Another blogger recently wrote a post critiquing my post about my newfound kinship with bonobos. He seemed to have trouble reconciling my sometimes-animalistic sexual urges with my quest for a deeper spiritual experience.
He said it was ironic that I frequently quote Osho, throughout my blog, as a teacher of sexual freedom. He claims Osho was really just using some kind of reverse psychology on his followers to get them to see that sex is “stupid, a trick of nature and a waste of energy,” and to encourage them to be celibate.
While he accuses me of not telling the full story when it comes to Osho’s teachings, I think it is clear that is he who’s taken the following chunk of Osho’s words out of context:
“Remember, there are two types of celibates. One: who has simply forced celibacy upon himself — he is a wrong type, he is doing violence to himself. The other: who has tried to understand sexuality, what it is, why it is; who has watched, observed, lived through it, and, by and by, has become aware of its futility; by and by, has become aware of a deep frustration that comes after each sexual act. In the sexual act you have a certain thrill, a moment of forgetfulness, a moment of oblivion. You feel good — for a few seconds, only for a few seconds, you drop out of this routine world. Sex gives you a door to escape into some other world — which is non-tense; there is no worry; you are simply relaxed and melting. But have you observed? After each sexual act you feel frustrated.
Sex has promised too much, but it has not been supplied. It is difficult to find a man or a woman who does not feel a little frustrated after the sexual act, who does not feel a little guilty. I am not talking about the guilt that priests have imposed upon you. Even if nobody has imposed any guilt upon you, you will feel a little guilt — that is part, a shadow of the sexual act. You have lost energy, you feel depleted, and nothing has been gained. The gain is not very substantial. You have been befooled, you have been tricked, by a natural hypnosis — you have been tricked by the body, you have been deceived. Hence comes a frustration.
That’s why real awareness always leads you beyond sex, and celibacy happens on its own accord. Because to be in sex you have either to be identified with the male or identified with the female. A real celibate is one who has gone beyond, who is neither.”
Like most of what Osho says, I find this to be a valid and wonderful insight. But Osho’s not the kind of speaker you can quote in sound bites – not even long sound bites, like the one above. Osho is all about the yin and the yang – telling both sides of the story. You really need to listen to him for hours before you can understand the entirety of his message.
On the same webpage his quote above is taken from, Osho explains why it is not just sex that is “futile” and “a waste of energy,” but the attempt to willfully become celibate:
“Celibacy is one of the most unnatural things. It has destroyed so many human beings — millions — Catholic monks, Hindu monks, Buddhist monks, Jaina monks, nuns. For centuries they have been teaching celibacy; and the most amazing thing is, even in the twentieth century, not a single medical expert, physiologist, has stood up and said that celibacy is impossible, that in the very nature of things, it cannot happen.”
“Celibacy can only be spontaneous, there is no other type of celibacy. If it is not spontaneous, it is not celibacy. You can force it. You can control your sexuality, but that is not going to help. You will not be celibate, you will be only more and more sexual. Sex will spread all over your being. It will become part of your unconscious. It will move your dreams, it will become your motivation in dreams, it will become your fantasy. In fact, you will become more sexual than you ever were before. You will think more about it and you will have to repress it again and again.”
“There is no way to destroy sex by force, by violence. There is no way to control and discipline it. The people who have tried to control and discipline it have made the world very pornographic.”
So there you have it. While I agree that humans may be a little more evolved than other apes – in that they are capable of sex for more than pleasure – I do not think there is anything wrong with pleasure (and I’m not convinced sex can’t be a spiritual experience for the other apes either). In fact, it’s becoming more and more clear to me that we have a biological need for physical pleasure and that depriving ourselves of it can be very bad for our health.
Rather than repress our natural urges for sexual pleasure, we should satisfy them, and then, in a way, transcend them, Osho says.
“Never enforce any celibacy on yourself. Try to understand what sexuality is, go deep into it. It has a tremendous beauty of its own. It is one of the profoundest mysteries of life. Life comes out of it — it has to be a great mystery. Sex is not sin; repression is a sin. Sex is very natural, very spontaneous. You have not done anything to have it. It is inborn. It is part of your being. Don’t condemn it, don’t judge it, don’t fear it, don’t fight with it. Simply go into it more — more meditatively. Let it happen in such silence, in such deep acceptance, that you can know the very core of it. The moment you penetrate to the very core of sexual orgasm you will see sex is losing its appeal for you, your energy is moving in a higher plane, you are becoming more loving and less sexual.”
Maybe someday I will spontaneously lose my appetite for sex – but I think I don’t think that day will come much sooner than the day I lose my appetite for food.
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