Love, Intimacy and Sexuality
Love, Intimacy and Sexuality as seen by Stan Dale, creator of Harbin’s most popular weekend workshop
by Michael Mears
What can you say about a man who, with a voice as compelling and hypnotic as Svengali’s, declares, in front of anyone and everyone, “There is no such think as sex!”
And then, before you have had a chance to ruminate on that provocative homily, he fills the air with another equally compelling one, “Intimacy is the most painful, spiritual, emotional and physical experience .”
What do you make of a guy who, with an insouciant grin, looks you in the eye and insists that he is in love twenty-four hours a day?
Well, if you’ve got any skepticism at all—and who doesn’t unless you’ve collapsed-lapsed into the submerged positivism and infinite goodness of the New Age—you have to say to yourself, as I did, “Is this Stan Dale guy for real?”
So you check him out. You listen to him some more and you pay attention to the subtext of what he says—the energy beneath his words. You look at his physical being,—how he moves, how he sits. You watch how he interacts with others. You’re looking for the false front. The hidden agenda. The other side of the mirror. You persist in wanting to know the true Stan Dale because you are no longer going to be taken in by the unevolved gurus and workshop leaders who ultimately disappoint you. You want to be sure, before you go any further, whether or not this one is the real thing.
You know this one has to be checked very carefully. Because he has all the elements of what it takes to be an Elmer Gantry. For many years Stan Dale was a hugely successful radio personality. He knows how to use a voice so rich and mellifluous that when you hear it you think you’ve died and are listening to the voice of God or at least one of his appointed assistants.
Well, the truth is, Stan Dale is not someone you want to follow to Ojai, or Iowa, or even to Oregon. He is not charismatic and he doesn’t appear to be brilliant. And that is the power of his presence. He is his authentic self. Perfectly imperfect. Alive with energy. Bubbling with enthusiasm. Stan, and the work he does, is for real. And the proof is not in his maple syrup voice. The proof is in the results of his work.
For more than-twenty-five years Stan Dale has been the guiding; force behind the Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops—”love boats”, as Stan might say, that have provided a safe and provocative space for over 40,000 men and women from the United States, Europe, and the Far East whose lives have been transformed by Stan’s workshops.
Stan Dale started his professional life as a radio personality. He was, from 1951 to 1953, the announcer and narrator for The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and Sergeant Preston of the Yukon. And for a short time, the voice of The Shadow.
In the forties Stan was at the top of his profession. And then the walls came down. He had a draft deferment because he was married and had two children.
But then his wife up and left him and he was forced to step up to the plate and bat for the good old U.S. of A. It’s forever true that all exits are entrances, and as Stan says, he is grateful to his first wife for putting him in the position of having to go into the Army But he wasn’t grateful when it happened. He believed his career was destroyed.
And in a way it was. In the Far East Stan learned what has become the core of his beliefs and the foundation for his Human Awareness Institute the umbrella organization which administers and facilitates the Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops.
It happened while at a party in a geisha house in Japan, where Stan met the elderly Japanese man who was hosting the party and was to change his life.
After a long conversation together the man invited Stan to live at his geisha house. Stan was tempted, but told the man that since he was a private in the Army and living on the base, even though he wanted to he had no way of doing so. The man looked at him and said he would find a way.
A week later the four star general in charge of Stan’s area said he wanted Stan to do a radio show. Stan told him he could not live on base and do the show.
So guess what? The general said he could live off base. So he moved to the geisha house and remained there for seven months. Living in the geisha house was the single most important event in my twenty-seven years. “I thought I knew everything about sex. There was no ‘sex’—intercourse—there. What I learned was sense and reverence. At my workshops, what we teach is reverence and high sensuality. Where do the senses stop and sex begin? We demystify the craziness around sex, and we revere each person.”
It was in the geisha house that Stan leaned the adage “If God wanted to hide, he would hide in human beings because that is the last place we would look. In his workshops participants are encouraged to look for the God and Goddess in each person. “I used to hate God because the concept of God as a jealous, angry, vengeful being, all the negatives, made me sick. We call God ‘the Father’. I would never do to my children what they said God would do to his. So I recreated God and an adage that has served me well: ‘I know you, you are just like me.”
When Stan returned from Japan in 1957 he had learned to look at life in a whole new way so everything in him “was bubbling, and churning.”
He got his job back as Stan the Record Man, continuing with it until 1968 when the show was converted to a talk show. It was from this radio talk show that Stan birthed his sex workshops. His music show was on from midnight to 5 am. “People who called in were lonely and wanted to talk,” recalls Stan, “so between records I would talk to them about their lives. I was much more interested in the phone calls than the music. So I went to the boss and asked if I could put some of the phone calls on the radio. He agreed, and soon we were knocking out the phone company switchboards. People were desperate to talk to someone who was compassionate about their problems. So we stopped playing music and did telephone calls only. Mine was the first psychologically-oriented talk show in the world.”
But another door swung shut when Stan was fired from WCFL, the Chicago radio station from which he broadcast. Why was he fired? A minor thing. Stan said he didn’t think Mayor Daley should run for mayor again. Not a smart career move in a town that put Mayor Daley on such a high pedestal that the only thing missing was a crown and sainthood from the Pope. Of course, it didn’t help that the station was owned by the Chicago Federation of Labor—Daley’s staunchest ally.
Luckily, for the forty thousand who have taken Stan’s workshops and the thousands who will do so in the future, Stan had started the sex workshops as an adjunct to his radio show. He had wanted a forum where people could come to discuss their problems. In those days the workshops were their formative stages. Sometimes they were called the Stan Dale Love-in. Once he had over 1,000 people attend his love-in. Though they were successful, Stan wanted to improve them. He wanted to add exercises to what was basically a place for people to talk about sex.
Stan wanted to put into the workshops the exercise he had learned in the geisha house in japan—especially the idea of reverence for others and for oneself. The first exercise Stan used is today the hallmark exercise in all his workshops. The exercise consists of touching the face of someone, then observing the texture and the eyes.
“It is so profound,” insists Stan, “that it brings up the deepest spiritual feelings. It is such a unique feeling for people. They may never have experienced it before and want to keep that feeling. It is a heart opening space and an opening to their sexuality.”
First participants look in each others’ eyes—what Stan calls the “landing strip to the heart.” “When people get a chance to touch heart, body and soul it’s an opening to feel the magic of their humanity,” says Stan.
Stan ran the workshops for seventeen years while maintaining his profession as a radio personality. During this time he was doing the workshops as a public service. His wife did all the logistical administrative work and co-facilitated. As the workshops grew in popularity—and size—he and his wife continued to do everything themselves—until he was finally persuaded to train others to facilitate the workshops. Now there are 200 interns and facilitators.
What happened in one of Stan’s workshops? What happens is personal revelation — about oneself and one’s relationship to others. And that revelation is always the extraordinary realization that you are wonderful in your imperfect perfection.
And that’s why Stan says, “There is no such thing as sex.”
As he explains it, “Sex is a metaphor for how I treat you; who I am. What I do with any of my body parts or my mind are the metaphor. Sex doesn’t exist except as the label you give it.”
Stan believes most people haven’t the foggiest idea about sex, and that what they think they know is as outdated as anything could be. Sex according to Stan is anything you think it is and the more you expand your definition the more you tap into a wonderfully expansive world that so fully enlarges and enriches your life that you become sexually involved—in love with—each and every person with whom you come in contact.
What Stan has discovered and so zealously passes on to other is that the term — and the meaning of sex—has been corrupted and diminished. We have all been fed a bill of goods that has taught us to think of sex as an act largely involving the stimulation of the genitals. As Stan sees it, the largest sex organ in the body is the 3500 square inches of skin that surround our bodies.
The misperceptions about sex have ruined more relationships and relationship possibilities than any other single thing insists Stan. “Sex is treated like the proverbial drink of booze.” A way of shutting down. Contracting, rather than expanding. Stan asks the question, “What do we want when fucking?” His answer? “What we want is connection. Unfortunately, the bedroom is the only arena where we can be stroked, kissed, touched,” because we have so hidden and repressed and misunderstood the nature and function of sex.
Stan wants everyone in the world to throw away their labels about sex, deep six the judgments and the old scripts. And when you throw it all away you’ll end up vulnerable—which to Stan means you’ll end up at the peak of your personal power and more potent than you ever imagined. Why? Because you’ll no longer have to pretend, or keep secrets. You’ll learn to appreciate and revere your sexuality—spiritually, emotionally, and physically. You’ll flow.
Over the twenty seven year period the Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops have been going on, Stan and his facilitators have created an opportunity to appreciate oneself sexually, to experience, perhaps for the first time, intimacy with others, and to know what it means to “be in love.”
Ask Stan to define intimacy and he immediately replies, “into me you see.”
Not bad. It’s catchy and memorable. It’s also profound. Look beyond what you’re used to seeing and feeling, instructs Stan. “Awaken the true senses. Ask yourself, `Where does sex begin and sense end?’”
In the workshops participants let go of their defenses, realize there is nothing to hide and so let the skeletons out of their closet. The result? A closeness among each and every participant that ignites the soul and allows the opportunity to see each other at a deeper level than the one that has been our conditioned, fearful, cautious response to other human beings.
“Sarah,” Stan recalls, “was a participant in one of the workshops. She was in her late sixties. According to the so-called norms Sarah was not attractive. Yet she gave off such a radiance that everyone felt beautiful in her presence. She wound up marrying a man she met in the workshop—a true hunk in every sense of the word—a physically beautiful man, with a beautiful mind—who fell hopelessly in love with her.”
In effect, at a Stan Dale workshop you do fall in love. First with yourself. ‘Then with the other participants And, eventually as you take each of the other workshops—there are six levels—you fall in love with the whole world.
At least, that’s what seems to have happened to Stan.
Although there are more people than you can shake a stick at who loudly proclaim they love everybody, precious few actually walk their talk.
Stan does. He’s dropped the negativity, the anger, the fear that imprisons most of us. He lives in love. How do I know that?
Because I’ve watched him with others and his love for each person is genuine. It’s not the love we associate with ascended masters—in which we feel the electricity of the Divine penetrating our souls. Stan’s love is more earthy than that. It’s a one-to one human connection which recognizes that we are all of us perfectly imperfect human beings, that loving a person doesn’t mean we have to like them, that the more we learn to love the more love we will pour out and the more love we pour out the more love pours in, and the more love pours in the more violence we eliminate—in ourselves, in others, in the world.
Because, as Stan says, his voice resonating with the conviction—and wisdom of many years of experience, “The absence of love is violence. And love begins with an appreciation of self-love. As your cup of self love fills up it over flows into others.”
To live successfully, according to Stan Dale, you don’t have to take on anyone else’s beliefs. And that includes Stan’s. In fact it is all the beliefs that have been shoveled on us by others that keeps us from living wholeheartedly as own essential selves. Taking a workshop in Love, Intimacy and Sexuality is to discard the false and limiting beliefs, the fear and violence that chains your heart and keeps you from falling in love with your true soul mate—yourself. It is to stand-toe to toe with your authentic self.
“And of course, once you’re in love with yourself, your life becomes as rich and as full as Stan Dale’s—who at the age of 65 has inexhaustible energy, sleeping no more than five hours a night—an imperturbable happiness and genuine feelings of love that leave him tingling all day.”
Stan Dale may believe there is no such thing as, sex, but, in fact, he is the embodiment of a truly sexy human being. He is genuine; he is authentic; he sucks up life’s pleasures with passion.
And that same “sexuality”—that genuineness, that authenticity, that passion—permeates through all of Stan’s workshops They are the thing Stan and the Human Awareness Institute are not out to make money or to use the workshops as launching pads for Stan’ s ego fulfillment. The Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshops, founded by Stan Dale are now administered and facilitated by the Human Awareness Institute. They are most succinctly described by Stan as “loveboats” where, if you look, you will find your authentic self.
Or you could say they are containers for the heart—where intimacy surrounds you like a sweet, insistent aroma and love pours out of you as fast as it pours into you.
To attend a Stan Dale workshop is, for all but the most seasoned, initially frightening. For some, terrifying would not be too strong an adjective.
I saw that fear last week, just before I sat down to write this article. I met a woman who was enrolled in her first Love, Intimacy and Sexuality Workshop. When she told me she was taking the weekend workshop for the first time I could see terror dancing in her eyes and tension in her body as tight as a new drum.
Stan teaches all participants to love their body. This woman, I thought to myself, was going to have a hell of a hard time of it. She was seriously overweight and stuck me as someone who had used her weight to cover up her vulnerability. I wondered what the experience would be like for her.
The Monday after the workshop was over, I found out. I passed her on the steps at Harbin and was struck by how different she looked. There was a softness, a serenity, and an openness that hadn’t been there before. “So, how was the workshop?” I asked. Without hesitation she threw a big smile at me and proclaimed, “It was wonderful. Could I have a hug?” As we hugged I knew I was holding a woman whose life had, in the most profound way, just begun.
Reprinted with permission from the Harbin Quarterly.
When this article was written in 1995, its title coincided with the name of the workshops, which was the “Sex, Love, & Intimacy” workshops. At the beginning of 1996, the name of the workshops was changed to the “Love, Intimacy and Sexuality” workshops. In January 1999, the references to the workshop in this article were changed to Love, Intimacy and Sexuality.