(See article: Enlightenment, before during and after).
16 years of integration and opening lay behind me, years that brought so many pieces of the puzzle together.
All this time, I was waiting for this integration to come full circle, to be complete. Not noticing that I was falling into the same trap again as I did then: Believing that there is finality to the journey.
Resurfacing now, from my yearly solitary silent retreat, it has finally landed that there is no completion ever. That God is an endless journey. If one circle closes it is only for another one to open to go the same round only from a higher and different perspective. What a relaxation!!
This knowledge is known to most of us seasoned seekers but before it has landed in every cell of the body, it can’t turn into true knowing, true wisdom.
So until not long ago there was still that waiting to come full circle which in some ways put my life on hold. Hope does that to us. Hope creates desire and desire creates postponement.
To many people it looks like my journey had so many cuts and breaks. To me however the whole search has always been organic, simple, human and even logical.
I was born in 1951 in post war Holland, in a not so healthy body and in a rather challenging emotional climate.
From day one, health was an issue that kept me busy.
It was only logical then, that my search started with the search for health.
At the age of 28, I immersed myself in the world of yoga, shiatsu, oriental healing and macrobiotics with absolute totality.
I became healthy and fit and enjoyed teaching to others what I learned. This is something that I would continue to do during the rest of my life. I would learn something and then start to teach it.
After 5 years of this, I woke up in the middle of the night, shook my boyfriend and said:
“Something is wrong here. Look at us, we may be healthy but we don’t smile, we are not happy”.
Through that realization that journey ended quite immediately.
A circle closed and a new one opened by itself.
My quest was now for happiness. This led me soon to a therapeutic community. I moved in and I immersed myself with the same abandon into this world. I screamed, cried and beat the walls for days and nights on end. Releasing all that was pent up in me emotionally. It “broke” the thick armor I had carried around me, and therefor it brought a lot of relief. My puritan Christian holding left me and the pendulum swung the other way. Sexual, drug and other indulgences took its place. I abandoned my health program feeling that it was the emotional body that really determined my health and not the food I ate.
Exactly 5 years later I woke up again realizing that: “Okay, I can release my emotions and that is great but I also go on each and every day creating new disasters and drama’s which then again I need to release. This does not seem intelligent. How to stop that cycle?”
Meditation promised an answer.
Apart from some active meditations and some unsuccessful encounters with Zen (for me that was only about enduring the pain in my back and keep my teeth together to do so) I knew little about meditation and I had never tasted the peace that meditation promises.
And I wanted peace now and I wanted to sit.
This posed a great problem. I could absolutely not sit still unless I was stoned. There was too much restlessness and action in my body. I was a well-trained survivor; I needed to stay on the ball and always on the alert. Relaxation was definitely not part of my program.
Ecstasy brought the answer. I discovered that when I took that pill (they were of relatively clean substance in those first days), not only could I sit still but I could be in my heart as well. Self-love appeared and it brought a whole new dimension to my life.
A few months passed like that with several “ecstatic meditation” days.
But the hunger for a lasting silence kept pulling me. Another circle was closing again.
A little later I left that community and I found myself at the feet of Osho in Poona- India. Shortly after my arrival he hit me with a hammer on the head. That is literally how it felt and from that day I could ONLY sit. Often I could hardly move.
I was seen for long periods with a silence button on and a Vipassana stool under my arms, only to get a tea or some food and go back to sit in the garden next to Osho’s house.
Fanatic again??? For sure. My love of totality has always bordered on the fanatic.
Soon I found even the ashram too full and to busy. I wanted to be alone.
I moved to Thailand to a remote island and lived in a hut for 5 or 6 month, barely known to the rest of the world. Living for a great part in silence and meditation in the purity of nature, I felt truly happy and fulfilled for the first time in my life!!
I had however not yet given up my drug habit and I still smoked marihuana, be it only after 5 o’clock. (The fact that the grass in Thailand was so good and so cheap did not help me to stop.:))
I felt deeply connected to Osho and never lonely or alone. He was with me.
Just as I was about to make a wrong move (I wanted to withdraw from the world for the rest of my life and live like a recluse), He called me back. For three nights in a row I had the same vivid dream.
He would stand on the balcony of my hut and say this very clear sentence: “ It is time to come back to the Buddhafield”.
The first night I was annoyed and dismissed the dream. The second night I became angry and reactive, but after the night I simple bowed my head and said:
“I am on my way”
Without enough cash for the journey and with great trust I embarked a few days later on my way back to Poona. The journey was miraculous.
The money always showed up when needed, literally from strangers.
Doors opened by themselves, the journey was easy and my trust unshakable. I knew He called me home and I trusted that He would take care and He did. My trust was innocent and absolute in those days.
Then followed many years of hard work in the ashram.
A new circle opened.
Hard work because there was a much deeper layer of emotional pain waiting for me. The emotional work now was finer, the groups more meditative but I still screamed and cried quite a bit in those first years.
Next to my groups and processing, I worked as a therapist sharing my insights as they came in groups and sessions, under the umbrella of Osho.
And of course there was daily life in the ashram, where I lived out my dramas of relationship, love and hate, passion and agony. They were once again the food for my inner work.
All in all it was a time in which I felt truly happy. Osho had created a miraculous garden for us to play and grow in. Looking back, those years often feel like a fairy tale to me now. How lucky I am that I could live that.
He spoke once or twice a day, holding us together in a field of meditation. Blessed days.
In 1990 Osho left his body, which had left me strange enough with a sense of deep gratitude and responsibility. I remember standing at the burning ghats, his body going up in flames and me saying to Him: “ You have given us more than we will ever be able to digest. You have said it all. Now it is up to me”. My focus had been so outward, I was hooked on his physical form, now the arrow shot back in my direction. It felt strangely good and empowering. Of course there was deep sadness too but I had become a little bit more adult.
We carried on with the work and life in the ashram in his spirit.
Meditation brought me step by step to a new dimension inside of myself. The dimension of being.
Over the years its pull became stronger and stronger. I started to lose interest in therapy.
So when the time was ripe, some 6 or 7 years later, I started to move into the world of Zen. The world of Koans, the world of presence and no nonsense. The main Koan for me was: Who am I?
With intensity as my middle name no need to describe how I sat day after day after day with that Koan.
Until, just as Zen promised, one day the bubble burst in 1997 and I had a full blown awakening. I was catapulted into the absolute, the empty source of all things, the ground of being.
I had transcended all my pains and troubles and was in deep peace.
It was as if a dam had broken and all the non-essential had vanished.
All boundaries dissolved and only oneness remained. The search was over.
For all kind of reasons, soon I was no longer welcome in the ashram and I was on my own at home, digesting and integrating this blow, or was it a kiss, from God? My days were spent in my lush tropical garden in the hammock.
Bliss upon bliss, even though my health deteriorated very fast. Osho had often said that if the body was not strong it could break under the impact of awakening/enlightenment and so I did not worry. It seemed to be part of the process and I was completely detached from all the pain.
Friends tried to convince me to see healers and doctors but I was not interested. If this was it for the body, then this was it. My search was over. I was ready to die if that was to happen.
Something touched me deeply in this time. Through a friend, I met Amma, the first enlightened woman in my life. As I did not recognize the need for Her support and guidance then, I visited only shortly and she would come back into my life only a few years later.
For 5 years I was in this state, giving satsang and initiating many people into the absolute.
Until, one day, to my great shock also this Satori bubble burst.
It was devastating and so overwhelming it took me years to sort out the pieces of what happened.
Now 16 years later I can say this:
By the time the bubble burst, my body was in a terrible state.
So bad that I almost lost my life, so I had to open my eyes.
Slowly, slowly, it became apparent that I had created a severe split in me. A split between the material and the spiritual, between body and soul. This is an age-old split that still pervades in many misunderstandings of the teachings.
I had simply split off everything that belonged to duality. Dismissed it as unimportant and worthless. I began to realize that I was born into this body out of duality and that duality somehow had a place of value in the bigger scheme of things. But at first not much more understanding was there.
I was in a mess, sometimes suicidal and I prayed for guidance for about two years. I picked up meditation again as well in my desperate attempt to find my way back.
Dark years they were. Obviously I could not work anymore but needed to earn a living. I worked as a cleaner first and later as a private nurse, supporting old people to die in their homes. Very challenging for the body but very grounding at the same time. And oh so humbling.
Two years later, my prayers were heard and Faisal Muqaddam appeared. Miracle of miracles, he understood what had happened to me in detail. He became my beloved guide to this day.
He introduced me to the idea that we as humans live in 3 domains simultaneously.
The worldly, the essential and the absolute domain.
I knew the worldly and the absolute but the essential domain was totally new for me. This domain refers to subtle energies and substances, which are also called: the organs of the soul. To uncover these lost essential organs again, became a long and painstaking process. Another circle opened and with it I was on another merry go round of Father Mother and Me. The Holy Trinity as Faisal lovingly calls them.
Quite some years of ongoing trauma healing work needed to happen on the side as well.
Now the process was ultra slow. This was a challenge to my impatient and pushy character structure. Perseverance was needed and patience.
The Enneagram became an invaluable asset in the understanding and the unraveling of the ego structure. (I am a Three in that system)
It would go too far to explain the Essential domain here. There is a lot of information on Faisal’s or my website.
For me the effortlessness of essence was mind blowing. I was so used to efforting. Being in essence is a natural state of being. Essence provides whatever it is we need to live in this world.
E.g. if we need strength we don’t need to tighten ourselves but the red essence will flow through the body like fire or lava and bring the strength in a very natural and effortless way. If we want joy, we don’t need any outer stimuli, we only need to be in contact with our yellow essence and a deep joy rises from within. Etc. etc.
Also, it became clear over the years that therapy was important and very valuable in the healing of the conditioning but that resolution, true resolution of these issues could only be found in the essential domain. When the holes that opened through the loss of essence in childhood will be filled in again from the inside with that very essence we will experience wholeness again.
At first I wanted to put my awakening down but Faisal honored it again and again until I did the same myself. But now I kept only one foot in the absolute.
The other foot was either in the worldly or essential domain.
The “drop-out” that I had been, started to die and I started to learn to live and appreciate to be in the world. Dealing with it. Meeting it. Slowly, slowly, this age old split between matter and spirit started to melt.
For quite some years Osho had been in the very far background. Now I found my way back to Him. He says:
“This earth is a challenge. You are made to work your way through this darkness of existence. This is a task to be done, this is a way of growth, and to be here on the earth simply means that God has given you an opportunity to grow. This earth is a challenge, accept it, encounter life, don’t escape”.
Amma became a strong guiding force in my life and through her teaching of humility she keeps uncovering my pride and arrogance.
It took some years before I could accept another master into my heart next to Osho but in 2008 I delighted all of a sudden in having a spiritual father and a spiritual mother both. And so Amma became my beloved guru. I visit her often but I know now that I want to fully live in the world. I have something to do here.
Her presence is a salvation again and again and an enormous catalyst for my maturing and embodying.
Faisal gives me the “nuts and bolts” of spirituality in his own humble way. His wisdom and experience are awesome.
One of these nuts and bolts is inquiry.
I could write an ode to inquiry alone. This scalpel of consciousness reveals the smallest blockages in our system with laser like precision. It dismantles all our beliefs and idea’s, opening patiently one blockage after another, allowing the old content to be released and the lost essence, the intrinsic to unfold. Now I can finally say: I have digested my life.
In 2012 another big bang opening came. Rivers of tears flowed in the realization of the totality of me.
Me as awareness, me as the soul, me as the absolute. Finally everything was there simultaneously.
Often first openings are very overwhelming for me and also now, I could not see the pieces but I felt that I had truly come home.
Now it was not just realization, it was embodiment.
This time I kept quiet.
A few weeks later the opening went as abruptly as it had come. I lost access to my totality.
Even though I did not want to admit it, I was disappointed like a small child again and even angry with God.
Running to Amma for refuge and hoping the find myself back there another shock awaited me. Even in her presence I felt or experienced absolutely nothing but an empty dry desert. Not the beautiful empty nothingness but a sense of total lack. Lack of love, lack of life, lack of everything. No essence, no absolute. The only thing I could do was bowing my head and endure this untresspassable void. I wanted so badly to surrender but did not know how. The ego in fact cannot surrender. Surrender is quite a different matter, but I did not know then.
Rumi says: Be silent, Only the Hand of God Can remove the burdens of your heart.
So I waited for God. Bowing my head, slowly giving up.
Life finally had brought me to my knees. I realized that there was nothing but nothing I could do. I had done all that could be done. Now I had to wait for the hand of God.
So I prayed and waited.
This new circle that opened made me face the deepest loneliness that I could ever have imagined. Once I was in, it I understood why we avoid it our whole life. In fact our whole personality is built for that purpose: to never again have to feel that unbearable desert of desolation and abandonment again.
Faisal (whose guidance at this point was so valuable and essential) kept saying: Endure it, in time it will start to shine from within.
I waited and waited and hoped to get back to that beautiful state of totality.
Oh that hope! How it find its way back in our lives again and again, ever more subtle.
Step by step, very little bit by very tiny little bit I gave up on my desires. A painful and agonizing process. In the end I had only three desires left:
To live in nature, to have a man and to reach nirvana.
To these I held on for dear life.
Two years later a very simple quote on Facebook did it.
It said: “The grass is not greener on the other side, It is greener where YOU water it”. It hit my like a bomb.
I started to water wherever I was ( in the city, on the train, at home) and the desires slipped away by the side without me noticing almost. So simple. I finally realized that it was the desire itself that created all the misery in my entire life.
Now when bigger and bigger openings come I can enjoy them and ……. let them go. Watching my soul wander in whatever domain it goes. Nirvana is not a fixed place. Nirvana is here now when I am one with the tide of life, with the tide of the whole.
I know the body needs care and I practice yoga and Ayurveda without being fanatic now but with healthy realism.
I know the worldly domain needs care. I am living in the world. Inwardly I am a free wandering soul rooted in being, but outwardly I have a home now. I have put my roots down on the earth at last.
And of course the soul, the spirit needs care. Without daily meditation and prayer I would not be where I am today.
I value and nourish the essential body in the ongoing unfolding.
I cherish the dissolving into the absolute again. The recharging of the body that comes with absence is simply phenomenal.
I honor my ego and my soul for its courageous journey through time and space.
Sometimes I dissolve in the absolute; sometimes I am a shining light in the heart, sometimes an essential person, fully embodied. And so often I am in the worldly domain, getting lost, forgetting and remembering. And even the forgetting is so valuable because it reveals ever more subtle strategies of the mind.
Which in turn keeps purifying the soul, it polishes the diamond.
All is as it is. Everything is good and has its place. The waiting is over. The journey in full bloom, on and on and on…
Charavedi Charavedi as Buddha said. Carry on, carry on.
The circle is never full or if it is it is only for a short moment only to open into a new one, always spiraling up even when it feels like it goes down. It is in the nature of things to evolve eternally.
Osho says it so beautifully
“...the journey never ends. One path ends, another opens; one door closes, another opens. A higher peak is always there. You reach to a peak and you were just going to rest thinking everything is achieved suddenly a higher peak is still there. From peak to peak, it never comes to an end; it is an endless journey... God is an endless journey.
That’s why only those who are very, very courageous so courageous that they don’t bother about the goal but are content with the journey- just to move with life, to float with the river, just to live the moment and grow into it - only those are able to walk with God”.
How many years it takes to grow into this understanding! To enjoy the highs as much as the lows. To be as content with happiness as with loneliness.
May this story be of inspiration to you.