"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Karma of Sex and War

I've been doing some interesting reading today. Remember the Vietnam-era slogan "Make love, not war?" According to Osho, this is not just a cliche, but a central tenet of enlightenment.

And just who is/was Osho, you may ask? According to The Washington Post, "He was a guru unencumbered by tradition, an enlightened master who could quote Heidegger, and Sartre, and who furthermore believed in technology, capitalism and sex..." Indeed, he has been called "the sex guru", although carnal pleasure formed only one segment of his beliefs. Born in 1931 in India and formerly known as Baghwan Shree Rajneesh, he was a philosopher and spiritual teacher in his homeland. In 1981, he moved to the United States and set up a controversial communal ranch with 3,000 of his followers near Antelope, Oregon called Rajneeshpuram. After many disputes with local residents, he moved to North Carolina in 1987 where he adopted the name "Osho", which is derived from the ancient Japanese word for "Master". Forced by U.S. immigration authorities to return to India, he died there of heart failure in 1990. At the height of his influence, Osho had about 200,000 members in 600 centers around the world, and he sported a fleet of 30 or more Rolls-Royce limousines.

Many have characterized his organization as a "cult", and indeed it is true that he felt the institution of the family was out of date and should be replaced with alternative forms of community and ways of caring for children. However, he also encouraged individual disciples to make peace with their families. He taught that God was in everything and everyone. He recognized Jesus Christ as having attained enlightenment. He believed that national, religious, gender and racial divisions are inherently destructive to a harmonious global society.

Today, 16 years after his death, his followers enthusiastically continue his work, and a wealth of information on his teachings and beliefs can be found via a simple web search. And what of sex and war? Whether you dismiss him as a cult figure or not, I must say his words on these topics make considerable sense, particularly during these troubled times when war occupies much of our conscious thought. He says:

The society has created a repressive mind, a life-negative mind, an anti-joy mind. The society is very much against sex. Why is the society so much against sex? — because if you allow people sexual pleasure, you cannot transform them into slaves. It is impossible — a joyous person cannot be made a slave. That is the trick. Only sad people can be turned into slaves. A joyous person is a free person; he has a kind of independence to him.

You cannot recruit joyous people for war. Impossible. Why should they go to war? But if a person has repressed his sexuality he is ready to go to war, he is eager to go to war, because he has not been able to enjoy life. He has become incapable of enjoying, hence has become incapable of creativity. Now he can do only one thing — he can destroy. All his energies have become poison and destructive. He is ready to go to war — not only ready, he is hankering for it. He wants to kill, he wants to destroy.

In fact, while destroying human beings he will have a vicarious joy of penetrating. That penetrating could have been in love and would have been beautiful. When you penetrate a woman’s body in love, it is one thing. It is spiritual. But when things go wrong and you penetrate somebody’s body with a sword, with a spear, it is ugly, it is violent, it is destructive. But you are searching for a substitute for penetration.

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.

That’s why primitive people are not so competitive. They are enjoying their life. Who bothers to have a bigger house? Who bothers to have a bigger balance in the bank? For what? You are happy with your woman and with your man and you are having a dance of life. Who wants to sit in the marketplace for hours and hours and hours, day in, day out, year in, year out, hoping that in the end you will have a big bank balance and then you will retire and enjoy? That day never comes. It can’t come, because the whole life you remain an ascetic.

Remember, the business people are ascetic people. They have devoted everything to money.

Now a man who knows love and has known the thrill of love and the ecstasy of it will not be competitive.

He will be happy if he can get his daily bread. That is the meaning of Jesus’ prayer: “Give us our daily bread.” That is more than enough. Now Jesus looks foolish. He should have asked, “Give us a bigger bank balance.” He asks only for the daily bread? A joyous man never asks for more than that. The joy is so fulfilling.

It is only unfulfilled beings who are competitive, because they think life is not here, it is there. “I have to reach to Delhi and become the president,” or to the White House and become this or that. “I have to go there, joy is there” — because they know here there is no joy. So they are always on the go, go, go, go. They are always on the go, and they never reach. And the man who knows the joy, is here. Why should he be going to Delhi? For what? He is utterly happy here now. His needs are very small. He has no desires. He has needs certainly, but no desires. Needs can be fulfilled, desires never. Needs are natural, desires are perverted.

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, and the 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.

Only love released into the world will bring revolution. Communism has failed, fascism has failed, capitalism has failed. All ‘isms’ have failed because deep down they are all sex repressive. On that point there is no difference — no difference between Washington and Moscow, Beijing and Delhi — there is no difference at all. They all agree upon one thing — that sex has to be controlled, that people are not to be allowed to have innocent joy in sex.

Ordinary society is against sex; Tantra comes to help humanity, to give sex back to humanity. And when the sex has been given back, then arises Zen. Zen has no attitude. Zen is pure health.

I don't necessarily agree with every single word of this, but it is food for thought.

Several recent events have caused me to ponder the topic of meditation (is that statement redundant?) which led me today to this information about Osho. A week ago, I wrote here about the search for justice -- or more to the point, closure -- in the trial of Zacharias Moussaoui. One of the many things that concerns me is the extreme difficulty we face in combatting, by conventional means, those Islamic radicals who not only don't fear death, but welcome it as a glorious reward. Think of this phrase commonly heard in America: "You have so much to live for." For the overwhelming majority of us in the USA, this is the truth; life is good. Sure, we all have something we'd like to improve on: we may not be rich, or have the best jobs, or we may have heath or family issues, but our living conditions are so much better than the rest of the world. More importantly, we nearly always have the one thing that keeps us going when all else fails -- hope. No matter how bad things get, our society offers us the opportunity to make our lives better if we're willing to make the effort. But for millions in the war-torn Middle East, hopelessness is part of the daily existence. They have nothing to look forward to but oppression, poverty, hunger, disease and death, and this breeds a desperation that few of us in the West can truly fathom.

Last night I watched the always-fascinating PBS documentary program Frontline. This particular episode, titled "The Insurgency", took a close look at those who are fighting against U.S. and Coalition forces in Iraq, and why. One military analyst commented on a fundamental difference between coalition and insurgent forces which echoes my thoughts above; the Americans, he said, for the most part don't want to be there. They would much rather be at home, in safety and comfort with their families -- and who could blame them? But of the insurgents, his simple comment "they don't live here" was chilling. By "here", he means "in this world". Their minds are fixated on the glorious paradise awaiting them in the next life, and the more Infidels they can kill in the name of Allah, the greater will be their reward. How can we hope to defeat an enemy with this sort of motivation, when all we want to do -- understandably so -- is to get the hell out of there?

I pray that there's a way out of this quagmire, but it isn't immediately apparent what it may be. What particularly frustrates and angers me is that many knowledgeable people in the military, government, business and private sectors tried to impress these realities upon the Bush administration long before things ever got to this point, and they simply failed to listen or to understand. Read this article from the Washington Post for an eye-opening look at a Defense Secretary who "was contemptuous of advice from his military officers and sabotaged the Iraq mission with willful misjudgments before and after the invasion", and is still out-of-touch even now.

It is somewhat sobering, if not outright depressing, to realize that the history of mankind is quite literally the history of warfare. Since the beginning of civilization, society has been defined by it's conquests, and the rise and fall of nations (including our own) have been a direct result of victory or defeat on the great battlefields of time. While there have been wars of ideologies in the past, our opponents today have very little tangibility that can be effectively attacked or destroyed. They have no uniforms, territorial boundaries, or central command structure. They have no authority figure with whom to negotiate surrender. This is a war unlike any in previous history, and recent sabre-rattling concerning possible nuclear confrontation with Iran (whose current leadership shares the no-compromise goal of many Jihadists to "wipe Israel off the map") has me feeling even more uneasy about the future.

There is a growing number of people -- sadly, counted in the millions as I write this -- who earnestly believe that current world conditions point to an imminent cataclysmic clash between good and evil, i.e. The Armageddon. Fortunately for my own personal mental health, I am not that pessimistic. However, while in the past this belief was held primarily by fundamentalist zealots, I do find it disturbing that the concept has become increasingly "mainstream" in recent years. In December 2004, respected National Public Radio journalist Bill Moyers was honored with the Global Environment Citizen Award (presented by Meryl Streep) by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. In his acceptance speech, he spoke of "Armageddon Politics":
"It may come as a surprise to some people that God's plan involves the full-scale destruction of the planet we inhabit. In some bizarre manner, He, the Creator God and Father of Jesus, wants to destroy the world in order to save humanity — or a select portion of it, anyway. But then it makes sense that the Supreme Being who created this world has the right to annihilate it, doesn't it? It does to some people. And not just a few, either. The promise of a planetary holocaust is actually cherished by millions of God-fearing Christians around the world, and strategically anticipated by the politicians who lead them."
If those "politicians" include George W. Bush (and some think this is so), then my friends, we all may be in deep shit. Hey, if you believe that the world is due to end anyway, why worry about tossing a few nukes around?

My apologies -- I didn't intend for this post to become so damn depressing when I began writing it. Anyway, to return to Osho where I started from, perhaps a possible solution in Iraq would be to flood the area with as many women as possible from all over the world who would be willing to sex up the insurgents, thereby neutralizing their will to fight. Make love, not war. Okay, I admit it's not very realistic or practical -- but does anybody have a better idea? If so, please raise your hand; I and everyone else (except maybe Donald Rumsfeld) would love to hear it.


  • At 6/28/2006 04:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A great reading. Thanks for this wonderful post.
    I enjoyed it. Please post more what you read from Osho. All those words were cuttig my mind like a sword.


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