In 1981, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a spiritual leader from India, and thousands of his disciples, set out to build a new city, a Utopian community in the desert — Rajneeshpuram — on what had been the Big Muddy Ranch in Eastern Oregon.

Thousands of people from around the world gathered here to celebrate life and transform the landscape.

They worked hard and transformed the landscape. And more than a few hoped to spend the rest of their days at this place.

But by 1986, they were gone…

In the span of four-and-a-half years, Bhagwan’s people invested more than 50 million dollars in Rancho Rajneesh. They made substantial improvements to the land,. Many found real joy in being close to their spiritual master and part of the Rajneeshpuram community. But they ultimately would walk away from it all.

At the end of it all, Wasco County Judge Bill Hulse predicted (correctly) that somebody would write a book about what had happened there: “The people who read that book,” he said, “will think it’s fiction.”

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