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podcast 405 - Review of Wild Wild Country

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Credit: Eric Tolbert

Paul Wheaton and Jocelyn Campbell discuss the new Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country, a six-part mini-series delving into the events surrounding spiritual guru Bhagwan Shree Rajineesh when he moved his ashram from India to Oregon in 1981 and what transpired after the move. Paul and Jocelyn begin the podcast with a review of the show, discuss the thoughts and reactions that they experienced while viewing the documentary and share some of their views on community.

Paul and Jocelyn explore the strained relationship between the Rajineesh religious community and their closest local neighbors in the town of Antelope, Oregon. Eventually conflicts between the groups leads to an extreme hatred between the two groups and an escalation of harassment and bad behavior on both sides.

Paul draws a loose conclusion between the "weirdness" of the Rajineesh and the perceived "weirdness" of Permaculture enthusiasts. Paul and Jocelyn continue on to explore their individual takes on what is or is not a "cult" and if the group of Rajineesh rose to the level of a cult. Conversation moves on to some facts about the Rajineesh community and their Antelope, Oregon neighbors. Jocelyn then spends some time commenting on how difficult it is to watch a community be so closed minded and hateful towards other people who are different from themselves.

Wrapping up Paul talks about how the entire attempt by the Rajineesh to create their own community and the problems they faced are more the norm than the utopian view that most people envision when they think of intentional community. Paul talks about the level of conflict and friction that can occur between people attempting a different type of lifestyle, like Permaculture, and neighbors, family and friends who are not on board with people who are attempting a way that is different than their own.

Jocelyn shares how fortunate they are to be able to be in a situation where she and Paul are able to live life more on their own terms. Jocelyn points out that building community and relationships is an important part of Permaculture but sometimes you just can't build a positive relationship with some people.

Ending on a positive note Paul comments that he has brought himself to a place where he is strategically living in such a way to minimize the possibility of headaches and feels it going pretty well.

Relevant Threads

Wild Wild Country
Bhagwan Rajineesh
Paul Wheaton discusses Intentional Community
Visiting Wheaton Labs

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Just listened to the podcast, haven't seen the series, but just wanted to respond a little. I'd like to start by saying that I am a lighthearted though sometimes sarcastic person, but that everything I'm about to write is meant in the most sincere, gentle, thoughtful, compassionate, helpful way possible, and none of it is meant to be hurtful or marginalizing in any way. (I say this because the internet is a scary angry place, and I want no part of that.)

I am a Christian (in Canada) and wanted to chime in on the topic. I think that largely a lot of what Paul and Jocelyn said in response to this story is right about Christians and largely north american Christianity. Everything the people of that town did (as described) was unthinkable. And knowing what the Bible actually says makes it amazing to me that anyone could ever respond to different lifestyles the way those people did, and call themselves Christians. The irony being that much of America was founded by people trying to escape religious persecution from their governments and their communities. It turns out it only takes about a generation to forget why you're doing what you're doing and this is a great example of what can happen when a system of beliefs is handed down by blood and not by brain.

I say all this just to confirm that you are right in your assessment that Jesus life was characterized by going precisely to the people who were marginalized and on the fringes and sitting to eat with them, and though he called them to follow him and away from the life they were in, the harshest words he had were for the spiritual/political leaders of the time.

There is a difference between a cultural Christian and a Christian, and I think knowing the distinction might help interpret these things a little better. And although Paul's comment about "Jesus was a Buddhist" is totally absurd, I understand that by comparison, Jesus was a lot more like practicing modern Buddhists than he was like this particular, insular, closed minded, selfish, unforgiving, unloving, blindly hateful (culty???) Variety of Christianity displayed by those towns propel and government officials.

I hope this is all taken in the way it's intended. I am not saying I think all religions do the same thing or lead up the same mount or whatever popular rhetoric is on these days, but I am saying that I am happy to see new religious buildings go up even in my neighborhood because it means that where we live is a safe and inclusive place that protects those rights.

Thanks for all the podcasts, I hope this is helpful.

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to hear how i make the connection that jesus was a buddhistL  https://permies.com/wiki/60751/paul-religious-podcast

discussion of religion is limited to the religion forum on permies:  https://permies.com/f/146/Religion-Spirituality

Jordan Rempel
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Oh! Sorry Paul, bit of a newbie to the thread system. Thanks I'll check it out. 👍
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Really enjoyed Jocelyn's and Paul's take on this astonishing chapter in US history... I followed in the newspapers in the 80's, and the docu really fleshed out the story.  (I always thought the Raj 'looked'.. not quite right).   Just want to say that the Bagwhan was preaching a variation of Hinduism, not Buddhism at all.  (Buddhism did originate in the Hindu philosophy, but took a distinct turn.... see the Wiki descriptions for the Q&D histories)   Thanks! :)
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