Book Review: “The Book of Children” by Osho

When I studied philosophy, I realized I could not be a professional student of the field. I was told in great length why I could not argue the ideas of the great poets and literary masters which at the time I refused to comprehend. The part that most frustrated the nineteen year old me was: in the text we were reading, the philosopher’s generally disagreed with previous philosopher’s in a similar veins of thought. “This is ludicrous,” I would mutter, writing my five paged essays for each of the sections. Last night, while I read the “The Book of Children” by Osho, a familiar feeling bubbled up within the pit of my stomach. I was baffled by a majority that I read, so I decided to make a list.

The Ten Small Things That Made Me Question What I Read
By: A person that slept three hours

1) Osho mentions that a woman’s placenta is made up of the same mineral composition as the ocean. This was genuinely intriguing because I have never personally had an interest in knowing what exactly was in the fluid that surrounded me before birth. Therefore I decided to research and came up with nothing. There are no studies to support this claim. Feel free to read about the composition of a placenta here if it suits your fancy.

2) There is a section about the trauma a child will endure due to the practice of holding a baby by it’s feet after birth and slapping it’s behind. Again, nothing supports this idea, it is just unpleasant. Also a child cannot go without air for three minutes as his book suggests (the exception is the cold water, drowning technique). A chart in regards to breathing and cognitive activity is here.
**While researching, I discovered the current method used to assist breathing is gently rubbing the back or feet of the newborn. Trauma averted Osho.

3) Osho has an interesting connection between the high statistic of smoking in the Western world verses the relatively low statistic in developing countries in regards to breast feeding: we smoke because a cigarette mirrors a nipple.
However, “Smoking is on the rise in the developing world but falling in developed nations. Among Americans, smoking rates shrunk by nearly half in three decades (from the mid-1960s to mid-1990s), falling to 23% of adults by 1997. In the developing world, tobacco consumption is rising by 3.4% per year” (WPRO; Smoking Statistics, 2002).

4) On page 41, he talks about Jesus and his relationship with his parents. He is under the impression that the Mother of Christ was “not happy with Jesus” because he was a rebellious child and no one wants a child like that. Pardon?

5) The concept of privacy (or isolation as I interpreted it) on page 44 suggests that a child will grow more intelligent while being left alone. To be in contact with the child will influence this intelligence and create personality which will harm the individual. Osho refuses to recognize that humans are creatures of a pack mentality: we are not creatures that can survive on our own for extended periods of time without social interaction. Particularly at a young age which invites psychological issues into the mix. However later in the book, he instructs a mother to not push away her child because eventually the child will grow and push away from her. This ‘push’ is outside the seven year cycle he prescribes (every seven years, you are part of a different life category), as an infant will not push away within the first cycle. They are dependent on the care of others. With that being noted, how can you give a child privacy if they themselves are not pursuing it? The contradictions continue.

6) In what dharma does Buddha suggest that a child killing a parent will set them free? I would like an explanation to page 51.

7) Osho has a very interesting Freudian view of the relationships between fathers and sons. On page 59 he once again revisits the death of a paternal figure by his offspring. To kill is to respect ones father in the prehistoric age. Move forward to  page 119, where Osho states that the father was the main source of information for a young man in earlier societies. The survival of a parent was integral to the survival of children.

8) He has many thoughts on ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

  • obedient children say yes, but they are also not intelligent.
  • parents should say yes, because children who hear yes are free.
  • parents who say no, create a more authoritarian society.
  • rebellious children say no, but they are intelligent because they are not appeasing anyone other than themselves.

9) “All that they know is what has been done to them,” (Osho, 70). Osho describes parents in a very two dimensional way. They are too much of one thing or another, they are not properly encouraging growth, they do not give enough love but need to give privacy – restrictions and conditions. There is a tug-a-war between yes and no, between giving everything to your child and not being exploited by them. Then the reversal of not exploiting your child with parental expectations. These theories on how to raise a child are endless!

10) The nuclear gender roles are heavily encouraged. Women are silent and supportive while the men are dominant and strict. According to Osho, this will give your child fluidity. Check out page 99 for more information on this.

My final interpretation on the premise of the whole book is as follows: he doesn’t want us to have children. Everything is leading up to this loosely disguised point. Don’t have children because families to Osho are toxic. He has an unattached commune as an ideal society for the future of humanity, which somehow allows for privacy amidst a vast sea of individuals . As always, contrast and contradictions are key. In a perfect environment for child development, humans do not have the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because evidently it is afflicting to our ‘true expressions’ which are also strangers to us. Therefore we are already dead, as we have killed our inner child. We will imprint these concepts on our offspring, cycle continues – there is no point to exist in the world of Osho. There is no way to not condition a child with some knowledge, because even the steps provided by Osho is conditioning!

We are creatures of reaction!

I found the book to be full of misinterpretations and half truths. There is no actuality behind his ‘facts’ as I have very briefly demonstrated above. Osho uses whatever methods available to persuade his audience towards seeing his interpretation of the world. That being said, I did enjoy a few aspects of the text, particularly the concept of explaining ‘why’ to children, rather than just refraining their activities. As well as the releasing of negativity in life, particularly during pregnancy and childbirth, as those sort of ideologies can be both mentally and physically harmful.

In the end, I would probably never read something by Osho again. I am thankful for the book though, as it has produced new ways of interpreting text for me. I feel more inclined than ever to question what I read.

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