The trip and arriving home are not important,
they are even a danger...

A conversation between Johan van der Kooij and Jan van Delden.

My search stopped when I saw the only 'situation' that deserved to be called 'I'. Nevertheless I noticed that there was still an inner process necessary, a deepening of insight. In order to continue that process of insight I went to my friend and former fellow disciple of Wolter Keers, to ask him for advice: Jan van Delden.


Johan: I see a number of patterns in my thinking and feeling that still nag at me. In my time with Wolter I got the impression that after self-realization 'every trace of duality would have disappeared'. That just didn't hold water in my case. I catch myself regularly in personality knick-knacks such as pride, jealousy, worry...

Jan: If you can see that there is only consciousness and that no personal inclinations - good or bad - exist except for the knowing thereof, then the so-called doer, perpetrator really falls in battle and you need not do or not do anything else and the 'little Jan's (= apparent personal inclinations) of pride to jealousy' can just be there. Everything can be.
There is acceptance of what is without needing to do or not do anything. I call that: give onto Caesar what is Caesar's and onto God what is God's.

Johan: I cannot recall that our unforgettable and dear friend Wolter ever spoke about a process after self-realization. I was convinced that after realization my psychological baggage would go overboard and that I would let my identification with body, thinking and feeling go for good.

Jan: I spoke with him about this often, and what he regularly said was that the people who came to him at that time were not yet ripe enough for that and were still busy with 'coming home', just like Odysseus 'came home' to Ithaca after about ten years of 'searching'. He said: If you begin to talk about that right away then no one would begin on it.
I have always found it a challenge to be able to say something about that. It was Odysseus who handed me a perfectly fitting story for this route, in which 'coming home' becomes almost unimportant and the real work is: the recognizing and passing of all personal inclinations and then the flight from duality to the all-encompassing one.

Johan: I notice that thoughts come up in me that are lead along by a commenting voice that I think you call the 'pilot fishes'. The fishes that swim along both sides of a shark and steer him. At least that is what they think, but of course the shark just goes on his own way. To give an example: I coach people in the art of the podium. Immediately a commentator voice says: Well, that's not very spiritual, why should I occupy myself with that? This accompanying thought blocks my energy. I really like that work and it is this 'yes-but' thought that always pushes me off track.

Jan: The pilot fishes are the stories about how it should be or could be and the shark is the unchanging in which everything happens just as it happens. You are attentiveness and this attentiveness needs to learn to keep its attention on the shark. You have to see the pilot fish's stories as nonsense - no matter how beautiful or believable they are. Just like a little child who says to his papa and mama: I'm going to work. You don't take that seriously and you laugh about it. Then, the personal inclinations that claim to have influence on the shark's course, become a source of fun and pleasure instead of pain.

The commentator voice rules like a king

Johan: In the past I used to think: the personality is good for nothing, it just has to disappear. Now I see that my personality just has to continue to express itself with all its nice and not so nice habits. I do still have trouble from a holy commentator voice that claims that the holy Johan, who does his daily things, should have the quality of clear consciousness. It is as if the commentator voice rules like a king.

Jan: Your personal inclinations have delusions of being lord and master as long as you don't undo your attention from them and recognize them as yourself. If we do not pay attention to their eternal stories and we have learned to direct the attention to attentiveness itself, then they have no more right to exist and they change into ghosts. You pay attention to that until you see the doer transforming itself into unity-consciousness.
This makes it clear that coming home and the trip are actually not important and can even be dangerous. First you have to learn to be the boss in your own house in order to let that go later and become what you actually are.

The taste of silence

Johan: In your 'Musical Chairs' (= an analogy Jan uses in his week-programs in France to point the way home) you presume that the 'Empty Chair' has a number of qualities such as: knowing, the now, silence and attention. But according to my insight these qualities automatically remain by themselves when the polarities of these qualities disappear: clarity remains when the hectic thinking stops, silence remains as noise ebbs away, the now remains when all the projections into past and future stop. I find it confusing that you call 'the now, stillness and attention' characteristics of being. It is as if you divide being into subsidiary qualities.

Jan: I use the qualities to teach the taste of them so that you direct your attention to them more easily. It is the attention that after a long time still feels personified and embodied. Putting the undefined attentiveness on the I-bound attention is the great 'liberator'. The moment the undefined attentiveness touches the attention the peace of being there happens by itself. The difficulty is that this only means something to you when you have recognized all the inclinations of the ego and gone beyond them by seeing that they are not yours. Only then are you permanently separated from them while the ghosts continue with their spooky stories.
If this has happened, and attention to the attention is the only thing there is to see, then the concepts 'attention, peace, silence, and the now' fall away, because no thing or no one can be found in the wholeness of being.
What looked like the world and life is transformed into all-encompassing consciousness and then you forget everything again, and are what is, because consciousness doesn't have to be conscious of itself, it is consciousness!

Attention to the attention

Johan: I have one more question about 'attention to the attention'. How do you visualize that? Is that the same for you as 'attention to being'? If I direct my attention to an object there is still duality. But if I direct my attention to the attention, then there is no hard experience of the object, but experience of unity. Is that what you mean by attention to the attention?

Jan: It is not something that can be clarified with just a couple of words. I shed light on that process in the three workshops I give (Musical Chairs, Killing the Suitors, and Being There, ed.).

In a few words the answer is: water looks at water. At first it was wave looks at wave - the duality.
Then it became: wave is looking consciously for water - then it is possible to see non-duality - the essence of the wave is water.
The next step is to see gradually that everything is water; there are no waves and there have never been any. In this boundary territory of duality (wave looks at water) towards non-duality (water looks at water) it may be helpful if you first learn to recognize the formless attention - as being yourself, separate from objects, the body and all your little I's. After that you learn that you not only can direct your attention to an object, but also to the subject and in that way go 'beyond' all objects. I call this: learning the taste of water.

In 'Hummology' (Amigo 1) I described what was the easiest way for me to get this taste, but of course there are many ways. However you do it, if you succeed in keeping the attention on the subject, then the object, the body and all the little I's are gone beyond. Room comes free to get used to the taste and to become habituated to it; Wolter Keers called this 'nestling into it'.
An idea can arise in this situation that something is still not right. Freedom of course doesn't mean that you constantly keep your attention away from 'so called' objects. The notion, that your body and the I's with everything they claim to be, cannot really exist as an object, comes later. If you can see that no objects are perceived, but only the knowing of objects, it can go quickly. In the following step you see that there cannot be any knowing of objects, but only the knowing itself.
Then you see that there never was, is or shall be anything else except the knowing, the undefined consciousness itself. Then attention to the attention loses its track of action and the doer caves in. Everything is consciousness; attention and consciousness are just the same.

Johan: You say that this can only be useful if you have gone beyond your personal inclinations. I don't have the feeling that I'm that far along. Will it help me to direct my attention to the attention?

Jan: If you have recognized yourself as attention and can direct it freely, separate from the 'body and the I-happenings', then 'seeing' these shiploads of I's, is sufficient. Giving light through attention makes a ghost out of every I, and so you go beyond them or transform them only by seeing them.

After all inclinations have been seen - it can often take a little longer before you have recognized and illuminated all the little good and bad I's - the attention gets its natural being there more and more, until there is nothing more to see besides the attention itself. And then the little story is done.
Making all the little I's in us visible, is the most difficult part, especially the good and holy little Jan's were more difficult for me to go beyond than the jealous and false Jan's. Even more difficult is seeing in practice that the little I's in you are the same as those of your neighbors, whatever kind soul or villain they are.
If you are free from your body and all the outer and inner I's, then only the one that we are shines forth.

In conclusion

Johan: By the overwhelming experience of self-realization clarity came into my life. At first I didn't believe that following up with spiritual exercises was necessary. Now I see that in situations I still regularly react out of worry or anxiety... If I succeed in remaining clear and attentive in conflict situations, then there is no question of reacting 'personally'. Some situations still irritate me and then the identification with worry or anxiety is too strong to let go of. Something in me knows certainly that the haze 'I am Johan van der Kooij' will finally not survive the light, but the tendency to claim races along for a while, like a football that you have kicked rolls along for a time. When the ball lays still the eye for the clear light arises. Also there I see the inclinations of this little bundle of thoughts (the little I) that still dances its dance. But the center of gravity has however definitely and unchangeably come to lie in being.

Jan: Sometime I say: if you have recognized the taste of coffee as the unchanging, then you can still enjoy coffee with milk and sugar without losing touch with the taste of pure coffee. Love is the freedom of being everything, that burns unchangingly in the experience which we are and goes from conception and maintenance to dissolution again. Then you see that consciousness is playing with itself and is in fact 'the seventh day' in which Shiva standing still is dancing with itself...

[Johan van der Kooij & Jan van Delden, april 2003]