The Dilemma of Children in a Commune

Currently the management of the ashram/Resort impose quite strict rule about children, (I am told.) . Children below 12 can only enter at lunch times for an hour. This doesn’t seem to me to be altogether a bad thing!

It has set me thinking about my own experience as a teacher in Medina in the eighties, and someone who some children found a way to in Pune one.

Many today, for example Arun, in his latest book, basically condemn this rule, but I think he is not thinking deeply enough.

The children in Pune one,  and who were in the communes like Medina were not universally happy, though he and others claim this. They were not happy because many of them needed some boundaries, but were not given them. They were not universally loved, and some treated poorly by their parents.

A recent German movie called Summer in Orange, partly tells the story of one particular sannyasin daughter who definitely does not get an easy ride in a sannyas commune at the time, circa, 1980, and frankly it has the ring of truth. It is worth a watch.


Children in the Poona One ashram





On the Ranch for example children were often completely ignored, and spent their waking hours just walking around, some of them quite lonely. (though not all).

Hence I would say this is a more complicated sort of discussion than people like Arun might entertain.

The sons and daughters of early sannyasins do not universally praise the treatment they received. Many blame their parents for not being clearer, in the intense struggle many experienced between trying to show care for their children, and putting their care for their own growth ahead of that.

I am told by Sufi friends that often the rule within Sufi communities of old was no children, as it was felt this defocused those who wanted to go beyond the smaller self.

Any which way I wanted to discuss this, as it seems to me that sometimes the children of early sannyains had a rough time, and not some idealised account,  such as the Aruns of this world,  now propagate.


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57 Responses to The Dilemma of Children in a Commune

  1. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    Even if I am not a father I also feel the pain/sadness for a neglected or not loved enough younger brother, four nieces and a nephew, before and after my care for my own growth, with Osho.

    If it is true that we can love others to the extent that we love ourselves it is also true that children would prefer the presence of traditional parents, at least with the sense of duty to transmit the rules, rather than absent parents, busy in becoming loving parents or even enlightened.

    By logic and what I’ve heard and read on demography, I would suppose that the “pedagogical topic” for many sannyasins was ‘live’ before they met Him.

    While after Sannyas there were a few who became parents, but those very rarely deliberately.



    • Parmartha says:

      Thanks, Veet.

      It is a very mixed bag. I have met a variety of adults who were children of the early communes over the years. Quite a few seem to have become sannyasins, or seekers themselves, and consider it, with reservations, to have been a fun upbringing.

      But there certainly are a sizeable minority who feel it was not what they needed, and have reacted to it. Several wanted to move as far away from Sannyas and that sort of world as possible, and are noted by their success as accountants/economists in their current worlds, and have conventional marriages and lives.

      Their main criticism has been the lack of love from their own parents, the feeling that their parents did not really ‘want’ them, and want them around, and the lack of boundaries, in which they became unhappy and confused.

      It is this wider review of the subject that I want to call forth. I liked Arun’s recent autobiography on the whole, but he is not a sophisticated thinker, and over-simplifies.

      I also don’t like his condemnation of the “current regime” in Pune for trying to make parents more responsible for their children, and also to be clear about what the commune is for, which is the growth of those adults who come sincerely through its doors.

      • frank says:

        Arun called those who run the Resort “criminals” yet he calls Modi, Hindu nationalist with blood on his hands, “Zorba the Buddha”.

        Arun claims to have “conversed” with the dead king Mahendra, of which he has this to say:
        “It is not a coincidence that some people in this world are born with more privileges than others. Everything is a consequence of the Karmic game. Today when I look at it, I can totally understand why one person is born as a king while another is born as a beggar. King Mahendra is a sannyasin from past life and has a virtuous past. He is a highly elevated soul and it is not surprising that he had more privileges at his immediate service which were bestowed to him right at his birth. When I did more research on this I found out that all Maharajas and rich, famous and charismatic personalities have a virtuous and spiritual past.”

        A bit of history:
        “In 1960, King Mahendra used his emergency powers and took charge of the State once again, claiming that the Congress government had fostered corruption, promoted party above national interest, failed to maintain law and order and ‘encouraged anti-national elements’. Political parties were outlawed and all prominent political figures, including the Prime Minister, were put behind bars. Civil liberties were curtailed and press freedom muzzled.”

        There is a pattern to Arun`s taste here!

        As I said in a previous post, a curious thing is happening. Otherwise liberal, western, so-called spiritual seekers, in their hurry to get ‘enlightened’ and with a fantasy view of how spiritual India is, are finding themselves supporting and buying into nationalistic, fascistic, regressive, quasi-theocratic, exploitative, mendacious, religionist nutters.

          • frank says:

            After meditating deeply for a while and consulting Arun`s copy of the Akashik records I realise that everything is indeed a result of the karmic game and these two rich and charismatic persons, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, clearly have privilege and influence due to their virtuous and spiritual past!

            • shantam prem says:

              Faceless frank, you can also add the Royal family of your country. They have more than anybody else, privilege and influence due to their virtuous and spiritual past!

              You have also left some time to add some brownies in your good karma kitty, if not rising that high as kings or queens, at least one of their obedient servants!

        • Parmartha says:

          Arun was born into great privilege, and his seeking never really took him to understand, for example, the simple sociology of places like Nepal.

          People are so poor they sell their children quite readily, and many poor Nepalese are buried in Qatar, building the football stadiums of the World Cup after next, in conditions of slavery.

          It is an utter disgrace to the world of football….

        • preetam says:

          Seems a problem of half-enlightenment. Maybe people get stuck where the real search begins. Where truth is taking a devoted seeker by the hand and teaches him – itself.

          ‘Karma’ does not exist within the Vedas, not as fate. But ‘Kama’ is to be found…which, translated, means – love.

          But this kind of worldly karma is just a result of not knowing. People think each one has their own self, which is not true. ‘Oneself’, hence the misunderstanding of ‘karma’, is only the result of a collective unknowing. Which drives the whole humanity from one into another mess. Our existence is an expression of ‘oneself’, which is carried by gold.

          The world is ruled by the hermetic order – whose basic principle to keep their power is scheming and supremacy, brute force. Their intrigues are initiated first where truth is talking. Main work to keep the power: just split humanity from each other. For that reason is our social background till today fascistic.

          • satyadeva says:

            Sure, Preetam, the oppressive ways of the world are based upon the misuse of excessive power and wealth (and the ignorance that nurtures such values), which seems to have been the case for thousands of years, but why use the term “hermetic order”, as if there exists a specific group who are running the show from behind the scenes, as it were? Where exactly is the evidence for such a claim?

            • frank says:

              Sounds like Preetam has been munching the emerald tablets of Hermes Trismegestius again.

              Just say no, bro.

              • preetam says:

                Hey, Frank, guess you know it…
                Another knot is open, Meditation has hocked within the daily self and meditates itself.

            • preetam says:

              Satyadeva, hermeticism asserts:
              “Each ruler, no matter where they are, is a representative of the collective.”

              So, hermeticism accepts any ruler, doesn’t matter how mentally sick he is. Our here and now proves the mental sickness of many of those rulers? Stay in power, keep the subjects stupid and full of fear…

              This ordinary way causes for thousands of years fascism and proves guilt of hermeticism. Hermeticism is the strategy of how to manipulate fears. A common tool of those in power without interest in any change.

              manipulate OK INSTEAD OF control (LAST PARAGRAPH), Preetam?

              • preetam says:

                The Divine Right of the Electorate.
                Leadership is always rule by Divine Right.


                What about intelligence and inspiration – seems that doesn’t matter?

                • satyadeva says:

                  I think you exaggerate (to put it extremely mildly) the influence of this ‘esoteric group’, Preetam (as they themselves almost certainly do).

                • preetam says:

                  The Ideas behind are not in any way esoteric. It has just greed and power as its Idea. Not without cause the Roman Legion carried in first place the symbol of hermetism: ‘We come to kill you in the name of God.’ It still can be found as one symbol of European and US military. It’s not esoteric, it is just a guide how regions can be conquered.

              • preetam says:

                Yes, thx

  2. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    About Nepal, astrologers have identified the new living goddess Kumari,
    she will live in the temple until God will send her menstruation as a gift for her twelfth birthday.

    • Parmartha says:

      Actually, I am very sad about Nepal…in the ordinary sense of the word.

      It is a very poor country and suffers greatly from natural disasters.
      I am not sure how aware Arun is, for example, of what happens to young Nepalese men in Qatar…it is a very great disgrace to all the powers of the world, including Islamic.

      He never mentions such things. The fact that his father was the Secretary to the last King, and the caste system of such countries, means that he can ‘convert’ the elites to Oshoism, but the poor are still at some level attracted to Maoism because of the terrible divisions of wealth within that society.

  3. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    You’re welcome, Parmartha.

    I was talking a few days ago with a friend of my childhood, a well-known musician in the Italian jazz world, he’s sad and concerned about his sick mother (cancer).

    He is father and husband part-time but musician and son full-time.
    He feels guilty to realise that his mother (my mother’s childhood friend, typical Italian mums) devoted her life to her children and husband, today he would like to repay the kindness.

    I think in the past I would have shared with him what Osho said about the topic, for example his comment on Gautama when he abandoned his pregnant wife; or something more daring, commenting on dead busy undertakers (Matthew 8:22).

    This time I did not try to avoid that distress, so familiar, like easy self-indulgence, about purpose, in his case his self-realisation as an artist, more important than the people we meet on the road, eventually having to neglect in order to achieve it.

    I listened and felt that pain, then I just talked about vegan diet and cancer. Then I thanked him for his music, that I listen to every time I walk close to his house – I mean his mother’s house.

  4. Simond says:

    Well, Parmartha, this isn’t an easy topic, so full marks for raising it.

    As to anything Arun and the like say about children, or karma, I’d pretty much ignore any remarks he makes.

    Frank rightly and simply confirms that any discussion of karma from the East is alway poisoned by their inherent Hindi beliefs. They know nothing of karma, nor do I.

    As to the children of sannyasins and as to children of the 60s, 70s sannyasins and in the counterculture in general, there are “casualties”, as you say.

    The lack of boundaries is one complaint that you hear again and again from that period. And in many ways that lack has filtered through to the wider population here in the West, where parents now are often so emotionally fearful to prescribe or provide boundaries or guide children. Children are spoiled and protected, materially well provided but are not provided with the any real guidance by parents or school. They are taught to trust their ‘feelings’ and are as a result becoming manipulative and emotional. But all they really are is a reflection of their parents.

    I wouldn’t so much separate the experience of the counterculture generation of kids with what has, and is, happening to kids all over the world. Neither I, or many of the people from my generation, nor kids of today have been blessed with great parenting. We were at the mercy of the culture and thinking of Victorian England in our generation whilst the generations since are at the mercy of liberal, guilt-ridden, emotional thinking from the 60s, which seems to be getting more persuasive and more pervasive.

    Kids today are also ignored, in the same way some sannyasin kids were, whatever their background.

    Of course we sannyasins, as with other members of the counter culture, hoped we would be better parents, we hoped that our new found learning would influence and change the way we brought up kids. And in many cases we did a far better job, but as you saw, we also produced casualties. We were ignorant and unconscious too…just like our parents.

    The two sides seem to be at war, within us all. And both ‘value systems’ have good and bad sides.

    We DO need boundaries, especially as very young children, but we also need to experiment and reach out, and make big mistakes. We need real fathering and true mothering, but we rarely will find it ‘out there’.

    We need to discover it for ourselves – it’s all just another part of this need for true reflection and intelligence or consciousness, or whatever you might call it. The more we examine ourselves, the more we might discover what it is to be real parents. In our relating with our friends and lovers, we can see how we father or mother them, and how we may need fathering and mothering.

    It’s a helluva difficult subject, and I don’t wish to sound too simplistic – but we are all still learning, still so often caught up in our past. We are all casualties and it’s only the individual, you and me, where any progress is being made. There ain’t no progress out there!

    I’d say this finally, as a parent myself I made major mistakes, acting from my own emotional ignorance but I also know that I and many parents that I knew, made a better effort than our parents did. It’s all just learning…learning, learning….

    • Arpana says:

      The Rev. Simond said, “Of course, we sannyasins…”

      You’ve changed your tune, Reverend.

      You’ve been claiming to be above and beyond Sannyas, to have grown out of all that, since you arrived.

      • sw. veet (francesco) says:

        “You’ve changed your tune, Reverend”.

        You seem disappointed by that, Arpana ;)

        • Arpana says:

          Now, now, VF. Don’t add silliness to your many flaws.

          • sw. veet (francesco) says:

            It’s true I’m terrific but I have not the flaw to feel above a sannyasin like you, being located at the other end of the range.

            Apologies if I’ve offended you.

            • Arpana says:

              I bask in the warm glow of your vitriol, VF.

            • madhu dagmar frantzen says:

              Always good, Veet Francesco, to keep two points (at least) in mind, while joining a Chat in the virtual realms:
              You can´t offend a bot (social/ political or otherwise) and you can´t offend a psychopath in a human body either.

              Both of such entities appearing have something in common; they are de-sensitized either by their character to be a machine, or are de-sensitized as they do not feel their own hurts nor any hurts of any other living being.

              Or better to say about the latter: the more they hurt others, the more they are chilled…That´s a quite well known fact meanwhile. And good to know if one suffers emotional ´indigestion troubles´.


    • Kusum says:

      Children never like dictatorship or over-protectiveness of parents but certainly feel secure in their presence. But after age 15, child is no more a child & prefers friends & may want to run away from parents but financial dependence keeps them together for some time.

      Parents & children, both are freedom lovers. Anyway, children shouldn’t be conditioned in any religious beliefs.They have right to choose their own path.

      • Kusum says:

        I feel sad when I see children getting initiated & wearing orange clothes as they are not old enough to decide.

  5. shantam prem says:

    North India…
    You are sleeping in your home. In the middle of night, you hear the sound of wooden stick hitting the road and a shout, “Jaagte Raho” (Remain Awake). You can sleep even more peacefully. Watchman is doing his job.

    Once in a month he comes to your home with a smiling and courageous face and heart energy to get his monthly wage. He is the street watchman. Every household gives some money monthly. 99% chances are watchman is Gurkha from Nepal.

    In North India, many, many upper middle-class families and above have one young chap called Bahadur (brave) as a live-in domestic help. As I have noticed most of the time, servant boys are more lively and beautiful than house owners’ offspring. Their only drawback, they are from extremely poor Nepal. Think about the poverty where families send their 7-13 year old boys thousand-plus miles away with the impression at least children will have enough food and a stable roof over their heads.

    Swami Arun is giving higher dreams and better life to the children of his home country. We must not forget his socio-economic background.
    Unfortunately, westerners forget that privileged lifestyle which surely is created by centuries of hard work and sharp thinking and a collaboration between Church and State.

    Similarly, Lamas and Swamis from Asia also forget with their mindset, these countries will be as primitive as back home.

    Awareness means not to compare rice with wheat. Both grow on the earth but in different seasons and with different requirements of water, air and fertilisers.

    • Tan says:


      I am sure Arun is helping the poor kids in Nepal! It is what the religions do. Ring a bell? Who helps more the poor children than the Christians? Nobody!

      The problem is he wants the Resort! I shiver just with the thought…
      He should stick with charity and leave the Resort to those who understand what Osho is all about. Cheers!

  6. Kavita says:

    I have many Indian sannyasin friends who lived in/during the Pune 1 commune, most are happy with having had that life but a few have confessed to me that they would have preferred being in a traditional family unit as their parent/parents were too obsessed with Osho, especially when Osho was travelling in the mid 80s, when they were left with anyone who was available to temporarily care for them, which left them feeling a bit abandoned and also confused. Now, of course, they have grown up to be very intelligent & aware. .

    Guess having any kind of choice/children for that matter is totally existential!

    • Kavita says:

      Would like to add that I have noticed that most of the children who had grown up in the commune & some who have become parents are full-time responsible & committed towards them in their child’s growing years and probably don’t want their children to suffer like they did.

  7. Parmartha says:

    I take my time spaceship and land at Buddha’s wife’s place. Buddha’s children are wandering around and I ask them about their father, how is it since he left, do they appreciate why he left…?

    No, they don’t, and they are angry. They feel sorry for their mother, and still live with her. They think that Buddha was a prat.

    • Tan says:

      Thanks for this post, Big P.
      I think everybody has understood now! Cheers!

    • shantam prem says:

      Take a spaceship. my friend, and find Vivek. I think you will be able to communicate better in mother tongue.

    • Kavita says:

      Probably Buddha was too bored of over- protective parents !

    • Simond says:

      Your story is a touch bitter.
      Whether it’s you or me, or the Buddha, we have at some time to accept & deal with whatever life throws at us, bad parenting included. Some people have had a much harder time and prospered.

      Should the fact that Buddha left his wife and kids always have been such a bad thing?

      Who said Life is fair? Who knows the consequences?

      Should I remain bitter at my so-called bad parents? Without their influence, without their unhappiness, I might have stayed at home and missed all the opportunities I’ve been given and made for myself?

      • Parmartha says:

        Thanks, Simond.
        No, not bitter.
        But so many people sort of worship the Buddha, I just want to make sure people wake up and know he was human like the rest of us. The fact he left his wife and children is not featured much in the books about him.
        Also that there is no guarantee that when one has spiritual tendencies, become a seeker, etc. that one’s children may even react the other way, or just not be interested!

        One preoccupation of this thread for me was after reading Arun’s book where he beautifies the lives of early sannyasin children, and seems to think we had some kind an answer to how to bring them up within the Osho seventies/eighties communes where I lived. I don’t agree with that. He is now a very widely influential chap, but not a sophisticated thinker by any means.

        • shantam prem says:

          I am sure you also agree Osho too was a human being like rest of us. As master was heard himself saying in many examples, difference is only about being awake and asleep.

          For majority of Asians; Ageh, Arun and Bros. types, it is not easy to accept their guru is a human being too, and therefore can slip on the ice nuggets as well as on banana skin!

          To accept human fragilities in masters, don´t put them down from pedestals but enhance their humanness. There is nothing greater than humanness, so says Tagore in one of his verses.

        • Simond says:

          Cool, Parmartha.
          Anything that undermines Arun is fine with me.

          • shantam prem says:

            Simond, do you want to undermine Arun because he is not white, yet white Russians treat him as Dalai Lama is in the lineage of Buddha?
            Racial jealousy is humane!

            • Simond says:

              There’s loads of white people I’m happy are undermined too. Trump, for example. I’ve not much time for the Dalai Lama either.

              Don’t know what that makes me? Perhaps you can enlighten?

        • sw. veet (francesco) says:

          To me, if love is the answer, sometimes a mind too sophisticated may be its limit.

          In fact, children already know the answer, before their mind becomes too sophisticated.

  8. sw. veet (francesco) says:

    “They think that Buddha was a prat.”

    Then, how deep despair was there in the heart of Gautama not to be worried about that?*
    (*future judgments of people neglected by him)

    • Kusum says:

      Buddha was a son of a king so he didn’t have to worry about who will look after & feed his wife & kids.

      Nowadays, lots of men run away leaving their wives & children behind. Are they all Buddhas?? Lol….

  9. vikrant Sentis says:

    This is not a new Rule. It has been in service since 1993.

  10. shantam prem says:

    Who in the history of mankind has asserted something like ‘Family is dead. Commune is the future’?
    A. Acharya Rajneesh
    B. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
    C. Anand Arun
    D. Ozen Rajneesh

  11. vijay says:

    Arun lives in the dream he is a spiritual person.

    • shantam prem says:

      From where you got this authority to write such a sweeping statement, “Arun lives in the dream he is a spiritual person”?

      Can we see your awakened face, dear Vijay*?!
      *(Vijay means victory)

  12. Kavita says:

    ‘Family is dead. Commune is the future’? – In my observation , Osho started the commune as an experiment and seems it has had its failure/ success even when he was alive , the graph of that fluctuated time and again .

  13. Prem says:

    Freakin’ hell, children are not seekers of truth… so they don’t belong forcefully in a commune of seekers of truth.

    Living in a commune would be hard even for an adult who has no spiritual inclination.
    Sannyasins function in a different way from ordinary people. If you talk too much, people avoid you because you are “sucking energy”. This never happens in the outside world.

    I remember my first time in a commune, 25 years old…. it was hard, I found people’s behaviour weird and inexplicable. There were no explanations. If you are depressed, every member of the community avoids you, because you are “bringing down the energy.” Sometimes people are violent verbally, they shout at you, for insignificant things, in the name of “zen hits”.
    Real talk.

    I found a commune a pretty lonely place. If you are in the right positive space, everybody is your friend, but if you are in a negative mood, people avoid you, it feels lonely.

    I can only imagine how hard would be for a child to deal with these things.

    In the end, the child is the parent’s responsibility. They decided to have those children! Why should it be my responsibility or anywhere else’s?

    I had experience in several communes with children who lived there, long or short term, and they were quite lonely and bored.

    It is lonely, because everyone is meditating and focused on himself. Everyone lives in their aloneness.

    Maybe it’s different in a hippie commune, where people don’t meditate, children are happy there: but in a commune full of meditators, everyone is focused on himself, so if you are not a meditator — you feel alone because nobody gives you attention: their attention is focused on their meditation.

    Osho had this idealistic view that “the children will be taken care of by the commune”.

    In reality, nobody gives a hoot.
    The parents had them, it’s their responsibility.

    Sometimes you can arrange 2-3 people who can take care of all the children in the commune as a group.
    Do you think they will give those kids the same love and attention their mother would? I don’t think so.

    Children under 12 need their parent’s attention constantly.

    Children over 12 need their own space and not to be stifled by their parents.

    I would recommend communes for children over 12, if the child is under 12 the mother needs to be there for him, available at all times, in the commune.

    Communal living is hard even if you are an adult – let alone a child.

    Maybe a hippie commune where nobody meditates, and everyone is socializing, a child might feel happy.
    But meditation communes are for meditators only.

    In rare cases where children have a precocious interest in meditation, if they feel happy in such commune, then it’s good. But these are rare exceptions.

    • Arpana says:

      I’m not correcting you, but the kids I came across at the Ashram always seemed a happy lot. They seemed to love being round ‘grown-ups’; got everywhere as far as I recall; and I also remember a lot of them being pretty assertive and forthright. (Maybe I see this differently, because when I was a kid we roamed for miles for hours when not in school, and I also had boundary-setting parents).

  14. satchit says:

    “Many today, for example, Arun in his latest book, basically condemn this rule, but I think he is not thinking deeply enough.”

    It shows how different followers claim to have the right teaching 28 years after the death of the founder of the religion. Same happened with Jesus.

    It is not good to be a child of a parent who is busy chasing his own tail, spiritually.