Testimonial letter from Sw Bodhimitra
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 Sw Bodhimitra (Dr Henry Gerhard). It is "Exhibit A-57" 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 links to a pdf file of the original letter, it has 2 pages.
To Whom It May Concern:
I was born in 1909 and had a deep and revolutionary inner experience at the age of 17 on my homestead in northern Alberta, Canada. Ever since then I have been on the search for the Eternal, the Ultimate. The meaning of life was the dominant quest. I entered the Winnipeg Bible Institute, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and graduated in 1934. After that I taught for four years in religious schools. In 1938 I entered Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas. In 1941 I graduated from^Hardin-Simmons University,Abilene, Texas, with an A.B. degree, magna cum laude. After a brief time of pastoral services I entered Southwestern Theological Seminary in Forth Worth, Texas, and graduated with a Master’s degree in Theology, Th M. After two years of resident graduate work toward my doctorate in theology, I again assumed ministerial duties in different churches of different denominations.
In 1952/53 I attended University of Southern California in various subjects, majoring in religion. I received the Doctor of Divinity degree, D. D., from the United Church of Religious Science, Los Angeles, California, and was minister of the Church of Religious Science in Laguna Beach, California, from 1960 to 1980 when I retired.
I held positions of President of the Ministerial Association of Religious Science ministers; member of the Board of Trustees, Los Angeles, United Church of Religious Science; member of the Council of the Department of Churches; member of the Commission on Education; original member of the ad hoc committee of the School of Religion, Los Angeles, etc.
Having been in the field of religion for over fifty years, and constantly seeking the Ultimate, the summum bonum of life, having studied and practiced numerous theological teachings and philosophical concepts, being acquainted with the cross-section of various religious beliefs such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and various metaphysical disciplines, I feel that Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh is the true contemporary embodiment of the essence of all religious and theological beliefs and practices that I have known. He is an exceptional Master in the field of religion and psychology. He is the most insightful Master in the field of human behavior. He can point with uncanny accuracy to the real problems of human beings. His therapy groups as well as his personal public teaching uncover the secret and hidden fears and repressions of humanity. In his public addresses he has given the hidden meanings of many of the masters in Zen, Buddhism, Christianity, Hassidism, Taoism, Hinduism, Vedanta, and many others. Only a true spiritual Master could speak on the sayings of these other great masters because of his being of that same high quality of consciousness. As an old mystical saying has it, "To know a Christ you have to be one."
I personally regard Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh as the exceptional genius of our time in religion, psychology and mysticism. He is no doubt the most effective catalytic agent between all religions and science, between the conceptual and the practical, the intellectual and the existential in all areas of life. To me he is the Einstein of religion, the rarest of souls to visit this planet earth and dwell among mortals.
Bhagwan is not only at home in the rare and high atmosphere of beings of the highest intelligence and consciousness, but he is also the most practical, down-to-earth practitioner of his own teachings. He is literally the embodiment of the Christ teachings which, to me, represent the highest, the noblest and the truest teaching of all.
Theology is intellectuals mental concepts about God, about Reality. Bhagwan*s approach is not intellectual, not conceptual,, but practical and existential. This is to say that theology and philosophy are dealing with the mind, the head, mental projections and intellectual speculations; whereas Bhagwan’s approach is not through the head but from the heart, the feelings. Since theology is dealing with mind, with the head, it does not deal with the heart or the being of the individual. A theologian may be quite erudite, very knowledgeable, but his level of being may be rather low. To change philosophies or theologies is relatively easy because it takes only a change in the mind. But Bhagwan’s approach is centered on the change of man’s being, his level of consciousness; and that process is very difficult and painful. For a theologian to become a truly loving, compassionate and warmhearted being is very difficult and therefore very rare.
As evidence of his practicality, I cite the new development and building of the new city in central Oregon called Rajneeshpuram. Love prevails there mixed with laughter and joy. The people live in contentment and peace and total freedom as individuals are entitled to live. This is the essence of all religious teaching, and only a master of such high degree of consciousness could be the energizing and guiding force behind it all. There is nothing like it in all the world, and that sets him apart as the most exceptional genius in religion.
I give this personal evaluation not as a blind and emotional sentimental attachment to a ’’Guru, ” but as one who has sat at the feet of this Master, watched him daily, and actually felt the absence of an ordinary ego-dominated teacher and theologian. He is a rarity in our world who is filled with pure love and compassion for -all mankind.
Another observation, in closing—no true master known to history has ever escaped persecution, physically and otherwise; and Bhagwan is no exception. Although unpopular with the world, especially the organized religious world, he is deeply loved and respected by those who have been in his presence and felt his love and understanding.
Jesus was crucified on misquotations and false witnessing. The world jeered and laughed while he compassionately suffered. Some said, “My Lord and my God,” while others picked up stones to kill him. Today, the world is fortunate in having a Master appear that can truly effect an inner transformation in man, a new birth which was also the essence of Christ’s teachings. Bhagwan is here not to compete, not to change the world, not to reform society, but to create a new man that will be above competition, comparison, bigotry and prejudice, a new man that will be fully conscious, that will BE love, joy, peace and creativity of the highest intelligence. We are fortunate to have such a Master among us to guide us and lead us to this ultimate experience of which man is capable.
I love this man for what he is. Let America accept him and take him to its heart.
[signed] Dr. Henry Gerhard (Swami Bodhimitra) 303 Gary Way, Grass Valley, Ca.95945
(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.)