Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Book review: Sex Matters

Sex Matters by Osho

Interesting collection of speeches or essays themed around Osho's interpretation of the meaning of sex, and how most human societies and religions have twisted and mutilated it to our detriment.

"It is sexual energy that transforms into love. But everyone is against it, is inimical to it. Your so-called good people are against it. And this opposition has not allowed the seed even to sprout. It has destroyed the palace of love at its foundation, on the very first step. The coal never becomes a diamond because the acceptance that is needed for its evolution, for its process of transformation, is out of the question."

Put in another way - and there is a lot of repetition in this book - "[a]ll life, all expression, all flowering is basically sex energy. And it is against this sex energy that religions and cultures are pouring poison into the minds of human beings. They are trying to engage human beings in a fight against it. They have entangled people in this battle against their own basic energy, so they have become wretched, pathetic, devoid of love, false, nobodies."

But the danger of the suppression of sex is not, in Osho's view, limited to the disastrous consequence of the suppression and inhibition of love. The suppression of sex also means the promotion of violence, an inverse relationship that has also been noted by anthropologists studying cultures with different attitudes towards sex and violence. "Restrained people are very dangerous because a live volcano boils inside them, and only outwardly are they rigid and full of control. Please remember, anything that is controlled requires so much effort and energy that the restraint cannot be maintained the whole time. You will have to relax sometime; you will have to rest sometime. ... If it needs effort, it will also need rest. And so, the more self-controlled a saint is, the more dangerous he is - because the need to relax this restraint will come. In twenty-four hours of self-control, one will have to relax for an hour or two, and during this period there will be such an upsurge of suppressed 'sins' that he will find himself in the midst of hell."

"This is the reason the animal in us erupts at the slightest opportunity. At the time of the India and Pakistan partition, we saw how the animal lurks beneath the clothing of human beings. We came to know what the people who pray in the mosques and recite the Gita in the temples are capable of. They can loot, they can slaughter, they can rape, they can do anything. The very people who were always seen praying in the temples and mosques were now seen raping in the streets. What happened to them? ...Our life energy has only one natural but animal outlet, and that outlet is sex. Closing that channel creates problems."

But what is most important to Osho about sex is that it is the first experience humans ever had with meditation - itself the key to a peaceful, content life. "[M]an had his first glimpses of awakening, of meditation, in moments of lovemaking - nowhere else. It was only in moments of lovemaking that human beings realized for the first time that so much bliss is possible. Those who meditated on this truth, those who reflected deeply on the phenomenon of sex, of lovemaking, saw that in moments of lovemaking, at the climax, the mind becomes empty of thoughts. For a moment all thoughts disappear. And this emptiness of the mind, this disappearance of thoughts, brings a showering of blessings. They discovered the secret."

In Chan/Son/Thien/Zen Buddhism, the goal is a state of meditation-induced "no-mind", where the mind's chatter is quiet and one experiences experience without distraction. Osho's point is that during orgasm too, all the mind's chatter disappears and one experiences no-mind - only without the trouble of sitting uncomfortably for hours on end.

Sex brings with it the two most important features of religious experience: egolessness and timelessness. "[I]n the moment of orgasm the ego vanishes and egolessness emerges. For a moment there is no ego; for a moment, no trace even of 'I am.' ... In the experience of enlightenment, there is no time at all. It is beyond time. There is no past, no future; there is only the present. This is the second thing that happens in the experience of sex - there is no past, no future; time also vanishes for a moment."

With such an easy, simple and immensely pleasurable means of attaining religious enlightenment at hand, it is clear to see why religions would be violently jealous. After all, it is they that are supposed to hold the key to enlightenment; their rites that offer transcendence; their donation boxes through which paradise is to be achieved. Therefore, it is unsurprising that religions tend to be anti-sex, trapping its so-called "proper" exercise within the cage of marriage; in a species for whom polygamy, not monogamy, is natural (or so all evidence points to).

"Religions are against sex because down the centuries they have come to know that sex is the most enjoyable thing for man, so they poison his joy. Once you poison his joy and you put this idea in his mind that something is wrong in sex - it is sin - then he will never be able to enjoy it, and if he cannot enjoy it, then his energies will start moving in other directions. He will become more ambitious. ... Ambition is sex energy diverted, and the society diverts you. You ask, 'Why are all the religions against sex?' They are against sex because that is the only way to make you unhappy, guilty, afraid. Once you are afraid, you can be manipulated. Remember this fundamental rule: Make a person afraid if you want to dominate him." This is a not an unfamiliar lesson to Unitedstatesians during the "War on Terror," Germans and Japanese during World War II, Chileans during Pinochet's rule, etc., etc.

The way that religions have forced sexuality into the domain of morality - which every culture in the world has recognized to be exhausted by the principle of "treat others as you would like them to treat you" - has been a tremendous tragedy. "[T]he very combination of sex and morality has poisoned the whole past of morality. Morality became so much sex-oriented that it lost all other dimensions, which are far more important. Sex should not really be so much of a concern for moral thinking. ... But sex and morality became almost synonymous in the past; sex became overpowering, overwhelming. So whenever you say somebody is immoral you simply mean that something is wrong with his sexual life. And when you say somebody is a very moral person, all that you mean is that he follows the rules of sexuality laid down by the society in which he lives. Morality became one-dimensional; it has not been good. ... [Sexuality] should not be a concern of the society at all. Unless somebody interferes in somebody else's life - imposes himself, forces somebody, is violent, violates somebody's life, then only should society come in. Otherwise there is no problem; it should not be any concern at all."

The imposition of a regime of monogamy has been poisonous to humanity because "[w]e have created a monogamous mind, not loving. That's why there are so many wars, so much cruelty, so much violence, in many, many names - religion, politics, ideology. Any nonsense will do as long as you find something to be violent about. And then see how people become sharp: their eyes look brilliant when there is war, when everyone is just freed from the taboo against killing. Then you can kill anybody. So you feel more joy when you kill somebody - you never feel joy when you love someone. ... Why? Our capacity to love has atrophied. A child is capable of loving anyone. A child is born to love the whole world, a child is born to love everything, a child is born to love the whole universe... if a person loves many people, then there is no reason to marry someone only because of love, because he can love many people without marriage, so there is no reason. We have forced everyone to go into marriage because of love. Because you cannot love outside it, so we have unnecessarily forced love and marriage to be together. Marriage is for deeper things - for intimacy, for a communion, to do something that cannot be done alone, that can be done together, that needs a togetherness, a deep togetherness."

"Sex has nothing to do with jealousy, anger, and possessiveness. But man's mind has been conditioned in such a way by the vested interests that they have exploited the very source of his life energy - sex - to fulfill their own interests. For example, man is naturally polygamous, and by man I don't mean only men but women too. Human beings are polygamous, but all the societies have forced monogamy. Now that creates the trouble. ... If society were run by intelligent people - not by people who want to exploit you, but by people who want to fulfill your nature to its uttermost capacity - there would be no jealousy. The wife would understand that once in a while the husband needs some other woman, 'just the way I need some other man.' ... What is wrong if you play tennis with one partner today, another partner another day? Is there any jealousy? There is no question of jealousy. And it is nothing more than tennis - two energies meeting and merging. And after the pill, the basic argument of all the religions is completely outdated."

"When there is no jealousy there is no anger, and all the qualities that I speak of will come automatically. A woman who gives you freedom, a man who never tries to possess you - you are allowed to move in the world according to your own wishes - do you think friendship will not arise between these two persons? A man giving freedom to the wife, a wife giving freedom tot he husband - there is bound to be great friendship, great intimacy. ... But the societies of the past never wanted this to happen. They wanted people to remain bored: tie one woman to one man forever, and you have started a pilgrimage to the ultimate boredom. These bored people, suffering, cannot revolt. ... [T]he vested interests don't want you to be intelligent, to be rich in experience, to reach to the climax of your potential, because that is dangerous to them. You can remain slaves only if you are poor in experience and intelligence. You can remain slaves only if you are a henpecked husband. ... And you have been kept poor psychologically, spiritually, physically, so that a few people can become presidents, prime ministers, kings and queens, a few people can become popes, or Ayatollah Khomeini. Just for a few people the whole of humanity is sacrificed!"

As comedian Bill Hicks observed about a society in which all are raised to love each other, sexually if desired, sans distinctions and separations and without regard to people having what amount to sexual property interests in each other: "Now if that's not a danger to society! I mean, how are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons, you know what I mean? What's gonna happen to the arms industry once we realize that we're all one? It's gonna fuck up the economy!" Osho makes much the same point: "If society is allowed total freedom about joy, nobody will be destructive. People who can love beautifully are never destructive. And people who can love beautifully and have the joy of life will not be competitive either. These are the problems. ... Now this whole society depends on one thing, and that is sex repression. Otherwise the economy will be destroyed, sabotaged. War will disappear and with it the whole war machinery; politics will become meaningless and the politician will no longer be important. Money will not have value if people are allowed to love. Because they are not allowed to love, money becomes the substitute, money becomes their love. So there is a subtle strategy. Sex has to be repressed, otherwise this whole structure of the society will fall immediately."

And what a loss that would be!