Close Encounters In the Encounter Group

A extract from a book by Lokesh, based on one of those legendary week-long ‘no limits’ therapy groups in Pune One.

The Encounter group was the psychological equivalent of a can opener. It took place in an air-conditioned cellar beneath a two-storied office building. Frank pushed open the thick soundproofed door that led into a large square room with padded walls. Upon entering the therapy chamber he was surprised the door had opened easily, because the room’s atmosphere was so heavy it might have required a bulldozer to shift it. He sat down on the mattress-covered floor and joined a loose circle formed by the seven women and six men who were to be his companions for a week. They shared half-a-dozen nationalities between them and, judging by the tense expressions they were wearing on their faces, the common denominator was nervous anxiety.

Teertha Bridges, the group’s leader, swanned into the room accompanied by his lissom assistant, Turiya Forth. Frank had talked to the middle-aged therapist on a couple of occasions prior to the Encounter group. He was an Englishman whose lips carried a smug smile, casting the impression he knew some kind of secret information about the human condition that only he was privy to. An old hand on the therapy scene, he was a sensitive, benign fellow with a wry sense of humour. When he spoke, his voice was confident and strong. His intelligent face was wizened beyond its years. He had a long grey beard and receding hair that hung over the stooped shoulders of his tall, thin body, lending him the appearance of an academic wizard.

Turiya was in her early thirties. Her physical presence had a definite feline quality about it. Long tawny hair fell around her catlike face. Her nose was slightly upturned below alert, almond-shaped eyes. She appeared ready to pounce, her movements graceful, compact and precise like those of a large cat, more mountain lion than domesticated. Frank wondered what lay beneath the folds of her shapeless maroon robe. In a flash, her blue eyes locked on to his, signalling to him that she was a highly intuitive individual, capable of picking up on his thoughts if she chose to.

By the end of day one, Frank knew where he stood in the eyes of his fellow group members. All but one of the women wanted to make love with him, and all the men disliked him. Before the session wound down for the day, everybody was given a homework assignment. Frank had to choose the woman in the group he felt least attracted to and take her home. He was tempted to cheat, but thought the better of it. He picked a plump, forty something, South African woman called Joy. She reminded Frank a little of Agnes Cameron, the cheery spinster on Iona, who had nearly ruptured his intestines with her gas-producing brew of lumpy porridge when he was a kid.

The first real lesson in the Encounter group was learned that evening between the cool silk sheets of his bed. Never judge a jungle book by its cover because you never know what’s inside. Joy and Frank came together in the most wonderful of ways when, much to his delight, he discovered that her vaginal muscles had the squeezing power of a mature boa-constrictor. She made savage, hot-blooded love. Joy had told him about how she’d worked as a safari guide in the Serengeti National Park in central Africa. Frank reckoned she’d learned a few tricks by observing the mating habits of wild animals, especially lions. She reached a shattering climax and let out a deep-throated roar, so loud Frank worried his eardrums might burst from the pressure. After they’d caught their breath, she requested to have her bare buttocks spanked with a belt, the way her big game hunter Afrikaner father had punished her as a child. Frank tried to excuse himself by explaining how a leather strap had traumatized him when he was a schoolboy on Iona.

“Oh, I see,” she said in strongly South African-accented English, “it’s like that is it? I suppose you were one of those domkops who hated doing their homework as a kid.”

“As a matter of fact I…”

“Listen, An… Whatever your blery name is. This isn’t just about getting my broekies off and having a good fok. It’s about facing our fears to be free of them.”

Frank expelled an exaggerated sigh, stretched out an open hand and said, “Where’s the belt?”

Lesson number two came the following morning. Frank pulled on a pair of worn leather boxing gloves in preparation for a punch-up with each of the group’s male participants. None of the men could stand the arrogant Scotsman who they’d mutually decided was full of shit. The lesson was to never drop your guard, even if it looks like you’re the champion. Frank feeling wobbly at the knees after winning two boxing matches and keeping his balance on the mattress-covered floor. His third adversary was a fat Australian who weighed in at 300 pounds. His fuzzy hair made him appear like he’d been hit on the head by a bolt of lightning. All the people in the group were naked. Frank could see that his new opponent was badly out of shape with little in the way of muscle development. Frank knew how to take care of himself and, after exchanging a few sparring punches, soon figured out that the Aussie was a clumsy oaf who could not have fought his way out of a wet paper bag. What Frank did not expect was that the big galoot from the Antipodes would trip on the edge of a mattress and deliver a spontaneous Glasgow kiss to his right eye. The Aussie won the match by way of a technical knockout. His Scottish adversary was out cold.

Frank came round realizing two things: he could not see out of his swollen right eye, and there was a commotion going on in a corner of the room. By mutual consensus, it was agreed that the man from down under was a brutal thug, because he’d head-butted Frank in the face. The fat Australian was overpowered, thrown to the floor and buried under a pile of foam-rubber mattresses. His fellow group members jumped on top of the bouncy mound and began a spontaneous love grope. Beneath this heavy suffocating mass, the Australian’s muffled voice could be heard pleading for his life. Frank felt sorry for the Aussie. He turned to Teertha and Turiya, who were sitting to one side like a couple of long-haired elves enjoying a cup of tea.

“You’ve got to stop this,” demanded Frank.

Teertha glanced up at him, blinked in mock surprise, and set his white porcelain teacup on the floor. “What’s the matter, Scotty, things getting too out of control for you?”

“Come on, man,” Frank persisted. “Let him out of there. He’ll suffocate.”As if to confirm his warning, the Australian’s cries faded away.

“Listen, Scotty, if this was an encounter group, what do you think would be the next thing you had to encounter?” Teertha nodded towards the pile of mattresses on the other side of the room.

“No fucking way,” shouted Frank. “If you try to put me under there, I’ll fucking well murder somebody.”

Teertha shook his head and tutted. “Didn’t take us very long to discover your limitations. Now, did it, Scotty?”

The group leader put two fingers to his mouth and whistled like a sheepherder. A dozen naked men and women looked up from their frisky frolics on top of the mattresses. He nodded towards Frank and said matter-of-factly, “He’s next.”

A panic grenade exploded in Frank’s guts. He felt like he’d been booted in the stomach. The groupies pounced on him like a troop of aggressive baboons. He still had boxing gloves on. He swung around defensively and landed a couple of hard wallops on the faces of two assailants. A fist slammed into his left eye and his eyeball squelched in its socket. Frank was wrestled to the ground and the heavy slabs of foam rubber he’d tried to save the now unconscious Aussie from were thrown on top of him. Struggle was no longer possible. Frank was squashed like a cockroach under a car tyre. His breath was squeezed out of his lungs. The last oxygen molecules burned away to leave his heart pounding frantically. His head was throbbing. Waves of red colour pulsed behind his eyes. There was a brilliant flash of white light as his mind imploded. He passed out.

“Welcome back, Scotty.” When Teertha’s gentle words came to Frank, he opened his swollen eyes and imagined he was in heaven. Seven naked women were kneeling around him in a circle and caressing his bruised body with sensitive hands. He laughed for no reason and everyone present joined in.

Soon, it was on to the next episode. A young Italian woman, named Roberta, was reliving a childhood trauma that had been brought on when her mother died of cancer. As Roberta babbled in Italian about Mama, Frank tuned-in to her suffering. His empathetic response extended into his senses. He could smell strong antiseptic medicine. He heard the liquid death rattle when Mama’s throat gasped out its final exhalation. Somehow the experience propelled him into feeling broken-hearted about the loss of his own mother, who he had never known, and the tragic death of his stepfather, Daniel. Frank and Roberta sat shoulder to shoulder on a mattress, sobbing and crying until the day’s session ended.

That evening, Frank was taken home by Simone, a foxy French woman, who chose him as the man she felt most attracted to, somewhat of a pleasant surprise for him because he wasn’t exactly looking his best. Perhaps beat-up men with bilateral periorbital haematomas − black eyes − turned her on. She informed him that her father was a diplomat in Saudi Arabia, which might have explained how she could afford to rent a Bollywood star’s villa that must have cost as much in one month as the average Indian family earned in a lifetime. When it came to sex, Simone was a carnal junkie itching for a fix.

Sipping from a long-stemmed glass of blood-red wine, she ran a hand through her thick black hair, which was haloed by the last rays of sunset streaming into the bedroom. She took a few steps, opened the veranda windows and purred, “Oh zut, I feel so terribly hot. Do you mind if I take off my bra? It feels like I’m wearing a pair of crepe Suzette on my triple Ds.”

“Wow,” Frank gasped, drawing closer to the temptress.

Simone used a curved Arabian dagger to cut his long cotton shirt up the front. She took the stalk of his erect penis in her left hand. Frank expelled a sigh of relief when she threw the gleaming knife to the other side of the room, where it landed with a dull thud on a tiger-skin rug. “Come’” is all Simone said, as she led him by the cock towards her empress-sized bed. They lay down and licked each other urgently, like cannibals savouring an appetizer. She turned away and reached under the bed. “Voila!” She laughed and lifted up a long pink suitcase. “My toy box,” she giggled mischievously. Simone opened the case and handed Frank an onyx-handled, petrified armadillo snout. It was the first and last time in his life that he set eyes on one of these rare and priceless Aztec sex tools.

“What will I do with it?” he asked.

Simone lay back, raised her long legs in the air, spread them wide apart and instructed him by saying, “Place the snout’s end here.” She indicated with a red manicured fingernail.

Soon, their two perfectly formed bodies were sliding and writhing together. Waves of almost unbearable pleasure crashed over them when, with the aid of a string of marble-sized ball bearings, they performed the 108 tantric positions of The First Chakra Cult of Khajuraho.

Simone kept Frank up all night by strapping him into a modified, Freon-cooled donkey inseminator. The harness’s leather straps blistered his testicles, but the increase in his pumping power defied belief. His damp body thudded against her in an accelerated rhythm of wet slaps, her jiggling breasts acting as buffers to cushion the impact.

“Ooh-la-la! C’est le pied,”Simone cried, wrapping her slender legs around his waist. She raked his buttocks with long, sharp fingernails and coaxed the build-up of energy that was demanding release to gush into her in one long, ecstatic pulse. Frank screamed, and she popped a vial of amyl nitrate under his nose. The vapour exploded into his brain a second later. He thought he was going to die, yet he’d never felt more alive.

Wrecked by exhaustion, they lay entwined in a lovers’ embrace, basking in libidinous rapture. A fresh breeze blowing in through the open windows caused steam to rise off the living ying-yang formed by their sweating bodies.

By day five, Bärbel, a thirty-year-old German woman from Hamburg, had gotten it into her twisted mind that Frank reminded her of her father, a businessman who ran a sausage factory in Schleswig Holstein. Going by Frank’s appearance, papa must have looked like a survivor from a high-speed car crash on the autobahn.

“I hate you,” Bärbel yelled. “I vant to kill you.”

Bärbel dived across the room and brought Frank down with a rugby tackle. He was still recovering from his mechanically powered sex session with Simone, who was now playing scratch-your-eyes-out with the South African woman in the red corner. He struggled on the floor with the mad Hamburger like he was wrestling with an aggravated bull alligator. The blonde Aryan freed one of her hands and grabbed at his hair. It was too short to get a hold of. She settled for trying to rip his blistered testicles off. Frank screamed in agony. ‘Aaghh! Get off me, you crazy fuckin’ bitch.’ He pummelled the woman with his fists, but she was strong and possessed by such a fury that she’d become immune to the punishing blows. Frank was desperate. Becoming a eunuch at the tender age of twenty-seven was not on his agenda.

Viru, a sensitive Japanese man with a goatee, came to Frank’s rescue and pulled the grappling Teuton off him. Like many of his countrymen, he was desperately trying to get in touch with his feelings. He’d spent five days battering away at a cushion chanting his personal mantra, “I want to feel anglee.” The rest of the group decided that two men picking on one woman was unfair. They set upon Frank and his rescuer. At the very least, this helped Viru come in contact with his feelings of being intimidated and beaten up. When at last a naked Turiya clawed her way into the combat zone, separating the attackers one by one, Frank found himself with three cracked ribs and, courtesy of an anonymous elbow, minus two front teeth. His precious blistered balls remained painfully attached to his body, a physical fact that seemed far more important than what he saw as a few minor injuries. Turiya led a broken-nosed and tearful Viru over to a corner, helped him put on a giant nappy and persuaded him to lie down on the floor to keep him connected with his newly found emotions. Frank licked the gap in his mouth and tasted the salt of his own blood. He wondered why he’d signed up for a close encounter with a gang of violent lunatics.

During the early afternoon of the Encounter group’s final day, a top therapist popped into the padded room for a visit. Her name was Patsy Higgins and her reputation as a brilliant counsellor was well known in certain circles around the world. Frank’s first take on her was that she looked like a bag lady on methadone. Her shoulder-length, straggly hair was henna-dyed orange with a grey parting down the middle. Badly applied pink lipstick was smeared over her tight lips. She clung to a cheap plastic handbag with long fingers, their ragged nails glossed with cracked black varnish. One on one, she was pure psycho dynamite.

Patsy’s powers of perception and intuition were honed sharper than a samurai’s katana. She went round each of the groupies and sliced straight through the mask of personality to reach the heart of each individual’s psychogenesis. A wise man was once heard to say that God is not your uncle, because he isn’t nice. Neither was Patsy. If one wanted to get in touch with their inner child, she’d yank the brat out and spank its backside. A New Age witch-doctor, she helped bring people in touch with a primitive and childlike part of themselves, buried underneath the psychogenic detritus that accumulates in the course of a human existence. Deemed necessary, she could turn on the sweetness and become a fairy godmother.

In the case of the German woman, Bärbel, she requested all the men in the room to shower as much concentrated love and attention upon her as was humanly possible. Patsy had the knack of drawing the poison out of people. Within minutes the castrator transformed into a vulnerable Fräulein who confessed, for the first time in her life, that her papa had sodomized her with a hot bratwurst when she was in her early teens. Patsy Higgins viewed an overdose of masculine, tender, loving care as the best cure to set Bärbel on a path that would one day lead to the healing of her wounds, by making the unconscious conscious.

Frank was the last person in the group to receive Patsy’s attention. “Oh, dear,’”she sighed, “not another of those poor boys who grew up on the violent streets of Glasgow, and you were such a sensitive child.’”Her sarcasm could have cut glass. Frank wondered if Teertha had been sharing his observations with her behind the scenes. Patsy’s penetrating gaze stayed fixed on his eyes. Frank was, overall, out on a shaky limb. He’d been through Hell and back during the last week. If being squashed under a pile of foam rubber mattresses in preparation for having your testicles bruised by an artificial insemination device and then losing your front teeth in a fight was therapy, he’d had the full treatment. He felt like he had been reincarnated as a jellyfish.

“It is not your thoughts, but the attachment to your thoughts that causes suffering,” said Patsy, as she began to work on his traumatized psyche. “What’s this tough skin of emotional armour you are wearing?”she asked, poking at his arm as if she were referring to something that she could actually see.

He shrugged, gave her a puzzled look and said nothing.

“Oh my, lost for words, are we? That’s unusual for a Scot.” She smiled sardonically. “Well, dear, I’ll tell you what this rusty armour is. It’s a relic from the past. Your psychological chain mail was perhaps necessary when you were a teenager in Glasgow, but now it is obsolete. Bring it up into the light of awareness and your hyper-vigilant fight-or-flight programme will evaporate.” Patsy placed the palm of her right hand on the centre of his chest. “Let it go,” she said, perceiving correctly that he was experiencing an intense bout of insecurity. “Just let it all go.”

“But…but I’ll lose my protection,’”Frank said, looking around as if in search of something.

“You no longer need it,”she assured him. “You are not what your thoughts tell you that you are. Just trust and be.”

He relaxed into the moment. The golden penny of understanding dropped into his conscious mind. His lack of self-confidence quickly faded and a sensation of lightness filled his being, as if an oppressive weight had been lifted off him. He looked into the faces of the naked men sitting cross-legged on the floor beside him and saw for the first time in a week that they posed no threat. In fact, they appeared as quite the opposite. They were his soul brothers, supportive companions on the path of life.

He smiled at the Australian man who had, like him, been crushed under the mattresses to suffer the same suffocating purgatory. The fat man nodded, as if acknowledging the same thought in his mind. Warm emotion rose in Frank’s chest and a gentle, empathetic groan sounded in his throat.

He turned and looked deeply into Patsy’s inscrutable eyes. A mysterious transformation took place. Patsy’s scruffy physical exterior dropped away to be replaced by a vision of pure femininity, grace and intelligence. An aura surrounded her, radiating in subtle shades of turquoise luminescence. Frank felt irresistibly drawn to her.

Honey dripped from Patsy’s tongue when she leaned into him and whispered in his ear, “Do you feel attracted to me?”

He felt compelled to be honest. “Yes, I do.”

Patsy asked, “Would you like to make love with me?”

The woman was more than twice Frank’s age and she looked three times older, but in that moment it was the most tempting suggestion he’d ever heard.

He replied casually, “I wouldn’t mind.”

Smiling, she reached over and gave him a motherly pat on the cheek with a warm hand. “Dearie me,’” she breathed deeply and then exhaled a long sigh, “you’re going to have to try a lot harder than that.”

Everyone in the room burst out laughing. Patsy had used herself as bait to lure him into emotional openness. He had been so mesmerized by her powerful presence, he’d totally forgotten where he was. His cheeks reddened as he experienced an uncharacteristic bout of bashfulness. He looked around at his friends, returned their smiles and, upon seeing the humorous aspect of the situation, broke into laughter. When he turned back to face Patsy, she was no longer there. She’d slipped out of the therapy chamber without him noticing.

The Encounter group drew to a close with everybody embracing each other like it was the end of a loving family reunion. When Bärbel gave Frank a rib-cracking hug, her breath came hot in his ear as she said, in little more than a whisper, “I vant to fuck you.”He squirmed and took a mental note to avoid her in the future, in case she had a papa flashback.

Teertha delivered a patronising speech, which he concluded by saying, “The teachers we need most in life are our friends. Because it is the people closest to us who will show us the truth about ourselves that we don’t want to see. We need those reflections and the sooner we fully appreciate that, the better. God, the divine spirit, the whole, whatever you want to call it, is intimate with everyone − so intimate that it is an essential part of us. Now the time has arrived for the group process to be carried out into the world.”

“They better start building more hospitals to deal with the casualties,” remarked Frank. He’d grown to respect Teertha, although one incident involving the group leader which had taken place a few days earlier in the therapy room, challenged this reverence. He’d watched the therapist fuck the young Italian woman, who had looked very vulnerable during the one-minute quickie. Perceived through Frank’s eyes, the brief sexual encounter took on a bestial quality, like watching a horny old bull in a muddy paddock, mounting a young cow after he’d cornered her. Strange as it appeared, she’d put up no resistance. She’d been passively receptive to having sexual intercourse with a man who could have passed for her great-grandfather.

Letting go of one’s judgmental mind was seen as being par for the encounter course. This practice had certainly helped Frank when witnessing some of the bizarre events taking place in the padded room. It had also made it easier for him to acknowledge that he’d been ignoring certain painful aspects of human reality by shunting unpleasant facts about himself into the dark basement of the unconscious. Because he had the courage to move into the light, beyond the restrictive parameters set in place by convention and social taboos, Frank was beginning to understand that he was being nurtured by a force far greater than his ego or personal will, a power that some call spiritual evolution and others fate.

 

 

 

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53 Responses to Close Encounters In the Encounter Group

  1. frank says:

    I know that there is a serious side to it, but I have to admit that this piece made me laugh out loud in several places.

    A great cast of characters and…
    “Strapped into a Freon-cooled donkey inseminator…the leather straps blistered his testicles, but the increase in his pumping power defied belief.”
    “Sodomized with a hot bratwurst from her father`s sausage factory in Schleswig-Holstein.”
    “rare and priceless Aztec sex tools.”

    Love it!

  2. Lokesh says:

    Hi Frank, glad you enjoyed it. Could not resist using your name.

    I have been through many ups and downs since I first began writing 18 years ago. For me, it is truly a labour of love. I have finished my third book, completing my trilogy. Recently, I have been contacting publishers. Today I finally got a positive response. Nothing signed, and I have been here before.

    The encounter group chapter from which the segment is taken is one of my favourites. The two sections you quoted still make me chuckle. Even though it was written some years back.

    In my third book I have several chapters with Poona One set as a backdrop and there are plenty of laughs.

    Couple of nights back there was a 90-minute docu on German telly channel. Bhagwan and the Germans. It was surprisingly positive, with several intelligent sannyasins being interviewed. The common denominator being gratitude. I also feel that way, although I spend very little time dwelling on the past.

    Being in Afghanistan is right up there with Poona days. Those were high times.

    • frank says:

      Lokesh,
      Good luck with the publishers.

      My name? I assumed it would be Frank Begbie in a parallel universe where he had gone to India instead of taking to drink.

      Any ideas about who will play the parts in the inevitable Hollywood movie?
      Ian McKellen (Gandalf) as Teertha?
      She might be a bit old now, but Julie Walters would have done a great Patsy.

    • satchit says:

      I have seen that docu too, Lokesh.

      One guy said, “It was the best time of my life!”
      So you would not say this for you?

      • Lokesh says:

        Satchit, I would say those were great times, and I am grateful I was part of it. My hippy overland to India period was also great. These days I am just content if I can get out of my bed in the morning to appreciate another day.

        I continue to have great days, especially sitting around a campfire in the woods with a friend or two, travelling to destinations unknown. I love it.

        I do not have the need to rank what were the best of times in my life. Just as well because there have been many best times. I would not know where to start.

  3. Lokesh says:

    Synchronicity. Last night I was talking to a friend about Irvine Welsh. He’s one of my favourite writers, although his last outings have been sub-standard.

    Few years back, I was in talks about film rights for my first book. The director was friends with Robert Carlyle and wanted him to play my main character. Nothing came out of those discussions other than my becoming aware how fickle the movie business is. It is still my dream that my writing will be adapted for film. You might say I’m a dreamer….

    • frank says:

      Robert Carlyle would have been perfect in the ‘Trainspotting’ or ‘The Beach’ era, but he`s a little bit long in the tooth these days (aren`t we all?).
      James McAvoy would have been good, but ditto.

      Dream on, why not?

    • swamishanti says:

      Some enjoyable and amusing writing.

      I have also appreciated spending time in loving and safe environments where various people felt comfortable and relaxed enough with taking their clothes off now and again, returning to their innocence, strolling around or sitting freely like a child and basking in the sunshine, although not in the encounter group, but rather perhaps in an open field somewhere in the UK summertime or one of the more quiet Indian beaches where hippie types still roam and sleep on the beach.

      And I also recall when as a child of around ten years old, a friend and I had spontaneously what seemed like a brilliant idea, on a hot summer’s day, that it would be funny to remove all of our clothes and walk down the street to the local shop completely naked, just to see what people’s reactions would be like.

      Of course, in Great Britain pubic nudity is still illegal – a throwback to the rigidness of the Victorian era. But of course we didn’t know that. And my later compatriots who liked taking their clothes off couldn’t care less.

      Swami Shanti’s Door Love Experience

      Another time, many years later, in an impromptu comical performance in front of my girlfriend, I decided to try and ‘get it on’ with the wooden front door of our cottage, when I realised that the letterbox was about the right height for lovemaking. I embraced the front door standing up, and placed my shiva lingam , inside the letterbox.
      I wouldn’t recommend it, as I was expecting it to be soft, but the bristles were actually a little wiry.

      A Moment of Great Historical Significance

      I guess it must have been a historical moment of great significance, when, many thousands of years ago, the first men and women on earth , Adam and Eve , who would also have been living nude, encountered each other for the first time and would have realised that their different ‘parts’ of their bodies, which would have utterly fascinated each other, could also be combined: “Could my bit fit into your bit?” An ‘aha!’ moment.

      And the rest, as they say, is history. Although there are many pieces of the puzzle that have disappeared under the sands of time.

      And back to the Encounter Group piece which was set in the seventies.

      Frank’s encounter group story was a good and humourous read (which did remind me of some Irvine Welsh material at times): the experimentation and openness with free love, and trauma healing work, such as the young women who exposed her childhood abuse incident and trauma with the bratwurst, Frank’s own main transformative moment of the group in which he became unburdered of some of his childhood ‘armour’ with the help of the visiting lady therapist.

      Khajuraho

      The Temples of Khajuraho, also mentioned in the piece, which are covered in exquisite artwork in the form of finely crafted sculptures, including the famous erotic sculptures, many of which are said to be tantric in nature, with scenes of fighting and warfare along the bottom layer of the structures, there are also intricate depictions of intimacy and sex taking place, including many couples and group sex in different various positions as Frank describes.
      Including one group sex scene in the presence of a guru who is depicted sitting on a throne with a halo around his head…. Osho had said that meditators would sit outside of the temples and meditate on those sculptures until they felt they were ready to enter inside. And in the innermost core of the Temple, there is an empty inner sanctum, a ‘womb’ – which Osho said somewhere that he had once sat and meditated in on one of his visits.

      When I first visited the temples, although you’re not mean’t to, I also felt to try it, and whilst inside, with no-one around, I quickly climbed into the innermost chamber and sat there awhile. The energy inside that chamber , where many people must have meditated down the ages felt incredible. And overhead there was a tall, empty column, full of cool air, which led right up to the top of the temple.

      Only 25 out of 85 of the original temples remain, after Muslim invaders under the command of the Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak, attacked and seized the whole area.
      Still, it tends to be India’s nature to absorb all the influences, and a century later there were reports of Muslims visiting yogis with matted dreadlocks who lived near the remaining temple complex, and taking lessons in yoga from them.

      The central Indian region, where the Khajuraho temples are, was controlled by various Muslim dynasties from the 13th century through the 18th century. In this period, some more temples were desecrated, during various campaigns of temple destruction.
      However, Khajuraho was remote, which protected the Hindu and Jain temples from continued destruction by Muslims. Over the centuries, forests overgrew the remaining temples until they were rediscovered in the 1830s, when local Hindus guided a British surveyor. Apparently, Hindus had been secretly still worshipping at some of the temples and visiting each year for the annual Mahashivathri festival.

      We’ve seen what happens when various spiritual groups have denied sex energy and condemned others whom they deem to be lower who enjoy sex, and the hypocrisy as they struggle with their own sex drives with a strict vow of celibacy. In attempts to reach salvation they locked themselves away in their holy mission in their separate sex monasteries, such as those of the Roman Catholic Church, for example. They meant well but the results have been widespread sexual activities behind closed doors between the monks and there are stories of ‘Roman candles’ for the nuns.

      Those games were harmless enough for the gay monks and nuns of the monasteries – who cares what they get up to? But much worse has been the vast amount of well documented, non-consensual sexual abuse of minors of both sexes that has taken place overground, in more public ‘holy’ Christian environments by the clergy who had been struggling to contain their pent-up and perverted sex energy with their,vows of celibacy.

      I have heard that the more confrontational ‘fight club’ catharsis aspects of the Encouter group which had developed and had resulted in black eyes and broken bones were dropped by Osho in the late seventies after he had watched a documentary on the encounter group.

  4. Lokesh says:

    The encounter group was intense, but not the most violent group I took part in during Poona One years. I was in one group where some Karate expert nutcase kicked the shit out of a gay guy. It was a very heavy scene. The victim eventually made it out the door and ran off screaming. Par for the course back then. Now that I think of it in retrospect, it was awful.

    • frank says:

      If violent macho guys kicking the shit out of gay guys was a path to enlightenment, then the UK in the 1970s was a veritable buddhafield!

      Despite being wrapped up in a liberation ethos, what comes out of the accounts of these groups that I have come across (plus my closest-to-these-experiences, although milder, at the Humaniversity in the 80s) is that everyone involved was always `hitting down`. `Hitting up` wasn`t permitted.

      How healthy can that be, really? And as a result, is there any surprise that our same group subsequently headed further and further down the rabbit-hole of authoritarian, cultish, `mindless`, even fascistic groupthink?

      Btw, some have presented, quite convincingly, how this top-down violence has been essentially inherent in the whole project of psycho-therapy starting from the 19th century. “Against Therapy” by Jeffrey Masson is probably the most clear account of this story of attempts at healing that are invariably destroyed by the basic reality of power imbalance between the participants.

      Therapists being violent to their patients in the cause of psychological release and greater health, and running regimes based on this `approach` have an alarming pedigree. Some of the perpetrators are still held in high regard in their communities/traditions/profession.

      And we are talking about physical battering here. The psychological/emotional side is the rest of the iceberg!

      • Klaus says:

        Very well described, Frank.

        “Power imbalance” when “hitting down” being the keywords, imo.

      • satyadeva says:

        “…is there any surprise that our same group subsequently headed further and further down the rabbit-hole of authoritarian, cultish, `mindless`, even fascistic groupthink?”

        No surprise at all, Frank, although it’s easy enough to look back and see the connection while it was less obvious at the time.

        I experienced my share of extreme groups and in retrospect I should have questioned what was going on, realised I was wasting my time and resigned from them. But I knew no better, had nothing else going for me at that time, and just hoped it would all somehow work out in the end (it didn’t).

        • frank says:

          SD,
          Agreed, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

          You say, “But I knew no better, had nothing else going for me at that time, and just hoped it would all somehow work out in the end (it didn’t).”

          I don`t think you were alone there, but you`re older and wiser now, so surely that`s a result? At least on the basis of William Blake`s “You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”
          And “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”?

          • frank says:

            Lokesh,
            Other than as rich source material for your writing, how do you value the encounter group(s) and the like that you experienced?

            That is to say in the terms that they were framed – as therapy.
            Key breakthroughs, enlightening, a heavy scene, a waste of time, or somewhere else along that spectrum?

            • Lokesh says:

              It’s a long time ago. I did a lot of groups. Bhagwan told me to do the groups, along with thousands of others. He always asked me to do encounter-style groups. I learned a lot from them. Got a few good tools under my belt. So, overall I can honestly say I benefited from my group experiences. In retrospect, a few of them were bullshit. Some of the group leaders were inexperienced and it showed. All part of the crazy journey we embarked on.

              Of my contemporaries I see, with the passing of the years, that the ones who did not do groups lacked something that stayed with them for the remainder of their lives. Of course, I am speaking generally.

              Bhagwan later made out that it was all some kind of joke, as was his wont when tiring of something. Still, for Me it was worthwhile.

              I was, for much of my life, a bit of an encounterer. These days, I do not bother with such things. Content to be who apparently I am, and let people be who they are.

              Ultimately, it has a lot to do with personality, something which is a vague notion at best. We are ripples on the ocean’s surface. A cliche perhaps, but true nonetheless.

              • frank says:

                What were the tools you picked up?
                One of them must`ve been a can-opener, I suppose.
                When did Osho later on say the groups were a joke?
                I missed that one.

                • satchit says:

                  @ Frankie

                  Why were groups a joke?

                  Groups were basically there for solving problems.

                  The joke is:

                  There is no problem.

                • frank says:

                  Satchit,
                  What about you? Did those therapy groups solve your problems?

                • satchit says:

                  I have done a few groups when I stayed 1980 in Pune, Frankie.
                  Encounter, Tantra, Gestalt and so on.

                  When I look back doing groups was part of the sannyas game.

                  They were nice experiences but they did not solve problems.

                  But I also don’t remember that I had problems at that time.

                  And you, did you do groups in Pune?

              • Klaus says:

                …”that the ones who did not do groups lacked something that stayed with them for the remainder of their lives…”

                That is a crux, I feel.

                As those contents of consciousness which are not encountered and transformed ‘make the ground for another round’.

                I felt attracted to the sannyasins I met on the trip mostly for the feeling of freedom and being at ease with themselves. This seemed possible due to the making conscious of those suppressed feelings and emotions.

                I have not been very successful at that in the groups I took part in. So, nowadays I am seeing a therapist doing “systemic therapy” and “reverse therapy”.
                http://www.reverse-therapy.com/
                There is a link to the daughter of late Sw. Dharmen, here:
                https://www.annahemmings.com/cfs
                (via a German link: https://hilfe-heute.org/reverse-therapy/)

                On Thursday last week my mother-in-law, Soraya Begum, died in Bangladesh due to brain hemorrhage; there is no treatment for average people there. Only one specialised hospital in the whole of B.D. – for the very rich people and the politicians (members of parliament) only.

                This connection to my relatives in Bangladesh really gets me in contact with my feelings of love and connection and loss and vulnerability and sadness and lostness and and and – which I succeeded in – mostly – avoiding and covering up (successful western business life etc.) until now.

                One reason for the avoiding could have been my oversensitivity to power trips and the fearing of oppression and exploitation. So, in the western environment I did not feel a chance to open up. Or whatever.

                Interestingly still, my history with meditation in this life is such, that I started out with meditation at first at the age of 19-21 – wide open, clear sky, pure consciousness.

                Which imo was made possible by the very very favourable conditions in the centre in Myanmar and the wonderful support and experience of the teachers. And the long distance to my family in Germany…no chance to fall back into the old in those days!

                Take good care.

                • Klaus says:

                  My favourite instrumental – no words, Ahh!! – music at the moment suiting my sentimentality:

                  ;Don’s Boogie’
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxxjghJBfW0
                  Werner Laemmerhirt – guitarist

                • Klaus says:

                  For some catharsis & noise I go here:

                  Beth Hart & Je ‘Fffing’ Bonnamassa
                  Nutbush City Limits live 2017
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0dQt2E__hg&feature=emb_rel_end

                  Beth Hart at the Olympia/Paris
                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiObIH0A8wg

                • frank says:

                  Klaus,
                  It`s courses for horses.

                  When I first travelled to India in 197 I started to hear some stories about the ashram from a number of sannyasins that I met on the road.

                  I was drawn to what Bhagwan had to say (I had a cheap paperback of his that I bought at a bus stand for 4 rupees folded into my sleeping roll till most of the pages fell away). Looking back at it now, I see that after my (quite recent)schooldays, where my most consistent achievement was being brutally beaten with a variety of implements by a succession of WW2 damaged `masters` (lol) made me desperate to breathe the air of unobstructed freedom as much as I could. The idea of joining an organisation where I would be a young newboy again being told what to do by a new set of masters, prefects, teacher`s pets, creeps, grasses and all the rest just wasn`t going to happen at that point.

                  When I did reach Poona a few years later, I remember the first night, I checked into a lodge down by the river, Shakti lodge? It had a dormitory which was full of Japanese and German sannyasins. It was quite crowded with stuff everywhere, so I asked one German guy: “Which of the beds are free?” He turned to me angrily and shouted, “I don`t need to hear your head shit!” I didn`t know about encounter groups at that point, I just thought he was mental.

                • Klaus says:

                  Yeah, Frank, I will be horse for some time…it’s for a temporary period.

                  The end of such courses seems near.

                • frank says:

                  Ur, on the road to Bukhara….

        • swamishanti says:

          “…is there any surprise that our same group subsequently headed further and further down the rabbit-hole of authoritarian, cultish, `mindless`, even fascistic groupthink?”

          I would have thought that it should have been the other way round – the whole point of the therapy groups taking place in Pune One was dealing primarily with working with the three lower chakras – which should have made a large number of participants, in theory at least, more open , empowered, less willing to give away their personal power to others, and also more able to speak out their true feelings.

          And of course there is the aspect of hopefully encountering and healing the various emotional traumas and blocks that was intended to be a sort of ‘clearing the soil’ for meditation.

          And there were reports of satori and and mind-blowing spaces from some in those groups.

          Physical violence between participants does seem completely unnecessary to me, there are plenty of effective means of catharthis and emotional cleansing that can be employed both individually as well as within a group setting, without the need to resort to physically hurting each other.

          Like Frank, I did not participate in any of those Pune One groups, but I have heard from some people who did and valued their experience and felt that they had made ‘breakthroughs’.

          Of course, there will have also been those who did not value those groups or felt that they were unnecessary. The experience will have been highly individual.

          Also, if I remember from what you have written in the past, SD, Osho did not actually suggest to you to do the encounter group but it was rather a group in London with Somendra (Micheal Barnett) that attracted you but which did not give you what you were hoping for, and if anything, was not at all a positive experience for you. Pls. correct if wrong.

          I also did not participate in any of Veeresh’s groups but have known a few people who did and who greatly benefited from them. I remember one friend who was positively glowing after returning from a marathon group with Veeresh ,despite having lost their voice and having had little sleep , and another friend who he had helped break a long term drug addiction.

          From what I have gathered from reading/listening to interviews with Veeresh, in an early issue of Kindred Spirit magazine ,from the eighties, and others, he focused on working primarily with the first three chakras, mainly with the power chakra, and found I could resonate with what he was talking about. He also said that if people were ready he could help to lift them beyond the mind. Whether or not the methods he employed were that effective of course will depend of the individual cases. Some of that work can be very useful not just for life in the outer world but also for meditators.

          Other than that, I appreciate some of Veeresh’s creativity as a musician , not so much the later trance stuff he did but mainly some of his funkadelic / Latino/ trippy jazz / reggae positive vibes stuff and have heard that the Humaniversity Sound will be re-releasing some of his older material and recordings , which are no longer available , some of which I thought were quite good, due to requests.

          As far as Sheela is concerned, I can recognise in her that she is actually a very empowered individual, that was nothing to do with any group work which she never participated in. This gave her the huge ego and charisma and also made it easy for her to influence others and get to the position that she did.

          Successful politicians who reach to the top will always be very empowered and people who are successful in working in sales and marketing are also working from the same space, and all positive ‘manifestation’ work , ‘creating your reality’ , etc also comes from this centre.

          Martial artists also operate from this same space, the hara centre, which is where they draw their power and also makes them unstoppable in a fight unless they are evenly matched with another who is equally centred in this chakra, as well as effectively trained with technique.

          Sheela’s empowerment made it easy for her to reach the position that she did, but the fascist set-up she controlled with absolute authority and her abuse of her power made it very difficult for anyone to disagree with her. And those who did were often punished , banned or decided to leave themselves.

          Sannyasins trusted that she was operating totally under Osho’s instructions and
          they had been taught to surrender not just to Osho to enable him to work on them but also to the commune, which also meant giving away their individual power to the authoritarian regime. But authentic surrender and trust to the master is essential for the spiritual work.

          Osho wanted all possible methods available to help seekers in his ashram which included the ego-building/ healing therapies.

          Recently I also read that Osho decided to tone down the more confrontational groups at some point in the late seventies. I understand that the physical confrontations of the Pune One groups were greatly toned down or non-existent in the groups present at the Ranch and Pune Two/Three.

          On the ‘Osho meditation in Bristol’ page (nothing to do with me).

          See ‘Osho’s work is not therapy’: https://www.osho-meditation-bristol.co.uk/osho-24-karat/

          According to that site: “In Pune I there was the famous cathartic, confrontational, no-limits Encounter Group. When in the late 1970s Osho was shown a documentary of what went on in the group room he said, “Not my work”, and the group was never run again.

          In Pune II, someone (a leading Osho therapist and a beautiful meditative being) ran a prosperity consciousness workshop; again, Osho said, “Not my work”, and it was not run again.”.

          “…therapy is not anything spiritual. Therapy is only preparing the ground. And if you don’t have the seeds, the ground that you have prepared will simply grow weeds, wild grass. It cannot grow roses. Here I was using…therapy to clean the ground so that seeds of meditation can be sown, and people can blossom.”
          ['Beyond Psychology', Chapter 27. Chapter title: 'So which way are you moving?' 25 April 1986 pm]

          “To me, if therapy prepares the ground for meditation, therapy is going right…ground for the patients and ground for the therapist, both. Therapy should turn at a certain point into meditation. Meditation turns at a certain point into enlightenment. And to have such tremendous potential and just remain a beggar…

          [ … ] So leave the patients on the point from where they start moving towards meditation. Your therapy is complete only when your patients start enquiring about meditation. Create a great longing in their hearts for meditation, and tell them that meditation too is only a step — the second step. In itself that too is not enough, unless it leads you to enlightenment; that is the culmination of the whole effort.

          [...] So help the patients as much as you can to understand their problems, but make them clear that even if these problems are solved, you are the same person. Tomorrow you will start creating the same problems again — perhaps in a different way, with a different colour.

          So your therapy should become nothing but an opening for meditation. Then your therapy has a tremendous value. Otherwise it is just a mind game.”

          [‘The Great Pilgrimage’: ‘From here to here’, 13 September 1987 ]

          • Klaus says:

            Thanks, Swamishanti, for a very thorough post and the info.
            I read through some of it already…..

            • frank says:

              “Not my work” seems to have been a bit of a catchphrase of Osho`s according to this Islam fellow.

              By the way, this `radical` Islam chap with his “there is only one Osho”, “there is no Osho but Osho” schtick, are you sure he`s not some kind of spoof?

              I`m being disingenuous here as I actually know that he`s for real `cos I saw him in the front row banging his head on the marble down at Swami Bhorat`s ashram.

          • Lokesh says:

            What were the tools you picked up?
            Ehm…I perfected the delivery of the Glasgow kiss.

            Joking apart, I learned a lot from the groups. Too busy to go into all that now. I suppose one thing was learning how to express myself emotionally on different levels.

            The encounter group was intense. I went on to do a lot more intense group, but that is a long story, and I do not think I want to write about it on SN. Too personal.

  5. Klaus says:

    Loke,

    I appreciate your writings a lot; read your books almost non-stop and gained many insights into therapy and Poona etc.

    All thumbs up for your readiness to go for such freeing adventures!

    Thanks for writing about this incident in your last comment:
    I feel that this is one of the events which were ‘overboard’ (not sure if this is the fitting word…).

  6. Lokesh says:

    Hi Klaus, thanks for positivo vibes.

    I’ve been using the covid times to rework my writing. The first two books still needed editing. Currently on Borderline and made 3000 corrections. Hard to believe, but true.

    I hope to have all three books out this year. The first two are now as good as I can get them. If you liked the first two, you will love number three, 5 years work.

    It’s been a long, strange trip and highly enjoyable. I find there is always something new to learn as an author. Does the old back in, so off to chop firewood.

    I am on Facebook…Luke Mitchell artist Ibiza. I think FB is mostly bullshit, but it is good for hooking up with amigos.

    • Klaus says:

      Yes, will check for it.

      I have three memories of your writings:
      - Kathmandu, Swayambunath, life in a house, one person died.
      - Sri Lanka, some centre set up, people coming, people going – I did not understand what these people were doing for business there. Must be a mental block here.
      - The black ‘magic’ bus.

      Astounding.

      • frank says:

        I think I mentioned that I read ‘Borderline Dreamtime’ some years ago now. I’m not really a novel/fiction fan in general but I enjoyed it.

        I was reading a piece the other day where the author was opining how, for such an enormous social phenomenon/movement the old Overland (Hippie) Trail is rather sparsely represented in popular culture and historical documentation. The only big movie was ‘Hideous Kinky’ and that was in Morocco and crap. So there could be a gap in the market….

        These days, even just the idea of legions of wandering Westerners smoking dope and larking about and doing mad shit in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan seems completely off-the-wall and surreal.

        The way things are going with the hardcore Hindus, you wonder whether the same will be said about India in the not-too-distant future, too.

        • Klaus says:

          Yeah, Frank, the hippie trail overland to India. What a wonderful way of reaching there.

          Friends did this on an ex-public bus, I envied them so much – and met these people on Freak Street in Kathmandu.

          A real good documentary would be a treat!

          • Klaus says:

            And fitting the topic:

            I guess there is a lot of encounter happening on the way – inside and outside of the bus….

            • frank says:

              Klaus,
              It was definitely life-changing.
              I went alone and it was a lot about encountering people. Meeting a rainbow of people, other travellers and locals both, close up in unusual chance situations and the speedily intimate connections that came from that was defo one of the big pluses.

              I found a few snippets online from the old BIT guide which was an overland guide, a kind of typewriter and staple print production by some freaks in London. I had a copy that an acid casualty gave me in 1976 because he wasn`t going to make it. They were like sutras to me!

              “People are friendlier than in Europe;
              A year in Asia is probably worth ten years’ formal education – if any justification is needed – which it isn’t.
              The hardest part is making the decision to leave – the rest is easy.
              Travelling alone is no problem as you’ll soon meet lots of other people on the road.
              It’s best to have no definite plans or time schedule – just go where you want to go when you want to.
              Border crossing is easy if you don’t look too freaky.
              Travel as lightly as possible
              Adjust to local food, customs and conditions.
              Language is no real problem as you’ll soon find ways of non-verbal communication and also pick up basic words of foreign languages.
              The further off the beaten track you go, generally the more interesting the scene is.
              These notes cover most of what you need to know to get on the road, but by the time you reach India you’ll probably find them superfluous.

              Don’t rely on this information too much – check details for yourself where possible.”

              • Klaus says:

                Ahh, Frank.

                These lines are like bells ringing in my ears!

                Sometimes jokingly I tell my wife that when our daughter finishes school we will make the trip overland to her home country, Bangladesh.

                And probably I will be buried there in the village of her ancestors, too. Allah Hu.

                • frank says:

                  Klaus,
                  Yeah. I can hear those bells too, Tibetan I think, and what`s that dark, oily, smoky smell, man?

                  There aren`t many copies of that guide still around. Like me (I used my copy to light a fire on the ghats in Varanasi on a full moon night) most people followed the instructions , which I think the authors got from Buddha: when you arrive on the other shore, throw the instructions!

                  I wish you the best of luck with your trip, should it come together, sounds like a good dream.

                  Some people these days go overland to India through Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China and down through Pakistan on the Karakoram highway and into India. I know a guy who did that one. It all needs a bit more money than in the old days, for sure. And I think the old “It’s best to have no definite plans or time schedule – just go where you want to go when you want to.” Would be quite hard to pull off these days, for sure.

                • Klaus says:

                  “…Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and China and down through Pakistan on the Karakoram highway and into India….”

                  That is via the New Silk Road in parts. I would enjoy Samarkand, Buchara, Taschkent.

  7. Lokesh says:

    Me? I’m hoping for a 30 episode TV series. You might say I’m a dreamer….

    • satchit says:

      Lokesh, you say an “Encounter group is the psychological equivalent of a can opener.”

      Maybe you can explain what happens when the can is open? Will it be open forever? And if not, will there be needed another can? Or maybe another can opener?

  8. Lokesh says:

    What happens when the can is open depends on its contents. Could be a can of worms or maybe peaches. One will never know unless the can is labelled or opened.

    Forever is a long time and therefore nobody can say for sure what will happen to the can. It might rust. It could be melted down and formed into something else, although still retaining the essence of tin. You are already in another can.

    Another can opener? There are many available. They come in all shapes and sizes. Who knows? There might be a reason.

  9. Lokesh says:

    Satchit confesses. “But I also don’t remember that I had problems at that time.”

    Can’t say I am surprised to hear that.

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