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The New Commune – Where's the money coming from?

Last summer my son did his A-levels and left school. What was he going to do to get some money? He had zero interest in a career – all that really excited him was his hip-hop group, his dope and his friends. What he was looking for was something with flexible hours and which was cash in hand – and what we came up with was this. We bought a cheap Flymo (£59.99 from Argos) one light enough to carry, and an extension flex. Then we used the computer to run off a series of cards reading Lawns mowed £7.50 per hour, local work only, and the phone number. These we put up in tobacconists windows, in health food shops, and stuck through letterboxes of houses in the neighbouring streets.

It worked; and after a few weeks he thought he might as well get a Black and Decker hedge cutter and do hedges as well. And water gardens in summer… None of this demanded any previous experience; in fact so easy was it the rest of his hip-hop group decided they wanted to do it too. That was six young men and they all seemed instinctively communistic about it. And then we thought £7.50 really was a bit low; it wasn't as though we were trying to undercut the refugees.

The success of this made me wonder. How many sannyasin gardeners in North London do I know? If we all put £10 a week into a kitty we could splash out with the biggest, boldest ad there was in the Ham and High. All our friends who wanted could do some work; those who knew a bit could teach those who did not. We could do lawns and hedges and other maintenance work, like my son; but beyond that we could swing in with the new tide of experiment in city gardening. There are sannyas bricklayers and plumbers and carpenters: we could make anything at all. Any environment, the wilder the better. Rose-smothered orchards. Surreal, alchemical gardens. Gardens of water and fire. The world was meant to be a fairy tale. We could start to build it.

If you're really into making some money, there's a fortune to be made in a radical rethink of something as simple as front gardens. Privet, trashcans, bare dirt: you couldn't make anything more squalid if you tried, yet the people who live there have probably spent a fortune on the interior. Or on the other hand if it's gardening itself which appeals to you, we could be on the edge of some really creative breakthroughs. Suppose we scrapped all this Victorian rubbish about lawns and flower beds? Suppose we went back to basics and taught people how to grow their own fruit and veg? Or how to build a basic shed? We could do the same sort of thing indoors. Teach people how to grow wheatgrass, or shiitake mushrooms, or skunk. Perhaps a genuinely new 'movement' in gardening today would prove to be primarily educational: providing some of the practical know-how for that evacuation of the cities which daily becomes more pressing.

This could grow into a sannyas Mystery School. Didn't the Sufis do exactly the same, use work as their central learning device? The exoteric aspect would be creating an essentially happy way of making a living with your friends – and Osho, let us not forget, insisted a four-hour working day was ideal – while the esoteric would be to facilitate alertness, awareness of one another, and creativity. Play. Sannyas has always flowered in situations of shared labour. "First energy" said Osho "then the witness." Building played a vital part in his vision, and its total absence since the Ranch is surely one of the main reasons our collective energy is so stale and flat … So you see, far from being stuck in the doldrums, there's a fair chance we could take over the world with a capital outlay as small as £59.99. Oh, I almost forgot, and an extension flex.