The so-called career path for awakening women can be an absolute disaster that smolders for years, smelling of napalm after the battle.
After many Osho meditations, I can finally say that my own ego and repressed contents have caused most of my problems in work and business, aside from the deadly suppression I met on a daily basis. Like Kabir, I have had to “chew slowly” many painful people and breaches of trust, digesting my own unconscious projections. Now my focus is to transform a drive for power into sparkling, spacious love, turning each breath into trust. I am not sure how to be in business any more, but I keep trying with awareness. As baby boomer girls we were taught to “go for it” and “carve out a place” for ourselves, but in my experience, the mysterious “they” did not really want that to happen. After all these centuries, men still suppress women any time they perceive a woman is getting “too full of herself.” I am still chewing.
Dealing with my own seemingly justified rage about men, suppression and business is a tough job. It’s not pretty or nice and I would rather just repress it, for the most part. Only when it bubbles up from the deep unconscious basement and taints my most valuable relationships do I really get an opportunity to see it, feel it, mourn it, clear it and live from a more easeful, trusting heart.
To me, this rage feels hopeless. It’s too big and too prevalent. As women our cellular memory is loaded, crammed and clogged with centuries of injustice, violence and degradation. We carry suppression and exploitation from not just this life time, but also past lives and the burdensome collective. The roots of rage hook deep in our sacred life force:
It would be really surprising that if the whole existence is polygamous, only woman has an exceptional nature. In existence there are no exceptions. But because a woman had to depend financially on man, man has cut the woman in so many ways: he has cut her wings, he has cut her freedom, he has cut her dependence upon herself. He has taken her responsibilities on his shoulders, showing great love, saying: you need not be worried about yourself, I will take care. But in the name of love, he has taken the freedom of the woman. For centuries he has not allowed a woman to be educated, to be qualified in any way, in any craft, in any skill – she has to be financially dependent on the man. He has taken away even her freedom of movement – she cannot move freely the way man moves; she is confined to the house. The house is almost her imprisonment.
Osho, The Golden Future, Ch 32, Q 3 (excerpt)
How do we begin to shovel out the rage, the repression? How do we release our defensive power trips, and begin to love from the fresh white lotus of the heart? Moreover, how do we stop suppression, not only in business but in the spiritual community where it hides so well? In today’s world of very mental, masculine women, many of whom do not feel with their hearts, we soon discover the only work of awakening is feeling from the heart. Subtle competition and power trips are not really protection; they isolate us and alienate us from the juice of life called love. Can we find a way to relax the readiness to pounce on bullshit and lay down the sword, while being empowered and loving? For me, the homecoming to Self happens only through meditation, awareness and excruciating honesty. But I am way behind what I want to be, “a clean white sheet,” as Kabir described his own soul, made clean only because his Master accepted him.
Several years ago I was driving to a wonderful Osho Meditation Camp with Osho’s long-time disciple Satya Vedant at the Osho Laxmi Meditation Center in Atlanta. Extra irritated that morning, I wondered what was “up” for me to work on, after years of strange high-tech business deals and getting burned in toxic “entremaneur” encounters. I turned on the car radio. A lovely woman scholar was decrying the effects of patriarchal values on women and society. A flash of rage shot like lightning through my heart, a rage so ancient and hopeless I felt unnerved. This is too impossible to heal, I thought to myself. Too impossible, as I had just spent six tortuous years of bad business deals in the high-speed city of greed and dishonesty, ‘Hotlanta’. In business, I swam with technology sharks and I got eaten alive. Furthermore, I had wasted ten years on launching dreams that should have worked but didn’t, with people who seemed so honest but were not. This is too impossible for me to heal, I thought, as a women over 50 who now has a clear understanding of the poison of power, charm and muted chauvinism in business, especially now that I no longer have the “currency of youth” to leverage.
Osho says, “And because it is a man’s world, they all agree as far as keeping the woman enslaved is concerned.” As I gradually got older in the business world, I discovered much to my horror that men leaders really do not want and will not accept my intelligence. In the board room, I was given numerous non-verbal cues to keep quiet. Often the only woman in the room, I knew the men would use but would not acknowledge my creativity or my sales power, no matter how bright my light shone. They only wanted my effectiveness “on tap” to make them look powerful and bright, but only when combined with my youthfulness. This may sound really mundane, but it was hard for my ego to “get it” firsthand. Clearly, I was not an equal, only there to be exploited on demand. I never saw the rewards for my hard work, vision and loyalty.
In that amazing Osho weekend with Vedant, it seemed that he somehow knew that we women in the camp needed extra healing. We had the honor of viewing an Osho video about the suppression of women. It was so piercing that our group was stunned into silence for a very long time. In essence, Osho explains in the most simple terms what creates rage in women – men need our love and use our love, while disappearing our love. The hush in the room was devastating. We owned the message, men and women both. It is the longest, most sorrowful silence I have ever heard in any group setting.
Through Osho’s words, I could finally understand why I and my women friends feel so invisible in our efforts in America’s business society. I found this discourse unwinding years of suppression in work environments, social organizations and relationships. The overriding dynamic in business and relationship is that men use a woman’s talents or essence but hide us at the same time, and it is infuriating. Men rely on women for everything, even a context for being, but it doesn’t even occur to most to share the rewards with well-deserving women, create further opportunities for women or offer recognition of women. In business and work, there is always a shield that goes up with the male leader after the use/exploitation occurs.
This is very tough to write about because I don’t want to whine. I don’t want to play victim, and I don’t want to condemn the men in the world. I love and enjoy men. But my experience has been that the men in our business culture want power, at the expense of the heart, at the expense of kindness and caring, at the expense of loyalty and goodwill. They will take a woman’s contributions for free, dismiss her as a valuable human being, and never feel a pang of remorse. This has been my experience as a long-term, high-energy business woman. Osho’s solution? He tells men to “…create opportunities…” for women. Simple, blunt, obvious. But women know that will never ever happen; we must create our own opportunities.
The rockum-sockum business environment has been deeply confusing to my heart. I am a natural helper. I dig in to any assignment with goodwill and love. For a number of organizations, I have been the revenue pipeline, tripling operating budgets, etc. Despite my contributions, talents and loyalty, not one wealthy businessman ever actually reciprocated or offered me a real opportunity that would boost me financially whereas they boosted inexperienced men into the financial “circle” with them. In all my business dealings, males demonstrated an unconscious need to keep me and other women, small and to the side and above all…Quiet. Common sense and simple heart would have said, “She is helping us and can help us grow even more – give her an opportunity! Let her be in the club.” But no one did. Ultimately, it was not about money, it was about negotiating power.
In the Osho Meditation Camp, a professional woman commented on “the Barbie doll look” of cookie cutter women who can do well in our society, up to a certain level. We agreed that the Barbie doll look is a form of safety inside a brutal system that will reject them if one extra pound is added or one hair is out of place. Using the Barbie doll look provides coin to women across the board. It’s a formula that works. Women use it for job safety, belonging and longevity.
During the camp we also discussed how “youth is currency” for women. Once we pass the 40 years mark, that lack of youth currency dissolves many social possibilities. The job market changes because that coin is simply gone. We have to be creative to maneuver this. No wonder we try to look young to ensure our survival and earning power. I have invented over 60 new products in the realm of technology, but not one of the wealthy, powerful business men I helped, revered and respected ever said, “Yes, you helped me so let me help you launch your product.” They could have but they did not. I allowed myself to be pulled into their goals, out of excitement, love and trust, and let’s face it – expectation of return – but after I had given my all, the new business and product developers would dive deep underwater with the rewards. They simply vanished, time and time again, no matter how well I negotiated, no matter who signed the contract.
Think about it. Women help men’s dreams, but men typically never serve women or a woman’s dream. As far as I could tell, these brilliant men I helped never sat around wondering how they might do something for me, a woman who served them with love, intelligence, creativity, value, and honor. I suffered terribly from years of non-payment, breach of legal contracts and theft of my work. It leaves me feeling incredibly empty to imagine their faces now, years later. But I thank them. They served my evolution…to grow up, to snap out of it, to get it that power is all they wanted and, honestly, all that I wanted as well. For I thought power and its sidekick, money, would make me feel safe.
I wanted to be a powerful somebody in business. What I gave in love and excitement, with little thought of equal reciprocation, was received from a power position of unappreciated taking. I remained a nobody in business when all was said and done. Obviously, life did not want me on that playing field. As the years passed, I kept chewing those terribly painful people and partners, like Kabir:
Only after I’d eaten
(His big family included)
In that order,
And had for dessert
The town’s inhabitants,
Did I find, says Kabir,
The beloved that I’ve become
So I let go.
At Osho’s feet, I am hearing there is beauty in being no one, empty of dreams. I took the long way to surrender. I fought like hell. I should have won. I lost. I changed, swapping power for love. It’s new footing. A little wobbly, I am finding my way.