Stay with the Ultimate

April 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Advaita Post # 18-04

April 1, 2017

From an introduction and talk with Douwe Tiemersma in Gouda on May 22, 2002

Stay with the Ultimate

This is the last open Advaita evening of this course-year. We have met quite a few times together over the past year and have spoken about a number of different approaches. The advaita approach was always there in a different way. It’s clear that it was always about the same thing. A lot of words have been spoken, I have given quite a few introductions, about several things. Again and again, it was about the same thing: a movement which goes towards a border. Words can help with that. The movement goes towards a certain limit. What happens there, there’s nothing more to say [about it]. It’s true that gradually you get more and more insight into it. What’s actually going to happen now? In any case in a negative sense, that all kinds of old, fixed structures disappear. All kinds of obvious things dissolve. It’s strange, but whichever way you choose, at a certain moment you arrive in a certain kind of a border area. Very literally you can go forward into the space, progressing further and further. Then at a given moment you end up in the infinite where the normal, finite things no longer apply. [Or] You can also go backwards by going within, the path of self-inquiry that we have already frequently travelled. You go further and further, back to the core of yourself. But again and again, this core seems to slip through your fingers, it’s impossible to catch. More and more, it turns out to be a swamp in which more and more comes loose.

It’s clear that what’s said about this area is of relative importance. Especially when it concerns the essential. When something is really going to happen, the relativity of words is apparent. Certainly, words can help you to get to a border, to let you see something: now just take a look at that, now pay attention to this, how does that work, what’s your conclusion. Much more fundamental is what takes place under the words, that which happens beyond the words. Here it’s frequently confirmed: the important points of the advaita approach can, at a given moment, be easily reproduced mentally. That’s very simple. But realizing non-duality, realizing it here in a living way, that’s a whole different thing. Then the terrain of the mental [world] and of language appears to be quite relative. On that level, something can only be set in motion. When you let this impulse continue, then something else comes. As long as you’re stuck in the mental, it’s useful to set everything in a row, to compare, to ask yourself “how about this, how about that?” You’ve always thought it was so-and-so, but there appear to be other entrances too, other ways of looking at everything, there are other perspectives that have equally strong written testimonies. From the mental [viewpoint] you can at least ’smell’ the relativity of everything that can be thought, by seeing that thinking is only a path which leads to the boundary of thought and to the conclusion: as a thinker I am so incredibly relative.

When there is a consistent clarity, you affirm things in a direct way, without doubt: this is it. The world is not uniform, it can have countless forms. There is not just one sort of reality, but there are all different types. Reality can have all different kinds of forms. Worlds rise up and they disappear once again. They are therefore, relative. Gradually you get the sense of the sphere from which they emerge, in which they disappear once again. That is your own sphere. That stands free from all these changes, from all these conditions. Then you also see, again and again, how easily you go along with the invitation of those conditions to experience their sphere as reality, to experience it as the reality. When you are lucid, you can see that happen. Then you also realize very quickly: all that can be the case, but my own self-sphere is more spacious, and that is not tied to particular forms, to a particular type of reality. You see more clearly again and again that it’s very tempting to recreate an old form of reality. You see it all happen again and again and you have that double movement that we have often talked about. On the one hand you see all those relative things which still have a certain attraction and again and again you realize: no, it’s not that spectacle, that’s not everything, that’s not the essential, that is just a particular form of expression, a particular world. On the other hand, returning to yourself, you have a notion of the all-transcendent self-being, without forms, without taking distance, because it’s about an internal affirmation. Then it’s about that, to stay with this highest notion, to stay with this highest awareness, to remain incredibly lucid, so that the openness is not filled in anew by a particular form. Realize again and again – for that you have the discriminative capacity – when a particular form starts to dominate. Stay with the Ultimate, that goes right through everything, while it’s not limited by anything.

What do you mean by that ‘goes right through everything’? 

The Ultimate is not limited by anything. To the extent that it still has a spatial character, it’s also not isolated from anything, it goes right through everything. This spaciousness remains there up until the very end. That’s why you can speak about This up to the very last in spatial terms. Beginning from the experience of closed off things, at a certain place with boundaries, there is the being-experience of the Unlimited. 

So even though it is an experience of limitlessness, then you still have an experience. 

Yes, up to the very end, it’s still a certain kind of experience. And until the very end you stay stuck to it with language. It’s good to see that very clearly. These are the last things that you can indicate with words. Also [even] with the big words like ‘infinity’ or ‘spacelessness’, you are still stuck with the word ‘space’. But it’s good to see how far you can get with language. When you are busy with it, at least you are on the border. Then just try, as well or as poorly as it may go, to describe everything. We are busy with that, because then – while you remain lucid – things are really going to shift. Perhaps because of the words you may be more sensitive to it. 

You can also see it like this. When you go along with a certain pointer, for example ‘the infinite’, then at first, it’s still [just] a word. When you really go along with it, to the meaning of it, that word evaporates very quickly, while the inner meaning is going to manifest itself more and more clearly. It’s as though it were a certain kind of impulse from a rocket. You see the night sky and use the word ‘infinity’ as a sort of goal. You experience the incredibly strong impulse that is focused on that goal – wham! You shoot through the air and don’t remain standing at the word like a beacon. There’s only just a focused impulse … and then you are in this infinity. That’s how it goes. That’s how it goes with the mantra. When you’re truly engaged with the mantra, you get this rocket-like movement. As sound, as syllable, as word, you can sit looking at it. Then, of course, not much happens, at best your mind becomes a little quieter. But when you really let yourself go along with the essential meaning …


The role of the Guru

March 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Advaita Post 18-03

Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma, Schiermonnikoog, Saturday evening, June 16, 2001

The role of the Guru

What I want to talk about tonight is, what is happening here, the way it happens, and my place in it. I have spoken about this before. The situation goes better to the extent that the Guru is invisible, when the form of the Guru is as minimal as possible. It is in fact the case that ultimately, the Guru will have to disappear completely, as form.

Just as the form of the student [will ultimately have to disappear]. That’s the direction in which it goes. That teacher and student disappear, become one. Of course, it’s true that in a dualistic situation there’s a separation between the teacher and the student. From the student’s point of view. Who sees this man and when does he become a teacher? I have already said: in principle that happens when you really learn something from someone, it could be anyone, in the sense that suddenly there is more openness in your own sphere, when that happens in the vicinity of someone else, such that the other can make something of this [openness] shine through, so that it becomes more visible to you, then this other is the teacher. By definition, by definition. And all those other things that arise within a social context: that there will be a certain structure of student-teacher and a certain status is accorded to the Guru etc. etc. And that all kinds of things are organized. But all those things are not essential, they are secondary. 

Guru worship. That too, is quite secondary. You can even say that when the outer form of the Guru is strengthened in this way that it is another stumbling block for the pupil. Because then people mistake the teacher’s form for the essence of the teaching. And what makes it even worse: they put the Guru on a pedestal. And then they say, oh no, that’s still very far away and almost inaccessible. Of course from a dualistic situation there’s always a certain form. Because when the Guru withdraws completely to having no form, then there is little chance of making contact with people [existing] within a dualistic situation.

Only: the Guru, as I once wrote in a piece for Yoga magazine, is an impossible figure. Namely, on the one side, form, on the other side, emptiness. But those two aspects will have to be there, if there is to be a certain function. If there is to be an effective teaching, it cannot be otherwise. On the one hand, in a dualistic situation, a certain form, but then within this (and that is precisely the teacher operating, functioning), this form will have to suddenly become transparent and then openness comes. And it is empty. 

So people are lured in by the form, and when they get there, pang, there’s absolutely no resistance, and there is openness. And they’re in the openness, and they’re [just] looking, yes, that’s it.

However it may be expressed, in the relation between a teacher and a pupil you will certainly get a shift in these two aspects, less and less form, more and more emptiness. And when it is different, when that period is stretched out or so, then it’s only an obstacle. So too, [with] all the other things, those which have to do with this form, they signify a more difficult process than what it’s actually all about. Of course, in such a dualistic situation it can sometimes be important that a very definitive form of the teacher once appears. That once, for example, there is a very clear confrontation. That’s possible. But the overall process should be as I have said. Less and less form. More and more openness. In addition, of course, it’s true that the student always creates a certain image of the teacher. And still, this is always different for each individual. But whatever is said, this, of course, is very important. That you see through very clearly, yes, just look, those forms are there, visible in a particular way, but really, it’s about that which shines through these forms. And that from there, you suddenly discover a dimension that no longer belongs to them. That includes the words. That includes the pointers.

So, well, in that context you get a certain effect from the teacher, in the sense that again and again there is a certain mirror, to discover something in yourself again and again. That again and again there are clues, of hey, go there once and take another look. What’s it really like? This openness is already there. Or just go and stand on your head for once, etc… Hey, these little exercises that we have done. And suddenly, yes, hey, that’s great, above and below, I experience those directions now as very relative. And suddenly you have something fundamental, something that was stuck, is suddenly loose. These sorts of things of course are important. This mirroring effect, reflecting back, take a look at yourself. What’s it like? Because when an illumination comes, that is, in any case, something that has to do with insight into your own situation and not the situation of anyone else. It concerns, again and again, returning to your own sphere, how is it there? And just take a look, and then, that appears to be inexpressible. All words fall short. In any case, no restriction, no division, no contradictions. Well so, it’s clear, this method, it’s not something that’s used by every teacher. You have harder methods to see if the student can come to insight in just one go. 

[But] This method is a bit more gradual. You get all kinds of insights, oh yes this, or yes hey that, but it all goes in the same direction and has a cumulative effect and then at a certain moment, all limitations are gone. Already there are all kinds of enlightening experiences, and that expands itself, and at a certain moment there is only this radiant openness. So actually, that’s how it goes for all of you. 

That other method, it’s good just to put it next to this one. So then you see that it can go in a hard way. A very strong confrontation. But that too has limitations. But of course, it goes as it goes, here, apparently, it goes like this. And elsewhere apparently it goes like that. But again, it’s just good to see, that hey, the whole situation can be different. For example, then you also see that very infrequently, someone who is very committed and very engaged, can suddenly have such a breakthrough. But that’s for the very few. And traditionally that’s also true. It’s about that, as Nisargadatta Maharaj said, one in a million. 

And so that certainly has something to do with the method. Because again, when it’s really a very harsh confrontation, then you understand that it’s only about someone who is there with heart and soul, one hundred percent, who already knows that “this is it” and this is my teacher. That too is included in that very strong opposition between teacher and pupil, where the pupil totally submits to the teacher, a very different situation. Anyway, [this is] in order to take a little look momentarily at these sorts of things, especially to take another look at what’s going on in yourself. Also here, and also in relation to me. That it’s an increasing discovery of what’s actually going on in your own situation. And [exploring] that in all possible ways, again and again from a different point of view, again and again with some exercises, pointers with words. That you’re going to recognize more and more, oh, yes, hey, this is it. In daily life, you have to see how much there is there that is already non-dual. An incredible amount. But you have to have that pointed out to you, because everybody overlooks it. Under the special circumstances of exercises, yes. But then these exercises have to be given for only a short period of time, and just as pointers, for hey, look out here, watch out there. And so it grows. 

In general, of course, the same process always remains central, that it’s about the functioning of this openness, just as we discussed it in Hoorneboeg*. It’s this openness, that functions by itself, when temporarily this tension, this closing off, decreases a little bit. Then it goes by itself. When something of this openness is allowed to appear, or sometimes penetrates strongly into daily life. When it’s not [immediately] closed back off again and repressed. Then you see that it all proceeds farther by itself. 

So, it’s about this openness. And of course, this teacher has everything to do with that. But the point is that it’s really about the being-experience of openness in your own sphere [that is, in yourself]. It’s your own being-experience of openness. And nothing else. And that grows by itself, that grows by itself. 

Once this openness has been experienced even just a little bit. And that is contagious. Because it is recognized. And then again, take a look, take a look, that’s how it is. You can experience it yourself. You see it for yourself. And that develops by itself. And then a greater unity develops, and the forms lose their hardness. The forms disappear, more and more, there is this open being-experience of the one great, in which everything is one.

* A location in the Netherlands where Douwe held retreats.

First comes that One, and then the phenomena

February 1, 2017 - Leave a Response

Advaita Post 18-02

From an Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma, Schiermonnikoog June 9, 2001, part 6

First comes that One, and then the phenomena

Good, so you are free. What are the consequences?

I don’t know.

So, constrictions and limitations don’t exist anymore. Can you confirm that very clearly for yourself?


Then I hold you to it. You are free. What are you going to do now?

Celebrate, simply, live.

Very good.

And when that celebrating suddenly stops. What then?

But when there’s freedom that celebrating doesn’t ever stop.

Sure it does. You experience freedom as a celebration of life. That’s great. But that stops somewhere. What then?

[Another]You can determine that you have unpleasant feelings, so maybe you can say that because of that you feel unhappy. But that’s superficial, because it exists in light of the peace of self-being.

When this peace of Self-being is there, there’s an openness for whatever presents itself, also a sensitivity and compassion for the suffering that is there – as long as all kinds of things [continue to] present themselves, as long as the world is still there. 

When you talk about that celebrating, that it doesn’t always need to happen, I think about these sorts of things.

But it’s just about how you define that celebrating. Of course, it’s great to celebrate a party, but what’s it really about? When there’s bliss in freedom, yes, then that’s a party. But that’s something different from when you say: “I’ll be enthusiastic about life and there is freedom, so I’m going to make it nice and celebrate”.

Yes, exactly. For example when you enjoy nature, that situation creates a certain kind of good feeling that you don’t have when you are in a prison. But in both situations you can certainly experience freedom.

The real free-being remains primary. Circumstances have no influence on it. As long as the body lives, the world of circumstances continues to exist. But then they are no longer restrictive. First comes that One, then the phenomena. The phenomena themselves are quite relative.

Is it a mistake then to imagine that with enlightenment everything becomes the same in the Self?

Phenomena belong to life, but they are included in the great whole and are, therefore, relative. They change, rise up and disappear again. When you don’t let yourself become obsessed by them and don’t identify with them, everything remains open and free. And then the great peace remains present [in the foreground] as primary. That’s it.

There can still be pain.

Everything that can happen to the body can happen.

Then it’s more of a mental pain.

There is a perception of pain, just as there is visual perception with the aid of the eyes.


As long as the senses exist, they function.

So there’s no identification with them.

We have often spoken about that. You walk and you don’t walk. You see and you don’t see, specifically from a standpoint behind the eyes. You talk and you don’t talk. We drink a cup of tea and we don’t drink a cup of tea. So shall we just do that then?