Temptation and seduction: the struggle to keep within the rules as a Tantra instructor. Excerpted from Margot’s upcoming book ‘Sex, Love and Awakening’.
My own situation, during those years of personally managing and leading the Love and Ecstasy Training in many countries, was unique. I don’t know if any other woman in the world lived the kind of mad life needed on this global mission to heal sexual ignorance.
Since 1981, unbeknownst to me at first, I was slowly becoming the inspiration, the creator, the driving force behind a new Tantric movement in the West. But my personal motivation was not so much sexual as spiritual. It was my quest for bliss that had taken me into the world of Tantra.
Sexual chemistry was, however, part of the package and so was breaking rules. In the first Tantra groups I was leading at the Pune ashram, back in the 70s, I toyed with the idea of sleeping with a participant. After all, I reasoned, we were with Osho to break social taboos, so why not this one as well?
I tried it. On the one occasion that I took a participant home with me, he told me frankly that he found me intimidating. My role as the workshop leader had raised me – in his eyes, at least – to a higher status in the ashram, and this, unfortunately, had a dampening effect on his libido. His Vajra refused to cooperate. So much for breaking this rule! It didn’t work.
I understood that, even if the Vajra of a participant did respond and ‘stand to attention’ our connection would, most likely, be on unequal terms. Moreover, it could disrupt the man’s process in the workshop itself, distracting him from dealing with whatever personal issues he was facing. So I dropped the idea.
When I moved from Pune out into the world, I realized the nature of my Tantra trainings was such that I needed supportive male partners and co-leaders, with whom I could enjoy a heartfelt, loving connection. I prayed, visualized, talked to various Gods and Goddesses, and announced to the world that I wanted partners with whom to practice advanced Tantra. That word ‘advanced’ must have appealed to the male ego, because the partners showed up.
Sometimes, my co-leaders would travel with me, from workshop to workshop, around Europe and beyond. But sometimes, too, I would travel alone, while they would stay in their own country. And so, inevitably, our partnership as lovers had to be flexible, which meant that, in most cases, we maintained open relationships.
Gradually, it was becoming clear to me that being a teacher of the Tantric Arts wasn’t all glamour and fun. I had to learn detachment. Bliss was a fleeting gift… and it did not belong to us. No sooner had my partner and I tasted this exquisite natural ambrosia, than we had to shift our focus towards teaching and sharing it with others. And when the training was over, we had to part, trusting that our love would remain alive, even at a distance, until I returned. This created a constant emotional insecurity which I learned to accept as I moved deeper into self-reliance.
Moreover, I had to let go of the option of building a secure and stable future, such as is possible when two people live in the same town and begin thinking in terms of ‘settling down’ and even ‘starting a family’. That was not for me; that was not part of my mission.
Yet, sometimes it was painful to relinquish those kinds of dreams and the longing for abiding intimacy. It was a pain I had to bear, but I did so gladly, because my calling was too strong to ignore. I was good at my work and loved to inspire people to celebrate their highest potential in love, sex, and spirit.
The upside was that my participants ‘got it’. As they moved through the training they were growing and healing by leaps and bounds. The downside was that, predictably, many women fell in love with ‘my man’, reasoning that if he was with Margot, then he must be the ‘alpha male’ of all times and the ideal Tantric partner.
A man in charge acts on female sexual instincts like a magnet and a charismatic Shiva standing in front of the group was a tempting target for many.
Because of this, I often felt that my love-life was under a bad spell. I had no real home, little privacy, no foundation for stability and protection. And I could never be sure whether my partner would respect the ethical guidelines – keeping his hands off the participants – when I was not in the country.
It’s difficult for men in power to resist the seduction of the women who look up to them. One has only to think of President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, a 22 year-old White House intern, or John F Kennedy’s swift seduction of Mimi Alford, a 19 year-old virgin, to see how effortless it is for an ‘alpha male’ to conquer women who come within his sphere of influence.
For this reason, some years ago, I was invited to design and teach a course at the Kennedy School for Political Leadership at Harvard University. The request was to teach powerful men how to channel sexual energy to higher centres, so they could resist the seductive temptations generated by their magnetic charisma and popularity.
The purpose was to give them tools that would help them avoid embarrassing and unethical mistakes that might cost them their career.
Such an offer was intriguing, but I declined. I took the view that the lessons of my work had to be transmitted through direct experience, to courageous people willing to explore new territory. It didn’t seem possible to teach anything of lasting value when speaking from a podium to people sitting behind desks. The map is not the territory!
Yet the temptation of seduction is everywhere. How many group leaders are mature enough, as therapists, to receive the love projected onto them by grateful participants without exploiting it?
It was for this reason, I am sure, that Osho decreed that only women should lead Tantra groups in his ashram. He knew that a male leader would most likely be tempted to turn female group participants into some kind of personal harem.
This recurring issue in my workshops was not without its educational side. For example, I noticed there were two types of women affected by alpha male attraction: the ‘dark’ ones who would secretly steal the man away from their ‘sister’ when she wasn’t looking, and the ‘light’ ones, who were courageous and honest enough to first come to me and say “Margot, I would love to spend a night with your man, is this okay with you?”
When a woman asked me in this honest, direct way, including me in the equation, I appreciated her respect, so I often said ‘Yes’.
In the early 80’s, in Europe, there was a certain wild mood in our trainings which somehow made our indiscretions less serious, more like a comedy play, a part of the scenery, rather than major traumatic experiences.
For example, one time, in a big old castle near Nimes, in southern France, I came to my suite, returning from teaching, only to find my co-leader entwined with a group member amidst blankets and pillows on the floor of our large and royal bathroom.
I was incensed and left, slamming the door behind me. Then I decided to have some fun and throw a scene. I came back, fully made up with red lipstick and eye shadow, wearing an expensive sexy red dress and a black wide brimmed hat, with a cigarette holder in my mouth. Striking a pause, I launched in a dramatic movie scene, calling the pair of them all the filthy names in the book…. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
My co-leader, seeking a way out of this embarrassing situation, invited me to join them in a ménage à trois. But I refused. I ended up in the arms of the owner of the castle, a count of the local nobility, who conveniently informed me he had a crush on me.
I learned that it is essential, in such moments to look after myself, to make sure I was taken care of in the same way as my partner. Staying home alone, while your partner is having sex, is different from going out and having sex, too. This ‘tit for tat’ approach made it easier to remember that our love for each other was deeper than these shenanigans, as long as we could genuinely laugh about them. In my groups, I often reminded everyone:
“A problem is an opportunity to be creative.”
But times change and, as my work spread and became more organized, it became clear that I needed to establish clear guidelines. It became a central tenet of our team’s behaviour: no sleeping with participants.
This included the leaders, the organizers and the assistants. When I started working in the USA, I had my staff sign a legal disclaimer affirming they would not do it.
This was the main rule, but not the only one. I informed my staff that a good Tantra teacher observes these principles:
- Is mature enough to keep to her, or his, position as teacher, without seeking a more personal and intimate connection with the student.
- Has taken care of her, or his, own sexual, sentimental and relational needs outside of the group arena.
- Does not impose his own ideas about truth on students but is able to ask the right questions so that the students’ ability to find their own answers emerges naturally.
- Does not seek to influence students in a preferred direction which corresponds to the teacher’s financial interests (“come and study in my school, we have the perfect program for you”).
- Considers teaching as a sacred event which allows him or her to act with humility as a vehicle for spirit.
- Is humble enough to recognize that students may at times also prove to be teachers and he/she can learn from them.
- Has enough experience and self-trust to know how to handle any and all situations with integrity, no matter how unusual.
- Walks his talk and practices what he/she preaches.
- Avoids presenting himself, or herself, as ‘the perfect example’ that all must follow.
- Chooses not to impress people with ‘siddhis’ or ‘special powers’.
- Does not feel responsible for the students’ evolution, but only for doing the best he or she can do, honestly and totally.
- Does not bring his, or her, own sexual needs and addictions into the group room.
As we all learned to honour these guidelines, SkyDancing Tantra trainings became more powerful and effective. We delivered results, with many participants experiencing deep personal transformation and profound healing.
Excerpt from Margot Anand’s upcoming book, ‘Sex, Love and Awakening’, scheduled to appear in 8 or 9 months with USA publisher, Llewellyn. It will also be available in e-book format.
Read another excerpt from this book: The Cosmic Joke
Since 1981 Margot’s institute, SkyDancing Tantra, has taught more than 50,000 people. There have been SkyDancing Institutes in Switzerland, Germany, France, England, Canada and the United States; several of them still active. About 200 teachers and trainers worldwide have embraced SkyDancing Tantra and integrated it into their own work.
Margot Anand graduated at the Sorbonne in her native Paris. She received sannyas from Osho on Feb 14th, 1977 on Valentine’s day. Osho asked her to lead Tantra groups at his community in Pune which she did for two years. Margot developed her own Tantra Love & Ecstasy Training and became renowned for her books on Tantra – the first in Europe. Margot lives now in Bali, Indonesia. margotanand.com
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