ATEC - Episode 78: Parents Who Leave for Cults ft. Lily Dunn

Episode 78: Parents Who Leave for Cults featuring Lily Dunn

Author Lily Dunn’s father joined Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s movement about the same time that And Then Everything Changed host Ronit Plank’s mother followed him to India. They both grew up in the shadow of Bhagwan (also known at Osho, the guru at the center of Netflix’s docuseries Wild Wild Country), each with a parent more devoted to his teachings and the lifestyle he extolled than to them. Lily shares some of what she witnessed at the Rajneeshee house she visited on weekends and she and Ronit discuss how their relationships with their father and mother respectively irrevocably changed when they chose freedom over parenting. In this special episode to mark the release of Ronit’s memoir When She Comes Back and Lily’s forthcoming memoir, the authors discuss their books, writing about family, and how watching Wild Wild Country which became a media sensation affected them. 


Lily Dunn is an author and mentor. Her personal essays have appeared in Granta, Hinterland, Litro and The Real Story in the UK and she is a regular writer for the international Aeon magazine. Her first novel, Shadowing the Sun was published by Portobello Books, and described by the Big Issue as ‘a vivid and meaningful portrait of innocence destroyed’. She is co-editor of A Wild and Precious Life: Addiction, physical and mental illness and its aftermath: a collection of stories and poetry from writers in recovery, due to be published by Unbound in April 2021. Her memoir about the legacy of her father’s various addictions will be published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in Spring 2022. She teaches creative writing at Bath Spa University, UK, and co-runs London Lit Lab with friend and author Zoe Gilbert.



I’m a writer, a teacher, a native New Yorker, and I love hearing about people’s lives. When I think back to my elementary school days at PS 20 in Flushing, Queens whenever we began social studies or a history lesson I wasn’t that interested in learning about battles, topography, or politics. What I wanted to know was how people lived: What their families were like, how they adapted to their circumstances, what they ate, how they celebrated, how they felt.
Sociology became my major at Binghamton University and in my life so far I’ve been an actress, a salesperson, a Zoo Keeper’s Aid, a volunteer animal trainer, an ELL teacher, a mother, and a wife. I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve had, all of which led me to create this podcast which is one of the most rewarding projects I’ve undertaken. I couldn’t ask for a better job than having in-depth conversations with survivors, thought leaders, authors, social justice warriors, and people who believe that we are all connected and then getting to share their stories, insight, and vulnerability with listeners.
I’m so glad you’ve landed on this page. I hope you find stories here which resonate with you and that you’ll tune in every week. 
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ATEC (Episode 10) (ATEC Pin 3)