Former Manager of Oregon Rajneeshpuram Sheela Birnstiel: ‘Those Afraid of My Honesty Are Scared of Their Own Truth’
Sheela Birnstiel’s book, “By My Own Rules: My Story in My Own Words,” which recently hit the stands. (photo via IANS)
By SUKANT DEEPAK/IANS
NEW DELHI – It had been more than three decades away from the camera glares, scandalous interviews, the dramatic rise and fall of Rajneeshpuram in the U.S., her fall-out with spiritual teacher Osho Rajneesh, and those 39 months in jail… But it just took two documentaries, “Wild Wild Country” and “Searching for Sheela,” and her visit to India in September 2019 after 35 years, to make the media go in a tizzy again.
Sheela Birnstiel had not lost her spunk. Just that this time, it was the next generation that was behind the cameras.
“For three years I have spoken it and answered all questions. I have been generous in explaining my reality and my truth. In fact, it was my father who motivated me to speak of my wide and rich life’s experience. He felt that what I have lived and learned from Bhagwan should be shared with full intensity with the world. Such treasure cannot be locked up in one’s heart. Such love must be passed on to all,” Sheela Birnstiel, personal secretary to Rajneesh from 1980 to 1985, and former manager of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon in the U.S., tells IANS.
Her book, “By My Own Rules: My Story in My Own Words” (Penguin), which recently hit the stands, bares it all—her lessons, beliefs, inspiration and the rules that define her life. “Looking in the past and remembering some recent events of the last 30 years were pleasant moments and grateful feelings. I felt I have been fully supported and cared for by ‘Existence’,” she adds.
For someone who has been subjected to sharp criticism, she believes that the world is a victim of undesired, extreme negativity. “Criticism comes from persons who are based in their personal negativities. Their focus is on scandals, therefore they miss out on my experience and creativity. Bhagwan had offered once in a lifetime wisdom and techniques to overcome our shortcomings in life. If we waste it, no one else is responsible,” says Birnstiel, originally from Gujarat, who was 16-years-old when she met Rajneesh for the first time.
Birnstiel feels that people are afraid of her honesty and scared of their own truth. “I have spoken about my time in prison, the accusations, etc., for a long time now. I have generously tried to explain and confront. Now I have put a full stop to it. There is nothing more to say on this subject.”
Talk to her about what she thinks of the Rajneesh movement in contemporary India, and she asserts, “I do not have any idea of the movement now. I have interest in Bhagwan and I hold his teachings to my heart.”
Currently running two care homes in Switzerland and one in Mauritius, she would like to set up one in India too. “Yes, something that is manageable from Switzerland, with capable persons in India. I have the experience and know how to set up homes. Of course, I cannot move to India permanently,” she concluded as she signs off.