Archive for April, 2009

So you can remain open on all levels of being-awareness – in silence.
April 29, 2009

Advaita Post, Volume 10 No 8

Spring (Part 3)
You affirm: it is the one life that awakens.


Introduction and talk in Gouda, September 3, 2008

Inexpressible Silence (1)

Douwe: While it’s so quiet, it’s good for you to become internally aware of the depth of that silence. Ask yourself: how deeply do I go along into that silence, how deep is my silence? When you remain alert you experience the layers of silence in the depths. Shall I name a few of them?

The first layer is when you as a person simply relax and there is a wonderful silence that you enjoy. “I experience silence and it’s good.”  There is a silence which is experienced as a person.

In the next phase there is more turning within.  You are internally absorbed into a spacious sphere of calm and the relaxation continues. Then it feels even better. You are still present as an ‘I’-person in that quiet space, but there is much less separation between yourself and that silence. You no longer listen to an external silence, but your own sphere has merged to some extent with the realm of silence: you are present in the great silence.

The silence-quality and the merging can become even stronger.

If I were to ask you: “Do you have any questions?”, when the silence is deep enough it’s a strange question. Then you certainly notice that a reaction arises, but it doesn’t need to be expressed. The reaction is an increased awareness of the silence and what it would take to break it up: “In my open sphere I would have to stir everything up and reassemble it in order to give myself a form; I would have to pull up the whole speech mechanism, I would have to find language; all that is not available here and it would be an awful lot of trouble.” So there can still be a notion of an ‘I’ somewhere, of “Oh yes, I must answer” and “I must have something to think about”. But, even when there is an ‘I am’, when a question comes, ‘I’ have nothing to say. Why not? Because the world of ‘I think’ and ‘I have’ is not there, or is somewhere else, far away. There is only the silence of “I am blank silence.”

As the silence becomes even deeper, there is absolutely no structure any longer that can give a response. Maybe somewhere in the distance there is still a knowledge, “Oh yes, I will be able to come out of this meditative level, but then I will really need to go to a realm in which the ‘I’-person is re-formed, in which I can think once again and where  if I dig up the language for it problems can be formulated.” Then, if you give into it, there is a seed that germinates in the silence.

As the process of deepening continues, there is absolutely nothing that remains: there is only silence.

Maybe you can recognize the different levels. They arise in every meditation that deepens. In the deepest phase the seer is ‘in himself’.  You notice it in others that you see who have sunken into samadhi and have departed from the world. This deep silence can also be there with open eyes when the clarity is strong enough. That depth can continue by means of the clarity about your own unity with that deep silence, so that it actually remains open, that quiet realm within which the structures of language and the mechanism of speech, of thinking and of an ‘I’-person no longer exist. Then you can remain open on all levels of being-awareness in Silence.

Now, that’s it.

So stay internally lucid so that the process of becoming still continues by itself. Then you recognize the different levels so you can know how deep your stillness goes. You have knowledge of the very deep silence, as you exclusively sink into the deep layers without any structures of the ‘I’-person, of language or of speech. You know, as you remain aware on all levels with your eyes open, that they all exist simultaneously. Then there is an openness on all levels. You confirm that the infinite blank sphere remains as primary. Everything else is surely allowed to be, but the infinite blank sphere remains in the foreground. That is your own sphere, in which you are at home.

As long as something happens, it happens automatically. Speech may come, but then the speech no longer comes from an ‘I’-person. The phenomena can return, but then they happen by themselves. The ‘I’-person doesn’t have to return. The world and living go on by themselves, as long as they continue. Ordinary sitting continues, the tone of your muscles is apparently sufficient. Digestion continues, the heart beat continues, breathing continues, speech continues naturally, movements come and go by themselves. In the great space, they are short-term phenomena; afterwards they’re gone once again.

Remain clear in the original sphere. All kinds of names and forms can arise within it, but they don’t destroy the blank sphere; they are a part of it until they disappear once again. The Silence is the origin of everything, the ongoing basis of everything which appears. The realization of that means being free and leaving everything and everyone else to be, in freedom, in an inexpressible unity.

When you are open to it you recognize it: usually there is a fundamental break with that which you normally take to be reality.
April 21, 2009

Advaita Post, Volume 10 No 7

Spring (2) You affirm it: It is the one life that awakens

Presentation of the book Non-Duality – The groundless Openness
November 21, 2008 – Part 1: Kees Boukema and Douwe Tiemersma on their experience of non-duality and social involvement
(Heavily condensed – the full text can be found on the website, in Dutch)

Kees Boukema, Ott Duintjer, Douwe Tiemersma

Kees Boukema

The book ‘Non-duality’ made the impression of a mosaic on me, a mosaic of classical texts, short meditations, little poems, questions and answers. They all revolve around one theme, the theme Douwe Tiemersma hes, ever since his first publication in 1983 – now twenty-five years ago – has termed the ‘Openness’. […]

Douwe has always invited and encouraged us to examine ourselves and to reflect on our own experiences. Attention, self reflection and becoming aware are the key themes of this book. It is, so to say, an approachable examination of our own consciousness. Everyone can experience that there are no limits to our consciousness other than the ones we have imposed upon ourselves. Everyone can examine himself and see that this is so. Douwe writes: “If you go along with it, it is the end of yourself as a fixed stance. Very simple. If only you just let it happen.” (p. 143). […]

There are a number of pieces in this book that I have seen previously, a number of autobiographical fragments, for example. In re-reading them I was again impressed with the precision and frankness with which Douwe writes about his childhood and his encounter with his teacher, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. Additionally, there were pieces that I had not previously read. So I was pleasantly surprised by his Ode to the Snekermeer. And especially in the Frisian language!

The being-experience of non-duality

A question that remained with me while reading this book was this. Non-duality and openness, as I understand it, are not describable in positive terms; the words that are used remain inadequate. It is a state in which any separation between consciousness and non-consciousness disappears. (p. 42)

I understand very well, that it’s difficult if not impossible, to bring into words a being-experience which has no contents. But can’t there even be a question in advance? Namely: What does that which men attempt to bring into words have to do with that which men have actually experienced? When talking about the experience of the self-being, it is said that the ‘I’ dissolves (p. 153), is swept away or forgotten (p. 190). […]

Douwe says (p. 81): “It can be recognized as truth, but not formulated … there is feeling-awareness beyond language… It is not a perception, rather you merge into it. But you do have knowledge of it.” And further on (p. 201): “The “I” falls away. The observer falls away. A blank state. And still there is an internal knowledge of that original state.” […] However, when I wake up from a deep dreamless sleep, I can say: “I had a great sleep!”, but what I say is: “I feel refreshed and well rested, I’m ready to begin a new day!” I don’t have a real memory of the experience of that dreamless sleep, because my consciousness was not functioning, or perhaps it was not there at all.

Therefore my question is: Wouldn’t it be exactly the same with the ‘being-experience’ of non-duality?  That it’s not the inadequacy of language that is the main problem, but rather the unreliability of the impressions which remain in the mind after  the ‘being-experience’ of non-duality. Aren’t they the projections which my mind produces and which serve as the limitations on the level of my own existence? Perhaps we can only say: “There is something that has happened to me whereby I am totally changed. I am no longer the person that I was, but what exactly has happened, I don’t really know.”

Non-duality and social involvement

Another point that I encountered while reading is that sometimes there is a deliberate distance from everyday reality. A distance that is more than ‘detachment’, but seems to be a form of alienation from the world. I must explain.

On page 90 there is an account of a talk that took place in Gouda on January 8, 2005. Douwe refers at a given moment to a major natural disaster, that had taken place a few days earlier: the tsunami, a suddenly tidal wave which had washed away villages in South Asia and cost the lives of many people. […]

I quote: “It is wonderful to lie by the sea to enjoy a winter holiday in the tropics. It is a luxury that westerners can now afford to take for granted. But the taking for grantedness gets swept away by a sudden tidal wave. Then the assumption breaks wide open. Everything is so open that it’s no longer possible to close the gap. Therefore it’s inexpressible.”

I think that we westerners certainly can’t afford our ‘luxury winter vacations in the tropics’. If we fail to change our way of life and continue to persevere in a cultural pattern of waste of energy, raw materials and pollution of the environment then we are accomplices to the crime of “biocide”, eradication of life here on earth. […]

With the practice of advaita it is always encouraged that people “stay open towards everything and everyone is to be accepted positively” (see p. 114 and 115). Douwe, I would like to ask: Aren’t there situations besides those which one can open up to and positively accept, but also those where one must reject and fight?  Doesn’t that belong to, as you write “a condition in which one clearly sees what’s going on” (blz.129)? Is there, in other words, only surrender, or is resistance sometimes required? […]

Douwe Tiemersma

Yes, first of all: it is a festive gathering and it’s wonderful to be together here. It is a party, because the book ‘Non-duality’ has been published. It’s a miracle that suddenly appears, just like all creation. Yes, it’s a party when that happens, especially when we celebrate with one another. That’s really nice.

I am glad that Kees and Otto have said that they have prepared themselves to bring up a few things from the book. So, it is a festive gathering, but we said right away: please, let’s give a bit of substance to it. Then we can discuss certain points of the book in order to clarify them further.

Kees asked if I wanted to respond immediately to what he said about responsibility. I can indeed be short with it. Kees, you are mistaken. Non-duality and social responsibility go together for sure.  I will say more about that, but to start I’ll go to your first point.

The being-experience of  non-duality

When Kees asks about the nature of the being-experience of non-duality, it should first be clear that non-duality shows itself in different ways. In the book, I have differentiated three types of non-duality. […]

Kees asks about the being-experience of the deep blank realm of self-being. The actual experience exists. You can focus on it, for example, as you let yourself relax. When you remain somewhat aware internally when you go off to sleep, you sink delightfully away and the borders that were there at first, disappear. You can easily find that nothing remains, nothing other than the blank atmosphere of self-being where you happily go to sleep. As soon as a contrast is created by thinking, then you can’t sleep. So the blank sphere is best recognized by people for when they have rested well. Separations disappear and everything that still is, is present within your own sphere. That can continue to develop further until there is a dreamless sleep. Usually it is not recognized, because in the morning you get up and say: “I slept wonderfully.” Can you say anything more about that wonderful sleep? No, only that: it was delightful. There is knowledge of it, but you can also have a clearer being-experience of it.

That experience of a blank sphere may also exist in other situations. In meditation you stop thinking and find that nothing is. When you go within and relax there, you might notice that in this realm of self-being no forms need to arise. As you become a little more familiar with it, you recognize it in more and more places. At a given moment you also recognize it consciously in the dreamless sleep. It is an actual knowledge of your own sphere of being. The one being-knowing, but you can’t say anything more than that it’s blank. […]

As you have already frequently recognized there is the notion, this is the foundation of everything, which is always already there; from out of that everything arises. When you slowly awaken, you experience the construction of reality and of the new day: “How is it already here once again? What day is it and what should be done? ”  Slowly, the construction appears which reconnects that with what has happened previously. Then you usually say: there is a time frame in which there’s no break between yesterday and today. So that’s your reality. But what actually happened – and if you are open to it, then you recognize it – is indeed a fundamental break with that which you normally take to be reality. In all gaps, you can recognize something of the openness, about which you can’t say anything, but out of which everything arises. That’s the idea which you can find all the different traditions, for example in the Upanishads which are very clear about it. There is a basis from out of which everything comes and that it is not different from yourself. […]

Social responsibility

At the beginning of my response to Kees’ comments I said that non-duality and social responsibility do go together. That combination is there in a very special way and I can say something about it.

Of course I fully agree with Kees, that if western people took it for granted to go to Thailand to lie in the sun in the wintertime, it should be questioned for many reasons. But of course, that was not the point. It was an example to demonstrate that the reality of what people take for granted can suddenly breakthrough in many places. […]

The issue of responsibility in the approach of non-duality doesn’t lie on the personal level. Just as when more openness is possible in your own sphere of being in your personal life, a genuine openness to others develops. There’s an expansion of your own self-being, a non-duality with others. You are the others in their self-being. Such openness also means an internal sensitivity for what is happening, also for the suffering. Then there is an acceptance such that the distance and the boundaries disappear. There is an acceptance of everything and everyone, also the suffering. There is no resistance and you don’t hold anything back. No, in the openness everything is allowed to be just as it is. And as everything is allowed to come, there also is an internal sensitivity to what is there. When there are wrongs, they become clear.

How does it continue then? In the openness you see that everything falls into place as if by itself. If everything becomes open, there is no longer an ‘I want’ and ‘I do’ anymore. There is a universal presence of feeling being-awareness. Within which everything happens by itself in what is best for the situation, in a natural way, exactly because the “I” and “I”-interests no longer have a role to play. […]

Let yourself fall, then there is surrender.
April 6, 2009

Advaita Post, Volume 10 No 6

You affirm: it is the one life that awakens


Introduction and talk on March 15, 2009 Bruges – Part 2

Notes by Danny

How was it with yourself during the midday break? To what extent did the expansion remain? To what extent did a limitation return? In clarity you determine what’s going on with yourself. In clarity it’s clear when the relaxation stops, then you descend into your automatic processes. In clarity you can return to the openness in yourself. Ask yourself to what extent the expansion still continues. In clarity you also confirm that the relaxation is infinite, without restriction.

In relaxation, there is a release of what you previously have grasped. You firmly hold on to yourself, primarily, as first person. As first person, let yourself fall, then there is surrender.

When the relaxation becomes infinite, the “I”-activity stops. This surrender in an aware sphere is decisive for liberation.

The trust that is necessary for the surrender is already there. You have infinite trust that when you go to sleep at night you will awaken in the morning. When you sit down, you have an infinite trust in the chair; you have no fear that you will fall through it. You can totally let go into this infinite trust.

Surrender is important for liberation to realize itself. In surrender nothing is held on to any longer. Let the release work through in a lucid way on all levels. Let the worry about yourself go. You no longer hold on to yourself.

Everything opens up in the clarity and no restriction needs to come. You are aware of the unlimited openness. This is a different kind of consciousness than the awareness of something. It is an internal knowledge of the unboundedness.

In the infinite relaxation there is an infinite rest. Be infinitely relaxed in being-awareness. As the witness-consciousness is released, you, as being-awareness, become completely open. The duality of observer and observed disappears. Simultaneously, you are all and nothing. Even the quality of infinite being-awareness dissolves in the absolute, without qualities. In clarity you have knowledge of it.

You can recognize your original openness, your own openness. A teacher can help you with that.  He will ask you: are you aware of yourself? To what extent are there any restrictions?  To what degree are you open?

The ultimate release means the death of the personal life. You are eternal being. Self-being is not subject to birth or death. In the unlimited self-being everything is complete.

Remain yourself and let everything come open within it.  Liberation is not about staying in seventh heaven, however beautiful it may be. This seventh heaven should also break open.

The stronger you hold on to that which you resist releasing, the darker is the night of the soul. When you can release easily and go in the direction of the light of God, there doesn’t need to be a dark night of the soul. It’s a total release.

With the emergence of fear, be aware of the greater area of self-being. Stay with the highest understanding that you are a part of the larger whole. Know that you are the whole space. Then the fear dissolves as if by itself.

When everything is open, time and space do not exist. By staying lucid, everything can remain open. If you become foggy the openness will disappear, so just let everything stay open as much as possible and remain lucid.