My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru
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My Life in Orange: Growing Up with the Guru

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  1,144 ratings  ·  112 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 San...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 1st 2005 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Samilja
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
Christy S
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...more
Joshua Gross
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
Molly
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
minnie
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
Kathy
An autobiography where Tim tells what it was like to grow up at various communes with his Mother, a follower of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Bhagwan's eccentric version of Eastern mysticism ignites many followers who like the freedom to dance, take drugs, and have sex while following the guru. His Mom quickly becomes a mid-level person in the communes where she leads psychological therapy sessions. Bhagwan doesn't believe in indoctrinating kids, so the children play freely and attend classes as they...more
Jenny
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.
Ape
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...more
Sooraj Subramaniam
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
Nadeem
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
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
Chana
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...more
Lauren (acrossmyfictionaluniverse)
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...more
Sarah Goodwin
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...more
Georgene
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.
Sierra Elliott
This book is written from the perspective of a child growing up in communes, but then it would provide actually historical/factual information which took me out of the story. It also left me with a lot of questions. It wasn't completely chronological and there were some cultural misspellings.

Overall, it was a good story but not very informative about the communal lifestyle.
George Ilsley
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...more
Joseph
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
Rachael
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
Judith
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
Sandy Jones
I read this awhile ago so I don't remember anecdotes. The idea of living in a commune appealed to me on one level though I was always too selfish to actually go for it. I work with students now and have known some who's parents were commune-hippies. The child's perspective of that world is really eye-opening. The longer I live the more convinced I become that there's no such thing as a "normal childhood."
Kimberley
This was on a list we got from the library of other book clubs recommendations. It looked interesting - a little boy growing up in a religious cult/commune. It was an okay read....didn't look forward to reading it every night but at the same time was quite interesting. It just goes to prove that kids find a way of enjoying themselves whatever situation they're put in (well! within reason - I did feel really sorry for him at times - he really didn't have the family support around him and was left...more
Gina
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...more
Joanna Herat
Beautiful, moving, though-provoking and often funny autobiography. RIP Tim.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Tim was 6 when his mother decided to follow Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. This chronicles his memories of living on various Rajneesh compounds in India, the UK, Rajneeshpuram (in Oregon), and even a school in Holland. It was fascinating. For instance, who knew that one of the leaders of this group was the only instance of biological warfare used in the United States until anthrax?

For all of the horror stories out there about cultish religions, this was more focused on his unique childhood and was more...more
Lain
I'll be honest -- after reading 50 pages of this book, I got off the StairMaster at the gym, put the book in my bag, and had no interest in reading any more of it. It just wasn't that interesting. It read more like a history of the Bhagwan Rajneesh, and less a story about Guest's childhood experiences. If you want to read about horrifying childhoods or kids in cults, try "Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress" by Susan Jane Gilman or "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs. Either one is a mor...more
Charlie
Mar 17, 2008 Charlie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Charlie by: Amanda
First of all kudos to Amanda for loaning me this book!

Ever read a book that you start out loving and that love fades fast? Well, this was one of those. I found myself skipping ahead a page or two towards the end. I wanted to get to the part where stuff falls apart quicker. I mean, the stories of playing with the other kids and life in the commune were entertaining, but got a little old. Still worth checking out this guys messed up childhood. Part of me thought that is sort of sounded fun though....more
Marsha
Tim Guest's story of growing up in Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh communes. His own deeply personal experience is mixed with a factual retelling of the history of Rajneesh communes including their fracturing and decline.Very absorbing and very sad. It was a unique perspective for me, as I spend 2 1/2 years living in intentional secular communities. His writing showed, is literary slow motion, how complicated and...easy...it was for things to develop into toxic and extreme situations.
Sammi
Whilst the book IS interesting, showing what life is like living in the world of a Cult... For me, it fell short.
The book followed the life of Tim as a young boy and the type of world he lived in. The culture of the cult was very different and that was the interesting part - but what was more interesting was how Tim explained how he experienced it.
The book sounded like it would have been something I would have loved, but unfortunately it isn't a book for me.
Brent
Aug 19, 2008 Brent rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Prisoners, those who enjoy being bored
Shelves: read-in-2005
Story of Tim's life growing up with his mother on a series of religious commune's as she attempts to truly find herself. Truly could have been so much better.

I don't like Tim Guest very much. His narrative of what he did all growing up becomes really, really tedious. I became quite angry with him and kind of wished he would have left out some of the boring details. I still had to finish it however to see if it would get any better. Yeah, it didn't.
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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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