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 doing 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 led 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 Oshois an internationally known spiritual teacher and founder of the Rajneeshpuram community in Oregon, I unraveled how Tyohars’behavior towards the death of one of his followers is based on an already established college of thought called “The New Age.” This ideology has contemporary momentum; it focuses on “awareness, simplicity, detachment from financial constraints, and serenity,” and westernized people are continuously searching for it. The pressure of the Westernized world makes people seek a retreat that will make them “escape” their realities; based on “The New Age” ideology, Pachamama then becomes a utopia for them. The source then set the stage to research the origins of this community, which led me to discern how that Tyohar makes use of Osho’s teachings to attract followers. When approaching the concept of death (which commonly provokes sentiments of discouragement), Tyohar appears to do so from a positive perspective (the disciple got “enlightened”), to stay true to “The New Age. 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 whose ideological standards make him be worth to follow. It is by appearing to be the leader of a utopia whose ideological standards already have international clout, that Tyohar attracts people to Pachamama.
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 “utopia.”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, I was led 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.
Moreover, the writer of the exhibit source explain how he was there when Tyohar was “scolding his wife for some missing paperwork before Mahableshwar silent-retreat.” Again, the source provides evidence of how the leader behaves in discordance with the principle of “serenity.” It is here when I unravel how his whole utopian community seems to be based on an illusionary concept. In theory, the community seems to be a utopia, it represents standards that are ideal for anyone wishing to have a more peaceful lifestyle. In practice however, this utopia becomes unattainable and unrealistic; the source provides evidence of how the community’s leader is one of the contributing factors of it becoming an untruthful example of a modern utopia.
The exhibit source thus served for multiple purposes. One, it allowed me to outline how it is the established core-values of the Pachamama community that makes it become utopian; people search for a “serene,” “simple,” “free” state of mind. Two, it made me discern how Tyohar based his own community’s ideological standards on one that already existed and is significantly popular: “The New Age.” By doing this, Tyohar easily acquires followers. And three, it allowed me to understand how not abiding to the ideology makes followers question the credibility of the community itself. Ultimately, the source helps me analyze the nature of a modern utopia, the techniques used by its leader to maintain it, and the flaws that makes it lose credence.
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.