The apparent difference between teacher and student
The student sees himself as a student. the teacher sees things differently. In the eyes of the jnani both the teacher and the student are that. During the sadhana the teacher allows the student to see himself as a student who looks for insight from a teacher. Finally it is seen that neither the teacher nor the student have ever existed nor ever will exist.an interview about being a teacher with Hans Laurentius
Johan: What convinced you that you were 'ready' to give instruction in advaita Vedanta? Was that a result of a special event?
Hans: At the time that the 'recognition' took place I was active as a spiritual therapist and I gave courses on chakra meditation among others. During one of the courses it appeared that it was no longer possible for me to talk about chakras, but something happened spontaneously that we could call satsang. It just happened. Along the way I have seen the energy work disappear and I was brought to speaking about self realization.
J: Do you use a special discipline or exercise in your teaching?
H: There is no strict discipline. Everything takes place in what is, and everyone brings whatever they themselves need for instruction. In other words, as far as I am concerned there is no standard approach. Consequently there is no question of any exercises. After all it is about the direct recognition itself.
What I do give a lot of attention to recently is what you could describe as being a warrior. That means among other things to stop wasting energy in action against what you should know better People have an enormous tendency to spare either the goat or the cabbage in all sorts of situations instead of doing what they know is just. Many are, in other words, quite half-hearted, and that does not serve the real interests well. One could say that life itself is the practice field, what is seen into finds its decision in daily life. You see for yourself what is really understood, how important truth really is for you, what has actually fallen away from identification, fear or longing in concrete situations. By looking at 'yourself' openly and honestly in concrete situation you learn a lot about yourself and avoid landing in spiritual illusion. Everything has to come to light, everything is satsang.
J: Do you find it important to spread the 'truth' ( the clarity of advaita Vedanta)?
H: Important? One could say that giving satsang just overcame me. It was not chosen or decided by me. My life has taken this turn and I find that OK. It is not a question of more or less important, it is simply not possible for me to do anything else. One could say that I am one of the captives of freedom and I feel good with that. I do what I Am.
J: Do you use old traditions and Advaita Vedanta texts?
H: Seldom. People read too much already. The most powerful is the direct interaction, being carried along by the Force of the living dialogue. Of course sometimes I advise people to read something, but most of the people who come have already collected enough information. Often that helps less than we want to believe.
J: My teacher Jean Klein once said: 'There is no teacher, and there is no one to teach'. Are you in agreement with that? Another thing he said was: the Guru allows the student to see him (the teacher) as a flesh and blood teacher, 'the outer guru', as long as the student needs that. The moment that the student has discovered his own 'inner guru', he can go further on his own. Do you agree?
H: Naturally, strictly speaking there is no question of a teacher and a student, but that can only be truly said when the realization is there. Because the seeker sees himself as a person, he also sees the teacher as such and that is indeed accepted by the so-called teacher. But in reality everything is THAT. Furthermore, everyone is both a teacher, and a student and neither at the same time.
Nevertheless, the second saying is beautiful, even though a bit romantic. Things just happen that way. Being a student is a sort of remedy, the guru is a kind of crutch that you think you need because you are convinced that you can't stand on your own legs. As soon as you discover that you can walk perfectly well you don't need him anymore. Maybe you walk along with him a bit further, but strictly speaking when the realization is a fact the relation can be ended. What often happens however is that the 'relation' goes on at another level, actually a question of the friendship that remains. There is much to discover and learn in being together; some wake up and find that to be fine, and for others the path goes in another direction.
J: If the student has doubts about his own insights, (such as: I have seen 'it', but have I really seen it?) Do you then confirm him in his insight?
H: As long as there is a doubt it has not yet penetrated deep enough. Then what is the best thing to do depends a lot on the situation and the individual. Thus, it happens sometimes that there is some reassurance, but just as often that that the doubts are awakened so that he or she may discover that the doubt is an illusion. Discovering it oneself is preferable.
J: Is a living teacher really needed for a student to come to insight?
H: In essence not, but in practice it seems that most people can't do without. The danger of going on the path without a guide is that you will get lost. The I is madly inventive and people's capacity to fool themselves has almost the quality of a work of art. It is difficult enough even with a teacher. Finally however we all have teachers. Everyone you come across, every situation in life is the Guru. Seeing that is extremely important as far as I am concerned. Some people only see that after attending satsang for a period of time. Then you often see two simultaneous movements. The first is thus that they realize that the learning is not limited to the satsang, and the second is that the connection with the teacher becomes stronger, so that more Strength can flow over so to speak. Thus, there are many levels of connection with truth, the instruction and the teacher; which evolve if things go well.
J: As a teacher how do you know that the student has come to the right place? And how does the student know that he is at the right place?
H: What belongs by me remains, what doesn't leaves. So, in most case I don't bother about that. If someone wants to become a student, I let the student make a good search for what their motives are. In the beginning I didn't want any students at all, but I discovered that many needed the instrument of being a student. Then for quite a while I said 'Okay' to everyone who asked. Now it is different. It has to fit, there has to be, or arise, a mutual 'click'. Often that is immediately clear. Sometimes I know that the click will come, or existence convinces me to accept someone before the 'click' is there or not entirely there. However that can change along the way. So it also happens that I finish it or that it stops in some other way, or naturally that someone want to become a student of another so-called teacher. That is also ok. After all, it is about truth and the possibilities of the student. In this connection it is never about the teacher, that would be to foolish, don't you think?
J: If one of your students has arrived at insight do you then encourage them to go speak?
H: Not by definition. Being awake is still something different from being a teacher. That requires certain capacities or qualities that not everyone has and that do not appear automatically when someone awakens. But with some I have seen that the qualities are there, and these people I encourage. In my case such people were Vivian, Leen and Wilja Kuiper, and I also encouraged Ard Luymes to open his mouth. Jan for example, arrived at it himself, he could simply not contain the energy anymore and said 'I have to begin to talk about it, I can't stop it anymore, what do you think?'. It did not surprise me at all, and I said that as far as I was concerned he was ready for it. For the rest, it sometimes happens that people want to but I see that it's not entirely not suitable. Mostly they don't like that very much, but I only say 'speak' if I am convinced everything is totally good. One has to be able to see if it is the purely the Force itself that brings a person to it, or whether it is just an ego move, that wants to be seen or something like that. Some resistance to expressing what has been realized is usually a good sign.
When they began to accuse me of being enlightened, I fought against it tooth nail and tried to deny it, until I finally saw the idiocy of denying what is became 100% clear to me. In the beginning little Hans thought it was a catastrophe, not so much the speaking about realization, but seeing that it was not yet totally integrated. The first year was teaching only for me. If other people got something out of it was a side benefit. I was also a bit stubborn and in that sense I had to experience many satsangs before the business was worked out a bit. Thus, I also say that to people who 'are invited to do it': understand that you are sitting there to learn and if it also benefits other people that is a nice extra. In short, never play Guru, strictly speaking the guru is a completely impersonal Force, presented with the coloring of the representative in question. So don't be too distracted by these colors, go rather for truth itself.
[Johan van der Kooij and Hans Laurentius]