Entering the fire
If your knowledge of fire has been turned
To certainty by words alone
Then seek to be cooked by the fire itself.
Don’t abide in borrowed certainty,
There is no real certainty until you burn;
If you wish for this, sit down in the fire.
Naked in the hot sun I turned the dead jellyfish over several times on the beach with a stick to find its center.
There was none. With a shock I realized that I also had no center and that I was just a mishmash of unfocused and accidental happenings.
And just like that, all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, I knew with great certainty that I needed to find my center!
Amazing how Grace finds us and puts us on the path toward self-realization. I could have never come up with that by myself.
I write this now that I am 64 years old and I have lived a rich and abundant life because of that initial spark.
At that time I did not realize what an initiating moment this was. Neither did I know that it would guide me to several enlightened masters and gurus and open doors in my consciousness that had been closed and were forgotten during many lifetimes.
Had I known what hardship the journey would bring in its wake I might have quickly thrown the jellyfish away and pretend to never have seen it. At the same time, if I had imagined the glory that would be revealed to me, I would have clung to it for dear life.
Luckily Grace itself did the job and put a flame in my heart that took care of everything.
I was 25 years old, I had dropped out of society a year before and lived currently on the beach under a palm tree with a piece of plastic to protect from me the Chamsin. This was the sandstorm from the Sahara that came to us here in Nueiba, Israel from time to time.
I was one of the many lost wanderers on the planet of the seventies, all in search of freedom and a life worth living.
I was supposed to feel free but reality was that I felt like a prisoner. The further I had pedaled away on my bicycle from Amsterdam, all the way down to here, the more I had realized with every turn of my pedals, that I carried my whole past within me. I had left “it” but “it” had not left me.
So far had I thought of my childhood as privileged and idyllic. We had been rich and lived in a big house in a small village by the river. We had ‘everything a child could wish for ‘. At least that is what I was told over and over again. My parents had lived through the war and the stories were gruesome. So what would we have to complain about? We had not been in the war. We should be grateful that there was food on the table, grateful for where our cradle had been.
So if I was not happy it certainly was my own fault. I grew up feeling terribly wrong, ugly and different.
Not knowing how to find my place in life I had finally dropped out and was convinced that I would find something, somewhere along the line.
From a point of view of consciousness, I was in a deep coma.
I was looking for something without knowing what it really was. All I knew that life how I had lived it until now was deeply wrong. It was not worth the while.
So my friend and I set out for a trip around the world on bicycle. Being Dutch it seemed only logical to take the bike. A Dutch couple had done it before and if they could do it, so could we.
Freedom was another word for nothing left to lose….as Janis Joplin sang. I felt like I had really nothing left to lose by the time I left.
So now here we were, in Israel on a deserted beach. On the surface all was good and exciting even.
My travel companion and I had been close friends for a few years and we had travelled to Canada before. We were compatible in many ways. Moreover, she had been crazy enough to join me on this trip.
All our other friends had declared us as certified nuts.
The Nueiba beach was empty in those years. The Sinai desert still belonged to Israel and I guess people did not yet travel so much as now. Probably world wide the tourist industry was yet to boom.
Apart from the famous stone house and a few other freaks, there was just the vastness of the sky, the water and the hot sun. An occasional Bedouin came by on a camel, letting me ride once in a while with him.
Food supplies came from the local army base, as there were no restaurants, shops or anything else there in 1976. We would sneak into their kitchen at night and the boys, bless them, would give us something to eat or to cook.
Life could not be more easy and idyllic.
The handful of people that were there, came from various nations. Most of them were Jewish, discovering the promised land and having long and stoned discussions about what it meant to be a Jew.
We were not Jewish and the conversations were rather boring to us so mostly we were by ourselves.
Who would have thought that I was lacking a center?
I had never occurred to me before. Now the question was; how to find it?
A few days later, out of nowhere I started to draw the Mobius sign in the sand over and over again without knowing what that sign meant. It brought a special feeling. Looking back I think it put me in some kind of a trance.
Everything seemed to be connected in one endless closed circuit.
My father had died some 12 years before but through this drawing I felt that he was still around, somehow, somewhere.
All of a sudden I knew that all was one; that we were all one.
It was as if a door opened for a few seconds, into an unbelievable silent and peaceful vastness.
Everything disappeared and for that tiny eternal moment I WAS…….THAT.
And then….. I was back in my normal reality.
If left me baffled and curious.
Until then I had been looking for freedom and I had almost been certain that it was to be found in the outer circumstances of life. Obviously this was not the case, as I still did not feel free, not even in paradise.
Now that the quest for a center had appeared and now that this vast space had been shown to me, it was clear that this was to be found inside oneself.
And just like that, my inner search started as a tiny little flame in my heart. The flame turned out to be big enough for it was never forgotten.
Of course I wanted to find the answer immediately. I was in a hurry; my life was slipping through my fingers. I wanted it as immediate as that vision had come to me but it would take many years before I had a next glimpse. Many detours had to be taken and many shortcuts tried.
Much drama was to unfold.
The great show from darkness to light had only just begun. Little did I know that I would burn in the fire of my quest for the next 40 years and that it would take me to different continents, inner and outer, through many awesome peaks and horrendous valleys, through great losses and wild adventures before it brought me home.
What follows is the story of my life.
I describe it as I see it now, after many years of therapy and meditation. I did not always have the understanding of the events at the moment itself. Particularly not in my childhood and I describe it now as I discovered it over the years. Of course one has to take into consideration that we all live in a universe of our own. In the emotional realm there is not such a thing as truth, it can only be “my” truth. Some friends and some of my siblings don’t recognize themselves in my story.
So it is MY story as see it now in retrospect with the clarity of one whose eyes have been opened after a long sleep of ages. Some of the names of people have been changed to protect privacy.
May the story be of inspiration to you who is reading it.