Rashid’s journey through sex and no-sex
I came to manhood in an age of moral certainty. This was right and that was wrong. Our growing up took place without the tenderness of women or any of their female aspects like the sharing of emotions. I was brought up by a governess and was sent to all-male boarding schools, starting at the age of eight. And no, that did not make me gay; just the opposite, extremely miserable.
We kids in post-war Britain were mightily repressed. I could see the beauty of women from afar and longed to be enfolded in it. I watched the immigrant maids at school as they teased and favoured us and then, later, the young English ladies at the ‘finishing school’ in France where I was sent to learn French before my State Exams.
That two month holiday was a torment for a sixteen-year-old, testosterone-charged schoolboy who has internalised all the taboos and inhibitions of his society. I could only relate to those girls as if they were a bunch of pals from school. One day I was alone with Jane in the swimming pool. She rolled down the top of her one-piece bathing costume; I saw her breasts and recoiled, wrenching my head and eyes to the distant hills until she, quite sensibly, rolled it up again.
I joined the Navy for two years and yes I kissed a few girls in every port but I was carrying such a weight of fear, desire and shyness that only heart-ache bloomed. An idea grew in me that certain women had some power or attribute that could enfold and pacify a man – that there was a women who would cure my ills. I was looking for this ideal woman. When I found her she was looking for an ideal man who wasn’t me.
Little wonder then that some years later, having been to university and dropped out, I leapt into bed and marriage with the first woman who would let me. Mmm I thought, maximum sexual temptation combining with maximum opportunity – and, for a short while, satisfaction.
Around this time, a wind of change began to blow out the stifling air of the nineteen fifties and bring in a fresh new climate to the sixties. Our generation had a lot of work to do. We were the ones on whom it fell to deconstruct the rigid systems of the previous 300 years.
Throughout the sixties and the seventies we pushed at all the boundaries – moral economic, religious, political and social. We had to – or go under, drowning in a sea of neediness and mediocrity. I enrolled in Art School where, for the first time in my life I found like-minded people.
The marriage, of course, was both painful and unsustainable. But it gave me a glimpse of something. For a little while in sex there was an end to misery. For a little while in sex the body seemed to be in charge and problems fall away; thus I learned to use sex as an anaesthetic. Two daughters were born to us – was it surprising that the first one I named Beatrice after the ideal woman who so inspired the poet Dante?
However, that marriage ended after ten years and the floodgates of suppressed sexual energy were opened. The late sixties were a good time for that in London. Everyone was doing it. Of course in the end we were merely replacing sexual continence with sexual incontinence. The underlying issues – fear, inadequacy, anger, guilt, resentment, self-contempt etc – remained unconscious. Those times are fifty years ago – most of us were lost in the mire and the Maya.
My second marriage – when it came – was more stable and more loving. We had two boys and everything we wished for in the material, emotional and creative fields – yet still something was missing. In fact it was the very fullness of our lives that took us to Osho. Prior to travelling to India on our search, a brief incursion into Christianity brought us to the tragic comedy of blind priests leading the blind: from there, easily and naturally we were catapulted into Poona in the late nineteen seventies.
The Rajneesh Ashram was a place for the shedding of burdens; a time to see and understand the deep conditioning Societies instil in us. Osho pointed out that sex is the primal energy. It’s untidy and unpredictable; if we let it be repressed we lose our power, we can easily be enslaved. But just to express it, just to release that sexual energy is not in itself a cure – as I had found out in the sixties. The repression needs to be released with the help of the two handrails – understanding and meditation (the knack of watching yourself from a distance). Osho pointed out that when the repression is released in such a conscious way, then the river of sexual energy flows, bearing with it love, intelligence, grace and creativity. And when the light of these qualities shines out, the dark depths of lust and desire and domination disappear. Then sex is no longer just a releasing of pent-up energy – like a sneeze he joked – but a sharing of sensual delight and a path to the divine.
The moving with other partners did not break my marriage but it did expose the fault lines. Why did I let her leave the commune with our children when I could have left with her? That is a most painful question. Parents make sacrifices for their children’s future creating, more often than not, resentment on both sides. It seemed more important to me to complete the present work – the process of self-realisation – in order to break out of the old minefield of conditionings than it was to continue passing on their injurious effects to my children. As we are warned at the start of every air journey – first we must put on our own oxygen mask before tending to our children. And now i’m blessed with a wonderful connection to my kids, step-children and increasing numbers of grandchildren.
From the early eighties through the nineties, life for me became more of a play, a dance. Sex was no longer the engine of burning desire, no longer fenced about with judgements, or charged with tacit expectations – now it was not only a form of sharing – like laughter or a game, it became more and more possible to use sex as a means of dropping into and extending that moment of pure emptiness, that moment of being nothing other than the consciousness that watches. When the AIDS alert was given by Osho in 1984 it was another emphasis to bring as much awareness as possible to one of our most natural, animal means of pleasure and means of genetic survival.
These days it’s even better. Sex has disappeared. Some years ago my partner entered menopause. For a while making love was difficult. I remembered Osho saying that meditators can transmute the powerful primal energy to higher levels. So I did and it has. Not that I can’t but that I don’t feel the need for that huffing puffing exercise these days. My partner and I have a deeply sensuous and loving connection without sex.
Freedom from desire. What a gift of freedom from a controversial Sex Guru.
Thank you, Osho, thank you.
Text by Rashid Maxwell, 2011, first published in Osho World Newsletter
Rashid’s life began when he took sannyas. In Pune 1 he worked growing vegetables for the master-gardener. On the Ranch he spent a lot of time in the pot-room and the fire tower. In Pune 2, till the Master left the body, he was a bodyguard, an editor and all jobs in between. Now he lives in Devon with Nisheetha, keeps bees, paints and makes prints, designs buildings and landscapes for sacred use, has published two volumes of poetry, grows his own vegetables and hangs out with a tribe of grandchildren. Or sits around doing nothing.