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.