Nepalis choose to live in a commune
by Kushal Regmi December 20, 2008
(Originally published in GroundReport and republished here at the author’s request.)
“I will not make a private house,” declares Anil Nepal, a consultant engineer, who has spent ten years of his life living in a commune.
Joint families have become a thing of the past and nuclear families are the accepted way to go as far as families are concerned in today’s Nepal, but few individuals, like Anil, are opting for alternative ways of living that suite their own lifestyle.
Anil tired of a variety of lifestyles before deciding that commune was the best form of family for him.
After finding that he was a misfit in the joint family where he grew up, he opted to live alone in a flat.
But staying alone wasn’t the solution either. He realized that a human being needs a social support system to lead a healthy life.
Staying alone in Kathmandu as a young professional meant that his circle of friends had a great influence in his lifestyle. Thus smoking and drinking in a regular basis became his way of life even if he hadn’t consciously desired it. This is when he encountered meditation and a commune lifestyle in the form of Osho Tapoban.
“I knew I had had enough of that way of life when my body started becoming allergic to drinking and smoking. I needed a more natural lifestyle, which I had found in Tapoban, but I still wasn’t ready to commit to actually staying there because my habits demanded a different lifestyle,” as he recounts a phase in his live which he has left far behind.
Anil finally had to decide which way to take, whether he wanted to continue the lifestyle of his peers or completely change his way of life.
“I moved to Tapoban, because the milieu there was what was required for my spiritual growth. I was possessed with the quest to realize who I was. Slowly I began to realize that I needed to purify my body, mind and emotions to go deeper into meditation and it was not possible without a spiritual commune and at that time, Tapoban was my only option,” Says Anil, who looks like he is very much at ease with himself.
There have been many communes of various forms around the world in the last century. Artists, poets, writers, hippies, communists all tried their hands at commune living, but hardly do we hear a success story. Either the communes were authoritarian in nature and with the fall of the system that implemented it, the commune fell as well, or it broke up due to internal feuds or external intolerance.
“The average age of most communes till today is probably only five to seven years,” says Swami Anand Arun, coordinator of Osho Tapoban and Anil’s mentor, who has been, surprisingly, running a commune for the last 18 years against all odds.
The breaking up of traditional family systems and the isolation of the individuals caused by the demands of the post modern era has meant that people are wanting a social support system that suites and aids their own priorities in life. Anil was lucky to find a space that supported the lifestyle he wanted for himself and for him, the base of the commune he lives in has to be meditation but are communes that are not spiritually inclined possible as well?
“People can come and live together if there is a uniting cause that is the most important thing in the lives of the ones who form the commune,” shares Swami Arun from his experience.
“Apart from that, it is also very important to have a uniting figure who has the capacity to keep things together despite major ego conflicts and also the commune should be able to generate its own finances,” he adds.
So according to Swami Arun, dancers can live together in a commune but their passion for dance has to surpass all else and they must have a mentor who is mature enough to gain the trust of the lot and keep them united.
For this evolving humanity, which is getting even more individualistic by the moment, this type of living might be a plausible option. People who prize their freedom tend to go astray in life and end up as social misfits because they don’t get a support system that respects their individual freedom. But Swami Arun, after a lifetime of experience with running communes knows of the difficulties that come along with the task.
“Communes are bound to fail, because humans can neither live alone nor can they live together. To keep a commune running has been the greatest challenge of my life,” he states pensively.
It seems that only when civilization matures to a certain degree, can communes that respect and aid individual freedom be possible. As for Anil, who doesn’t live in Tapoban anymore and doesn’t want to live in a private house either, life presents a challenge, and that too a difficult one. Currently, apart from his consultancy work at Ithari, in eastern Nepal, he is running weekend meditation camps in various towns in the area. We can only wait and see what plans existence has for him in the coming years.