Friday, April 10

Free Love Community Talk with Zegg Masters

Last fall, Dawn Porter, a British television personality did an hour long docu-series on Free Love and flew me and my co-author Baba Dez out to a Free Love commune in Germany called ZEGG. It was a brief four day visit where we quickly discovered they were not interested in learning Tantra from us, but had a lot to teach us about sustainable relationships… I was surprised to learn their intentional community involves over 80 full time residences who are committed to radical transparency, free love and world peace. I was immediately attracted to a tall middle age man named Achim. He has been a leader and teacher at this community for more than half his life and has a casual but enlightened presence. I invited him and his primary partner to come to stay with us in san diego during his 6 month tour through the Americas.
A week before they arrived I posted a little notice that read:
The Germans Are Coming! The Germans Are Coming! They’re coming to share what it’s like to live at a intentional free love eco-village called ZEGG.
With little notice, over 25 friends and lovers showed up from out of the woodworks. There seems to be great interest in hearing a global perspective on love and community. After some basic introductions and a 15 minute slideshow presentation I facilitated a Q & A. If you’re interested in seeing the video presentation you can watch on you tube:
Achim and Ina were happy to talk on topics such as:
organic farming,
communal child rearing,
Radical Communication,
and world peace.
But I admit, I was most eager to talk about Free Love. Achim’s partner Ina is an attractive middle age woman with long dark hair and manicured toenails which she sensually rubbed together while she spoke. She started off by saying she is happy to share about her personal life. She feels that love is not a private issue, it is a political one. It is a also an intimate issue, yes, but it is something that all humans share. And if we are to live in more harmony on the planet then we had better work harder at understand the human heart. She explained that for the last 10 years they have been in an open partnership with Achim and she has other partners, lovers and sexual friends. She defined partner as someone you would share a common goal or project with. You can have partnership with someone you work with whether or not you have great sex. You can also have great sex with your friends. In this culture these two terms are mutually exclusive. Generally people don’t have sex with their friends. But Ina asks, why not? What a beautiful thing to share with your friend. In ZEGG they use the term, sexual friendship. Ina also shared that for the moment she is not interested in more partners. Sexual friends and lovers, yes, but she is happy to have only one long term partner right now.
Achim adds that all these labels and terms for different kinds of relationships are only approximations. If we are truly in the experience of life all the categories and definitions don’t serve us. Achim was originally attracted to ZEGG early in life because he noticed that the way he was doing relationship wasn’t working, and he was a peace activist and an environmentalist and all of these parts of his life seemed separate until he found ZEGG…where they all seemed to come together.
Ina was initially introduced to the concept of ZEGG by a friend who said there is a place where people live together and practice free love and there is no jealousy. She was about 22 then, and has lived at ZEGG for over twenty years and emphatically reports that jealousy still happens.
Jealousy, she says, is like as a disease, an illness. It is not our natural state of being, and when we get jealous we have to remember to be kind to ourselves. The term jealousy is quite a combination of feelings a summation of many needs, stories, fears, upsets, hurts, frustrations…yet when we say jealousy it’s as if we all know what we’re talking about. Jealousy is different for everyone.
And Jealousy is rarely about your current situation. When Achim is relating to another women and Ina gets jealous, she finds that only 5 percent of her jealousy is about his behavior and the other 95 percent is because of unresolved emotions and painful wounds from past experiences. Most of us were raised with neglect, abandonment, loss and other dysfunctional love paradigms. We didn’t get our needs met in adolescence so we carry around old stories like land mines waiting to get triggered.
Achim says that we can live our entire life trying not to feel jealousy. It’s like driving a car in circles trying to avoid our unresolved issues. If this is how we live, our entire life path will be determined by what we’re afraid to feel or face. It’s not a true course. Instead Achim stays in touch with the force of life and if jealousy comes up it’s like a healing opportunity. He uses jealousy as a way to heal unresolved issues and to take the hurt out of them. Much like disarming a landmine. If we go directly into our fears and our pain we are able release the old stories and no longer be run by them. We become clearer and more liberated each time. In this way, Achim says I welcome the Jealousy. She is a teacher and a goddess to learn from. She shows us where we are stuck and hurt.
Ina gives the example of a time when she watched Achim on the couch cuddling a woman in a very timeless interaction. This bothered her. But soon she realized the only reason it hurt her is because she doesn’t give herself time to cuddle on the couch. She always says she’s too busy. It makes sense that he would get his need met from someone else and she got the important reflection that she is bound by time and that she can chose to become more timeless. She doesn’t fear jealousy anymore because it always has something valuable to teach.
Further, when jealousy arises, its best not to go to Achim (or whoever you feel is causing the jelousy) because they may stir the feelings up more and not help you see the lesson. Ina finds it best to go to her women friends or other lovers in the community. Community support is essential. Our friends can be great mirrors to help us see what is really bothering us. Ultimately it is up to each individual to do the inner work which is more spiritual than it is therapeutic. The work is to practice self love and to engage fully in the flow of life. When we’re really engaged in life and we feel self love, we become whole. A whole person doesn’t have jealousy. If someone has never been hurt then there is no past wound to get activated. There is no story there. There is no reason for a whole person to get upset when they see somebody getting something that they want. A whole person celebrates when other people are getting what they want, even if they don’t have it themselves. But our culture teaches us there is only one love, one mother, one god and this is an jealous god. These cultural myths affect how we experience love.
Also, Ina warns it is dangerous to put all of our needs on one poor person. She tries find others to meet various needs, not always Achim so that he doesn’t go bankrupt. She tries to distribute her needs among my other friends and lovers. That way she only comes to Achim with the needs that are easy and graceful. This way people love each other out of free choice not obligation to meet each others needs.
At this point in the lecture, many people were so interested in the teachings of this utopia that they wanted to know how to become a member of ZEGG. What are the criteria to live there? Zegg is a conference center and has many visitors during the summer months. They are also a sustainable eco-village and the 80 full time residence work hard and live indoors during the winter. So when a visitors comes to summer camp they don’t automatically become part of the core community. They have to establish trust and relationship first. It is like living in a large open marriage, you don’t want to rush into anything;everyone has to get along. If someone gets turned on by the philosophy of ZEGG and wants to try living there they are invited to come to an immersive experience where a select group of visitors will practice living in community for 5 weeks. And if that goes well and they want to continue they would be invited to stay for a summer season and eventually over an average of five years they might be welcomed in as a full time residence.
In Conclusion the most valuable thing that I got from studying with Ina and Achim is something that achim said to me quite casually in my living room before the workshop begin. After a brief discussion of how I see the San Diego Tantra and Poly communities, Achim said, “You are ready for a bigger commitment from your community. When people are invested in working together on bigger projects over longer periods of time, a whole new level of satisfaction emerges. I agree. I’m ready. Who wants to join me?


Sarah Taub said...

Hi Kamala -- we met years ago on a trip to Canyon de Guadelupe. Thanks for this lovely summary! I'm hosting an evening with Ina and Achim in Arlington VA next week.

I'd like folks to know that they can get a taste of ZEGG in this country by coming to one of the two ZEGG-inspired Summer Camps put on by Network for a New Culture -- . Summer Camp East ( is July 10-19 in West Virginia, and Summer Camp West is August 7-16 in Oregon. You'll find lots of folks living the philosophies expressed in this article, plus ZEGG Forum and lots of interesting presentations. All are welcome!

warm wishes, Sarah Taub

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