Interview with Marco Bizzozero,, former Director National Theatre of Italy. Famous in Europe as a clown, actor, mime artist, and the first high wire artist ever to perform at La Scalia (Milan Opera), Marco is currently Director, Flower of the Tao Center in Milan, Italy, where he teaches Taoist internal alchemy, tai chi, and chi kung.
Question: Marco, how would you describe Tao-Tantra?
Tantra is a path to inner fullness through sexuality and pleasure, through happiness and a total coming-together of human beings; it puts men and woman in contact with Tao, with the universe, the absolute, the natural whole. Tao and Tantra are essentally similar spiritual paths, that evolved different methods for achieving the same ecstatic unity. I have simply combined some of their methods back together, taken the best of each to make their common essence more accessible to westerners.
When Taoist or Tantric ecstasy extends through the erotic experiences of a man and a woman, a new state of consciousness is generated, a state which in a flash illuminates and reveals the fundamental essence of being and of the cosmos. Such a deep abandonment to love leads to a sense of wholeness and togetherness: sweetly and subconsciously, the energy of the two lovers extends. The beating of time is irrelevant, subjectivity is ignored, joy merges and submerges their hearts, and their hearts open up to an oceanic sensation of love. Wrapped in this supreme grace, lost in a divine sincerity, for a few moments the lovers discover the total essence of existence.
Happiness, deep abandonment, an extended awareness, a full and total coming-together of two human beings in one – these are the provisions for achieving Tao, supreme reality.
Q: Are such experiences within anyone’s grasp?
Unfortunately they are not common experiences, since sexuality nowadays in not a free and joyous experience, and therefore it is difficult and rare to achieve a total abandonment to our senses, and to our lovers. Love is without a doubt a great path that can lead to a Tantric experience, but a relationship must be cultivated, it must be nourished every day, to make it blossom like a flower, with a great deal of care and attention.
Q: Can an erotic relationship between a man and woman who are not a regular couple be fruitful? Can it help to achieve Tao-Tantra?
Most certainly! But here again there are hurdles.
We have not been educated to seek pleasure, and we don’t even know how to experience intimacy outside an amorous relationship, outside a regular relationship of a couple. When such a situation arises, and when that magic encounter takes place, there is an immediate desire for an amorous relationship. If intimacy is not created, before too long a veil of alienation will come down between the two lovers, estranging them from one another.
The path we follow is a difficult one. Even in the situation of sex without love, sex for pure pleasure, pure biological satisfaction, there can be no true joy — or at least very rarely is it achieved. Casual sex, or a sexual adventure often appears to lead to a devastating series of lost pleasures, a whole round of frustrations. But those fleeting encounters are just missed opportunities. Such situations are often just a cavorting of mutual friction, a body-to-body battle to release pent-up anger, role-plays based on mirrors and masks, subtle games of domination. Anxieties to be part of such games, anxieties about how we are judged or not judged all come into play. And in the end, numb, after a climax that lasts no longer than a sneeze, we are wrapped up in our escapes from solitude.
But pleasure, affections and intimacy are essential sources of nourishment for personal growth, for achieving happiness — and so sooner or later we all return to that spiral of amorous relationships. Off we go again in that seductive, fateful roundabout of thinking with our hearts. Until perhaps one day we will meet our knight in shining armour or our princess, or perhaps we will pretend that we have found a suitable kingdom, or perhaps we will just lose interest.
But in this spiral of broken relationships, so much of men’s and women’s happiness is lost forever. The time has come to change all of this, and action must be taken at the very root of life, where our sexuality lies, where our primary and fundamental life-giving force is averted. This essential energy (Jing), like the thick sap that travels through the stem of the rose, becomes physical pleasure in the body; later, when it is red like the petals of the rose, in our hearts it becomes beauty and love (Chi); eventually, like a scent that spreads all around, it becomes creation and awareness (Shen) in our thoughts. We cannot go on cutting off the stem of the rose because this reveals the thorns: the petals will die, and with them our love and their very scent.
Q: Does real happiness exist? Can we really live in happiness?
Happiness is what brings human beings closer to the universe, the absolute. Unfortunately it is something that is hard to grasp, like a breath of air that just brushes past us and disappears, leaving just a vague memory. Living in happiness means being in love with life, in love with our existence. Because happiness is in itself a love of life. Happiness is the very essence of life.
Sometimes, for example, when we fall in love with someone, we are full of love, we are happy. Everything whirls around us, everything is alive, bright and shiny, everything is a discovery. We see the divine all around us. Once again we realise that life is a matter of interpretation ? it is a projection of what we feel inside. A light is lit inside us, and it is a warm, joyous light fuelled by love; outside of our bodies life is lit up. The rose of love is blossoming inside us, its perfume is spreading beyond our skin, touching the objects that we touch, touching the faces of the people we love: and everything becomes love. This is life becoming happiness, life returning to a state of happiness. Hence, if we discover a flower in a field, if we look into the eyes of our loved one, or glance into the eyes of a child who is watching us, then we can enter this enchantment and through it make out the splendour of the universe.
Q: Why does this experience of happiness in relationships always come to an end?
Our relationships fail because they stem from need, not from abundance. They do not derive from a heart brimming with love; they are experiences that are born with the other person and depend on the other person. But no other person can fill our hearts for ever. Someone else can give us love and affection, but not happiness.
Q: But we were told that love could last for ever, in eternal happiness, and we fell for it!
Instead love, true love, creative, earnest love, love that has the courage not to give up in the face of changing states of awareness in both lovers, very often, with just a few exceptions, sooner or later will die. And when this happens, when love abandons us, we feel betrayed by life. And evil appears dark inside us: we see the emptiness from which our love arises, life itself seems empty.
Q: But how can we be happy, just because we are alive; how can we fall in love with life itself?
Tao and Tantra teach us how. Firstly we need to nourish our authenticity, and with this the image we have of ourselves. The coming-together of a man and a woman can prove to be a fountain of unique discoveries and changes.
In Taoist-Tantric ecstasy (as in love-making), the state of being from which everything stems is abandonment, and abandonment derives from listening. Tantra teaches us that an ability to listen is the highest personal quality. A man who knows how to listen can discover divine femininity in a woman, and likewise a woman who listens can discover divine masculinity in a man. The most profound abandonment stems from the heart, from reciprocal adoration. It implies seeing Buddha in the body and in the eyes of another, sensing the mystery, knowing how to adore the other person. This is the wonderful path that ? whether it is part of an amorous relationship or not ? makes us perceive the marvels of existence, that makes us fall in love with life.
Men and women cannot go on waging war on one another. A war that we wage on someone is a war that we fight in ourselves. There is only one male archetype, for men and for women: two interpretative approaches, but only one archetype. And this is likewise true for the female archetype.
By diminishing the value of the male side of a man, a woman reduces the value of the male side to her own character. And the reverse is true for men, who for centuries have not cultivated the female side to their characters, at the same time subtracting value from the feminine side of women’s characters.
This closing of the chakra of the heart, this juggling for power upsets the balance with gravity itself, the balance between yin and yang that give a unity of being to both men and women. Today we need to give meaning and value to the male and the female sides of our characters, treating them as divine principles. We need to make them blossom in our social conscience, loving them and taking pleasure from them, inside man and inside woman. Through meditation ? through cultivating the energy behind the female and male sexual values, and the exchange of energy ? Tao and the Tantra teach us to create the wealth that is within us, and to share it in loving play.
Only someone who has inner wealth can find the freedom of need: “Only those who come to the fountain will quench their thirst.” Inner wealth means identity of gender, autonomy, independence, a capacity to listen, the opportunity to share. Only when our thirst is truly quenched can we become a source of freedom for our partner. And man and woman can become reciprocal sources of nourishment and growth.
The symbol of yin and yang reveal to us the great power that our relations have. When we nourish the image that our partner has of him or herself with love, we cultivate the life inside our partner, just like water and the sun. “Just as the top is, so is the base; just as the inside is, so is the outside”: accepting the shadow of our partner and reflecting the light of his or her image, we clean the mirror of our own awareness, and we fuel our very fountainheads of love. In other words, by nourishing the image our partner has of him or herself, we create inner light and inner wealth in ourselves. This is what being a couple means, this is an opportunity for existential happiness.
Loving ourselves, loving others, loving life — these are all part of a single, inseparable and divine experience.
Q: Is there a great deal of interest in Tao-Tantra in Italy?
Last year a hundred or so people attended our Tao-Tantra seminars. This is an important sign, a courageous sign of a desire to get to know the intimate side of our relationships and to make them blossom.
For many of us it was a fantastic experience of opening up, of trust and abandonment, of coming together, both on an individual level and with others. At the end of each group session, alongside this true, re-discovered joie de vivre, this seeing the light of the world, there was a great awareness of what we were seeking, and what we could expect from human relationships: a feeling of togetherness, uniquely and humbly in the face of the mystery of life.
Q: What are the main approaches and techniques used during your group sessions?
All approaches are part of an alchemy-like process that hinges on two poles of energy during love-making: that of the heart (fire, passion, listening, thoughtfulness, abandonment, accepting without judging, celebrating the expectation, the event itself, the awareness of our divine nature), and that of sexuality (water, sweetness, the expression of our desires, the extension into cuddles, kisses and hugs, the “touching of the soul”, “the wheel of love”, the cultivation of sexual energy and multiplying it).
Many approaches (linked to the pole of water) are Tantric and Taoist meditations, techniques to expand our awareness so that we can become conscious of our sexual energy and propel it into our body and into our partner’s body. These are techniques to expand physical pleasure and energy, allowing the man to decide the right moment for ejaculation, separating this moment from orgasm, exchanging his own vital yang principles with the yin principles of the woman. Such practices allow the woman to re-discover her Tantric nature and her vast erotic power. In this manner, when this exchange of energy and pleasure goes beyond the genital organs, there results an “alchemy-like union”, in other words an extension of the orgasm to the organs and to the brain: at this point the coming-together of the partners becomes Tantric ecstasy.
Q: What level of intimacy is needed?
Usually these approaches are not experimented in full within the group, time and total intimacy being required. However, we work on preparing the techniques and the energy needed. At no time have any participants been forced to take any of the experiments further than they wished. Many of the exercises involve various opportunities for experiences: the level of intimacy is free, and the levels of intimacy chosen by all participants are carried out in full and complete respect of the other participants.
Q: And as for the heart, what do you mean by “a leap into the inner heart”?
Of great importance, indispensable for this alchemy-like process are the experiences that activate the centre of the heart, that allow participants to take a true “leap” into their hearts, and into that of the group. And this leap comes about through games, dances and rites; we abandon our masks, our defenses, our fears and our prejudices. For a few days and in certain moments, we go back to living like children, experiencing all the authenticity of our experiences.
The Tao-Tantra group is a place for sacred encounters, providing trust, friendship and support. It is a great opportunity for development, enwrapped in a collective field of spiritual energy, where the light of love and awareness pervades and transforms all those taking part. Here, everything becomes a game of enchantment. The sensation of feeling at home, protected and loved, leads to a incantation in the eyes of our companion, where we discover the qualities of our own hearts.
This is the magic that allows us to see the Eternal Tao in others and in ourselves the combined forces of Shiva and Shakti, Great Yin and Great Yang.. And bewildered, we continually ask ourselves why we are so far from such an awareness in our daily lives, so far from such happiness.
This is the happiness of being here, playing this Sacred Game of Life, where laughing together is a grace, and where silence is a presence: together with our partner, heart to heart, skin against skin, here, together, on the threshold of mystery.