A Bit of Vineeto

Please note that Vineeto’s writings below are written by the feeling-being ‘Vineeto’ while ‘she’ lived in a pragmatic (methodological), still-in-control/same-way-of-being Virtual Freedom.

I have always searched for freedom in my life. Whenever I have felt stranded or trapped I eventually moved in the direction that appeared to offer greater freedom.

When I left home at nineteen and went to live in a big city I thought that was freedom. It seemed to me that at last I could do what I wanted with no one constantly looking over my shoulder. I could finally explore what life was really about! The first limitation I found was in experimenting with sex. Apart from the fear of becoming pregnant there were other restrictions and morals to think about. Should I be in love with the man before I went to bed with him? Was he of suitable class, race or religion? Did I need to consider a life-long relationship every time I felt attracted to someone? The outcome of these considerations was that I decided on a committed long-term relationship living with a man. The pressure from both the families eventually became too strong and, although I was hesitant at the time, we decided to get married.

We lived together with five other students and at the same time I was also having a relationship with another man in the group. I shared different interests and experiences with him than with my husband. I consoled myself that marriage was only a facade and in reality I could still do what I wanted. However, I found myself trapped by society’s morals and the expectations of family and friends to be faithful to one man for life; every other sexual relationship was considered a sin. So I felt I had to get out.

Divorce was a significant step away from past restrictions into the freedom of living as an individual, finding out for myself how I wanted to live. It was also a big emotional upheaval at the time because I was considered the bad girl – after all, I was the one who had broken up the marriage.

While at university I checked out all the political solutions to society’s problems that troubled me at the time. There were the liberals, the greens, the socialists, the communists and the ultra-left, all with their various concepts and ideals. As I worked through their pompous words, statements and interpretations I found that none of it made much sense. None of their solutions seemed to me to be really applicable, as they were often too theoretical and not practical at all.

Women's Lib

Then a new idea caught my attention: ‘Male solutions fail because they are male. Give women the power and they will solve the world’s problems!’ Women’s liberation took not only a political viewpoint about changing the world, but introduced the idea of investigating and improving the relationship between men and women. I went head over heels into this new adventure to find freedom, this time freedom from being dependent on men for their emotional support, practical help or social and financial security. I started to more and more explore what it is to be a woman standing on my own two feet. I learnt practical skills like building and fixing things. I started to have my own opinion and to take care of my own life in every possible aspect. It was an exciting and adventurous time, but I encountered the same basic trouble in the woman’s liberation movement that I had already found disturbing in the different political student groups. Women would not only unite to fight against men but also fight between themselves to get to the top of this new class – ‘women’. Women claimed to be better than men but would still fight exactly the same petty power battles between each other as men did.

And if lesbianism was supposed to be the solution, I saw that it still had jealousy, competition, dependency and all the other problems of heterosexual relationships. However, by becoming less afraid of tackling life’s issues on my own, the fear of men also diminished, although it didn’t disappear entirely. And despite female liberation I hadn’t resolved the issue of authority. Beneath it all I was still relying on male authority for comparison, orientation and approval, while rebelling against it at the same time.

Another part of the female agenda was the desire to change the world by nurturing means: education and social work. After I had dismissed revolutionary changes as not applicable, I thought people could be taught to be more happy by ‘right’ education and by changing people’s social conditions. But after working with drug-addicts for two years I had to admit failure. I had nothing to teach them; I was as ignorant as they were, and I had no solutions for society’s misfits, let alone myself.

Along with my social-work studies came an interest in therapy, both for myself and for my work. I tried most of the Human Growth groups available. I expressed and re-evaluated all the different emotions and examined every possible issue but it did not really get to the bottom of the matter. I continued in later years with ‘spiritual’ therapies, where psychological understanding was combined with devotion, awareness and meditation. In terms of freedom I looked for redemption from misery, fear, anger, jealousy, dependency, tension and self-doubt. Every approach had a slightly different answer, though none offered lasting solutions.

When I became a disciple of Rajneesh another aspect was added to the search for freedom. Now the idea was to get rid of something called the ‘ego’, the ‘mind’ or the ‘self’, as the solution to whatever was wrong with my life. It seemed to make great sense in the beginning. Here I was with all my conditioning, ideas and experiences, and in order to become free of misery I would have to transcend every manifestation of the ego and then I could live constantly in the land of bliss. And meditation was the ticket and the tool. This was definitely the best on offer up to now! Not just ‘rearranging the furniture on the Titanic’, which was what therapy merely ended up doing, but the promise to get rid of the whole problem, my ‘self’, altogether!

I only had to find out what this ‘self’ consisted of and then turn away and transcend it! But exactly this was the problem. First of all, I could never determine exactly what this ‘self’ consisted of. Secondly I could only turn away temporarily.


It was never for good. Problems, feelings and emotions didn’t dissolve; I only occasionally got more ‘distance’ from them. The nice effects of meditation like silence, ease and peace of mind never lasted.

Apart from having a good time with other Sannyasins living together in communes I was eager to pursue my dream of a life without misery – which enlightenment was supposed to bring. Over the years I realised that to achieve this dream I had given up career, a possible marriage and children, a place to settle as well as financial security – in short, everything my parents and society had expected me to accomplish. Also, like most others, I had little contact with non-sannyasins. Not that it was a problem at the time, but it left me dependant on living with other like-minded people to feel secure, strengthen the belief and keep away the doubt.

And then there was my devoted and unquestioning relationship to the Master. For me He was the ultimate authority; with sufficient devotion to Him we, his disciples, would achieve enlightenment. For that reason, His wisdom and comments were the only ones I would rely on when looking at issues in my life. What is this ego, what is meditation, how to relate with a boyfriend, how to work, what is it to be a woman or a good seeker? Since I was trying to get rid of my mind, come what may, it meant that I applied the offered advice on those issues without question. In doing so, I not only surrendered my will, but also my ability to think for myself! In the end I found that what initially looked like offering freedom from misery had turned into yet another bondage. Photo by C. William Byron Miller, http://www.empnet.com/imageworks/Raj.1

This I only experienced fully three years after Rajneesh died when I left the commune to live in Australia, outside the familiarity and security of the ashram – ‘in the real world’. Although I was desperately looking for friends in this new country I nevertheless restricted my close relationships to similarly devoted Rajneeshees. I was, in fact, quite suspicious and afraid of people who were ‘non-believers’. The path to the promised ultimate freedom, to enlightenment, seemed to be becoming narrower and narrower, away from being at ease in the world, from happiness and the physical delights of life. Something didn’t match with how I had imagined my life to be – a life of freedom I had sought on leaving home, all those years ago.

Throughout all these stages in my life, although I was looking for freedom, I always found limitations in the offered solutions. However I could not, nor did I want to, settle for any compromise, for something that did not show success – for anything less than an actual and permanent freedom.

So when finally I came across Richard and found a simple, straightforward method to actually get rid of emotions, instincts, the ‘self’ as well as the illusion of the very big ‘Self’, I was really interested! Here was someone who stated that there was more freedom possible than even enlightenment offered! Having come this far, having explored so many other approaches in my life and moved on when I saw that they failed, I did not want to turn away from this opportunity.

More freedom than enlightenment? Yes! More freedom than believing somebody else’s experience and trusting His method of meditation, despite seventeen years of no reliable results? Yes! A practical simple method, and the tangible lasting success that I was increasingly experiencing living with Peter in a way that far exceeded any relationship in the past? Yes!

After all I am a rather practical woman and I like things that work! I like a car that drives, a computer that functions quickly and smoothly and a job that is fun. And I appreciate immensely a method that cleans me up, makes me happy and harmless, and rids me of the burden of my imaginary, yet very effective two selves – ‘self’ and ‘Self’, ego and soul. It took me a few months though, to gather enough courage to change gear and direction, but since then the journey has been a wonderful and delicious adventure, sprinkled only occasionally with a few quivers of fear.

Recently I discovered that I was still safely hiding behind Peter despite my determination to become free. I regarded him as more of an ‘authority’ on freedom because he had met Richard first and was writing his journal. It suddenly dawned on me that I had decided to wait for Peter to become completely free before I would dare to consider it for myself.

I have observed so many times in the past how women are caught in the typical female role of staying in the shadow of the man, playing a supportive and meek role. Most women around Rajneesh considered devotion as the highest fulfilment of their lives. It seems the pinnacle of a woman’s spiritual career is to become the personal caretaker of an enlightened Guru! And I had just repeated this female pattern of putting myself second! Enough!

I went to Peter and told him, ‘I am not taking a back seat now, watch out, I might be the first one to be free!’ Funny, hey! Of course, it is not a race in the usual sense – eventually we both will be actually free – but I have come out from behind the oven, so to speak! I am leaving the comfortable and safe hiding place that is usually the woman’s world. I have placed myself in equity with the man. No more comparison, either way!

Peter chuckled and said, ‘Good, maybe you want to write a bit, and then we’ll put it at the end of the book.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘I had thought about that too!’ So the printing press has been put on hold until I finish my bit. And being as lazy as I am, I am glad that Peter has covered most of the ground, so I am only writing about some of my discoveries on the way to freedom.

When Peter rang and invited me for dinner for our first date, I thought his proposition was downright stunning. The lot about an actual freedom I brushed aside as too new and scary – I couldn’t take it in at the time. But I was fascinated by his offer to live in peace and harmony with a woman in an actual permanent intimacy. And he was also prepared to commit himself to it 100% – boots and all! Usually the men I have met had to be seduced and manipulated into the little bit of commitment that I wanted, and here was someone who offered all of it, all by himself. I couldn’t believe my luck! As he looked a sensible and sensuous man who could be fun to be with I decided to ‘sign’ the contract and give it a go!

This contract had only one condition. It consisted of each of us being prepared to look at every issue that would be in the way between us, so that we would be able to establish a direct intimacy with its resultant peace and harmony between us. It had been almost a life-long yearning, especially intense for the last two years before I met Peter, to find the ‘right’ man for the ‘perfect’ relationship. I had been studying other relationships, what made them click or fail, and I had already come to the conclusion that it would only work if both partners were willing to look at themselves. Also, after long years of experience living in a partnership with its inevitable power battles, manipulations, frustrations and heartache, I decided that, no matter what, I did not want these battles anymore. Either I could like the man and live with him as he was – or not. But I would not continue my past pattern of blaming the other and trying to change him. This was my dowry for the new adventure.

So we both agreed to look deeply into ourselves, come what may, to remove all that formed a gulf between us – all that prevented intimacy. Together with Peter I have explored what it is to be a human being and what exactly makes me tick as a woman – this program of beliefs and instincts with its resulting feelings and emotions. Along the path to freedom I have evaluated and discarded all of the so-called female attributes and values, which women so proudly claim as their main territory – emotions, feelings, love and intuition. I had been fighting a continuous battle within me and against others as to which is right and which is wrong – the male version of demanding, desiring, rationalising and displaying emotions or the female version. I have found that both versions are silly, useless and redundant.

The Powerbattle

Women are usually better equipped and more experienced in the ‘psychic world’ of emotions, feelings and intuition, having been trained and conditioned differently than men. Of course, we women use exactly this know-how as our sharpest and most effective weapon to manipulate and control, whinge and whine, scream or sulk, leaving the man baffled and confused as to what exactly he has done wrong.

Also I was usually not able to, or willing to, explain clearly what I was being emotional about. Telling the whole story of my ‘upset’ would take away the mystery that secured my power, and often the man would put down my emotional reaction as inappropriate and irrational, thus adding fuel to the fire. So I wouldn’t talk about the actual issue and consequently didn’t bother to find out for myself what exactly were my emotions and what were the reasons that triggered them. I can now understand and acknowledge how I had used my psychic and emotional power in all my relationships to win the ‘battle’, if only temporarily, and to take revenge for hurts, disappointments and frustrations.

It was a great step towards an actual freedom and a permanent happiness when I learned for the first time that I could not only explore my emotions to their very core, but actually get rid of them and live without them. But it definitely meant giving up the means of power over men. Since I had already agreed to discard battling as the solution, it was obvious that I had to give up the fight first. If I want peace I can’t wait for the other to start to lay down his arms. This does not work. I have to give up battling because the battle itself is the problem. The solution is not to try and change somebody else, but to look into the very cause of my own unhappiness. Once this condition was understood and agreed upon, we could both cease battling, sit down and talk about any situation that caused disagreement.

Now I would not only ask myself, ‘how do I feel?’ but also question the very necessity of having this feeling. Understanding that emotion itself was a major component of my (female) identity, and of my ‘self’, allowed me to explore what lies behind any upcoming emotion – what thought, what belief, what investment, what instinct. By examining the validity of the underlying cause I was then able to eliminate the subsequent emotions, one by one, including the greatest and holiest of them all: Love itself.

The very first belief I had to get out of the way, before I could even start questioning love, was the Christian virtue of unselfishness. The idea of having to be ‘unselfish’ in order to be considered ‘good’ was causing a lot of confusion in my life. Who was to receive the benefit of my unselfishness? What was the limit? What actually was considered selfish or self-centred? And why was being unselfish so highly valued?

Examining my experiences with, and behaviour towards, other people I found that I have always pursued my own goals in life, as I could see everyone else was doing. Whatever my good intentions and considerations for others, there was always an aspect of personal interest involved. Ultimately I had followed the moral of being unselfish and helping other people in order to be accepted and loved, to reach heaven or become enlightened. The other part of the deal was that I in turn expected to be helped should I be in need of support. Recognising the fact that every interaction has ultimately self-interest at its core made it easier for me to throw out this hypocritical idea of having to be unselfish.

Now I just find the most sensible way of being happy and harmless which, of course, includes considering everyone who is part of the particular situation. For me, this also involves cleaning myself up so I can be free of misery and malice – not contributing to the chaos people usually create for each other. Everybody seems to live everybody else’s life, perpetuating the cycle of misery by consolation, sympathy, empathy and compassion – thus helping people to stay helpless. I can supply practical help if someone asks me to, but I am not responsible for anybody else’s happiness and neither is anybody else responsible for my happiness. It makes life much less complicated if I stop trying to find the solution for ‘S.E.P.’, ‘Someone Else’s Problem’ and focus my intent and effort on becoming happy and harmless.

Mother Theresa

I remember my last disagreement with Peter nine months ago. I had just come back from overseas and, although I still had rented a house to live in, I decided to live with him. I had shifted my belongings into his flat, but one evening I got the wind up! Scared of the new adventure ahead of me I felt the ‘poor victim’ of being trapped in a place where I suddenly didn’t want to be. What I wanted was the solace of Peter’s love, which should bridge the expected difficult times, and his reassurance that everything would be all right. I used all my old manipulation skills to convince Peter to see the situation my way and offer me comfort and sympathy.

But he simply responded, ‘Look, I know you are an independent woman and perfectly capable of looking after yourself. If you don’t want to be here this evening, you could go. The car is downstairs, you still pay rent for the other place – you are free to go there any time!’ This simple stating of the facts switched on my intelligence again. Well, this was obviously the case. It meant I had a choice in the situation; I was responsible for myself, instead of being a victim of the circumstances. I could change the situation without his help. Out of this clarity I realised that I chose to be with him because I wanted to be! It brought me straight back into the actual situation, and all need for comfort, compromise, manipulating and changing the other simply disappeared into thin air.

And what a relief it was, that I had no power over Peter, no way to make him do what I wanted! I could not bend him in any direction because he wasn’t afraid to be on his own. Thus, my tools in the power battle had failed and could finally be thrown out of the window. Also, I discovered that I wasn’t afraid to be on my own either. So in our relationship we do not need to win the battle of ‘dependency’, we can focus on each of us being here – where we can meet freely and enjoy each other’s company whenever we want to.

My traditional response to the feeling of being trapped had been that the man should give me his love and reassurance. But the way to the intimacy that I had already experienced and wanted to have with Peter all the time, was that I had to question, examine and eliminate the notorious bunch of feelings called love. Peter’s description of our adventure into freedom and intimacy is certainly not just a male point of view. Did he love me enough or not, or did I love him enough or not, was not the question – I discovered that love was not the solution but the problem itself!

The answer again lay 180 degrees in the opposite direction to what I had come to know up to now. I had expected or assumed someone was to love my ‘grotty self’, when even I could not stand those parts of me! A person who ‘loves me’ is supposed to accept all those ‘quirks of my personality’, which no intelligent human being would be able to put up with without blind nature’s intoxication known as ‘being in love’. And for years I had tried the same with the men I had ‘loved’, without success or happiness, let alone lasting intimacy. Intimacy can only happen when there is no emotion, no feeling or projection in the way between us. So, one of the first things that we discovered to be in the way of actual intimacy were the feelings of love – that sweet syrup that was usually poured over the spiky, malicious, miserable ‘self’, which I was most of the time!

The Cinderella Dream

One thing that I particularly didn’t like about falling in love was the pining. Whenever I was not with Peter I felt I was tied to him on a long elastic cord and not able to fully enjoy whatever I was doing by myself. Digging into what could be the reason for my pining, I discovered what I call the ‘Cinderella-syndrome’ – the romantic dream that most women have about the perfect and noble man. We are not only looking for someone who takes care of us when our own strength fails us, but also for someone who gives perspective, meaning, definition and identity to our lives, be it as father of our kids, provider of social status, security or a purpose for life. According to this dream Peter should be the answer to the question which I wasn’t willing to face myself: ‘What do I really want to do with my life?’

I remember a Monday evening after a weekend together, and I had been pining the whole day. I had not enjoyed work as I found myself struggling to get out of this exhausting dependency. Here I was, 44 years old and as silly as a teenager! After work I took a long walk across rolling hills into a spectacular sunset, trying to work out what I wanted to do with my life.

In the end, I had to admit that, whatever it was, it had not the slightest thing to do with anything that Peter could do for me. I wanted to be perfect and I had to do it myself. I still had to clean myself up. Just having found a probable good mate had nothing to do with the fact that I wasn’t the best I could be; that I wasn’t free. I decided there and then to face the challenge, to abandon the love-dream and go for the actual experience – meeting another human being as intimately as possible instead of looking up to him and waiting for him to be the ‘hero of my dreams’.

That very evening the situation changed. My pining stopped. The fog in the head cleared. My expectations disappeared. I could again stand on my own feet and equally enjoy the time when I was by myself. I had recovered my autonomy – my autonomy in the sense that I am the only one in my life who is responsible for my happiness.

Detecting and debunking the romantic dream placed the first big dent into the wobbling monster of love. Now it was much easier to look at what it was in my ‘self’ that cried out for this love. It has been quite scary at times, to rid myself of the very identity I had as a woman. What would be left of me when I didn’t feel love? How could I relate both to Peter and other people, if not with emotion or intuition? What would I have to offer in friendships or conversations, if not sympathy and consolation? My whole edifice of ‘who’ I was, who I believed myself to be, began to crumble in a heap as I questioned and demolished the attributes of love and emotion. Now naked of all those characteristics and beliefs as well as their resultant emotions and behaviour, which have kept man and woman apart for millennia, I am experiencing for the first time in my life actual intimacy with a man. Now there are no dreams, no expectations, no emotions or any other restrictions that could cloud the thrill of meeting another human being. Now instead of random moments of ‘sweet love’ I am able to give Peter my full attention and clean attentiveness each time we communicate, and so does he.

Even after dismissing love as a concept or an option of relating, I still had to be watchful of my ‘love-attacks’, as I called them. They would come through the backdoor, seduce me with a rose-colored mood and appear so nice and cosy – such a temptation to surrender back into loving Peter instead of meeting him directly. However, I had understood and experienced often enough that any feeling for the other, howsoever sweet and soothing, would only make him a projected imaginary figure on my own screen of emotions, which can so easily change at the slightest whim. It had nothing to do with the actual person or situation.

Being vigilant and persistently nibbling away at my habit of falling back into love proved to be a long process. After all, love and empathy are praised as woman’s greatest virtues! Later, love changed into the subtler version of feeling ‘connected’ to Peter, of having, through him, some kind of identity in my life. I caught myself wanting to use him as an outline for my own existence, as an anchor to define me as ‘person-in-relation’, a ‘self’. Examining it closer I discovered that this need for an anchor derives from the female instinct for protection. Only when I feel ‘connected’ to a person can I keep up the illusion that I can rely on this person for ‘bad times’. However, whenever I managed not to fall into the trap of love – what a delight then to discover the actual person, thrilling, alive, meeting for the first time and not knowing what either of us is going to say or do next!

Love is now replaced by this delicious state of crisp and exquisite awareness, where I am utterly by myself, there is no relationship between us whatsoever, and the next moment is unpredictable and without continuity to any past or future. Remembering again and again the joy of those wonder-filled moments always gave me the necessary intent and courage to keep removing any feelings that the ‘self’ kept producing.

I remember in the past whenever I had talked with girlfriends about the qualities of the future ‘perfect’ man, the worst and most terrible vision was to live with a man who was without feelings and emotions! The only option I could think of then was that he would repress his emotions and eventually explode, or that he would be a robot, a walking computer! At that time it was simply unimaginable that I would be able to relate to, let alone delight in living with such a man. And because my only identity and power had been to feel and express emotions, it was also inconceivable for me to be without them myself.

Now living together is so simple, each of us minding our own business, down to details like money, car, sewing on a button or taking care of one’s health. And each of us is free to do it the way each prefers. Of course I enjoy making Peter a cup of coffee or he delights in cooking a meal for us. But neither of us interferes in how the other wants to spend his or her time. Because the ‘grotty’ parts are cleaned out we are able to delight in each other’s company as well as enjoy our own company.

There is no separation caused by us being in different camps, where the man never understands the woman and vice versa. When Peter talks about an issue, an experience or how he perceives a situation I know exactly what he is talking about, and so does he when I tell my story.

We are not in different movies or from different planets; we live in the actual, factual world, able to understand each other’s train of thought and make ‘common sense’ of our experiences. There is no female, emotional world for me to wallow in and no male, rational world for Peter to retreat to. By not being in different camps there is now no need for love, whose only function in the past was to provide a ‘bridge over troubled water’ – the abyss of gender. The actual permanent intimacy we enjoy now is vastly superior to any temporary good feelings of love, which we both had experienced before.

People might say that I have simply surrendered to the male camp, that I am the man’s clone or carbon copy, repressing my emotions to please the man and have superficial peace. In my experience repression has always failed because it is utterly unreliable. It delivers neither freedom, happiness nor peace, it only causes withdrawal, moodiness, suffering, manipulation, anger, resentment and frustration.

Applying Richard’s method has forced me to examine and eliminate the very issues and beliefs that are triggering those emotions. It revealed to me that emotions are the crucial part of the ‘self’ – the very cause of my being unhappy and malicious. It has enabled me to question the beliefs that both defined and confined me as a woman. Chiselling away my psychological and psychic entity has made emotions and feelings redundant and has left me increasingly free to enjoy every person I meet, every situation that happens and everything that this abundant universe offers. In my ‘role-play’ I am neither a ‘woman’ nor a ‘man’, but simply a human being ... a female, of course!

Some time ago, in a spiritual magazine I read an interview with a woman who, after years of failed relationships, has made celibacy and shaving her head a part of her spiritual practice. In this interview she talked about the ‘freedom’ she now has because she doesn’t have to bother with all the ‘problems’ of being a female: her attractiveness, her female sexual role-play and desire, and the problems of falling in love with their seemingly inevitable bonds and dependencies. I was shocked in disbelief! She actually thinks that by using her willpower and repressing her sexual desire she would gain freedom from her conditioning as a woman. She just cannot see where the problem is! It’s like taking a vow of silence because you stutter! Where is the freedom in this? The solution to the problems inherent in being a sexual ‘animal’ for me was not denial, because sex is simply a delicious function of my body. Nothing is wrong with it. What is wrong is the mental programming of the sexual instinct, which drives me to go out, find a man and get pregnant – and the consequent need to secure the protection of the potential father.

Curiously, my decision not to have any children and to be sterilised did not change this underlying instinctual urge at all! In order to control, channel and obscure this instinct in a socially acceptable way, society instilled in me the appropriate morals, beliefs and behaviour of male-female role-play. This merely resulted in seduction, manipulation, denial, guilt and fear of sex, and the ongoing search for the right, appropriate sexual conduct – most of it passed down centuries ago. Looking back on what my idea of a sexual identity consisted of, I found that I had been either too sexual and threatening for men, risking being considered a wild and immoral woman, or on the other hand, I was not ‘open’ and pleasing enough, causing the man to fall short in his idea of the good lover he imagined himself to be. When Peter and I started to throw out love it had a great impact on my sexual ‘identity’.

It was an intense and scary time because right behind the nice, embellishing veil of love lingered all the monsters and demons of being an animal, a whore, a slut, not human and having sex with a ‘stranger’. Enjoying sex without ‘being in love’ is still considered one of the greatest sins of Christian morality. And Eastern spirituality regards any kind of sex as the biggest obstacle to enlightenment.

Not only had I to face my own personal conditioning about sex but I was also confronted with the fact of stepping out of the collective accepted behaviour and limits that every woman had been taught. Demons of atavistic fears would present me with their ferocious stories, as though I was still living in the Middle Ages, where women were burnt at the stake for leaving the fold or were expelled for not conforming. It took some effort to understand that both fears and beliefs around sex were simply inherited from other people, they don’t have any actual relevance for me. Digging deeper, stepping outside of the realm of sexual conditioning and beliefs I then discovered their underlying force – the sexual instincts. This inheritance from our animal past is simply installed to blindly ensure the continuity of the species. It has nothing to do with my happiness and inhibits any sensible behaviour. Those blind instincts cause, among other troubles, possessiveness, jealousy, rape, murder and overpopulation.

Identified and seen as what they were, these instincts eventually lost their significance and their grip over me. Now I can enjoy the sensibility and pleasure of sex without being driven, free of the need and dependency that used to be the inevitable consequence. I now don’t need to reinforce my female sexual identity or practise my manipulative power over men – hence the need for flirting has disappeared. Relating to men without the restriction of sexual flirtation is indeed a freedom to meet them in a new and fresh way.

Stripping away the ideas of ‘who’ I am supposed to be, leaving behind the identity of both the virtuous girl and the sinful whore leaves the pure physical sensation of sex. This pleasure I can now easily and delightfully share with a man who also has no idea of ‘who’ he is supposed to be. I remember one evening early in our relationship when Peter suddenly stopped in the course of foreplay and said, ‘I don’t want to feel like I have to pleasure you or be giving! Something is wrong here!’ We discussed and explored his objection and looked behind the habit of sexual role-play.

The man usually thinks he has to give a good performance, please and pleasure the woman, and the woman thinks she has to make the man happy, either by surrendering to his wishes or – in the modern version – to have to ‘act’ super-sexual and have multiple orgasms.

We investigated the whole scenario of these strange defining roles and inhibitions, with their expectations, bank-balances and hidden resentments, and considered them silly and unnecessary. Since then giving and taking, right and wrong, pleasing and selfish is of no concern, each simply enjoys the physical pleasure of sex. Now sex is a dance with a wonderful mutual rhythm that evolves each moment, ever changing, thrilling, sensational, delicious and exquisite. Riding the waves of pleasure – each time off the scale. The freedom to leave behind the identity of being good or bad, loving or receiving and to follow and enjoy the rhythm of the bodies without any restriction of the ‘self’ whatsoever is an unsurpassed delight. No consideration, fear or worry pales the intensity of this very tangible exquisite sensual delight.

The next major issue that quickly surfaced in our relationship was both my dependence on male authority and the subsequent fight against it – a constant struggle in itself! In my life I had focussed on several, mostly male authority figures – naturally starting with my father. I had loved them or followed them or fought them – often at the same time. This was the main reason not only for the frustrations and ensuing failure of all my relationships in the past, but also for my difficulties in working relations or friendships. Being either subservient to or fighting against authority would constantly spoil my being at ease with people.

Interestingly, I could only get rid of authority by tracing its cause to the very root: What do I want or need authority for in my life? Why do I create authority? What do I get out of it? What was the ultimate authority behind each representative of power? Which version of good and bad, right and wrong was I to follow? Could I consider living without an external or internal authority in my life? And what would be the consequences?

I explored and discovered in myself the underlying belief that there was Someone or Something, who had created the guidelines of good and bad, right and wrong. And what I found was that those different authority figures represented nothing other than the particular values of moral – or later spiritual – improvement that I took to be right and necessary. These were the values and inhibitions to be followed on the ‘right’ path to a meaningful life. Simply rebelling against these authority figures did not invalidate the power of their opinions over me – I had tried that since childhood. Again and again I found myself dependent on their approval, their love and their support, but I had never questioned the very values themselves. I had only followed or fought those who represented these values. Usually, when I succeeded freeing myself of one authority figure, I soon found that I had only replaced them with a supposedly better one – but it never solved the problem. Slowly I started to understand that in order to be free from authority I had to eliminate the need for, and support of, those very beliefs and values underlying the authority.

Gas pillars

Finally one evening, when talking and musing about the universe, I fully comprehended that this physical universe is actually infinite. The universe being without boundaries or an edge means that it is impossible, practically, for God to exist. In order to have created the universe or to be in control of it God would have to exist outside of it – and there is no outside! This insight hit me like a thunderbolt. My fear of God and of his representatives collapsed and lost its very substance by this obvious realisation. In fact, there can be no one outside of this infinite universe who is pulling the strings of punishment and reward, heaven and hell – or, according to Eastern tradition, granting enlightenment or leaving me with the eternal karma of endless lives in misery.

This insight presupposes, of course, that there is no place other than the physical universe, no celestial, mystical realm where gods and ghosts exist. It also implies that there is no life before or after death and that the body simply dies when it dies. I needed quite some courage to face and accept this simple fact – to give up all beliefs in an after-life or a ‘spirit-life’. Photograph courtesy of NASA, Hubblesite

But I could easily observe that as soon as I gave up the idea of any imaginary existence other than the tangible, physical universe, everything, which had seemed so complicated and impossible to understand became graspable, evident, obvious and imminently clear.

When the enormous consequence and implication of slipping out of this insidious belief in any God or Higher Being dawned on me, I was at the same time free of anybody’s authority. I was free of the fear that had been spoiling every relationship with every man in my life: father, brothers, male friends and boyfriends, employers, teachers and Master.

Now I am my own authority, deciding what is silly and sensible, using the common and practical intelligence of the human brain. I am responsible for every action in my life and I can acknowledge that now. However, this means that from now on I cannot blame anybody for making me jealous, miserable, grumpy, afraid, angry or frustrated over any petty issue. Now there is no more excuse, no more hiding place. They are my reactions and my behaviour, which I have to face and change in order to be free.

After I had seen through the fairy-tale of God and the subsequent power of the authority figures I was finally able to question my relationship with the Master. When Peter and I first met I was firmly rooted in the search for enlightenment, was part of the local community of sannyasins, and in love with Rajneesh. For months this subject was taboo between us and we agreed ‘not to talk about the war’! At the time there were still lots of other interesting issues to explore but the joy and obvious success of examining and eliminating them finally gave me the courage to investigate this stronghold of my last seventeen years. I decided to find out what could lie behind my love, loyalty and devotion for the Master, and what were the evident results and facts of my search for enlightenment.

I had already dismissed the idea that love was a necessary and basic ingredient for a happy relationship with a man – quite the contrary was the case! Now I started to question the idea of higher love and compassion – whether they were values that still had any significance for me on my way to freedom. Given that I had seen through the belief in the ultimate authority of God I could now more easily explore the nature of the bonds with the Master and face the fears which came along with dismantling my relationship with Him – he who claimed to represent the ‘Absolute Truth’ in the spiritual world. I now set out to compare his promised ultimate goal of enlightenment with my already experienced delightful glimpses of freedom.

My only knowledge about enlightenment had consisted either of what I had heard and read from the Master or of the borrowed bliss or ‘energy’ that I felt when sitting devotionally at His feet. He had been ‘big daddy’ for me, he knew what was right and wrong, he told me what to do with my life, where to search and what to find! But then ‘big daddy’ had died and I had not found any tangible evidence of my being closer to enlightenment despite a lot of intent and effort. Also, there existed no consistent pathway or map, which could establish my position relative to the goal. When I noticed that friends were having a harder time to cope with the ‘world’ after long meditations I didn’t know if that was to be considered a success or a failure. After leaving Poona I meditated regularly for two years and tried to really understand Rajneesh’s teachings. However, the hope of finding something worthwhile in my spiritual search started to fade, but because of my life-long habit of blaming myself, I did not dare to question the validity of the teachings themselves. ‘It is only because I am not pushing hard enough, I am not meditating enough, I am too dumb or too lazy’, I thought.

After I met Peter and began to use Richard’s new method of examining and stripping away beliefs, I was challenged by the success of our continuously improving relationship. My life was becoming easier, happier and more thrilling every time I explored a new issue. However, I found myself quite torn apart because I was also desperately trying to hold on to my old ways. I was afraid to leave the fold – this imaginary ‘community’ where right and wrong was clearly defined and confirmed by everyone around me. I was trying to live in two worlds at the same time. Loyalty to the Master became quite a gut-churning issue. How could I dare to question His love, His authority, His power, His great vision? How could I be a traitor, stepping away yet again from another group that had provided me with meaning and a sense of belonging as well as financial and emotional security?

Finally, a minor car-accident shocked my spinning mind to a halt. It was followed by a peak-experience on the same evening that shed some light on my dilemma. Having smoked some marijuana I wandered off into the vast spaces of my imagination, exploring the ‘psychic world’, as I tried to make sense of the diametrically opposed options that had presented themselves in my life.

I seemed to perceive my questions in a wider context and had intense sensations about pains and processes in different parts of my body. Watching the people around me I had a deeper understanding of their behaviour and how they related to each other. I could even see the ‘energy-lines’ between the people relating to each other. Each presented a protective shield of a particular personal image, and this ‘image’ would act and operate, relating to the others while the actual, fearful and aggressive person remained hidden. At the same time that I was watching this I was distinctly aware of my thinking and my journeying in this magical ‘inner’ world.

Mask Mask

At one stage I even experienced what it is to be mad. I understood the temptation of staying forever in an easy, illusory world of psychedelic wonders, where the mad person is the magician in his own world enjoying the power and safety of his dream. But anybody who dares to question this dream has to be considered a deadly enemy. However, I was always aware that I had the choice to stay in this imaginary world or not.

When I tried to tell Peter about my experiences and insights his simple response gave me quite a shock. ‘But all this is just inside your mind, it is simply your own interpretation, it may appear to be real, but it is not actual.’ Yes, that was true. I could easily see that I was inside the ‘mind’, roaming about in the different chambers of my assembled beliefs-systems, trying to find the one that was ‘right’ and ‘true’ – while in fact, I was just having a little grander and unusually complex perception of this huge labyrinth of thoughts and feelings! I could see more of my ideas or concepts and other people’s ideas, but they were simply ideas. None of them had any relevance to the actuality of the physical world!

In seeing the fact, everything stood still and the whole construct of beliefs suddenly disappeared. Then, for the first time in all my years of the spiritual search, I experienced several hours outside of the ‘psychic world’. Being outside, I could see that this ‘world’ is a huge, all-encompassing construct, created and held in place by the dreams, beliefs, bonds, power-battles, emotions and different spiritual ideas of all of humanity. Everyone is part of it, weaving and reproducing bits of this ‘psychic carpet’. The more people believe in one particular version the more that version becomes ‘real’ or ‘true’. Intuitive or ‘psychic’ people are simply a little better acquainted with the rules and occurrences of this ‘other-world’. It is never actual though, because it relies on constant re-creation through imagination and belief. The moment people cease to believe in a particular religion, idea or value, that very concept eventually disappears from the earth.

Actual, on the contrary, is what is already here without anybody applying a feeling, an interpretation, a belief or any other ‘psychic effort’. It is simply here, visual, tangible, audible and tastable.

That night I had stuck my head beyond the blanket of beliefs – including good and bad, right and wrong, love and evil. In the first moments, with the ‘psychic world’ disappearing, this new place was stark, black, scary, a big hole and a bottomless abyss. Suddenly the ground under my feet wavered as the very existence of beliefs ceased. For a while I was lost, frightened and bewildered.

After a minute or two that appeared to contain an eternity of complex understanding, Peter said to me, ‘Hello, how are you? Good that you are here!’ ‘Here’ obviously meant that there existed a place outside my belief-systems! I turned round, out of my shock and bewilderment, into the actual world, and saw that I was simply sitting on the couch with Peter. Here was someone sitting next to me, another human being, not particularly a man, lover or boyfriend. Just a human being, smiling and pleased to meet me, eager to explore with me the next event in life. He is interested. And I am interested. Who is this person? What will happen next? What will he say next? What will we do next? It is exciting, alive, right here and a great pleasure!

The pure and immediate adventure of experiencing this moment of being alive was so utterly superior to everything I had come across in the name of meditation, bliss or ‘satori’ that it spoke for itself. Being in the actual world, everything is simply obvious, needs no explanation or theory, and contains no emotional memories of any past struggle or fear. There is nothing that blurs or edits the experience of the world around me, which is both wondrous and delightful. Freedom is living each moment as it happens, without any objection. It is not the end-product of years of building up a structured belief-system; it is the opposite – destruction of everything that lies between me and the experience of the actual world. Freedom is simply what is left after I rid myself of every layer of the emotional and instinctual ‘self’, which is the only obstruction to my direct experience of the universe.


The next morning, when the effects of the drug had long faded, the understanding of the night before was still vividly present. I clearly remember walking around a crowded out-door market, looking at all the different stalls with people offering their products together with their particular belief-systems, as they tried to convince the customers of the reality of their particular version of ‘truth’. There were all kinds of proposals to find ‘truth’ or meaning, whether religious, spiritual or secular. Feral feathers and karmic wheels, goddesses and herbs, ways of natural living and an impressive array of spiritual bookstalls, offering a hundred different solutions to life. Colourful Turks were selling their local hot coffee and delicious cakes; a black boy was playing romantic songs on his guitar, selling them by the hour. He was successful – people bought his dreams, his love songs!



A woman in purple dyed feral clothes was selling self-made dream-catchers, talismans and other symbols of her particular conviction. There were traders of organic vegetables, Indian farmers and food-vans with a wide variety of exotic meals – all served with the conviction of their producer: healthy or hearty, plain or spicy, Italian, Thai or Indian, home-made or magically healing. Hippies from the hills sold their produce along with their dreamy, chaotic life-style; drumming ferals with uncombed tasselled hair presented their life as the most juicy and happy of all.

Ecologists proclaimed that only purely native rainforest trees should be planted to save the environment. Everyone was utterly convinced of what they were offering, complete with their corresponding outfit, make-up, special ‘language’ and music. I was quite taken aback by the enormity of what I saw. Being outside of all those beliefs made me see what they consisted of – merely ideas, thoughts, constructs, dreams and hopes; nothing was factual about any of them. This peak-experience proved to be the most significant turning point in the last turbulent year.

It began to dawn on me that perhaps I also had just another belief-system – my particular search for enlightenment with this ‘special’ master and group of people. I could no longer completely deny that possibility. However, it took another two months until I gathered the courage to actually investigate my dearly held conviction. I had already one foot in the actual world while the other foot was still stubbornly trying to march in the direction of the spiritual search. Up to now I had not found a reliable compass to decide the course, but now the very idea of believing anybody else became questionable. I decided that I wanted more of this actual freedom. Now, for a change, I would start relying on facts and actual experiences instead of someone else’s vision or dream.

Once I had made that decision things became easier. I started to look at every ‘truth’ as possibly just another belief. I feared the reaction or consequences this would cause, but was determined that this should not stop my investigation. There were lots of fears – but the direction was clear now. If the answer lay 180 degrees in the opposite direction I had passed the 90 degree midway point. I had reached the point of no return, where I was willing to question everything that I had simply believed up until now. It became all ‘downhill’ from that point onwards.

However, there was still some holding on as I tried to keep at least some of my old identity. Fear would well up, seeing that I was going further and further away from what I used to know as good and right.

At that time I was reading a book about J. Krishnamurti written by the daughter of his life-long mistress who described, vividly and sincerely, how she had experienced him and his life behind the public facade. She wrote about how he was in everyday life, how he related to other people and to those he called his closest friends. I was shocked and appalled to find that he was as jealous, malicious, vindictive and treacherous as one can be! The idea that an Enlightened person was without flaw turned into a myth. J. Krishnamurti was moody, insecure and even power-hungry, glorified by the power of Enlightenment and his teachings, who could not live up to the image he created! So slowly and hesitantly I started to investigate my own religious beliefs. Surprisingly, after taking away the love and loyalty I had felt for Rajneesh I did not find much left of his great myth and wisdom.


When I listened to his discourses without the infatuation of love I discovered the underlying power structure. I saw him weaving his net in the ‘psychic world’ – he had called himself the Master of Masters – and I saw the whole construct from the outside. I had wanted to belong to the best master and best group of all, hoping to change the face of the earth along with my life. I had wanted to be loved and to be free of misery, and for that I had been willing to pay with devotion, loyalty and undoubting trust – anything but be on my own in the world. In throwing this last authority overboard, I am now on my own – free of the need to rely on or believe in anything.

To question all of the values agreed upon by humanity was, of course, not possible without re-instating and lubricating my common sense, my intelligence. It had originally been trained in school and university, but had been distorted and weakened through my conditioning as a girl, a woman and later as a spiritual seeker. To release this common sense out of the cupboard and to start using it in order to understand the actual and factual world was essential for me to be able to distinguish belief from fact and silly from sensible. Every time I recognised a belief as just ‘taken on’ from some authority, it faded into irrelevance and left me with this new thrilling experience of freedom, confidence, autonomy and equity. After all, intelligence is possible in all human beings, it simply needs to be re-instated, polished and exercised, disentangled from beliefs and superstitions and freed from the stupidity of instincts and emotions.

Exploring a way no one has ever gone before has been, and still is, immensely scary at times. First the fears had names like ‘I am afraid of losing friends or my job’, ‘I will be lost and lonely when I leave the fold’, ‘I will be persecuted as a traitor’, ‘I will grow into a poor old woman and nobody will take care of me.’ Each time I had to encounter the dominant fear at the time and examine the belief that supported the fear. It always took some effort to not believe in the fear, but to take a closer look. Once the belief behind the fear was identified as just a belief the next thing to do became obvious and easy. I realise that I can easily take care of myself and I am actually safe – nobody is hurting me, I won’t die of hunger or face any other terrible danger.

Eventually those fears are becoming less and the survival instinct itself, the ‘fear of disappearing or dying’ surfaces – quite a serious threat. But it is also the very thing that I am intending to do, to eliminate this ‘self’. I have learned to see that whenever such a fear-attack would rush through me, it was the ‘self’, my identity, which caused the fear in order to re-affirm its existence. I find that I can sit out those fear-attacks on the sidelines, once I recognise them for what they are – simply an emotion or feeling, not a fear produced by an actual danger. Once identified they lose their power and eventually fade, giving way to the direct experience of the world as it is – a marvellous, wonderful and safe place.

Writing this chapter has activated my fears once more. I thought, ‘Oh dear, when this book gets published, the shit will hit the fan. People will despise me, won’t talk to me, and will turn away. Everybody will know that I don’t agree with their beliefs... I will be all on my own.’ I was tense for hours, trying to get to the root of this fear, to name it and understand it and to not let it have power over me. Eventually I could see that I am on my own already and, in fact, have always been so. I live a happy, magical life, once in a while I meet some old or new friends, but I am utterly contented on my own or in Peter’s company. Realising this, I could feel the fear dissolve like a fog, leaving me unrestricted and free to experience life again as the crisp, clear, delicious and intimate adventure that it actually is.

I liken the journey as travelling on this path of freedom and eventually hitting an obstacle on the way made up of a belief, a fear or any other emotion. If I avoid the challenge of examining this obstacle, I end up in the thick of the jungle where there are many more ‘real’ and imaginary dangers to be tackled. Only by getting back to the original obstacle and clearing it out of the way am I able to once again delight in strolling freely on this wonderful path of freedom – chiselling away my ‘self’ while at the same time thoroughly enjoying myself.

Not being able or willing to support other people’s belief-systems has put me outside the women’s camp and normal female role-play. I notice how I move further and further away from the usual way of relating – to share sorrow or grumpy-ness, pat each other’s back, look for support or discuss and ‘share’ similar beliefs of the ‘psychic world’.

My ‘friends’ were simply those who were living in the same part of the ‘psychic world’ as I did and would therefore ‘understand’ me and ‘support’ my struggles and beliefs. In not complying with those belief-systems I am left with no role to play. More and more whatever happens when meeting any particular person is fine. Maybe we have fun, we find some common sense to share, an intimate moment, a laugh – or not. I expect it with anybody or nobody. It can happen with a person I have known for years, with the girl at the bank or an overseas customer on the telephone. It can happen with anyone who comes in the door – or not. It does not matter what happens, because I am at ease with my own company.

A few weeks ago I met a woman at a party and she said to me, ‘I don’t know you much, but I know all about you,’ meaning that she had read Peter’s manuscript. I was surprised at the prospect of people knowing about me after reading this book and had to check if I could live comfortably with this. Musing about it I realised that, well, these stories and incidents happened, yes, and it is my story of the last year as much as Peter’s, but nevertheless it is just a story. My life goes on, things change and in fact, nobody knows me. I will live my life as anonymously as ever even after everyone reads about me. It is a story of the past year and it is past. And as life is fresh each moment I don’t even know what will happen next, let alone next week. But I am sure it is going to be a dance and a delight!

Finally I want to say that it has been enormous fun to put this book together for publishing – learning the necessary computer programs, studying printing requirements and formats, designing the cover as well as the great pleasure of finding and editing the pictures. Discussing with Peter all the different options of how to do it best has been intimacy in practice – wonderfully easy and exquisitely delightful. So this is our joint presentation, and as I am looking at it I can say that I am pleased about the end result. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as we had fun creating it.

Continued in ... The fat lady has finally sung


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