Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A View of "Wild Wild Country"

Watching the Netflix series about Rajneeshpuram, Wild Wild Country, has brought up many feelings in me. I skipped some of the boring stuff (Sheela’s lengthy justifications, for example) and looked mainly for the original footage of the commune life. 

Upon closing the last chapter, I whispered to myself, “My beloved Commune, I love you.”

By “commune” I mean all the friends present there. We were thousands, I didn’t know everyone personally, but we crossed each other’s path every day on these dusty or muddy roads, in the yellow buses, in the cafeteria, or on the building sites.
And there was a complicity just in the silent exchange of glances, a flavor of peace, kindness and humor.

Many comments about this Netflix series that I read or saw on the Internet come from outsiders and fail to grasp what was really happening on a deeper level in this commune.

Fortunately, Sunshine and Niren’s interviews give the listener a glimpse of that flavor, even if only through their intelligent and light-hearted comments.

So I would like to share a few things that I, a resident of Rajneeshpuram, experienced during these four years in the Oregonian sagebrush desert.

That might provide the two directors with some insight about the invisible story behind the factual events and possibly for them to open further that most profound inner chapter that we all lived.

I called Sheela’s office from France in 1982 and said I was a veterinary surgeon, ready to come help. Luckily for me, they needed one for the dairy barn and the Hereford herd grazing the barren land. 

So I landed there in early winter, and met some of the toughest, freezing 4 am getups of my life, setting up everyday the milking parlor with my friend Manas, or roaming the land in search of newborn calves, which we dipped into warm baths to save them from freezing.

Soon enough I got a halftime job in the construction department, helping erect 90 townhouses and a hotel. That opened my horizon!

First thing, it was not a men-only crew. We had beautiful blonde American and German women wearing tool belts and steel-soled shoes. And they were bloody good at sheet-rocking the two-by-four structures. This mix was light and fun.

I learnt carpentry and sheetrock quite fast. It was indeed amazing how this hive of young men and women barreled through these construction projects in such a festive way. 
Some of that you can see in the Netflix footage. But what you don’t see is the awareness, the inner witnessing meditation practiced by the builders.

We were having fun andwe were present with each gesture, just like the Zen monks a few centuries ago. Inner awareness like them but also lightness and tenderness with each other, the hallmark of Osho’s transmission. 

I eventually became a coordinator for a small crew of ten workers, skirting the townhouses against floor frost. 

As it happened, Sheela wanted the hotel done very fast. We were on a “crunch” as they called it.

The crew coordinators organized an evening of laying sheetrock panels with good music. I was both honored to be invited by the experienced lads and at the same time curious about the combination.
At 9 pm I entered the vast indoor site and put on my tool belt and my screw gun. The atmosphere was light, and it was a nice change not to have to explain tasks to others or to control the building process for the crew.
I could simply throw myself into the pleasure of physical exercise. In silence, enjoying the music and our skill, we picked up large 8-foot panels and swung them into place in one graceful movement.
It was indeed a dance and an exercise in awareness at the same time. It had to be methodical and precise like any construction job, but there was a grace and a joy in our movements, quite a rare event among men.
Zen and the art of laying sheetrock, if I had to name it. Awareness in the purest Zen form, witnessing our bodies skillfully moving about the site in coordinated ways. Just like a Gurdjieff dance performance.
Precisely Gurdjieff had talked about the three layers of energy available to man, the vast majority of us knowing ever only the very first layer.

After a 9-hour regular working day, and half way into that special evening, I suddenly entered another layer, riding a fresh and powerful wave of energy, witnessing with great surprise how I was now tapping into that unknown reservoir.
Retrospectively I understood that the combination of putting my 100 percent power, my 100 percent awareness into the physical experience, coupled with a sense of lightness, the juicy music, and the humor of the lads, brought forth this incredible experience.

Years later, when my family in France objected that I had worked for free, I smiled at my younger brother who had visited me in Rajneeshpuram. He knew I had been paid tenfold in a currency that is indescribable.

The Netflix series failed to relate those experiences. We explored and discovered absolute treasures through this inner search. And let me tell you: tThis was the reason we were there. Not for Sheela, not for sex, not for the prowess of building a town, not for the worship of a guru…

We were there to imbibe a very beautiful and mysterious atmosphere, the Buddhafield of a true Master, and possibly to blossom into unique flowers of silence and bliss. 

The rest was superficial.

Swami Anand Shakta

Sunday, November 12, 2017

It's Only a Brand!

By Sangeet Duchane (Ma Prem Sangeet)
A court in the European Union recently upheld rulings of lower tribunals (not courts) that had allowed OSHO as a trademark for OIF in the EU only. In arguing for this approval, OIF claimed that OSHO has nothing to do with meditation, it is just a brand.
While many of us are offended by the underlying sentiment of this, from a purely legal point of view, OIF is correct. And let us rejoice that they are right and that they have admitted this on the record. The trademark approval means that OIF can use OSHO as a brand for goods and services that OIF owns or legally controls. A trademark has nothing to do with meditation or the teachings of a spiritual master, as OIF has admitted.
So, the question is, what does OIF own or control?
Q: Does this decision mean that OIF owns Osho’s intellectual rights, such as copyrights?
A: Of course not. Does anyone seriously think that if a company has a brand that uses the name of an historical person like George Washington, Nelson Mandela, or Winston Churchill they somehow magically own the property of that person? Does the owner of a George Washington Savings and Loan brand magically own Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s residence? Of course not. This is just a brand; it has nothing to do with ownership of any kind of property of any historical person.
Was the ownership of Osho’s copyrights discussed in the case? Yes, it was, in the context of deciding if the name of a spiritual leader could be a TM. Did the trademark tribunal have jurisdiction to rule on copyright ownership? No, it didn’t. It was a glorified government office with jurisdiction over trademarks, not a court.
In fact, the process of the trademark proceedings weakened any legal claim OIF might have to copyright ownership. OIF has used three separate and contradictory arguments as to why it claims to own the copyrights. The first attempt was to claim that Osho signed the rights directly over to RFI, the US organization controlled by Sheela. But there were no original documents to prove this and no living person who could authenticate photocopies.
So, OIF came up with a new story. The new story was that Osho hadn’t signed over rights to RFI, as OIF had claimed for years. They now claimed Osho had signed a power of attorney giving Sheela the power to transfer rights, and she transferred them to RFI. But OIF didn’t have originals of these alleged documents either. So, they brought in Philip Toelkes (Niren), who testified that his memory of documents created 30+ years ago was so exact that he could verify these photocopies—which could easily have been tampered with—were exact copies of the original documents. OIF’s opponents naturally challenged this claim.
In an attempt to issue a coup de grace on the ownership issues, OIF then introduced an alleged will of Osho. Toelkes again came in to testify. He claimed that, though he was not licensed to practice law in India and did not know Indian law, he had drafted the will for Osho and could testify that Michael O’Byrne (Jayesh) and John Andrews (Amrito) had witnessed Osho’s signature.
The will was submitted to forensic experts, and four experts to date have found that the “signature” on the “will” is an exact copy of a signature found on the cover of an Osho book from the 1970s. No two signatures of any living person are ever exactly the same, yet these are exactly the same, meaning the signature is forged. Further, we all know that Osho’s signature changed over time. In the weakness of his last months, his signature was very different than it had been in the 1970s. In short, the “will” was found by the experts to be a pretty blatant forgery.
OIF quickly withdrew the will. When a police inquiry in India ordered OIF to produce the original of the will, Mukesh Sarda testified that Nirvano (formerly Vivek) had destroyed the original. Those of us who were in Pune at the time and living and working in Lao Tzu know that Nirvano did not have access to documents relating to Osho at that time. But even if that story was in any way credible, Nirvano died before Osho, and if she had destroyed the will, they would simply have had Osho sign another. If they’re claiming that they didn’t know the will was destroyed until after Osho died, then how would they know Nirvano was the person who destroyed it? How would they know Osho didn’t destroy it? And why did they submit a will to a legal tribunal if they knew the will could not be executed without an original? In short, the will, even if it had been authentic, would never have had any legal value if no original existed at the time of Osho’s death. Toelkes would have known this, but the people at OIF tried to mislead the tribunal anyway. Like all the stories of this group of people, nothing in this mess holds together or makes sense.
In the process of creating this absurd story, Philip Toelkes has destroyed whatever credibility he might have had to verify documents. If he takes the stand in any court considering copyrights, he will be under oath and will be questioned about his testimony on the “will” under penalty of perjury. Even if he might be willing to perjure himself about the “will,” the forensic findings would undermine his credibility on the authentication of any document.
This means that OIF cannot validate the photocopies of “copyright assignments” it has tried to use as original documents for decades. OIF admitted that their first theory was not true and now cannot prove their second, because their witness has lost all credibility. They’ve admitted their third try, the “will,” was never valid. As a result, OIF’s claim to copyright ownership has never been weaker or less plausible.
Q: Did Osho own rights in the centers that used his name or in the meditation techniques he created?
A: Absolutely not. Osho never signed any kind of agreement with any center, except the original Jeevan Jagruti Kendra in India, many years ago, and no original of that document exists. Osho asked people to start centers or agreed to their requests, and he asked them to use his name. People did that out of love for him, and they accepted as much of his guidance as they chose while he was alive out of love for him. It was all about meditation, and nothing about a brand.
Once Osho was out of the body, people continued to run centers inspired by his teachings, as they understood those teachings, and by their own inner guidance. The goods and services, such as programs, groups, meditations, and so on that people developed and have continued to develop have always belonged to them. They have never belonged to Osho.
Osho put his meditation techniques into the public domain around 40 years ago. Nothing can ever take them out of the public domain. This was in the tradition of the great masters of the past who created vipassana, Zen techniques, and so on, for the good of humanity. Osho never assigned the rights in any meditation technique to anyone, and freely gave thousands of people permission to use the meditations, who have taught thousands of others without any legal agreements.
Q: Does this decision mean that OIF can force people to follow OIF’s ideas about 24-karat Osho, as OIF claimed in their statement?
A: No, of course not. The decision wasn’t about meditation or Osho’s teachings. It was only about a brand.
In the past OIF has claimed that ownership of a brand would mean that it could control the content of Osho’s teaching. OIF claimed that it could take legal control of centers and create a franchise and that it could own the center’s intellectual property rights.
This is nonsense. Even Osho never owned rights in the centers, so no one using his Zen title as a brand could magically do so. A trademark is only about a brand, as OIF has admitted. OIF owns its own goods and services or what it owns through valid voluntary legal assignments directly to OIF—nothing else.
OIF currently has control of a brand, in the EU only, which no longer includes the UK. This means they can object to how the word osho is used in marketing in that area. It means nothing else.
Q: So, what’s next?
A: You are free to choose what you want to do. No one can be forced to submit to OIF’s control in any way. There can be no enforced “24-karat” interpretation of the historical person Osho. Ideas can never be owned under any circumstances. Expression of ideas can be owned in the form of copyrights. Brands, that have nothing to do with ideas, can be owned as trademarks. But ideas, interpretations of ideas, can never be owned, even by the person who first expresses an idea. No one knows this better than Osho, who often uses and interprets the ideas of others.
Centers can voluntarily choose to join an OIF franchise in the EU if they want to, of course. They could always have done this. Caveat: Anyone considering this kind of agreement should have all legal documents reviewed by a very good attorney who is representing your interests and not OIF’s. Make sure you are not signing over ownership of your intellectual property rights, that OIF cannot take over the center or institute, that OIF cannot take over finances, and, for example, take away your retirement benefits. If OIF claims you have signed over rights, have all documents checked by your legal counsel. OIF has a history of misrepresenting this.
If you do not want your center or institute, etc. in the EU to be controlled by the people in OIF, the people implicated in the forgery of Osho’s will, keep in mind that OSHO is only a brand. No one can ever own an historical person, so no one can stop you from identifying Osho the historical person as the inspiration for your work; no one can control your ideas or steal your intellectual property rights. You need to consult a good local attorney to find out how you can deal with the issue of a brand. It may be different in different countries in the EU. So, you need to check carefully.
It may be enough, for example, to change the “Osho ABC Meditation Center,” to the “ABC Meditation Center, inspired by the teachings of the mystic Osho.” But you need to ask an attorney in your country for the details. In some places, if you used “Osho” before the date that OIF registered it as a TM in the EU, you may be exempt from the trademark. Again, you need to check.

So, be careful, check everything, protect yourselves, and keep in mind this is only a brand. OIF has chosen to have nothing to do with meditation, but the teachings of the historical mystic Osho are all about meditation and many of us will all carry that on.

Ramateertha on EU Court of Justice Decision on the “Osho” Trademark

On October 11, 2017, the European Court of Justice pronounced its verdict in the “Osho” trademark case. Our appeal requesting the cancellation of the trademark was dismissed, and the EUCJ has thus confirmed the validity of the trademark as a brand.
The subject of the relationship between Osho and meditation was debated in a hearing before the court in Luxemburg on December 13, 2016. At this hearing, the lawyer of Osho International Foundation stated: “Osho has nothing to do with meditation – it is a brand.” The court has now decided in favor of this interpretation.
In my view it is a fateful irony that the name of the man who spent all his life speaking about meditation, and for whom meditation was the focus of his entire life and work, has now been established as the brand name of a business organization in Europe.
Let us review the facts: For the first eight years after Osho’s death in 1990 the use of the name Osho was not restricted in any way. The posthumous annexation and monopolization of the name Osho began in around 1998 with its registration as a trademark for Osho International Foundation in Zurich. This was done behind the back of the community of Osho’s followers, clearly in an attempt to forestall possible (justified) objections to the registration.
The retrospective allegation that Osho himself wanted his name to be a trademark and that he actually ordered its registration is simply untrue. It is an attempt to mislead, and to legitimize OIF’s own objectives and plans.
In a press notice released on October 17, OIF writes that they are delighted that they are now able to preserve Osho’s message in its purest form, “like 24-karat gold”. This creates the impression that Osho himself personally entrusted OIF with this “task”. In reality, the request to disseminate and preserve his message ‘24-carat gold’ was made in a public lecture delivered by Osho in 1986, and it was addressed to all his disciples and friends! (Sermons in Stones, lecture 12, question 4). Here too, in my opinion, OIF is indirectly appointing itself as the guardian of Osho’s message and attempting to distract attention from its own real interests.
In the USA Osho’s sannyasins resisted the monopolization of his name, and after a trial lasting seven years the name Osho was cancelled as a trademark in the USA. The decisive point there was that Osho was seen as a spiritual teacher, and the use of the name Osho as a trademark was thus not allowed because it would have constituted a restriction of the free practice of religion.
The appeal against the use of the name Osho as a trademark in Europe began in 2009, with the objective of enabling free use of the name Osho in Europe in the same way as in America. The European Patent Office ultimately dismissed the request to cancel the Osho trademark on the grounds that although Osho was a spiritual teacher, the content of his teachings was not concrete enough for his name to be able to stand for a clearly defined message.
During the litigation the OIF lawyer submitted an affidavit together with a will that Osho had allegedly made and signed around three months before his death. To the astonishment of everyone involved, this will proved to be a forgery. At the time the will was not legally relevant for the decision of the appeal, since the only question in dispute was whether Osho’s name had been rightfully registered as a trademark. However, submission of the forged will does show that OIF is prepared to use any means to establish itself as the heir apparent to Osho’s intellectual property – including the trademark, the copyright and his works of art.
One must ask whether such behavior can be regarded as a proper qualification for preserving Osho’s message in its purest form, “like 24-carat gold”. This is at the very least a highly creative interpretation of the facts. I personally believe that money, power and control are more likely to be the real motives here.
And so now the European Court of Justice has confirmed the ruling of the European Patent Office. This is a decision that I believe to be wrong, because it completely ignores the question of free practice of religion and focuses only on the business aspects of the Osho trademark. To me ‘Osho’ has nothing to do with a brand but with Meditation. That was and still is the very center of his life and teaching.
At no point in his life, until the day of his death, did Osho ever ask anyone to sign contracts or agreements of any kind. It is also an uncontested fact that Osho repeatedly and clearly stated that the Osho meditation centers should always remain free and independent of any other organizations. And it also remains a fact, that nobody, who does not want, can be forced to sign a contract.
On the other hand, the registration of the trademark does not mean that one can no longer use the name Osho to refer to the historical person. This, in turn, means that there is a difference between OSHO and Osho, and living with both at the same time is certainly going to require a great deal of intelligence creativity.

Cologne, October 21, 2017


Monday, September 22, 2014

Clarification and Analysis of the Most Recent Swiss Order

Clarification and Analysis of the Most Recent Swiss Order by Sangeet Duchane (Ma Prem Sangeet) The group calling itself the Inner Circle has recently sent out a message with excerpts from a decision of the Swiss Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations that had previously removed the board members from the OIF, Zurich board and appointed a trustee. The new order temporarily reinstates OIF board members. The IC message failed to report that the primary reason given in the decision for reinstating the OIF board members at this point in time was that a worldwide book fair will be held in October (in Frankfurt) and that it is essential for the board members to be free to negotiate publishing contracts or the Foundation will suffer irreparable financial harm and the trustee was unable to supervise this activity. This injunction related only to the makeup of the OIF board pending the review of the complaint against the OIF board members. It was not a decision on the merits of the case, though comments were made about the merits. Under the order, Robert Doetsch (Ramateertha), as the official complainant, has 30 days to appeal this reinstatement order to the Federal Administrative Court in St. Gallen. This is not an appeal of the final decision on the complaint, only of the interim reinstatement. Meanwhile, the submission of evidence related to the original complaint will continue. Ramateertha has until October 13, 2014 to reply to the OIF board members’ reply to his complaint in the ongoing administrative process, but an extension is likely. After that the board members may be given another opportunity to reply. Board members may also receive extensions to file these replies, so it is unclear when a final decision will be made. Until the Swiss government makes a final decision the board members will not be cleared, and the Swiss office has reserved the right to require supervisions of the board members during the pendency of the proceeding. The conclusions about the validity of the original complaint against OIF board members quoted by the Inner Circle are based on the report and recommendations of the trustee appointed by the Swiss government, Andreas G. Keller, who has concluded that the allegations of the complaint were baseless. In reaching this preliminary conclusion both the trustee and the Supervisory Board ignored the overwhelming evidence of at least one illegal activity by these individuals. The strongest accusation of illegal behavior is that two members of the board of OIF, Michael Byrne (Jayesh) and John Andrew (Amrito), and their attorney, Phillip Toelkes (Niren), filed a “will” as evidence in a legal proceeding purported to be Osho’s will. They all signed the “will,” claiming that they were witnesses to Osho’s signature in 1989. Forensic examination has shown that the alleged Osho signature on the “will” was identical to the signature on a 1976 letter from Osho that was posted on several websites. Since then a copy of the letter has been found on the cover of the book Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, v. 5, published in 1976. Forensic examinations are confirming that the signature on the book cover is the same as the signature on the alleged will and that the paper of the book cover is older than 1989. Four forensic experts in three countries (Germany, Italy, and India) have confirmed with 100 percent certainty that if the will is more recent than the original signature or copies of the signature, the will is unquestionably a forgery. Still, the Supervisory Board alleges that no illegal activity was found. If the will is forged, then members of the board, their attorney, and other members of the board who were involved in the legal proceeding where the will was submitted or who knew of the forgery and failed to report it (basically all of them), may be guilty of criminal offenses for conspiracy, forgery, and providing false testimony with regard to the primary claimed assets of the Foundation. This issue has not even been mentioned, let alone addressed, by the latest order, though it was clearly presented in the complaint and mentioned in the Board’s earlier order suspending the board members. At the very least, evidence of forgery and the submission of false testimony means that all the assertions of the OIF board members must be subjected to rigorous independent investigation. How much credibility is left for anyone who would stoop so low as to forge a will of their own teacher/Master? If they would be dishonest about that, what wouldn’t they be dishonest about? The alleged illegal activity of forgery and providing false testimony is very relevant to this proceeding and cannot simply be ignored when the substance of the complaint is addressed. OIF claims to have approximately 2,700 publishing contracts for Osho’s work. In 2011 Klaus Steeg (Pramod) testified that in 2011 OIF had “over 200,000 e-subscribers” on the Osho website. On the website, subscription prices range from $1.99 to 2.49 per month. This would mean that OIF was receiving from $4,776,000 to $8,376,000 annually in 2011 just from e-subscribers, and may be receiving more now. This income is primarily based on OIF’s claim to own Osho’s copyrights, including digital rights. So the alleged assets of the Foundation, from which it claims millions in income per year, are the exact same assets covered in the “will,” which experts say is forged, and ownership of these assets is worth a substantial amount of money. That could make the attempt to attain it by fraud a serious crime, and the Swiss government needs to fully investigate these allegations. The activity of forging such a will raises several serious questions: 1) questions about the honesty and character of the accused perpetrators and their suitability to operate a nonprofit foundation; 2) the reason behind the alleged fraud. Why would board members need to forge a will if the Foundation was operating above board and actually owned what it claimed to own? 3) How much damage has been done to the Foundation’s purpose by the actions of board members, since their actions, in the name of the Foundation, reflect on Osho and damage his reputation? 4) Why didn’t Mr. Keller ask ‒ or answer ‒ any of these questions before recommending temporary reinstatement of board members? OIF’s claim to own Osho’s copyrights has always been disputed. In the case regarding trademarks in the US OIF claimed to own copyrights based on documents dated in 1978, 1981, and 1985. That claim was refuted first because the 1978 and 1981 documents were not copyright assignments, but licenses, and second because no originals could be produced to prove those documents were authentic. In the EU proceeding regarding the trademark issue OIF came up with a whole new theory of copyright ownership. It then claimed to own Osho’s copyrights based on an alleged assignment by Sheela in 1983 under alleged powers of attorney from Osho. However, when asked to produce originals of any of these documents, OIF was unable do so. So, as the EU proceeding was drawing to a close, OIF submitted the “will” as its new or additional basis for claiming copyright ownership. The credibility and integrity of the OIF board members then came glaringly into question. Osho’s intellectual property rights are valuable, not only in a monetary sense, but as spiritual teachings and insight allegedly entrusted to a Swiss foundation to be held for the benefit of everyone, alive now or in future generations, who wants access to this insight for any reason. The issue of board membership cannot be about the board members and their belief in their entitlement to be on the board of the Foundation no matter what they do. People who willfully commit criminal acts in the name of the Foundation must be removed from the board to protect the purpose of the Foundation, which is to present Osho’s teaching to the world. This protection is for the good of the beneficiaries of the Foundation and to further the Foundation’s purpose. Switzerland has both a legal and a moral duty to preserve the assets of the Foundation, including the good name of Osho, and remove from a position of authority people who are found to have carried out illegal activities in the name of the Foundation. Removal of board members will not harm the Foundation. Turnover in board membership is inevitable in nonprofits that span human lifetimes. The current board, all near or past retirement age, will leave the board at some point in any event and the Foundation will continue. New board members can be appointed who have business expertise and access to business advisors who can carry on the work, including the work of financial restructuring to recover from the financial mess the current board has created. The greatest risk to the work of the Foundation is if the board consists of people who try and take personal control of the foundation’s assets, as Jayesh is accused of doing through the “will,” or people who destroy Osho’s reputation and the purpose of the Foundation through their willful public acts. The board members are not victims. No one held a gun to their heads and said, “Forge a will that will give Michael Byrne (Jayesh) personal control of Osho’s assets, lie about the validity of the will in a legal proceeding, and then continue to lie about the validity of the will for over a year,” yet this is exactly what these people are accused of doing. Whatever they have done, they have done out of their own choice, for their own purposes, and are responsible for the consequences. The purpose of the Foundation must not suffer because of their bad choices and selfish actions. Rather than address any of this, the trustee, Keller, went on to complain about Ramateertha personally and question his motivation for filing a complaint, in spite of the fact that there is evidence to show that Ramateertha was motivated to complain about the board members because of the alleged will forgery. He did not contact the Swiss government until after the “will” was placed in evidence and after forensic evidence indicated it was forged, and he was not only encouraged to follow up on his complaint, but guided in making the complaint by Swiss officials. Keller also criticized people who have supported Ramateertha’s complaint. (Keller didn’t name them, but they are Alvaro Ruffo della Scaletta and Vaidehe Vadgama (Chidananda and Videh).) Keller claimed they concealed their identities prior to the order that removed the board members. However, extensive written evidence shows that Swiss officials had repeated contact with these two over the period of a year and that Chidananda and Videh fully identified themselves and revealed their own interest in translating Osho’s work from Hindi to English long before the complaint was filed. There was no surprise to the Swiss government, no withholding of information, and the persons who made the initial order removing the board members had access to full information about interested parties before that order was made. For the trustee to misstate the facts like this and to refer to people working to translate Osho’s work as “competitors” of the Foundation, while at the same time emphasizing the nonprofit purpose of the Foundations, is not only absurd, but indicates an unacceptable bias. This bias may be related to Keller’s relationship with Jayesh. On June 24, 2014, Keller met with Ramateertha in Zurich. Keller informed Ramateertha that he had met with Michael Byrne (Jayesh), who had told Keller that he had loaned millions to the Foundation and would forgive the debt except for concerns about gift tax. Jayesh claimed to be so wealthy because he deals in real estate and sells oil wells. Keller apparently believed these assertions without proof and was very impressed with what he imagined was Jayesh’s deep commitment to Osho’s work. Comments in the most recent order indicate that Keller most likely did not do a more thorough independent investigation of the board member activities than he did of the story Jayesh told him. Keller, after all, concluded that the board members were blameless without even addressing the forensic evidence on forgery done in the name of the Foundation. He also asserted that the current debt is to an offshore foundation in Belize, not to Jayesh, and that Jayesh was acting as a trustee for the Belize foundation when he received money from the operation of the Osho.com website. The question of the quality of Keller’s work will no doubt continue to be asked on many levels as this case continues. I have not yet seen the arguments and documents submitted by OIF, so comment on those will be for a later article. At the moment OIF appears (on the books) to be around $8 million in “debt” to Osho Multi Media Trust located offshore in Belize. The Supervisory Board currently appears to believe that this was a loan related to maintenance of the archives in the 1990s, but what is this trust, who is on the board, where did it get money to “loan,” and when was a “loan” made to OIF? Did Keller conduct a full investigation of this? Keller and some Swiss officials may believe in oil wells and mystery trusts that provide millions of dollars, but in the world of people making Osho’s teachings available, these are highly suspicious claims. Anyone with any information about this is encouraged to share it. Further, the income from the Osho.com website is being paid into a Hong Kong company, with Jayesh listed as the sole shareholder. If, as Keller claims, Jayesh owns the Hong Kong for-profit as a trustee for the Belize trust, and the millions of dollars from e-subscribers or other users of the website are being paid to the Belize trust every year, how can the Swiss Foundation be $8 million in debt to that offshore trust, placing OIF on the brink of bankruptcy? There is a danger that OIF will attempt to “settle” this “debt” by purporting to transfer its claimed ownership of Osho’s intellectual property rights to an offshore trust where there will be no supervision of the board members’ actions. This would trigger litigation about the legality of the transfer and about OIF and/or the mystery trust’s claimed ownership of intellectual property rights. That could throw copyright ownership into limbo for many years and destroy the current publishing arrangements, not to mention wasting assets that could be used to make Osho’s teachings more available. There are several other questions that need investigation: The Hong Kong Registry Office records show that O International Digital Media (which is receiving the income from the website) is, or was, owned personally by Jayesh. Now Keller asserts it is owned by the offshore trust. Who is correct? Swiss authorities from several different government offices informed interested parties that OIF had been tax-exempt, but lost its tax-exempt status in 2012. Now Keller asserts that OIF was never tax-exempt. Who is correct? Why are Swiss authorities contradicting each other (and then blaming others)? Allegations of personal gain by board members made in the original complaint open a whole other legal can of worms, because the alleged transfer of copyrights to OIF from RFI (Rajneesh Friends formerly Rajneesh Foundation International) required that the board members of OIF never profit from the assets. Yet the records of OIF show that the board members are also board members of for-profit corporations that do business with OIF, and that at least one such for-profit, America Multi-Media based in Arizona (Klaus Steeg (Pramod) and John Andrews (Amrito) as board members), was “loaned” almost $1.5 million by OIF, and the “loan” was never repaid, greatly contributing to OIF’s alleged financial difficulties. What are the facts behind this? Did Keller investigate? Are there other dubious transactions that have contributed to the present precarious financial state of the Foundation besides the Belize and America Multi-Media “loans”? Did a company owned by Jayesh in Hong Kong receive funds from the Foundation? Are the OIF board members paid by the various related companies around the world? If so, how much are they paid and for what duties? Board members can be legitimate employees of a foundation or of companies owned by a foundation, but the employment must be legitimate, they must be the most qualified people for the job, the salary must be reasonable, and they have to actually do the work they are paid to do. Much remains to be discovered, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Osho International Foundation under Swiss Government Control

SWISS ORDER suspends and revokes all OIF foundation members June 5, 2014 at 11:49pm Swiss Confederation Bern, 2 June 2014 Ref: 984 – Ro Order In the following proceedings: Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI) General Secretariat (GSEDI) Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations (ESA) Robert Doetsch, VenloerStrasse 57, 50672 Cologne, GermanyRepresented by attorney Dr. iur. et Dipl.Chem. Hans Maurer, Fraumünsterstrasse 17, Postfach 2018, 8022 Zurich -­‐ Complainant -­‐ 2. Michael O’Byrne (since2013: Michael Byrne), President of the Foundation Board, Suite 1201, ConventionPlaza Apartments, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong, People’s Republic ofChina 3. John Andrews, VicePresident of the Foundation Board, London, Great Britain 4. D’Arcy O’Byrne, BoardMember, Flat 1, Palmeira Ave, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3GA, Great Britian versus 1. Osho International Foundation, Bahnhofstrasse52, 8001 Zurich Represented by attorney Dr. Walter H. Meier, Bienenstrasse 1,8004 Zurich 5. Kaus Steeg, BoardMember, Lütticher Strasse 33-­35, Cologne, Germany 6. Rudolf Kocher, BoardMember, Steinägerten, 4458 Eptingen Regarding Respondents 1 - 6 Recall of the Foundation Board – enactment of superprovisorische Maßnahmen [immediately enforceable exparte measures]; initiation of exchange of documents; supervisory measures (Complaint filed 20 May, 2014) The Federal Department of Home Affairs (EDI), noting that, whereas: • On 20 May, 2014, former member of the Foundation Board, Mr. Robert Doetsch, filed a complaint through the agency of his legal counsel with the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations (ESA), petitioning that Respondents 2 through 6 should be dismissed from their positions as president, vice president and members of the Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation (OIF). The complaint further more petitions that that suitable new board members should be sought and instated for Respondent 1, OIF. • It is further petitioned that Respondents 2 through 6 should be dismissed from their positions as president, vice president and members of the OIF Foundation Boardwithout prior hearing, i.e. as asuperprovisorische Maßnahme [immediately enforceable ex parte measure], and that a trustee should be appointed to serve until the instatement of the new Board. • Then,also as an immediately enforceable ex parte measure, i.e. without prior hearing of the Respondents, the creditors of Respondent 1, in particular the banks PostFinance and Credit Suisse, should be instructed not to pay out or transfer any funds to the Respondents or to other persons until otherwise instructed by the ESA. • The right of complaint under foundation legislation is a federal matter, governed directly by Art. 84 Abs. 2 ZGB (Riemer, Berner Kommentar, DieStiftungen, 1975, N 120 zu Art. 84). The submission of 20 May, 2014 is thus to be treated as a Supervisory Board for Foundations complaint. The Complainant was himself previously a member of the Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation and, having many years of experience and profound knowledge of the material, has a special interest in the preservation and protection of the archives of Osho in keeping with the goals of the Foundation. In particular in the context of his own many years of study and related activities in connection with the teachings of Osho, Robert Doetsch must depend on being able to use the archives of Osho and to continue to have access to the material, both now and in the future. As a beneficiary of the Foundation Robert Doetsch thus has a particularly close relationship with the Foundation and is thus entitled to file such a complaint (BGE 107 II 385 E. 3). The ESA is thus obliged in its official function to make the necessary assessments in the matter (Riemer,BernerKommentar, Die Stiftungen, 1975, N 121 zu Art. 84 ZGB). Foundation regulation legislation constitutes material public law pursuant to Art. 5Bundesgesetz [Federal Code] of 20 December, 1968, regarding administrative proceedings (VwVG; SR 172 021) and filing a complaint with the Supervisory Board for Foundations is a legal remedy of administrative justice sui generis,and thus such proceedings are correspondingly regulated by the VwVG (BGE 107II 385 E. 4). • The first matter to be adjudged is the ordering of immediately enforceable ex parte measures. The objective of ordering a preventative measure is the creation or maintenance of a state of affairs that will guarantee the efficacy of the later injunction (BGE 130 II 149 E.2.2). The prerequisite for the ordering ofa preventative measure is that there should be convincing grounds for it and that detriment to private or public interests that could not easily be corrected would occur without the ordering of the preventative measure. In addition to this, there must be urgency. Furthermore, the ordered measure must be appropriate. Among other things, a preventative measure serves to protect threatened interests (analogously to Art. 56 VwVG). Such a measure isordered on the basis of a summary examination of the legal situation and thefacts of the matter, for which a credible presentation of facts is sufficient (A. Kölz, I. Häner, M. Bertschi, Verwaltungsverfahren und Verwaltungsrechechtspflegedes Bundes, 3.A. S. 198 ff. mit Hinweisen). • The Complainant has made a credible case that Respondents 2 through 6 are guilty off serious breaches of the aims of the Foundation, including and in particular continued misappropriation of Foundation assets, the full extent of which cannot yet be fully estimated. • Even following extensive research by both the Complainant and the ESA, only a part of an extensive international web of companies and organizations within the purview of OIF has come to light, this web apparently serving the exploitation of the intellectual property rights of OIF and the direction of the resulting proceeds to third parties. • In addition to the investigations conducted by the Complainant, investigations by at least three other persons known to the ESA have led to the same conclusions. • Against this background, the revised annual financial statements of OIF for 2012/2013 may prove to represent only a fraction of the estimated worldwide income accruing from the intellectual rights to the works of Osho. In its accounts,OIF has been portrayed for years as over indebted, and despite requests by the ESA, the incumbent Foundation Board has failed to implement any sustainable measures for correction of this state of affairs (the letters of subordination submitted regularly by the main creditor, who had a close relationship with the Foundation, cannot be considered to be serious corrective measures in this context). • In the course of copyright proceedings in Alicante, Spain, the Respondents submitted a last will and testament of Osho that three independent experts have since assessed to be not authentic. This demonstrates that the Respondents areat least willing to contemplate illegal methods in the pursuit of their aims. • If a hearing of the Respondents were to be permitted in advance, too much time would pass and the danger would be greater that actions could be taken that would be to the detriment of the Foundation. Following assessment of the facts of the matter it is realistic to assume that there is a danger that remaining liquid assets could be siphoned off. The risk of asset transfers would also appear to be even greater in view of the fact that in the 2013 financial year, there was an outflow of virtually half of the liquid assets. • Thus,the creditors of OIF, specifically the banks PostFinance and Credit Suisse, are to be ordered not to pay out or transfer any funds to the Respondents or other persons until further notice from the ESA. This order applies to a total of three accounts with PostFinance, in Swiss francs, euros and US dollars. At the Credit Suisse it applies to five accounts in Swiss francs, euros, US dollars and Australian dollars, and one account with the designation “STL” (Short TermLoan). • It is not currently possible to protect the remaining liquid assets in the bank accounts of the Foundation with less extensive measures. • In contrast to this, the protection of the material assets of the Foundation, i.e.in particular the archive of original video and audio recordings and the intellectual property rights to the same, can be sufficiently secured by means of a general restraining order issued by the ESA, accompanied by information on the criminal liability consequences pursuant to Art. 292 StGB in the event of noncompliance. • Inview of the infringements of the Foundation objectives in question, in particular the misappropriation of financial assets, it is clear that the current Foundation Board must be removed from office until full and complete investigation and clarification of the relevant financial transactions, assets and contracts has been completed. This is particularly important in view of the fact that it is quite possible that the investigations could reveal grounds for criminal proceedings. Against this background, the potential conflicts of interests of the members of the Foundation Board are manifestly clear. The fact that Respondents 2 and 4 are presumably financial beneficiaries of companies that profit directly from the marketing of the intellectual rights to Osho’s works provides ample grounds for a conflict of interests on its own. In addition to this, however, the Respondents also hold executive positions in virtually all known organizations involved in this marketing business. It is thus obvious that if the Respondents were to remain in their positions and offices in the Foundation Board this would at least impede the investigation of these allegations, if not make them completely impossible. It is also absolutely clear that Respondents 2 through 6 must definitely be recalled as Foundation Board members if the apparent infringements of the aims of the Foundation should be proven to be true. • The suspension of Respondents 2 through 6 from their positions and functions as members of the Foundation Board of OIF pursuant to Art. 84 Abs. 2 ZGB is the only way to achieve expeditious and complete clarification of the facts of the matter and the legal situation. • The appointment of a trustee pursuant to Art. 83d ZGB has the immediate purpose of restoring the Foundation’s ability to act. The duties of the trustee include conducting the investigations needed to clarify the financial and contractual relationships in connection with the marketing of the intellectual property rights, conducting such daily business of the Foundation as cannot be postponed, and, if necessary, also the preparation for the election of new Board members. As is usual in such cases, the details will be regulated by contract. • Consequentially,the ESA has sought suitable candidates for this trustee ship and found that Mr.lic. Iur. Andreas G. Keller, attorney, is a suitable choice for the position and fulfills the requirements, and Mr. Keller has immediately declared his willingness to take on the task. The rights and duties of the parties involved were set out in a contract dated 28 May, 2014, based on the general terms and conditions of business (AGB) of the Bund für Dienstleistungsaufträge[Federationfor Service Contracts]. The formal appointment of the trustee with authority to sign as a single signatory and his registration in Commercial Register are to be formally ordered by the Supervisory Board for Foundations. • Over and above this, no other business operations leading to increasing damage are known and there are no other immediate dangers. • The proper exchange of documents is to be initiated simultaneously and the complaint of 20 May, 2014 is to be served to the Respondents by 3 July, 2014,for their response in the main proceedings. The service of the complaint to Respondents 2 through 5 who live abroad is to be effected at the current correspondence address of the Foundation at the offices of their legal representative Dr. Walter H. Meier. Publication of this order in theSchweizerischesHandelsamtsblatt [SHAB Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce] pursuant to Art.36 VwVG is out of the question in this case. Firstly, this would undermine the purpose of the preventative measures, and secondly it would contravene the legal privacy rights of both the involved persons and OIF. • It must be prevented that an appeal lodged against the ordered supervisory measures could cause irreparable damage to the Foundation assets (property) and delay the urgently necessary clarification of the financial situation and future prospects of the Foundation. The suspensory effect of any possible appeal against this order must thus be revoked (Art. 55 Abs. 2 desBundesgesetzes vom 20. Dezember 1968 über das Verwaltungsverfahren; VwVG; SR172.021). • The ESA expressly reserves the right to issue further orders impacting the proceedings and supervisory measures pursuant to Art. 84a or Art. 83d ZGB. • The costs of the proceedings for this intermediate order are set at CHF 4,000.00and are to be aggregated to the main proceedings, pursuant to Art. 3 Abs. 1Bst. F Gebührenverordnung Stiftungsaufsicht (SR 172.041.18) and Art. 63 VwVG. Therefore, it is hereby ordered: 1. The entire Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation is to be provisionally suspended and their signatory rights are to be revoked. The following persons shall be removed from their positions and functions: − MichaelO’Byrne (since 2013: Michael Byrne), President of the Foundation Board, Suite 1201, Convention Plaza Apartments, 1 Harbour Road,Wanchai, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China − JohnAndrews, Vice President of the Foundation Board, London,Great Britain − D’ArcyO’Byrne, Board Member, Flat 1, Palmeira Ave, Hove, EastSussex, BN3 3GA, Great Britain − Kaus Steeg, Board Member, Lütticher Strasse 33-35, Cologne, Germany − Rudolf Kocher, Board Member, Steinägerten, 4458 Eptingen 2. Mr. lic. Iur. Andreas G. Keller, attorney,Zurich, is to be appointed as trustee for Osho International Foundation with entitlement to sign as sole signatory. 3. The Handelsregisteramt [CommercialRegistry Office] of Zurich is be requested to effect the necessary entries in the Commercial Registry without delay. 4. The creditors of Osho International Foundation,in particular the banks PostFinance AG,3030 Bern, and Credit Suisse,8070 Zurich, are to be instructed to not pay out or transfer any funds to the Respondents or third parties until instruction to the contrary. 5. The Complaint of 20 May, 2014, is to be served to Respondents 2 through 5 via the agency of the legal representative of Osho International Foundation and to Respondent 6 directly for response in the main proceedings,by 3 July, 2014. 6. The Foundation Board of Osho International Foundation is to be instructed, with reference to the possible consequences under criminal law pursuant to Art. 292 StGB in the event of infringement, to effect no disposition of the assets of the Foundation without the consent of the Supervisory Board for Foundations until further notice, this to apply in particular to the entire Osho archive and the entire intellectual property rights to text, audio and images. 7. The costs for the enactment of this order of CHF4,000.00 are to be aggregated to the main proceedings. 8. The suspensory effect of any appeal against this order is to be revoked. 9. Disclosure to (by registered mail): − Osho International Foundation,Bahnhofstrasse 52, 8001 Zurich − The Foundation Board of OshoInternational Foundation, through agency of attorney Dr. Walter H. Meier,Bienenstrasse 1, 8004 Zurich (with a copy of the Complaint) − Rudolf Kocher, Board Member,Steinägerten, 4458 Eptingen (with a copy of the Complaint) − Mr. lic. Iur. Andreas Keller,attorney, Gehrenholzpark 2g, 8055 Zurich − Attorney Dr. Hans Maurer,Advokaturbüro Maurer & Stäger, Postfach 2018, 8022 Zurich Right of appeal: An appeal may be lodged against this order, within 30 days of disclosure, with theBundesverwaltungsgericht [Federal AdministrativeCourt], Postfach, 9023 St. Gallen. The appeal must include the claim, the grounds for the claim including the evidence for the same and the signature of the claimant or his or her representative; the disputed order (or the disputed decision) and the documents referenced as evidence must be included (Art. 50und 52 des Bundesgesetzes vom 20 Dezember 1968 über das Verwaltungsverfahren;VwVG; SR 172.021). 10. Notification to: − Handelsregisteramt[Commercial Register Office] of the Canton of Zurich (for registration) − PostFinance AG, Mingerstrasse20, 3030 Bern (in advance by fax 058 667 6228) − Credit Suisse, Paradeplatz 8,8070 Zurich (in advance by fax 044 333 2532) − Fiduconsult Acta SA, RueFritz Courvoisier 40, 2300 La ChauxdeFonds. [signed]HelenaAntonio Director of the Federal Supervisory Board for Foundations