LoveOsho podcast E004 Krishna Prem

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This is one of the LoveOsho podcasts. It was recorded on 22 May 2018.

Episode E004: Teaching Osho how to tell jokes
with Sw Krishna Prem (American)
listen to the interview: or click to play in your browser.

Krishna Prem - aka KP - is one of the very first Western Osho’s disciples and the first to open a meditation center in California. Osho is possibly the best comedian of our time, and if you enjoy Osho’s jokes thank KP for that. KP arrived to Osho in 1973 and opened the first Osho meditation center in California. KP still lives in Pune today and is a master of how to be playful and live a non-serious life.
Today our guest is Krishna Prem, aka KP. KP is one of the very first Western Osho’s disciples and the first to open a meditation center in California. We are going to talk about how to live life in a playful way, what is a playshop, and how to bring meditation into the marketplace.
Krishna Prem - aka KP - is one of the very first Western Osho’s disciples and the first to open a meditation center in California. Osho is possibly the best comedian of our time, and if you enjoy Osho’s jokes thank KP for that.
KP arrived to Osho in 1973 and opened the first Osho meditation center in California. KP still lives in Pune today and is a master of how to be playful and live a non-serious life.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this episode:
  • KP’s background
  • KP's journey from the USA to India
  • How KP arrived to Osho in 1973
  • KP's first meeting with Osho
  • KP's opening the first Osho meditation centre in the USA
  • KP's tips on how to run a meditation centre
  • KP tells the story of how he taught jokes to Osho
  • How and why KP lives a non-serious life
  • The difference between a workshop and a playshop
  • Why to visit the Osho resort in Pune
  • KP's book and projects
  • KP's morning routine
  • KP's favourite meditation
  • KP and Osho today
Music and Voice by Chinmaya Dunster.

see also
KP’s website
KP on Facebook
Osho Resort Pune, India
The LoveOsho podcasts

interview transcript

Swaram: Hello and welcome to the Love Osho Podcast. My name is Swaram and I'm the host. Thanks for tuning in and being here. Todayour guest is Krishna Prem - AKA, KP. KP is one of the very first Western Osho disciples. We are going to talk about how to live life in anon serious way, which is KP speciality.KP, welcome to the show. How are you?
KP: I’m really good. So nice to talk to you again.
Swaram: KP, tell us a bit about yourself and your background before meeting Osho.
KP: Ha ha. Well, I was born in Boston, Massachusetts in America. I had a wonderful childhood that was disturbed by death. In the East,for example in India, many children are brought up by the grandparents because their parents have to work. And they learn about deathearly, because the grandparents died before the parents do usually.In my situation, my parents died naturally. At the very young age of nine, I looked in the mirror and said, my God, what is life about if I'm going to die anyway? So I had that unusual upbringing of not having parents; not having to say please and thank you, and kind of being onmy own, just like my teacher Osho had the same experience. And there was something existential in that… but I carried on and I had totake more care of myself. And I worked my way through college by being a hotel manager at night. Conversely, a friend of mine married awoman and their wedding present was a hotel. He was nervous - it was in London - and he flew me over to manage the hotel. In Englandwas so much more natural, 40 years ago, to meet many Indian friends at two in the morning, because when you manage a hotel, that's whenyou get to eat. And I met many Indian friends, and I fell in love with Indian food, and it was just natural for me to go to India, just becauseI liked the people. I had never heard of meditation, except for the Beatles who had just come from India, and I naturally just gravitatedtowards India… I had no idea that Osho existed. And that's one of the reasons that I was the first one of the white friends, so to speak, thatmet Osho. There were already hundreds of thousands of Indian friends, but the white kids hadn't started to come, what I mean is theWestern kids. So there I am sitting in front of Osho at the age of 29 saying, oh my gosh, how come no one has ever heard of you? Andthat's how the movie began.
Swaram: So you were led to India from England. How did you end up in front of Osho? Because India is a huge country.
KP: It’s so interesting. I went to India and it's a wonderful story I won't get into… but just a great woman. In fact, we separated after wemet Osho, but I just spoke to her after 45 years, she called me on the phone and it was so cute.And there we are in love in Bombay and a young woman sat down with us over a cup of tea when we first arrived, and she was flirting withme and my girlfriend got jealous. I got nervous. My girlfriend went to the bathroom and I said to the girl, why are you flirting with me infront of my girlfriend? What do you want? Because she was like a movie star and I'm just an ordinary guy. I'd never been flirted in thatway. And the key thing is when my girlfriend came back, she said, I want to apologise. I'm not flirting. I just fell in love with a teachernamed Osho. And I want to tell you about him. And we were so relieved… just to be two ordinary people in love, with a beautiful womanwho wanted to tell us about a meditation, so we just got on a train and went to see Osho.
Swaram: I’ve heard this before that men are pulled to Osho because of women.
KP: Yes, there is no doubt about that, Osho was attractive to women and their boyfriends would follow.
Swaram: You are one of the very first Western person to come to Osho. What year was that? And how was to be with Osho in those days,compared to the later days, when many, many more people came to him?
KP: My gosh, this was 1973. And Osho lived in one room in the desert, outside of Mumbai, Bombay, as you might remember it. And I hadto take a third class train to see him. There were thousands of Indians in that train - I don't know if anybody has been on an Indian train, butyou cannot sit down, you can only stand up - and for three hours, I was just jumping up and down on this train, not because I was jumpingup and down, but because the train was jumping up and down. It was a near death experience. I got off the train and I had to rent a bullockcart - that's a bull and a cart - and the driver took me to see Osho. I parked the bullock cart and the driver and the bull next to Osho's oneroom. And then Osho was sleeping, I had to lay down on the ground and just sleep until he woke up. Everybody has heard of his 93 RollsRoyces but he had a rented Chevrolet at the time. He had nothing, I had nothing, but I knew it was a Rolls Royce moment. The moment Isaw him, I said, my gosh, wow.. For me, it was so exciting. You know, when I say I ran a hotel in London, that means you drink at night.And I was by now an alcoholic. And as soon as I met Osho, he became my alcohol, like alcohol just left my being. And I knew I was inthe right place at the right time. And I was in love immediately because he had something that I looked for in many. He had courage. Andhe had a feminine energy, which means he would never hurt me with his courage. He would only try and wake me up and I immediatelybegan to trust him. And he actually liked me too, which I couldn't believe. And we went on to have a love story where I was in his service.And I enjoyed being in his service. If you look at {inaudible}, you might say, if I did something for somebody else, I didn't like it. I wantto be myself. I want to be the boss. I want to be everything a man should be. But in my case, I knew I could never grow up unless I workedfor him - that he was going to be a light unto me until I grew up and became a light unto myself. I don't know how to explain it, except Iknew I was on the right path and I was ready to give up my life because it wasn't working for working for him and becoming a lot{inaudible}. I don't know how to explain it, but it was a great idea for me and I was ready to do anything all day long just to be in hispresence.
Swaram: This is so beautiful to hear. One of the reasons why I want to capture these testimonies exactly like yours now, is because peopleassociate Osho with the Rolls Royces, and all the other rumours, but this for me is Osho. People who arrived to this man, and they feel justbeing with him and leaving everything else behind. And there is something indescribable about the effect that this man had on people.That's beautiful, and thanks for sharing that.I understand that you were one of the first to be sent to the West and open an Osho centre.
KP: That's a fun story too. You’re bringing up memories that are delightful.Osho would breathe in, and I would breathe out, I could see him whenever I wanted really, I was the only one around. I knew thedifference: he was alive and I was still asleep. And after about 10 minutes, Osho would look at his watch, which means he wanted me toleave. And even though I was dead spiritually, I was alive as a businessman, as a human being. I was already alive, I just was sleepyspiritually. And when Osho would look at his watch, I would say, oh, that's great Osho because I need to get ready to pack for California.And he, when he heard the word California, he went crazy because he said, my people are in California. My people are in California. Andthen he would talk to me for another 20 minutes about California. And I was laughing to myself because I was not going to go toCalifornia. And, you know, it happened, of course, I ended up in California, {laughter} unbeknownst to myself and with no money in mypocket, not one penny - the reason I say that is I spent every penny in India to be with him. And when I came home, I didn't have anythingexcept I was a glow. I don't know if anybody - you know, when you're in love with a woman, you know how good you look, but whenyou're in love with a spiritual teacher, you take on an aura of just beauty and not only beauty, but I was actually onto something that no oneelse was onto, which is: I am alone, I am vulnerable. I don't know shit, and I want to share it with you. And people saw me, believed me,loved me and, within one month of leaving Osho, I had bought a $500,000 property to start a meditation resort. That's a whole big story,but I can only tell you I had not one penny. And by the end of one month, I was worth $500,000. And I had a fantastic property inCalifornia for 200 people. And it was a huge success. And later on when Osho came to America, I donated the property to him, so he couldbe in America. Even though I had half million dollars now, I was the same person that had nothing. In that day, in that way, I was so... I wasnot materialistic. I was spiritualistic. I do want to say to the audience that I might not do the same thing today, but in those days I dideverything for Osho and Osho did everything for me, by the way - it was a two way street. I was blessed completely, and so it was Osho.We had fun.
Swaram: That’s beautiful. And then obviously we need to have a private chat about how you raised the funds to open the centre. That's …
KP: People were in love with me because I was with Osho. It's unexplainable - but of course I didn't need a half million dollars. I needed$30,000 down payment. So, it was very easy. People just shared whatever they had.
Swaram: I know you personally. We met back in 2014/2015 when I was sent to Poona for work, believe it or not - that was a real cosmicjoke, what are the chances! I remember the first thing I noticed about you was that you were completely non-serious, and I must confess,that I just couldn't follow you. I remember talking to you and thinking, what’s going on here. Have you always been like this or beingaround Osho played a part in you being non-serious?
KP: It’s so beautiful, because one thing Osho said to me is, when I wake up in the morning, I'm laughing. I laugh all day long, and I putmyself to sleep through laughter. And even when I'm sleeping, I'm chuckling. Because he felt that life was funny. And what I mean by thatis he was the ultimate witness. So for him everything was a cosmic joke because he couldn't believe how serious Krishna Prem andSwaram were taking life. He didn't find life serious at all. He found it a cyclone and he was at the centre of the cyclone and he foundeverything alive and amusing, but he said to me, you only laugh when I say something funny. So he actually asked me to send him jokes sothat he could practice jokes because he said I'm not the first Westerner that's coming here. So he learned to tell jokes, but he only told jokesso that Swaram and Krishna Prem would laugh, but he was already laughing. He calls life a cosmic joke and that's to be taken seriously - Ishould say sincerely. It's a very difficult concept because we're brought up to be miserable and serious, and meditation takes those twoqualities, if you want to call them so, away from you, when you become non-serious and delighted to be alive.
Swaram: One of the things that attracted me to Osho was his jokes...
KP: Was he good or what? When I first started to teach him jokes, he couldn't even tell a joke, he was terrible, and this is good for yourfriends to hear, that Osho was willing to practice in front of me and you for years on end until he became the best comedian I know. Butwhen he began, he never heard of a joke, he didn't even know what was funny or what wasn't funny. If I sent it to him and many peoplebegan sending him jokes, then he thought they were funny, but he really didn't know at first. But he didn't mind practicing right in front ofyou. Now how many times if you've done something poorly, you went out in public? He would tell a bad joke in public. If you didn't laugh,he would say, oh you didn't get i?. He always thought it was my fault that I didn't laugh. But he practiced. And towards the end of his life,I've never seen anyone with better timing, because Osho - by the way, if you didn't send jokes, he would get mad. He would say, I’m notgoing to come out and talk tonight unless you send me jokes. Not just me, all of us, you know, but I happened to take it seriously {laughter)I loved it. I loved it.
Swaram: Now I used to be much more serious than I am now. So definitely being with Osho and meditating helped a lot and it feels somuch lighter. And it's wonderful.
KP: Yes, we always have to remember the word "sincere", you know, to tell the joke… usually is somebody lost something or somebodyslipped on a banana peel. That's not a joke that Osho would tell. He would tell the jokes that indicated life. And indicated how serious weare and how we think we can change the world taking it seriously. And Osho said we can change the world by enjoying it.
Swaram: Let’s move on and talk about your activities. When we met in India, Chetna and I agreed to invite you to London to run aworkshop. You call this not a workshop, but a "Playshop". So what's the difference between a workshop and a playshop?
KP: Well, you know, it's funny {laughter} - I'm sorry, I'm laughing at myself. The definition of work is effort, and the definition of play iseffortless effort. I just took my 40 years of Osho and boiled it down to four hours, including the first joke I told Osho, the first joke thatOsho told me and including not being serious. But I must say that sometimes I even take my own work seriously. But what happened forme Swaram is I decided I wanted to be in the West again; I spent too much time in India. And I was becoming almost crazy because I lostthe balance between meditation and the marketplace. So I said, I’m going to go back home and I'm going to get a job. And when I wenthome, I realised the only job that I wanted to do was to teach meditation. So I created this playshop and I've been doing it for years andyears, and I travel every single weekend. Like today I'm in Amsterdam, yesterday I was in Portugal, tomorrow I'm going to America. Am Icrazy? Yes, but if I just stayed in Boston, I would get one playshop per month. If I'm willing to travel, I get four playshops in one month.And as crazy as that sounds... like now I'm an Amsterdam, everything is only two hours away. When I go to Boston, everything is onlythree hours away. So when I say I fly every weekend, I've learned to enjoy flying because I know I'm going to meet 25 to 30 new people.Sometimes I meet a hundred people and it's just exciting to share meditation. And I also get paid. It's a job. And I'm not rich anymore, but Ihave been rich. And the quality of my inner riches is so much greater than having been wealthy. I should suggest to the audience that I wasborn wealthy - by nine years old I knew that money comes and goes as well as life. And I just decided to be myself and it worked out. I'mnot saying everybody should do what I do. I just work weekends, but I network during the week for that weekend. So it's actually a prettyfull time job and I love it. And then I just do it for four or five months a year. And then six or seven months a year I'm in India.
Swaram: Okay. So for someone who might be interested in attending your playshop, can you tell us what happens during a playshop?
KP: Basically the big messages is that, for example, in your case, you're 99% Italian and Italy is 99% fabulous, but what's missing is that1%. And that 1% is Swaram, that 1% is Krishna Prem. So what I teach is that 1% is more valuable than the other 99%. And what I alsoteach is you can't go away that 99% because you met your 1%. So you need to add meditation to the marketplace in order to be 100%.Once you are 100%, you can just disappear and enjoy and dance and laugh. See what happens is the world says 99%: what do you needthat other 1% for? Why are you so greedy? But what Osho would say is that 1% owns the other 99% ,without the 1% you're just going tochase money, chase women, chase cars until you die. With the 1%, you're going to chase women, chase cars until you die, but you're goingto enjoy yourself. There's a difference. Once you add that 1%, you added the witness to your foolish life and that's when you have fun. Sothat's the cosmic joke: without meditation, the marketplace is not worth it.
Swaram: Okay. You still live in Poona today after almost 30 years since Osho left the body. Millions of people have visited the resortssince 1974, but millions more have not yet. What would you say to someone who is planning a visit, why to visit the Osho resort today?
KP: When I mentioned that 1%, which is you, that 1% is in every single person that exists. That 1% is in every tree that's waving in thewind. And so all I say to people is, can you hear your inner voice? Can you hear your longing to live? Can you hear your longing to dance?And Osho was into celebration. All of our meditations begin with celebration so that when you meditate and you hit the wall, you're not soquite disappointed. So everyday we dance, every day we sing, every day we meditate, and it's a miracle because I'm not such a greatdancer, like someone that just went to a disco for every night for six years. But when I dance, I look more like me than when you dance,because you might be doing the latest dance instead of the latest you. It's not about more. It's about less. It's about stripping yourpersonality away until you become an individual again. The Greek said it best "your personality is just a mask". And all we do in Poona istake our mask off, take our clothing off, take our conditioning off, so that we're just a little in love with life. I'm thrilled every day when Imeet a new person and I can see that their mask is breaking, that their personality is being destroyed. And of course that can be verypainful, but with so many friends in a resort saying "congratulations, I can see you", you start to trust again.
Swaram: Thank you. That was very beautifully put and very inviting.
KP: Thank you.
Swaram: So KP, you wrote a book called "Gee you are", what's the meaning of Gee you are you?
KP: Well, that's so cute. Gee. g-e-e is an American word for "wow". So, wow. Swaram is Swaram - Gee You Are You, which means Iwent to India to meet a guru and I bumped into myself. So, the title was terrible, it didn't work anywhere but in America, but so in all theother languages - Russian, Turkish, I can't remember all the languages, Hindi - it's called "The cosmic Joke" because people don'tunderstand that it's an inquiry, but my book is so cute. The title was what didn't work until you see Gee You Are You, also spells the wordGURU, then it gets a little cuter, but I made a mistake and I liked that. I liked that. And I made a such a big mistake that the book isactually sold out {laughter}. So, I'm reprinting now. So it's been a very interesting journey. So Gee listener, You Are You, listener. Wakeup. Enjoy. Love.
Swaram: Thank you for clarifying that. Where people can find you if they want to know more about you, your activities, or get in touchwith you.
KP: Well, I'm all over the place. First of all, I'm officially single on Facebook, so you can look me up Krishna Prem, two words onFacebook. Or you can go to my website, which is absolutely full of wonderful stories about Osho and me as well as dirty jokes that indicatemeditation. And again, it's GEE second word YOU, third word ARE, fourth word YOU - dot com. And that's another example of EastWest. I was everywhere. Like I had a story on the internet. I had a book on and the Indian boy who's loved me forever, whocame to India as a 15 year old and left as a 50 year old, took everything I've done and put it into one place.
Swaram: Thank you KP. I'll link your website and Facebook page onto the show notes.
KP: I really recommend it, because it's fun.
Swaram: It is fun. Yes. I read it and it's full of crazy stories. Really hilarious. It's real fun.
KP: I appreciate that.
Swaram: We are heading towards the end of the podcast and I've got the last three questions for you. What's your morning routine. Howdoes your morning look like in the first couple of hours?
KP: Ah, ah. It's really funny you asked that. Osho would always say, truth, beauty, good. In other words, if you are truly yourself, youbecome a beautiful human being and you will simply love life. I worked the opposite way: love, beauty, truth. In other words, every day inevery way, I have to start again, heading into... to meet the Osho in me. I wake up in the morning needing to remember meditation and theessentials in my life. The real success is when the Osho in me talks to me in the marketplace. And I love my life. And so I wake up, gettingready to share, but that doesn't mean that somebody else wants to share with me. I actually have to do my homework. I wake up and I say"who am I?", and I usually come up with "I wouldn't mind starting the day with a cup of coffee".
Swaram: Second question. What's your favourite meditation and why?
KP: Oh, I love the Kundalini meditation. It's shaking for 15 minutes, dancing for 15 minutes, standing in that sexy energy relaxed. What Imean by that is when I shake, I let go of Swaram, I let go of my parents, I let go of my girlfriends, I let go of everyone. And once you letgo, that dancing is very, very sexy. And at the end of the 15 minutes of dancing, Osho would say to me, you’re too sexy now to meditate,let that energy cool out. And then once you cool out, then you can lie down and become enlightened. So every day I do that meditation. SoI shake, I get rid of everybody that's not me. Then I dance with myself and fall in love. And then I cool out that energy. And then I lie downand say "thank you".
Swaram: The last question. You live the Osho experiment. What does it mean to you personally to be with Osho today in 2018?
KP: It’s embarrassing, because I still love it. Sometimes people say "get a life, you're still there after 45 years", but that's... gosh... for meZorba the Buddha is actually Buddha the Zorba. Meditation is not enough. And being in the marketplace is not enough. I combine the twoand you reach a point... here's a perfect example
Swaram: when somebody pushes my buttons, instead of punching them, I say thank you,because I didn't know, I could be so affected by your thought. So for me, my Buddha... it's easy to be a Buddha, you just go in your room,go in your cave, close the door and be alone, but Osho would say that's not enough. You need to go back to Boston and get a job. You needto see if somebody can push your buttons. You need to see if you know what's going on today in the world because the world is a greatteacher. So that's what I do. I go to Poona and I meditate, and then I come out and lead meditations.
Swaram: And that's my experience as well. Osho's message is to bring meditation into real life. He's not advocating to leave everythingbehind and hide in a cave, and that's much more challenging, much more difficult to be aware and meditative in an office or in a big citywhen you're busy.
KP: I congratulate you. I felt you had such a great life in London and then one day I get an email "I'm moving to Hong Kong orSingapore". I can't remember where, and that really scared me. I got scared. I said, how can they do that? They are so successful in Londonand now they're trying a whole new environment and I congratulate you and Chetna for taking a risk. I took the same risk, but I still ....that's fun about risk. I took a risk, but I was worried for you {laughter}, it's cute.
Swaram: Yes. It was a bit of a crazy decision. Totally unplanned.
KP: I’m really impressed. Really impressed. And as a team, you're fantastic.
Swaram: Thank you KP. Thank you so much. And now we are much closer to India and Poona. So we look forward to meeting you.
KP: I like it. Next year is going to be a very big year in Poona, because so many people are watching this "Wild Wild Country". The youngpeople are seeing through the movie, they're saying, ah, yes, the friends in Oregon were insulted, but look at that 10,000 young people, andtheir faces are shiny. And the young people saying, I need to find out for myself. So now for every 99 people that says that's the worstdocumentary I ever saw, Osho was not concerned about that. He was looking for the one person that could see through heaven and hell andwant to make a decision for themselves. So Poona is very exciting right now with young people saying, I need to find out what this is allabout.
Swaram: One of the reason why I wanted to start this podcast is to interview people like you who has been with Osho in Oregon, and hasbeen through all these very difficult times. Yet you are here, you still live in Poona. You are shining. Your life has been transformed. So youare a real testimony of Osho's work.
KP: Yes, it’s not like I'm sitting here saying, I’m the greatest, I did the right thing. Every day in every way I say to myself, you’re 75 yearsold, you're still living in Poona, what kind of idiot are you? And every day I come up with the same answer: I'm an idiot that loves his life.
Swaram: {laughter} Wonderful. That's so beautiful. And I think on this note is perfect to finish this podcast. It has been real fun and apleasure talking to you, KP. And I look forward to seeing you again in India in Poona, or somewhere else.
KP: I like it. I like it. Thank you so much.
Swaram: Bye KP.