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My visit to Rajneeshpuram
Rajneeshpuram appeared like a mirage in the distance; an oasis in the desert. Nestling between the two mountain ranges we were driving through, it grew organically along the banks of a stream.
We parked the car in front of a building with a wooden veranda from which I could see a path meandering its way through trees and shrubs, and across a rustic bridge, under which a stream rippled its way through the landscape. On the veranda an Alsatian dog sniffed our luggage to make sure we weren’t bringing in any drugs which were forbidden.
As we entered the building, which was vaulted like a church, I was convinced that I had arrived in another dimension. The walls were painted white as a back-drop for the colours worn by the people inside. Their clothes ranged through the spectrum from orange and red to magenta. There was a complete absence of black, brown or grey. There were only the colours of the sun-rise moving against a blank canvas to a musical accompaniment of Bach and Vivaldi. Everything was spotlessly clean and in order. The vases of flowers and potted plants were vibrant and meticulously well-cared for.
We filled in various forms, paid our fees, and were directed to a parked yellow school bus which displayed a sign announcing:
“YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A BUDDHA FIELD”
Viren, a sannyasin friend who had driven me here, explained that as the Buddha was an enlightened being, to enter a Buddha Field is to risk becoming enlightened.
Rajneeshpuram was a strange and beautiful place consisting of over 60,000 acres of land featured in several John Wayne westerns. It was spread across two counties: Wasco and Jefferson, and the locals were mostly conservative red-necks who did not approve of Rajneesh or his followers.
A young woman stood at the front of the bus wearing a crimson dress. She flicked her long dark hair over her shoulder and spoke to us about the areas we were now driving through.
“The land was purchased only four years ago. It consisted of a ranch, a barn and a muddy creek. The land was over-grazed, so we had to reverse the ecology. We set out to build a city in harmony with nature. When we arrived there were only 25 species of wild birds; now there are 125. We built dams, planted trees and constructed roads. We spent the first two years up to our knees in mud.”
We all gazed out of the windows at the neat tree-lined road with its mountainous back-drop silhouetted against the setting sun.
“We became self-sufficient after only three years,” continued the young woman who identified herself as Raga. “There are now five thousand people living here. We recycle everything including our own body heat in the heating systems. Our sewage is broken down into a liquid. Natural bacteria break it down in three to four months. Then it’s purified and piped out to our pastures.”
She pointed to the green meadows which contrasted so dramatically with the barren landscape in which they nestled.
“We have over 500 head of cattle which we milk and use for ploughing the land,” she told us with pride. “As we live on a vegetarian diet, we can feed five thousand people a day from the vegetables we grow in our fields. We grow lettuce and tomatoes in the winter months in those plastic tunnels over there which open and shut to retain the heat.
“This is our temple, the Mandir.”
We gazed in awe at the metal and glass structure which looked more like an aircraft hanger than a temple.
“This is the only city in the world which recycles 70% of its garbage,” Raga continued. “Even the garage has an underground storage tank for spilled oil which is re-used in the winter months.”
She pointed to a clinical building looking more like a hospital than a garage.
“We have a school for our children, a peace force, lawyers, a fire department, a fully equipped medical centre and even a crematorium. Do you have any questions?”
“Are you legal?” an older man called from the back of the bus.
“Our legality is in the High Court pending a decision, but it is not a legal issue. It is a political one. You see, we are dedicated to exposing the truth and the truth sets people free. Because the government feels threatened by us, it is searching for a legal loop-hole in order to close down Rajneeshpuram.”
Raga then pointed to a bus depot with more of the yellow school buses all announcing the Buddha Field. She told us we could catch a bus to anywhere in the city, affectionately called the Ranch, between the hours of 5 a.m. and midnight any day of the week.
We had been driving along the side of the stream but now we crossed one of the rustic bridges and then the Air Rajneesh runway where aircraft were parked. The bus stopped outside a group of pre-fabricated town houses in an area called University Heights. These were the accommodation buildings where visitors slept three to a room.
The following morning we walked to our nearest cafeteria which had been serving breakfast since the first bus left the depot at 5 a.m. The cafeteria was furnished simply, with food laid out on long tables, adding splashes of colour to the spartan interior. We helped ourselves and sat outside under an enormous canopy. The food was wholesome and delicious. As we talked to the other people eating at the tables, we discovered that they had travelled from all over the world to be here.
After breakfast we took a bus to the Medical Center where we were tested for any infectious diseases we might be carrying. Rajneesh had predicted that a new disease would wipe out two thirds of the world at the end of the century. It was believed to be the Aids virus. We were given an orange bead to wear around our necks until the results of the tests came through. This told other people not to have sex with us in case we were carrying a sexually-transmitted disease.
Viren then took me to the building where I would sign up for my group. This building was like a wheel with corridors and rooms radiating out from a central hub where registration was taking place. Like the Reception building with the veranda, the walls were painted white as a back-drop for the flowers and colours worn by the people who stood behind the registration desk. I signed up for Fresh Beginning, the group recommended by Viren and, after a brief interview, I was shown to a large room at the end of one of the corridors. Several of us sat down with the two therapists who said they would be taking us through the next five weeks. They were called Vasamarti and Dyanand.
“Everything that happens within the group is confidential,” said Vasamarti, a pretty petite woman in her early thirties. “We expect you to be punctual, tidy and respectful. Take plenty of showers and please — NO outside nudity. You will be in isolation and silence for the next two weeks with no contact outside the group. You will be taking your energy within and to help you in the process, we ask you not to make eye-contact outside the group. Do not talk, make telephone calls or write letters. No reading, music or listening to tapes. Get plenty of body work sessions and keep a journal, at the back of which you are to write your life story, beginning with your earliest memories. This will help you to go within. It is important for you to attend the early morning and late afternoon sessions in the Mandir, for these sessions will help you to burn away the past. You will be going deeper than therapy.
“We insist that you abstain from sugar, tea, coffee, jam, juice, chocolate and sex during this time, for we do not want you to compensate or deaden your feelings. We eat to avoid feeling and sugar is a substitute for love. Avoid heavy meals and eat simply.
“We ask for your commitment to stay with the process. Remember, you will be burning away your past. Be as total as you can be and make this commitment to yourself.”
Most of the participants were German and included a judge and a medical doctor. There were Americans and people from France, Brazil, Switzerland, and myself from the UK. We were all stretched out on the floor with our eyes closed.
“When a child is born, he is a feeling being … He is not a thinking being yet. He is natural — just like anything natural in nature — just like a tree or an animal. But we start moulding him, cultivating. He has to suppress his feelings because without suppressing his feelings he is always in trouble.”
It was Rajneesh speaking.
“Love is not for him as he is. He can be loved only if he follows certain rules. Those rules are imposed; they are not natural. The natural being starts being suppressed, and the unnatural, the unreal, is imposed over it. This unreal is your mind, and a moment comes when the split is so great that you cannot bridge it. You go on forgetting completely what your real nature was — or is. You are a false face; the original face is lost. And you are afraid also to feel the original, because the moment you feel it the whole society will be against you.
“This creates a very neurotic state. You don’t know what you want; you don’t know what are your real, authentic needs. And then one goes for non-authentic needs, because only the feeling heart can give you the sense, the direction … When it is suppressed, you create symbolic needs. For example, you may go on eating more and more, stuffing yourself with food, and you can never feel that you are filled. The need is for love, it is not for food, but food and love are deeply related. So when the love need is not felt or is suppressed, a false need for food is created … Because the need is false, it can never be fulfilled. And we live in false needs; that’s why there is no fulfillment.” 1.
“The child is born one, whole. That’s why every child is so beautiful … The child has no gap, no split, no divisions, no fragments … The child is simply real, authentic. You cannot say the child is moral; the child is neither moral nor immoral. He is just unaware that there is anything moral or immoral. The moment he becomes aware, the split starts. Then the child starts behaving in unreal ways, because to be real becomes more and more difficult.” 2.
In the days that followed it soon became apparent that we were all regressing. Each hour of every day was programmed to reduce us to our original, authentic, feeling selves. Some of us resisted. Many could not feel even though they tried. Most of the men had completely forgotten how to feel. They were numb. At first I was naturally upset that I had never felt loved; not by my parents or my lovers, but what really horrified me was my lack of love for myself. I had never learned how to love myself. There had been no examples; no models to follow. Nobody in my childhood had appeared to love themselves. Loving oneself had been labelled selfish and indulgent.
Our days began in the Mandir before breakfast where we were encouraged to dance, scream, stamp and beat out our rage. My rage was as elusive as sleep is to an insomniac. I was afraid of the rage of those around me, for it reminded me of my father’s anger, which had killed him. He died in a fit of anger, from a massive heart attack, in front of me when I was six. I found these early morning sessions unbearable as I experienced for the first time in my life the fortress I had built around myself for protection. After I fell asleep on the floor and was hit with a cane, wielded by a fierce Indian woman who was obviously in charge, I stopped attending these early morning sessions.
The late afternoon sessions were much easier for me. In these sessions we danced until there was no separation between us, the dancers, and the dance. We danced to the music of Deuter and Kitara. Then, in mid-stream the music stopped and we would freeze, like dancers in a fresco. No movement, no sound. Just the dancers caught in mid-dance with arms and legs wherever they happened to be. Each dancer separate and unique, yet united in the dance when the music began again. I loved Kundalini and never missed a session.
“You want to be loved; that’s a basic need, natural, but it can be diverted into a false dimension,” said Bhagwan. “For example, the love need, being loved, can be felt as a false need if you try to divert others’ attention to yourself. You want that others should pay attention to you. You become a political leader — great crowds paying attention to you — but the real basic need is to be loved, and even if the whole world is paying attention to you, that basic need cannot be fulfilled.
“When you love someone you pay attention to them. Attention and love are deeply related. If you suppress the love need, then it becomes a symbolic need — you need others’ attention. You may get it, but then too there will be no fulfillment. The need is false, disconnected from the natural, basic need. This division in the personality is neurosis.” 3.
More people in the group were falling apart. We were given exercises to do which put us into such extreme physical discomfort, our defenses were demolished. Some people began to scream and beat cushions. One of the exercises was to run on the spot in front of a life-size portrait of Bhagwan.
My initial upset about not receiving the love, attention and acceptance I had needed as a child turned into an all-encompassing grief. The therapists ignored me, which intensified my grief. One day the entire group screamed at me that they were sick of my tears.
“You’re strong!” they shouted. “Why do you act as if you’re weak and powerless?”
I now felt as unloved and unaccepted by the group as I had felt by my parents which made me even more weepy. I either hid in a corner or cuddled up to Gertrude, who had also been rejected by the group because she was over-weight. Later Gertrude, a medical doctor from Germany, entertained us with her belly-dancing. There was also a German High Court judge in the group. He was a lovely man totally devoted to Bhagwan.
The therapists shared that they wanted me to get in touch with my rage in order to release the power and potential I was hiding behind my tears. They even accused me of being a fake, which hurt because my grief felt genuine to me. As a child, I had never been allowed to be angry. My parents, who were always angry, would never have tolerated anger in me. Even though I now had full permission to be angry, I could not allow myself. The taboo against expressing anger was far too deep.
A man in the group, whose name I could not pronounce, said I was sickly sweet like saccharine. He said I was too good to be true, and this was why they were calling me a fake. As a child, I had won love and approval by being sweet and obedient. He agreed with the therapists that there was an ocean of rage inside me, which I covered up with tears and sweetness. I was told I would not express my full potential until I had released my anger, but I had no idea how to access it.
“What to do to become one?” Bhagwan asked.
“You can go on thinking; that is not going to help because thinking is the technique to divide. Thinking is analytical Feeling unites. So, you can go on thinking, reading, studying, contemplating. It is not going to help, unless you fall back to the feeling centre. But it is very difficult because even when we think about the feeling centre, we think!” 4.
We were encouraged not to think but to feel. Many of us wanted to talk about our feelings but the therapists refused to listen. They wanted to see our feelings; not hear about them. They gave us the opportunity of sharing with the group our family situations in parent child tableaus. In this way we had a direct experience of each other’s childhood, for it was easy to see in these frozen family dramas what each of us had suffered. For many of us the original scenario had repeated itself for the rest of our lives. Unavailable parents later became unavailable partners. Smothering parent were merely replaced with smothering lovers. Those of us who had felt abandoned by our parents were later abandoned by our partners. The aim of the group was to break the pattern; to burn away the past, so that we would stop acting out our past in our present and future relationships.
In the middle of the second week we were told to bring our written life stories to the session. The next process was a ritual of release in which we ran around the room clutching our journals until we had worked up enough internal fire to burn them. Sweat and shredded life stories flowed freely as we ran around the room, encouraged by the therapists, who were beating out a primal rhythm on their drums. We had been running all morning, yet all of us were energized.
After this ritual of release, we were ready for the death process, which was prepared for over a three day period and involved writing good-bye letters to the people we loved. If we were in touch with our own, and everyone else’s mortality, maybe we would behave differently, but in our society death is a taboo subject like sex. When we are in touch with death, our own short lives become more precious and less centered around security and petty grievances. In our good-bye letters we wanted our loved ones to know that we loved them. At the end of life it’s love that matters.
“Nothing is more precious than love,” said Bhagwan. “One who misses love remains poor. Love is not in getting love; love is in giving love. Give for the sheer joy of giving it, with no conditions attached, with no expectations, and feel grateful to the person who receives your love, because he could have rejected.” 5.
At the end of two weeks we all looked younger and more vibrant. We were now ready for the next two weeks, which would be totally different to the first two, but Bhagwan still had words of wisdom for us:
“When you are angry, don’t be centered on the person who has aroused it. Let him be on the periphery. You just become angry — allow it to happen within. Don’t rationalize; don’t say, ’This man has created it.‘ Don’t condemn the man. He has become just a situation. And feel grateful towards him, that something that was hidden has become open. He has hit somewhere, and a wound was there hidden. Now you know it — become the wound.
“With negative or positive, any emotions, use this, and there will be a great change in you. If the emotion is negative, you will be freed of it by being aware that it is within you; if the emotion is positive, you will become the emotion itself. If it is joy, you will become joy. If it is anger, the anger will dissolve. Then it can be transformed into compassion.
“Awareness works differently on both. If it is poisonous, you are relieved of it through awareness. If it is good, blissful, ecstatic, you become one with it. Awareness deepens it.
“Use your awareness.” 6.
We were now free to join in community activities which appeared to consist almost entirely of celebrating and dancing. Every day at 2 p.m. we were expected to attend Drive-by when Bhagwan appeared driving one of the many cars he had been given. It was preceded by an ominous black vehicle containing a machine gun on a tripod. One day it stopped in front of me because I had my hands in my pockets. It only moved on when I showed that I was not hiding a gun. A helicopter always flew over at the same time which seemed paranoid to me. At this time Bhagwan was not speaking and we only heard him on recorded tapes. I wanted very much to make eye-contact with him, so as he drove by, I willed him to look at me. When he eventually did make eye-contact with me, I simultaneously laughed and cried. It was like free-falling into infinite space. This is the only way I can describe it.
Shortly after I arrived Bhagwan had burst through my bedroom door in the middle of the night like a ball of fire, startling me awake. This was a very powerful experience and one I can’t explain.
Rajneeshpuram was very well-organized. We were encouraged to put money into a bank account in exchange for a debit card to use when buying things. Of course, this encouraged us to spend more money and I soon replaced my flowery dresses with new plain sun-rise colours. Our clothes were washed and ironed for us. All we had to do was leave them out on our beds.
I had written to Bhagwan asking him to help me to flower and awaken. At the beginning of the third week Dyanand told me it was time for me to flower.
“But I still feel shitty about myself,” I argued.
I was beating myself up because of my inability to express anger.
“Shit is good for compost and compost is good for growing flowers in. Come, you can open like a flower right now,” he urged, taking my hand.
Then he led me in a flower dance, after which I could not look into his velvet brown eyes without melting nor follow him down the corridor without drooling over his cute little bottom, which was like a coffee bean. He would not have been shocked to know this. He encouraged us to be real and to give freely of our juice. We were told that people who stayed at the Ranch quickly became juicy — juice being symbolic of vitality and life-force.
We were now ready for two weeks of Tantra, which filled us with anticipation and some anxiety. We wondered if the rumours about group sex were true. We were about to find out. The entire floor was covered in mattresses and we were all naked.
“It happens to many people in childhood that sex is repressed,” Bhagwan explained. “No child is allowed — no society allows it. He is not allowed to touch his own genital organs, he is not allowed to play with them. That happens so early that you cannot even remember it.” 7.
“Every boy, every girl, starts playing with the sex organs. It is enjoyable, it gives a soothing feeling, the whole body feels blissful. And the moment the child touches his sex organs, everybody stops immediately, everybody feels embarrassed. The father, the mother, they will stop him, they may bind even his or her hands so he cannot touch. Now the child feels in a very deep riddle. What to do? He likes the feeling that comes from the touch, he enjoys the feeling, he feels it is beautiful, but if he is to follow that feeling then everybody rejects. He is a bad child and they punish him.” 8.
“Again and again, and again he has to be stopped, again and again he has to be condemned. He can see the rejection on the mother’s face, on the father’s face, and by and by the energy shrinks and he becomes afraid.” 9.
“Sexual energy comes to its climax near about the age of eighteen. Never again will a man be so potent, and never again will a woman be able to have a greater orgasm than she will be able to near the age of eighteen. But we force them not to make love.” 10.
Bhagwan asked why. None of us could answer.
“It is to kill the bull and create an ox.”
He explained that in order for a bull to be made docile, it has to be castrated. Then it loses its power. It did not take us long to realize that we had all been castrated. We were shocked, but now we had full permission in the group to express our sexuality with the one condition that we did not force ourselves on an unwilling partner. The therapists pointed to the boxes of condoms, lubricating jelly and latex gloves which they said they would be happy to give to anyone who needed them. All we had to do was raise our hands. Nobody at the Ranch was allowed to have sex without using a condom. Kissing in the group was forbidden and the touching of genitals involved wearing latex gloves. We also had to shower after any sexual contact. Then the therapists played erotic music and waited.
The group fell into three main categories: those who happily grabbed a willing partner and started right there on the floor in front of us; those who wanted to but could not find a willing partner; and those, like me, who sat in shocked silent amazement. I had never seen a couple having sex before. It was both shocking and intriguing. I wanted to both look and not look. My conditioning was shaken to its foundations. But this is how we got here. We had all been conceived in the sex act.
“Who told you that sex is dirty?” Bhagwan asked. “All life exists through sex, all life grows out of it.” 11.
The therapists were standing over the couple who were the most sexually active in the group. He was a good-looking stud, built to give pleasure to the many adoring females who fell into his open arms. She was young, sensuous and vivacious. The women in their 20s were the most popular. After being rejected by them, the men turned to me or to another couple of women in my age group. I was 39. I was simply not interested. I had my heart set on the man whose name I could pronounce but which meant Lord of the Lotus. Bhagwan always gave new names to his followers. The Lord of the Lotus was bearded with sparkling blue eyes. He was outspoken, funny and sensitive. He was the only man in the group whom I was romantically interested in. It was my pattern to only have sex with men I had romantic fantasies about. I longed for the Lord of the Lotus but he was terrified of performing in a room full of people. Several men could not have sex in the group because of acute performance anxiety.
Dyanand and Vasamarti were talking to the couple entwined on the floor, who had been thrashing about with moans and groans. The rest of us had been watching them for five days. After some perceptive questioning, the man admitted he was tired of being a stud, and she burst into tears, confessing that she had never really enjoyed sex. She merely pretended to because it was expected of her. She even faked orgasms. We were amazed to hear these revelations, as we had been totally deceived by their performance. She shared that both her father and brother had sexually abused her when she was a child. She said she felt like a sex object. Several of us had been sexually abused by fathers, uncles or trusted family friends.
“Nobody wants to discuss sex, but sex is everybody’s problem,” Bhagwan pointed out.
The sexually active couple paved the way for the rest of us to be more open about our fears and fantasies about sex. Several people acted out their sexual fantasies. The men’s sexual fantasies were nearly always pornographic, and they wanted the younger women to act them out. Those least in touch with their feelings had the most pornographic fantasies.
“Pornography is sex repressed in its natural space which has asserted itself through the head,” Bhagwan explained. “And there are many dangers in it. One danger is: if you become too interested in pornography — which has happened all over the world — then the real woman does not look so appealing and the real man does not look so appealing. Now nothing will satisfy you.” 12.
I suspected, although I would not have admitted it then, that romantic fantasies are the female equivalent of male preoccupation with pornography.
At the end of the first week in the Tantra group Dyanand turned to me and said: “You’ve been sitting in the corner all week. Are you going to continue to waste your time and money in this group?”
I was shaken by his comment. It was true. I had not joined in with any of the group activities and I had not allowed myself to be sexual. I had continued to be a voyeur. Bhagwan would have called me a female Peeping Tom. Of course, everyone in the group knew about my search for a special man, The One, whom they called my Prince. Several of the men had turned away from me in disgust, saying: “She only wants her Prince.”
“We can act out your Prince fantasy,” Dyanand suggested.
It was an opportunity too good to miss. I decided to take the risk, which we were always encouraged to do. I had fantasized about my Prince for as long as I could remember. One day my Prince would come and it would be love at first sight. He would give me all of the love, respect and acceptance I had not received as a child, and at the same time he would have all the qualities I longed for in a man. As soon as the men in my life did not fulfill these needs, I lost interest in them. They were not The One! It never occurred to me that I was being as unloving and unaccepting of my lovers as my parents had been of me.
Dyanand played the Blue Danube waltz and encouraged me to dance with all the men in the room, adding that this would enable me to find my Prince. As I danced with the men in the group, Dyanand and Vasamarti created an elevated throne bed, which they sprinkled with flower petals. Then Dyanand played some Baroque harpsichord music and lined up all of the men. Of course, I knew who I would choose, but I pretended to be indecisive. As Dyanand and Vasamarti called me the Queen of England, they nominated all the other women in the group to be my ladies-in-waiting who now followed me along the line of naked men carrying baskets of condoms, lubricating jelly and latex gloves.
Dyanand, who was doubled up with laughter, told me to play with all the men just to be absolutely sure of choosing the right one. Remembering what my mother had told me about finding the Right One, I stopped and played with each man in the line which involved wearing a new latex glove each time. They all knew who I would choose, but were happy and amused to play the game with me. They were delighted to see me emerging from my shell at last. When I discovered that the men at the end of the line were running back to the beginning to be played with again, I took my Lord of the Lotus by the hand and led him up onto the elevated throne bed in the middle of the room. Before reclining with him in the flower petals, I told my ladies-in-waiting they could have the men of their choice. Many of them thanked me afterwards for giving them the opportunity of choosing who they wanted instead of waiting to be chosen, which is a pattern most women have been brought up with.
“I don’t think I can go through with this,” whispered my Lord of the Lotus. “Not in a room full of people.”
I looked around. The women were occupied with their chosen men and the therapists were sitting at the far end of the room.
“Nobody is watching,” I reassured him.
Although people had been having sex in front of us all week, we found ourselves trying to hide what the throne bed had been built for, but my Lord of the Lotus broke through his performance anxiety and I went against my English upbringing. We did the unthinkable.
“The word sex is very beautiful,” said Bhagwan. “The original root of the word sex means division. If you are divided inside, then sex will be there. When you hanker after a woman or a man, what is happening? Your one part is hankering to meet the other part but you are trying to meet the other outside. You can meet for a single moment, but again you will be alone, because outside there can be no eternal moment. Sex is bound to be just momentary because the other is the other. If you meet your inner woman or your inner man inside then the meeting can be eternal. This is an alchemical transformation: your woman and man meet inside and you become one. And when you are one, you will have love.” 13.
At the beginning of the second week in the Tantra group, we were told we had been given the space and freedom to act out all of our distortions around sex. We had acted out our sexual fantasies and talked about our fears. Even those who appeared to be sexually free had been exposed. None of us had escaped conditioning where sex is concerned. Now Bhagwan, the so-called Sex Guru, was shocking us yet again:
“My whole effort here is to make you bored with sex. Because if you are bored with sex only then can you become interested in God, never otherwise. A repressed person remains interested in sex, remains obsessed with sex, so I say have all the sex that you can have and soon you will be finished with it.And when you are finished with it and sex loses its meaning, that will be a great day in your life.” 14.
We would now learn the true meaning of sex and how to transform our sexual energy through the practice of Tantra.
“I teach you how to go deep in love,” Bhagwan said. “I teach you how to go deep in sex too, because that is the only way to go beyond.” 15.
“Ninety nine percent know sex only as a relief; they don’t know its orgasmic quality. Even if you think you are having an orgasm, it is not orgasm — it is just genital relief. Orgasm has nothing to do with genitals as such. Genitals are involved in it, but orgasm is total — from the head to the toes — it is all over you. Ejaculation is not orgasm. 16.
“Orgasm is a state where you body is no longer felt as matter; it vibrates like energy, electricity. It vibrates so deeply, from the very foundation, that you completely forget that it is a material thing. It becomes an electric phenomenon.
“Now physicists say that there is no matter, that all matter is only appearance; deep down, that which exists is electricity, not matter. In orgasm, you come to the deepest layer of your body where matter no longer exists, just energy waves; you become a dancing energy, vibrating. There are no longer any boundaries to you.” 17.
“That is the meaning of sexual orgasm … your frozen energy melts, becomes one with the universe, with the trees and the stars. In that moment you have a kind of consciousness that is religious, holy, because it comes from the whole.” 18.
Of course, we all longed to experience such an orgasm. We begged to be shown how to achieve it. We were tantalized, but we were warned that such an orgasm takes time, and we are all in a hurry. This is why seventy five percent of men suffer from premature ejaculation.
“Orgasm is a celebration,” Bhagwan explained. “Orgasm is always spiritual, it is never sexual. It is a door-way to the divine, to samadhi, ecstasy. But people don’t know this because they meet out of need, not out of overflowing energies.” 19.“Just two bodies dancing, singing, hugging, caressing is a beautiful symphony, there is no need to think about orgasm. And then it will happen.” 20. I later discovered that he was absolutely right.
Bhagwan emphasized the importance of foreplay, pointing out that the man wants to enter the woman immediately because his positive pole, the penis, is always ready. However, the woman is reluctant to enter into sex immediately because her negative pole, the vagina, is not ready. A woman needs to be approached sexually via her positive pole, the breasts. Only then, when her breasts have been filled with energy, will she be ready for sex. Then she will be alive to it. Only then is communication possible and the man will melt into her.
We were told that the differences between men and women is not just physiological. Their psychology is opposite, but because of their differences, they can complement each other and become one circle of energy. When a man and a woman meet in the sex act, their opposite poles are meeting and creating a circle. Then the energy can flow, like electricity, which also requires the connection of a positive and a negative pole.
“If the circle is totally there, then both the partners will come out of the sex act more energetic, more alive, more charged, with more energy flowing.
“Energy flows from man to woman, not vice-versa. So a woman can be in twenty sex acts in one night, a man cannot.
“If there is love, then man and woman meet on two poles. Man gives to the woman and the woman returns it back. This is reciprocal, mutual.” 21.
“You can create this circle within you, because man is both man and woman, and woman is both man and woman. You are both because you were created by two; you were created by man and woman both, so half of you remains the other. Once a circle is created within you … you are in an embrace with yourself. And only when this circle is created is real celibacy attained.
“When this circle is created inside, you are freed. This is what Tantra says: Sex is the deepest bondage, yet it can be used as a vehicle for the highest freedom.” 22.
As it was obvious that none of us were ready to be celibate, the therapists agreed to teach us the art of Tantric sex. We were told to accept ourselves; to move with deep sensitivity, awareness, love and understanding — like a poet moving amidst flowers; to view the body as a temple: a mystery of multi-dimensional energies.
“Tantra says there is no duality. If the world and the divine are two, then they cannot be put together. If really they are NOT two, they are only appearing as two, only then can they be one. Tantra says there is no duality; it is only an appearance.” 23.
“Tantra says no fight! Then there is no possibility of the ego. Tantra says indulge, but be aware. Tantra is only against spiritual sleepiness.” 24.
“If you succeed in your suppression, which is impossible, then there will be no sex but no love either, because with sex dead there is no energy to grow into love. So you will be without sex, but you will be also without love, and without love there is no divineness, no liberation, no freedom.” 25.
“Tantra alchemy says be friendly with all the energies that are given to you. Welcome them. They can all be transformed.” 26.
The therapists told us to pair off. Those without partners were asked to listen and watch. I was with my Lord of the Lotus.
“Tantra has developed many techniques for the transformation of sex energy. Approach the sexual act as if you are approaching the temple of the divine.Approach the sexual act as if it is a prayer, as if it is a meditation. Feel the holiness of it.” 27.
We sat cross-legged on the floor, facing each other, with only our eyes touching.
“For tantra, everything is holy. For the so-called religious persons, something is holy, something unholy. If anything is unholy in this world, from where does it come and how can it be?” 28.
We closed our eyes and imagined that a circle was being created between us. My Lord of the Lotus reached into me with it and I took it through my heart before returning it to him. It did not take us long to realize that a circle has no beginning and no end. It flowed continuously from him to me, and back again. The more he gave it to me, the more I could return it to him. We travelled up and over the contours of the circle, breathing in on the upward journey and out as we cascaded together over the rim. It was ecstatic. We had not even noticed that Vasamarti and Dyanand were standing over us.
“Very beautiful,” they said, as if admiring a garden full of flowers.
“The two partners must be as if they are dancing, not fighting — singing one harmonious melody, just creating an atmosphere in which they both will dissolve and become one.” 29.
“A healthy mind, particularly a sexually healthy mind, is needed to start with. Those who are basically feminine — receptive, passive, non-violent — Tantra is their path. Tantra has feminine deities.” 30.
As Bhagwan explained that a tense person cannot love, we were taught how to relax. We gave each other massage and non-sexual caresses. We were encouraged to touch each other. Then we were ready to hear about love.
“Love is not a commodity. You cannot accumulate it; you cannot make a bank balance of it; you cannot strengthen your ego out of it. Love is the end in itself. There is no future in it. Death, love, meditation, they all occur in the present.” 31.
Vasamarti and Dyanand continued to walk around the room like two experts at a flower show. They studied each couple in turn, commenting on the flow of energy, the synchronicity of breath, and the subtlety of movement. They told one couple to slow down, and another couple to breathe more deeply.
“The present is not part of time; the present is part of eternity. This now is eternal. The moment you are in the present, the dimension changes. You move vertically — up or down, towards the height or towards the depth.” 32.
“Love is the first door … and you move away from time. That’s why everyone wants to be loved, everyone wants to love. Love is a different dimension. And if you try to love someone IN time, you will be defeated in your effort. In time, love is not possible.” 33.
“Become love and enter everlasting life. Love can become a deep meditation. Tantra talks so much about love and sex because love is the easiest natural door from where you can transcend this world, this horizontal dimension.” 34.
We were told that in Tantric teaching sex is transformed into love, and love into light and meditative experience, for when we are engulfed in love, the ego disappears.
“Only in a very deep love, in a very deep intimacy, is it possible to be with your lover or beloved as if he is not or she is not. This is what intimacy means. If love is really there, then you can move as if you are alone. And when two bodies become one, they have a single rhythm.” 35.
My Lord of the Lotus had been a sannyasin for many years. Although he had never taken a Tantra group before, none of these teachings were new to him. Our energies were a perfect blend. When he came close to me, I felt intoxicated by the scent of his skin. It was natural to be learning about Tantra with him.
We were taught how to breathe together: to inhale and exhale in unison — slowly, slowly. To breathe deeply and slowly together was a discipline. The temptation for both of us was to breathe chaotically when we were sexually aroused, but to synchronize the breath during love-making increases awareness. In this way we could remain sexually engaged for hours.
“Tantra says fall down deep within to the feeling centre. Sex can be a very deep fulfillment and sex can throw you back to your wholeness, to your natural, real being, for many reasons. Those reasons have to be understood. One, sex is a total act. You are thrown off your mind, off balance. That’s why there is so much fear of sex. You are identified with the mind and sex is a no-mind act. You become headless. And if there is a mental process, there is no real, authentic sex act. Then there is no orgasm, no fulfillment.
“All over the world, so much hankering, so much lust for sex, is not because the world has become more sexual. The whole modern mind has become sexual because the sex act itself is no more there. Even the sex act is transferred to the mind; it has become mental.” 36.
The room had taken on the quality of a sanctuary. The previous week it had often felt like a brothel. The sex had been wild and sometimes obscene, especially when sexual fantasies were acted out. I had recoiled from these scenes, often with feelings of revulsion. I now remembered how often sex had disappointed me in the past and how deeply I had sensed that something was missing. At last I had found what was missing.
“There are two parts in the sexual act: the beginning and the end. Remain with the beginning. While you are overflowing, don’t think in terms of release. Remain with the overflowing energy. Create a circle. Remain in the present. Enjoy the meeting of two bodies, two souls, and melt into each other.” 37.
“If you are not in a hurry to finish the act, the act by and by becomes less and less sexual and more and more spiritual. Sex organs also melt into each other. A deep, silent communion happens between two body energies, and then you can remain for hours together.” 38.
“You can prolong the act for a very long time. Without ejaculation, without throwing energy out, it becomes a meditation. And through it you become whole. Through it your split personality is no longer split.” 39.
“Melt into the woman, as if you are again a child in the mother’s womb ... And in that moment you will know what surrender is. While you are making love to a woman forget all about the fact that you are a man and she is a woman. Let boundaries merge and mix. Don’t remain a man, otherwise you will miss — because again a dualism comes in.” 40.
“A man who has repressed his sex can become a good soldier because the energy is there and he wants to penetrate people. The bayonet is nothing but a phallic symbol. Now this is obscene … to kill a man. To me violence is the only obscenity. It is beautiful to penetrate a woman’s body, to be penetrated by a man’s body … it is beautiful. But by a bayonet? It is ugly. But if you repress sex then you can make a good soldier. That’s why in all armies sex is repressed; the most repressive army will be the most powerful army.” 41.
Having talked about men, Bhagwan now moved onto women:
“We suppress movements. Particularly all over the world, we suppress all movements, all shaking for women. They remain just like dead bodies. Why is this happening? Why all over the world do men suppress women in such a way? There is fear — because once a woman’s body becomes possessed, it is very difficult for a man to satisfy her; because a woman can have chain orgasms; a man cannot have. So, really, 80-90% of women never know what orgasm is. They can satisfy the man, but they themselves are never satisfied. So, if you see such bitterness in women all over the world — sadness, bitterness, frustration — it is natural. Their basic need is not fulfilled.” 42.
We were told that in our society we suppress movement, so that the mind can remain in control. We were encouraged to shake because shaking starts the energy moving all over the body, enabling every cell to come alive. Then sex is not just a meeting with one’s lover, it is a meeting of each cell in the body.
“When every cell is vibrating, the meeting is not mental, it is a meeting of the bio-energies.” 43.
“If you have known the moment when you were not there but only a vibrating energy in which you have become one and there was a circle with the partner, in that moment there is no partner. Because that oneness is created within you, the partner is no more there. And it is easier for women to have this feeling because they are always making love with closed eyes. The other is simply a door … you are really making love to existence itself. If you remain in the communion, in deep embrace for hours together, you will forget the other and the other will just become an extension of the whole.” 44.
We were encouraged to feel everything, to become acutely sensitive in order to be more alive. When we are insensitive, we are defending ourselves against life. Bhagwan told us to enjoy ourselves; to be fully present to all of our experiences. Many of us had been brought up not to enjoy ourselves, which was considered indulgent. We had been taught to put others first and to sacrifice, as our parents told us they had sacrificed for us.
When not in the group we were dancing at the Omar Khayyam night club, eating ice-cream in the Devateerth Mall and drinking champagne at Zorba the Buddha restaurant. And we were seeing, hearing and having a lot of sex. Neither before — nor since — have I experienced such ecstatic mind-blowing, toe-curling orgasms.
“Unless you are overflowing with your own bliss, you are a danger to society because a person who sacrifices always becomes a sadist. If your mother goes on talking to you and saying … ’I have sacrificed myself for you,‘ she will torture you. The sacrifice is just a trick to torture the other.
“Enjoy yourself, be bliss-filled and when you are overflowing with your bliss, the bliss will reach others. But this is not a sacrifice. No one is obliged to you; no one needs to thank you.
“Unless you are filled with light, how can you help others to be enlightened?” 45.
Bhagwan encouraged us to be selfish. Sad, unhappy, bitter people only create misery for others. They rationalize their oppressive behaviour by saying it is ’for your own good.‘ We were told that this is the most dangerous torture because no one can escape it. There wasn’t one person in the group who had not heard this phrase ’for your own good‘ either from parents or teachers. Our parents had made us miserable with their sacrifices.
We were told that when we know the ecstasy of sex, we can then understand what the mystics have been talking about: a greater orgasm, a cosmic orgasm. But it is not sex which is giving us ecstasy.
“Sex is just a situation. Something else is giving you the euphoria, the ecstasy. That something else can be divided into three elements. Those three are, first, timelessness. You transcend time completely. There is no time. This moment becomes the only real moment. If you can make this moment the only real moment without sex, there is no need for sex. Secondly … you lose your ego. You and your beloved are lost into something else. If, without sex, you can come to a moment when you are not, then there is no need. Thirdly … you are natural. The unreal is lost, the face … the society, the culture, the civilization is lost. You are a part of nature — as trees are, animals are, stars are … You are in a greater something — the cosmos, the Tao.
“All meditation is essentially the experience of sex without sex.” 46.
We had been practicing Tantra for five days. After lunch my Lord of the Lotus and I would sneak back to where we slept in order to be alone. It was still our preference not to be seen or heard. This preference was shared, for we often heard couples popping like seed pods in the heat of the mid-day sun. We practiced in and out of the group, like a couple possessed, but my favourite times were when he crept into my bed in the night.
Bhagwan told us there are two types of orgasm: the one which reaches a peak of excitement and is used by people as a tranquilizer or a sleeping pill. The second type he described as a valley orgasm.
“In the second, excitement is just the beginning. And once the man has entered, both lover and beloved can relax. No movement is needed. They can relax in a loving embrace. When the man feels that the erection is going to be lost, only then a little movement and excitement … but again relax. You can prolong this deep embrace for hours. Ordinary sexual orgasm looks mad. Tantric orgasm is a deep, relaxing meditation.” 47.
“Of two things we are very much afraid — sex and death. If I can enter into death voluntarily, to its very centre, the moment I touch the centre of death, I have become eternal.
“Sex and death both are basic for a real seeker, but for ordinary humanity both are taboo ... They are so deeply related that even entering sex you enter a certain death. The ego is disappearing, time is disappearing, your individually is disappearing. Sex is also a subtle death.” 48.
“If your energy goes up, raises your kundalini and rushes up towards the head, you cannot have ordinary orgasm. And if you try to have, you will be in deep conflict within, because energy is moving up and you are forcing it down.” 49.
Now I understood why it had always been difficult for me to orgasm. My energy was going up. In Tantric sex I became orgasmic because there was no longer any conflict. ALL of my energy was going up whereas in ordinary sex some of my energy was being pulled down.
“Tao says a man can live for one thousand years if he is not in a hurry with sex, just deeply relaxed. If a man and a woman are deeply relaxed with each other … alchemical things happen — because the life forces of both meet … And just by this meeting they invigorate each other, make each other vital, more alive.” 50.At the end of the second week, we were told that one day we would go beyond sex, but the way beyond is to go through. Tantra is simply the way through. “Meditate, dance, sing and let love happen amidst dance, singing, meditation, prayer.” 51.
These were Bhagwan‘s parting words to us. Our two weeks of Tantra were over. We now entered a week of group meditation with Teertha, an older group leader, who answered our questions and gave feedback. He told me I had lived ‘on the edge’ for too long. I knew he was right. I had not been able to commit to anyone or to any one path. I was an observer, a not-so-silent witness, always sitting by the door marked Exit. With pressure from my Lord of the Lotus, I had applied for Sannyas, but Bhagwan turned me down. Maybe he knew I was not a devotional type and would not have worn a mala with his picture in it.
One day we were told to go to the Mandir where a woman called Ma Anand Sheela addressed us. She stood on a raised platform and raved about how she would protect Bhagwan with her life. As there was already an armed peace-force and an arsenal of firearms, I wondered why she needed to say this. I later discovered that she was both powerful and paranoid. She had chosen the location and placed herself in a position of power. I now suspect that she contributed to the Ranch’s eventual collapse through her manipulative behaviour.
I stayed for another two weeks because I could not bear to leave. I paid for my food and accommodation in a shared wooden A-frame, and volunteered in the garden, but it was not the same without my group.
The world beyond the high desert appeared dreary in contrast to Rajneeshpuram. People were neither dancing nor celebrating out there in the world. They looked lost and miserable. No sea of moving poppies danced before my eyes, as it had every day on the Ranch.
I never forgot Bhagwan‘s teachings. He had encouraged me to be illogically in love with the unknown, to keep the flame burning, and to make my life into a blissful song, so that it would have the quality of poetry, the fragrance of flowers, and the light of stars.
Six months later Rajneeshpuram was closed down after Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was arrested by the American government. The Ranch is now run as a Christian Summer Camp for children.
1—4, 6, 22-39, 43-50. “Tantra, Spirituality and Sex” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
7, 9-21, 40-42, 51. “Sex — quotes from Bhagwan” Edited by Ma Amrit Chinmayo
8. “The Mustard Seed” Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
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