The Three Dangerous Magi

Feb 15th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles, Axis Mundi Books, P.T. Mistleberger

by P.T. Mistlberger

Osho, Gurdjieff, Crowley. Three names that strike fear into the hearts of many, in particular those with only a tepid interest or involvement in matters of personal transformation, spirituality and the perennial wisdom traditions. And for good reason: these were men who didn’t just upset apple carts and disturb sacred cows, who didn’t just challenge spiritual status quos and offend accepted canons of belief, they rather demolished them wholesale. They were the three chief enfant terrible of 20th century spirituality, for the prime reason that they were not only concerned with the uncompromised truth needed to bring about inner transformation, they were also deeply provocative personalities who behaved in ways that seemed at times impossible to reconcile with the wise men they otherwise presented themselves as. They were thoroughly uncontrollable and the very definition of the spiritual avant-garde. On the way, each was branded as sinister, even evil, by many who could not understand them, and each was a prime example of the antinomian crazy wisdom master who defies moral codes en route to establishing and enacting their spiritual work. All were thoroughly dangerous to established religious doctrine—two in particular (Osho and Crowley) accordingly paid a heavy price. And contrary to views put forth by some of their most devoted followers, none was exactly a ‘perfect master of the universe.’ Each had significant human limitations—at times crudely apparent as in the case of Crowley and Gurdjieff, at other times far more subtle and complex as in the case of Osho.

Crowley’s closest followers believe that he was the Prophet of the new Aeon, and some even used the term ‘Crowleyanity’ to describe the religion he founded. Some of Gurdjieff’s disciples have viewed him as a ‘solar god,’ or an emissary from a secret global brotherhood from a higher world, a man who came with an enormously important mission to link Eastern wisdom with Western civilization, and to re-introduce an ancient spiritual system to humanity. Osho was seen in a similar grandiose light by many—a good example being one Osho disciple I knew, an intelligent and mature adult and a professional therapist, who once stated to me with all sincerity and solemnity that Osho was ‘the Lord of the World’ and that it was ‘extraordinary’ that he had even been born. (Osho’s famous epitaph at his ashram in Pune, ‘Never born, never died, just visited this Earth from 1931-1990’ represents as well as anything does the special light many of his followers see him in). Others found ‘evidence’ that Osho was the world teacher predicted in Nostradamus’s quatrains. More prosaically, he was described by the Sunday Mid-Day in India as one of the ten people, along with Gandhi, Nehru, and Buddha, who have changed India. Both Osho and Crowley were listed by the Sunday Times in London as one of the ‘1,000 Makers of the 20th Century’.

At the more hysterical other end of the spectrum, Crowley is notorious for drawing to him numerous popular condemnations from some of the English intelligentsia of his time, but particularly from the English press—the most widely known being the headline printed in 1924 by the John Bull tabloid, ‘The Wickedest Man in the World’, or at another time, ‘The Man We’d Love to Hang’. Another lurid headline, ‘The King of Depravity’, hints at the real reason for these attacks on his character, which almost always were triggered by rumor connected to his ‘sex magick’ practices. Gurdjieff was accused of being a Russian spy, confidence trickster, hypnotist, or black magician by more than one, and was compared by some to Rasputin as well as to Crowley himself. D.H. Lawrence famously disparaged Gurdjieff, referring to his center outside of Paris as a place where people were ‘playing a sickly stunt’. Osho, especially following the debacle at his commune in Oregon in the mid-1980s, was severely maligned and expelled from twenty-one countries during his infamous ‘world tour’ in 1986. The attorney general of Oregon at the time, Dave Frohnmayer, later described Osho as ‘evil’ with a ‘sinister light emanating from his eyes’. Some Christian fundamentalists saw him as an antichrist figure. In Oregon during the years in which he’d located his commune there, certain locals issued a T-shirt that depicted Osho’s face in the middle of rifle cross hairs, along with such slogans as ‘bag a Bhagwan’ (his name then being Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) or ‘better dead than red’ (a reference to the red clothes worn by Osho’s followers at that time).

For the record, I don’t subscribe to any of these dramatic, polarized views—the messianic or the diabolic. Gurus who are thought to be some sort of emissary from the higher worlds, or even ‘lord’ of the world, or the next messiah, or the messiah, etc., are a dime a dozen. Spiritual or religious leaders who get mired in scandal and are subsequently accused of being corrupt, depraved, or evil, are equally common. Were this to be a book about such gurus it would have to be a ten volume encyclopedia. No, the public notoriety of Osho, Gurdjieff, and Crowley does not constitute their uniqueness. However, for different reasons that I will lay out in this book, I believe that these three men in one respect were the three most significant (and coincidentally amongst the most notorious) spiritual teachers of the turbulent 20th century. I also maintain that all three were largely unheralded and even now, long after their deaths are still generally unrecognized or deeply misunderstood. That is perhaps in keeping with the nature of the times in which they lived, the powerfully wild 20th century, in which human civilization underwent giant spasms of growth as it desperately attempted (with questionable success) to throw off the shackles of centuries of deep unconsciousness amongst extraordinary natural disasters, famine and disease, environmental and political upheaval, overpopulation, unprecedented revolutions, and the most terrible wars in history.

P.T. Mistlberger is an author, researcher, transpersonal therapist, and international transformational workshop facilitator based in Vancouver, Canada.

The Three Dangerous Magi

The Three Dangerous Magi reveals scandal, mayhem, death, sex, drugs, ecstasy, enlightenment, in the lives of the three most notorious sages of the 20th century. Use their story for personal transformation.

 

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