A new religious phenomenon based around a select group of gurus proclaiming instant enlightenment has emerged in several Western countries. In the journal Nova Religio (October) Liselotte Frisk writes that by the end of the 1990s, a group of Westerners claiming to have reached enlightenment were touring Asia and the West holding meetings to help others make the transition to enlightenment.
While there is no formal organization linking these gurus, they all come out of the syncretistic movement founded by Rajneesh (more recently called Osho) and recognize each other as enlightened leaders. This phenomenon, which Frisk calls the Satsang network, is found in meetings where followers are told that enlightenment is available for everyone at the present moment. The simple process of achieving enlightenment is similar to evangelical conversion, according to Frisk.
The meetings are also marked by singing, ecstatic dancing and active participation of the audience in asking questions and expressing their feelings. These gurus don’t see themselves as successors to Osho; in fact, their claim that anyone can reach full enlightenment conflicts with the official view that only Osho actually attained this state. Frisk views the satsang network as a “post-Osho” religious movement that blends entertainment together with syncretistic spirituality. On the website of the guru Shantimayi (http://www.shantimayi.com/chapter1/denmark.html), for instance, Buddhist and Hindu teachings appear side by side.
(Nova Religio, University of California Press, Journals Division, 2000 Center St., Berkeley, CA 94704-1223)