Archive for August, 2009

Everything is love.
August 31, 2009

Advaita Post, Volume 10 nr. 13

Love: let yourself go and merge

in Koorddanser 26 nr. 264 (June 2009)

The last article I wrote in Koorddanser (Advaita Post # 10-09) was about the nature of spirituality as an aware expansion and transformation of self-being and also of the world, a breaking open and liberation into openness without duality (non-duality), to a freedom from the dream of a limited self, free for all and for everything. The article ended with “That is Love.” The editors have requested that I write something more about that.

The principle of love

The principle of love is easy to understand and formulate from the perspective of an expansion of yourself.  As your self-being becomes more expansive a new, more spacious sphere comes into being.  Within that a) you release your older limited self and b) you allow that which at first was foreign or other, into yourself as being not different from yourself. This motion has an emotional sphere that we call love. When the unrestricting continues radically, when there is a total release of the limitations and interests of self-being and an acceptance of universal non-duality, this becomes Love.

This process is much easier to formulate than allowing it to become a reality for yourself. The formulation can certainly help, namely if through it you can see more precisely what’s involved. Insight remains a decisive factor in its realization. Therefore it can be useful to elaborate further on the description mentioned above.

Where does love show itself? In relations with others: your partner, your family, your parents, and so forth, in relations with animals, plants, things, or without a definitive relationship. The form can always be different, but in any case there is a self-being that is larger than the individual person, because it recognizes or finds itself in another.

Egocentricity and love

Expansion is certainly possible on the egocentric level. To put it more definitively: the ‘I’ always attempts to expand its own territory.  So you have a continuous desire for something or someone and you have the idea that that thing or person belongs to you, is your possession. You let your self feeling flow into this or that ‘other’.  When the desired expansion seems unrequited, strong reactions and attempts to arrive at the desired result still occur. The expansion happens on the basis of a ‘love’ whose center lies in a concentrated ‘I’ with its own self importance and self care. This kind of ‘love’ isn’t love, but rather, will to power, possession and consumption. The limited self or ego can’t follow other principles because it holds on to itself too tightly.

It’s clear that this path doesn’t lead to a loving unity. If you are an ego the two principles of love mentioned above (a & b) are not an option. We can see that in a relationship with someone else, but also with other living beings and things. The ego doesn’t want to release the old limited self.  You want to retain your own identity. Secondly you don’t really want to let another in. You are focused on something special, on what’s nice or has advantages for you; you experience the other from a limited viewpoint, in order to possess. The ego can’t arrive at love as an unselfish expansion and irreducibly open stance in relation to another, in short to the dissolving of the borders between I and other.  The ego is the denial of love. The ego-focus is a center-seeking tendency, and is the opposite of love as a giving and centrifugal movement. The ego as closed and hard is the opposite of love as openness and fluidity.

From ego to love

It’s really important to see that even with egocentric love an opening and an expansion of self and a search for unity is present.  That can form the basis for a higher form of love, namely if the I-focused forces diminish within the general expansion of the relationship.

On the level of the ego, love has a strong emotional aspect. In sexual relationships strong energies and passionate affects play a big role. Even though a strong egocentricity and egoism can still be present, the sexual approach always means an opening up of your own territory and that contains possibilities for further openings within it.

When the latter occurs, the fires of true love burn through. When it is strong, it consumes the ego and becomes cosmic.

Real love goes beyond the ‘I’ person.  It is always there, in as much as you release yourself as an ‘I’ person.  It is there in a completely clear manner, when you no longer create an opposition between yourself as ‘I’ and the other, when you love your nearest as yourself.  It is the sphere in which everything and everyone is absorbed.  In Love you are the Self of everything and everyone.

Joy

With the expansion of your own sphere and the release of your old self, all aspects of self-being are purified, also in the emotional sphere.  Every expansion brings a feeling of joy. Both always go together. Therefore expansion, that crossing of existing borders, is continually sought on the ego-level. It happens with fast cars, in every sport, in every study, but also through the use of drugs and alcohol. As borders are crossed or disappear it brings joy. From an ‘I’ level the expansion remains limited, focused on something particular and therefore dependent on conditions and so temporary.  Therefore the joy is conditioned and temporary.  These limitations disappear as long as you also release yourself.  Then there is not just a small expansion of personal feelings of joy but rather an infinite expansion beyond the borders of time and space and along with that also comes unlimited joy and bliss (ânanda).

Mirror

Love shows its true value only when it becomes more than a beautiful feeling. Everyone has a sense of that. And if you neglect that and remain with your egocentricity? Then these limitations show themselves sooner or later in the mirror of love. Then love is experienced as something hard: it also judges, judges everything that is still left over from the ego. This judgment can hit hard and cause fearful reactions. The tendency frequently exists to avoid this openness and to dive back into a nice, fuzzy emotional sphere. But God’s love has two sides which must be accepted in order for the unity to be manifest. Kâlî and Shiva in their destructive forms devour the ego. Only through surrender does it become clear that such destruction too is infinite love.

Your heart energy

Mostly you sit looking out and thinking about everything from your head. But you can let your point of view of yourself sink from there down into the region of your heart. Possibly you can already experience that the heart is soft. You can already approach that soft spot tangibly.  The soft heart feeling becomes stronger as you increasingly enter into it.  The feeling heart energy also begins to flow, undulating. And that undulation becomes increasingly strong.  Just experience it as a strong wavelike energy. It is fluid light energy. Inhalation brings the energy within, exhalation flows and radiates the energy out in all directions.  It is a definite feeling, but maybe you can also see it as illuminating energy. You can visualize it in order to experience it very concretely. When you see it very clearly before you, you can slowly and steadily enter into it, so that you can go along with the dynamic movement from the inside-out, with the waves and the radiation. Let yourself steadily and increasingly sink in. From out of the consciousness in the head you let yourself steadily sink into the feeling, into the heart. In this way head and heart, consciousness and feeling come together.  You radiate outwards as heart energy. Everything and everyone becomes lovingly absorbed in that energy. The process of expansion continues infinitely to a universal unity. The separateness of the ego, with its desires and resistances has disappeared.

Everything is love

When you have realized unity, you see only love, also in the personal. Then life as a person appears as a closing off and a diving into the limited space of borders. Then love becomes less visible. Even though it is still present always and everywhere, it’s not experienced like that. It certainly expresses itself on the level of ego, namely as the need for love. But this desire expresses itself in the striving for and the receiving of compensations, compensations for the lack of unconditional love. Nevertheless it can still be viewed as an expression of love. Open love can even be sought aggressively. But if you let everything turn open and melt lovingly, then there are no borders to love and happiness any more. Then there is a universal love-sphere of non-separation, non-duality.

When this realm becomes more and more rarified, what’s left over? Let’s call it absolute openness. As this presence is allowed to remain, there is a cosmic Love without veils.

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Freedom is freedom from defensiveness and therefore fundamental acceptance of what is.
August 5, 2009

Advaita Post, Volume 10 No 12

What’s going to happen?

Text

From the book presentation of “Non-duality – the groundless openness”, November 21, 2008 in Donner Bookstore

Douwe Tiemersma’s response to Otto Duintjer’s criticism (see the previous Advaita Post # 11)

Douwe: Yes, the points that Otto Duintjer has raised are so important to the advaita approach that it’s more than worth the trouble to try to clarify.  This has been obvious again and again in our conversations throughout the years.  Of course, the basic experience of different people is different. Then also there is a difference in the further development. When you begin speaking with another person and pointing things out then the mutual understanding appears to grow, not only on the mental level, but also in being-understanding.  Of course the emphasis can always be accented differently.  When the conversation continues, it’s precisely those differences which offer an opportunity to recognize specific things more clearly. I hope to contribute to that clarity now.

The preference for the undifferentiated

The first point of Otto concerned the preference that I have for letting go and for the Nothing.  When I speak about this, it’s always on the grounds of quite practical problems that human beings have.  From practical problems and suffering, such as frustration, pain and blockages, people can review and rethink.  In that investigation into the nature of the problems you come to the recognition that problems are caused by separation from and identification with something limited. There are conflicts because there is separation. Of course you can say that some conflicts are very healthy, but most of them aren’t and also aren’t necessary. People would rather be rid of the sufferings of existence. Those sufferings dissolve in a greater whole in which the separations are no longer present. So, on the basis of quite practical problems that human beings have, I point towards a sphere that is much greater than that of the problems. If you want to go further into the solution of all problems, then all separations in your own being experience must disappear.  The core of all separations and also of the problems resides in your own ego, which you are as long as you make a separation “I am here and the other is over there”, “I am here and what I desire is there”, et cetera.  This limiting structure and separation-making must break open into a greater sphere of being; self-being, being-together, if the problems of one-sidedness, disharmony, conflicts, sorrow, pain et cetera are to disappear.  So, in a very practical context, I have a preference for the expansion and release of limitations, because this directly leads to the dissolution of that which limits.

There was a question from Otto, if this process goes in the direction of a higher truth and reality.  My experience is that that indeed becomes recognized and that this recognition is direct.  There is a direct confirmation that, as the releasing and expansion occurs, a higher reality is also revealed.  The recognition of that higher truth then is also a criterion that I use to indicate that the development is going in a good direction.

A very classical example to illustrate is the following.  When you awaken from sleep after an unpleasant dream, you are relieved to affirm in the wakeful state that the content of the dream was only a dream.  For instance, in the dream you were chased but knew nothing of the waking state.  You became awake and said:  “Luckily, that was only a dream.  Now I am awake, there is a clearer and wider consciousness, so that from this viewpoint I can determine that it was only a dream.  Therefore I can let go of it.”

You have a similar situation in the sciences whereby one theory is rejected in favor of a new one, namely that the new one includes the old within a larger whole, and when that is the case, can also show why the previous one is limited. The point is that much more understanding emerges, that more phenomena can become explained than previously. Then it is clear that this new theory is more valuable.  It has a higher truth than the previous one. So by becoming more clear, more conscious within a greater whole, you see that the conflicts which existed under the old circumstances were caused by the limitations of the viewpoint and the knowledge.  When you release that limited viewpoint, it becomes absorbed into a greater whole.  This is not to say that the conflicts will immediately disappear, but you can certainly see their relativity along with more possibilities for their resolution within a much greater space and with much greater clarity.  So in this sense I find it’s important to go towards the recognition of the undifferentiated. If you don’t want to remain tightly fixed within a limited identity, sooner or later you will experience complete freedom from everything.

This is not to say that you will have realized the highest non-duality when you approach the ultimate in this way. It’s not only about the non-duality of the totally blank state, in which subject and object completely merge, towards the nothing, the emptiness, so long as there still is a creation.  If that were so, a fundamental duality would remain.  Otto already referred to the title of Chapter 6 in my book:  The non-duality of the absolute and the relative.  For as long as there are forms in space and in time, they are not fundamentally different from that emptiness.

It’s certainly important to get to know that emptiness and to let that dimension remain open.  When that dimension doesn’t stay open, then you zoom back in on a limited situation and you get stuck there again, in the separateness, in the conflicts and problems.  For most people, in order to get to know that undifferentiated emptiness, a practice of a certain period of time is necessary.  Therefore there’s the encouragement: proceed on the pathway of letting go; get to know that freedom, otherwise you’ll stay stuck on a particular level of limitation, ignorance and problems.  So, I find that it’s quite important that that process continues all the way into infinity.

You see that it’s possible for all different kinds of people: suddenly everything breaks open and all at once there is a totally new situation.  What kind of new situation?  Precisely when you go so deeply within yourself and experience the openness in an increasingly pure form, the real openness suddenly breaks through, because you have released your limitations. Everything immediately becomes so open, that everything is allowed to be.  You go within, but at a given moment – precisely the deeper you go – it turns inside-out. That means that there is no separation any more between inner and outer.  Only when you fully release your limitations and experience yourself as infinite, is there a reversal and then can you accept everything.  So you can certainly say that the way within goes towards the undifferentiated, and that that creates a distance, but it is especially about a release of your own attachments, your own limitations, your own ignorance, and the identification with your body, self-image, and so on.  When you turn towards the undifferentiated origin, then you take distance from it and you enter into an even greater whole.  Then you see the whole creation very well, because there is no fundamental resistance any longer, also no resistance to pain, cowardice, meanness, to everything we find ugly.  The acceptance of which is impossible on the level of the ego, because defensive mechanisms are always present. Only in freedom is there complete acceptance.  Freedom is freedom from defensiveness and a fundamental acceptance of what is.  How things continue then when there is no self-interest any longer automatically reveals itself.

‘Inclination’ towards the positive

It’s not by accident that I speak more about the positive: freedom, peace, joy, than about the negative.  It’s a description of the realm that always arises by itself when more space comes. When I speak about it, it’s much more descriptive than of a value merely to posit: “You have to go get it”.  Sometimes I do that too, but then I simultaneously say that it’s a sausage which at least gets you motivated. It’s beautiful, but it’s not the highest value. It’s something that appears when there is an expansion of your own limited sphere, for instance with an embrace. That gives joy. If you speak with someone and all at once a mutual understanding arises, that brings joy.  Why?  Because the mutual borders disappear and a greater sphere arises. Some seek it by racing with a fast car and yes, a greater experience-space arises and the joyful feeling that it’s great to be alive. Everyone finds that great life beautiful. Why? It’s not about the specific things, no, it’s about the experiencing of a greater being-sphere and that has joy in it.  There is another example that you see sometimes at the end of someone’s life, and with some, even earlier. Apparently some people, who have gone through all kinds of pain and difficulty, can still say: “It’s good.”  How is that possible? It’s possible because there is a greater space which emerges in which everything that was so painful and sorrowful has come to rest. From out of that space it can be said:  “It is good.”  That goodness has nothing to do any more with the contrasts between good and bad, between having pain and feeling joy.  It is something that goes beyond those contrasts.

Otto knows enough of Plato; also that Plato meant something in that direction when he referred to the highest ideas. Then they are not ideas that you place far off in an ideal realm. No, for the philo-soph, it concerns his own realm of being, when it’s good, bypassing all contrasts.  Furthermore, Plato set the Good as the most important idea and that’s not a random act. No, if that idea is to really show its value, you experience it. Therefore men can say at a given moment: “All sorrow and pain have been absorbed into something that I still call Good.”  So long as it is combined with a mood, an emotion or universal being-sphere, there is joy, bliss.

So once again, I defend the positive not as the highest value, but rather describe it as something that arises by itself on the spiritual path as the contrasts and oppositions become transparent.

Physicality

Finally there remains the point of physicality in spiritual development.  I offer physical exercises, because they appear to work with many people.  When you return to the feeling sphere in your own body, you can make all kinds of important affirmations very clearly. When you really dive into your physical sphere, you can, for instance, examine where it stops.  Take a look.  You literally turn within and experience your own being sphere.  That experience is always a direct confirmation.  How large is this physical sphere?  Then you can go to the left and to the right, forwards and backwards, but do you find an end somewhere?  That space doesn’t ever stop. I haven’t yet heard someone say: he stops with the skin, or somewhere 5 meters beyond.  Your own being sphere appears to be infinite. Otto then said that it is nothing more than a medieval proof of god.  No, that’s not really so, because here it’s not about an argumentation, but rather a concrete experience.

As Otto observes that he cannot feel if the neighbors are at home, that can be true. That’s not what this is about. You experience your own being sphere in actuality. If particular phenomena arise there, they arise therein. And if they don’t come up there, they don’t come up there.  If the neighbors don’t come up in there, they’re not at home, even though they may be there if you follow another type of approach. Reality is dependent on your way of approaching it.

What you determine, as you dive into your own physical sphere of being, is in any case, that that sphere is infinite, without borders, without cracks, without separations.  You can experience that very clearly, if for example, you extend your arms outward and feel the space, and if someone embraces you.  What happens then?  All borders fall away, don’t they?  No duality is to be found, right?  So the reference to physicality offers a chance to experience non-duality quite concretely. It’s that simple. You embrace someone and immediately you confirm it: there is no twoness.  There is no defense of territory. Your physical feeling sphere becomes open and within it there are no borders!  You become infinitely open and in that everything and everyone is absorbed.

When you establish yourself as a person and observe that you can’t hear what the neighbors say, then that’s a whole different situation, a completely different viewpoint. That viewpoint can be relevant under certain but not all circumstances. When reality becomes fully open, all viewpoints appear to be present as possibilities. Just as Otto says, the openness is not sterile. It is the space in which all viewpoints and situations are possible. But precisely because you keep everything open, the great whole remains completely intact. That remains the encompassing context.  Then it’s clear: this encompassing whole is my aware sphere of presence-being.  Then there is no preference for the one over the other.  That open context insures that the non-duality remains.