An Invisible Positivity: welcoming the exchange between male and female
I am a therapist, but that is a description of the surface only. Deep down I am a seeker. My therapy work has been, more than anything else, a means towards understanding myself and a way to search for who I really am.
It was an accident, rather than an ambition, that therapy became my profession. I was about 24 years old when I learned to meditate and, not very long after that, I started “seeing things” in people’s bodies while I was giving massage. The meditative state had apparently turned me into a psychic, because one day, when I picked up the ringing phone, a twangy, nasal, very American voice asked me, “Are you the lady who does Psychic Massage?” From then on, this spontaneous gift had a name, and my life’s work took its first shape.
I became a sannyasin, disciple of Osho, at the age of 30, and my world changed considerably. For example, I left America and moved to India, where Osho had his commune at that time. Only one thing remained the same: I was still a therapist. Even though I felt available for any other new kind of work, Osho told me to lead groups. Strange…because he also agreed that my ability to “see” was accidental. I remember being gratified and also not gratified in the same moment when I received his instructions. It was as if he had delivered a package which said on the outside: “For the Being and for the Ego.”
It took a while to get the knack of what he wanted me to do. My first “Urja” group was an absolute disaster, but at least I learned what not to do. I dropped everything I’d known about helping people. I stopped all guiding and directing. I became simply present without fear when there was a gap between two events. Events, naturally, slowed down because I wasn’t jumping so fast toward the next one. The thing that made the most sense for a meditator, as I considered myself to be, was to feel the nothingness between two somethings. That was the truth, I thought. That was real. And new events would always be coming to camouflage the empty backdrop, so catch the emptiness—view it—whenever you could.
The 5-day Urja groups were slow…non-doing. People slept. Even I slept. I often wondered why the group was named “Urja,” meaning “Energy.” But after three days of sleeping, there arose anger—”Why weren’t we doing something”—and that, in its turn, became creativity. The people used the same accumulated force to become playful and to have fun. There was a vital and graceful flow, in the end, which arose from the practice of non-doing.
For several years I didn’t give any sessions of Psychic Massage, and by the time I returned to it, I had learned something new about the state of presence. Listening to Osho give his talks, I was struck by a phenomenon different than I’d experienced with any other speaker. There was no so-called “contact” between him and me, no energy-bridge, not the desire or intention to link that usually happens between the one trying to express something and the one listening. Osho was simply present when speaking, he was “with himself,” and the effect on me was a subtle expansion that started deep within myself, rather like a cloud accumulating vapor. Something inside my own body grew bigger and bigger as the minutes of sitting with him passed by. That is how I figured out that presence in one person can ignite the same presence in the neighbor. Presence is never “two,” but always innately unified.
I applied this principle to Psychic Massage with great success. I didn’t “do” anything to make the client different, quite the opposite. I simply stayed present during massaging, and I started to notice not only pictures, but the response of the body/soul to my presence: sometimes there was the same spontaneous expansion. And I understood that one doesn’t need to bother so much about blocks or closures. Just let the open parts of the body drink, expand, celebrate, and this will create an irresistible force of love. It is only a matter of time before the other, darker parts will melt in sympathy.
This was the same principle of non-doing showing up in another form.
the inner pair
When Osho returned to Poona after his World Tour, I asked him a question—I was by now 41 years old. My question was, “Is taking the role of a therapist dangerous for my own spiritual growth? I feel that a subtle fight goes on inside me between one part that is clear and another part that wants nothing to do with clarity.” And the rest of the question was about whether one of my parts was dominating the other.
Later I would realize that the next ten years of work on myself were already summed up in this question. Osho’s answer, of course, was wonderful and relevant, but it was the question itself that gave the framework for all that I would discover:
Yes, there were two parts of me—one male, one female. My female was the therapist. My male wanted a life outside the grouproom. His fantasies went more in the direction of carpentry, creating beauty in practical objects.
The feminine part of me was dominant, but after a certain time, she could step back and let the masculine part take all important decisions. My male side went from very little involvement in earning money to a 60% financial contribution in a few short years. He moved me to Italy, and he learned (is learning) Italian. His reason to learn Italian was not to talk to clients, but to have wider opportunities for marketing. He has become more and more outgoing.
At the same time that I was discovering such things inside myself, my therapy work with people was showing me that similar patterns exist inside everyone. Everyone has a male and a female side. Through Psychic Massage I had already discovered these figures—visible by means of pictures in the two feet. But I had never imagined how fundamental is the collaboration of these two characters to a person’s well-being. If one polarity is dominating the other, as is the case with most of us, you can try to work out many smaller issues and you just chip away at the surface. Go directly to the point—their relationship—and you have solved hundreds of related problems in the same moment. It took me many years with Osho to learn the secret, and if someone is ready, they can learn the same in two hours.
When I was 45, I dropped the work of Psychic Massage in order to focus on working with the client’s inner relationship. Lots of time was needed for the two characters to talk to each other, so the actual, physical bodywork of the older method had to be sacrificed. As a farewell to Psychic Massage because I had loved it, I wrote down every detail of how to do that work, not even thinking about who the audience would ever be, and this record became the book The Master’s Touch. Meanwhile, at the same time as the writing was going on, the new verbal form of therapy was emerging fast, like an overgrown child tumbling out of the womb.
It acquired the name “Star Sapphire Energywork.” I didn’t want to name it after the male and female. People would get a completely wrong idea that I am going to “fix” their two sides. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was going to help them have more light in their life, hence I chose the star sapphire as a symbol, because it had a shiny star hidden within a rather nondescript outer covering—rather like most of us, I thought.
support for the positive
Even though I have to bring the male and female characters into view as part of the Star Sapphire technique, my work has actually nothing to do with them directly. My work is “behind” them or “around” them. As I was saying before, I have always been most interested in the gap between two events. A male impulse, a male action, is an event. A female action, wish, maneuver, is an event. I am interested in the ground out of which the events arise, I am interested in something invisible. But I know what it is, I can feel it, I expand when I feel it. Words are inadequate in describing it (as it is not a thing) but some words used in the past have been ‘truth’, ‘trust’, ‘yes’, ‘relaxed positivity’. Just to have a short way of expressing myself, I will say that my work is to support the positive.
To find out what is the positive is for most of us not an easy thing. I will describe a normal Star Sapphire session so that you can see what I mean, and this will serve as an example for the rest of what I have to say. My client was a woman, who had come because she was unhappy in her job: she worked for the Italian railway in a capacity that pertained to legal matters.
When I arranged a situation where the male and female parts of my client could talk to each other, her male part was revealed to be a very accommodating figure, available, plunging agreeably into most everything he was asked to do. He described himself as a good person, rather like a big, friendly dog. He was very pressured and stressed out by the work, not only because there was lots of it but also because of the office environment, other colleagues, and so forth. When I asked what were his top priorities in life, he said 1) serenity, 2) tranquillity. It appeared to me that he was not very successful in approaching his priorities, and he said, “Yes, there is some kind of block.”
The female part was, by contrast, very bitter and unhappy. She didn’t work much (10% of the work came from her side), she was bored, and she insisted that it didn’t matter what choices you made, everything was boring in the end; life was inherently boring. The words she used to describe herself were ‘aggressive’, ‘decisive’, ‘stronza’. She said that she had no priorities in life.
The latter I did not agree with. It became clear, rather shortly, that when she was with him (the male), she found him utterly boring; in her opinion he didn’t “move himself,” so she had become his director. That was her priority in life, to kick him into activity…quite convenient, so that he would do the work and she wouldn’t have to.
Which one of these is positive? Certainly we would all say that the positive one is the man and the negative one is the woman. But look a little deeper. The man is always doing what the woman wants out of love, but is it really love? She is utterly bored by his acquiescence. Acquiescence is not love, authenticity is love. The session was about teaching him to be true instead of accommodating, and teaching her to notice that she was less bored when he was true, so that his independence was to her advantage.
Supporting the positive doesn’t mean liking one part and getting rid of another part. Supporting the positive is an understanding that all the so-called “parts” are the surface and truth is something deeper, something invisible and vast and not contained by any one part as a private thing.
We immediately think that my client’s male side is positive because visibly he is kind, but there are lots of considerations. For example, what if he has been doing what he’s told for so long that he has become incapable of the authentic? This is often the case. Ask such a camel-like person to choose what he wants to do, and he will have no idea. Or a second consideration: what if he is so afraid of offending the woman, bringing forth her wrath or condemnation, that he would never dare to oppose what she wants? Or third: What if this man, behind the façade of a friendly dog, is passively resistant, or vengeful and destructive? In other words, can this man be trusted if you give him more freedom?
An energy check at the beginning of the session tells me which one of the two parts is the most trustworthy, the most in tune with the existence, the most available to the natural flow, and this personage (or character) becomes, in my terminology, “figure one.” The work rests on this first character as a ground. It doesn’t matter if the second figure cannot accept the first’s spiritual maturity, and its ability to make better choices for both. The first figure is supported to trust himself/herself regardless of the second figure’s opinion or even obstruction.
In this particular session, I knew that the male part had a capacity to be authentic because of the expansion I felt when holding the client’s right foot. The male would be “figure one.” I had to encourage his trust that “doing what you want will be a deep nourishment for her,” and then he could list a few new choices: “to rest on the couch more often,” “to not go to the mother’s house every weekend.” Naturally the female part was shocked at first—remember, she used to be his boss. She was against these changes, but then in the end, the truth came out that she also liked to rest on the couch. It was not easy to get her to admit it. She kept saying to the man, “Do what you like—I don’t care” and keeping a little power by refusing to feel.
In almost everyone, one side is dominant. But by contrast with the last sample, most people have a considerate or caring dominant side. It is a side which has received a lot of support from the family or from the culture, and in such nurturing surroundings it has become creative and loving. It is a side that has risked, taken opportunities to experiment and to grow. Normally it does not realize that this has been done at the expense of another part. It only knows that the past experiences were successful or well received, and this part feels encouraged to go on experimenting, exploring, in its own field of interest.
There would be no problem except that the dominant part, naturally, wants to have the space to express itself all the time, without any loss of continuity. It believes that what it is doing is good. It believes that what it is doing is bread-winning (brings the money), so should be considered of top-most importance. In this way, and quite by accident, the second part is left with nothing to do except to serve the first, or even worse, to be shut up in an underground cage.
We cannot know which character is “figure one” according to the pattern of domination. The dominant one might be the most spiritually positive, and often is. In this case, it will have to lose its dominant position by choice. It will have to understand that, as far as love is concerned, it goes nowhere without the opposite partner in full form.
This is different than in the case I just described. There, the female lost her domination apparently against her will, just because the “dominated” understood that love does not stop when he becomes free, quite the contrary, it is enhanced. At the beginning it might not seem so, but “presence” is a unity, “presence” nourishes the being of the other and can be trusted.
male mind, female mind
Speaking of domination reminds me that there are two kinds of mind. Osho used to talk about that: if you become a doctor, you need a doctor’s mind; if you become an artist, you need an artist’s mind. In the same way, if you become one-sided—favoring one polarity—you develop that kind of mind. Osho said that about 80% people in the world have the male mind, and only 20% have the female mind, because of a long, long history of male domination.
What is the difference between these two minds? People with the male mind get satisfaction from action that has external consequences. They create visible objects. They pursue projects with tangible outcomes. They stretch, reaching further and further outward. Take for example the United States in the 1800’s, when they extended their borders to the Rocky Mountains through the Louisiana purchase, and then picked up California and the whole West Coast of America. When the ocean stopped them, they added Alaska. This is the movement of the male mind, to acquire more territory.
The people living on that same land, the American Indians, had the female mind. The female mind is not so much interested in going “out,” but rather goes “in.” It is interested in silence, in visions, in intuition, in music and dance, in connecting with others from the heart, in “tribe” or family. Of course the Indians had their warriors, but that was basically to protect the mystical nature of their culture.
Most of us can easily see which of these two minds we have developed just by looking at our values. Do we think the outgoing qualities are best or the ingoing are best? An outgoing person’s qualities are adventure, rationality, calculation, mathematics, expansion into bigger physical space, power, creating ever more advanced mechanisms like computers, cars, or airplanes. An ingoing person’s qualities are receptivity, compassion, intuition, perception, beauty, grace, devotion.
The people with the male mind love to do, because you arrive at a concrete result by doing. The people with the female mind love to not-do, because you arrive at a vast formlessness by non-doing.
Can you guess by now which mind I have, with so much emphasis on non-doing?!
It is strange that the weaker side of you will almost always concur with the values of the dominant side, because you have developed that mind. If you have the male mind, both sides will think that emotionality is not desirable, even though one side of you is naturally emotional. In my own case, my male side absolutely agrees that softness, listening, and sensitivity are high values—he seems to be female! It is as if the mind “lines up” behind a single flag because it appears easier than going in two opposite directions at once. And this is how the ego is created, in fact. You go to one end of the pendulum’s swing and you stay there. It becomes an attachment, an investment, an identification which both sides support, and it feels like disaster will follow if you don’t make all efforts to hold on. You think this expression is your very self!
no straight pathway
If you follow mind—any mind—you are always mistaken, I discovered. Both sides, both polarities, are carrying the truth; how can you eliminate one? Mind likes the straight line and you will have to go zig-zag. If male is the wave, then female is the wake that follows when the wave is gone. It is like being on a see-saw: when one is up, the other is down, and vice versa.
You can see the same in every breath: the breath comes to a peak—that’s the male’s job; then the peak is reduced, destroyed even, by the female. She is very disturbed by the tension of holding a form—the chest so big, the ribs so much pulled apart. She lets it all go. She slides to the bottom of a pond where nothing moves, and she wants to stay there, but it’s boring for the male. Effortlessly he zooms out of that stagnant pond. By nature they each do their thing in successive moments, whenever the other extreme becomes too much.
Once you see the inevitability of this contrast, you understand well why Osho says, “The only thing that can be considered ‘mine’ is consciousness.” Everything is going to be lost. Every form is going to evaporate. It is just the principle of male and female, first one, then the other. First fullness, then emptiness. First relationship, then aloneness. First birth, then death.
I just said that everything is going to be lost. But looked at from another angle, everything is going to be gained. If you look from the female angle, then you see everything returning to emptiness, again and again. If you look from the male angle, then you see everything reaching the peak, again and again, with always more energy to reach new and higher peaks.
a shifting viewpoint
And this leads me to the last thing I want to say. It starts back at the beginning of my story, when Osho gave me the Urja group (remember that the name means “energy”). About one year after the inception of that group, Osho decided to put three or four groups together into packages, that could be considered a “stream.” Mine was placed in the middle of a package called “Energywork.” And the alternative package was called “Awareness and Expression”—for short, I’ll call it “Expressive-work.” At the time, I could see clearly one difference between the two streams. In Energywork, you relaxed and then things happened. In Expressive-work, you had to “do” like crazy and then you arrived to silence. There seemed to be two different starting points about how to move into contact with yourself. Naturally (remember the 80%, 20%) Osho suggested many more participants to enter into the Expressive-work stream.
I admired the therapists who did the other sort of work than mine, but clearly I could never do it. It would not be natural. Even to participate in a group like that, let alone lead one, was difficult because I just couldn’t see the point of trying so hard. Other people (from my view) “forced” themselves to breathe heavily for one hour, but I stopped after five minutes. If ever a therapist said to me that I should express something, I closed up. It was simply not my nature to push.
But people came away from those groups exhilarated after all their efforts. They would say, “I reached to silence.” I would think, I am already silent—what’s the big deal?
My therapy work, through the Star Sapphire technique, has helped me to understand how to grow my own out-going side, the male part. Now I have become enough “male” to see things through his eyes. Now I can understand well those therapists who invited and encouraged sounds, gestures, feelings, and gave them dignity. Now I have experienced the joy of pushing, of being total, of going for something with all my might. Now, when I do the dynamic meditation, which has a jumping phase, I get so much into it that I don’t want to stop. There is a beautiful feeling of power moving through the body, a feeling of being alive, a feeling of moving forward into the next moment, a feeling of being part of creation.
Now I don’t talk any more about the gap between two events, as if the events are extraneous, unimportant, and the gap is the important part. Now I think the events are important, juicy, sizzling. They are just as important, if not more important (he says), than any restful state.
What I discovered, in my search, is that when I am male, I am completely male, as if my inner female is someone “other,” someone else. When I shift into her energy, I become completely female—the male is someone else. They are so different that I cannot be both at once. There is nothing like compromise or sharing. In any given moment, I am either one or the other 100%.
So I learned to be very fast in my awareness. “Now I am she” and then a split second later, “Now I am he,” until this consciousness became seamless. There is no “I” lagging behind when the shift takes place, saying “Wait—a moment ago I was she…” I have learned that it is not a problem to love myself when I am “he” (which is new), and to love myself when I am “she” (which I’ve always done). So the secret for me has been precision in awareness, seeing whose quality, whose viewpoint, is actually here/now and being happy for that one. When my energy is roaring, I’m happy. When my energy is soundless, I’m happy.
Every day I discover more ways in which I have cut off my male’s viewpoint in the past and caused him to mistrust himself. So I am re-growing that trust. Trust, for the male, means that there will always be new surges of energy, new initiatives to take, new movements to make, new ideas to develop, and that it will be fun to try, and maybe make a few errors along the way, but to keep on trying. …Don’t give up when confronted with the first obstacle; there will be a path to go forward, just wait until it opens up and then GO.
By the way, my newest book about Star Sapphire is my male side’s book—The two shores of Love: inner man & inner woman. He wrote it very much with the audience in mind. That’s his outgoing energy. He wanted a book simple enough that anyone and everyone could understand how important it is to develop both sides of yourself. The book is superficial (maybe) because that is the way of the male. If you happen to like it, then read The Master’s Touch: Psychic Massage afterwards. There you find all the detail—provided by my female—that explains the real mysteries behind Star Sapphire, as both Psychic Massage and Star Sapphire Energywork are flowers from the same tree.