Zorba the Buddha (Review)

Zorba the Buddha

Zorba the Buddha

My review of Hugh Urban’s Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement is now up at Ashé Journal.

Despite the ubiquity of news coverage in the 1980s, the Osho-Rajneesh movement’s experiment in building a spiritual city out the Oregon desert has for the most part receded from the national memory. It is little more than a quirky footnote to the history of Reagan’s American. There remain a few old enough to remember (when nudged) that guy with all the Rolls Royces. This despite the fact that at the time the creation of Rajneeshpuram (and later the “takeover” of the town of Antelope) was one of the most covered national news stories of its day and the creation of the Oregon commune one of the greatest social experiments of its kind in the history of the United States.

Though the movement attracted a degree scholarship during its early phase in India and initially after coming to America, since the dissolution of the Oregon commune there has been scant academic attention paid to the movement. One exception being Lewis F. Carter’s book Charisma and Control in Rajneeshpram: The Role of Shared Values in the Creation of a Community, published in 1990 less than five years after last the Rolls left the Bhagwan’s city on a hill. Carter’s book deals almost exclusively with the development and eventual demise of the Oregon commune and its legal aftermath. There has been no book length scholarly examinations of the movement as a whole from Acharya Rajneesh’s earliest years in Bombay to its later transformations and the movements relation to the larger spiritual and global landscapes of the late twentieth century. That is until now with the University of California publication of Hugh Urban’s Zorba the Buddha: Sex, Spirituality, and Capitalism in the Global Osho Movement.

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