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My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru Paperback – February 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015603106X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031066
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

London journalist Guest (the Guardian; the Daily Telegraph) shares the bittersweet story of his nomadic childhood as a member of the sannyasin, a group of people who swathed themselves in orange and lived in the various communes of the infamous Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In 1979, when Guest was six, he was brought into the group by his mother, a lapsed Catholic who "surrendered herself to the world without a second thought," moving to England, Germany, India and Oregon to work for the cause of Bhagwan's Eastern mysticism (which involved, among other things, engaging in sexual freedom and inhaling laughing gas). Guest played with the ragtag children of the hippie adults working in these ashrams, sometimes going for long periods of time without his mother's love or guidance. He systematically observes the daily lives of the sannyasin and their master, refusing to trash the devotees or their spiritual beliefs, instead targeting the manipulations of Bhagwan, whom he depicts as a power-mad holy man who taught restraint, poverty and obedience yet collected Rolls-Royces and told jokes "cribbed from Playboy." Guest forgives his neglectful mother as he records Bhagwan's fall from grace through American tax evasion, lawsuits and denials of admittance from country to country until his empire crumbled. Honest and vivid, this is an absorbing book about survival and good intentions gone awry.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Guest's memoir recalls an ambulant childhood—a ranch here, an ashram there—among the disciples of the infamous guru Bhagwan Rajneesh, a Rolls-Royce-driving charismatic who instructed his followers to wear only the colors of the sun and to liberate themselves from bourgeois hang-ups. For his followers, the Bhagwan's communes were lands of plenty, filled with sex, drugs, t'ai-chi sessions, and primal-scream therapies. Their children, however, survived largely on their wits: Guest and his friends swipe beedi cigarettes from the commissary and get high on Darjeeling, but they're starved for belonging and belongings. One of Guest's attempts to spend time with his mother is thwarted by a sign that reads, "Motherhood Group in Progress. Please Do Not Disturb." Occasionally, his recriminations smack of a similar self-indulgence, but, as the guru's regime crumbles, Guest's account of paradise lost gains acuity from the fact that, for him, it was mostly hell in the first place.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

Customer Reviews

This is an amazing book which I keep reading and re-reading.
K. Dechman
In through research one will find that the conclusions of the author is not an accurate reflection of the entire commune of which he condemns.
T. Lea
It is the most eloquent and poignant book I have read TO DATE.
Lee Anne Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Luciano VINE VOICE on September 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
When I think about children growing up in communes, victims of cults, I think about the abuses you always hear happen in these situations. I imagined when I picked up this book that it would be a horrifying tale of sexual and physical abuse of a small child. I braced myself. Instead, I found that the child narrator, Tim, wasn't sexually or physically abused. In fact, he seemed to have many fond memories related to the commune and his life there. It was only when considered from an adult's point of view that the shocking amount of neglect comes into focus. The children in the commune did suffer in this very specific way. The damage was not as graphic and sensationalized as many people expect from a story about growing up in a cult, but it was horrifying nonetheless. Tim Guest did a fantastic job balancing this story to show why people might have been sucked into this commune in the first place, and then why they would decide to leave.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By AusE VINE VOICE on February 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Tim Guest is a young British man who was thrust at an early age, by his mother's spiritual search, into the commune life of the controversial Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In this fascinating and moving biography of his early life as a member of that cult, we witness a boy who nurtures a broken heart through his mother's neglect and self-absorption in her search for enlightenment. We see parallels within the life of Tim's mother and the arc of the cult itself, moving from an off-kilter yet earnest spiritual seeking to a finale best characterized as a sad and empty waste of time. Any intense movement that comes to an end will always have its casualties, and we often think only of the adults who have been directly involved in a cult or movement as such "victims", but this book poignantly highlights how the children who are given no choice in the matter can be more messed up by the experience and also in later life.

Tim writes with a contained emotion about his lonely and strange upbringing, shunted back and forth between confused and misguided parents, particularly his mother, who may have meant well but served to give him absolutely no grounding, real love, or sense of self. Aside from occasional visits with his father, much of the time described in the book concerns Tim's pre-teen years, after his parent's separation, spent with the mother who becomes quite an important figure in the European growth of the Rajneeshi movement. She is no mere rank and file follower, but a key figure in the British leadership, and has some direct encounters with the Bhagwan himself. Eventually, the movement unravels under the weight of leadership scandals, tax, immigration, legal and other myriad problems.
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35 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
What happens when a child is swept up in his mother's quest to become a follower of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, an Indian guru? How does a child have a normal childhood when it is spent traveling from England to Germany and other locales, all because of a parent's search for truth and enlightenment?
If Guest's memoir is any indication, the children of such parents may well be left feeling dazed, confused and neglected. In Guest's case, his mother spent much of her time involved in such activities as ecstatic dancing, group sex and bizarre rituals, some involving violence and even abuse. She wore bright clothing in the colors of the sunset.
In all fairness, his mother was not aware of the darkness at the heart of the Rajneesh movement and when charges of embezzlement and even a possible plan to commit murder came to light, she had a change of heart and began to examine all her earlier assumptions. In her own way, she was nearly as naive, trusting and innocent as a child...although I can't help feeling she should have known better and been there for her son as a parent first, with her spiritual adventures coming second.
I was happy to read that she did eventually make peace with her son and come to realize the harm she'd done to him, however inadvertently.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lee Anne Smith on June 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book gives a startling, funny, sometimes unbelievable account of a child's life growing up in existentialist communes all over the world. From six years old, Tim Guest travels the world, dragged helplessly by his mother, in search of enlightenment--all through the teachings of Bahgwan, an uconventional guru. As the reader, you can experience the contradiction of the notion of a carefree childhood and living a life where attachment to family and friends was viewed as a path to certain destruction. What's more, you can read it through the eyes of child. It is a compelling story, without judgement or prejudice. It is the most eloquent and poignant book I have read TO DATE. The ultimate book for my fellow yogis out there. Read it, then pass it on!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
I just finished this book and I felt it was money well spent. I was a member of a different cult myself but felt such an affinity with the story Mr. Guest was telling. I can't say I "enjoyed" the book, even though Mr. Guest used a lot of humor it was hard not to shudder at the horrific childhood he endured. I would like to see more books like this one by children raised in these groups. Though I don't really feel even adults make an informed choice when they join a cult a child has no choice at all. His story was compelling.
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