How do leaders of contemporary “utopian” communities, such as Pachamama in Costa Rica, gain followers and how do they lose them?
Established in the mountainous region of Guanacaste, Costa Rica, the Pachamama village identifies itself as an intentional community, and as an “experimental village, a spiritual commune, and a centre of transformation.” In analyzing a first-person account of the experience of an acquaintance of the community’s leader, whose name is Tyohar, evidence can be drawn to acknowledge how the leader of the community gains and loses followers. By abiding to an already existing, spiritual ideology (referred to as the “New Age”) and the teachings of the well-known, spiritual leader Osho, Tyohar gains a certain degree of credibility; he is a convincing source of truth. However, the same account also serves to extract evidence of how the leader repels individuals from his own community by presenting inconstancies between the institution he claims to follow and his actions.
The author of the online narrative account describes his negative views towards Tyohar, but in going so he indirectly presents the reasons why the leader has followers. He begins by narrating an event where Arenu, a “Scottish disciple,” was left behind in a retreat, and how the event lead to his death. He continues to explain how Tyohar intended to perceive his death as something positive, and how he explained that Arenu “got enlightened,” and thus died. The description of the event can be tied to another instance where the writer describes how Tyohar uses “Osho” and “sweettalk” in “the little kingdom he reigns over.” By understanding that by Tyohar makes use of Osho’s teachings then, which are already accepted by those who now follow him, and regards death (which commonly provokes sentiments of discouragement) as something positive. Hence, the leader’s words reflect a strong attachment to an ideology that people who go to Pachamama are already seeking, making him appear as a credible leader, and making him attract followers.
However, as described by the account, what Tyohar claims to believe and his Osho-based expressions have no correlation with his later actions, which becomes evidence of the ways the leader repels people from his modern “ The writer explains how after explaining that the death of his follower was something positive and that Arenu was “enlightened,” Tyohar “cried his eyes out in a private satsang.” He adds how the leader “avoided Arenu’s parents and later quietly removed every trace of Arenu.” The writer then presents evidence of how the actions of Tyohar do not seem to support his idea that Arenu’s death was something positive; he narrates how he “cried” and “avoided his parents” to juxtapose Tyohar’s words and his actions. If his death was something positive, the reader is lead to ask, then why would he avoid speaking about it? Why would he cry? Hence, the writer demonstrates evidence of how the leader of a Utopian community loses followers (such as the writer) by behaving contrary to the ideology that his community is supposed to revolve around.
It it important to acknowledge however, that while the conclusions presented are substantiated with evidence, they are derived from a source that has limitations. The writer of the account presents only a one-sided account on Tyohar, thus room for biases is present.
“I haven neither received nor given unauthorized material during the completion of this work”
“I Know the Crazy Control Freak.” Guru’s Feet. Kali_mon, 6 Apr. 2010. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://www.gurusfeet.com/opinion/i-know-crazy-control-freak>.
“Tyohar.” Pachamama. Web. 9 Nov. 2015. <http://www.pachamama.com/tyohar.asp>.