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My Life in Orange

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  1,682 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
At the age of six, Tim Guest was taken by his mother to a commune modeled on the teachings of the notorious Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The Bhagwan preached an eclectic doctrine of Eastern mysticism, chaotic therapy, and sexual freedom, and enjoyed inhaling laughing gas, preaching from a dentist's chair, and collecting Rolls Royces.

Tim and his mother were given Sa
Paperback, 320 pages
Published January 20th 2005 by Granta Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Mar 16, 2008 Samilja rated it liked it
This book just made me sad. Guest's memoir chronicles his life (roughly from age 2 to age 11) in and out of various ashrams and communes created by and for followers of the Indian 'guru' Bagwhan. Guest's mother is searching (presumably for meaning in her life) and with varying degrees of misguidance, love, neglect and naivete drags her young son into life among her fellow 'sannyasins'. The party line at these communes is that kids should not be raised as dependent on their biological parents but ...more
Jun 13, 2010 Molly rated it liked it
An admission: with just the title, My Life in Orange: Growing up with the Guru, I had somehow expected this to be about a child's experiences with monks. The guru, in my imagined variation, would be the Buddha, but instead, after reading the back of the book out loud to my husband, who gently chided me at my omission (is it true about 'pregnancy brain'? do I really have such enormous gaps in my thinking?), I was transmitted right back to middle school, when one of my good friends was fascinated ...more
Joshua Gross
Jan 13, 2013 Joshua Gross rated it it was ok
The difficulty with this book, at least for me, was the problem with it having to be both a memoir and a historical account. Tim Guest was a child when all this was happening, so he wouldn't have had the relevant details at the time. There are long passages about him as a child, unattended by adults like all the other kids and getting into mischief that I got rather tiresome after awhile, and then fascinating segments of researched information regarding the Rajneesh. Most of the book dragged on ...more
Bharath Ramakrishnan
Feb 06, 2017 Bharath Ramakrishnan rated it it was ok
This is a book about the period when Tim's mother was a close follower of the controversial guru Osho (Rajneesh). His mother starts by attending a lecture and gets deeply involved - visiting and living in the Pune ashram of Osho and later Europe, America as well.

As he was a small boy at the time, Tim recounts much of this later. That is one of the problems of the book. There is no insight on what Tim's mother found attractive in Osho's teachings, and whether she suffered any self-doubt during m
Elizabeth Urello
Jan 03, 2016 Elizabeth Urello rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
I read a lot of books about cults and cult members. I don’t have an explanation for why, it’s just an interest I have. The tagline of this particular book could read, “An interesting person ruined my life, and I have no idea why.” This memoir of Guest’s upbringing in the Rajneeshi cult should be fascinating, but it’s spoiled by Guest’s inability to elevate it from mere factual retelling into literary memoir. He plods along, recalling every tiny detail as if it were important for its own sake, so ...more
Christy S
Nov 25, 2009 Christy S rated it liked it
Tim Guest grew up in a number of communes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, most of them under the teachings of Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh. Through England, India, Oregon and Germany, Tim and his Mother live, dance, work, and play amongst thousands of other orange and burgundy-clad sannyasins in search of peace, therapy, enlightenment. The result is a childhood that is delightfully fun, free, and eccentric, though also full of neglect, confusion, and separation from his mother.

Guest writes h
Aug 15, 2008 minnie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I read this over the weekend and found it a fascinating insight into the insane world of the religious cult.It's the memories of Tim Guest, whose mother joined Bhagwans followers in 1980 and dragged her young son around various Ashrams.This book was extremely sad, young Tim runs wild at Medina (the Orange peoples headquarters in Suffolk) with the other kids and does all the things normal kids do, but with no real love or input from his mother.When Bhagwan sets up a huge village in Oregon,and eve ...more
Oct 06, 2012 Joseph rated it did not like it
found this in a discount bin in half price books. i found this piece suspect. it's a memoir of christopher guest his life growing up in osho movement. not because its a criticism of ohso BUT as a 5 year old im supposed to believe guest has these detailed memories of conversations and minute details of events of his family at the osho compound? really a 5 year old is going to remember every word in a conversation his mother had with some random woman 30 years ago? yeah right. i am not a osho fol ...more
Feb 25, 2010 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
An autobiography where Tim tells what it was like to grow up at various communes with his Mother, a follower of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Everyone has to wear the colors of the sun--orange, red, maroon, salmon--hence the title. Bhagwan's eccentric version of Eastern mysticism attracts many followers who like the freedom to dance, take drugs, and have sex while following the guru. His Mom quickly becomes a teacher in the communes where she leads psychological therapy sessions. Bhagwan doesn't belie ...more
Oct 10, 2007 Sarah rated it liked it
Well, I certainly do like my memoirs, but this book had a slow start, and a slow middle, but it was worth trudging through to the end. I am amazed that there was such a following with the group described in this book. I am also shocked about the philosophy that the organization had about child rearing. For those who can read several books at a time I would suggest reading another one along with this book. It is a slow read.
Jan 21, 2008 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I liked it, but I thought it was a little whiny and repetitive. It's less about being in Rajneesh, and more about this guy's relationship with his mom. Fair enough, as it is a memoir, but it's billed more as a memoir of someone in the "cult." That was more what I was interested in, so by the end I just wanted to yell at the book, "Okay I get it, you felt abandoned!"

Also there are parts of the book where time moves VERY slowly, and then other parts that are totally glossed over.
This is an interesting story. However, having said that, I wonder how the author could recall so vividly the details of his childhood.

I'm a life long resident of Oregon. Having lived through the time of the Rajneeshis here in Oregon, this was a fascinating read, even if I do have my doubts as to the accuracy of the author's memories.
James Hollomon
May 06, 2017 James Hollomon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cult-research
I thoroughly enjoyed Tim Guest's humor and pathos as he recounts his bizarre childhood growing up in Indian Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh's (AKA Osho's) cult of which his parents were members. His memoir is an insightful journey through the joys and angst a child experienced living from birth to late teens among people dedicated to the guru's syncretic, existentialist teachings. Rajneesh taught that surrender began with throwing out all rules and living entirely for the moment with no thought of t ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Ape rated it really liked it
2009 bookcrossing journal:

Well, I am really thankful for the relatively uneventful childhood I had. Heck, this whole mass hysteria and brainwashing is quite a scary subject. I honestly couldn’t imagine getting sucked into something like that so much. But so many people obviously did, and at no point did any of them seem to think, actually this is a load of crap, I’m off.

This cult seems to have been a big thing in it’s day, but to be honest, I hadn’t heard of it before. But then the high point se
Oct 01, 2008 Renee rated it liked it
I found the subject matter of this book interesting but I have a few gripes. Firstly the thesis of this book was "I was neglected as a child and I am bitter about it" which showed in the tone of the writing. I understand his need to write this book but it would have been better if written with a little more lightness, objectivity. Hmm although perhaps his pain made it more poignant? In addition I noticed a few facts that were wrong, which made me wonder about the rest of the book (ie he said Sea ...more
Sooraj Subramaniam
Oct 23, 2011 Sooraj Subramaniam rated it liked it
It is sad when spiritual/political ideals are never fully realised because along the way the participants get corrupt. The gurus (Christ, Buddha, Marx, Gandhi and now Rajneesh) I've read about have sought to empower people through introversion, and then ultimately by extending that self-gained power to others by service (kindness, generosity, non-judgment). Yet, in all cases someone gets wind of the prizes such power procures, and they begin a steady and wilful abuse of the original idea/vision. ...more
Jodi Mae
I thought Guest did a pretty decent job at recounting his childhood while growing up on the Rajneesh commune. It can be difficult to recall memory, and remain authentic to the childhood self, tone and experience; while also needing to convey history for contextual purposes. Guest manages to do so without dishing up too much dirt on the more unethical and questionable practices of this sect. He alludes to some, but it would be unfair to disclose too much, as a child would not have had the maturit ...more
Silke Blumbach
AMAZON: "Sannyasins gathered together to abandon weight, to surrender themselves to levity. . . . The children of Bhagwan's communes needed other things. We needed comfort. We needed a place to stash our Legos. We needed our home." Now 27, Guest spent the majority of his first 10 years shuttling around the globe between communes organized by followers of the notorious Indian guru, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In this stirring memoir, Guest combines thoroughly researched portraits of his controversial ...more
Tim Guest (also known as Yogesh for a period of time) spent his childhood years (4 through 10) living in the communes of the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. He is pretty bitter about it because his Motherwas often living away from him and he was lonely. He feels abandoned by his parents although both actually showed him quite a bit of love and availability in my opinion.
The cult was a weird place for sure, lots of sex and violence masquerading as "enlightment", Bhagwan treated like a god. Why are
Jul 05, 2011 Nadeem rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, cults
I really liked this book despite parts of it seeming a bit tiring. Part of what's interesting is learning about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who was this "guru" that had an international following. As the book is the memoir of Tim Guest, whose mother was heavily involved in the group, one gets an inside perspective on what his life was like growing up in that context. What I found interesting about his take was learning about how Bhagwan's followers were attempting to live this alternative, "spiritua ...more
Tim Guest tells of his life growing up in a commune of Bhagwan, an Indian guru. His mother started following the spiritual leader when Tim was 4 years old. In the commune, parents were discouraged from spending too much time with their children. The nuclear family was considered restrictive. It was believed that the children should grow up free, with many adults setting an example, rather than limiting them to a mother and a father. The children slept in dorms, and Tim often went many days witho ...more
Sarah Goodwin
Dec 19, 2012 Sarah Goodwin rated it it was amazing
One of my best loved books, and a steal for 10p from my local library.

All aspects of 'hippy' and alternate religious culture really interest me, and unlike Drop City by T.C. Boyle, which I also enjoyed, this has the benifit of being more 'real' and balanced.

I find it really hard to see why, just becuase it's depressing, a book can be deemed 'bad'. This book didn't depress me, it had both positive and negative events, which nicely created an even tone. The occasional humour was welcome, and I lik
Apr 14, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This autobiography tells the story of a boy, Tim Guest, growing up in a commune. Tim’s mother leaves for a commune called Ashram in India led by guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and later is sent back to England to start a commune there. His mother becomes quite an important role in this organization, and you see the distance growing between Tim and his mother.

The children are taught to learn through their own experiences and exploring, by finding their own truth instead of being taught by adults. A
Jul 08, 2008 Rachael rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, suicide
Memoir of a British boy whose mother was a Moonie. Guest illustrates how the search for enlightenment/betterment for adults led to neglect and even abandonment of children, especially on an emotional level. His father, seperated from his mother, has a less involved role in Guest's life, but it was almost his story that captured me the most: John's father died when he was three, then when he was ten his mother killed herself. The kids were split up and John lived with his grandmother, who then di ...more
Jun 24, 2013 Judith rated it really liked it
honest and well written; Tim Guest tells us of his life with a true-believer mother who dedicated herself, after a few political identifications, to life as a sannyasin building the Rajneesh spiritual empire/international community. We get an ironic and balanced child's eye view of growing up in a New Age world, on several continents, where children were an afterthought in an adult-oriented, tantric-spiced, sometimes violent enournter-based spiritual order and left largely to their own devices w ...more
George Ilsley
Nov 12, 2012 George Ilsley rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, biography, re-read
Just re-read this one (should have added the re-read category here before). Remarkable work of reconstruction of an unusual childhood.

Having encountered many of the Rajneeshites in my travels (and indeed live in a city where their influence continues to be felt to this very day), and having read other biographies of the Bhagwan, this memoir adds another perspective from the point of view of a child who does not choose to be involved with the commune, but yet who is there living in the very midst
Nov 18, 2013 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
For me, this one was yet another flawed memoir. He's telling the story of his childhood in this organization, so what we get is a child's view of what is happening. He provides some background with newspaper accounts and other reports on the group's activities. But most of the time, while reading about his endless lonely games or his separation from his mother, I was wishing an adult was telling me what was happening among the leadership and giving their view of how the organization worked. Gues ...more
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at life inside a cult - from the view of a child. Guest moved into his first communal ashram at about age 5 when, after short bouts with other major movements, his mother hears a tape of Bhagwan speaking. For the next 6 years the two move around the world at the behest of the guru. Guest tells of the freedom of life in a commune but also the loneliness and instability, particularly when his mother leaves to teach for weeks at a time. In addition to continual moves from ashrams ...more
May 26, 2008 Gina rated it really liked it
Okay, yes I have a thing with cults.
Great book. A great perspective from a child.
He sees his parents, specifically his mother, transformed from high ideals and damaged from the fall.
Strangely, the damage from the cult itself is minimal.
The separation from his family and watching the tragedy of disillusionment fall on his parents when he is too small to help seems more painful.
Children see things as they are but they don't have the power to make the adult recognize the truth. They can fall off
Helen Yee
This insight into growing up in a cult isn't the over dramatic scandal you'd expect at first glance. Admittedly Guest left at age ten so wasn't a part of many activities. It ends up being more of a self-confessional about how it affected his relationship with his mother, or lack thereof.

Given his young age, it feels a stretch that Guest remembers so many minute details from the past, and I felt this book dragged on a little too long, but the afterword was probably the chapter that I found most
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Tim Guest (c. 1974 — 2009) was a journalist and the bestselling author of My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru, about his childhood on communes around the world. Guest’s articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, New Scientist, and Vogue.
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