Powerless four ways
fragmenten van Wolter Keers uit een video registratie

The powerlessness of 'I'

We have constantly changing self-images. The moment one of those images appears, we jump in, wrap ourselves into it, and experience that image as 'I. If I tell a stranger that, well, I can just see by your face that you're terribly dishonest, chances are that he'll be deeply offended. Why? Because he wishes to imagine himself as an honest person, and because he wishes I imagine him or her as an honest person as well. So we attach a world of importance to those images that appear in one’s head for a few seconds, disappear, and maybe never return.

For all these things: the body, the senses, the functioning of our mind, thinking, feeling, and those self-images, there is a general term. We call it 'my personality. And the tragedy is that as long as you believe in that person, as long as you believe that you are a personality, you will be its slave. You are better off sitting in prison than believing you are a person. Maybe you don't believe it, but I hope the day comes when you see that indeed it's so. If I had the choice, through some magic trick, between once again believing I'm a person, or going to jail for a year, I'd prefer jail.

Day in day out, we're busy expending tons of energy just so others will accept us. What needs to be accepted? That image in our head. We fight this exhaustive battle, all for the sake of images in our head. Let me ask you: 'are you an image in your own head? If the answer is yes, then since you are always there, that image must be always there. You don't need to look more than 10 seconds to see those images aren't always there at all. They come and they go. And also, these images look this way one time and that way the next. So really, we live as a kind of... not a schizophrenic, but some kind of polyphrenic who sees himself as this image for now, and then another image and acts accordingly, talks as if, gets angry, tries to be accepted, exerts pressure and... the list is long.

What you think you are is of course nonsense to begin with because no thought can contain your entire life. So all of us are something unthinkable to begin with. Something that doesn't fit in any image. Because what I really am, I am always. Images come and go. Memories come and go. Expectations of the future come and go. But there is something that,me as the child, the adolescent, the young man, and the person I am now all have in common. And this is true for all of us. What is it? There is something that doesn't leave us for even a day. You can point at it in different ways. You can’t describe it, can't define it, but you can point to it. It's a fact that we are here, that we are always now. Every human is always now, is always here. We are always something like presence, something like witnessing, you could say conscious presence. And it's in this sense that I use the word consciousness. Quite effortlessly, every one of us knows: I am.

In the instant this 'I am is recognized, you'll see that at the same time there is a witnessing. So all these things we were taught we are: the body, the senses, thinking, feeling, are things that come and go, that are witnessed. What all those have in common is this witnessing that all of us constantly are.

So my story, and I can only tell you about my story, is about peeling the layers off the onion: 'I am a man or a woman, I am Dutch, I am European, I am left or right, etc, etc, until all that remains is what I indivisibly, inseparately, really am.

Since for many years, decades for some of us, we've learned to consult our thinking, or at best our feelings if we want to know something about ourselves, it is sometimes quite a chore to convince that thinking mind. This is why a whole arsenal of arguments keeps appearing. But what is asserted here, contrary to appearances, is not intellectual. The intellect cannot understand what I am. The intellect is something very superficial. Feelings go much deeper. But feelings also cannot understand or express what I am. Because when feelings have passed, I remain.

Every fascination obstructs this realization, even fascination with this spiritual path. You can't get around it. Look, in the beginning you live in two worlds: the world of facts, and the world of opinions that you project onto those facts like an obscuring layer of dust. You are fascinated by things. Why? Because you separate them from other things. You don't see all things as yourself. In fact, everything you sense is yourself and nothing else. So whether I look at a Rembrandt painting or at that face in the mirror, in both cases I see myself. Or at that chair. So in total oneness, things are no longer fascinating. Total oneness is one gigantic, let’s say, accepting the whole world as yourself.

The world of time, space and causality exists by the grace of opposites. If there is no here, there is no there. So then you cannot have a world. If there is no red, there is no green, and there is no world, at least no colored world. If there is no small, there is no large. Project that layer of dust of the psyche on to this, and now there is no good without evil and no evil without good.

That is polarity. First of the sensory world, secondly of the psychological world. The instant you know yourself as not something psychological, but as presence, you discover very soon that the whole world is nothing but witnessing and that this witnessing happens within this presence.

We've been taught to project the witnessing on to these mental images. We say: 'I am going to witness nature for example. And: This is mind, the witness. But it's not like that. The mind is not the witness, the mind is that which is witnessed. We've been taught to believe that the thinking mind knows something. Thinking knows absolutely nothing. Thinking is just a little dance. Thinking is known. We know a thought came and went. So we humans, as if by magic, have turned the object into the subject. Well, that magic trick has to be undone. It's nothing but objects. And what's left is the witnessing. As long as a world appears, there is a witness here and the witnessed over there. If that world disappears then there is no longer a here and there. Then there's something that I cannot describe, but I don't mind calling it 'pure witnessing or something. But it has no object or subject. Witness and witnessed are the same. Like in deep, dreamless sleep.

You only know you've witnessed something after it has passed. Only after a sentence has passed can I say I heard it. Only after I've witnessed can I say; Yes I see a tree. But first I must have witnessed it. Subsequently I can witness that same tree again, but first I must finish witnessing before I can say I saw a tree. It's the same with thoughts. I only know I've had a thought after it's passed.

Shame only exists by the grace of belief in the witness, belief in the self-images. You are not a person, you are not a self image. You are not a meatball made of memories, fears, desires, shame and all that. If you were, you'd be that twenty four hours a day. Water is wetness, and water is wetness twenty four hours a day, and it's never not wetness, because water is wetness. So if you were a certain person, you'd always be that person. But you almost never are. While you're studying for example, where is that self-image? And what about those memories of when you were a toddler, and who knows what all? Totally absent. And even of that you're not conscious.

Something like pure feeling doesn't exist. Pure being exists. What we call pure feeling is feeling without egoic involvement. It exists only after the ego has been exposed and is gone. Never by fighting it. Just by seeing through it. Because when I fight it, I'm saying it's real after all. But I'm not going to fight an image. Not at all. All I have to do, is to see it's an imaginary world. Then it disappears by itself.

Insight, seeing through, exposing and the willingness to let go are lethal to illusion. The art of really living is the art of letting go. It's a kind of dying of course. It's dying while this thing (points to his body) continues to live. So the art of dying before this thing dies. Try to beat it to the punch. And in the end, what dies? Only illusion. Something that never really existed in the first place. Merely a way of thinking.

What I call wisdom is letting go of everything. It's about recognizing what you are here and now. Every moment of every day. Of course you can't occupy yourself with that all day long. Of course not, you've got other things to do; a job etc. but once in a while that flash, like: 'I am always now. Like that. Or, 'I am that in which feelings, thoughts and senses appear. Things like that. Just for a moment. Give it a chance to take root. But don't turn it into knowledge, something you know in your head.

the powerlessness of Samadhi

My teacher, he – I have that tendency myself – told me off because that was not at all what it was about. For two years he would tell me off regularly: 'Aha, there's Keers again. Samadhi minded. ' What I would do, I would sit there, concentrate, etc. and I would just disappear. I would sit in a chair, eyes open, but it would be just like deep dreamless sleep. And I didn't know it myself. He knew it, but I didn't. At some point I discovered it myself. Because I would sit in a house with two little kids. Very noisy kids. The help picked them up from kindergarten, and they would eat in that big room I was sitting in, and well, they were hard to ignore. And it happened one time that all of a sudden it was one o clock, and where are the kids? Has something happened to them? I go upstairs, and there they are, in their bed. The next day the same thing happened, and this is how I knew I was in samadhi. So it's easy to see that just as after deep dreamless sleep, you don't wake up any wiser. So those samadhis don't teach you anything. There's another really ecstatic type of samadhi, a type of LSD trip, in which all of a sudden you know you are one with God and all of that. But that doesn't make you any wiser either.

There are folks, Rajneesh is one, and that fat guy, Maharaji, who have this thing, where they touch you and you get this ecstasy. And you have to have a very strong constitution to then still say: 'Yes, but this isn't it. You have to have a very strong constitution, especially if you aren't familiar with these things. If you've only got the priest or pastor to compare it with, you'll say: This is God itself. This is true, but it doesn't get you anywhere, because after you're just as stupid as before.

My first teacher was Ramana Maharshi and he had, I'd say, a radiance, just standing there you'd be on a whole different wavelength. So apparently he had these siddhis, and if I had a question I would be answered by telegram. Without him opening his mouth. And answered in such a way that the question was gone forever. Anyway, I arrived there about eight weeks before his death, which was too short, so he passed me along to a different guru, who became my guru for number of years. He gave me a lot of words with which to clear away my knowledge based world. I continued with that for another three years and then, all of a sudden, everything collapsed.

He sternly warned me about Samadhis, particularly because they are so addictive. I remember a phrase by Ramakrishna, who said:People come to me like peacocks that have been fed opium, to return day after day for a piece of opium. He apparently also had a kind of radiance that attracted people. At one time when I was in Brussels, there were a lot of people and there was this couple that would really just come to enjoy the atmosphere. But that isn't it. At some point I just had to kick them out. That's the danger with all those kinds of yoga. But if the ego – nasty word – is exposed, and you discover that it's entirely imaginary, literally imaginary, images mistaken for your self, the result is an enormous relaxation which indeed gives rise to that kundalini all by itself, when you're ready for it. The first literature by Rajneesh that I came across, long before he was known here, said you had to sit cross-legged, with your butt on the ground like this (hops up and down) and kundalini would rise. But chances are good you'll end up in an insane asylum. I saw that in Arnhem during the war, these ladies got hold of this book about yoga and pranayama, and well, they were all fired up to get started. Three weeks later they were in an asylum. So let everything be natural. That's something you can learn from the buddhists who took the middle road. Don't force anything.

Well, this raja yoga of Patanjali leads to samadhi. I had it, completely spontaneously, when I was a child of five or six years old. I've seen other kids have it. I think more kids experience this than we realize. Anyway, I myself for example didn't talk about it to anybody until I was eighteen. Somehow you know that this is something holy that shouldn't be touched. I was five or six, just playing in the back yard. Unfortunately, afterwards I made every mistake possible. And a few more I think. So actually, you know there is something between heaven and earth, something that's more than the sum of its parts, but you can't touch it.

The second time this happened to me was during the war, when a very good friend of mine – we were both in Friesland (province of the Netherlands), in hiding, we were both in the same resistance club – read me a passage from some book by a Persian mystic, and suddenly it happened and we were both in it. What happened next? Two days later I got depressed. One of those depressions where the sky turns red. What happened? You try to get back to it. And that wasn't possible. Little did I know. If anybody had explained to me how it worked, perhaps it wouldn't have happened. But I had nobody. Nobody knew about it. Because you as a person will try to reach it, and that's impossible. This thing is exactly the absence of the person. Happiness is the absence of the person. Absence also of thinking. When you're happy you're not thinking. We are taught to consult thinking if we want to know something about ourselves, but thinking doesn't know anything about it. I know my thoughts, but my thoughts don't know me. Isn't it true? Thoughts float by. I'm the witness of this. But these thoughts don't know me.

the powerlessness of religion

Mind splits itself in two, and one half chats with the other half. The judge and the accused. A lot of people walk around all day with a dialog between the judge and the accused in their head. 'Well, you should have done it better, et cetera. So what's in the mind is apparently divided into two here. And there are lots of things like this.

This is what most religions do. They polarize the human psyche; good and bad, god and devil, things like that. Only in Hinduism they tell you this is all just symbolic. And that all these gods represent aspects of yourself. Here religions came into their own. But a religion should be just a way to get going. Religion is for children. Most people of course in their minds remain children. But children can't deal with abstractions, etc., so you tell them stories. Paul said: I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able."(Corinthians 3:1-2) Well, religion, in the East is the milk for children. And those who grow up will ask themselves: how is this possible? Questions that arise in everybody, like, If God is good and love and perfection, how can he create an imperfect world?. And either you let some pastor send you on a wild goose chase, or you just don't accept it. And I didn't accept it. I said:this isn't possible. How can God be omnipresent, and there still be room for the devil? 'Well, that's the mystery. And I said, rudely, ...well I won't say what I said. No. It's not one AND the other, it's not a mystery, it's plainly a lie, it's impossible. Or the Devil is God also. One or the other.

'Yes, my old man would say, 'that's just semantics. And for him that would be the end of it. But of course there is an answer. There's a very good answer: it's madness! These are stories for children. What we are indeed looking for is omnipresence. What is the devil? The devil is a Greek. It's a Greek word: devil, diabolos. It means one who throws something between. So someone that splits. Who splits one mind into judge and accused. That principle of splitting, for example I'm here and the rest of the world is over there, that's the devil, that's what that word means. So the devil is seeing God for something other than he is. To see the light as half light, half darkness. That view, that way of looking, that's the devil. But in institutionalized churches they turned that into a man with horns. That indeed is for children. But this story can be easily explained. It's very logical. Our illusory view, that's the devil. When we split that which is one into two or more. To not see that these are the many expressions of the one, that's the devil. The splitter.

Look, the world you find yourself in, at nine o clock in the morning, or three in the afternoon, is nothing but an extension of your own point of view at that very moment. Someone who's depressed has a lousy life. He's had a lousy childhood, is going to have a lousy old age, and the whole world stinks. Three months later this same person is head over heels in love. Now the whole world looks rosy, you understand? Because his viewpoint has changed. Not the world, his viewpoint. Well, this is always true. This is true biologically. If I concentrate on the sense organ called eye, an optical world appears. If I concentrate on the sense organ called ear, a corresponding acoustical world appears. If I concentrate on thinking, a thought world appears. And this is where we, it appears, are bound. But in actuality not at all, because the I that is bound is nothing more than a thought. As is the bondage. But anyway, the fact remains that if we deal with our mind diabolically, splitter fashion, we create apparent bondage, and make our lives fall apart into a number of worlds that correspond to our ever changing viewpoints. To the rain it always raineth, to the snow it always snoweth. The rain never sees anything but a wet world, and the snow sees nothing but a white world. So the rain says: 'The world is wet, not white. And the snow says: The world is white, not wet. You understand?

Memory projects these things sequentially and takes a relative point of view. 'Sometimes wet, sometimes white and sometimes dry. But what we call the world is simply an extension of our viewpoint in this instance. If your viewpoint is that of thought, the thinker, you will live in a thought world. If your world is nothing but light and freedom, the whole world turns out to be freedom. So if the idea of being John, Pete, or Nick is gone, we turn out to be pure freedom. It turns out that bondage was only an illusion. Thought, but not real. This is why at the very end of the journey, Shankara said: Nobody was ever bound, nobody ever searched, and therefore nobody was ever liberated.

If you let go of your self-images, it changes what you call the world. It loses it's threatening character. Freedom means not having defenses. That's another one of those negative descriptions. You can't say it's this way or that way, but we say: no defenses. Also, there's no such thing as enlightened behavior. In contrast to what some institutions contend. The great Shankara himself said: Finding the truth is not difficult, pleasing everybody is impossible.

the powerlessness of achievement

I remember how my guru at some point told somebody, with an emphasis I never forgot; 'Remember, this is not the path of meditation, this is not the path of concentration, this is a path of immediate recognition.

Nisargadatta told people: Look, notice the fact that you are. Effortless, yes? You don't have to think about it. You know for sure that you are, yes? Yes, well, stay right there. That's essentially the same as what my Guru called immediate recognition. This is a very important point I keep coming back to: it has to be effortless. As long as you have to effort to get it, it's not what I'm talking about. This that you know you are, for sure, effortlessly, without thinking, that's what it's about. Don't you know for sure that you are?

So there's nothing to achieve, because you are what you are. They can take everything from you, but not what you are.So the only thing required for you to know you are freedom itself is to loose the illusion you are some man from somewhere. You are not limited to that. The Romans talked us into the superstition that we have to have a healthy mind in a healthy body, but actually, what appears in what? As far as I'm concerned, the body consists of a number of observations, and those observations appear in the mind. And not the other way around. So it's all well and good if you have a healthy body in your mind, but don't try to stuff the mind into the body. Mind doesn't have time and place and space. Mind is that into which time and space appear.

In conclusion, we just continue to breathe, but we see more and more clearly that we are not a thousand and one thoughts, not a thousand and one observations, not this, not that, not his, not that. And at some point the box is empty. And then you discover that you are as big as the world. The shape that world, the observed, takes at some point. They are very deep-seated, these thoughts. I really tease friends that come to my house. There's this black guy and I call him nigger. Not that I'm a racist, but just – he calls me cracker - to shake loose this idea that you are a thought. Somebody should be able to call you the most horrendous names, without it affecting you in the slightest, because you know you are not a thought, and then all is well. Of course you don't try a joke like that the first time somebody comes around, but the important thing is that you know you are nothing or everything, which is the same really.

As long as you think you're a person, you could say: What's the purpose? All the things you do in life, why do them? Because you want to become happy, have a job, save the world, have a family with kids, or any of those things. It's different for everybody, but what you seek is satisfaction, safety, etc.. So that's the purpose. The purpose of life is to find happiness. Some people symbolize this as God or something, or the absolute or whatever, those are just words. I'd say that you keep trying that which you probably think is difficult: just to be yourself. If you love someone a lot, the biggest compliment you could give them is to say: With you I can be completely myself . So that's something we search for. The purpose of our life is to just be ourselves. Well, the moment we are just ourselves, we see that what I am is of course something completely different from what we thought. Skin deep. Thinking doesn't have a clue about what I am. Nothing really, zero. Because what I am is hidden behind all eyes. I am God. Not the one with the beard, because what does God look like? He doesn't look like anything. He has no form. Not. He has no form. Well, what do you look like? Really you don't have form either. God is unimaginable. But what I try to point out is that you are unimaginable also. You cannot be contained in any image. Once you see this, you discover that those three letters GOD and that one letter I, point to one and the same thing. There's only one unimaginable of course. As soon as you say two, you've got an image. Once again you've got the devil. The split. So what you are doing, without knowing it, is you're entertaining yourself. Why are you doing that? In a sneaky way, I've brought the question back to yourself again. Well, so it goes. I think that in the end, we can't ask a 'Why question, but only gradually withdraw from that world of opinions, and just live, first in and later as the world of facts and observations. And no longer make things good or bad. And in the end, even that is not the last of it. The last of it is what all these facts have in common. That in which waking and dreaming comes and goes self-image and itself remains.