Upchara talks to Punya about the Women’s Liberation Group, a process she ran first in Pune, then in Italy and South America. She is now bringing it to Spain and Greece.
How would you introduce this process?
It’s an opportunity to have a physical, emotional and mental experience that each one of us is not just half – not just one sex. We are the whole. Inside we have the fullness of all the qualities of what we call male energy, yang, and the qualities of female energy, yin.
We have heard this theoretically since Jung, that we have an anima or an animus, but during the Women’s Liberation Group we can experience it in our bodies. There is no doubt that all the male qualities (positive and negative) are not somewhere out there, although we think that a guy is going to give them to us…
We will fall in love with this inner man, in a sensual, sensory manner. It’s not a thought, but an experience. In order for our female qualities to have space, we have first to recognize the male qualities. If that inner man is not fully appreciated, seen, recognized as he is, his energy will not give the female the space that she needs.
We emancipated women often feel that we’re actually quite cut off from our female qualities; our receptivity, vulnerability, softness. All these natural female qualities are lost because we come out with a fake strength, right? Everything is squished inside. The moment we recognize the inner man, who has a natural capacity for clarity, determination, focus – also our natural female qualities become available to us. In other words, the moment we welcome the male energies we can be more open to the female energies. If we do not recognize, honour and respect the male qualities in us, that inner man will not give space to the authentic female qualities!
I would like to add that this recognition of the inner man happens not in the head but in the cells of the body. We actually experience the feeling of what it is like to be a man! Osho said that we learn to see with four eyes: the male and the female.
It’s like in a relationship. If the man feels loved, he will look at his woman’s female qualities with a “Yes, princess, queen, come out and be this woman that wants to dress up, maybe in pink and a long skirt today.” Or a “Wow! Yes, share with me your magic, your intuition, the wise woman you are!” He will enjoy her femininity.
Eventually – of course it needs time – there will be a balance between the two sides – and that’s the beauty of the work. To have the experience that I am both! And then comes a giggle inside that says, “Oh my god! Deep in my centre, in my being, I am neither!”
It’s a little bit like knowing that I have these spices to cook my dinner with, but also knowing that I am the consciousness that is watching all this, a place of pure presence, a presence that is neither male nor female. It has nothing to do with the body. The body just has the characteristics of one or the other.
To realize that our essential being is neither male nor female comes from working with Osho’s transmission.*)
Who might benefit the most?
I would say, truly anybody.
Obviously, all the issues that we have in our relationships will come up. Many of the women who participate in the process, have or are involved in a relationship with a man, but there are also women who are in a relationship with another woman. All of us are emotionally charged, on both the male and female side. We have unrecognized issues with our female side, as with our male side. This affects our relating.
It is a transforming journey for all women who have difficulties in relating or have decided to end a relationship, and for those who have difficulties in entering into a meaningful one. In the programme there’s also a part that deals with how we relate to other women.
To me, it’s all about us. If we are having trouble being with someone, or have decided that it’s too painful to be in a relationship and remain on our own, most of the time it is due to the fact that it is such an inner struggle. Of course, many of us have also discovered the deep satisfaction of celebrating our true aloneness. Discovering this deep settling in ourselves is also part of this journey.
The beauty of this process is that we discover that the outer is mostly an expression of what’s happening inside of us. If I am battling with my female side and I have issues, I’ll have them outside. If I’m battling with the male qualities or anger with the male, I’ll have the battles outside.
We might know this theoretically, but here we discover it existentially, experientially.
Do you mean that if I have a problem in relationships, it’s an expression of what is happening inside?
Yes. There is a beautiful quote of Osho about that:
“Every man is also a woman and every woman is also a man. Now this is possible: you can remain divided inside – the man separate from the woman, the inner woman separate from the inner man. Then there will always be a conflict, a certain tug-of-war. This is the ordinary state of humanity. If your inner man and woman can meet in a deep embrace, merge into each other, for the first time you will become one – neither man nor woman.” **
Then he says, “Then you will be transcendental.” That’s what his message was for the group. You stop projecting onto the outside the stuff that comes from inside.
Is there an age limit for participating?
You have to have some life experience. In Brazil a young woman wanted to participate. She was 19 but I realized it was too soon. She didn’t have enough life experience yet of… let’s call it ‘the agony and the ecstasy of relationships’.
From what age on would you suggest then?
I would say after 25. It depends… some 20-year-olds can be very mature.
And for an older person like me?
There is no limit of that kind!
We had a mother of a sannyasin in Chile. She was probably in her late 70s, and had never done any workshops. She told me later that she had no idea what she was getting into and was scared! But after her first Dynamic, during our sharing, she said (and I still get the shivers), “My God. I can really allow myself to feel all my emotions. I can express them, I can move and I can dance!” She was so deeply touched and transformed after those days in the group.
She also shared that she wished she had done this earlier, but was delighted to see that she could now live much more intensely, while letting go of old conditionings and all the prejudices about how an ‘old’ woman should be.
How many days is the workshop?
In order to give the opportunity to as many women as possible, also those on a tight schedule, we have part 1, lasting five days, that gives the essential understanding. After 6 months or a year we get together again and meet for 4 days to share with each other and go deeper into the process. Yet, we also offer the full 10-day process for those who would prefer that.
The first two days are usually quite intense because we need to do some cleaning out. We need to empty our bags that are full of anger and resentment. One of the things that Osho says is, if we are still carrying our mother and our grandmother’s anger at men, we go nowhere.
The beginning is intense, but then it’s lots of fun. Every day is so different that after just one day, I sometimes ask, “Do you remember a century ago when we first met?” Because that first meeting already seems so far in the past.
What will such a process change in you?
I would say that there are two things that women come out of the group with: they have a sense of rootedness, a deep-centred connection with themselves, as the woman that they are. Plus a love for that woman that before was so packed with judgments… “I’m not really how I should be” – and all that.
You will not be changed in the sense that you become different, somebody else. There is no model, like there was that old idea of a liberated woman. It’s unique for each woman. Someone comes out more of a mystic. Someone else more connected with the ‘other’. I would say, you come out truer to yourself.
Osho’s message is that you’re not here to look like somebody else. You will feel more space to honour the divine in this form – if we want to put it mystically. It is certainly not a feminist group where we are against men. It’s the contrary.
The women often say, C’è un prima e un dopo – there is a before and an after. There’s something that somehow shifts in our perception of ourselves and also in respect to men. We stop having this feeling of living between two war camps. I think the planet needs this understanding!
The question then is how to carry these experiences into our daily lives and into our relationships. I have observed that those who go on meditating, meeting and sharing with each other, will keep what they have learnt. Many of the women meet regularly if they live in the same area, or at least now that we have internet, they stay connected that way.
It’s like if we do a gymnastic course and later don’t practice, the muscles are going to go flabby like they were before. If we receive an experience, it needs watering.
I never say, Do this group and everything will be solved. No group does that. But it’s those moments of deep realization that will stay. You might still keep battling outside, but actually you already know who you are.
It reminds me of this story: Somebody is talking about the moon – and how beautiful it is – to people who have never seen the moon. They have no direct experience of seeing it, they didn’t even know it was there! They keep saying, “Is there really a moon? We don’t believe there is a moon!”
Until one day, they see the moon and have a direct experience. They laugh! They no longer need to believe in the moon. They know now. Even if clouds hide it, they know it is there. Even if clouds are there for the rest of their lives, they know the moon is there; they know because they have experienced it. There is that consciousness. Even if they never see the moon again, they will have no doubt.
This is the ground which you can come back to and step onto when you get lost. We will get lost a thousand times…
* This process was inspired by Osho, and received hints and suggestions directly from him while it was being created (in 1989, in the Mystery School in Pune). This will be illustrated in the second part of this interview.
** Excerpted from Osho, Secrets of Yoga, Ch 4, Q 2 (Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 8)
Upchara grew up in France and Argentina, with French Canadian parents, and studied in Switzerland where she earned a Masters in Philosophy. Later she lived in Chile, Italy and finally India where she took sannyas in 1978. She participated in Osho’s communes in Pune, Oregon and back in Pune, where she was part of the Multiversity and the Mystery School. Since 2000 she has been facilitating workshops in Italy, South America and Spain, Croatia and now Greece.
Upchara will be facilitating the workshop, Empowered: Osho Women’s Liberation (El poder del Femenino) on 15-25 August 2022 in Tarragona, Spain – subscribepage.io/elpoderdelfemenino – facebook.com/elpoderdelfemenino – instagram.com/oshowomensliberation
On 5-15 September 2022 on Aegina Island near Athens, Greece. Info: email@example.com +30 6973 32 8332 – subscribepage.com/womensliberationgroup – facebook.com/OSHOWomensLiberation – instagram.com/oshowomensliberation
And on 25 October – 6 November 2022 in Pucón, Chile – elpoderdelfemenino.com
- On Inner Man / Inner Woman
- Man and woman exist in a kind of interdependence – Q: Why do I allow women to hold power over me, to accept or reject me? This old rut makes nonsense at heart. I want to get out.
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