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From Fear to Friendship

  • Interview with: Veeresh
  • By: Chandrika

Veeresh is the founder of Osho Humaniversity, a personal growth center in Holland. He has helped many people to overcome their fears, expand their life experiences and find the courage to liberate themselves.

What creates fear in us?

We're born with an emotion called fear. Without fear you could be in danger and hurt yourself. If you throw a baby in the air he will curl his back; he is afraid. Parents also teach you to fear. Fear is inborn and acquired. I also like the viewpoint of evolutionary psychology which says that evolution is based on moving sex energy and creating more human beings. If there is no fear, it can endanger this evolution. Without fear, I don't think man would survive.

So fear is a warning mechanism.

It is like walking in the dark where you've never been before; you're not sure if you're going to trip and fall, and you are just gripped with this emotion: "Be careful." Rejection, punishment, disaster, pain - fear anticipates all of these, whether they are real or not.

I see that people often get stuck in fear....

A child plays with a dog; the dog is eating and he snaps at the child. The child interprets this as an attack from the dog. Thereafter whenever he sees a dog he is afraid, and then the dog also becomes afraid. As a grown-up man, every time he sees a dog, he thinks the dog is going to bite him; he is carrying this past experience. It is crippling his life, he's living a memory; it is not actual, not real. He has to learn to go over to the dog and say "Hey listen, you don't have to be afraid of me or bite me -let's be friends."

How do you work with fear in therapy?

We teach people to stop saying "I'm afraid" and to start asking: "What is it that I am afraid of?" They find out that a lot of fear is from a long time ago and doesn't fit into present reality. Fear is just avoidance of what is deep down. Is it pain? Is that what you are really afraid of? Well then, go to the pain - stop playing around. Fear is a defense mechanism to avoid your pain. It is the anticipation of pain.
I saw when I was working in-depth with people that fears would usually go into one of three categories: the fear of going crazy, the fear of orgasm and the fear of dying. I am sure there are more categories.
Ideally, we get the person to experience their fear as closely as possible; we create situations that will touch those early feelings of people wanting to hurt us. Then we encourage the person to express them, to be emotionally involved, and to let them go.

What did you learn from Osho about fear?

I learned about the three fears that we talked about before. About the fear of orgasm, for instance. Women and men have been deprived of orgasm for centuries. They have been conditioned to believe that they don't have the right to experience their bodies the way they want to. When we work therapeutically with people, we have to recognize that, so we can support them to be orgasmic.

How do I work with the fear of orgasm? If you have been abused when you were small, it doesn't mean you're going to be abused now. It is a choice - you can face it or you can be crippled by your history. I give people the space to experience that fear in a safe way and to see that it isn't happening this very moment. If people don't talk about it, they think it is real. I give them the space to open up and express it. It is a choice.

About the fear of going crazy, Osho said to teach people to be crazy in a safe way. And he said not to spend too much time on the fear of dying; concentrate more on celebrating and living in the here and now. Osho said that 90% of our fear is found between the legs and the last 10% is mind-fucking.

Fear can paralyze you. Fear can make you so small that you don't dare to be yourself. Fear can show you that you actually need to get your courage together and move beyond.

You have one energy - you breathe in and out; if you stop breathing you are dead. This energy force gets translated into feelings and emotions. If you are in fear, you can turn that energy around and choose to express it instead of backing away. You can move forward and face it. You see what the fear is and experience the pain. Then you finally get what you need, and you can be who you are.

I see people in workshops who say: "I'm afraid."
I say: "Of what?"
"Of making contact with people" - and they leave it at that.
"What would happen if you make contact with people?"
"Oh, they will reject me."
"Are you sure of that? You haven't made contact with people. How do you know that they will reject you? It is all in your mind. Go over to someone and say, ‘I am afraid of making contact with you' and see what happens." Then the fear changes into excitement and learning.

So, your work as a therapist is to encourage people to keep going deeper so that they can actually fulfill themselves?

They need to feel their pain. For that, we have methods and techniques that go beyond the mind. Everyone is on a different level. Some need to scream, and I encourage that. After that, the person can say, "I experienced it; I know what it is." And then we say, "What are you missing now?" That is when we get to the source.
I enjoyed the last week of our summer WOW workshop. After three weeks of intense emotional release and socially interactive processes, we announced an assignment to all the participants: "We want you to be a Buddha. But first, you need to act like one and the key to acting like a Buddha is: Good thoughts, Good words, Good deeds." There was a lot of melting of hearts and that was very beautiful. They were without fear; they chose to turn the same energy into excitement and direct it into a positive way - and it worked. From fear to friendship, that is our work.

When working with people do you also see that they are afraid of being good?

Often people use fear to avoid being who they are. I guess what it comes down to is accepting that you are a multi-sexual orgasmic human being. That is your nature, and your direction in life is to express this creative loving force that you have. The big fear is to accept being a good person.

Why is it so difficult?

People learn fear from others and internalize that. Instead of expressing their own creative loving force, they go into a survival mechanism of fear.

Maybe it is also because we would not be able to be manipulated anymore by other people; we would want to be unique and live our own life.

That's nice, you sound like Osho. I like that! I see it as "Do your own thing, be happy." This is your life - enjoy it, celebrate, party. Sometimes, they need people like us at the Osho Humaniversity to put them through spiritual, emotional, physical calisthenics and to tell them that they can go beyond their fear, stop the game, and that there is more to life.

Did you ever meet anyone who was fearless?

No, but I would say a person in my life who acted fearless in all the situations that I could observe him, was Osho. I remember him arriving in America and giving these press interviews. He was challenging, provoking. As an American, I got scared. I thought: "You're in America! Be careful." He didn't seem to worry about what the consequences would be, although I am sure that he knew. But that was his position. That takes a lot of courage and that is one of the things I always admired about Osho: he never hesitated to express his truth.

Your name, Veeresh, means "Bliss beyond Fear." What have you learned from Osho since he gave you this name?

When I became a sannyasin, I realized that I had been afraid all my life. Osho gave me the courage to say, "Veeresh, the game is over! I have to accept that I am a lovable human being." So, I dropped the trip of "I am a drug addict," or "I am a dysfunctional personality."
Before Osho left his body, he once sat up in bed and said to his doctor "Veeresh is a good man." Then he went back to sleep. Osho got me to accept that I am a good man in my heart and I want to do good. Many times this has given me the excuse to be courageous and say, "I'll do it anyway." I went beyond the game of being afraid. The older I get, the more responsible I become. So my fear turned into responsibility.

What is your biggest fear now and how are you dealing with it?

What I have left in my life is an anticipated fear. The deaths of friends make you aware of your own death and that we are not going to live forever. When I die, I would like to have the courage to be aware. To do that, I figured out that I need "insurance." My insurance is: if at the last moment I get scared - it is okay. My next insurance is: I am going to ask my friends to help me to be aware at the last moment. So now, it is not really a fear anymore; I have worked it out.

When you turn on the TV it is all about fear. Should we be afraid of the future?

Let's be "concerned" is a better way of saying it - rather than being afraid. We should be concerned about our children's future and about the planet. There is more pollution in the ocean than there is in the sky. We are destroying the whole fishing cycle. Everyone is worried about jet planes but in the oceans, boats are dumping all their oil and messing up the eco-system. Be concerned, and do what you can in the environment which is reachable for you and your scope of vision. And move it out to other people. Be a living example: have the courage to be a good person! So, let's party - but don't forget to clean up the mess!