Dr. Janja Lalich
Something that always annoys me on social media is when I see posts of ever-so-sweet quotes by Osho. Do those who post those quotes really know about the man?
Learn about the truth that’s not been told until now. Osho, of course, is Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, the revered Master, the beloved guru of thousands and thousands in the 1970s and ’80s. First in Pune, India, then later in rural Oregon, Rajneesh preached (in his soft, lilting, hissing voice) love and joy, blending Western psychology and Eastern mysticism. One often could make no sense of what he said (it’s called “trance talk”), but that didn’t matter. He was a god.
But now comes the story you haven’t heard – about his sexual abuse of female devotees, his “kill list” should anyone talk, the rampant pedophilia on his ashrams, and more. With unparalleled courage, deep honesty, and a healing heart and mind, Erin Robbins is going to blow the lid off what’s been kept secret for decades.
"This is monumental in the history of cults."
A Letter to the Osho Community
Content warning: TW// sexual abuse, coercion, abuse of power
The following includes graphic descriptions of power & spiritual manipulation,
coercion, and sexual abuse. It may be disturbing or triggering to read.
Please take care.
There are more secrets.
I am heartbroken and outraged reading the courageous sharing of sexual abuse from those of you who grew up in the ashram in Pune and the ranch in Oregon. Thanks to your bravery, it is time for me to now share what I have been keeping secret for 43 years. Although not exactly the same abuse story, I believe it is all connected. What I experienced speaks to the field in which this all happened.
Many of you know me, but some will not. My name is Erin Robbins, known as Maitri. (Ma Prem Maitri). I was the Maitri from California with the long extremely curly hair. I worked as a therapist and group leader in the ashram in Pune from 1978 onwards, continuing at the ranch in Oregon, until the end. I was a medium in darshan from the beginning of Osho’s energy darshans through to the end, living in Lao Tzu house (Osho’s home) for part of this time. I also wrote, at his request, a book about my experience as a sannyasin. (The manuscript was destroyed by Sheela and never printed.)
The first time Osho called me to his room in the middle of the night, it was 1978. I was 25 years old.
Wearing my freshly washed and nicest robe, I arrived not understanding why he had called for me so late at night but excited to be invited to some special session. When I entered the house, Vivek took me to his room where he sat alone in his chair. He told me to take my robe off, and I did. When he instructed her to, she did also. He gestured for me to kneel on the floor in front of his chair and to move closer to him. When he touched my genitals I thought that he must be ‘doing’ something with my energy, working with me.
Afterward, when he instructed me to make love with Vivek as he watched from his chair, I (we) did. I trusted him implicitly.
Vivek was his closest companion and caretaker.
The “private sessions” with him continued periodically throughout our years in Pune and then again, but not as often, through the years at the ranch in Oregon. Mostly I was alone with him, and occasionally Vivek was there. They always included his sexual gratification. I always did as he told me to do, even when it was uncomfortable for me. His room was kept so cold that I shivered through it.
And swallowing his ejaculate was disturbing to me, even though he was my beloved master. When he brought my body close to his and pulled me down, I did not fight back. To me, he was not just a man. He was more of a god. So when he touched me sexually, sometimes with one hand wrapped around my throat, I tried to relax, to “let go” as he so often encouraged, and to let him have me. I believed it was very special, a blessing, to have Osho, who I thought must be the greatest spiritual man alive, (possibly the greatest master who had ever lived on earth), calling on me for sexual favors.
He told me to never speak of our special meetings. Not to anyone. So I never did.
After his death, I still told no one. But after many years of struggling to really understand the broader scope of what had actually occurred in my years with him, I began to open up to my closest. Trembling like a leaf in a windstorm, I shared little fractions of what had occurred, and how confusing it had been for me. Yet still, I continued to see it as a great blessing.
Until recently. A shattering has opened in my consciousness.
I began to see that I had been used and abused for years, that the sessions were actually not for my spiritual benefit, but rather for his gratification.
I began to realize how his position of power and authority was overwhelming to me, a very young woman quite out of my element. He was nearly twice my age, (when it started I was 25, he was 47) and he was a figure larger than life to me.
He was the most magnificent, brilliant, conscious being I thought I had ever met. And we all together acclaimed him to be one of the greatest masters that had ever lived.
Yet during these “sessions” he never once asked for consent or asked me anything at all, and it was never mutual. He simply instructed me what to do and I obeyed.
He never indicated an interest in my comfort, no less being equal sexual partners. In fact, it was never two-sided, but only for his pleasure and sexual release. And he wanted it kept secret.
My recent revelations opened an explosion within me. My entire world fell apart, and for several months I was barely able to function in my day-to-day life. I had a type of total breakdown where my entire sense of self and identity exploded into shattered fragments. To call it a dark night of the soul is an understatement.
I nearly didn’t survive, as for months I was riddled with suicidal desires and plans.
Fortunately, I have good support from a team of therapists, trauma specialists, and other professionals plus enormous support from my wife. Only now, am I beginning to understand why I have not been able to keep my closest friendships, or be intimate, and have been unable to receive or participate in touching or sexual intimacy in all these decades.
I have hesitated to write this during this time when many of you are coming out of the shadows with painful and heart-wrenching disclosures of horrific sexual abuse that was kept secret for decades. And I understand that what I am sharing may seem like another matter. But I believe that it is related. Our shared past has dark shadows.
My heart breaks apart with all of you who were children in the commune that suffered neglect, emotional, and sexual abuse.
I am deeply, deeply sorry for looking the other way during these times.
I remember noticing some of the men hanging out with very young girls. I do remember thinking it was odd, but I believed (as I think many of us did) that everything must be fine, even more than fine because it was happening in the garden of our beloved master. I am sorry. So, so sorry.
Thank you for your sharing. And thank you for inspiring me to open up about what I have been too terrified to expose, for all of these 45 years.
I send this with a heart full of love for you all.
- Erin Robbins