Archive for November, 2012

With enlightenment the whole world becomes enlightened.
November 27, 2012

Advaita Post Volume 13 No. 20

Non-Duality, the groundless openness

Do you know this “groundless openness” as yourself?

In the extreme regions of being,
when all words have disappeared:
know this emptiness as your self.

Without a center you have your center in everything and everyone:
an ocean of love.
I love you all so much.

That remains, even though there is the knowledge of impermanence
and of being absorbed in That, the source of being.
in its absoluteness and eternity.


Positive sounds

“The essential is so overwhelmingly present in me, no doubt is possible any more.
I can’t deny it any longer and everything disappears into it, it is quiet, peaceful and calm.
I have great confidence that this process will continue by itself!”

“The body has been broken open, so too the mind.
Then the freedom
which streams behind me
flows right through me
and expands into space.
Surprising. It doesn’t come from above.
Knowledge comes from above, direct knowledge.
Freedom comes from behind
interpenetrating me
In front of me is the peace which has broken everything open.
The role playing reaches its end.
The most-incredibly special role
I enter into it.”

“There’s just openness and infinite, infinite, infinite gratitude, and even infinite, infinite love, for you, through you, by you, for everything and everyone, which the impersonal life would and could reveal within this self-being.
I had no religious background but still, it was a sacred process.”


Text Satsang

From an Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma in Gouda, March 12, 2003

Letting go

Tonight it’s good to take another look at letting go. It seems simple and clear: you have something, you let it go and then it’s gone. Why is it frequently so much more difficult than that? Try to see it very clearly, so that you can get to know the mechanism with its forces. There is a situation in which there is something from you that you want to hold onto. Then it’s clear that there’s a separate person who has created an island with his own possessions consisting of a definitive boundary. On the other side of that boundary you have the not-mine, the other. Then there is the sense: if I let go of something it disappears from my little kingdom, from the sphere of myself. I don’t want that, so I’ll keep holding on to it. Notice how deep that instinct resides. What you must release belongs to your own sphere of being. When something is taken away from you there, you feel it in your heart, because you have connected your heart to it, you have identified yourself with it. Everything which contributes to your own identity, you defend. Of course sometimes you do let go of things, for example when moving or when you grow up. Something in your identity has shifted and you let go of a number of things that at one time you thought were so important. Your identity with it has disappeared, your own self-being has gone out of it, and so it’s allowed to go. This is a letting go on a very limited scale, but it’s also very good to see that here too it’s about a shift of your identity through which certain parts that no longer belong to it are permitted to fall away. But the basic problem remains the same as long as there is still a person there with borders. Because then there will always be things that you will continue to find important, which you want to hold on to, because you’ve connected yourself to them.

There are two movements through which the matter can be fundamentally resolved. The one is: gradually lose all the things whose importance belongs to your personal sphere. How is that possible? When you take distance you see the relativity of all those things that initially you felt were so important. Precisely through the distance there is less and less self energy in those things because you have pulled yourself back out of it. The things come free, they aren’t held on to any longer, you are no longer bound to them. Other people also come free, you no longer hold on to them. As the process proceeds then where are you still bound? Now you have a new identity that isn’t bound by all the different forms of ownership. From this expansive identity it’s possible to release all that old. So that can become quite radical: everything comes free. Your identity is shifted to something that doesn’t have anything to do with forms. It is the space in which forms emerge and disappear. When you continually shift your own little standpoint backwards, at a certain moment it, too, dissolves: there is only openness, there’s nothing more to hold onto. There’s no attachment any more with something specific, there’s no more drawing of borders, so also there’s no difference any more between the personal and the strange. There’s a very spacious sphere which also has the character of ananda, bliss. The self-being has become infinitely spacious.

The second movement is a corresponding process in which giving has its place. Generosity is cultivated in many spiritual traditions and not without reason. It is viewed as positive when you give things away. Of course you have to be careful about that, because before you know it you’re thinking from your own little island: now I’m going to do something good, I give something away and that’s positive for me. There can even be the feeling of becoming more powerful when you still hold on to that which you have given away. Things don’t really change until you give things away from yourself and so the boundary of the ‘I’ gradually shifts and increasingly disappears. I have often said that the desires of people can have the same effect: that desire is actually infinite. When it really becomes infinite everything dissolves. Then too there’s nothing more, then it loses every center, every egocentricity. Allowing these borders to disappear is also love, even if initially it is still egoistic or egocentrically colored. When that process continues, there’s nothing more to desire because everything is provided. There’s just a very refined sphere of self-being. So take note of how that letting go happens there. It is the letting go of the old boundaries, of the little area that you defended, so that these boundaries can be shifted and a more expansive self-being emerges. But there’s also the release of the egocentricity, through which the strange is permitted and increasingly accepted as your own self-being. The self-being becomes a decreasingly clear identity, precisely because it has become more spacious and is less stuck to specific forms. An increasingly clear non-duality arises.

So you always have to deal with your sphere of being, with your specific identity, a specific center in which the radical change can occur whereby the borders and the forms are all going to disappear. That can also be seen relative to knowing. When you are attached to something then it’s frequently in the center of consciousness. When that is attacked, when somebody else wants to have it, you see how quickly your attention refocuses there. Again and again when you give attention to something you invest it with your own energy. Through this the identity is strengthened, the bond is tightened thereby. And then when the attention opens up: there is less and less attention towards those specific forms. You raise your eyes up and there’s absolutely no attention any more for these specific forms. In this way something fundamental falls away, gradually all forms fall away, you become aware of the identity of yourself as universal consciousness. All forms have disappeared. When they arise, they are transparent. The structure of the person who wants to keep holding on somewhere is just not there.

So become more sensitive to the sphere in which borders and forms are no longer present. You become aware of this empty sphere as your own sphere. So ultimately this applies to your whole little life: you take another look at it and you see it all, it is transparent, it is empty, it is good. Where’s the owner? No idea. That’s the notion of maya. To a certain extent these forms are certainly there, but when you take a deeper look you say: yes, it is transparent. What kind of reality does it have, I don’t know. It’s disappeared again. A shadow, a mirage. It may all be very well, that whole game, but it is released and therefore everything comes free. The whole world is so free. With enlightenment the whole world becomes enlightened. And on the other hand, what remains? The secret is inexpressible. But you confirm the very simple: that’s how it is. It’s inexpressibly simple.



Douwe’s health continues to slowly deteriorate. Although many small jobs are still possible there is rapid fatigue. Individual interviews, which some have requested, are therefore not possible. Questions can be asked on the satsang evenings which remain.

When the different groups meet Douwe will be present for the last time and highlight the most important things. He is very happy that such a conclusion is possible.

Furthermore, all the expressions of love and gratitude have been overwhelming. In the realm of final things words dissolve. A sea of love remains. Glad that so many recognize it.

In addition to the independent Advaita Yoga Teacher Training, Relaxation and Insight for Youth, and the local advaita groups, the Advaita Center will continue to function provisionally. What remains is to take care of the Advaita Post, the website and the publishing company, additionally the workgroup Yoga and Nonduality is still active. And the Advaita Study-Knowledge of Non-duality may possibly continue with the organization of courses.


The English version of Non-Duality is now available. It has been published under the Mantra imprint of John Hunt Publishing.


A significant portion of the pre-conference talk that Douwe gave last spring at the Science and Non-Duality Conference Europe 2012 was videotaped. That recording has been broken up into sections which have now been posted to You Tube.
Part I 
Part II 
Part III 
Part IV


Non-Duality, the groundless openness has now been published!
November 26, 2012

Non-Duality, the groundless openness

Recognize the essential, non-dual nature of your own experience.

The English translation of Non-dualiteit – de grondeloze openheid is now available. Printed under the Mantra imprint of John Hunt Publishing of the U.K., it can be ordered via Amazon US or Amazon UK , your local bookstore or one of the many other online booksellers. ISBN: 978-1780992891

Advaita vedanta for the 21st century

Written by Douwe Tiemersma, university professor, student of Nisargadatta Maharaj and teacher of Advaita Vedanta in the Netherlands for 30 years,  Non-Duality, the groundless openness, is a comprehensive sourcebook, pointing in an incisive and precise way to the eternal truth that is always, already present within the experienced reality of the reader. Douwe’s knowledge of the traditional texts of Vedanta is introduced as necessary, while his fully versed and integrative knowledge of the Western arts and sciences provides yet another bridge for the contemporary seeker after truth. This book is well suited to anyone who has been pursuing any form of spirituality for a long period of time, one who is ready to grasp the purest essence of their own longing without any sacrifice of their own rational intelligence.

Notes from the translators

Approximately 5 years ago, my husband and I encountered non-duality through reading I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj. This led us shortly thereafter to Douwe Tiemersma who wrote the foreword to that selfsame book. Encountering Douwe, who speaks English fluently but teaches in Dutch, provided us with the incentive we needed to improve our language skills. He agreed to help us when, in the fall of 2008, we decided to embark on the translation of this book. Chapter by chapter we sent him our rough translations. Chapter by chapter he returned them with corrections. Over time, the errors began to fade as we increasingly understood the meaning behind his words. In the end, transposing his original text into English without loss of its profound subtlety was an exacting but wonderful challenge.

But what is his teaching? And how does it differ from the myriad other books currently available about non-duality? Having read a mere sampling of that ever increasing myriad, I can only speak from the translator’s perspective, which is simply this: each sentence in this book is written in a purposeful and focused way. Each paragraph is created from such sentences, each sub-chapter from such paragraphs, and each chapter from such sub-chapters; in effect, producing a book which “forms a more or less coherent philosophy”. Yet make no mistake, this is not a philosophy to be held at arms length like some foreign object, rather it is a newly invigorated example of the perennial philosophy, and as such is an invitation to embark upon an intelligent examination of your own knowledge of yourself, an investigation which, I might add, is well grounded in bodily experience.

The purpose then is about directing the reader’s attention toward certain subtle existential qualities of being-experience, qualities that are always, already present within the experienced reality of daily life yet whose significance as such are rarely recognized. These sparks of insight recognition encourage a focused concentration to develop in the reader, an energetic intensity, which can lead to both an expansion and a joyful release. So this is not just a book to read, but rather to savor, to contemplate, digest and to use: at once practical and sublime. May it prove to be so for you.



In this book Douwe speaks from this Openness, about this Openness, to the Openness in each of us, encouraging us all to awaken to this Blessing. Read this book, see who you really are, and discover you are part of a world-wide ‘satsang’ – a growing circle of friends who are enjoying the truth that sets us free. This freedom, this wonderful Openness, heals all divisions. As Douwe says, “Everything is lovingly included as yourself.”

– Richard Lang, author, the Headless Way


This is an excursion through the world of nonduality. Douwe Tiemersma steers you through alleys of advaita, into Nisargadatta’s room, from question mark to question mark, to the corners and turns of his spiritual biography, and into the experiences of witness-being and self-being. Tiemersma is a nonduality pioneer. He wrote the foreword to Nisargadatta’s I Am That, which is why his name is familiar. Yet he is low key, writing in his native Dutch, teaching through his Advaita Center in Gouda. Tiemersma is a reason why the Netherlands is a world center of nondual activity. Openness is a key theme in this book, a repetitive reminder to enjoy the vistas and sounds and flavours of nondual descriptions and confessions while staying with “the Openness that is not limited by anything and goes right through everything.” Thanks to this English translation, Douwe Tiemersma, the quiet gem of the Netherlands, is [now] available to a much wider audience than has ever known him.

 – Jerry Katz,


This book is really a pearl, because it provides much clarity and transparency about the direct path.

– InZicht Magazine 11-1 (Febr. 2009)


Whoever feels the need and has the courage to examine the correctness of his ideas about himself and the world finds an abundance of welcome help.

 – OHM-Vani (Broadcast) 15-2 (April 2009)


This book is a jewel because it discusses the many aspects of spiritual development so fundamentally: from the perspective of individual being-experience and assessment of experiential truths.

– Tijdschrift voor Yoga  20-4 (Dec. 2009)

Don’t create any fixed images. 
November 6, 2012

Advaita Post, Volume 13 No 19




The many forms of the creation are a richness, that’s not a problem.


Problems arise when the forms are tightly held,


Because that’s done by a limited self.


Which fixes the energy to the forms, including that of yourself.


In non-duality there remains a changeable wealth of forms


until this dissolves.


Text Satsang

 From an Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma on Schiermonnikoog, February 6, 2005

The basic unity in every situation

With most spiritual traditions it’s about learning to see and experience certain things. That can be beautiful experiences or great truths. But when the person who experiences these things remains more or less the same, then what really changes? The experiences can be important for the person; the person remains. In advaita it’s about a realization that is so radical that everything changes. The insight that breaks through means that an entirely different situation arises. There is a self realization of how it is and simultaneously the actualization of that new. Both go together. When you want to stay at a particular location trying from there to understand this and that, it might become a little clearer mentally, but then it just remains there. You can gain wisdom of everything, but if it stays with: “I know this,” “I think that’s important,” “Now I know this wisdom”, then you get a head full of knowledge while the old situation remains the same. So you can fill your head up with all your bookshelves, but you don’t accomplish very much by that. It’s actually about the total realization of the absence of the old ‘I’-person, thus the absence of the ‘I’-person who says: ‘I think’, ‘I know’. It’s about that ‘I’ disappearing. That ‘I’ is a set of self-images, stories, cramps. They are just stories, it’s just a chunk of contraction. When you relax there’s absolutely nothing there any more. You walk on the beach, the sea, the blue sky and there isn’t a person to be seen. Actually, this situation is always already there. But when you continue to hold on to all kinds of things in your head, the ‘I’ continues to arise. When the erroneous images fall away, when the cramp ceases, it’s clear. When you create particular images you see how easily this clarity is disturbed again. So it clouds the vision and narrows the consciousness. When you cease holding on to these images, it’s completely clear again. It’s that simple. That holding on has to do with the making of boundaries. That’s the basis of all suffering. When the grasping disappears, everything is open and clear, there’s not a  limit in sight. As long as things continue, they continue by themselves. There is no ‘I’ that needs to do anything.

You can’t force that? Doesn’t it just happen to you?

It’s a matter of looking. You look and see: there’s absolutely no ‘I’. It’s artificial to carry all kinds of ideas along. When you let go of the artificiality there’s no longer a person to be found. You actually need to think about it in order to recreate a person with all kinds of ideas about qualities, functions, locations, and so on. When you just let that go, it’s gone. Then they aren’t anything other than phenomena that just come and go. They remain light and transparent. There’s not a clotting of something that wants to maintain itself. When these clots dissolve, what’s left over? Temporary energetic phenomena in the great space. It’s a game. Therefore it’s mutual: don’t fasten them together. Because then you don’t fix that internally in yourself, but also in relationships. All kinds of images are projected onto a particular place with a particular name. Partially you take it on. Also partially not, and then you tend to radiate: “I’ll show you who I am”. Then you have the situation of relationships and individuals who try to fix themselves and each other in a particular location. When you make separations there must be all kinds of external rules in order to keep things in their place. Of course, there can be different ideals, but if the starting point is wrong, the suffering remains. Actually, it’s more like an ocean with waves. A little wave emerges and a moment later the wavelet is gone and then again more waves arise. There is one ocean and some waves emerge therein, but that basic unity remains.

Then wouldn’t you be completely unable to communicate with each other? When you use words, immediately there are all kinds of images.

Of course that’s how it goes, but also, these are all things which disappear once again. All that talk about this and that is complete nonsense. You shouldn’t make it more important than it is. But what is it really about? We enjoy being together and so we say something now and then. What we say doesn’t matter too much. The mutual connection doesn’t depend upon the conversation. It wouldn’t be too good if that was the case. So when you converse, don’t keep the other fixed within particular words and images. When it’s a relationship which rests upon this deeper connection, something may be said now and again and then it’s good. You can be quiet and it’s also good. Don’t make fixed images.

So it’s best to stay with your own openness.

That’s always the most important. That must be very clear, in every situation. For every situation has a tendency to harden. Precisely in mutual conversations, in communication, in relationships, it happens so easily and it’s very subtle. It’s not just on the level of the sentences that you speak. It also happens very directly on the feeling level, on the energetic level. When you stay with yourself, when you remain completely open, then you also see a change in your environment. Then not only has something changed in you in relation to this cramp but also, you see that the whole situation has changed through this openness. The old issues aren’t so important any more. When you are open that basic unity is there. You don’t even have a clear center anymore. Then it no longer matters when a particular energy comes at you from a particular body, because you’re no longer imprisoned there, you no longer feel attacked by it. If, for example, aggression comes at you and from this openness you start laughing, that aggression is immediately gone.



The first results of Douwe’s physical examination gave a rose-colored picture, but the PET-scan and the CT scan showed that there are metastasis of tumor in several places. This means that there is no more therapy possible. The specialists have given him approximately 6 more months to live (with a wide margin). The chemotherapy provides perhaps a 1 to 2 month extension, but given the side effects, it’s not an option.

So that’s how it is. As far as possible the activities will continue. All kinds of things will now be completed and closed.

Each time we can decide whether a satsang will happen or not. Always check the website for the most recent information.

In time, the Advaita Centre will close and the Openness Foundation will also be dissolved. The Board will see when the time is right for that.

It’s great that the different activities have gradually become self reliant: the Foundation for Relaxation and Insight for Youth, the Foundation for Advaita Yoga Teacher Training and the various independent advaita groups. It’s going well. Because the essence remains central, they will continue to play a good role for many in the future.

After two years the loss of my form is now actual. During this time period the necessity for everyone to achieve total independence has often been discussed. Now it gets really serious. This independence is the openness of being free, of consciousness, of love, of oneness. Everything can be accepted as your own within it and released.