Chapter 19: I Am a Very Practical Man
And I used to think that American government has some guts. It is not so. I have told my Russian sannyasins that inform your government that don’t be afraid of these cowards: a commune of five-thousand people, who have only three dozen old type guns for security - not even automatic guns - and a nuclear power who claims to be the greatest nuclear power, greater than Soviet Union, is afraid. They are keeping their army alert, they are bringing their national guard close to us, just so that within half an hour they can enter into Rajneeshpuram. They are gathering their vehicles in Madras. And they don’t have even guts to come themselves.
I have invited the Governor, the Attorney General that you come and be our guest and you see yourself - what is happening, what we are doing. Without seeing you go on condemning. For fifty years this land was not used - it was just a desert. Nobody was ready to purchase it. The owner was stuck. It was for sale for fifty years and not a single buyer turned up. We purchased it because we thought this is a good challenge for our sannyasins: if we can transform it into an oasis, and if we can make our commune self-sufficient as far as food is concerned, vegetables are concerned, fruits are concerned, milk products are concerned - then it will be a great joy of creativity.
For fifty years nobody bothered about the land and when we started cultivating it, so many law cases against us, from the Attorney General. First, that whatever we are doing is against their land use laws. And I told him publicly that first you should come here and you should see what we have done, whether it is against land. It may be against your land use laws, but is it against the land?
We have transformed a desert and rather than helping us, rather than appreciating us, you are dragging us unnecessarily into courts. Just because twenty years away you had made some law and some technicalities, that we don’t come under it, then change it! We are not against the land - you have to come and see it - and for twenty years your land use laws have not helped the land in any way.
Half of the Oregon’s land has been sold to the Federal government because Oregon’s economy goes on falling down. Still they are two-hundred-million in debts. Sooner or later they will have to give up their other lands also. So what kind of land use laws you have?
But they never came here.
Supreme court has decided in favor, in our favor. He has imposed, on a small matter. We had made tents with a little difference than ordinary tents, because ordinary tents can be used only in summer, but not in snow, in winter - and here it is seven months winter and heavy snow - so we had made them winterized, they can be heated, they can be air conditioned. Still they are tents, they are not permanent structures, because within ten minutes you can put them up or you can fold them up. Without seeing them, just hearing that they are different from tents, he declared they are permanent structures. And unheard before, he punished us one million-four-hundred-thousand dollars punishment, without even sending an officer to see what kind of tents they are. And the courts simply was amazed when they saw that these tents can be folded in ten minutes and can be put up in ten minutes, it does not matter with what material they are made - they are not permanent structures. He simply dismissed the whole case as stupid.
But he goes on finding anything. Now he has declared the city illegal, because religion and city are mixed.