Archive for June, 2013

It’s hard to realize what it means to stay directly in the openness
June 15, 2013

Advaita Post Volume 14 No. 12


Text satsang

An Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma in Gouda, February 2, 2005

It’s hard to realize what it means to stay directly in the openness

Today I fell into conversation with people who are on a Buddhist path and was very struck by something. It’s good to discuss that here. In most Buddhist traditions you have a sophisticated path containing several steps whereby the first step is very long. Then all kinds of requirements are given for that. You must abide by all kinds of rules; you have to deal with the vows of the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha. These rules are continually stressed. When discussing these things it is said: “Of course, these rules are not so important, it’s just a help. What is given at the beginning is different than what belongs to the teaching later on.” In the advaita approach you don’t have this guidance, this support doesn’t exist. You have absolutely no mainstay. The only thing that applies is: the essence of openness. Insofar as there is instruction, it calls upon this. You have the notion: you are openness. How that expresses itself in practice is secondary. There aren’t all these rules, these guidelines. Only this one essence is there as a guide: total openness. On the one hand it’s wonderful that you don’t have any rules because it’s obviously not about them. You aren’t bound by particular phases of instruction through which you can always proceed one particular stage further. Therefore, the direct approach is very attractive. On the other hand, it’s hard to realize what it means to directly stay in this openness, what it means that there are absolutely no rules, that all forms actually disappear. All of you are in this situation. Directly, it already requires an infinite confidence, an infinite insight.

As an advantage of rules and a disadvantage of Advaita I find that with Advaita you can bypass blind spots. For example, I can have certain violent aspects. And I don’t ever have to see them.

You think so?

I can project them outward for an incredibly long time, I can go along with everything and then think that I’m very open.

You can always think more.

If I follow the rules, like in the Buddhist tradition, I can really have my nose to the grindstone.

What is it all about here? Be attentive. Be clear in relation to yourself, your own situation, constantly. It’s always about that.

But that assumes that there’s no such thing as a blind spot, something that I can never see by myself.

Be clear, be attentive. We’re speaking about that, take a look. Every human being has a certain awareness of themself, can look at themself more or less critically. That’s the point.

But if you’re looking then you’re back in a thought process.

Looking isn’t thinking. If you are thinking about looking then that has nothing to do with consciousness because then you are thinking. Can you remain aware of yourself while doing all kinds of things?

I wish I could. I wish that that little thinker would stay still. I have absolutely no control over it.

Even when you meditate? It could be necessary to do some Vipassana meditation for a while, so that you actually bring the events of your mind into view. Always take a fresh look: what happens there, what kind of impressions are all there, what kinds of images arise. That’s really necessary. With the advaita approach you can step in anywhere, but precisely because it requires so much clarity, it seems to be difficult for most people and possibly not such a suitable approach. The advaita path is suitable when there’s already a good amount of insight.

Would you say that the advaita path is so popular in the West because it’s easy to combine with ordinary life? When you follow a Buddhist tradition it can require so much of you that it’s very difficult to combine with everyday life. Advaita doesn’t ask anything more of me except remaining open and that doesn’t take any time.

There’s also another aspect to it. When it really concerns this breakthrough: that isn’t bound by the situation, not tied to conditions. You can’t say anything about it beforehand. It will just appear.

And afterwards?

Then you can adduce all kinds of things about it if you want to. But that doesn’t make any sense. Basically you can’t say anything about it. If you do it anyway, then you pin down the cause; first this has to happen, then that will happen. A breakthrough just happens. Some have a situation that is completely closed. And suddenly it breaks open. For others it’s very gradual and suddenly there is enlightenment. Nothing can be said about it in advance. The only thing is: a sphere of clarity arises and everything that still needs to be clarified, where initially blind spots were, becomes clear so that there aren’t any obstacles any longer.

And the openness will act?

Of course, the only thing you can do is: stay as open as possible, as clear as possible, stay awake. That’s the only thing.