The power of openness

Advaita Post, Volume 14 No. 4

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Text satsang

An Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma, Schiermonnikoog, June 18, 2011

The power of openness

Problems that exist on a personal level can’t be resolved on the same level. You see that for example with people who are really committed to helping others, people in care giving situations. On the one hand, it’s wonderful. But when this takes place on a personal level only, then sooner or later they become overworked. In politics, you see all the different revolutions. People try to overthrow old structures but when the people themselves remain on the same level nothing really changes. You can have sympathy for one action more than another, but they remain actions and reactions. Fundamentally nothing changes because the fundamental problem is not resolved, which is the problem of the limited personalities existing there, the problem of egocentricity which is present everywhere. When the problem is experienced from a higher level you suddenly see that miracles happen. You can see it on a small scale when you suddenly transcend your own limitations, but also on a larger scale even though there aren’t very many examples of it. This occurred with Nelson Mandela: he didn’t function on the level of action and reaction, but installed a truth and reconciliation commission to achieve clarity about what had happened. That prevented a lot of bloodshed.

It’s about what’s going on with yourself: the opening will need to be there, in the sphere of yourself. Then you’ll see that it’s acting in a broader sense.

Does this mean that you should go after the source of the egocentricity?

When you are completely clear and open and someone enters into that space towards whom you would normally react to less pleasantly, what happens? You just remain open and clear. The other enters and at first you see the tension in yourself. This initial phase, that’s the origin of egocentricity. You can recognize that. In the beginning it isn’t yet so strong because later it increases. It has the tendency to strengthen and you see it. From the openness, where you are located, you can see and feel that tendency. But the power of openness is stronger and you say: no, I’ll just stay open. That tendency to cramp slowly dissolves. You experience that it can go one way or the other. The phone rings, and you have a certain tendency. In this early stage you can recognize that it can go either way. When your attention goes towards it, you have a narrowing of your consciousness. When there is a situation of openness you can just let the phone ring.

You can also just pick up the phone and start talking?

Yes you can do that, too. But right now it’s about what happens when there is a restriction of your consciousness. When it remains open then indeed you can have a quiet word with the caller. It matters less and less what you do. It’s more about how you do it.

Can you take up a higher standpoint on many different levels?

First you’ll need to recognize that this is possible, and in fact that that’s always, already happening. When you briefly look back you’ll see that you are constantly changing your viewing point.

But it’s always from the position of the person.

Yes, so that’s something that’s always still limited. Because it’s a position, it’s limited, but you can certainly see that within this limitation all kinds of stances are still possible. A human being has the opportunity to take on all kinds of different points of view. Animals can’t do that. It’s good to see that. What are the consequences? You have a scale of restricted and less restricted views. When you can recognize that, then be so wise as to take on viewpoints that are less restricted. These are very ordinary, everyday things. Actually it shouldn’t be necessary to discuss it, but you can see that almost everyone keeps muddling through somehow without realizing what’s happening. It’s exactly the same for people who want to be spiritual. So at least take up a better stance, because that’s the basis on which it can proceed. Many people who are interested in advaita speak directly about the highest, but frequently they have no notion of these basic things. As a person you understand that you can move from one position to another. It’s important that you get this, because otherwise life continues on in a blind manner through action and reaction.

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