as reported from a Graz, Austria newspaper
October 1, 1999
Kleine Online Politik
Bishops: "Europe risks a backslide into heathenism"
European bishops meet in Rome. Working paper critically discussed the situation of the church at the end of the 20th century.
by Thomas Goetz / Rome
The Synod of European Bishops begins today in Rome. The somewhat awkwardly worded theme runs "Jesus Christ, who lives in his church, Source and Hope for Europe." It is the last in a series of continental Bishops' Synods invoked by Pope John Paul II before the turn of the millennium, and the second for Europe.
The three week bishops' consultation is proceeding according to a working document which was drawn up in a in a lengthy consultation process by the European Bishops' Conference. The approximately one hundred page document attempts to make a short analysis and present possible solutions.
It may be no accident that the negative elements in the analysis outweigh the positive. However, the bishops admit that many chances have also opened up in the last ten years. Even globalization, which used to be regarded by the church more as a danger, rated a couple of positive points, something in favor of the acceleration of the unification of humanity and, somewhat surprisingly, for the increase of production. Other than that, there was no lack in drastic judgments.
Self-criticism. "Europe is faced with the danger of a progressive and deep-reaching de-Christianization and a backslide into heathenism," read the text. "In some countries, the number of the unbaptized is extremely high. The basic elements of Christianity are often no longer recognized." Even the expression "apostasy of Europe," which would be the fall of the entire continent, was used.
The text gets more precise where it describes the religious situation. There, the authors also permit themselves self-criticism. They mention "apathy of the clergy in regard to the doubt and tragedy of so many people in difficulty" there, and "decreasing credibility of many 'men of the church'." However, the text is generally inclined towards an attack on "secularization," which is understood to be a restriction on religious freedom.
One debatable paragraph offers criticism of the attempt by some bishops to ensure the structures and influence of the church at any price, despite a changing environment. That was said to lead "to compromises which permit many people to live as superficial, church members at the cost of clear and radical decision." The bishops do not delude themselves into thinking that the growing interest in spirituality is due to Christianity. They write about a "flight into spiritualism" which is accompanied "by religious an esoteric syncretism," which is exploited by sects and encourages a "confused relationship to saints."
The crises internal to the church was interpreted in a strictly negative manner by the bishops. The reason for the shortage of priests and protest movements was said to be the loss of the "essential mystic characteristics of the church." The reference to the unbeneficial effect of the media may be lacking in this context even so little as the hint of "the serious inherited burden of individualistic philosophy from the previous century."
Seniors, ebb and flow
April 12, 1999
Bozen (lu) - Albert Puergstaller, who is in a somewhat more advanced party semester, is not at all affected by the lack of life in the decimated "Jungen Generation" (JG) [Youth Generation]. According to the reports and momentum, the party youth could not be merged with the SVP senior advisory board. They could still learn a few things from their elders," said Puergstaller.
Although he was finished on Saturday, the ex-district speaker of the burgrave office, Dietmar Platter, was nevertheless among the participants of the State JG Assembly. In the past three years his JG district has markedly shrunk: of 24 local JG groups there are only six remaining, and even they could only exist on paper anymore, criticized the departing JG section leader.
As an "old, battle-tested" JG'er Martha Stocker made an appearance at the State Assembly of the Jungen Generation, too. She also attempted to analyze the dwindling membership. "With us there were a lot of lively characters whom I miss today. They saw to it that there were controversial discussions. Behind these people always lurked different opinions," said Stocker. She said controversial positions were not taken on topics such as child pornography or Scientology.
In any case an old JG survivor is present with State Assemblyman Werner Frick in the first row of the SVP hall. For him the dwindling JG conforms with the sign of the times, which also gives less importance to unions, political parties and churches. "Tangentopoli has seen to it that politics has lost its place of value in the population," believes Werner Frick. He said there is no comparison to the things that went on in his time and the current events with which the JG has to struggle. "I recall, for instance, the base groups in the high schools. I myself distributed hectographed flyers at the classroom door. Today all the students arrive at class somewhat asleep," said the state councilman.
The Nuremberg Files are back on the Net
From: "Heise Online"
February 23, 1999
by Florian Roetzer
A Dutch activist has also mirrored Anti-Abortion Website
The so-called Nuremberg Files are found under the same url, but are being hosted on the web by a different Internet Service Provider. The person who put up the anti-abortion pages was sentenced to pay a fine totalling over 100 million US dollars at the beginning of February, because they presented an actual threat to abortionists, their families and other abortion advocates. "Wanted" posters which contained names, addresses, license plate and other information indirectly represented an attack, in the view of the court. Medical men on the list who were killed had their pictures crossed out.
After the sentence was passed, the ISP removed the pages from his site on his own. The complainants had requested this, but, oddly enough, the judge, in spite of the size of the fine, did not demand it. Planned Parenthood, one of the complainants, as reported by the New York Times, has already pressed charges again. However, one is not surprised by the reappearance of the pages.
Jonathan O'Toole, staff member of the Christian Gallery Website, on which the Nuremberg Files are found, said that it had not been difficult to find another ISP. He had received offers not only from abortion opponents, but also from liberal, freedom-of-speech advocates.
Speech and debate about sensitive issues should be promoted, not repressed; and what is utterly reprehensible is not necessarily illegal. There is a distinct difference between words and deeds, and that distinction should be respected, not blurred. Especially judges and courts should be aware of this fact.
Karin Spaink from Holland, who is known for publishing follow-ups to court cases, has mirrored most of the web site, although she really believes in the right of women to have an abortion, doesn't like the Nuremberg Files, and has written articles critical of it. She has mirrored the pages because she represents freedom of speech and sees the web site as a legitimate expression of the opposition to abortion as long as it does not contain an explicit summons to violence. Last but not least she believes it is better to be able to read what opponents write in order to better be able to argue with them. She believes so much in the freedom of speech that she would like to see this fundamentalist Christian web site published even if her site were to be censored. However, she wrote that nobody could be certain that she had not changed anything, "Do not trust the names and addresses you find there, and do not use violence against the people listed. You may end up shooting your own affiliates."
The in depth reason Spaink gives for continuing to mirror the Nuremberg Files if to give a lesson in matters of tolerance. In any case, she appears to have no illusions about the real conduct of abortion opponents: "The Nuremberg Files serve to show that anti-abortionists do not lose a night's sleep when people whose profession they dislike are killed, while they vehemently maintain that abortion is murder and must therefore be stopped. It shows that these people are hypocrites. It proves that these people believe that the end justifies the means. The Nuremberg File people have never said that they disapprove of the killing of doctors, even when pressed to do so. They seem to endorse it."
Gloria Feldt, President of Planned Parenthood, is angry at the mirroring by Spaink, who has them mirrored with other censored, primarily leftist web sites next to the Scientology documents at contrast.org. "For her that is more of a theoretical position. But if she were being persecuted, threatened and blackmailed by these people, she would understand that there is a legal difference between freedom of speech and a real threat." Feldt does not think that she could take legal steps against Spaink, because the mirrored web site is outside American jurisdiction. To the New York Times, Spaink said, "the next time, I might be condemned because I also have unusual opinions."
Further events announced on the Nuremberg Files include the new "Project," which will attempt to intimidate personnel and women who wish to get an abortions by placing web cameras in front of as many abortion clinics as possible.
Sect members busy with government
by Gillian Tett and Michiyo Nakamoto, Tokyo
March 2, 2000
Financial Times Deutschland
The Japanese government unknowingly employed members of the Aum sect to develop software programs and to install computers. It would have been possible for the sect to gather information on national defense. Upon learning of that, the government ordered an immediate review of its computer systems on Wednesday.
The sect is accused of being responsible for a gas attack in 1995 on the Tokyo subway which cost twelve people their lives and wounded hundreds of people.
Government representatives stated yesterday that the Aum members had not managed to do any actual harm. Every case like this, though, is a rebuff for the administration, which has been taking massive steps against the sect since the gas attack. In addition, the case stoked current criticism that the administration is not equipped to adequately handle rapidly growing information technology. Just last month hackers were able to easily invade a large number of government computers with ease, also leaving behind messages.
The case came to light because members of the sect had recently opened up a number of computer companies. After a raid on one of these companies, the police were able to put the pieces together. About 90 government agencies and private firms were using the Aum software, mostly they were sub-contractors.
"Mentally ill" woman imprisoned and tortured -
Shades of Scientology / Lisa McPherson
September 29, 1999
Leading member of Japanese Aum sect arrested
Tokyo (dpa) - In a major action, the police in Japan stormed a support point of the Aum Shinrikyo cult and arrested the chief of the installation and an ex-member on Wednesday. The two men were alleged to have prevented a woman from leaving the sect building for ten days by brutal force in spring of the past year.
They were said to have bound the 29 year old woman by the arms and legs with adhesive tape and held her under water in a bath tub until she lost consciousness. The woman continues to be a part of the sect as a "lay disciple."
The half-blind guru of the cult, Shoko Asahara, is in custody and is being tried on numerous charges, including the poisonous gas attack on the subway in Tokyo four years ago which left twelve dead and thousands wounded.
During the storming of the sect building in Kisofukushima in Nagano province on Wednesday, the authorities freed an approximately 30 year old man who had been imprisoned. He was brought to the hospital. A cult speaker contested the charges which been brought against the cult.
He said the woman had been mentally ill. They were worried about her because she had no place to go, the speaker was quoted as saying. "Sometimes we instruct sick members to practice religious exercises alone, but they do that of their own free will," he asserted.
The two men who were arrested are said to have detained the young woman against her will in March and April 1998 after she made known her intention of leaving the sect. Later she fled and sought help from neighbors. Three others are said to have fled since December 1997.
The Japanese government is currently reviewing legal steps for the purpose of bringing the cult more under control. At the same time, popular resistance against Aum Shinrikyo continues to rise.
Cities and communities are mobilizing throughout the entire land to prevent Aum members from settling in their area. According to information from security officials, the sect, for the first time, is considering a public apology for the attack on the subway in Tokyo. In addition they are weighing a name change.
In spite of the crimes attributed to them, the sect has not yet been banned. In 1997, the independent Commission for Public Security refused a ban with the reason that it no longer presented a threat to the people. Nevertheless, security agencies regard the sect for extremely dangerous: sect membership has meanwhile reached 2,100, which is a fifth of their former strength.
September 30, 1999
Heilbronner Stimme, AFP
Sect member in Japan sentenced to death
Aum sect was responsible for gas attack on subway
A leading member of the Japanese Aum sect has been sentenced to death because of the poisonous gas attack in 1995 on the Tokyo subway. On Thursday, a district court in Tokyo pronounced the 35 year old Yokohama Masato guilty of deliberate murder. Masato showed no emotion upon pronouncement of sentence. His attorneys are keeping open the alternative of overturn by appeal. The accused has admitted to depositing the Sarin nerve gas in a subway station without having known of its lethal effect. This makes the first time a death sentence was pronounced in these proceedings against the Aum sect. In the March 1995 attack, twelve people were killed and thousands wounded.
In different proceedings in October 1998, a Japanese court pronounced a death sentence upon a founding member of the Aum sect. The accused, Kazuaki Okazaki, was found guilty of having murdered five people in 1989, including an anti-sect attorney, his wife and baby.
In Japan, disapproval of the sect is growing, and it currently is said to have more than 1,500 members. The government is looking into more stringent measures against the sect. In order to mollify the authorities, the sect announced on Wednesday that it will discontinue its political activities.
Aum-Shinrikyo sect off to a new start
September 28, 1999
Tokyo (AP). More than four years after the poison gas attack on the subway in Tokyo, the Aum Shinrikyo sect wants to begin anew under an altered name. Apparently that is supposed to include an admission that members of the community were responsible in the attack in March 1995, in which twelve people were killed and thousands wounded. The organization intends to present a brief on its new beginning at a press conference, reported the "Yomiuri" newspaper on Tuesday. Despite the proceedings against its leader, Shoko Asahara, the sect has been able to increase its membership. The government, however, has prohibited the activities of the religious community in several communes in which Aum Shinrikyo has purchased land.
Love thy neighbor - and eavesdrop
September 2, 1999
Nobody talks about it, yet many do it in Japan, too many: spying on opponents and colleagues. As of recently, the police may also listen along.
by André Kunz, Tokyo
Above the tumult in the Japanese Parliament, Minoru K. just grinned. That is where leftwing representatives were tussling with representatives of the reigning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), who wanted to give the police a "modern instrument in the fight against crime" in the form of a wiretap law. Its critics said the eavesdropping surveillance was a regression to the times of fascistoid control during the Second World War and called for a vote of no confidence against Premier Obuchi's administration. They lost. The new law was passed with a vote of 142 to 99.
Minoru does not understand the excitement in Parliament: as an eavesdropping technician, many of his customers are politicians. "Of the fighting roosters there, every other one has eavesdropped on colleagues or opposing members of parliament." With these words he snapped open his briefcase and laid a few technically miraculous things on the table. A bug the size of a pin which could pick up any sound in a room, a micro-camera which - installed in an inconspicuous corner - could relay sharp pictures out of the room, and, naturally, plugs with which telephones could be wiretapped in the simplest method. All instruments were stamped "Made in Japan." Then Minoru pulled out his collection of visitor's badges which, according to the assignment, would identify him as an employee of a real estate company, the gas company, the telephone company or as a plumber.
The 37 year old Minoru makes almost as much as the general manager of a world business. Politicians commission the ex-policeman to spy on colleagues, especially right before internal party elections. For this reason business is currently doing quite well: the presiding LDP is electing their next party chairman. And the opposing Democratic Party is electing a new party board of directors. For his audio and video recordings, Minoru asks between 8,000 and 20,000 (Swiss) franks [approx. $5,500 - $14,000]. He often does not know what his customer have in mind until a scandal breaks out and he suddenly finds his work appearing in the media.
Countless politicians in Japan have already been tripped up by audio and video recordings. The most prominent victim was Noboru Takeshita: he had to resign as Premier in 1989 after his involvement in a bribery scandal became public. The material for scandals of this sort is delivered in the Tokyo area by an estimated two hundred professional eavesdropping specialists. Nationwide there are three times that. Since Japan has been experiencing a recession, more and more businesses have gotten involved with professional spying. These are undertaken, for example, on the pretext of giving notice [of the end of a business relationship]. For the past two years, Minoru has been earning almost as much from businesses as he has from his political customers.
Spying has a long tradition in Japanese society. Formerly, the targets were primarily "Burakumin," who are descendants of those who have been expelled. These people come from the traditional meat and leather processing centers. In major companies, it was the rule for a long time that not only the applicants' backgrounds were researched, but also those of their families. Anyone who came from a Burakumin community would not get the job. Even today better-off families have the family tree of prospective spouses researched before the wedding.
With the opening of society subsequent to the Second World War, spying has not slackened off, just the opposite. Anybody can stock up on the necessary devices in two hundred speciality stores nationwide. The best spot is Tokyo's "Electronic Town" Akihabara, where about a hundred consumer electronic shops do 15 million franks business per year with the sale of eavesdropping devices. The total sales in that field in Japan is about 26 million franks, and at least 150,000 eavesdropping devices are currently in operation somewhere in that country.
Beginning this fall the police may also take part in the eavesdropping surveillance. Targets are outlaw gangs and criminal cults. For eavesdropping surveillance, however, the police will need the approval of an examining judge, and the target must be informed after the fact. Critics of the law doubt that this condition will actually be adhered to. And Minoru, the professional, already senses a new line of work - he is also an expert in the detection of eavesdropping devices.
Disciples starve themselves to death
September 26, 1999
London - Blonde, thin and dangerous: Ellen Greve (43) from Australia is the woman guru of a new movement. Her teaching is called "breatherianism" - loosely translated: the science of breathing. Her evil message: you need no more food - only divine light nourishment. Fatal consequences: her disciples fast themselves to death - even in Germany.
Light? Air? Corpses? What does "Jasmuheen" - Greve's sect name - really promise? The usual: enlightenment, eternal youth, resistance to cancer, a world without hunger or supermarkets and, naturally, better sex.
The story began in 1993: 20 "spiritual warriors" did without food cold turkey. Ellen Greve later developed a 21 day process which is supposed to permit people to "finally nourish themselves from crystals in the air" - something similar to photosynthesis of plants. Eating is taboo.
So far, so delusory. But by and by it gets dangerous. More and more people gather around the woman guru. Jasmuheen (claims to have gone without sustenance for five years; in the mean time she lives in a house with a swimming pool) talks of over 5,000 successes - business is growing. She distributes her books all over the world. One seminar costs up to 3,500 marks. And: her teachings have already brought about deaths. At least three. Including in Germany.
Munich, June 2, 1997. Kindergarten teacher Timo Degen (31) dies. On the twelfth day of his fast-torture he fell into a coma: circulatory collapse, brain damage. Regained consciousness, fell from weakness and fractured his skull.
Melbourne, August 1998. Liane Morris (53), after seven days of her forced diet, lost her power of speech; her right arm is lame. She collaborated, but could not be saved. Jasmuheen, "Perhaps she did not have the right motivation."
Sutherland, 12 days ago. Verity Linn (49) was found half-naked sprawled out by a lake. A bitter death. She stopped eating September 4. Confused and helpless, she stumble through the moor and died. Jasmuheen stated, "By way of cosmic telepathy I know that she left this life in a beautiful way..."
Jasmuheen's Lighteaters are also organized in Berlin. The ELRAANIS publishers offer seminars and presentation on "up-to-date research on the technology of light bodies." Jasmuheen's hunger books are sold in Berlin. And they have a meeting place in a Kreuzberg courtyard.
Dr. Dee Dawson is an expert in a London special clinic for eating disorders. Her assessment of Ellen Greve, "This woman is a irresponsibly insane."
October 26, 2000
Seoul - A Moon sect corporation will build an automobile plant in North Korea to assemble vehicles of the Fiat and Alfa Romeo types. The South Korean government has given permission to the company controlled by sect founder "reverend" Moon Sun Myong (79) to do business in North Korea, stated an official representative in Seoul on Thursday.
The Pyongwha Automobile Cooperation will invest 54 million US dollars in a production site in the North Korean harbor city of Nampo. The factory, which will produce the Fiat Seina and the Alfa Romeo 166, will be in operation by the end of the coming year. The Unification Church is already operating an automobile repair business as well as a hotel in Nampo.
16,000 guests at sect chief Moon's 80th birthday in Seoul
February 10, 2000
Seoul, February 10 - South Korean sect leader and company chief Sun Myung Moon celebrated his 80th birthday on Thursday, where he received 16,000 birthday guests. As a sect spokesman in Seoul announced, the guests included former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle and former British Premier Minister Edward Heath. Quayle and other VIPs congratulated Moon on his anniversary in a gathering in a giant sports hall in the Seoul Olympic stadium. Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who was currently taking part in political meetings in South Korea, was expected that evening for another celebration. On Sunday, the sect leader wants to perform a mass marriage in Seoul, at which about 70,000 people are expected, among them 20,000 foreigners. Moon already celebrated his birthday once on January 23 in New York. Around 3,000 adherents and friends attended. The native-born Korean is said to possess a fortune of one billion and has been living for some time in Brazil. The organization, according to its own statements, has about 4.5 million members worldwide. Critics accuse Moon of running a personality cult with himself as a messiah. In the USA, the Moon sect controls, among other things, the Washington Times, a television station, a recording studio, a travel agency and a university.
Fear of sect suicide in Jerusalem
October 13, 1999
Out of fear of a millennium mass suicide, the Israeli police prevented immigration of 26 members of the "Concerned Christians" sect. They had landed by ship in Haifa on Sunday. However, the police immediately sent the believers from Ireland and Rumania, seven children among them, back to their ship. Several group members were mentally or physically handicapped. At the end of 1998, members of a sect from the USA by the same name travelled to Israel in order to start off the new millennium with a resurrection after a "bloody death" on the streets of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Police fear attacks
July 9, 1999
Jerusalem (dpa) According to findings by the Jerusalem police, many Christian fundamentalists have been traveling to Israel in the past months to start spectacular actions for the turn of the millennium in Jerusalem. The weekly newspaper "Kol Ha'Ir" which appears in the city announced Friday that the police fear terrorist attacks or collective suicide. In fundamentalist groups there is the opinion that actions of this sort could accelerate the return of the messiah.
Several of the people are known to the police by name, wrote the paper. Most of them, however, of a number which was given as "dozens" are said to be unknown and in Israel on false passports. Many arrived in the country dressed as priests since they know this will hinder their identification. Most of the representatives of the Christian churches have refused to cooperate with the Israeli police.
The police especially fear operations at the Harem esch Scharif and the hill temple in the Jerusalem old town. That is where today two of the most famous Islamic houses of worship stand, the cliff cathedral and the Al Aksa Mosque, which is also where the second Jewish temple stood until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. Many Jews and fundamentalist Christians believe that salvation and the return of the messiah is only possible if the temple has been rebuilt. To do that the mosques would first have to be destroyed.
During a meeting with sect experts from Interpol a few weeks ago it was mentioned that not only - as was previously feared - could radical Protestants and Evangelical groups take action, but also radical Catholics. Worldwide there are several hundred groups of such radicals. Several have only four - six members, others have hundreds.
A Sign of Mammon
July 20, 2000
by Rainer Hoerig from Poona
Lonely, almost devoid of people, the street to the international Osho commune extends through Koregaon Park, a pleasant district in the city of Poona. Several months ago, thousands of Asians, Europeans and American thronged here in search of something to thrill their souls. Today it is nothing more than a yawning vacuum.
"I have not sold a single article of clothing in ten days," complained Laljibhai the street vendor, who, for years, has been providing Sanyasins with regulation wine-red robes. Even the "German Bakery" around the corner, favorite meeting place of young people from all over the world, is baking smaller rolls because of a lack of guests. Even though the monsoon months are always "off season," the dearth of visitors is obvious.
Who would be surprised that, in the commune, a bitter power struggle is raging for control of hundreds of meditation centers around the world, for the marketing rights of 1,500 book titles, and of sound cassettes and videotapes of lectures from the Master.
Shortly before his departure, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who in the latter years of his earthly presence took the name of "Osho," had tasked a so-called "Inner Circle" of 21 trusted people with the management of the commune. As of today, fifteen of the original members have been separated or fired.
The successors themselves are making determinations about the illustrious committee. As ever, members have surrounded themselves with an aura of exclusivity, seldom are seen in public, and do not converse even with commune members. The decisions of the Inner Circle are invisible to the outside and are not subject to any kind of democratic control. Differences of opinion only appear to outsiders when a Swami or a Ma, frustrated, leaves the commune.
Those striving for enlightenment enter the commune through a mighty, brass-plated wooden door. A couple of buildings painted black hover under old trees slung with vines. The young and elderly of all skin-colors, all enveloped in ankle-length robes, wander on white marble block between cafeteria and book store, from the Buddha Hall to the swimming pool.
Behind the blue-tinted window panes of the office building, the spokesman of the commune, Swami Satya Vedant, receives inquisitive journalists. No, he says, there is no conflict, everything is all right. Twenty years ago, Osho transferred the copyrights of his works to a foundation. Now several people are trying to fabricate a scandal out of it. They spread lies with the help of the media, but their lies have been contradicted point by point, explained the bearded Indian and hands over photocopies of a full-page advertisement which the Inner Circle had published in the Indian Express, an inter-regional daily newspaper. In it the commune management attacked the credibility of their opponents with the assertion that they had not been there when Osho had bestowed his legacy upon the commune management.
An appointment for an interview was made for two days later with Osho's former secretary and one-time close confidant, Ma Yoga Neelam, who left the commune in a dispute one and a half years ago, and who is now leading the rebellion. In her luxurious apartment, one kilometer away from the Osho center, she eagerly receives journalists. "All lies, lies, lies, what is one supposed to say? They felt threatened and paid a lot of money for a newspaper ad, half of which consists of slander about me," the attractive Indian woman scolded. Her partner Swami Keerti, who bravely and loyally pronounced the decisions of the Inner Circle from 1987 up to February of this year as its press spokesman, is today a dedicated critic: "Osho is not a ware, he is a consciousness revolution. He always intended that his thoughts and works be disseminated as widely as possible, and not that a select few usurp them with patents and trademarks."
These accusations are aimed directly at the management of the Inner Circle, namely Michael O'Bryne (Swami Jeyesh), John Andrew (Swami Amrito) and Ma Anando, who proclaimed herself sole possessor of all copyrights to Osho's works in a foundation based in New York, the "Osho International Foundation." "Those three have covertly re-located the power center of the community overseas. In the future, if we would like to print Osho's books in India, then we must apply for permission from New York," thundered Ma Neelam. Ten days ago, she was also served with a denial of entry to the building by the Inner Circle.
Soon after the Master "left his body," a trend towards commercialization became apparent, with active cooperation of Ma Yoga Neelam and Swami Keerti, no less. First a daily entrance fee to the commune was levied, then the prices for therapy and meditation gradually were adapted to the western level.
Today the commune sees itself as a service operation, as a spiritual health resort. Making money is no longer something to be ashamed of. With the most recent patent applications, the Inner Circle wants to make business more efficient, and wants to establish a monopoly on marketing Osho's legacy and "prevent misuse," as they have already called it.
Will the Osho Community once again become a trendsetter in the field? Perhaps the Moon sect will soon receive a patent for mass marriages, or Scientology will place its unique technology for hire under legal protection? Perhaps one day, even the Pope will apply for the copyright to the Bible, in the name of God, of course.
Meditation protected by patent
Copyright dispute over the rights of Bhagwan's teachings
June 28, 2000
NZZ daily edition
Chandra Mohan Jain, assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Jabalpur, is already aware of the value of a trademark. As he lectures in a Bombay back room about capitalism and sex, Sartre and Laotse to seven seekers sitting at attention, he calls himself Acharya (spiritual teacher) Rajneesh Chandra Mohan. In his move to Poona, he dropped his family name and took the prefix of Bhagwan (the name for God in Sanskrit). After an excursion to Oregon which turned out wrong, there came Osho, the Enlightened, the Ocean of Love. The well known packaging gone - the name was associated with Rolls Royces and prayer beads, a flowing beard and Piaget watches - it was no longer at all important whether the real person was still living or not. Since the "departure" of the master, the commune in Poona could continue as though he was still present in his empty chair - praying before people in the scarlet robes, in the perfectly staged dances of ecstasy on the field of Buddha and in the innumerable books, videos, music cassettes, pictures and in meditation techniques which carried the joyful message to the world.
Bills for a former Sannyasins
Now a dispute has broken out over that in India which has burst the scintillating soap bubble of the symbiosis of money and spirit. Professor Jain still likes to talk so beautifully about dissolving all restricting relationships and he plunders the world's literature in doing so, but when it comes to bringing his insights of "One World" to the people, he pays very close attention to setting up his own boundary posts in the form of trademarks, patents, copyrights and license agreements. Even Dynamic Kundalini Meditation has been reported as a trademark. That is how the inner circle sees itself, the shadowy, all-powerful committee in Poona, only as the executor of the last will and testament of Osho. The 21-head committee holds all the strings in the Empire of Club Med(itation) together. It is led by Canadian Swami Jayesh and by general practitioner Swami Amrito (formerly George Meredith), who wears the diamond-set watch of the Enlightened and the diadem of successor to the throne.
The open dispute started last Fall in an office of Osho International in New York when a former Sannyasins (the red garbed adherents of Bhagwans, of which there were so many in the 1980s in Switzerland) sent bills to France and Japan for publishing the Word of the Master. Osho International presents itself as a branch of the Osho International Foundation (main office in Zurich) which assumes all rights for the God who is absent for the time being - from his name to his words, from his voice to the strokes of his paint brush. He who does not pay will have to count on legal measures. This, says the spokesman of the commune, is nothing less than the will of the Master. As far back as the 1920s, Osho protected its copyrights with a trust, later he had it registered in Switzerland. He knew that nobody would pay attention to the Indian copyrights; the United States, with its strict law enforcement, was the only place which could put a stop to worldwide pirating.
Consciousness revolution or trademark?
The dissemination of religious ideas as pirating? For the Rajneesh Trust of the First Hour, this concept is a travesty of Osho's teachings. Indian Swami Kirti, official spokesman up to last February, loyally stated, "Osho is a consciousness revolution, not a trademark." And Ma Neelam, the former secretary, called the discussion over copyright a scandal, because "making money was never our first goal." The sudden consciousness on the spiritual worth of the great Master is suspicious. Until one year ago, Ma Neelam was the Director of the Ashram in Poona. In that capacity, she was responsible for its transformation into a spiritual supermarket in which one was ready to pay - from ayurvedic massage to tennis meditation ("Zennis").
One's ears also perk up when the tone suddenly turns chauvinistic. Indian Sannyasins, according to Swami Kirti, are systematically being removed from the management committee. Signatures are currently being collected to strengthen court charges against exporting this national spiritual property to Zurich. Yet like any organized religion, the old ecstatics now are finding out the hard way that Oshoism, too, is undemocratic. Those who do not agree, said the spokesman of the Cardinal College of 21, are free to go. When Ma Neelam wanted to enter the Ashram one week ago, it was suggested to her that she "recuperate" elsewhere.
A Boomerang for the Moon Cult
Maria Sung has been married to an Italian for years
August 30, 2001
Vatican, August 30, 2001 (zenit.org). - The marriage between Archbishop Milingo and Mrs. Sung performed by cult leader Moon was supposed to be a big sensation that caused Catholics to leave their religion, especially in Africa. But the way the story played out, the only thing caught in the trap was a few obscure pages from a cult that describes itself as a "church."
For two weeks, Mrs. Maria Sung assured the public at large that she was willing to give her life in a hunger strike to defend the inviolability of her marriage. Yet the Italian press has recently written that Mrs. Sung had already been married before, and to an Italian at that.
The slanderous statements from the cult that the Vatican had had the archbishop from Lusaka subjected to brainwashing have turned, instead, into evidence of the way the cult does business.
The cult leaders proved themselves extremely capable of manipulating the mass media to meet their daily quotas. After the meeting between the Pope and the archbishop in Rome, Maria Sung and Philip Shanker, spokesman and vice director of the Moon cult, took their posts and spread the rumor that Mrs. Sung could possibly be expecting a child, with the archbishop as father. Naturally that was a contrived tidbit for the journalists, who immediately camped out around the hotel in which the Korean woman had lodged.
Shanker is 47 years old, married to a Korean woman, and has three children. Before he joined the cult he was a big financial expert who had traveled the world over. Mrs. Sung did not try to conceal from the press that she was obediently carrying out all his instructions. After the pregnancy rumor proved to be untenable, she went on a hunger strike, so she was not even able to meet with the archbishop.
When the Holy See and the archbishop tried to arrange a meeting, it was Shanker himself who refused to let that happen. Since Milingo could not see Mrs. Sung, he wrote her a letter, which was immediately diverted by Shanker, so that Mrs. Sung did not even get a look at it.
When "La Stampa," a Turin daily newspaper, reported on Wednesday that Mrs. Sung, on August 25, 1995, had married a government official who was from Naples - his name was not revealed due to privacy concerns - Shanker agreed to the meeting, which, in accordance with a condition placed by the cult, was to take place in a neutral spot in a hotel where the public was not invited.
At the cult's behest, Salvatore had not said a word about his marriage to the Korean woman during the entire episode between Milingo and Mrs. Sung, which resembled a soap opera. She had reminded Pope John Paul II in a letter of the inviolability of her "marriage" in the bosom of the Moon cult to Milingo. According to the cult, she had already left her Italian husband several years ago.
On his part, Milingo had shared the news with the press on August 24 that the cult, during the period of his "marriage" in the USA, had systematically shielded him from his friends and acquaintances, and that in order to see the Pope, he had had to arrange it so that the cult knew nothing about it.
After it came to light how much the cult was manipulating the mass media, a few observers accused the Holy See of insufficient professionalism. However, the press office of the Holy See never uses personal attack or slander. The only thing that had been heard from the halls of the Vatican was sympathy for Archbishop Milingo's situation. Mrs. Sung had also been treated with the greatest respect, a method which was doomed in advance to failure by the sensation-seeking journalists who had closely encircled Mrs. Sung's hotel.
When John Paul II called to the archbishop on August 7, "In the name of Jesus Christ, come back into the Catholic Church," that was evidence that the Catholic Church is always ready to again take in its children, including those who have strayed afar. The archbishop's meeting Mrs. Sung in completely open and accountable conditions and with absolute transparency, is evidence that the Moon cult used every method, which probably any cult is familiar with, to the Vatican's disadvantage, namely it used drugs on, then isolated the archbishop.
Mass graves in the Gard of the "Prophets"
March 27, 2000
Spiegel Online 13/2000
A mass grave has also been discovered on the property of Ugandan sect leader Joseph Kibweteere. By last Friday, three mass graves had already been found in the vicinity. About 600 adherents of Kibweteere's doomsday sect were burned alive in a church a week and a half ago.
Rugazi - The grave contained 74 corpses, 28 children among them, said Ugandan authorities on Monday. It was located on the edge of a sugar cane field near the Rugazi village. The police anticipate more bodies will be found. Kibweteere, who called himself "the Prophet," is being regarded as a refuge from justice since the mass suicide of his adherents in the church.
Several of the corpses had stab wounds, other had cloth strips wrapped around their throats. According to statements by the local doctor, the people have been dead for about a month. After a brief going-over by the doctor, they are to be re-interred. A police spokesman explained that was the only way an outbreak of illness could be avoided.
The Ugandan government, in the meanwhile, is putting a team of scientists together who will perform autopsies on the remains and will also re-exhume the 153 bodies from the graves found last Friday. A doctor in Duhunga village had briefly looked at the bodies and then had them re-interred. Police spokesman Terenzi Kingera explained that the doctor had been overwhelmed with the assignment, therefore the corpses will be newly evaluated. The government's team includes chemists, a pathologist and forensic medical technicians. According to Kingera, they will be the ones who state whether the people had been poisoned.
Referring to statements made by eyewitnesses, the Ugandan authorities state that sect leaders Cledonia Mwerinde and Joseph Kibweteere had fled Kanungu the day of the church fire. Police and village residents assume that the sect leaders fled because the end of the world, which they had predicted for December 31, did not come about. Because of that, the members could demand back their possessions which they had previously transferred to the sect. The "Movement for the reinstatement of the Ten Commandments" is said to have had up to 1,000 members. Police fear that most of them fell victim to the sect leaders.
Moon sect buys entire town
Puerto Casado, Paraguay
October 18, 2000
Der Bund Verlag AG, Bern & Autoren / www.eBund.ch
Paraguay / A provincial nest is resisting the sale of community property to the Moon sect. The sect, founded by a Korean, is expanding on the American continent and has turned into a flourishing business.
- Sandra Weiss, Mexico
The 6,000 residents of the town of Puerto Casado in northern Paraguay did not want to believe it when a representative of the Argentinian company Carlos Casado announced they had been sold to the Moon sect. To date most inhabitants have lived from agriculture and fishing or worked for Carlos Casado in the production of a natural tanning agent for leather.
But business has not been profitable since the agent can now be replaced by cheaper chemicals. Operations have been suspended and the company decided to sell the 350,000 hectare property - including the town on the Paraguay River.
Surprise Raid at the Airport
An interested buyer was soon found: the sect directed by Korean minister Sun Myung Moon, which has built up a flourishing network of businesses on the American continent under religious guise.
The residents were not well disposed to this idea. During the transfer of property last week, five representatives of the Moon sect and the Argentinian firm were casually waylaid. "They said from now on everything belonged to the Koreans and all problems would have to be regulated by the new owners," reported town councilman José Adorno. "The Koreans have neither a plan for relocation nor for recompensation, therefore we blockaded the airport and called up the Interior Ministry," he said. Interior Minister Julio Fanego immediately announced that he would enact an expropriation law to prevent the village residents from being driven out. The sale of the land was certainly legal, he said, but the buildings, the school, the church, the hospital, the post office, the airport and town hall could not be regarded as possession of the Koreans.
According to statements by town councilman Adorno, the Moon sect bought a hundred thousand hectares of land near the Brazilian border and transformed it into a modern vacation complex with a hotel and yacht harbor. Besides that it owns a church and an education center in the capitol city of Asuncion. The sect newspaper "Tiempos del Mundo" is published in several capitol cities in Latin America. One of the members of the sect is Paraguayan ex-general and putschist Lino Oviedo. He is presently in custody for extradition for originating a plot to murder Vice-President Luis Maria Argaña in Brazil. In addition to that, Oviedo is said to be involved in numerous shady deals. In 1992 Moon was imprisoned for tax evasion; outside of that he has been repeatedly accused of weapons trafficking.
One Tenth to heal the soul
Guatemala City, Guatemala
July 3, 1999
Frankfurter Neue Presse
Guatemala City Guatemala has about 10 million inhabitants, of those somewhere over a million in the capitol city. About 65% are Indian, 30% mestizo (Latinos), and about five percent white. The indigents speak 22 Mayan Quicho dialects (official language is Spanish). Since the original inhabitants are no longer persecuted, the Mayan religion has come back to life and the people are becoming aware of their traditions. The Indians have been leaving the Catholic Church since the brakes have been put on its liberation theory from the Roman Church. After the Catholic Church has long been in the lead, the original inhabitants are joining more sects, particularly out of North America. For the community and healing of their souls which they seek they pay ten percent of their of their income. (kic)