Testimonial letter from Herbert Dale Long
This letter is one of a remarkable series of over 2700 letters amassed in 1983 to support Osho's attempt to get permanent resident status in the US at the time of the Oregon ranch. The image is reproduced here with the kind permission of The Oregon Historical Society. Information about their collection of these letters and other supporting material -- the "Jeffrey Noles Rajneesh Collection", named for Osho's immigration lawyer Jeffrey Noles, who compiled them in 1983 and donated them to the OHS -- can be found at this page. The wiki is grateful to the OHS for making access available for these documents. For more information and links to all the letters, see Testimonial letters.
This letter is from Herbert Dale Long. It is "Exhibit A-72" in the Noles collection.
The text version below has been created by optical character recognition (OCR), from the images supplied by OHS. It has not been checked for errors but this process usually results in over 99% correct transcription. Most apparent "errors" are correct transcriptions of typos already in the original. The image on the right in the text box will link to a pdf file of the original letter when the pdf is created. It has 4 pages.
July 13, 1983
To Whom it Concerns:
The attached resume will give you some indication of the background from which I write on behalf of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Having recently taken early retirement as Vice President, Labo International Exchange Foundation, I’m presently engaged as a private researcher/consultant in religious studies and an Adjunct Professor on the faculty of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California.
It was a great suprise when I learned that the UOS. Immigration Service does not regard Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh as a teacher of religion. My knowledge of his work as a teacher goes back to 1972 when I first began reading his bookso Indeed, I used his works in courses I taught while a member of the University of Hawaii Religion Department and a Research Associate at the East West Center in Honolulu«, At that time until today, I regard Bhagwan as a Teacher of teachers.
In 1978, I visited the Rajneesh Ashram in Poona, India. My purpose in going was to acquire first-hand experience of a teacher who even then was acclaimed internationally. I spent a month at the Ashram and had occasion to attend many discourses given by Bhagwan as well as workshops led by leaders, many of whom were highly regarded by fellow professionals in their respective countries. I spoke with inquirers, students and devotees from Europe, Asia and Latin America» Many of those with whom I spoke were professionals like myself -- theologians, psychologists, physicians, engineers, architects, teachers-, and psychiatrists» It became clear to me beyond any shadow of a doubt, that for these and thousands more, Bhagwan was a religious teacher of remarkable stature.
Now it may strike some as strange that a teacher of such repute should one day become silent. To the casual observer equating teaching with spoken or written words, becoming silent must mean giving up the teacher’s role. However, what such casual observers miss is that silence too is a time-honored teaching and learning mode. This is attested to by the traditional Asian mystic, alone in his herimtage and by our own Western monastic tradition. The “Rule of Silence” as religious discipline goes back many centuries and is found in many traditions
Historically, of course, founders of new religious communities have more often than not come under severe criticism because their way seemed somehow different. The usual categories for interpreting their presence, actions and teachings didn’t fit. And not infrequently, persecutions of either a subtle or not so subtle sort followed. Consequently, the cultures in which such religious leaders appeared were themselves impoverished. The teachers and their devotees suffered greatly. Surely we have transcended those days. Or have we?
Our nation, founded by those seeking freedom of religious expression, would be betrayed if permanent residence status were denied to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. To refuse him such status on the grounds of his not being a teacher of religion defies both the historical facts, his present teaching through silence and our own deep tradition of religious experimentation — e.g., by such groups as the New England Transcendentalists, the Mormans, the Amish, the Hutterites, the Church of the Brethern and the Quakers.
I am not at present a Rajneesh disciple. However, I hold Bhagwan and his disciples in highest esteem. They bring a new vision and a caring and compassionate life-style to our country. The Rajneesh community stands in the tradition of religious visionaries who founded this country and who have appeared from time to time to enrich a culture grown tired and turned in upon itself.
In a word, we will impoverish ourselves in ways we cannot now fathom if Bhagwan is not permitted to remain and teach in his chosen way in this country. I urge you to do all in your power to make possible his permanent residence among us.
(Please note: We assume that the above letter is still copyrighted, but we regard its historical interest to constitute a Fair Use exception for publication in this wiki.)