Interview with Chandrika by Premdipa
According to Chandrika, changing is exciting, nourishing, and necessary – when you accept that “You are perfect just the way you are.” This may sound like a contradiction but Chandrika explains this paradoxical koan.
Many of us are on the path because we want to grow, improve, and change something in our lives. On the other hand, according to Osho and many other teachers, we are perfect as we are. How to make sense of this?
Everyone has a base of goodness, and when we work with people in therapy it’s important to address this healthy core. Without this base, what’s the point of even seeking for a change or transformation? We need to address the perfect part in people, which I call the essence. Veeresh used to say: “You may think or behave in a stupid way, you may feel a bit off, but in your heart you are good.” I could relate to that, especially when I was in an emotional, stressful situation.
Do you think that “I’m perfect just the way I am” can also be used as an excuse for not making necessary changes and for not taking responsibility?
That can happen, although it should have the opposite effect. If my core is good, I can admit to a mistake. I can apologize and correct; I can change my emotional perception and mental understanding of the situation. I can find out the root cause of the problem, cry about it if needed, and undo the knots that are causing tension and conflicts in my life. If you really take on the concept “I’m perfect just the way I am,” it puts all the responsibility into your own hands. You are responsible for creating the life you want and also for what happens to you.
Some people live with a mental concept of feeling unworthy or guilty, doubting their right to exist. If you nourish a concept like that, you will never take responsibility for your life, your actions, or relationships. Instead, you will always complain and create more unhappiness. From this point of view, the position “I’m perfect just the way I am” is actually quite demanding – in a positive, liberating sense. It empowers you. It gives you the responsibility and possibility to initiate change within yourself and with others.
“I’m perfect just the way I am” has many dimensions. It allows me to be who I am at any given moment. If I get hurt and feel angry or sad, it’s a fact. By accepting the situation I can choose how to respond to it.
How have you changed on your journey?
When I look back I can see four major changes in my life. There are two keys that induce change: shock (the unexpected surprise) and love (the healing force), and the master key is awareness (the witness).
When I was 12 my mother had a nervous breakdown. I had lived a very sheltered and comfortable life, but suddenly Mother was not there any more. It was a shocking experience. I learned to take responsibility in a very practical way, very fast. If I wanted to eat, I had to cook and do the shopping. Eventually the burden was too heavy for a teenager, and I started to rebel against my parents, school, and society.
My mother’s illness also started a deep process of reflecting and questioning in me. What made my mother fall apart? Becoming adolescent brought up more questions about the body, mind, spirituality, love, and what I wanted to do with my life. At 17 I started psychoanalytic therapy in order to understand my inner world.
The second change happened when I found Osho and the world of meditation at the age of 21. For years I had been looking for answers, and suddenly all the questions were thrown back at me. I had to find the answers within myself. Listening to Osho hit straight home – every insight and understanding created a new burst of energy. I experienced such freedom! I fell into the silent space inside, and outside I was inspired by all the open-minded people in Pune. We were from so many different backgrounds but we could all meet each other with open hearts as human beings.
Finding clarity and purpose helped me move on with my psychology studies. I graduated fast because I had no time to waste – I had a direction, and I wanted to move.
The third change came when the Ranch collapsed. I was shocked and heartbroken because for seven years I had put my whole energy into building a beautiful, heartful commune in Switzerland. I could see where I hadn’t taken responsibility and hadn’t been true to myself.
My dreams were shattered, and I decided to not work with people ever again. I came to Humaniversity because I trusted the friendship I had with Veeresh. It was a liberating experience to go through the Tourist Program and the Student Program, leaving the past behind. I found the will to live, confidence, self-esteem, and trust. After five months Veeresh encouraged me to start working with people again. My creativity was flowing, and he gave me one project after another. I said, “I cannot possibly do all this!” and he replied, “Of course, you can. You can work on a minimum of seven different levels.” And he was right. What made me reclaim my life was the friendship and love I created and still experience at Humaniversity.
The fourth change happened when I fell in love with Dharmaraj at the age of 42 and we got married. Before that most of my relationships had been emotionally stormy: very passionate but unsettling. With Dharmaraj I found a new solid, silent quality, love that goes beyond. I found a fulfilling partnership that nourishes me and enriches my life. We are a team, and with his support I can expand.
Who changed? Is there a part of you that never changes?
When I flick through a photo album I can feel myself in all the photos, just in different modes. Looking at myself as a baby I can feel the openness, surprise, and innocence. As a teenager I’m troubled and trying to find my place. Later I feel the excitement and eagerness to search. I also sense an energy in the photos that stays unchanged and that’s me. I’ve experienced that I am much bigger than what manifests in this body. We just get trapped in a limited vision about ourselves and our possibilities.
I had a vivid impression of this life energy during the death celebration of Veeresh. The whole room was filled with his love. He was in people’s hearts, in the music and lyrics that he created, and I was amazed that he had contained this vast energy in such a small body.
Where are you at now – are you still in a process of change?
I will turn 64 this year, and I’m happy with who I am and how I live, love, and work. Challenges always come in one form or another. The latest was severe leg and hip pain. When my physiotherapist suggested swimming in the ocean, that blew my mind. In the 30 years I’ve lived at the Humaniversity I never thought I would swim in the North Sea. Now I’m dipping in the sea twice a day, regardless of the cold, wind, or rain. I’ve done this for a year now, and in addition to soothing the pain, the swimming refreshes and energizes me. This is an example of an outer change – a choice I made, a change of behavior that enriches my life and brings me close to the vastness of nature and its elements.