Crisis as a Stepping Stone
Interview with Veeresh by Chandrika
Veeresh is a wise teacher and therapist who has helped many people with his radical and compassionate guidance on how to deal with life crisis. In this interview he shares from his many deep and touching life experiences.
Definition of Crisis:c.1425, from Gk. krisis “turning point in a disease”. Transferred non-medical sense is 1627. A Ger. term for “mid-life crisis” is Torschlusspanik, lit. “shut-door-panic,” fear of being on the wrong side of a closing gate.Etymology Dictionary
Veeresh, what is a crisis?
If the word, Wow! is a positive affirmation, or yes! for life, a crisis can be defined as a big Boo! – a no! in life.Between the age of 14 and 28, I was a junkie using heroin, and I had seven major overdoses. I ended up in a hospital, foaming, looking blue, my face all puffed up and people slapping me trying to bring me back to life, tubes up my nose, tubes down my throat, drips in my arm. That was a life-threatening crisis- it happened seven times! It was a time when all my systems stopped – and somehow I came back. The first time you think: I have got to be careful in future. But then it happened a second time, then a third time…. This crisis was a result of who I was inside. I was really in misery. My external behaviour reflected my inner feelings: I just don’t care about anything, I don’t care at all. That’s a life crisis.
Then there are other kinds of social and emotional crises, when someone dies and you just fall apart completely. Or your lover leaves you and you think the end of the world is happening…
-Or you lose your job…
Yes, that’s a big one. If you have a family and you lose your job, that’s a horror trip… So is getting divorced – for the parents and for the kids.
So crisis is always a situation of uncertainty where your foundation gets shattered?
Is a crisis needed for growth?
I would say that if you have one, it helps… (laughs) But it’s not necessary; no, I don’t believe so. If a person doesn’t go through a major crisis in his life, and another one has many crises, does one person’s experience have more value than the other’s? It doesn’t for me. You don’t have to have a crisis; you can have blissed-out experiences all the time- that’s a big Wow! So I don’t see that crisis is necessary.
-But you can turn a crisis into something valuable; the big Boo! can become a very helpful tool if you work with people!
Oh yes! I remember running a drug-rehabilitation community in London and I was so freaked out when someone wanted to leave. I knew that he could go straight back onto drugs, and overdose and die. I would really panic at times. I knew he’d just had a relationship crisis or something like that and I knew this person was capable of killing themselves. That is a serious crisis.
Is there a specific way how you as a sannyasin deal with a crisis?
As a sannyasin …An extreme example: I remember having a guy come to my group. He had shared that he physically beat his kids. I remember feeling: Oh no!, this guy is creating real monsters for the future – juvenile delinquents, criminals, and future crises, with this stupid behaviour- acting out on his kids, abusing them.
I asked him to promise that the next time he wanted to hit his kids, he would punch a brick wall first. I got that commitment out of him. I wanted to hear him say it. I wanted him to become conscious and aware of what he’s doing.
Another example is: Not so long ago, I learned that a friend of mine in Italy had cancer. I felt terrible and helpless. I remember looking around and seeing a small statue of Hotai, the Laughing Buddha, that Osho had given me. For a moment I felt, No, I don’t want to give away the statue; it is too precious. I gave it to her anyway, with the message that when she is feeling down, she should look at the Hotai and he would cheer her up.
What about you, Chandrika, as a sannyasin, how have you dealt with helping people in crisis?
Last year we had a really big crisis here when one of our good friends, Pragit, a therapist living in England, suddenly died. We went all into shock. We came together, we held each other, we were crying, and we were just there for each other. We were sharing all the beautiful memories that we had connected to him, things he taught us, how dear he was for us -we were sharing the whole day and the whole night. I think that is a very beautiful way of how we can deal with a crisis.
Then I also heard the story about one of his students, who was so shocked by his death that he closed off. He didn’t show anything; he didn’t say anything. He isolated and went outside; he just went to sit on his tractor, mowing the grass.
I think as sannyasins, we have our friendship – we can be there for each other and go through the difficult feelings together.
The heart connection! We can reassure each other that it’s going to be all right.
When you are in a crisis, what can you do? Is there a part where you just have to accept the facts of life and let time pass by?
Well, what I do and, what I encourage all my friends to do in a crisis, is not to isolate or withdraw – but to share it over and over and over until they can release all the pain inside that comes up with that situation. That’s the opposite of isolation. I like knowing that when I am in a major life crisis I am not alone.
When was your last big crisis and what helped you to overcome it?
I remember Pavita, my ex-girlfriend, and my son leaving for Brazil because she didn’t want to have a relationship or a family with me. That completely destroyed all my dreams, my expectations, my hopes, my wishes, my desires. I just went into a deep black hole. And what saved me was that I had my friends around and I kept sharing over and over.
It could have taken three years to resolve this by myself with just going over this again and again in my head, but I was able to get over it in three months. I shared with my friends what was going on and I never expected them to come up with a solution but the fact that they listened, that they cared about me… that I felt they love me very much was healing. Sharing my sadness and pain was magic; that’s what I need when I am in a heavy crisis – that my friends are there for me.
What was shocking for me during this time was that an old feeling came up from the days when I was using drugs – I thought it had disappeared. My whole position was: I just don’t care at all.; I don’t care about anything. I was shocked to experience that feeling again. I knew then that I had hit the bottom of what was going on. And then I crawled back out with the help of my friends.
Today Pavita and I are friends and I have accepted the situation as it is.
Is there anything else that you would like to say?
Many years ago I learned this concept of responsibility: I am responsible for who I am, for what I do in my life and for what happens to me. I remember I was having difficulty accepting that- I thought it was unfair, that reality sucks. Today, I understand that you have to take responsibility. If you are in crisis, you can choose to go into a black hole and stay there blaming the outside world or, you can use it as a stepping stone and move forward.
I remember, many years ago, Gandha walking into my bedroom, looking at me, shocked. I jumped out of bed and I said: What’s the matter? She said: Osho is dead. I looked at her and said: No, that’s not true. Call Poona and check it out – I was very calm -and then she left the room. Then just the idea, that Osho is dead suddenly hit me… I froze. I was in shock – I couldn’t breathe- I was gasping for air. Then it really settled in and I just started to cry like a baby. I felt like the whole world had stopped…it felt as as if my heart had been ripped out of my chest… I just cried.
It was good to have my friends around, to share. I had the feeling that I wanted to die – I was so devastated – my Master and friend has left… (Veeresh is sobbing) And … today, I see Osho in everybody.
He is in all our hearts.
Yes, forever. Would you like to say anything about dealing with crisis?
In my workshops, I see that when people realize all the wisdom they have gained from their experience of crisis, they can use it to understand, feel and support other people – that’s a major stepping stone towards their own healing.
Yes, that’s a really good way. If, for instance, you’re an ex-alcoholic, you can see yourself even more when you’re trying to help other alcoholics. Imagine if you have been ‘clean’ for a couple of years and then somebody walks in and talks about drinking- it triggers old feelings inside of you; then you can truly see how far you have come from being an alcoholic. It’s a good learning and you can then use it to teach others.
Crisis is a great opportunity to change your life. I always encourage people to realize their dreams. Once they are finished with clearing up their past, they can go for what turns them on and build their future. I support them to do whatever they want to do in life as long as it is positive!