrito. Shortly after Osho left His body, and after He had said that Anando would be His medium, Amrito suggested to Anando (in front of me) that she give some messages that Amrito had prepared and say they were channeled from Osho. Anando refused to do it, but Amrito remained insistent that it was a good thing to do.
Since then, others have reported to me instances where Amrito has changed Osho’s words. I have one example of a "Zen Stick" which appeared on that takes several paragraphs of From Death to Deathlessness, Chapter 26, completely out of context and does not indicate deletions. This pseudo quote was used to criticize the press for attacking Bill Clinton’s sexual activity in the Oval office.
One example may not be too important, but the willingness to change and use Osho for one’s own purposes and to support one’s own views is important. I suggest that we review videos, audios, recently published books, and past issues of magazines to look for further deletions, additions, and changes in Osho’s work. Several people have reported various deletions from The Book of Wisdom recently published by Element, but I have not yet seen it myself.
We need to protect Osho’s work by providing a broad-based group to caretake, not control, it. Osho created a model group process for taking care of His work in which every participant would be respected and decisions would be made by consensus. He placed a wide variety of people in the original group; people with various points of view and perspectives. In contrast, the current Inner Circle seems to have been selected on the basis of loyalty to a small faction of the original group, and the Inner Circle has allowed a small group of men to claim full control of all aspect of Osho’s work. This, I believe, constitutes the greatest danger to Osho’s work.
Issue 3: "The Work," "The People"
In discussions about trademarks, copyrights, transparency, and accountability, the representatives of OIF, the Inner Circle, and the Management Team have argued that sannyasins must respect "the people" Osho left to do "the work." This raises some interesting questions: What is the work and who are the people who were left to do it?
There are many aspects of Osho’s work. One important aspect is the Commune, the actual people Osho worked with throughout His life. To paraphrase the song "We Are the World," for Osho, we ARE the work. Responsibility for this aspect of Osho’s work has clearly been left to each individual member of the Commune, just as the work of a wide variety of centers and other sannyas entities has been left to many people around the world. Osho did not cancel all centers or take back authority He had given during His time in the body when He set up the Inner Circle to deal with certain administrative issues.
Anando in her statement in the Management Team ad says, " There is nothing special about the Inner Circle; it is simply a practical body, designed to overview practical aspects of Osho’s work. It is not ‘religious’ in any sense, nor are its members special in any way." In spite of this, the Management Team, and those who control OIF seem to be assuming that ALL of Osho’s work has been left to them. They demand that they be "respected" for the work they’re doing, but are unwilling to respect others in doing their share of Osho’s work.
As a matter of fact, OIF has asserted an exclusive right to Osho, and has made it clear that it will take legal action against sannyasins who disagree with OIF’s management. OIF has also claimed control of all centers. In an affidavit in the domain name case, Yogendra (D’Arcy O’Bryne) said: "[M]editation centers are subject to the control of OIF." It has been reported that OIF has recently sent agreements to some centers asking them to agree to OIF’s control. In doing this, OIF is knowingly confusing Osho the Master with OSHO the mark. The Osho centers are named after a Master, a spiritual teacher, they are not named after a marketing tool. (I believe that centers are under no legal obligation to sign such an agreement and suggest that they get legal advice before doing so.)
Of the seven men mentioned above who have positions on OIF and related boards, only two of them were assigned a position by Osho. These are not "the people" that Osho left to deal with the administrative aspects of His work. The vast majority of those assigned positions are no longer involved, for one reason or another. Further, the people managing OIF and its affiliates have overstepped the bounds of their assignment and have attempted to seize control of all aspect of Osho’s work.
I feel that what we must respect is not a particular group of people, but Osho’s intentions as He expressed them to us. That means that we must not allow any one person to take control of Osho’s work by controlling the boards claiming legal control of the work. We must not allow anyone to make himself into a de facto successor.
In the Management Team ad it says, "Osho made it clear he has no successor, and on the contrary proposed that all his people be ordinary, without any spiritual hierarchy." Exactly! That is the wish we need to respect.
Issue 4: The Use of Fear
The recent Management Team material and the domain name complaint against the Delhi center illustrate a disturbing use of fear to achieve "control" in this situation. The fear being created is twofold. People are afraid that someone is harming Osho and attacking His people or the commune in Pune. They are also afraid that if they speak out they will be personally attacked, demonized, banned, or sued.
Osho spoke about the use of this kind of control after Sheela’s abuse of power on the Ranch:
"People have been asking me how it happened that five thousand people, almost all university graduates, having the best qualifications from the best universities of the world, could not see for four years.
"The reason is, Sheela was not only doing something ugly and fascist, she was also creating the commune. She was also making the desert into an oasis. She was making the commune comfortable in every way. Every coin has two sides.
"So you looked at the light side. And you were surrounded—which Sheela and her group created—with hostility in Oregon. That is a simple political strategy.
"Adolf Hitler, in his autobiography, My Struggle [Mein Kampf], says that if you want a nation to be strong, create enemies all around it; otherwise, people relax. Keep them continuously in paranoia, fearing that there is danger all around.
"And Sheela created that. She created the hostility of the Oregon government. She created the hostility of Americans in general. That made you come close to each other, become strong: ‘Be ready so that nobody can harm you.’
"So, if you don’t take the responsibility, something like that is bound to happen again. History certainly repeats, because man does not learn."
From Bondage to Freedom #4
Beautiful things have been done in the pursuit of Osho’s work since Osho left the body. The Pune commune has been expanded and beautiful facilities provided. Publishing contracts have placed some of Osho’s words in new parts of the market. There is no reason why this work should not continue and expand. However, as Osho has said, there are two sides to every coin.
The beautiful aspects do not change other aspects. Trademarks and the control of Osho’s copyrights are legitimate issues of concern to all sannyasins and lovers of Osho, and the use of fear to attempt to control people who raise those issues is also a legitimate issue of concern. Osho has left us the choice of taking responsibility or allowing the pattern of fear to repeat itself again and again.
Taking Action
I have decided for myself that it is time to take action. I have joined with many other sannyasins and lovers of Osho around the world (not all of whom wish to be public at this time) to gather information about OIF and its affiliates and subsidiaries, and to gather information about the legal issues involved in the control of Osho’s work. This information will be provided to the Commune—sannyasins and lovers of Osho around the world. It will be posted on web sites, released on the sannyas-list, and circulated as email. Even more detailed evidence and legal information will be provided to anyone who is threatened with legal action for doing Osho’s work. The information will be gathered and maintained in several locations around the world, so that it will be safe and available to anyone who needs it.
Members of OIF management, most particularly Jayesh, Yogendra, and Amrito, have told sannyasins that OIF will win legal challenges because they have very expensive lawyers. I am convinced that a network of sannyasins working together and pooling their resources can hire necessary attorneys and gather the evidence needed to defeat any faulty legal claims. I would emphasize that all the legal claims of OIF are plagued with legal problems.
I know that I would not have chosen this forum to resolve these issues, but the management of OIF has chosen to file a legal claim, putting the issue into the legal arena. So be it.
(This is also not what I would like to be doing with my summer. I keep trying to get away from law, and it sneaks up on me just when I think I’m finished with it forever. I know, though, that I owe Osho a debt of gratitude I can never repay. This is just one small way that I can begin to say thank you.)
Many people within the sannyas community have tried to talk about the problems with control of Osho’s work for the past several years. We have talked, and talked, and talked, and talked. And while we were talking, the iron fist of legal control has been closing around the heart of sannyas. Now, I believe, is the time to act.
I am open to resolving the issue of broad-based control for Osho’s work through a loving solution. If that isn’t possible, I am also open to standing up to oppose attempts of a small group of people to monopolize Osho and His work. If that needs to be done in the courts, again, so be it.
I want to emphasize that I am speaking for myself in this letter. I don’t represent any entity or named group. The opinions expressed here are my own and I take full responsibility for them. If people want to attack me or "remember" how Osho criticized me, they are welcome to go ahead. (They might keep in mind, though, that I’m not nearly as nice as Neelam.) I don’t think that Neelam, Keerti, Tathagat, and Vinod should have to take all the abuse for raising these issues. Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone should have to take abuse for raising these issues.
And lest anyone accuse me of being "against" the commune or "against" Osho, let me make something very clear. I have no loyalty to any particular person or any particular group. I have no loyalty to Jayesh, Amrito, the other board members of OIF, the Management Team, or the Inner Circle. My loyalty is to Osho and Osho alone. That means that I support Him, His work, and His people around the world. I will act in the most sincere, and hopefully not too serious, way to support Osho and His work.
For the many sannyasins I have talked to who hesitate to come forward, I am reminded of the story Osho often told about the lion who was raised by a flock of sheep and thought he was a sheep too. Then, one day he looked at his reflection in the pond where he was drinking, saw who he really was, and he felt a great roar burst forth from him.
For any sannyasins who have something to say but are feeling sheepish, I respectfully suggest that this is a wonderful opportunity to take a look at that reflection and see who we really are.
Love and His Blessings
Ma Prem Sangeet, June 20, 2000