I wanted to talk a little more about renunciation and my family’s history with Osho. When I was seven, my mother and father and me got on a plane to India to see Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, as he was then known. We were walking around in orange clothes, with mala’s around our necks, when we went to see him with the three of us at a public darshan. It was a lovely three months, I spent much time in the gardens of the ashram climbing trees and reading my stack of comic books.
It was an interesting time. My father and mother ran a meditation centre for a while, and eventually separated. My father gave up his job, and we joined a commune in the forests in the heart of the Netherlands. It was a radical step at the time, leaving all ambition and worldly possessions behind. I think I had two small suitcases, one with toys and one with clothes, and that was it. My father had trained as a software engineer at a Technical University here, so he had a decent job within the commune and options outside it if he wanted to leave.
But we ended up going to Bhagwan’s commune in the United States, emigrating was an entirely different experience I have to say. For a while we lived in rooms in shared houses with other sannyasins, but we still wore the orange, even in schools before we got to the commune. For the actual commune experience in the US, I was 13 at the time, but already pretty self reliant. I remember going to school half days, and working part of the day answering phones and stuff. There weren’t many luxuries that we could afford, so we lived modestly within the commune system.
We weren’t quite true renunciates in the Hindu sannyasin style. There was plenty of sex in the commune, everyone had a little cabin to sleep in, and we didn’t have time to sit by the river and contemplate. Commune life includes a lot of hard work, but you did get to leave behind a lot of other things like a lot of personal possessions — cars for instance were nearly all owned by the commune — there were free bus rides, there was a shared free library, you could pick up new clothes if you needed them for free, it was a whole new way of living.
So I would argue that for my father and mother it was a way of renouncing, breaking with the larger world, getting away from the stifling christianity in the Netherlands. I just kind of grew up in this, in a deeply spiritual surrounding.