Interview with Veeresh by Geetee. Interviewed for German Osho Times
‘Durch dick und dünn’ (Through thick and thin) is the topic of this issue. It means friends for life, sticking together also in difficult times. You’ve been leading the Osho Humaniversity for over 33 years now. What is the secret to the success of your commune?
I see many parts. I’ve learned that for it to work, any institution must have a goal and an organization to carry out the plan in order to achieve the goal. It needs controlling factors to make sure that everybody is moving along the same direction, whether it’s a bank, the government, or the army etc. If you don’t have a goal, you don’t know what you’re doing, you end up not growing, not evolving.
My goal has always been very clear. I’ve seen the Humaniversity as a training centre. We train therapists to go out and work in their back home situations. Their goal is to heal people, to create a better world, for future generations and for us now. I never saw it as a place where people would come and work and want to live forever. Of course we also have people living here, but that is not the main purpose of the Humaniversity.
Right from the beginning I’ve always had the opinion that our goal can only be accomplished if we involve as many possibilities for learning as we can, new therapies, new cultures. I’ve always been looking to incorporate what works.
The basic secret is that Osho is our spiritual guide, the foundation, and the direction of the Humaniversity. We want to advance his work in creating paradise on earth. Then there is another secret, and that is me. I’m ready and willing to use anything that helps people to change. If I am not evolving myself then our commune would have closed down a long time ago. Because I want to look, I want my staff to look. I don’t want people to believe that now, as we’re doing well, there’s no more need to develop ourselves and to learn more. It’s not enough for me to say it; I also have to demonstrate it. I don’t remember a time where I’ve stopped looking at myself. I think that makes us very special. If you look at most communes, they’re established and they are not very open to looking at other approaches. There have been agricultural communes, meditative communes, communes where people want to just live, have a comfortable situation and are able to retire. They get pretty stuck in their way: ‘Don’t disturb me, I’ve done groups before. I’ve looked at myself and now I’m finished.’ That’s when people and communes get stuck. It’s up to the leadership to create their goal.
Some think the goal is enlightenment, but that is not true. For me it is the first step, the beginning, not the end. Now that you have got it, you have to develop it and give everything you know to everybody else.
You’ve incorporated the key principles of love, awareness and responsibility from Osho in our way of living and working together. How does that look like and what does it mean?
I see friendship as the key for your relationships, and how you live in the world. Our primary living example and role models are my staff, the leadership of the Humaniversity. It is their way of being, their way of living and working together, how they teach. They are constantly looking at themselves, they assume responsibility, and their base is their heart. They come from a loving position. If you look at our staff meetings, the way we work with groups, the staff wants to know everything possible about the individual. They do what they can to uplift a person. It’s not that they have to do it. They have developed this wanting to do something good for the other, this love, this open heart. We don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk. I am happy to have such a staff, they all want to learn and look. They’re beautiful people and they are friends. I’ve been working really hard to make sure those principles are there, friendship. There are not too many places in the world where friendship is the basis of working together. Most places fulfill the goal, make the money, and fulfill the quota. They’re not interested in who you are, it’s secondary. For me, you are more important than the process, the work. If the work is in the way of the individual, we can stop it. All businesses are based on profit. We’re not. We’re based on love, friendship, communication, good things. The money comes as a result of that, it’s not our priority.
‘Love in Action’ and ‘Working with People for a Better World’ are beautiful concepts of yours. What is your vision for the Humaniversity as a living commune?
200 years from now people are going to walk through the gate and get a big blast because of the energy here. They’re going to feel a vertical force and say: “Wow, what a beautiful place has been developed here.”
This is Osho’s place. I made it, but Osho is the inspiration. Just like Osho said, if you go to the resort in Pune in 200 years from now, a blast of energy will create this vertical force inside of you, instant enlightenment. My vision is that this will happen here as well. Not everybody can go to India. So, people come here and hang out with us, experience our way and say: “Wow, I understand. It’s true; they are living Osho’s dream, working with people for a better world.”
I see the vision of the Humaniversity is also that everyone who lives here is encouraged to find the master inside of themselves, just like Osho has helped you to find the master inside of you. People have to be inner directed if they want to live in a commune.
You can judge a mature commune when you see that each member assumes responsibility and believes that the commune is in the hands of the individual.
How do you manage to strive together for a communal goal with mutual support? What helps this and what gets in the way?
We constantly have meetings so that we can provide the best care we can. We look at our evaluation and at what happens in our groups. We encourage participants to point out to us what we can improve. Everybody here is aware that this is not a hotel. This is a place to work and develop yourself. We make our goals clear. You’re here to look at yourself and to be the best person you can be. We have that attitude coming from the staff going all the way to our induction program, the Tourist Program. We do not have people isolated here, it’s not possible. People must contribute and expose who they are. Then we can develop and adjust their behavior to reach our goal. We want people to discover and be their most loving self. It’s so simple. We are able to change, we’re not stuck.
What gets in the way are mostly personal trips, people’s images and personality conflicts. Sometimes there’s jealousy, sometimes people feel not recognized and they don’t believe that what they are doing is good enough. They don’t like that they have to look at themselves, or they think the approach is too harsh.
I welcome all of that. I would never want a perfect commune. I like working through all these issues, that’s life. It’s never complete, it’s always evolving. I know that we’re extreme, we demand change, and we want people to apply what they learn here. Some people want it more comfortable. We encourage them to go where they feel supported in their process in the way they want. I know that my approach is not the only approach, but I also know it’s very special.
You said once that we can only be destroyed from the inside, never from the outside. If something comes from the outside we can always adapt to it. But, if we are not clear with each other on a friendship level, then conflicts can happen. How do you see that?
I see it exactly as you said. Our strength is how we support each other. If we undermine each other, and we’re not together, the simplest threat from the outside will shake us up. We have proved that we have the strength after all these years, we have a strong foundation. We have had conflicts, personality clashes, people not keeping sight of our vision. I’ve had many staff members in the past come and go. They kept looking at the outside of them, at what is not right, instead of looking at what they can do to change and support the commune. To live in a commune requires a very mature person who can go for his own needs and at the same time the goals of the commune. In the past that has been difficult for us, some of our staff wanted to do their thing. Some were resentful because it didn’t go the way they wanted it to go. I can understand that. They need to further develop themselves somewhere else. I’m always looking for solutions when it comes to internal conflicts that undermine our work. My position is: ‘How can we improve what we’re doing rather than getting caught up with what is going wrong.’ If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem. Whatever is happening on the outside is never primary, first it is us. We’re living in friendship. I see friendship as a constant love affair, there are ups and downs. But we can deal with it. Let’s find a solution, let’s take it higher and develop it, whatever the problem is. That has been our strength.
Would you like to add anything to complete this?
An evolving commune is always changing. I am always open to share our experiences and what we have learned over the last 33 years. As far as I am concerned, we are unique. We are a school for masters.