Encounter was a seven-day Pune One "semi-residential" therapy group considered the most intense and challenging of Osho's therapy groups. The main action took place in the Chaitanya Therapy Chambers, with sixteen people in one smallish room with padded walls and floor, approx 4m x 4m. Participants were naked for the seven days aside from their excursions outside to Dynamic and Kundalini Meditations, toilets, showers and special circumstances that might arise.
The group first started in Aug 1975, one of the first two groups to be offered, and it continued to be offered, as far as we know, until Jun 1981, when Osho left for the States, and possibly a little afterward. Apparently it ran twice a month. The group was at first led by Teertha alone, then later (early 1978?) assisted by Turiya.
The group's "description" in the Community to Provoke God brochure reads:
- A fundamental principle here is that there is little to teach the participant that he or she does not already know on some deeper level; each individual is complete and whole, but somewhere during growth an experience or wrong teaching has led to a distorted view of reality. In relating, fighting, loving, expressing, in any situation that arises spontaneously in the group, participants are encouraged to let go of mental inhibitions and logic and go totally into whatever is happening to them in the here and now.
- The Encounter group was at darshan tonight...
- Encounter therapy is the basis for most of the other therapies in the field of humanistic psychology that are currently being used in the West and now here in the ashram. It represents a totally new approach in therapy, in that individuals are not regarded as "sick", and therefore dependent. Rather, the accent is on taking responsibility for oneself. The onus is on the individual as to how far and how deeply he is prepared to commit himself.
- In a group setting, people are helped to confront those areas in themselves -- which are usually related to fear or anger or sex -- where alone they might be too frightened to delve, or may be quite unaware that they even exist. In an atmosphere of caring and support, members are encouraged to work out their problems, their blocks and "hang-ups", experientially rather than intellectually, as compared with psychotherapy. Problems are expressed in terms of their present situation, in the herenow, rather than returning to the past and associated traumas -- as is done in Primal Therapy.
- The various aids used include body-work -- Massage and Bio-energetics -- Gestalt and Fantasy work, Psychodrama, Psychosynthesis, and direct confrontation. Meditations are also used in groups conducted at the ashram.
- The course lasts for seven days, twice a month, and is semi-residential.
The basic idea of the group was for participants to be as open as possible, and explore whatever they found surfacing in themselves as totally as possible. Certain devices were used as needed, such as master-slave exercises, but most of the time, such devices were not needed, and the direction and outcome were decided by participants' inner movement of energy. It might be said that there was a tacit agreement that everyone in the group was to be available as a stimulus or foil for each other's needs to explore and act things out. Thus, as Teertha says below in his interview, "it's something different every time". Following the interview, there will be personal accounts, of "something different".
Ashram, the movie
The poster on the right refers to a film made by a sannyasin about the ashram whose centerpiece was a fair bit of footage about the Encounter group. It should possibly be added that the film was made not of a "real" group, but simulated, by volunteers who had done the group and knew how it worked, the intention supposedly to create a version faithful to the real thing. See also Krishna Prem's "official" statement about the film.
For a general description of and feel for its more lurid and sniggered-about aspects, we could do worse here than reproduce this from Osho Film Festival about the film:
- In 1978 a German film maker visited the Ashram in Poona and created a unique film document about Osho, his Sannyasins and the ashram.
- He was the first and only film maker whom Osho ever permitted to film inside the legendary encounter groups.
- These pictures shocked the west.
- Scenes like this had never been seen before: screaming naked men and women, fighting with each in other in a clumsy little room full of mattresses.
- The prudish imagination of middle class couch potatoes went wild.
- Significant numbers of celebrities had been visiting this exotic place in India and the tabloids had already labelled Osho as the "Sex-Guru" but nobody had ever seen what was really happening there.
- This documentary created an outburst of emotion in the late 1970s and went deep into the common unconsciousness of western societies.
- Even though it was the basis of the fanatic condemnation of Osho in the west, it also led thousands of interested young people to Poona.
- This film dominates public discussion to this day about Osho, spiritual search and group therapy.
- It is an absolutely unique historical document.
Interview with Teertha
This interview appeared in Sannyas magazine, in the May-Jun issue of 1978. Teertha speaks of the dynamics of the group (includes an intro and a stage-setting quote from Osho about the group):
Teertha has been a disciple of Bhagwan's for six years. With his former wife, Ma Anand Poonam, who runs Kalptaru, one of the Rajneesh Centers in London, England, he founded Quaesitor -- the first Humanistic Psychology growth center in England, and probably in Europe. He has been leading the Encounter Group for the Ashram for over two years now and, until very recently, alone.
Sudha is yours truly, your beloved editor.
A little quote of Bhagwan's on the group from one of his December lectures: "The Encounter Group that is going on here is the best in the world this moment. Nowhere else is such absolute freedom allowed. In the West an encounter group has limitations, because the encounter group leader has limitations. He can go only so far. When he sees that things are going with difficulty and now he may not be able to control them; things may go too far and he may not be able to bring them back -- then he prevents. Here, we don't believe in any boundaries. I only send people to the Encounter Group when I see that they understand that they have to go beyond all boundaries -- boundaries of sex, boundaries of violence, anger, rage. They have to break all boundaries. That is break-through ..."
SUDHA: Could you talk a little about the Encounter Group? Say what it is, or what your approach to the group is?
TEERTHA: Why, it's something different every time. The basics of it is sixteen people together, two group leaders, and being open to whatever happens; and it's something different every time. Exactly what goes on I don't know.
One way of seeing it is to get some of the normal, automatic, functioning out of the way, so the person can experience themselves in a more whole or raw state. Another way is to encourage people to express what's there, the things they normally hold onto, to get them to express it.
SUDHA: How is it for you in the group? It seems that the groups here are just as much for the leaders as for the participants, although perhaps, in a different sort of way. What is the group for you? (after a long pause) I know, I know ...
TEERTHA: It's ... it's ...
SUDHA: It can be short and sweet. (laughing)
TEERTHA: It's an experience, like drinking a cup of tea is an experience, or doing anything is an experience. It's another experience. It's one of the times I'm in closest contact with ... I feel closest to Bhagwan when something very deep has happened and the person's got through to some clearness, and then the clearness seems to affect the whole room. And then Bhagwan feels very close.
It's the time most often when Teertha is not, when ... everything happens, just happens, comes from somewhere. And whatever's happening can be just watched, not knowing what's coming next. It's the time of being the closest to people, when their facades have been dropped and their peripheral diversions are out of the way for a moment. Then it's a time to be close to the person who's inside -- the vulnerable person, the naked person, the person without his defenses.
SUDHA: Something I particularly wanted to ask -- it's a question about the courage to be empty, the courage to let happen. How is that for you? I find that for me, while it's very beautiful, it's hard work ... really hard. It seems to take a lot out of me to stay out of the way with my ideas or my opinions or judgments, and that kind of thing. You said before, with the first question that I asked, in a sort of mystified way, 'I don't know what happens'. And it's that kind of a space that I'm talking about -- which for me seems to require a lot of courage.
TEERTHA: Courage doesn't mean anything to me. It's not a matter of courage. The only time ... and even courage isn't a description for me. The only time it is, is when nothing happens for a very long time -- I mean two or three days, four days. By that fourth day when nothing's happened, then I start checking to see whether maybe I'm being lazy or I'm avoiding something. But up to four days ... No, courage doesn't mean anything to me. To keep out of the way is easy. It's just very easy. And I do as little as possible in the group. It seems the more I do, the more something happens, but it's very shallow. If some tiny thing happens on its own, it's more of worth than something very deep happening with all the pushing from the group leaders -- because the participants didn't do it, and they know they didn't do it.
And it's as though they will have something for two hours or two days or maybe two weeks, but it'll go. But when they've done it, when they've found their way there, whatever they've got, it's like they've got it, because they got there. So they get very little support in the Encounter Group. In fact they get pushed back to themselves all the time. There are no structures.
And whenever they've got the hang of it--the group starts getting 'groupy', or they get the hang of something, it's taken away. And I don't decide to take it away; it's just that I notice afterwards that I took it away.
So, no, not courage to do nothing ... I love it. It's just fascinating not being there, not knowing where the next words are coming from or what's going to happen, or anything. It's just like having an absolutely clean piece of paper, and not knowing who's going to write on it. So now I don't find that is courage. I just find ... I do so little, so little. I antagonize maybe, just niggle at people, but no actual doing. I do very little. I push buttons, but it's not obviously pushing buttons. It's never very obvious. It's not obvious to me either.
SUDHA: Yes. Out pops something from your mouth, and you realize that it's had an effect.
TEERTHA: I think I know what you mean by courage now. But, no I don't, because I love it so much. Like sometimes I say outrageous things, and now it's not courage anymore; I love it. It's just fantastic. (laughing softly, with ecstasy)
SUDHA: What about the violence?
TEERTHA: Well, violence works. Nothing is ever said about violence in the Encounter Group ... nothing is said. It all happens on its own. Nothing is ever encouraged. The boxing gloves are out of sight. They come with the expectation of violence, and they want it. Everyone's got violence; practically everyone's got it. And they're scared of it, and they love it. They do it themselves. No one was ever told to fight -- maybe on the third or fourth day, when it's all accepted. But it's never started by the group leaders, it's never suggested. They do it.
The only suggestion is always: if it's there, get it out. And the basis of the group is to be honest and open. And 'open' means sharing with the group what's going on. Then, they're never encouraged to fight until maybe the third or fourth day. But even then they're not told to fight. I may say, "What do you want to do? What's your fist doing? What does your body want to do?" They've always got the answer; they know. So they're never told to fight in the group.
If a person lets go in anything, he gets through. If he lets go in fighting, that's when he gets most. If he's had a really total fight, usually afterwards he's clear. And then if he's really clear there's nothing to say. He gets something. If he's not quite clear, if he's still a bit dazed, something can be said and it goes straight in. It's just soul-to-soul contact then; what they need can just be suggested and they get it, and they really get it very deeply. So that's one of the things the violence does. Practically everybody's violent, practically everybody. Very rarely is a man not angry.
In the most violent thing we ever had in the group, the man went into samadhi afterwards. He wanted to kill somebody! Oh, he was killing somebody, he was killing him, and the group couldn't stop him. Then he threw the whole group off, and then he got this person and hung him up on the wall ...
SUDHA: That was that friend of Maneesha's?
TEERTHA: Yeah, and nobody could stop him. They were hitting him and kicking him, and nothing could stop him. And then I just said, "Stop it. Turn the energy inside." And he went into samadhi. Just like that.
But he was killing. That was the most violent. He swung the furthest that way, gave it up, and swung the other way.
And anything half-hearted doesn't work. The sex in the group, fighting and sex and jealousy and all, they're all peripheral. They're all methods of raising the energy. And unless the energy comes up ... nothing can be done with a dead person. When the energy's flat, there's nothing to do. You can talk to him, you can hit him, you can do anything -- nothing affects him. When the energy comes up, he's there, and then something can be done.
So I very rarely allow sex in the group unless it has pressure on it. So somebody making love in the corner? -- there's no point -- anybody can make love in the corner. I don't allow it unless it's really, really difficult for them. And then I let them be. Usually if they're gonna do it it's in the middle with everybody watching, so the awareness is really high. So with violence for violence's sake -- there's no point; and sex for sex's sake, as far as I'm concerned -- there's no point.
There is a point at a certain time in the group when the sex can happen without such focus. But usually I try to use everything to get the energy as high as possible. So I use whatever's difficult for them, whatever gets them so intense that they can't go on automatic.
SUDHA: I know the answer to this, but perhaps other people don't. Why do you say it must be difficult? Why need it be difficult?
TEERTHA: Because if it's easy, they're not there. If it's easy, they're asleep. If we're comfortable we're dead. And unless a person is self-actualizing -- which very few people are -- when they're comfortable they're on automatic. They're just like machines: they open the door, they wash the face, they say 'hello'; they do all these things and there's nobody there. It's just a machine functioning. Suddenly, when they're in a position, in a situation, that their automatic doesn't handle, then they panic. They have to be there, and they try all their tricks to go away. But they're exposed. And what I've found is: if someone else sees you and you know they've seen you in that situation, something changes. If you do it sneakily and nobody notices, nothing happens. But if somebody sees you and somebody else experiences it, it's like you get a double amount of energy on that. And something can change then.
So if you're standing there, and sixteen people see you, see you and know your game, that game's useless. You might fool one or two people. Or maybe one person sees you, or two, but when sixteen people see you, it's very hard to use that game ever again -- game, pattern, automatic, whatever expression is used.
SUDHA: Perhaps you could talk a little about the difference that you feel working here, doing groups here, and the way doing groups was for you with Quaesitor in England?
TEERTHA: Well, in the West I did the groups. And that isn't totally true, but that's what I was aware of. And if anything happened I felt that it was up to me to make it happen, to produce it.
SUDHA: You were 'responsible'.
TEERTHA: Yes, right ... 'responsible'. There were limits and the group had to be more or less complete. The person had to walk out at least functioning, or capable of functioning, or in some way capable of fitting into -- very roughly -- society. I don't particularly mean conventional society; but they had to function in the world.
And we were limited by how far we could go by lawsuits and our credibility -- how far we thought it was possible to go.
That was like the four-minute mile. If somebody runs a four-minute mile, we know at least that it's possible, so we can work to the four-minute mile. So when we're working in the group, when an Alexander Lowen or an Assagioli, or somebody's worked to a certain point, we know we can work to there ... and maybe a little beyond. But the credibility of going beyond is not there.
The people that came had a limited quantity of commitment. No, that wasn't always true: some people gave up their jobs and some people gave up their families. But usually there was a limit. And they were working to improve from where they were. They were being this person and expanding the consciousness, or functioning better -- but at the most, expanding the consciousness. Still 'they' wanted to expand the consciousness. So John wanted his consciousness expanded. So we worked from being John.
Now here ... First of all, I feel the Encounter Group doesn't have to do a complete job, because there is going to be another group, and there are going to be other groups that are going to work better in some areas than the Encounter Group will. And then there's going to be their meditations ... and there's Bhagwan. It's just part of something that goes on, so it can be more complete in the area that it is working in. So sometimes, like in the West, it could be seen that some person was really ready to move into meditation, but you couldn't do it because there were ten other very angry people there. So, the indication can be made here, but there's the feeling that you don't have to do it because there's the Vipassana Group and there are other groups.
And it's the same with sex. We can see an indication that something can be done, and we can work with it to an extent, but we don't have to do the whole thing -- because they can go to the Tantra Group. And Bhagwan's going to send them where they need to go. So, there's that whole area that's taken care of. You can do whatever you're doing as totally as you feel like doing it, because all the other parts are going to be taken care of.
Then, the commitment is totally different. A person who has traveled thousands of miles, spent a lot of money, is wearing orange and a mala, and has made some form of surrender to a Master -- then the whole atmosphere is different. And there is a feeling here of family. There are all different levels with different groups, but there is a feeling of being together and working together, and working for each other. Even in the most angry parts, it's still "you're not fighting them". It's almost as though we're having a quarrel with 'us', and it's very supportive.
Then the other thing is: the limits are endless. And I don't know what they are. I just know it's an open tunnel. And no matter how far we go down it, we don't even see the end. Yes, it's just endless. Bhagwan's just ... he is just endless. And before, in the West, working was just as far away as the mind or the being, or whatever, could glimpse. But now here it's just looking at Bhagwan, and he's a living example of the endlessness, of just how far we can go. We're not working under a ceiling, we're not working to a limit; it's just absolutely limitless. And that's what we seem to discover in each group; it seems the more we let go, the further it goes.
And then the other thing is just not daring to do what we do here in the West. And a lot of that is to do with support; but a lot of that is again to do with “it's in the family', somehow. It's just here. He works with love, and we don't know what love is in the West. And here love is an actual, tangible fact. The love in the group works; that's the thing that works. And it's Bhagwan's love that's here, and we all feel it, even in the most distraught times. He's there. It's just the love is there.
Experiences were many and varied, though to the casual outside eye, there were some common elements which would pop up repeatedly: screaming, sex, physical conflict, etc. There were as many tender and introspective moments but they tend not to get noticed so much, nor commented on. And fair enough. One of the main purposes of the group and other therapy groups was throwing out psychic rubbish, stuff that had been suppressed for a lifetime and was "in the way" of real transformation. The group dealt with material that might otherwise not so easily surface, say in Dynamic. An interpersonal / situational stimulus was enormously helpful in getting "stuff" going.
Ma Anand Nirgun was an ashram resident when she did Encounter. She writes about it in her book, Hellbent for Enlightenment. She was in her fifties when she came to Osho and having had a relatively satisfying sex life, didn't have a lot of processing to do in that regard but that made for an interesting variation on that theme as this happened to be the group that Terence Stamp was in. She reports:
- The British actor Terence Stamp was in the group, and to me he seemed to have "gone beyond". Almost every female in the room tried her luck at seducing him. It was obvious to me that he wasn't into that space, that he'd been there too often. But they kept trying. When Teertha declared a master/slave night -- the slave to do everything the master ordered -- women made a beeline for Terence, and he made a beeline for me.
And so he took her out to dinner. They "traded the sweaty surroundings of a mad padded cell for the overripe opulence of the Blue Diamond", a local "five-star" hotel and restaurant, where they talked for hours. "A simple delight in human conversation, forgotten in two long years of silence, washed over me, washed away all memory of why we were there".
- As the group went on, the driving urge to act out my aggression faded. When a German man told me I reminded him of the mother he hated, my first impulse was to ignore, avoid, deflect his remark. All my life, I had run away from hostility. At the faintest breath of trouble in a public encounter, I grabbed the oil and started pouring. In that instant I became aware of what a coward I really was. My aggression had always been undercover; it turned tail and ran when attacked.
- It came to me now to face up to this man's aggressiveness, to let mine off the leash entirely. I didn't feel at all aggressive, but a wave is coming, I'm going to ride that wave.
- "So what were you doing to your mother?" I sneer, eyebrows rising suggestively. "Maybe she should have beaten you harder. You Nazis are all motherfuckers at heart".
- Wolfgang pushes me down on the floor, pins my arms and beats me with German efficiency, striking my legs and thighs with his fists and elbows, slapping my face, over and over. As if I were one of the onlookers, I watch my body respond -- spitting, swearing, laughing. I can still see the faces in the room, like a remembered movie: faces full of fear (he may kill her!) uncertainty (should I try to stop him?) anger (why doesn't someone do something!) and just plain voyeur fascination. Teertha stays expressionless, alert.
- Wolfgang stops of his own accord.
- That night, he runs a fever, wants to leave the group, but Teertha persuades him to stay.
- "It happens often when you get into deep stuff", he tells him. "You'll be fine in the morning".
- It feels as natural to mother him as it felt to taunt him. I bring him extra blankets, bring my own blankets and curl up beside him; fetch him ice cold water in the night. He's fine in the morning. And so am I -- my body a mass of bruises, but inside I feel light, airy. As if some ancient burdens have fallen away.
Sw Deva Sarlo was a not-quite newbie when he did Encounter, having been a sannyasin for three or four months and done six other groups previously, two of them "therapy" groups, Tao, with Siddha and Samarpan, with Rajen. He writes:
- Sex, violence, money and power are the four biggest issues in most people's psyches, "issues" meaning occupiers of psychic pathways and "obstacles" to clarity and wisdom in our lives. Osho's approach to them was unlike that of most gurus, masters and teachers, preferring that we address them rather than "renounce" them.
- Money and power are not really suitable to be processed in groups, nor in his active meditations for that matter, but money can be easily enough dealt with by awareness in ordinary life situations. And power ... well, that's one of the things The Ranch was for, wasn't it? Leaving sex and violence. So, therapy groups. It was not for nothing that they were called "fucking and fighting groups".
- These two issues are both the most visceral and the most repressed. For both those reasons, they have a lot of power and they are taboo. Both are perfect material for therapy groups and the focus of the most judgment and condemnation from the "outside world".
- After that introduction, it may come as a surprise that these two issues were not the key parts of my Encounter experience. I was surprised! They were of course present, but not central for me. One of my sexual incidents in that group was finished so quickly that it made clear my need to work on that, and when i wrote about it to Osho later, he predictably gave me Tantra. Teertha even told me that he thought my sexuality was fairly straightforward. And as he said in his interview, Tantra was available for sexual issues, so mostly they didn't need to get dealt with in his group.
- Similarly violence was not a big trigger. Having read the interview and heard stories, i knew it loomed large in Encounter. And i did my violent thing. I offered myself as a potential victim for someone else's violence, an experiment to see what sort of psychic basement stuff would arise, but Teertha suggested a reversal, that i perpetrate the violence. He suggested a strangulation, and my victim-to-be, a woman, was more than willing. She lay there passively with my thumbs pressed on her throat until, after a minute or so, Teertha said quietly to stop, which i did. He said if it had gone on for a few seconds longer, i would have killed her. (As it was, there was no harm.) I shuddered at the closeness of this prospect but still trusted him and the situation.
- My great device in the group was "something different" ... One day (day four?) we had a master/slave exercise. My partner (master) whom i had to obey was a fat woman who wanted to leave to go to her place, something like a mile away and who apparently wanted to humiliate me. I had to walk behind her several paces the whole way, and when we got there, she had a shit and got me to wipe her ass. The whole humiliation game seemed fairly silly to me and i have no idea what she got out of it but the point for me was that when we were walking outside i managed to sneak a cigarette while walking across a field behind her. We were not supposed to be smoking at all during the seven days of the group, as this chemical and psychic habit-crutch would be propping up our comforts and that was definitely a no-no.
- So i was bad and was not caught by her but back in the group i recounted my story -- and my pleasure at having "gotten away with it" -- and caught a lot of criticism from Teertha. Okay, here was my humiliation, more or less self-inflicted, and i felt it.
- There was another opportunity to "get away with shit" the next evening, when the game for the group was a role-playing night out on the town, where we all dressed up (if we could) as famous historical characters and acted out at a big table in a restaurant. One German swami chose Adolf Hitler and was shouting "Heil Hitler!" with his arm out in that familiar salute. I had picked the American Indian chief Sitting Bull and was fairly taciturn, which earned me the comment, "Ah, sitting on your bullshit!" from Teertha. Ah this!
- Another sex-and-violence moment: Somehow i got set up to attempt a rape, but my victim was to resist, which she did well. I managed to pin her down and get myself between her legs but not more than that; we both got credit for our performing our parts well, but i don't remember any great revelation.
- At the end of the group, i asked Teertha if he could arrange a front row seat for me in darshan that night when the group was to go in to be with Osho. He said he would see about it but in the event told me when i showed up that not only would there be no front seat but he didn't feel to let me enter even with an ordinary back seat. I was crushed and said something sarcastic, he shrugged and went away and i was left outside in total shock and dismay.
- I went back to my room and started to smoke a cigarette for some comfort and was surprised (again!) by a new smoking experience. It was so beyond disgusting -- unspeakably vile and acrid -- as to be impossible to take more than a couple of puffs. After an hour, i tried again, with the same results. Next day the same, so this incontrovertible body experience forced me to "give up" smoking.
- Stopping smoking turned out to be more complicated than just one gift could deliver, but a few years later at the Ranch, the final blow was delivered. Thank you beloved Master!
- Loose ends ... I asked Teertha later what was up with that darshan thing and he told me he was testing me with his refusal to let me in. If i had responded "appropriately", ie with some genuine emotion, he would have let me in and with a front seat, but my sarcastic comeback was not it.
- And a few more items remembered regarding violence in the group: There was a guy in a cast with a broken arm from a previous group, who was worried it might get re-broken, but that did not come close to happening. The only injurious violence i remember was a tall, sad American woman, a therapist, who got two black eyes. And there was a young male Indian hippie who left after one day afraid people might pick on him.
- Incidentally, it was not common for Indians to be given groups, but not never, as some have claimed. In fact, there was an Indian in Nirgun's Encounter group (above) as well, a colonel in the Indian army. And as chance would have it, he is the next to show up on this page ...
Raj's full sannyas name is not known. He was in the same group as Nirgun. A few days later, he talked to Maneesha about the experience. The material below is condensed from The Shadow of the Whip, p 216-221.
- RAJ: The Encounter group was a very special occurrence for me in my life because it was the first time that I came face-to-face with myself -- that's the first thing that happened. And secondly there was a feeling, that was becoming very deep inside me, that although I realised that the Westerners had a different approach to the business of sannyas from the Indians and I could forgive them, nevertheless there was something inside me that was boiling against this fact that why were they allowed to do things like Encounter groups and various other things and we Indians not allowed to?
- When Bhagwan said to do the group there was a feeling of tremendous fear on the one hand, and also exhilaration on the other, because it was something that I wanted to go into and yet something that I was very scared to go into. It was a mixture of feelings.
- The terrifying thing was that there was too much waiting time before the group started. It was like waiting at the dentist and you don’t know when he's going to drill you. During that time I had quite a bit of torture -- I mean, the imagination took over and there were exaggerated impressions of what was going to happen that I would be making love to women and people would be watching and it would be one big sexual debacle.
- So with that thought, that view, I went to this group. When I was through it, when I was finished with it, it was in one way of speaking much more than I could have imagined, and yet in another way it brought something that I did not know was possible -- something that people sometimes try for years to bring about. It just happened in seven days.
- Now my impressions about the group itself was that Teertha was the groupleader, yet I could feel right throughout that Bhagwan was there. This was the first time in my life, having become a sannyasin and having surrendered to him in whatsoever way I could, that I got an intense feeling of his presence. I had the feeling that he was there, that he was also one of the persons participating.
- I felt he was there pushing the buttons and exerting a little pressure here, helping out at another place where the mind was getting a little choked up and a person didn't have the courage to come out and say. This was a very very beautiful feeling.
- The other thing that happened in this group is that as far as I'm concerned, it's knocked out a lot of phobias and imaginary fears that I had about sex, about human relationships. Although I've had a western type of education and in fact people here in the ashram say that I'm more of a Westerner than an Indian, still I had an Indian mother and Indian parents, and it was an Indian village where I stayed, so the earlier impressionable part of my life had this sex as a very big taboo, as a very sinful thing, as something that was done in darkness, under cover of darkness.
- In the group this very big block was totally shattered. I got the feeling that the body was not something to be sheltered or hidden or disguised or covered up. It's a beautiful thing, people are beautiful, physical relationships are just like anything else -- like hunger and thirst -- and there wasn't so much importance to it as one would imagine that it deserved ... and yet it was beautiful. So human relationship and sex taboos were lifted totally.
- I also got the feeling in this group -- a very beautiful feeling -- that every one of us has got the tendency to single ourselves out as a unique person who has the most awful troubles in the world. Now what was beautiful about this group was that there were sixteen of us, and when these sixteen people opened up at one time or another, I suddenly realised -- it was a very pleasant sort of surprise -- that all of us had almost the same problems: the mother complex, the hatred of somebody in the family, a girl who had let you down, a love affair, a search for the truth, wanting to become better but becoming worse, a little bit of drug addiction. Whoever it was. I found it was equally there, and that there were sixteen of us with almost identical problems.
- I have lost my fear of the opposite sex. I have lost my fear of the same sex. Before I went to the group I thought that due to a few homosexual experiences during my youth, possibly I was a homosexual and I was trying to fight it. Just the opposite thing came out -- the truth came out that I was deliberately holding on to these things. My mind was doing it and playing tricks on me.
- In fact my most beautiful experience after the group was kissing Teertha on the lips, and it was very beautiful. There was nothing to it and ... Before, I would even feel uncomfortable if I was sitting with a man and if he was edging a little too much towards me without meaning it, I would feel jittery.
- Similarly with women I was playing tricks, playing games. I could not look a woman in the eye and tell her what I felt because 1 thought "this may lead to sex", and "sex is a terrible thing" and "it would ruin everything". Because what I was brought up to believe was that sex is not the culmination of the pleasure but the end, so you'll ruin it.
- So all those taboos and all those fears and all those manias are just gone -- I'm rid of them. And 1 feel much lighter. From people I brush against I get the same reaction. They say, ‘The film has gone, and there is a stamp of authenticity on you,'—which is a beautiful thing to hear because normally you are used to hearing such words as flattery but now you can feel they are real.
- M: So the monster came out completely?
- RAJ: The monster is still there, but it's lost a lot of weight! (laughter) I don't think the monster has gone out completely—it's still very much there. But it's much smaller inside and more impotent than it used to be. I mean, I know that it is there, and it knows that I know it is there (laughter), so there's no problem any more.
- M: But at least you had a glimpse of yourself through the group ?
- RAJ: Yes, and I would say it is guaranteed that the fifteen others also had a glimpse. You know when you've had this glimpse and you sit across from a person who's also had this glimpse, then there is a very strange merging. Did you know? You looked into each others' eyes, you didn't say a thing and yet volumes were said. Suddenly there was a two-way transmission -- just from the eyes, from the body, sitting close ... even by touch ... and it was a touch that was totally pure. I've never felt this type of human relationship before.
- Finally what I can say about this group is that I think everybody should do it -- all Indians, all foreigners, Chinese -- any nationality, any race, any colour. This is a group which I think is very very important. It may happen that in the case of the Indians who are locked up very strongly, who've got very strong walls inside them, it may require a little harder work -- the group may even need to lengthen in duration -- but I think what it does is something very very beautiful.
- It suddenly gives you a glimpse, an insight into the real you. It may be for seconds, it may be for just one hour, half an hour, and it does give you something to... I won't say "work for", but something to yearn for ... it is something that you wish would happen again. It is, in other words, a preview of a very good movie. And when you know that the movie’s inside you then you’re not just satisfied with a few shorts -- then you want the whole movie to come out.
More reports will be coming!