Sophisticated Sexuality

Today is eternity.

In eternity there is only awareness,

The infinite is the unknowable.

The finite is what appears to be known.

But ultimately the finite,

When we meditate, we experience the infinite. We go beyond time and space and condition and we experience the mystery for which there are no words. We experience more of that according to our awareness.

The pathway to enlightenment leads us to see that we are luminous beings—mysterious, unknowable, unfathomable. Yet, there is a pathway.

There is a journey—which we feel we can understand—but we can’t. We can only witness it and observe it and be awed by it.

Over the years, I myself have witnessed eternity. And continue to. in many, many different ways.

There is no end to our realization, and there is no end to perfection. Ultimately, we’re just confronted by the wonder of it all—beyond reason, beyond morality, beyond rationality.

Try as we will, we are confounded by life itself. While we invent splendid ways to frustrate ourselves and we make a knot which appears to be very hard to unravel—which we call our lives—life itself unravels it.

Life ultimately puts all the loose ends together, rounds and shapes everything perfectly, effortlessly. We have much to learn from life. This is the study of meditation.

My own experience is neither typical nor atypical. I was born into this world without knowing why. I grew up, lived, experienced, and was always drawn to beauty, to light, to eternity.

I’ve never been able to separate the finite from the infinite.

I find eternity is as present

as in nirvana.

The way I follow and the way that I describe and guide—as a teacher—is this way,

We don’t really have to do this. It just is. You might say we’re just trying to perceive our “is-ness.” There’s really not much more. The ways are specific. The methods make no sense. The techniques are numerous.

But ultimately, everything is done for us.

Today is the summer solstice. In this world, it is the day of the greatest light. We celebrate the summer solstice because we celebrate light. We celebrate the winter solstice because we celebrate night also—night not being connected with evil, light not being connected with good. Both light and dark are eternity. Human beings assign relative values to colors, but beyond the relative, there just is—what in Zen we call “suchness.”

I find the path circuitous and unusual. At a very early age, I was attracted to light, as most children are. I grew up in a world that seemed very complex. I watched people dreaming their lives.

Even when I was very, very young—four, five, six—I could see inside people, their motives, their dreams, their apprehension of reality.

This awareness has always been there for me.

The ability to see has always been a native talent, I suppose.

I’ve gone through many steps and stages in my own spiritual development. They appear to be neither typical nor atypical. They just were, or are.

And yet they’re all a dream,

I’ve always found God in love; in selfless giving; in art; in literature and poetry; in people, the people of the world; in plants; in nature

It’s always seemed very simple to me.

So when I was very young, it was very clear. The way was apparent.

Then they sent me to school, and things became very, very confusing.

Fortunately, I had an interesting balance. I had two parents who were somewhat unusual.

I was very lucky, and always have been. Life seems to have taken vast exceptions for me, but I suppose each one of us could say that.

On the one hand, I had a father who was strong and kind and loving, beyond—at least in my case—anything that I could understand, and at the same time, who was extremely puritanical, who had been raised in a religious tradition with extensive morality.

I had a mother who was very developed psychically and spiritually, who was very remarkable in many, many ways. She was, in a way, an opposite [of my father}, a complete liberal in every sense of the word, interested in women’s liberation before it was the fashion, believed in reincarnation, psychic development, all kinds of things.

It was interesting to have both a very conservative and very liberal parent, because we deal with both of these elements in the world, and we have both elements within ourselves.

So at an early age, I found the world a very natural place to be. I was always in a meditative consciousness as a child, which all children are.

Then they sent me to school.

And school was a strange place, where they tried to make you into something. Not simply what they taught you, but they presented a description of the world to all of us which was very limited and narrow.

While I don’t doubt the intentions of the people who did it, what they passed along was incomplete. They only passed along, of course, what they had been taught.

I found that the breakthroughs for me, as I went through school, junior high school and high school, came through sexuality, came through explorations of consciousness, in reading and in loving, through friends, through time alone in nature, through yogurt [audience laughs] and through psychedelic experiences.

I had been pretty well made a prisoner by school, by society. I had been given this description that I couldn’t accept, and it was projected from the televisions, the radios—the images of the world, the teachers.

Now, I must say, I’ve been very fortunate, and I can only thank all of those whom I have known because many of the teachers I had were exceptional. All of the teachers, it seems, were exceptional. But I didn’t realize that at the time. I didn’t realize that all teachers were not like the teachers that I had known.

In reading, in literature and poetry, I found an artistic freedom which I didn’t see at Woolworth’s.7 And so I was drawn to the arts, because I sensed that I was by nature Bohemian, and yet, very conservative. How strange to have two natures.

So I would read a great deal, all kinds of things, everything from Shakespeare to science fiction. I read voraciously for years and years, sometimes a book a day.

I learned a lot from my friends in school. I had lots of friends. Yet I was very indrawn.

I didn’t really want to be a part of the world because I found that the world was filled with unkindness. People didn’t love each other. They didn’t understand. In every home in America, in the world, there was cruelty and anger and hatred and things that I didn’t feel.

And so I found friends who were somewhat similar, a little bit, and didn’t think about it too much—because life just takes us where it will.

I found, growing up, that love and sexuality was a wonderful way to understand existence. Because when we love it takes us beyond ourself, otherwise we’re just absorbed with the preoccupations that we invent.

But when we love someone, we can do something magnificent. We look beyond our own immediate needs and we become more concerned about the welfare of another.

So I was attracted to poetry, which is perhaps the purest of the art forms, where love is the medium of exchange, and the nobility of love is considered. It’s a land of higher ideals.

I was very drawn to music, all types of music from Beethoven to Jimi Hendrix finding that a great deal of music offered nothing but the description of the world that I was given in school, but that there was creativity in music, that there were musicians and composers who obviously were expressing a vision that was beyond the mundane, beyond the ordinary.

I was very fortunate, and always have been, that the women I met and fell in love with were exceptional, from my first girlfriend at 15, to the woman I married when I was 21, to all the remarkable women I have known either as friends or lovers.

I think I’ve learned more from women than anyone else, and perhaps from love. What a wonderful testing ground.

What a wonderful place

Through high school, college, graduate school and beyond, I had a number of relationships that were wonderful. I didn’t realize that all people were not like the ones that I met; I’m very naive in a certain way.

I didn’t realize that it was a setup.

That eternity was leading me on, that the women that I met were exceptional—extraordinary; tremendous purity; tremendous gentleness, and self-giving and power.

For some reason, the women in my life have always been extremely powerful.

I’ve learned a great deal from that.

I’ve learned that

So love was where I learned to go beyond myself, essentially, and through the arts, through relationships, through sexuality.

To look outside of myself and to know without any question when I was being selfish

And to know without any question when I was being selfless,

Then, of course, as was the fashion, I explored alternate states of consciousness at one period of my life through psychedelics, as was the fashion with all my friends—we all did.

It was a time period, I suppose, in the 1960s, when a generation of souls, or part of a generation in a particular country, looked at the established society, looked at the pettiness, the greed, the hate, and rejected it and tried to create something new.

Their creation neither succeeded nor failed. It was another experience.

We sought a tribal society—to be close to each other, not to sit behind a television with our families and not see our families, not just to watch the evening news and the inane comedies designed to pacify the multitudes, but rather to explore ourselves, to come to some definition of what this world is, what life is, to at least live it while we are here.

So we experimented and we experienced many altered states of awareness. We used the power plants, and I did that for a year or two.

Then, of course, when I was 19, I was very drawn to meditation. Oh, even with the use of the psychedelics, it was all based around The Tibetan Book of the Dead — using them to experience enlightenment, or to try to.

But then, when I was 19, I started to meditate.

As soon as I started to meditate, I went into samadhi, although I didn’t know what to call it at the time, and never used another drug and never have.

It was no longer necessary to alter my consciousness through the use of these things. I was very grateful that I had, for the period of time that I did, because I learned a lot. I learned about the benefits and the vast limitations of such types of exploration, as did all my generation.

But then at 19, I meditated and had such powerful meditative experiences that the idea of using anything to alter my consciousness was absurd. So I pushed those things aside, and I entered into a world of meditation, which I’ve been in ever since.

I meditated on my own for some time, read spiritual books, became a vegetarian and had incredible experiences every day, every meditation, where I was just thrown into the infinite—never realizing that other people didn’t necessarily have those experiences in meditation that quickly.

I never considered myself to be special.

If anything, I considered myself to be awkward, and still do sometimes.

I entered a spiritual community when I was 20, which I was in for eleven years, with very strict meditative practices, with an Eastern teacher.

It was very much like a religious order.

At the same time I went through college, graduate school, received a Ph.D. and started to teach.

The training was rigorous—hundreds and thousands of hours of meditation, self-giving. But it was easy. I loved it. I would merge again and again with the superconscious in meditation.

I liked my teacher very much and after some years of meditation, after mastering basic techniques and levels of attention, I began to teach meditation, teaching only that which I knew and referring all things that I didn’t know to my own teacher.

As the years progressed and I learned more, I tried to share that with my friends, because in meditation I found light.

At the same time, I was very immersed in the world. I’m very worldly. I love the world.

I was immersed in my career, in school, in graduate school, in teaching.

I married for a time.

Again, as my meditative experiences grew, I had wonderful relationships. I just met the most wonderful women, who meditated and shared certain understandings that I had.

And our time together was invaluable, as was my time alone.

I was drawn to be very solitary, as a scholar. I lived a very quiet life—aloof—with my books, with my walks in nature, and meditating, of course, with my teacher, and living in the world of a spiritual community.

At the same time, I was very drawn to people I loved, to my family, to my father, to my sister, to my brothers.

So a large part of self-discovery was quite personal. It had to do with relationships, with people. Some of the most exalted states of consciousness I experienced were in bed with someone—or alone, or with my spiritual teacher. There was never a difference for me.

Now, I became aware, as time went on, that this was not necessarily an ordinary experience—because I lived in a community where celibacy was the rule, with the word “rule” underlined; where one, as a matter of fact, was expelled, from the community if you were not celibate.

My own teacher knew that I always had a girlfriend. I never kept any secrets from my teacher. I saw many people asked to leave the ashram for so much as looking intensely at a member of the opposite sex.

For some reason, my teacher never said anything to me about it, which I never understood. I wasn’t going to argue.

I loved my teacher and I wanted to be there. But I also knew that I loved other people too, and I just couldn’t give up one for the other because it didn’t make any sense.

Some of the most exalted moments I had were with the people that I loved. Some of the most exalted moments that I had were with my teacher and with my brothers and sisters in a spiritual community. Some of the most exalted moments I had were by myself, studying, or in nature or walking down the city street.

I found light in the darndest places—or it found me.

During those years, the past life recollections began. Psychic powers developed, my meditation increased and I found myself changing, over and over again, becoming someone new almost every day.

The form that I had known, the person who I had grown up with, went away.

And someone else would come, another self that was a little more refined, that had a little more purity, a little more humility—not too much, a little more—because I was quite egotistical, I thought I was quite wonderful.

I did very well in school, I had lots of honors, so I thought I was quite smart.

I, of course,

So I seemed to be leading a very incongruous life from the point of view of the definition of the community I was in. Yet I noticed that my brothers and sisters in the community, my friends, were not too happy.

They seemed to have a lot of trouble with sex. It was a very touchy subject for them. Some of them looked quite askance at me, as a matter of fact, because they knew that I had a girlfriend, which was, of course, against the rules.

They didn’t understand why my teacher tolerated it. But I had a respect for all the students of my teacher because I felt that if they were with my teacher, they were special.

I had a terrific love of my teacher. He was my whole life.

It was incongruous because

On the one hand, I was successful in the material world.

I was successful, I suppose, because my teacher sent me all over the world to talk about meditation—Germany, Switzerland, Europe, all over America, Canada.

I wrote books.

Most of the students in the ashram didn’t do this sort of thing. They lived very quiet lives, following strict spiritual disciplines.

Well, I also followed all of the strict spiritual disciplines, but I wanted to tell the world about meditation because I felt there was something wonderful to share. This was my honest, innate feeling. It was a wonderful adventure and a wonderful dream.

So I would drive thousands of miles, travel, all at my own expense, to do this, and hopefully, positively influence many people to learn about meditation.

Hundreds of people became students of my teacher through the talks that I gave, and their lives seemed to benefit and improve.

As time went on, I changed.

The only incongruity in my life was that I had a girlfriend. Everything else seemed to be going well!

I went through terrible times. I went through times of self-hate, thinking how undeveloped spiritually I was. Everyone else in the ashram—a thousand people—nobody had a girlfriend or boyfriend. I did. Honestly, I went through terrible, terrible times where I just took myself over the coals.

I thought I must be the most impure person in the world … but because that is reverse egotism, I thought I must be the second most impure person in the world. [Audience laughs!]

Yet I found the experiences that I had with sexuality were wonderful, they were very uplifting—we had a good time—and they didn’t seem to affect the level of my meditation.

But I perceived that other people couldn’t necessarily do this.

I realized that many of the brothers and sisters that I had, my friends in the ashram, needed to be celibate, because for them sexuality was a very tacky issue.

As I am sure you are aware, sexuality is the primary focus of our culture, and almost no one has come to resolve it.

Most people are terribly afraid of their own sexuality, and one has to respect another person’s sadhana, another person’s path.

So I came to respect that my friends needed celibacy, and having relationships wouldn’t work for them at all because it seemed to bring out in them attachments and emotions which did interrupt their meditation.

Very often I would see one of them who perhaps did become involved with someone and then they’d leave the spiritual community, and I could see a residual drop in their awareness—a remarkable drop in their awareness.

It seemed to bring out an undeveloped nature, selfishness, all kinds of things, which I didn’t experience. On the contrary, for me it seemed to be something that helped me go forward.

So I learned to respect that each one of us in self-discovery walks a different pathway, and naturally, when I was with my friends, I would never discuss my girlfriend or anything like that because I realized it just upset them, because a part of them, obviously, still wanted to have relationships, yet they had chosen not to because they felt that was the way for them.

I have tremendous respect for them and do to this day. They’re spiritual warriors, wonderful people.

Over the years of much self-hate, I came to realize that whether sexuality was in my life or not—which at times it would be and at times it wouldn’t be, it didn’t seem to matter a heck of a lot—and I just surrendered the whole thing to God, and I said,

As the years went on, I found that my relationships got better. They changed though, as I changed.

In the process of the years of meditation and self-giving, self-analysis, I found that I no longer loved as I had formerly done.

As I went on, the relationships got better and better.

And they meant less.

In my early life, in my adolescence, love, as I think for most of us, was a tremendous focus. I wanted to find the perfect partner—I did, I married her.

Then I realized after being married for some time that, while I could go on being married and that was a wonderful way to be and I’d actually found the most remarkable woman or she had found me or whatever,

It wasn’t enough to lead an individual life where I loved one person and we created a world together. I couldn’t be happy, I was too restless, too strange, too possessed by this love of light.

I just had to be alone

There were people in our spiritual community who were married and their marriages seemed to work. So it wasn’t that I felt that one couldn’t be married and have a very progressive spiritual life. On the contrary, I think one can, I just knew that it wasn’t for me.

I just knew that there was something I had to do.

So I found that as time went on, the relationships that I had become more and more impersonal, yet had more love in them. It’s an odd incongruity.

I loved more but I was less attached.

If the person I had just been with, if they went away and I never saw them again, it wouldn’t matter.

In other words,

In poetry, and in my study in graduate school, I was drawn to a particular poet, Theodore Roethke.

I did a dissertation on “The Evolution of Matter and Spirit in the Poetry of Theodore Roethke” for my Ph.D.

It was very interesting because in Roethke’s earlier poetry, he was very drawn back and forth. On the one hand, he wanted to have the spiritual quest; on the other hand, he was drawn towards love.

And he found in the two this terrible dichotomy, that certain forms of spirituality seemed to set up, where the flesh is bad and the spirit is good, and he struggled terribly in that.

I identified with that because I went back and forth.

But then ultimately, in his later life,

It’s as spiritual

And this is my view.

As the years progressed, my spiritual evolution seemed to increase in speed.

The realization of existence returned, or we could say, it became manifest.

At a certain point I left my spiritual teacher because I began to see the limitations of my teacher. While I loved my teacher, my love was a bit blind.

I didn’t really so much love my teacher as what my teacher represented, although my teacher had many wonderful sides. But it’s like with our parents. When we’re young, we look at our parents and we think that they’re gods, and we grow up and we see that they are.

But gods have limitations sometimes, and goddesses, and we see them.

As I grew up spiritually, as I entered into enlightenment, I saw the limitations of my own teacher who was a very powerful occultist, but who I thought was, to some extent, limiting others in their spiritual growth.

So I went off on my own and started the process of spiritual teaching.

Now, being a spiritual teacher, of course, in the modern world, I realized that sexuality was going to be a very hot issue for people.

I had come from 11 years in the monastery, essentially.

While I’d had a girlfriend who I spent a few hours with a week, maybe Friday night at the movies, almost all my time was in this very refined spiritual community where people had dedicated their lives to God.

There was nothing else—it was a spiritual order where we were renunciates, we gave everything up. While we may have held jobs, all that mattered was yoga and self-discovery.

Our only connection with the world was because our teacher said, work in the world, and so we did.

It all came back.

Yet, even as a spiritual teacher, I continued to have relationships, I continued to love people. The quality of the relationships, of course, changed as I changed.

And I think that you’ll find this will happen to you too.

What became important was to do your very best for someone in every way, to be a servant of another individual, that there should not be one impure thought, action or motive.

That everything is directed towards the welfare of others, that you meditate and you lead an impeccable life, while being yourself at the same time—a fine balance—and that whomever you’re with, whether it’s a student you’re teaching, whether it’s a woman you’re having a relationship with, whether it’s a book you’re writing, a lecture you’re giving, whatever it is that you do, it really doesn’t matter.

You have to give everything without any sense of self, and yet, at the same time, not trying to fit into some sort of silly image.

So I found that love and sexuality continued to be one of many doorways that seemed to continue to help me in evolution. It just seemed to be there.

I had no choice in the matter,

But I found that I no longer could have a relationship with anyone. Relationship meaning that there are two people who love each other and they create a separate world.

But yet, at times there would be someone who entered my life, whom I found I would be involved with.

So I decided the best path to follow would be to be very open about this with my friends, my students.

While it was not necessary—it was my personal life, and certainly it could remain personal—I had seen a number of spiritual teachers over the years who had obviously not been celibate, but who had told everyone they were.

When the news came out, of course, people were very dismayed and shocked.

Now, I have no doubt that the reason they didn’t tell everyone was either they felt it was none of their business because it was their life, and I can respect that position, or because they felt people wouldn’t understand.

People were so caught up in ideas of morality and immorality that they weren’t at the point yet to see that it really doesn’t matter, that enlightenment has nothing to do with sexuality one way or the other, nor does the process that leads to it.

A person will go through different stages, at times they may have relationships, at times they may not. It depends on the phase of their spiritual discovery that they’re in. The watchword is being yourself and seeing what works.

But I had seen that even though those may have been their [the spiritual teachers’] motives—I don’t doubt that their motives were pure—because, you see, as you enter into enlightenment, as you enter into the nagual, everything changes.

Nothing is the same. There are no reasons anymore, or they’re all different. The descriptions of the world have totally reordered. You’re no longer a person. So I suppose the things that apply to people don’t apply to you, which doesn’t mean that you’re special. It simply means that you’ve thrown those descriptions away.

Still, we live in a world with people who have those descriptions, who interpret you by them.

So a lot of the teachers had obviously decided that it was better to fit into people’s descriptions and don’t rock the boat. Don’t upset their [people’s] ideas and their ideals—if it helps them to think that being celibate leads to enlightenment and one should always be that way and that sex is dirty or harmful, then you should foster the illusion until they reach such a point of self-knowledge that they’ll understand that it really doesn’t matter, that sex is as holy as anything else.

It’s only attachment that’s the problem, and egotism, and things that limit us.

But I saw that these feelings ultimately led to their downfall when, sooner or later, either one of the young men or young women who they were involved with would suddenly declare to the world that they had slept with Swami So-and-So, and wasn’t it wonderful. Maybe they felt special for some reason, I don’t know. It’s no more special to sleep with one person than another. What’s the difference? It’s all a dream. But anyway.

So I decided the best thing to do was to avoid the Watergate mentality and to be in full disclosure, without the sense that anyone would understand.

[Most people, and most of you, are threatened completely by your own sexuality.]

You don’t know how to deal with it. You’re terribly afraid of it. It’s a terrible threat to see someone who’s at ease with it, who it really doesn’t matter to one way or the other.

So I knew that it wasn’t going to be that simple. It was a great idealistic theory on my part, to think that people—you could just say how it is and that would be enough.

But we’re dealing with human beings who have been given very strange descriptions of the world and sexuality, by people who weren’t too happy, and obviously hadn’t worked it out too well themselves.

So I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But at the same time, I couldn’t see, as I couldn’t even for the guru that I loved so much, living my life in a special way for my students.

I was never particularly interested in impressing others. Otherwise I would not have been part of the, in quotes, “Woodstock Nation.” I rejected society ages ago and came back to it because it seemed like an interesting thing to do.

The opinions of others really don’t matter.

What matters is truth.

And truth, as we learn, as we progress spiritually, is a very, very complex affair. No pun intended.

Now of course, there would be people along the way who are always looking to create problems for themselves and for others.

So I thought that disclosure was the best way to deal with it.

To say simply, “Well, I’m not celibate, or some days I am and some days I’m not, and you should be whatever works for you,”

under the theory that people would be able to be mature enough to feel that,

You see?

But again, I’m very idealistic. People aren’t like that, I’ve been realizing. I’m very naive about people. I didn’t realize I had a very cloistered life. The people I met, the friends I had, the women I’ve loved, the teachers I’ve had, have been selected for me. I just have never been exposed to worldly people, even though I lived in the world. It was a setup.

Suddenly I found myself [as] a spiritual teacher with lots of people who weren’t like that. In other words, while my path had been one thing, their path had clearly been another.

They were filled with suspicion, fear, anger and all kinds of things.

And I didn’t know what to do about it except to continue on the way I’d been on, which was to be me, whatever form that took. If it contradicted itself from one day to the next, then that was an interesting ride, because that lent the possibility

It was a great theory, but obviously, that’s all it was.

And it’s the way I live and the way I will continue to live.

I believe that sexuality is essentially unimportant in the spiritual process.

Yet people seem to make it awfully important.

I believe that love is totally important in the spiritual process,

I became a spiritual teacher because I cared about people. I know that my motives are unsullied. All I do is work for the welfare of others. At the same time I love the world, and I don’t find that incongruous.

But I realized that people have a description of the world, and in their minds they see things a certain way. They see that spiritual teachers should wear ochre robes and walk on air—and perhaps some do.9

So I knew that my lifestyle was going to create a few problems because I have a sports car10 and I have women that I love, who I spend time with.

I thought that that might rock the boat a little bit.

Then I said, Well no, the Sufis—the Sufis do that. [Audience laughs.] Maybe there is a tradition.

I mean, there’s a lot of tradition behind all of this, but then again, I’m in the West, I’m in the land of the puritan who has sex and hates themselves. [Audience laughs.]

But I knew it wouldn’t be this easy. Because then there would be those who would say all kinds of things because if you’re open and you tell the truth, it’s bound to be distorted. That’s a rule of thumb in life.

So then I began to hear rumors that, well, I was, I don’t know what I was doing. I haven’t listened to much of the rumors. But I guess, I don’t know, that I was making love to millions of women or something like that. I don’t know, that hasn’t been the case.

It might be a wonderful idea [audience roars], but to be quite honest, I haven’t the time because I’m very busy; it’s very demanding running a spiritual community. It might be a heck of a lot more fun than some of the things I do.

But the reason that I’ve always had a relationship, or whatever we call it, with someone is because I fell in love with them. I’ve been very fortunate—without one exception—all of the women I’ve ever met and been involved with have been wonderful, remarkable, absolutely remarkable.

And I feel they’ve all been my teachers, as are all of you my teacher.

I also knew my stand on the gay issue would be very misunderstood, and is. Most teachers say that to be gay is very bad spiritually, that there’s something wrong with a person, and

While I myself never had an inclination in that particular direction,

Maybe it will foster it. You see?

In other words, [we’re practicing] cosmopolitan spirituality in a world that is not necessarily interested in it, with people who are very hung up on sex, very afraid of their own sexuality.

So then I said to myself, “Well, what am I going to do? Gosh, there are all these rumors. Why are there rumors?”

Well, I suppose there are rumors because people like to gossip, because they’re still in that state of consciousness where

In other words,

Also, there’s the constant recognition in spiritual teaching that,

They reach a crossroads along the way where every once in a while they want to leave because they’re going to change, or maybe it is just time to leave. They’ve exhausted that community, as I exhausted the teacher I worked with at a certain point.

And they need reasons because they can’t just say, “It was wonderful, I’m glad I was there as long as I was,” which is what I feel about my teacher, “but then it was time to go on my own way, and I don’t regret one moment of being there,” which I don’t.

No, they had to have reasons. They had to find something to put down. It’s like when people leave a marriage. They can’t say, “It was wonderful, and now it’s time to go our own way.” Instead they have to say, “This person I loved, who I said I will be with for the rest of my natural life,” they have to say, “is horrible, is hateful.”

They have to trash the person so they can feel good when they leave them. It’s the ego, or they’re just not independent and strong enough.

So then I said, “Well, this must be what’s happening. People are indulging in these rumors because what they need to do is, they need to have an excuse to leave.”

Then I tried to provide people with excuses to leave.

I would talk endlessly about the benefits of leaving a spiritual center, why it’s good, why it’s a natural process, which I believe it is. This is a school. People come in for a certain period of time, some people for many, many years, some people for a few months.

Again, this is all a wonderful, idealistic notion.

But obviously, it will only suit people who can climb up to a higher level of understanding and who are beyond simplistic concepts of right or wrong.

So my theory then, for sexuality, remains the same—and for lifestyle, and for everything that we do.

Lakshmi is a place for an exceptional person. It’s sort of like a spiritual Montessori school. [Audience laughs.] Our methods are nontraditional. That is to say, we say it’s OK to be yourself.

If you feel uncomfortable with your own sexuality, then this will not work for you because I don’t feel it’s an issue. You want to make [sexuality] an issue; you either want to run away from sex and put it down or you want to run towards it.

And I feel that it really doesn’t matter, it’s whatever makes you happy. I respect your feelings in the matter, whatever they may be.

But I certainly don’t feel that you should mold your lifestyle upon what I say.

Nor do I feel that I’m going to mold my lifestyle upon what you want.

I know that this way, whether I have zero students, seven students, 700 or 7,000, those persons who are there are somewhat balanced, and they’re interested in sophisticated spirituality.

Sophisticated spirituality meaning,

While people may not understand you, who cares?

Do you think the Christians were real interested in what Caesar thought? Do you think in spiritual tradition, people have ever been really interested in the current morality or current establishment?

You have to do what you see is right.

That’s all I’m trying to teach you.

So then, on this infinite issue of sexuality, all I can suggest is that you experiment, and if you find that being celibate works, there’s plenty of room in our community for you. If you find that having relationships works, being married works, being gay works, it doesn’t matter a bit.

Life is an experiment. We don’t live that long, you know.

It’s a very brief moment, it’s a blink of the eye, a moment of seeing.

All I can tell you,

There is absolutely no way, if you try and fit into someone else’s description of the world, that it will work.

It is impossible—because you are trying to be something that you’re not. It is only when you accept yourself as you are that you will actually begin to change, which doesn’t mean that you will stay the same.

I don’t feel, then, that my lifestyle or your lifestyle is a matter of discussion.

I offer a lot of suggestions about alternate ways to live—many—and you pick and choose among them as suits your level of attention.

My job is to teach you

I use

But essentially, you and I are friends.

I don’t examine your life or question it. I believe that you are doing what is right, and you have to have the same faith and trust in me. And if you don’t, gosh, then you should use that as an excuse not to be here. It’s a marvelous excuse.

But I’m just going to, as Bob Dylan once said, “Keep on keepin’ on.”

I’m definitely not going to change. If I didn’t change for the teacher I loved more than anything in the world for 11 years, then I’m certainly not going to change for anyone else. Because it’s something that we don’t control.

We have to be ourselves, whatever that means.

And my point is, that you can be sexual, nonsexual, asexual, bisexual, trisexual, any kind of sexual or nonsexual that you want, and it really doesn’t have a lot to do with enlightenment!

And while you may have gone to churches where they told you that sex is dirty, bad, harmful, awful or whatever,

While people may come along and promulgate rumors about what I do or about what you do, I don’t think we should listen to them. I don’t think that one has sex with someone to teach them something. I think it’s because you fall in love with them. And whether that’s for a short time or a long time, that’s just whatever happens.

I hope we learn from each other, as we do in all aspects and processes in our life. But I think it’s time everybody grew up and stop being so petty about their own lives or other people’s lives, and instead turn their attention towards what matters—money! [Audience roars with laughter.]

Sex is the preoccupation of adolescents, money is the preoccupation of adults.

And [Sri] Lakshmi is the goddess of money. That’s where real power lies. [Rama laughs.]

While you’re all worried about sex, the world is out there making money. You should catch on.

And then there’s the superconscious.

Lakshmi is tribal. We are a tribe of beings.

Most of us have been together for many, many lives, and we know each other all too well. We’ve seen each other in good times and bad times, in sickness and in health; at death we parted and we came together again.

I will see some of you go and come back again, as I have in other lives. I’ve seen you married, I’ve seen you with children, I’ve seen you dying, I’ve seen you being born.

I’m used to it. I’m like a family physician who’s been around a long time. And you don’t surprise me. You don’t surprise me if you hate, if you love me, if you hate each other, if you love each other, it doesn’t matter.

I just ask that you try not to hurt others. Yet you have to be yourself, you know? Don’t be afraid to be yourself.

Some people say, “Well gosh, I just can’t do that, it’ll hurt somebody.”

So I think it’s time that everybody adopted a more professional attitude about their lives. In other words, don’t focus so much on your relationships. Have fun with them. Or if you don’t have them, you don’t want them, have fun with that.

But don’t bother what other people in this center do so much. If one of your friends is having a relationship, you see, the only reason you won’t like it if they do is because you want one and you’re jealous and you can’t deal with it.

You can’t deal with your own sexuality.

Men are terrified of their sexuality.

Women are terrified of their sexuality

It’s very incongruous.

Because women are told that they don’t have sexuality,

Women are much more sexual, as Masters and Johnson discovered, than men are. People are very put off by that, you see?

But it’s all just light, it’s all just energy. What’s the difference?

Always remember the story of the Zen master.

It’s very important, that’s why I tell it so often.

That should be your attitude towards what people think of you.

Don’t live for what the world thinks.

And only you can determine that. Each one of us determines that, and what we determine changes. We’ll contradict ourselves. When you contradict yourself in life, it’s a sign that you’re growing.

When you say, “I’ll never” and later you do, that’s a very healthy sign. That means that the self that said, “I’ll never,” went away and a new self came.

Live with yourself. You’re a living contradiction.

Be yourself. If you’re in relationships, they’re a wonderful doorway. If you’re not in them, then that’s the wonderful doorway.

As far as I’m concerned, I just do whatever I do, but I don’t use sexuality as a method of teaching, particularly.

Sexuality, I think, is a little bit different, for me, than it is for most people, in that there’s almost no body awareness, whatsoever. It’s just light, but that’s how everything is for me.

Bur that doesn’t mean it’s special, or mean I have special privileges, or I can do something you can’t do. That’s ridiculous. Everybody can do whatever they want to do.

We live in California. [Audience laughs.] And even more, we live in Malibu. And by Malibu standards, we’re pretty tame.

So, you can do as you will. If this sophisticated, immoral, moral, spiritual process is too much for you, I respect that, and if you can’t handle the fact that someday you might be enlightened and still fall in love with people and love them and be with them, if you can’t deal with that, if you hate yourself so much and hate your sexuality so much that you think it has no light in it, then I don’t blame you for rejecting the way I live.

If you think it makes a difference if I have ten thousand sports cars, ten million girlfriends and lead a very flashy life and eat at only the most fashionable restaurants, which I don’t, but if that would make a difference in what we do; in other words,

I don’t think you should work with any teacher because you don’t know what it is all about yet.

You should come to the fashionable restaurants with us and have a good time—because we have a good time—since God is in everything.

Now again,

So my choice is

Of course, the opposite condition is obsession.

Then there are those who think, “Wonderful! Now I have license to go do whatever I want.”

Well, fine, if you need that, if you were so hung up that you were just waiting for someone to say, “It’s OK, it’s spiritual to go out and have sex with your friends,” I’ll say it, “It’s OK.” [Audience laughs.]

Now you can go out and do whatever you want to. I really don’t think you needed my approval. You’re grown up now, you’re over 18, and you can do whatever you like.

Except that you’ve been conditioned, and you know and I know it’s not that simple.

Here we teach you the way beyond conditioning.

Cream rinse. [Audience laughs.] Gets out all the tangles. That’s enlightenment.

Everything clarifies, nothing makes sense; it’s not what you ever thought it would be. Who said it should be? Who said it should be to please you?

Yet you’ll find it’s very easy if you just leave yourself alone and be natural. Then it’s fun, then it’s not a struggle. You only set up these battles within yourself.

I’m going to go on, doing what I’m doing, having a happy life, because by nature, I’m a very happy person.

It’s just my way—the way of happiness. If the way of happiness appeals to you, fine. If you need a somber way, if you need a way of self-hate, of guilt, if you need to criticize others, if you need gossip, then I can’t help you much.

But if you’re interested in the way of happiness, that’s the way that I know and I teach and I walk all the time.

So on this solstice, on this day of light, I’d like to share some light with you, on a subject which affects every one of you more than you realize.

Sexual conditioning is one of the most difficult things to overcome.

And you have to begin to accept yourself.

All I’m trying to do is to show you that it doesn’t really matter, just to live as you see fit, and that will change.

And if I can’t do that, and if I have to bend my lifestyle to suit the taste of others, then I wouldn’t be fit to teach or to learn.

7. Woolworth’s was a five-and-dime variety store that was ubiquitous in American neighborhoods during the 1950s.

8. In spiritual self-discovery, jnana yoga is the path of discrimination. See The Wheel of Dharma, Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz, p78-81, and The Lakshmi Series, “The Yoga of Discrimination.”

9. See The Last Incarnation, Rama - Dr. Frederick Lenz, chapter “The Last Incarnation” for eye-witness accounts of Rama doing just that.

10. See American Buddhist Rebel, Liz Lewinson, pp135-6, Self Discovery newspaper, picture of woman meditating in lotus position on the hood of a Porsche.