In Oregon almost half of the land is owned by the federal government. This is simply ugly, undemocratic. They wanted – particularly the vice-president was interested – to own the whole of Oregon. And the federal government is angry with us because they were interested in this land, too. And this is a big area, 126 square miles. But they were trying to give just a little bit of compensation, and the owner was not ready to take it. It was for sale for decades, and because we purchased it and gave the right price for it, the state government is angry, the federal government is angry. This is strange – it seems we are not living in America, we are in the Soviet Union.
Your sentiments are similar to some of the conservative ranchers who live around here, since they also feel that the government shouldn’t own land and should stay out of the lives of individuals. Considering that, and the fact that you have made this land here very productive in the last four years, why is it that so many people dislike you?
There are a thousand and one reasons. A man like me can only be disliked or liked but cannot be ignored. You either have to love me or you have to hate me, there is no third alternative.
The people of Oregon, particularly the neighbors close to this property, have reasons to be against me. First, their animal nature – every animal has a territorial imperative; we are strangers, the ordinary human mind always feels afraid of anything that is strange, unknown, unpredictable. We are not Christians, we don’t believe in any religion. We don’t believe in any God, we don’t believe in any heaven and hell. Our basic approach is that this life itself can be paradise, why bother about anything else? If there is a heaven we will enjoy it, if there is a hell we will transform it too.
This land was just a desert when we came here. Only one single house and that, too, dilapidated. We have made it an oasis – we have created dams, we have created lakes, we are creating a small river – we have made it green. Now there are fully scientifically equipped houses for five thousand sannyasins, all centrally air-conditioned. Never before in history has there been such a commune – creative, intelligent, independent. We have our own school, we have our own university, we have our own hospital. Naturally they are very jealous.
This land was lying here for fifty years. Nobody cared about it – and suddenly we come from outer space and change the whole side! And we live comfortably, we live luxuriously – because I am the first religious man who respects luxury, who respects money. I am not in favor of poverty: I do not want a single individual to be poor. But I am not against capitalism. I want capitalism to spread so much and create so much wealth that there is no need for anybody to be poor. I don’t want to distribute poverty equally; I want so much abundance that there is no need for hoarding.
They have been here for hundreds of years, for generations, and they have not been able to create anything. And within four years we have created a place which can compete with any city. In just four years we have created a place, against all hostility, against every hindrance from the government. We are fighting so many cases in the courts, but nothing is going to prevent us.