Breakfast with Jan van Delden, part 2
This time Jan speaks about Homer's epic Odyssey and why this epic has meant so much to him, how and when he began to speak about advaita, and about Ajax-Feyenoord (famous Dutch soccer teams) and Rambo. He delineates the parallels between everyone's search and Odysseus' wanderings. He explains that everything that happened to Odysseus is a metaphor for the steps on the apparent way to 'being there'.
Amigo: You've always had a fascination with the Odyssey and with Odysseus. You read it when you were a child. When did you actually discover that the entire Odyssey is a metaphor for your own spiritual search?
Jan: The first time that I actually became conscious of it I was with Wolter (Keers). I was exhausted from my work and from my search and during mediation I fell into a trance.In those days I could stay in a trance for a long time and thus escape from life's imperfections. Trance is actually the same as the natural state, but then done by a person. So you're nice and safe and have nothing to do with the scary incomplete world. It just plain delicious; a sort of samadhi, abiding in a kind of zero state. At that moment Wolter was explaining to people how dumb they are if they fall into a trance and abide there.
At a certain moment something exploded and a thought came: I have to go past the Sirenes... From that moment every time that I an insight broke through there was a comparison with what it would mean in the Odyssey. I didn't do that, it just happened.
Did you develop your own language to talk in this way and about your own search?
Yes, what began to interest me was the question: did Homer actually meant it this way?.. As a child, just as every child, I wanted to understand the 'big' world. I thought that the answers lay in one of the ' learned book's, and that this book lay in my father's bookshelves. That was universal literature!
How did you read it as child: as a fairy tale, or as a bible that offered instruction?
I only saw that the Odyssey was a book that was read by intelligent people and naturally that's what I wanted to be. I was struck by the hypocrisy that it contained: Odysseus does everything that god has forbidden. When he finally returns home, he very hypocritically slays the 108 suitors who actually had done nothing with his wife, except trying to win her over. And Odysseus was found to be a just man. I couldn't swallow that; I thought it was so unjust. Because of that I had an involvement with the book and that has remained. .
After the great 'seeing' did you feel: the Odyssey is my manner, it speaks my language. Is that what happened?
Yes, but I never thought that I would bring it out in the open.
You can always question whether it can be taught or that you can teach something to so-called 'others' because there aren't really any 'others'?
Indeed, if there are no others, then the entire instruction is nonsense. However, if there are 'waves' who do not realize that they are water, thinking that they are caught in a nightmare and they come here with the question: Is it really true I am water?, then I like telling them about the illusion, but nothing more. I also do not consider it a mission, because water is water. Always! At the most I help ghosts who imagine that they are in a nightmare by telling them: don't believe that the nightmare is real, watch the water from your source and stop think that you are a wave.
When did you feel the need to talk about it?
I've never had that. There have been moments when I wanted to talk about it, and it did also happen, but I had to see whether Consciousness also saw it that way. Sometime around 1988, I gave some talks by invitation, but that stopped. Something happened after the death of a good woman friend in 1988, I felt an opening up to go mirroring outside of our small circle. After that it all went very fast.
And then The Odyssey was helpful as a guide line for your story?
I have always been a counselor and since everything is an illusion anyway I may as well make the story as real as possible. My mind is always busy trying to make things better. I don't do that, it is just my nature and it happens spontaneously. In view of my capacities, with this poor memory for words, but a good memory for images, the Odyssey is an easy fantasy book out of which I can always dig up something on which to navigate, a sort of inner compass which I use to see what state people find themselves in and can elucidate it with examples. That is the reason why it is such an easy tool for me.
And it is unique...
But there is no doer! What happened to me, and I advise everyone to do, is to play with the things that fascinate them. The Odyssey has 'played' itself in me, it is a sort of seduction of oneself. What is nice about it, is that time and again something new strikes you that you knew nothing about beforehand. The entire Odyssey just happened to me, but that is also just 'two times two is four' (in other words, an apparent result from an apparent cause). I can't see it any other way except that everything actually comes your way. And that doesn't come from me but from Consciousness itself and I'm sitting up front and watching the show and keep myself humble by not being something.
That is not an adopted stance, but I survey it from a place that cannot be influenced that is at the same time is aware that it can't tell Jan anything. That humbleness of Jan, I am witness to that. Jan can no longer be the cocky one or the chickenhearted one of the past, because I keep my sights on him: I see that he has nothing to say, because he has no authority over the saying.
Do you have an opinion about politics?
I can't do very much with politics. I have no opinion about it except that I see all kinds of opinions passing by. They range from extreme right to extreme left. I come across everything in myself, as well the Ajax- as the Feyenoord side. But I don't identify with them. Which explains why I can't stand behind something.
What I do find beautiful, is when someone, certainly a politician dares to show both his good and his bad sides. Naturally a politician is always merchandizing, that is politics after all, but in god's name allow your own hypocritical side to be seen. In politics and in everyday life no one gladly shows that they have opinions that don't agree with those of their own party or their side.
But beyond that I have nothing to do with politics: ultimately it is Consciousness playing with itself. It is all unreal and there is not a 'someone' in it. I have become more of an undefined voyeur. A voyeur who sees his own little Jan's up there playing onstage, but then reflected in what appears to be others. I see all kinds of characteristics of my One nature that can live themselves out on that stage in this dream.
... a voyeur without preferences?
I see parts of little Jan in all the people who want to hide something or are just open: I find that beautiful. But I don't feel I belong to one side or the other. If I look at extreme right and extreme left, I see that they are Rambo's. Just like Israel and the Palestinians who oppose each other, that too is Ajax-Feyenoord. But above all, I don't try to understand it. Recognize that you can find everything about your own little Jan's in them. If someone pulls something on Jan, then his first impulse is to hit him in the face. But if you then ask yourself what the sense of it is, and you can understand both sides, then you can see that it isn't real and that Consciousness is trying to set a snare for itself.
As you say: 'Consciousness tries to set a snare for you', do you mean that this is said by little Jan, because it sounds very dualistic.
Naturally. It sounds dualistic because you are looking out of dualism. But I see it as non-dualistic, because I no longer see anyone who does that, otherwise I would still be involved in it. I only see that it is a game from and with Consciousness. If you fall for it you are caught in dualism. You just have to keep from falling into the trap of doing and remain aware that Consciousness does everything.
So, it is little Jan that shouldn't fall in it?
Yes, you should not fall for the game of being little Jan. For example, if little Jan gets all worked up, I don't get involved with it. It all depends from which point of view you look; if you look at it from the object-subject viewpoint then little Jan can choose whether to get involved or not, but for me there is no object-subject anymore, so it is always the One. It doesn't matter what little Jan does or does not, Consciousness does everything.
Lately I don't know what I mean with this word 'I', when I hear you talk about 'I' then I wonder, what does it really mean?
I only speak from Consciousness. I can no longer see it any other way. I see that a reaction happens, for example when somebody fools Jan: what shall I do now, shall I call, or should I go there, or whatever. But he doesn't fool me, it is Consciousness that is fooling itself. It is a fight between two empty boats, and the collisions always give reactions. But as soon as you know that they are empty you stop with that. Then you turn yourself around again and you see: oh yeah! Then the realization comes by itself again: after all it is totally Consciousness and you don't get involved with the content any more.
Is that an either-or situation? Petey who gets excited because maybe he is being put a disadvantage and then comes to the realization that it is all part of the greater game?
It doesn't matter if it is real or not. There is an opinion alright, but finally the opinions don't matter any more, the opinions will never stop. If you have killed all the identifications with the little Jans, you have killed 'the suitors', then it seem as if you have won a victory. But that is completely untrue, because the family of the suitors come to pester you and disturb your rest.
But if you are not attached to opinions or beliefs, can an opinion of a little Jan be correct? Or,don't they have to be correct?
No, that is always the case with opinions. That doesn't matter at all to me anymore. But, how can you be unattached to opinions, you ARE the opinion, only the opinion doesn't have any object-subject any more. What remains then? If experience doesn't come from an object, where does it come from then? What is the opinion then made of? That is the perspective I use to keep on seeing it that way. Thus, I see everything without doing or not doing anything. If I see that something gets all excited, and I see where the excitement comes from, the whole soap bubble bursts. In practice I can still go on with the excitement, but there is no one in the excitement and it comes from nowhere.
The fact that I often apparently choose for the easy side, is because I just happen to see a Jan appearing who prefers not to have war, but in principle it makes no difference. Because there is no war, only the knowing of war. There is no object in the war. And if there is no object in it, there is no living out of anything, no experience but just the One and all-encompassing Self.
But sometimes there are two aspects of yourself that react. There are different little Jans, there is a 'rebellious-little Jan' and a 'let-it-be-little Jan', but doesn't it matter who then reacts?
What I see is not from a little Jan, but from following the undefined formless. As first there comes a 'make-a-fuss-Jan; a 'Rambo-Jan' with: I-am-going-to-beat-him-up. Period. Then there follows 'is-that-really-necessary-Jan' who think what-good-will-that-do. Period. All those little Jans come forward to present themselves. If I identify with one of the little Jans and get involved in his story, then I get very upset. You must clearly see that you are not the one who says: I have to wait or learn to wait for 'patient-Jan'!
If I remain in the already existing formless now and don't get involved with any of the little Jans, then definitely everything will come along, but I don't go into it any longer. That is what I call not opening the e-mails. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. But that doesn't matter because the formless now doesn't need any opinion in order to be happiness.
If you get to see that you are not any of the little Jans passing by, but the still, delicious, formless now, then you will choose that delicacy.
Sometimes you see such a puppet coming up who for example wants to convince someone that he is right. You see that puppet busy with it. But that seems to be different from the way you tell it: you see it arise, you let it go, as it were, and then the following comes up. I see continuously that puppet being busy trying to prove he is right in the discussion. In a way you are outside of this, but it continues. How do you feel about that?
Look carefully! Then you see that puppet trying to turn the story his way, but if you look well you see at the same time that it doesn't mean anything. If for example I observe everything calmly, then I see in me that little Jan thinks: someone is watching, and then the fun is over for that little Jan. That neutral action-less looking creates calmness indirectly. Don't try to push anything away in the happening, remain looking at it clearly and let everything be there just as it is. Then that little puppet can still be busy with it but you are not. Then perhaps you may be witnessing that little Jan suddenly changes something or has a sudden insight. For example in 1974 when Holland lost the Soccer Game from Germany, Jan behaved in a dastardly fashion. Jan hit some Germans and kicked in some autos. But the following day Jan saw: well, this is not NORMAL! Then Jan stopped it all, realizing he had gone too far. Looking back on it that may have been the first time that Jan had the luck to be able to see this. I see clearly the little Jan who want to hit on things or act sad; I can observe that. In the past 'pitiful Jan' was camouflaged out of sight. Now I look at pitiful Jan, because if I look well at him I can see his temporary story, but I can also see that it has nothing to do with me.
Do you just see the emptiness if you observe the puppets well, do you see that there is no content?
Yes, and then the background can come to the fore. So it's not about beating this thing, this entire waking state, but about looking, the observing itself. Then you find rest, and not in the judging or avoiding of any little Jan whatsoever. You discover that it isn't a little Jan looking, but the background. And that is the only thing that is happening. And because you don't interfere, all these things can just play themselves out in You. There is no more good or bad in that and after all you have no choice, because there is no advantage or dis-advantage for a somebody. And if Jan does find that there is indeed an advantage or dis-advantage, then let him go with it, after all he has no power to make things happen or not happen. And nothing good or bad can happen because he can't go any further than what happens.
What we find rotten, is that the fight begins just when we want to avoid something; for example a tedious quality like jealousy and that is the misery.
If you say: you have to drive the suitors away, then it looks like they have to go away, meaning that you want to get rid of them, be free of them. But as you said earlier; if you killed them all they will come back anyway. Then what's the difference? Don't they get in the way anymore?
Then they are not your suitors anymore. Odysseus stood among them to begin with and saw the suitors as opponents who had to leave so that he could be united with Penelope. You will begin to see more and more that you are neither Odysseus nor the suitors. You will see that you live on the side of the unchanging film screen and that you never were Odysseus (the main character in the film). There is no more you or I in it, so they can't get in the way. All the little Jans that I thought I was are part of the suitors side; they are self-oriented imaginations.
Can I consider that as the inner and the outer world: in the beginning the suitors were outside, they were something other then 'me', but then at a certain moment I begin to see that the suitors are nothing other than myself, just because there is no outside world anymore?
Ultimately yes, but first there has to be a shift of view point. First you are a body with troops; they are your family, your friends and your pals, all the people who you think are necessary in your life. Seeing or recognizing the suitors means that you slowly discover that all these loved people also have their bad sides. The bad sides of other people bother you but you don't see your own. They are the splinters in the eyes of others, but you don't see the beam in your own eye. You give the 'others' the blame until you see that all these suitors outside you, are actually 'inner suitors' who you have to recognize first and then you have to go beyond them. You see more and more that the bad side in yourself is denied by you, and at the same time disputed by others.
So first, the believability of Odysseus' troops is taken away and then he sees that he has to go beyond the suitors in their totality.
What do you mean with going beyond?
In the first place, to see that you are not bound by this main character in the waking state; thus finally going beyond is to see that you are actually the background and not one or another changing state. If there is something to see, you are thus the entire breadth of the perceived. Going beyond is seeing that you are not those suitors, and that the suitors have no content and can be absolutely no threat to you. So you no longer have to pay attention to them on command. Now it seems that Odysseus is not to an embodied being, but actually attention itself. You are attention itself. You are that formless attention.
Can one choose what to pay attention to?
If you have understood this correctly you don't ask this question anymore. Attention IS what-is. There is no question of an object getting or giving attention. There is no object in the attention. So, who or how can direct attention? Attention is not personal, even though it seems as if attention is something that is from the person. It only appears that way. That is the play of illusion.
Yet you talk about paying attention to the attention.
Yes, but then I always add: there is no one who can do that. It can happen that there is attention for the attention. That is grace. But then go and ask why or where that is coming from!. Because then again you are making an activity out of the attention.
Besides, the more I hear this, the more that attention will shift.
At first you see the attention as the attention for this and for that and for what is happening now. At a certain moment you see the formlessness of attention. With that is not meant the seeing and following of the content of what comes to the attention... At a certain moment your attention becomes as big and immovable as the Knowing, as Being There, the Now. Then you can also see that attention is not an activity, as the Now, the 'Stillness', the Knowing, are also not. But for the most part you cannot encompass that at one go.
Little Jan already doing that anyway. Little Jan continues to appear as usual, so what do you get out of actually being attention? Finally you will see that attention can absolutely not do anything, nor ever did, nor ever will. And that is exactly the beauty of Odysseus' story - when he suddenly recognizes, remembers when using the bow, that he is not the person Odysseus, but attention Itself. The bow symbolizes that; being-attention; at first the bow seemed to be part of the suitors, but now attention recognizes itself suddenly as formless and unchanging. Because of this insight everything he thought was there, caves in. Everything turns around. The viewpoint of being little Jan is thrown off its pedestal and for the first time he can pay attention to Penelope, to non-dualistic seeing, going beyond objects by keeping his attention on the beautiful Penelope.
And then the goal, the peace slowly comes in view. This is the killing of the suitors: attention becomes impersonal. It moves from the person Jan to the background. And, by going beyond objects, the subject Penelope (the Absolute) appears in view, and one can become one with her, realizing 'not being an object' but the attention itself. Then you see that the marriage bed with Penelope is made of the One and not of two.
And now the grass has to be mowed...
(Seated at the table were:Jan van Delden, Albertine van Peursen, Wilmy Moors, Abraham Werner & Kees Schreuders)