Interview with Veeresh
At the Humaniversity fun and playfulness are constant ingredients in the work of Veeresh and his team. This interview was recorded in the Humaniversity Sound studio – Veeresh’s Creativity Office for painting and making music. He talks about his favorite entertainment, how he learned from Osho the art of bringing together playfulness and meditation, and how he uses fun and awareness in his work with people and in the community he is building.
Veeresh, what are your favorite forms of entertainment?
I most like to entertain myself, when I paint, when I do music. I go into a fantasy world of colors. I have a total involvement and I get a lot of pleasure from it. Listening to music or painting or going to a museum are involvements where I end up saying, “Wow!”A sense of wonder.
Yes!What do you find entertaining on television?I like surprise and things that are not usual – that’s entertaining for me. I like Discovery Channel; it’s like a whole education in areas that I never thought about in my life. Or National Geographic – you see animals being abused around the Earth for the sake of money. I become conscious of these things – I start to see it. I don’t like what’s going on in a lot of the media, but I can choose whether I want to look at it or not.For instance, in America the right of freedom of speech allows hate groups to say what they want on TV, on video and on the internet. Whether it’s racism or whatever… it’s all there. They can put it all out. The good thing is that you get an indication of what is going on. I prefer a society that has that choice, where you can see whatever you want to see, rather than denying it.I don’t like entertainment where people abuse each other. I’m not into watching fights for instance. Some people like it to see people getting their brains punched out. That’s not entertaining for me at all. Football is entertaining. In football it goes further, more than two players – two countries are competing and I think it’s great that they can have a football match rather than a war! I would like the Israelis and the Palestinians to have a football match, rather than destroy each other.There have been recent developments in television, for instance, The Jerry Springer Show. This supposedly sits down to deal with a ‘serious’ issue and then ends up with an orchestrated fight involving the whole audience. Many people around the world find this entertaining. It’s a statement of our times. That’s how people are getting entertained in America. There are TV programs now where you follow other people’s lives all the time, as if you have nothing better to do, like running your own life. I guess it has a great appeal for people who are isolated, with no way of communicating with other people. When did you first use entertainment in working with people?The first time I allowed myself to use entertainment as a means, in a position of authority, was in Phoenix House (a therapeutic community in New York). I had just become an assistant director and I wanted to show off that I knew what I was doing. All the directors had left, so then I was in charge. All the offices looked the same, but in my office I had a coconut with a face carved in it. I put an outrageous orange wig on it. People would come in my office, look at the coconut and say, “Wow!” One day I called a General Meeting of everybody in the commune, about 300 people. I went into a whole encounter, a general confrontation about how people are unaware, and what was going wrong with the place, and how the whole community was going to be destroyed because people didn’t care. At some point people started to feel guilty and more guilty and more guilty… I had my coconut on the table covered with a blanket, nobody could see it. At some point I screamed, “Who took the wig from my coconut?” And I pulled away the blanket, and my coconut was there, but no wig. The whole place was in shock, there was silence. At some point one person started to laugh and then everybody was laughing like crazy, they couldn’t stop laughing! I had made it all sound so serious!Once I was in Germany, leading a primal group. The Germans love heavy drama, so I set them up with intensive exercises, with a lot of screaming and crying. Then I had them all blindfolded. I placed them in a circle and I told them that they would see the most important thing in their life! “If you are open to it, you will see it!” I built the tension up and up, and eventually, from an intensive primal, after being up all night, I said, “This is what you have been waiting for!” They took off their blindfold and in front of each person there was a bottle of ‘double bock’ beer. They were shocked. And then one person started to laugh, and they were all laughing because of this horror trip that I had built up in their mind… they thought they would have to go into more screaming, more horror. They all cracked up! They looked like babies, holding their beer bottles like baby bottles!What did you learn about entertainment from your personal relationship with Osho?Osho is my super star! He was very entertaining for me. I watched him over the years changing slowly from a simple white plain robe into a Star Trek robe, with diamonds and everything. And I just kept watching and thinking to myself, “What an entertaining guy! I wonder what he’s going to wear this time, and I wonder what watch is he wearing today, and what car is he driving today.” He made his whole life a big entertainment. The scenery was there, he would come on stage and everybody would go “Wow!” They were all entertained. I think that was fantastic. He was a perfect example of entertainment. I like how Osho could use humor and fun. He would give everybody a big giant mirror, again and again and again…So enlightenment and entertainment can go together?I’m sure they do! I don’t think serious enlightened people are very entertaining.Did Osho like to watch TV?I don’t know. I know that He watched movies. He liked the movie ‘General Patton’. I can imagine him sitting there identifying with General Patton all the time.Do you like movies? Yes, I like action movies, where I sit there and my mind just gets taken away. I go through explosions and flying things, I like that. That’s entertaining to me. And generally the good guy always wins. That’s pretty clear and I try to figure out what’s going to be the twist this time. Can you be entertained and meditative at the same time? Or are these states mutually exclusive? If you try hard to meditate while watching a movie, I’m sure you can see yourself watching the movie and watching your judgments at the same time, and sitting there high above the clouds, but I think it’s more fun to just get lost with the movie… Become part of the movie, and then at the end say, “Hmm… that was great.”Is laughter healing or is it an avoidance of pain?Laughter is part of the orgasm reflex. You laugh either before or after or during, for being so happy. I see that as very healing. If people can’t laugh, they get very serious; they get very dark and depressed. You have one energy that you can choose how to express: you feel pain one moment, and you can turn that same emotion, that same experience into laughter. It is one energy and you experience it in many different ways. So I don’t see laughter as avoidance – I see it as good in its own right. It is just great to laugh, to have fun, for the sake of fun, for the orgasm reflex. The end result is energy being released, excitation, and that’s healthy. The opposite is repression and contraction, and that’s not healthy. In your work you use many different structures that are very entertaining to people, like disco, parties, and beach walks.The Montessori schools came up with the realization that children learn the most when they are having fun and they are entertained. That sounds like something that should be obvious to the whole world! Of course! If you are not stressed about having to pass an examination, that your parents will get pissed off if you get a low grade and stuff… and you’re just having fun, of course you’re more open to learning. Osho had that quality of fun. He used to make jokes, and say what was on people’s minds when people were afraid to say it themselves. I remember that someone accused him of being vulgar by using the word ‘fuck’, and then he went into this whole discourse that ‘fuck’ is a very useful word. He went on and on and on and said that that’s how he clears his voice in the morning; he just says “fuck you, fuck you, fuck you…!” I thought that was great! I like humor. I like getting people to share their most funny experience, the greatest jokes. It’s important for the person telling, who is practicing being entertaining, and for the person receiving. I see it: both get into this energy. It’s so special, it’s open and it’s not threatening, and it’s fun.The Humaniversity is something like a big station on people’s life path. They stop and get an education, and they’re all looking for relationships. They’re all looking for marriage, for security, so that they can say, “Now I’ve done it, I don’t have to run around any more.” “I’m here to get an education, but I’m still looking for that security that is going to make me feel better for the rest of my life.” People come walking in and think, “Hmm, are you a potential relationship for ever? No? Boo. You are not the ideal yet? Oh, I will keep searching.” Or they say, “Wow, it’s nice to meet you. Let’s stay together for ever!” That’s what the trip is here. And in between it’s education. We are a very entertaining school and we can exaggerate all the areas in people’s lives. I think it’s great to be able to exaggerate it all. It gives you a better perspective of who you are.I see you getting entertained in your daily life with very simple things. You are walking in the garden, you look at things and it seems like you often have a “Wow” experience. It’s true, I look at things in the garden and I say, “Wow, you haven’t been here before…” The bamboos are growing, they’re spreading everywhere. I love to look at the boat we have now (in the children’s playground). It’s not just a boat. When you look close, it’s an amazing painting, all these colors. I like it that you pass our front garden and suddenly you see these Alice in Wonderland roses, these big silver metal roses coming out of the ground! Yes, the whole place is one big entertainment for me. Recently I was in a hotel on vacation. I was disturbed how everything there was intended to create a beautiful harmony, but people who looked after the place just didn’t care – so many things were a bit ‘off’. They had an elevator and an ashtray, and the place where you press the buttons was crooked. The ashtray was really off-centered, and so on. The cleaners and the person who was in charge just did not understand how it all could be.I like harmony, and that’s very entertaining. I like to go into a space and see that everything is cared for, it’s in harmony.