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May 21, 2007

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"Hitchens is marvelously erudite." And yet, glancing through his book at Books-A-Million, I noticed several mistakes that even a High School student, with access to Google and Wikipedia, would not make.

While dogmatically asserting that "there is no Eastern solution," (as if Hitchens has investigated ALL Asian teachings. He mentions his days with Osho Rajneesh, but not much else,. Has he ever heard of S.N. Goenka? Ramana Maharshi? Nisargadatta Maharaj?), he arrogantly makes such statements as "Krishna was born of the virgin Devaka," (according to the myth, Krishna was the EIGHTH son of Devaki. So Devaki, not "Devaka" could not have been a virgin.), and that "Bombay" is the "traditional" name of Mumbai (Mumbai is both the original name and the correct pronunciation. Again, check Wikipedia).

I probably could go on and on, but I would need to buy the book to have it in front of me, and I do not want to give a dime to Hitchens (although I agree with many of his points). The point is, is it too much to expect of a professional journalist to take the trouble of researching his statements. This book is sloppy journalism at best.

Dennis Prager is awesome!

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
Read My Inaugural Address
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Doesn't the hatred of religion poison as well?

Of many of the reviews I've read, Hitchens performs poorly in his new book, creating silly claims of religion in addition to amateur mistakes as Todd mentioned. Aren't there better secular supporters without the stupidity?

These people cause more problems than they solve. If anything, their satire is much like Juvenal - biting, yet useless. Instead of creating peace, each one of them stratifies the division to even greater lengths. Religion will not leave until its appointed time. What don't these people get?

This depends on the depth of sarcasm I have yet not understood, but do you really believe that "moderates" are pools from which radicals draw their strength?

Ashwin, yes, I do. Jerry Falwell never was condemned by mainstream Christians, in the same sense as Osama bin Laden hasn't been by Muslims. Not really.

There is lip service given to "We don't agree with his extreme views," but there is no genuine outright rejection of those views.

This allowed the so-called "Moral Majority" to make abortion and gay marriage the only two issues that mattered to most Christians. Thankfully, this is changing now. But the passivity of mainstream Christians allowed Falwell's hatred to blossom.

For me, it comes down to how much you care about the truth. Is it possible to be halfway accepting of religious falsehoods, knowing how much damage they do?

Hitchens is pretty darn convincing along these lines. Countless die and suffer every day because of religious prohibitions that make no ethical or scientific sense.

I guess we can say "everyone is entitled to their own beliefs," but when people are dying as a result, I find it difficult to be anything but dismissive of superstition and ignorance.

I am listening to a piece of music composed by Robert Fripp titled, "Acceptance - Affirming," so maybe that is why this is all so much gong-clanging in comparison.

Watching Hitchens debate is like watching Hank Aaron at bat: they are both powerful, but I can't escape the fact that they are "doping". The direct metabolization of alcohol to protein that Hitchens' liver is doing for his brain at this point is analagous to the effect of steroids on striated muscle. Yes, it is an edge, it is destructive, and it's a perfectly natural process in response to stressors. Whoo-hoo.

I despair meeting a group of fresh-faced capitalists, (drug-dealers or pimps, say); a pumped group of politicians, (pick a supremacist pack); a gaggle of bored, atheistic, directionless fifteen-year-olds, (street nihilism anyone?); in fact the FBI stats tell me to stay away from 14 to 25 year-old males, regardless of their affiliation or nation of origin.

I sense the same thing as Ashwin in this: the power of anti-religious zeal is just as destructive. It is convenient to forget pograms, and the bleak history beginning with the Long March, but this litany becomes "who's who in international death squads."

Let's say that there is no such thing as emotion; it is an unreal excuse to produce behavior. My reason for killing anyone who gets in the way of my control of the world is... my religion! Or, my strong feeling about... God! Just excuses to continue to try to control the world.

Hitchens, (and of course his betes noir) have already rigged the game by getting me to accept that religion, and the social structures around it, are based on established logic. Once I accept the premise that such a purely emotional response to the universe can be "discussed" and "debated", I relinquish a sane purchase on my own experience.

Foolery. Western Christian "church fathers" did this with theology, and eastern believers claim that systems like buddhism are really "philosopies". Should Hitchens stop smoking, he would become one of the worst "reformed proselytizers" around. There are more ways in which he is like Falwell than ways in which he is unlike.

Brian,

His point is actually moot. Why? Because he forgets to mention all the crime and genocide done by governments!!! Hello. It's the organization of a code, cult, creed, or laws that make something prone to get into the "mob mentality" and have people on the outside, such as minorities or brown people.

Sure the founders of USA were Christians but they were also politicians. The godless have killed just as many people as the godful.

Let's be clear, no one has a pass on genocide, no one has a clear conscience on that score. Genocide is one of the laws of rebirth. That means we cannot prevent, cure it or change it. It just is, like gravity.

The only reason people bring up Hitler or Christians or Catholics is because they are white, European and they had the gaul to kill other whites, regardless to religion.

When Hitchens spreads the guilt equally then I might think he is on to something. No one is innocent, period.

Netemara

Heloise, in my post I said "true believers have done far more harm to the world than the faithless."

Do you agree with that? There are religious true believers and there are secular true believers. They're much more alike than different.

Both are divorced from reality, viewing their own selves -- and the beliefs held by those selves -- as the pivot around which the rest of the world revolves.

Hitler, Stalin, the Pope, Muhammad: they all share a worldview: "My view is the only correct view."

I agree with you that governments often are dangerous to one's health. Most decidedly so when true believers are in charge, as is the case in the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and a disturbingly large number of other countries.

Some people's "religion" is Christianity or Islam. Others, Fascism or Communism. Still others, Capitalism or Homophobia.

True, no one is innocent. However, more innocent are the humble who are willing to say, "This is what I believe, but I could be wrong."

No one is innocent, but guess what - no one is going to change. The godless and the godful alike massacred millions but the only constant is mankind.

Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and especially Charles Hitchens have done nothing constructive.

Asserting a secular world view, Hitchens has and will never do any good and publishes solely for the spotlight. Put a magnifying glass to his readership shall we? Atheists... uh, atheists... and ah, let's see... oh wait, atheists.

Are you going to read Jerry Falwell's new book (well, he's sorta dead...)? No. And no one half religious is going to do the same for Hitchens.

Interesting, it has never occurred to me that I should be worried if I see a large number of men coming towards me at dusk in a “strange” city (I assume strange means a city new to me). On the other hand if I see 1-5 men coming towards me at dusk in certain parts of most of the cities I am familiar with, I would be worried!
Live and let live, and we are all going to be alright.

Dennis Prager-Yuck!! I used to listen to his radio show back in the 90's until I became disgusted with his constant put down of Democrats and butt-kissing of Repubs.I would'nt listen to him now unless you paid me;any offers??

Brian: Heloise, in my post I said "true believers have done far more harm to the world than the faithless."

Do you agree with that?

Net: Yes, because Hitler, as you cite believed in Catholicism and the occult. He was a "true believer." What about the other mundane and run-of-the-mill murderers? Most of them were probably slackers or extreme zealots. In other words believers fall into the gamut of degrees of belief. If you are saying the fire and damnation guys are the worst, then I must agree with you.

Even according to AAB they are part of the sixth ray and they are the ones who are making shit stick to everything. My words not theirs.


Brian: There are religious true believers and there are secular true believers. They're much more alike than different.

Net: Now I am confused as to what you mean by true believers. Because the true believers separate themselves by religion and even moreso by salvation, such as it is.

If you mean a turbaned Sikh, and an orthodox Jew versus a Universalist and a Bahai person, then I would have to disagree. They are more different than alike.

But HPB says "separateness is an illusion" and I am a true believer in that.

Heloise aka Netemara

Todd Chambers said, Hitchens "mentions his days with Osho Rajneesh, but not much else". The following found on the darwiniana blog seems to relate:

-------------------------------------------

OSHO International received the following letter - which was sent to the Publisher and to Christopher Hitchens in response to the Osho chapter in his book. In his correspondence to us Mr. Allanach gave us permission to circulate his response.


Jack Allanach
29 Blaxland Road
Wentworth Falls NSW 2782 Australia


May 31, 2007


Christopher Hitchens
c/o TWELVE
Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10169


Christopher Hitchens:


I am writing in relation to a particular chapter in your book God is not Great – the chapter entitled There Is No “Eastern” Solution. I wish to point out, more to your publisher than to you – who should be aware of the fabrications and fallacies it contains – of how dishonest this chapter truly is.

Let’s get right down to it.

You say you donned “orange garb” to attend the ashram of a “celebrated guru”, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh “in order to help make a documentary film for the BBC” which, you also say, “did have a standard of fairness and my mandate was to absorb as much as I could.”

I remember your visit well. At that time I was ashram Press Officer. I am also blessed with near-photographic memory recall, and here is what I remember about your visit “to absorb as much as I could”:

I was in the press office with my colleague Vadan when one of the receptionists ushered you in. You informed us the BBC’s Tony Isaacs, whom I had met, had asked you to script a show on us for The World About Us. You certainly weren’t wearing orange.

For the next hour or so, Vadan and I filled you in on ashram activities. By morning tea time, I noticed one of your hands was shaking. I asked if there was something I could get for you.

“I have a little confession to make,” you said. “This is the first time in ten years I haven’t downed a fifth of scotch by this time. What I really need is a drink.”

“Apart from the bar at the Blue Diamond Hotel,” I said, “I doubt if you’ll find a bottle of scotch for miles.”

“Some in my room,” you muttered. “So if you chaps don’t mind, I’ll toddle off now and come back tomorrow.” You held up the literature we’d given you.”Enough homework to keep me busy until then.”

The next day we waited for you, but you didn’t show. The following day either. By the third afternoon it was apparent you weren’t coming back at all. So much for absorbing as much as you could.

Secondly, you say we were urged “to part with all material possessions,” and that this money went to purchasing a “fleet of Rolls-Royce motorcars.” Absolute fabrication. How deeply you delved into the Pune commune is clear from this single statement. Where was the fleet housed on that overcrowded six acres? The only time there was a Rolls-Royce on that property was at the very end of our first stay in Pune when, following an assassination attempt by a Hindu fundamentalist, we imported a metal detector and an ancient bullet-proof Rolls. The fleet came a lot later, in America.

Next, you talk about the film by Wolfgang Dobrowolny – or Veet Artho as we knew him – that was shot in “secret.” More invention on your part. Laxmi, Osho’s secretary and the Foundation’s managing trustee, fell for Veet Artho’s sweet talk and, despite repeated and vociferous warnings from me and others that it would come back to haunt us, gave him permission to shoot footage of an encounter group in which physical expression was allowed – an initiative of encounter group leader Teertha which Osho immediately instructed be dropped as soon as someone got hurt.

Laxmi’s mandate was, as she put it, that “word (of Osho’s availability in Pune) must reach all the corners of the world” and in her naivety (she’d never been outside India) she thought people would see how liberating it was to free themselves from repressed emotions and traumas and flock to Pune. It came as a shock to her to learn that the majority of people back in the 1970s, when faced with a reflux of suppressed emotion or childhood pain chose, rather than dealing with it, to have another fag and pour another couple of stiff drinks.

By the way, Dobrowolny never owned the rights to the film. They were retained by the Foundation, and the BBC’s use of the footage was illegal.

I also found your insinuation extremely offensive that a “German princeling of the House of Windsor” met a shady end as a result of participating in a therapy group. Vimalkirti, as we knew him, collapsed suddenly one morning, doing his daily martial arts exercise routine on his own, from an aneurysm in the brain – hereditary I gather. He was taken immediately to an intensive care facility at Jehangir Nursing Home in Pune where he died, without recovering consciousness, a few days later. There was nothing suspicious, as you imply. Imagine how his wife, who is still involved with our worldwide community, and his daughter will feel when/if they read what you’ve written. Shame on you.

Finally, I find it odd that of all the supporters of organized religions on the vast Indian spiritual scene, you pick the one man who consistently criticized the religions for the damage they have done – through promoting blind belief, blind faith and generating blind fear – down the ages. Osho’s attacks on Mother Teresa of Calcutta (is that where you got the idea for your book?) and her boss, whom he called “The Polack Pope” are well documented. His series of talks in America so often focused on the dangers of Christian fundamentalism that today they seem prophetic. Among the last series of talks he gave in public, two titles come to mind — Christianity, the Greatest Poison and Zen, the Antidote to All Poisons – as well as a series illustrating where Nietzsche and other atheists missed the boat, God is Dead: Now Zen is the Only Living Truth.

To illustrate your premise that “there is no Eastern solution,” why pick a mystic who, his entire life, through discourses and books, tried to alert mankind to the fact, as you say, that “religion poisons everything.” And why pick one who left his body in 1990? Did he have that big an impact on you, or was it because you couldn’t be bothered updating the “research” – and I use the term facetiously – you pretend to have conducted 30 years ago?

In closing, permit me a footnote. After your completely unprofessional behaviour and lack of integrity in Pune all those years ago I often wondered whether I would have a chance one day to tell the truth about your visit and to expose the shallowness of the effort you put into the documentary for the BBC.

Whether anyone else but you and your publisher read this letter, I am pleased that, at long last, I’ve had an opportunity to say what really happened. It’s comforting to know that even after 30 years, chickens still come home to roost.

Jack Allanach/Krishna Prem
cc: Jonathan Karp, Publisher and Editor-in Chief, TWELVE
cc: Osho International Foundation, Bahnhofstr. 52, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland
cc: Osho International, 80 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

--------------------------

There is another post here

http://lists.asu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind9805&L=meaning&P=52

which would suggest that Hitchens has, well, taken inspiration from Osho for his earlier writings on Mother Teresa.

>The only time there was a Rolls-Royce on that property was at the very end of our first stay in Pune when

Nonesense - absolute tosh!

He had a Rolls long before the assasination attempt - I saw him drive up in it every monring years before he was attacked.

So who's lying?

How could anyone applaud someone like Christopher Hitchens? He is leading people to believe there is no hope for them at all. No hope in this life or the next. I would never applaud that. You are telling me that you will clap for a man that tells you you have no hope when you die? I would never clap for that.

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