After leaving the Mormon church, drenched in shame and body-negative messages, and not knowing where to turn, I decided I wanted to learn about sex and alternative relationships.
There were two places to do that: ZEGG, which was holding an intro weekend a couple hours from where I lived. I don’t remember how I heard of them.
The other was an ad I saw in the online classifieds in Dresden. “John Hawken, famous tantra teacher from the UK coming this one weekend only to Dresden.”
I was intrigued. I called the number on the ad and a gruff man answered. This was the convo.
“Hi! I saw your ad for a tantra workshop. What is that?
“What do you think it is?”
“Well, I think it’s about sex.”
“Um, so can I register?”
“You can just show up, I guess.”
What I didn’t realize was that Stefan had placed the ad with the hope of bringing more hot women into the local tantra scene. I, as a man, was competition, so he did his best to gruffly dissuade me from coming.
In retrospect, he might have been wise to do that. In two months I was running the local group’s practice sessions and by the end of the summer I had spent *ahem* -time- with most the female population of the local group.
When I arrived for the weekend, John began by paraphrasing Osho (but I didn’t know that).
“When you study an idea or a philosophy, you like it or you don’t. You accept it or you don’t. And, maybe later you find a different philosophy. Here, we don’t learn by memorization or rote or debate. Here we learn by experience.”
I was so tired of sitting in classrooms during childhood listening to teachers and religious leaders drone on–and I had been so betrayed by their ideas which hadn’t actually worked in my life, I immediately latched on to this new mode of learning.
I decided not to read anything else about this topic for the time being and learn experientially.
And why not? How do children learn about life? About their preferences? About what is dangerous?
Not conceptually, primarily. Experientially. They learn how to ask for a cookie and what that is because they want one, not because someone needs to drone on about how important cookies are for our economic growth.
John would give us an experience. We were randomly paired, men and women, and we danced elbow to elbow. Or we breathed and gazed into each other’s eyes. Or we wore blindfolds and embraced a stranger.
Each experience was about the experience. Not primarily our thoughts about what the experience would be like. Nor about our judgments or evaluations of it. What sensations did we experience internally and externally? What feelings were present? What were we thinking?
We became magnificently aware of the processes within us during each of these experiences. We noticed how the experience was dramatically different with a different person. Or the same person on a different day.
I had never felt so alive.
I remember during the break going to the local store and staring the cashier right in the eyes. I felt like I could conquer the world.
We did hear a little theory. But not to regurgitate or believe or reject. Simply to provide some context for our experience, if it were helpful.
“Religions argue about what you are. Are you just a body? Or a spirit in a body? According to tantra, there are two components. You are a point of point of consciousness, and a flow of energy. Energy is the feminine principle and consciousness is the masculine. The dance between these two creates the world and your life and your relationships.”
I will never forget those words. They clicked into place verifying to me an entire map of myself and my romances which I had always looked for but never found. My life from that point would be devoted to researching the experience of all the ways that dance could manifest in my life and how I could experience it with others.