Krishna Radha interviewed by Marga, editor at Italian Osho Times.
Tell me about your life as a seeker, a Tantra teacher and Radha…
I was born in Naples to a rather religious family which sent me to school run by nuns. I was an enterprising little girl and early on I began to question the usual pattern of life, that at some point we get married and bring children into the world. Besides, I was a very lively girl, with so much sexual energy, and in my religion this was clearly seen as something wrong. So I was confused, torn between sin and vitality.
Eventually I chose the path that many took at that time, that of the late 60’s travelling hippie. I hitch-hiked across Europe alone, had all kinds of adventures, even psychedelic ones, but most of all I was looking for an alternative world.
As a nineteen year old, in 1974, I found myself in India with Osho. I decided to go there after hearing about Osho from people who had met him. When I arrived, what hit me most about this ‘spiritual’ man (I did not even know what it meant to do meditation or to have a guru) was his simple way of talking about sexuality as something sacred, with a lot of reverence for sexual energy.
I consider myself lucky, because despite all the repression and conditioning, I still had the youth and freshness that allowed me to unhook with ease. At that point in my life I had practically nothing to lose!
Perhaps due to my young age, Osho almost immediately took me a bit ‘under his wing’. He always used to laugh when he saw me coming with all of my very serious problems! At that time it was still easy to meet him personally, there were only 50 of us more or less, about 30 Indians and 20 Westerners. From the very first moment on, being with Osho was a falling in love over and over again. I cannot explain it, it just felt like a crazy love.
I had arrived with a German sannyasin who wanted to leave immediately and go to the beach, to Goa. However, Osho stopped me and said, “Stay here, I am your ocean.” So I stayed in Pune until he moved to America, where I joined him a year later. And, after Oregon, I followed him to Pune where he had returned and where I remained until 1992. I continued to visit Pune every year, until 2001, working and leading groups and trainings. Even now I go back from time to time, even if sometimes just for a day.
How did you start teaching Tantra?
At some point, during the second year I was in Pune, Osho asked me to train to become a Primal and Encounter therapist. For one afternoon I poked my nose into ‘the chambers’, the soundproof underground rooms where we ran all cathartic groups, and said: “For heaven’s sake, no, I prefer to clean the floors!” I really did not want to participate in that training, with all the screaming, shouting and catharsis – with people who expressed their total madness. I honestly preferred to meditate and to gossip in the commune. I did not feel like going into the world of therapy. So for all those years that I lived in the commune I always worked: cleaning, in the bakery, in the kitchen and in many other jobs, including being part of the executive board of the commune for a certain period during Pune 2.
So actually my work with Tantra started later, two or three years after Osho had left his body, and my approach has always been more meditative than therapeutic.
That’s it, tell me about your work, your approach. Tantra is a vast concept that can mean many things, and every one lives it in a different way. So, what is Tantra according to Radha?
Tantra according to Radha begins, as I mentioned earlier, with the tremendous impact Osho’s discourses on Tantra had on me. Especially ‘The Song of Mahamudra’ by Tilopa (Tantra, The Supreme Understanding) and then later when Osho spoke of Saraha (The Tantra Vision and The Tantra Experience). In my second year in Pune, Osho had asked me to become the official translator for the Italians who came to take sannyas and he also offered me the rare opportunity to act as an intermediary in the energy transmission with people. During these experiences I felt that there was a strong link between sexual energy and energy in general. Osho simply invited me to pour my love into a certain spot in a person’s body, I would close my eyes and I felt crazy feelings that were quite close to orgasmic sensations. Real orgasms actually, but it was not necessarily localised in the lower part of the body, even if it started from there. It was something very strong and connected to the awakening of sexual energy and to its expansion.
To have sex normally means to ‘discharge’ energy, to reach a goal. Orgasm often means to create a ‘tension’, to reach a peak which then ends. Since those experiments in energy transmission, however, it was always different for me. Even when I was in a relationship, or perhaps simply making love with a man, my tendency was to observe the entire process from within. Those experiences with Osho were always my yardstick, something that I found fulfilling.
I find it very hard to talk about this because it is a personal journey and difficult to describe, but I think Osho has always been a Tantric master. Beyond the fact that he included all disciplines, he particularly included sexuality and relationships in his vision.
Going back to my history as a Tantra teacher, a couple of years after Osho left the body I decided to ‘go back into the world’ so to speak. So I asked myself: “What would my ideal job be? What can I do and what do I know?” I have always loved being with people; I was intrigued by people, by their experiences and by their paths. So one of the answers was, “To work with people.” And, “I know what energy is; I feel at home with energy.”
Yet, when I initially tried to lead courses that had to do with only meditation and energy, I realised that it was difficult, whenever sexual energy was blocked or repressed. Then I back-tracked a bit and asked myself, “What was it that intrigued me the most when I came to Osho? What fascinated me the most?” The answer was clear: “Sexuality!” That’s when I created a path based on my personal experience and gradually developed a training that now lasts five weeks. It is divided in several modules, starting with the awakening of sexuality, the awakening of the body, then moving on to the senses, energy and the exploration of different aspects of sexuality, and finally reaching a more subtle work: that of meditation and energy from the spiritual point of view.
Osho speaks about Tantra not only about sexual energy that can be transformed, but also as a way of life, a conscious acceptance of whatever life offers, so much so that anything that happens in our daily life can become a Tantric experience. And on this wave of “everything is Tantra” there are many who offer all kinds of workshops, giving them the label ‘Tantra’. Can you talk about this?
It is true that at some point Osho said that Tantra is for everyone, but it is also true that unfortunately everything has now become ‘Tantric’ and sometimes in a very questionable way, mainly due to certain adverts… For example, the word Tantra is used for all sorts of things: massage, t-shirts, beverages, and nonrelated courses. Among Tantra teachers there are those who propose only an ascetic version of Tantra and others who, on the contrary, offer a kind of Tantra based on techniques for a healthy sexuality and which has nothing to do with meditation.
Tantra is exactly this:
to accept yourself absolutely
the way you are
and do not do anything
which does not feel
right for you.
Obviously, when we touch the sphere of sexuality itself, there are several aspects that need to be cleared so the work needs to be expanded. In general, I think it is better to fall in love with the topic first and then do some cleansing and cathartic work later, otherwise we risk people give up too soon. In the past, the path to Tantra went for example through Primal first, because it helped to do some cleansing, or would at least give some clarity about our conditioning. After that we are more ready to let ourselves go into sexuality and sexual energy. Today not many people are immediately ready to face and relive traumas of the past, so I have developed an approach that allows to relax in your own sensual and sexual energy first. Later on in the training I provide the tools that enable participants to own this experience, even at home and in everyday life, so that it is not only the result of the energy in the group.
The next step in the training is to understand our conditioning and our sense of guilt. In one of these modules we also deepen the work on the three stages of sexuality (masturbatory, homosexual and heterosexual). If we are stuck at any point in our growth it is very difficult to expand the energy. It is therefore important to know if and where we are a bit stuck in order to be able to develop towards our full potential.
During the training we also deepen the theme of meeting the opposite sex: we learn how to have a real exchange of energy with our partners and how to create the opportunity of living something ecstatic with the other – which we usually do not experience in every day life.
Some people think of themselves to be sexually free because they are transgressive, but this is not Tantra, in fact it is a distortion of the primary energy. My approach is to try to return to natural sex that allows a real energy exchange with the other person. This exchange can be fulfilling, satisfying, ecstatic and can also give us the opportunity to experience the present moment more totally.
Most likely you also have to take care of people who have been abused…
I am surprised
to find that scores
have been abused
in their childhood
Absolutely, yes. Especially in Italy where we tend to think that most victims of sexual abuse are women. It is true, it’s mostly women, but during these twenty years that I have been working, I am surprised to find that scores of men have been abused in their childhood, and because of this they carry a host of blocks. So there are many people, both men and women, who are extremely delicate in the sexual sphere. Hence the way I work is very sensitive, I give space, trust, and transparency in this direction. Within this safe space even people who had experienced abuse are able to open up and let go. I believe it is important to provide an environment with very clear boundaries in order to avoid creating situations in which a participant feels abused again.
Do you work with singles, with couples or with both?
Tantra is individual, so I don’t want to call it for ‘singles’. We start with ourselves, so during the training I offer a parallel course for couples, because I think that this gives the couples the opportunity to go much deeper. If you come as a pair it may happen that in one of the modules all the energy gets polarised by an attack of jealousy or something similar.
I realised that to move to Tantra, one must first identify the dynamics of the relationship and purge it from all emotions which are involved. I prefer to suggest the easier way – to work in parallel. This gives a lot of energy to the couples, allows them to meet in a new way and also helps them take a big leap towards freedom and love for each other.
Going back to the three stages of sexuality you mentioned earlier, and both male and female homosexuality. Osho says that it is an evolutionary stage that sometimes fails for some reason, where sometimes the person does not move to the next stage, the heterosexual. In your work, how do you deal with gays, lesbians, transsexuals… with the variety of human sexual choices?
What Osho says has also been my experience. There were times in my life when I felt attracted to the same sex and I needed to explore this issue. As I did this, I felt my relationship to the opposite sex grow deeper, but I clearly never felt gay. Even though I feel that what Osho says is right, it is also true that a lot of time has passed and there are many new insights around this subject.
I am open to all these issues, and to gay people who want to participate in my workshops I say that my direction is that of personal growth. “If you are willing to be daring and grow, which doesn’t necessarily mean changing sexual preference, but to grow in any way, in any direction and without a priori limitations, then I am happy that you come and participate. However, if you want to label yourself as ‘homosexual’, the same way as you would say, ‘I am English’, or ‘I am a fan of a certain football team’, this clearly doesn’t work in Tantra because you are asked to be daring and open.
“So if you are willing to try, to understand and face all situations provided by the process, then there are absolutely no filters. You can be anything you want to be and Tantra is exactly this: to accept yourself absolutely the way you are and do not do anything which does not feel right for you. Get back your dignity, whatever it means to you.”
Read an interview with Radha taken by Sarvaan on Osho News: Tantra – Two Becomes One
Article by Marga, first published in Osho Times (Italian edition)