From Christians in the book of Acts to Zion to Kaliflower to Osho’s ranch… experiments in communal living around the world have come and gone. The Shakers, Yellow Springs, and Sointula are other failed examples. And of course, there’s Jonestown.
In modern times, communes are called intentional communities, alternative or experimental communities, living ‘off-grid,’ or eco villages. Auroville and Findhorn are two modern day intentional communities currently in existence. Native tribes, ashrams, and monasteries might also be considered a coliving arrangement where people share communal land, resources, and sometimes spiritual, political, or ecological interests.
Humans may be hardwired for small community relationships. Prominent research also shows that some intentional communities are therapeutic. And the loneliness epidemic is on the rise in our current mass social structure. Yet, communal living fails the vast majority of the time due to tyrannical control, unhealthy isolation, unsuitable land, failure of members to do hard work, factions, or internal abuse. Why don’t they work?
Different factors and variables go into the success of community, city, or nation. But the primary factor is freedom of the individual – which doesn’t infringe upon the freedom of other individuals. Life is too dynamic to control the human dynamic with legal laws or unspoken pressure to conform. Yet without a few good laws and leaders, safety is compromised.
Communes, utopias, and intentional communities don’t work for the same reason our modern society doesn’t work – without social unrest, political injustice, or lifeless, dreary organizations such as the workplace, school, and church. Trying to control the live dynamics of the soul through routine discipline only kills our spirit.
Hard work is a satisfying virtue, however. But discipline and hard work should be a RESULT of living our life passion – rather than an attempt to create or control it.
Human survival requirements generally don’t yet encourage the individual quest to experiment and discover their unique personal skills and life passion. Discovering your life passion also requires an inner search. Yet, survival is much more fun and interesting when you know the reason for your existence.
Still, who knows? Maybe the social challenge makes our personal discovery that much more valuable. Or, maybe one day, humans will finally get it right and we can all work for a common cause – enjoying our individual lives together and caring for our planet.