When I was a man

Healing & Meditation Inner Man - Inner Woman

Madhuri’s adventures while impersonating men to understand and discover their power. She also describes the meditation called Hara Burn. “I enjoyed myself so very much, to feel so strong and muscular… so autonomous and self-contained.”

Genghis Khan Film

I Fall in Love, or Something

I was perhaps 37, and living in Popular Heights, not far from the Commune. A German disciple with large biceps and small scholarly glasses asked me for a date. It turned out to be not a great date; in fact, nothing much interesting happened, in bed or out. We did talk about crystals – both of us liked them – so that might have been the only bond. He was pale and fussy and pumped-up and had a slender, beaky nose. He worked out religiously, and told me about this.

Right here I want to take responsibility: I went to bed with him too soon. As Osho often said, though about other matters, I suppose: “It has always been happening so.”

And I want to take responsibility further: I am sure he is a lovely being. And I, an idiot of several sorts at least… just generally.

Anyway, two days later I realized with an awful sinking sensation that I had become hooked on him. This sometimes happened with men there was nothing really going on with; I don’t know why. No doubt it has to do with my father.

The pursuing man immediately realized I’d fallen, and he backed off. (You see, in the Commune there was no escape: we all bumped into each other all the time. So whatever he felt or didn’t feel, and I felt or didn’t feel, it was immediately known and mirrored.) And my obsession took deeper root. For the next six months I was possessed, nutty about this pedantic Berliner who didn’t want me. The drama played out in Poona, in Goa, and back in Poona again.

One night while I was in Vasumati’s Zencounter group, following her instructions that we were to dress in our best and go visit someone, I put on a beautiful white dress I had had made for waltzing, of all things… – we used to have a waltz once a year in Buddha Hall – and dropped in on this man at his flat on the outskirts of Koregaon Park… and he was stoned, and I took off the dress and lay down next to him.

And nothing happened, and I cried piteously, and he patted my shoulder and said, “Much slime! Much slime!” (Which must be a translation of how Germans delicately phrase the phenomenon.)

Next day Vasumati cried, “You took off your dress and lay down next to somebody who was stoned? You have no boundaries! No boundaries at all!”

This was a curious notion for me… boundaries. What were those? Weren’t we supposed to be unbounded? Wasn’t that what I had been doing here, all this time – getting rid of boundaries?


One night I got on my bicycle and went in search of the man. He was not at home, and on my ride back through the dark, curiously deserted streets I heard from behind me a thruuummm thruummm and felt a jerk at my right shoulder. A motorbike with two men on it drew abreast and then passed me, as the tugging at the bag continued. Slowly my bike pitched sideways and the strong strap on my little bag held as I was dragged along the asphalt road, first on my front and then on my back. I held fast to the strap and eventually the men gave up and released it. Their bike vanished in the dark and I picked myself and my sprawling bike up and made my way back to Popular Heights.

My black leggings with yellow stars on them were torn and I had abrasions on knees and back – my black sweater was also torn. I cleaned the abrasions and then, for some peculiar reason, went to a party I had been invited to. I danced and chatted but I was in shock – and in denial about it.

Next day I could not get out of bed. I stayed there for two days, grieving: where were the men in my life? Where were brothers, father, a vengeful and responsible lover to go find those scoundrels who had assaulted me, and punish them? Where the hell were the protectors I knew I had been born to have?

I told my not-paramour about the assault when next I ran into him. He seemed uninterested, merely shrugging.

And I knew, of course, that I should not have gone desperately in search of him that night anyway. My shameful neediness and desperation…

I did not know then how to love myself for everything – all of it. The only healing is that.

The Challenge

One day I was sitting on the Zen Wall – a low stone wall with a flat top that ran the length of the Zen Walk from the Front Gate to Lao Tzu Gate – perfect for sitting on and watching our wonderful world go by – and the fellow was sitting beside me. He was speaking, making a point about something, I forget what – possibly the error of some weaksome attitude of mine – and he turned to me and thumped my skinny chest with his forefinger. Now, his worked-out finger was fat as a sausage, heavy as stone. It thwacked on my bony carapace and this is the thought that arose in me half-formed: What is fair about his having all that strength and power and my having none? It cannot be that the universe would give it all to him and leave me a lesser being. There must be a secret here! And I mean to find it out.

In order to understand and thus grasp and decode that power, I decided to do a meditation where I would become him. I thought I would do it for three days.

Next morning I tied back my hair, drew a tattoo on my upper arm with a biro, and pretended my bicycle was a motorcycle as I rode to my work in the commune post office. I took off from work early that afternoon, went to join a gym in Boat Club Road, and began lifting weights. I found that my body felt pantherine; and became more so by the day. (I ended up lifting weights for six years! …the last few years using just hand weights in my room – but the benefits were amazing! Thank you, young man!)

My head emptied; I was just a body, striding, sure and roll-gaited. I was enjoying myself! – so much so that when the three days were gone I continued the meditation, not knowing now when I would stop.

I could not read romances at night anymore so I read war stories. My period was due but it did not come. I was a man, free and silent, and I loved it.

People at work, knowing nothing of my experiment, for I told nobody – complained that when I walked into the room it was as if a wall had walked in.

I enjoyed myself so very much, to feel so strong and muscular… so autonomous and self-contained.

On the 21st evening I was in Buddha Hall for the taped discourse. Normally I liked to listen whilst lying on my back on a thick cotton rug… just resting, being, imbibing. But this night as I lay on the rug on the cool floor and the growing summer warmth still vibrated around me, I found that I could not melt, could not feel Osho or take him in – because I was stiff, I was protected and tough. And it seemed to me that I had come into a woman’s body in this life for a reason, and perhaps I’d better get back to it.

And so I shifted slightly in myself and let go… gave up the man and resumed the woman. And I melted, and sank, and was again at home drinking in Osho’s voice and words.

The Joy of Being Male

A few years later I participated in the Women’s Lib group and again had a chance to be a man, this time in company with other would-be men. This too was a revelation – for one thing, we got to dress the part, with bulging stuffed condoms in our pants and (in my case) a hairy toupee sticking out of my shirt! I wore a cowboy hat, and became a cowboy, then a hired gun. I was a little twerp but utterly fearless, and my integrity was adamantine. I sang a cowboy song to the assembled company, and knew I could sleep under the stars rolled up in a scratchy wool blanket and be blissfully happy. I acquired a buddy, a French-Canadian fellow in combat pants, and knew the sweetness of buddy-dom with all my soul. The female fears – Am I beautiful? Will I be loved? How can I improve myself, my looks, to make myself more attractive? – were gone. I was just a little squirt, but I went after the most beautiful woman in a flame-red dress, of the group of women who came in to dance with us… and courted a princessy quiet maiden in a gauzy gown – I wanted only to serve her, bringing her a glass of water… for that was all there was!

A strange thing happened then – she suddenly asked me, in a soft but rather stern German accent, to take off my cowboy hat, remove my shoulder pads, and take out my hairy chest toupee! I think she felt these things were not… natural. I went off her immediately. I did not need improving, and any woman who thought I did was off my list utterly.

When we had, after three days of this glorious fun (we mostly sat around playing cards and bullshitting) to become women again… it was quite awfully painful for me. I had to let go of my best buddy, he of the combat pants, whom I knew I would never see again once he had become a she. This was so sad! Then, I had to start fussing again about how I looked! This seemed both craven and stupid.

But there it was.

The Mongol Warrior

In 2008 I was in Poona when I received an email from a niece who lived in Maui. Her little daughter had finally confessed the details of her father’s long-time sexual abuse of her. I had stayed with the family a couple of years earlier and I loved the grave, intelligent, fluff-haired little sprite; the evil news sent my stomach churning. I felt that I wanted to get some sort of session, so at lunch I sat with Gandha and Vibhavan and asked them their advice on what sort of session would be best. Vibhavan (now Rama) offered to do a meditation with me, that afternoon; it was called Hara Burn.

We stood facing each other with a little distance between us, feet about shoulder-width apart, hands in a curious position: above the head but laid flat, fingertips touching those of the other hand; not touching the head; forming a sort of hand-awning. The hands were to stay like this through the entire first stage – 40 minutes.

While Techno music played, I was to spend a few minutes cooking up the issue inside myself – thinking about it, letting it arise. Then, at a signal from Vibhavan, I was to start pushing the whole issue down into my hara – and go on doing this with all my might and attention, for 40 minutes. We kept eye contact the entire time.

It was an epic 40 minutes, and I gave it my best. What happened was that I found myself entering the psyche and body of the abuser – the child’s father, but also a man who had touched me invasively once, when I was eleven, and then some nameless Mongol warrior who snatched women at will and bore them away, established them in his own camp, and controlled them… I experienced the joy of possession of another human being, the sense of entitlement and expansion it gave to my feeling about myself. I had to fully inhabit this, with joy… Power surged through me, and my usual wimpy ways seemed absurd and mistaken.

In this method, the body trembles and shakes, often, but you are not to yell – just go on pushing the energy into the hara.

When the time was up we each backed up to a separate divan and lay down on our backs for 20 minutes. I was trembling all over, and it felt so wonderful to let my arms relax, hear the silence instead of the hard, driving music, and just recline with closed eyes… and feel it all integrate. Afterwards I felt that I had done my bit for the family, albeit on some etheric plane. I had made my contribution. (Vibhavan remarked, I can’t resist saying, that I was a true Warrior – this is a technique from men’s groups, and I had acquitted myself better than many of the men he had seen do it.)


All in all, these three experiments were hugely illuminating, and I recommend them to anyone who wants to know themselves better… and know the other better too. Compassion results, yes, but also delight. I will never forget that my skinny bones hide Genghis Khan, if I want for some reason to visit him; or Shiva the Creator too. All of it.

MadhuriMadhuri is a regular contributor – www.madhurijewel.com

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