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Building Bridges

Veeresh has been visiting the Osho International Meditation Resort for over thirty years. Born in New York, he is the founder director of the Osho Humaniversity in Holland, and the founder of Humaniversity Therapy. He is also the creator of the AUM, the longest-running evening event in the Resort. In February he and his friends will be offering a one-month program in the Multiversity.

What is Humaniversity Therapy?

It's an accumulation of 67 years of life experience.

A big turning point in my life was entering a therapeutic community in New York where the main approach was Encounter. Simply stated, Encounter uses projection to create clear communication with the other and finally, clear communication with yourself.

It is a strong confrontation to look at what you're doing on the outside, because it's who you are inside. You can use any situation to ask, "Who are you now?" You could call it awareness.

Social interaction is the basis of Humaniversity Therapy - using the other person like a mirror. If you look at the AUM meditation, it's interpersonal communication all the time. Then you can say, "Oh, I understand who I am inside."

One of the beauties I see about Humaniversity Therapy is that I insist that we use anything that works. We have a martial arts school where we learn Hap Ki Do, Kung Fu and Ninja approaches. We have Shamanism and Aura Soma. We have people coming who do energy work in the house. They say, "This area has to be cleaned of negative energy." In my mind I'm saying, "This sounds kind of ridiculous, but why not? Let's do some ritual and throw some water and plant some crystals in the ground."

If it can bring some awareness of who you are, I'll use it. I'm always open. We're not one clear approach; we're a multi-approach. We are based in Encounter, using the other to discover who you are, and anything else that works. Primal works, laughing works, martial arts.... That's what I teach my therapists.

What makes a Humaniversity therapist?

A Humaniversity therapist has to love himself and other people. In his heart, he wants to give. He cares so much that he's not willing to give up on anybody. More than that, he is open to being friends.

I myself underwent therapy for fourteen years, and I felt like I was being looked at under a microscope and the therapists were trying to treat me. I felt that they didn't really care. I was part of a case load. That's not what I want from my therapists. Humaniversity therapists have the most friends in the world because they don't stop at treatment. After the treatment, the groups, the process, they're open to be friends.

I don't give up on people. I get angry and I get frustrated, but I will really try with everything I know because that's what I've always really wanted for myself - someone who would not give up on me. I get frustrated because I want to reach everyone, but I know it's not possible. Sometimes people are not ready, and there will be other times...

If a therapist does not appreciate the person who's going through the process, I go bananas. People come and they put themselves in our hands. We have to give them everything. If a therapist doesn't do that, I get very upset. It doesn't matter if they make a technical mistake; what's important is that in their hearts they're looking at who they're working with. We want to make sure that every person gets the best we have. If I find out that somebody has left a group, I get really upset. It means that somewhere on our part we missed. I don't want that to happen.

Humaniversity therapists have to look at themselves so that they can say, "Hey, I've been there. I can take you as far as I've gone." So they have to look at themselves continuously. I want the staff to be open to learning more, and discovering more about themselves. That's important for their professional development. They have to keep looking because there's so much more to learn.

When Osho said to me, "I want you to train the best therapists in the world," I was shocked. I said, "If that's what you want, I'll do my best." So I want my therapists to be the best - the best in that they look at themselves, and they really help other people.

Today I see what he was talking about in a broader sense - because not everybody is going to be a therapist. I understand that it means bringing out the best in everyone, to help people to discover their potential, their greatness, their beauty...it's about who you are.

Next year you're going to do a long program in Pune.

When Osho came back to India after his world tour, he asked me and the Humaniversity to be affiliated with the Meditation Resort. He asked me to create a bridge between our work and the Osho Multiversity in Pune. I thought about it for years. Why would he want that? Then I tried to see it from his viewpoint, and I thought, "Well if he asked me, he knew I would do it."

Now I'm doing it; there's going be a definite connection. I want our therapists to come to Pune, and Pune therapists to come to the Humaniversity. He wanted that bridge from East to West.

The timing is right. I asked if we can do an Osho Humaniversity program in the Resort and I'm excited that the Multiversity said yes. That's the best news I can bring back to my community in Holland.

Your work is characterized by deep emotional release processes, late nights, unpredictability, and intense social interaction. How does this support people in daily life?

For many years, after my groups I would tell participants, "Don't make major life decisions now. You need some time to integrate, to let it settle in before you make any decisions that are important for you." It's all changed for me now. People come to groups and they go through the deep emotional processes that I insist they go through, and I tell them, "When you go home, make your life decisions now! If your relationship is not working and you've tried everything possible, change it. If you're not happy with your job, get another job. Whatever is not going right in your life, don't wait. You might slip on a banana and die tomorrow. So you better change now!"

Their life gets turned upside down, but I know something good will happen. Before, I was trying to be very careful. Now, in the beginning it looks like chaos. But then later people tell me, "I'm happy that I did change. I'm happy I did what I needed to do." In the long run I know it makes them happy if they really do what they want to do in their life.

It's not enough to have people go through a group and say, "Oh! I understand!" They have to apply it. I insist on it. If it's not applicable outside, then the therapy doesn't work. I don't want people to go home and do the same things over again. No! I want them to take what they learn from the group and use it. If not, people keep going from group to group looking for the big bang. I want them to apply it back home. That's important.

You're an artist and a designer, you're a music producer, a rapper, the author of new therapeutic processes. What's the secret of your creativity?

The secret is that I'm in love with everything I see that's beautiful. I try to reproduce it in my painting and my music. I'm in love with being a child.

I remember once when I was very small, my father was in the living room and I wanted attention. I drew what I saw in a magazine, and I painted it. Then I showed it to him, and he kept it! I was so proud that he liked it. That was the first time I did anything creative. I did it for him, and he was so happy.

When I was eighteen, I was accepted by the Art Institute of Chicago. I was so excited! I remember telling my mother and she said, "You know you can't make any money being an artist." So I dropped it. And now at the Humaniversity I've made up for it.

It doesn't matter what the medium is. I love designing, whether it's clothes, or a garden, or the way the dining room is set up. I can spend hours painting and when I paint, I get lost. I look at a blank canvas and it's a challenge to project what I'm feeling. I get so much pleasure painting, making music, designing, making the Humaniversity beautiful. It's so fulfilling for me. I love harmony and beauty...that things are set up well. What's the secret? It's in my heart. It was always there.

You could be doing so many different things. What is it that keeps you working with strong emotions?

One of my favourite quotations from Osho reflects why I work the way I do. "Feel more rather than thinking. Through your feelings, your prayer will arise, and through feelings you will dissolve one day. When you are dissolved, God is". That is the basis of why I do all this work with feelings. If I feel what I'm doing, things work. If I think too much, I get a bit lost.

I know that emotional catharsis frees you up so that then you can appreciate being aware of who you are. I've always worked that way. I try to do seminars, and I end up doing an experiential seminar. Some people just want to write notes about my methods and techniques. That's not me. I'm a feeling person; I know that when people feel, it makes them who they are.

I'm a heart person and I know I can touch people...bring them into their hearts. There's so much there for them. If you look on the internet you can get information forever, but to teach people to be heartful - to me that means becoming a human being. That's why I've always worked on an emotional level. Then I try to integrate the mind after they've discovered who they are in their bodies and their hearts.