The book 'BACK from never been away'(published in Dutch by Samsara) has recently arrived in the bookstores. In his book, Jan van Delden gives a new and original vision on Homer's epic poem. He found in it a purely Western source about the essence of life, a source that up to now was mainly sought in the East. Below there follows a part of the postscript of the book in which, the message of the Odyssey is made clear by means of a bird's-eye-view.
In closing a part of an earlier Amigo interview in which Jan recalls how he became acquainted with Homer's Odyssey.
Love that one and do whatever happens
Homer has written a story that has no equal. It knocks to pieces anything that seems to be made of material with proofs that no scientist can refute, if the scientist is at least willing to examine the point of departure of his research. It gives 'enduring happiness' as the answer, and that goes much further than the objective, temporary knowledge and experiences that belief and thinking offer.
It gives to each of us who, with or without belief, dares to examine the world of concepts the possibility of getting an unimaginable new look at ourselves. It gives even the greatest doubter the chance to doubt his own doubts and so to become free of the idea that thoughts and feelings are his property. It shows that you can stop thinking that the little wars that you have with yourself and with your surroundings are yours, so that you can effortlessly enter and remain in the peace and happiness of being-there.
The Odyssey refutes every idea about how you will reach home - indeed without even criticizing them - by seeing though to the fact that you have never been away. One of the translations of the Odyssey is: hodos Zeus, or 'the way to Zeus'. Zeus dreams himself in an infinite number of ways and therefore there is no way home that isn't the way. But, you have nothing to say about how your trip home will unfold itself. That is up to Zeus.
Only if Zeus wants it does there a longing to return home arise. And, if Telemachos does not come to tell you what the situation of happiness was before the suitors (ed. note: all the little I's) got their power over you, you remain ignorant of what your true self is - even if you live at home with Zeus your entire life. It is only if the you feel the search engine in yourself turning toward home, does that abstraction 'coming home' mean something to you, and you may see the thinking and its stories just passing bye without increasing or diminishing the just being-there.
Mostly you are alone in trying to find your way home against the world's stream of logic. Nowadays in the western world, you are no longer physically threatened if you name or describe the process of realization, so as happened with Jesus, Socrates and Meister Eckhart. However, the sooner you know that it is better to keep your mouth shut, the sooner you can see that being what you are has no function or task, because there is nothing and no one other than the all encompassing being-there.
The failure of the ego
If you have that virus, that longing for home, then the biggest obstacle is learning to see that there is no personality, no free will, no body and no world of the suitors (the hundred and eight inner inclinations and 'little I's' - ed.), while the stories of their being just continue in the waking state. If you are able to see all that, then a turning takes place from 'I am that little main character in a world that is real and just keeps going on' to the undefined all-encompassing being-there. That process of being the doer ('I am the inventor of the Trojan horse'), to 'if Zeus doesn't bring me home then I'll do it myself in vain' is in practice the greatest obstacle. First a demolition, a total failure of the ego-idea is needed to be able to take that hindrance. Naturally I mean that it is grace if you are effortlessly the witness of that happening.
Seeing the failure of the ego signifies the end of the 'yesterday and today'-story. (including the inner and outer suitors [the inner little I's of the main character and the 'little I's of the other players - ed.] and the body) and seeing that all is from Zeus, the undefined all-encompassing. But because there is no one in Zeus, that means that there is no goal, or any reaching in the realization of what we are. As soon as we begin to see that a strong reaction happens because the suitors and their powers of holding on, which is the feeding ground of the feeling of being a doer, is threatened and they do all that they can to defend the little Jan's story (the suitor's stories - ed.) For many of us - just as for Odysseus - the inclination to disappear totally into that phantasmagoria ( the suitor's constant commentary on what is happening and how it should be according to them - ed.) becomes very strong. Then you pretend that you want to go home, but in safe way by making the truth into an object. So you get lost in the 'doing' of the endless task package of the ego and its suitors, until you are allowed to see through it .. and that doesn't depend on you but on Zeus himself.
The image of the highest god who deceives his wife so often like an adulterous fool
For most of us the way out of duality is so abstract that we'd rather not hear that on coming home you are still not there. When I asked my mentor why he didn't warn me and others about everything that still needed to be done and undone after coming home, he answered simply: 'Then they wouldn't begin at all!' Then I resolved to do it differently, which shows the as yet undigested nature of my knowledge about the non-existence of the doer. But, when the last little trace of the doer dissolved I received, unasked, the code for understanding the Odyssey on a serving platter.
The uniqueness of the Odyssey is that it represents the procession of a life from unity to duality and then back to unity in its totality. In addition, it has remained unchanged after all these centuries, without any 'tinkering' with the suitor's stories to adjust them to the ruling morality. It also shows that the ancient Greeks were very tolerant and highly civilized in the humorous manner they used to lay bare and put lofty subjects in perspective. No other culture known to me explains the important insight - water plays with water - with an image of their highest god who betrays his wife so often like an adulterous fool.
For me the Charybdis episode is the most important insight of Odysseus's journey. There you learn that you are beyond the three states, even while you continue to witness them effortlessly. You thus become drenched by the fact that you can neither remain nor live in any state. Yes, that may bring your thoughts rather into panic, because then you have to be something quite different from what you thought you were! That process is often difficult if not dramatic and can last for a long time. Mostly women think then that they are going mad and men that they are dying. But, after a time in the desert you begin to see more clearly that you can not be the body in the waking state. Thus you see the body more and more as an object, and the suitors, your dog-thought little 'I's with all their different impulses, come loose from the one I-being.
What is fine about having thrown your body out figuratively as not belonging to you is seeing that you body is a kind soul that doesn't ask for attention like the suitors, but seeks only satisfaction through eating, drinking and sex. As long as the suitors - your troublesome opponents - can't interfere with this satisfaction there is no problem. It all happens very naturally and you thus become a witness to the dissolving of your body. In fact it has always been the case that the body asks for satisfaction because then the body feeling disappears, and we are all too happy when we don't feel the body.
But it is completely different with the suitors. They are never satisfied and ask for attention continuously. Only when they are in love do they become pigs for a bit and remain quiet. But as soon as they escape the bewitchment they begin to demand your attention again. You have to learn to recognize the eternal dissatisfaction of the suitors. In practice, making all the suitors visible is not something that can happen in one day as was the case with Odysseus. You have danced to their tune for years, and it is difficult to see them all and to subsequently pay no attention to them. Speaking for myself, I needed ten years after coming back home to definitely get rid of their automatism. If someone praises you to heaven or wishes you in hell, for you it is all just pot of wet water and you don't get fooled anymore into thinking that it is something other than water - also not when the little wave that you once thought yourself to be gets a beating or worse.
Not anything other than water is a disguise
If everything is water, and the waves could never be anything but water, then all the hindrances and all the help were nothing else but water in disguise. Coming to understand the consequences of that insight in relation to our ideas about good and bad, life and death, and the moral experiencing of what happens in this world, is a change of perspective of one hundred and eighty degrees, because there is no guilt either for the culprit or the victim.
But what if your child, just as was Odysseus's case before he left for battle against Troy, is plowed under. Being totally convinced that everything is consciousness means accepting everything as it is and that no more reaction to be found in you from an 'I'. It is always water playing with water. Maybe you will be a witness to Jan saving his son and not wanting to go fight, but if that is not possible, Jan will simply fight. But you refuse to see the fighting as you opposing others, as the surrounding 'waves' do experience it, and you remain effortlessly recognizing water in everything. In your experience you do not kill, you do nothing and leave nothing: only Zeus regulates everything. Give all the responsibility to Zeus and the seventh day is a fact in spite of all the wars or anything at all. Finally it is not what happens that holds us prisoner but our experience of it.
The gratitude in seeing that there is nothing to reach, that everything that we seem to accomplish devolves on us, and that we never do or have done anything, makes us constantly conscious of receiving everything. That is a big difference from the past, when little Jan still complained about everything and especially about others. It is gratitude for everything and everyone, including the suitors who definitely helped me to see how everything is put together.
Even though I now see that Wolter was never my mentor, because there has never been anything or will be anything except the knowing, Zeus himself thus, I still just continue seeing Wolter as my great helper in the never existed familiar side of the threshold. Allow the apparent duality with its spirit play to just be. Love the one and do what happens. What difference does it make if you know that the play of waves is not made of waves but of water?
Then you can still calmly put the wave Wolter on a pedestal with a worshipful Jan-wave at his feet. And by the way no little I is doing that, but you see it happening by itself!
The fun of Zeus
That seeing everything happen is the ocean of peace that need not go anywhere and tastes everything as itself without becoming saturated or changing. Seen from this place birth and death are no more than stories. It is the position of the fig tree that you can longer leave to disappear into one of the stories. Then, all your interest in answering curious questions about how it all fits together disappears. All these things are actually nonsense because you see for yourself that there is only one truth that everything is Zeus himself. Then, you automatically stop believing in any story whatsoever, and then life becomes a play.
So the unchanging peace, that was always already the self-evident ground of our existence, appears with its sweet power of being to turn everything on and to transform it into stillness and clarity. Until the creative and destructive forces, and the clear attention become one with all encompassing, undefined being-there-space to then be as one experience, the now.
Let the Odyssey be a help in pricking some holes in your illusion of being a wave at your own tempo, so that you can see more of the whole by yourself - until the one thread of Zeus, the water is completely accomplished and Athene in her play becomes the leading character in your play. Only then the beauty of Zeus appears and the whole process transforms itself to 'the fun of Zeus'.
(from: interview Amigo 5)
Amigo: You have always had a fascination for the Odyssey and Odysseus, you read it when you were a child. When did you actually discover that the entire Odyssey is a metaphor for you own seeker's journey?
Jan: The first time that I really became conscious of that was at Wolter's (Keers). At a certain moment I was tired and 'defeated' in searching for truth. During meditation I fell in a trance.
At that time I could remain in trance for a long time and nevertheless simply remain doing everything. I had no desire to search anymore and escaped into a trance. Trance is actually the same as the natural state, but then being done by an person who doesn't want to play anymore in this evil world. You sit then comfortably, delicious. safe in your little trance and have nothing to do with the world. At a certain moment I was in a trance at Wolter's, who was explaining to people how stupid they were if they fell into a trance (also called samadhi) and got stuck there. At that moment the trance suddenly burst open: I have to pass by the Sirenes. And I must not let the little I's (the little Jans) 'eavesdrop' and keep my attention on the mast (the subject), in order not to be sucked up in the eternal 'why-story' of the Sirenes in a 'never ending story'. At that time I became really aware that the Odyssey had always been a sort of 'fully automatic' guiding principle for me that seemed to run in synchronicity with my advaita vedanta path and that the Odyssey is an authentic script for the 'searching for home'. Simultaneously I saw that no little I did that, it just overcame me.
You have developed your own language and tone from the Odyssey to talk about it and based on that you tell about your own search.
J: Yes, what interested me more and more is: was it actually meant to be this?
As a child I wanted, as every child does, to understand and master the big world. And I then thought that the answers were in the big scholarly books, and this book about Odysseus was in my fathers book shelves. That was universal literature for me.
How did you read it at that time, as a fairy tale or as a bible that gave instruction?
J: I only saw that the Odyssey was a book that was read by intelligent people and I wanted to be one too. In fact among all those books this was the only that was a bit normal for me to read. The other books were much too abstract for me.
I also discovered then the hypocrisy that it contained: Odysseus does everything, makes love everywhere, does everything that is forbidden. When he finally arrives home he hypocritically slaughters the 108 suitors who had done nothing with his wife, besides trying to seduce her. And this Odysseus was thought to be a just man! I couldn't swallow that; I thought it was so unjust. Still it meant something to me and it came back again and again when I was allowed to see something on my path.
After the big 'seeing', did you already know: the Odyssey is my manner, my language to understand it?
J: That was about 3 or 4 years ago. I already knew that before, only I had never thought: this has to be told. In the years after Wolter's death I had seen that it is nonsense to tell 'yourself' and all the other waves that you are made of water, because that is already the case.
When did you get the feeling that you had to talk about it?
J: I've never had that. There have been moments when I wanted to talk about it, and that also happened, but I have always looked to see if consciousness also wanted that. Sometime around 1988 I gave a series of lectures on invitation. But that stopped. I never promoted it. At a certain moment I became open for it and after that everything went very fast.
Did you then begin to use the Odyssey as a script for your story?
J: Jan has always been a bit of a social worker and after all if the whole story is just an illusion, why shouldn't little Jan enjoy the story that tears down all illusions. Something in my head is always busy with how to make it even better. I don't 'do' that, it is in Jan's nature. In view of Jan's limited capacities, with a bad memory, the Odyssey is an easy representations book on which I (or little Jan) can draw time and again to be able to navigate. A sort of inner computer with which I can see in what situation someone finds themselves and throw some light on that with examples. For me it is an easy resource with which to bring all stories back to the one unchanging essence.
And it is unique...
J: But you don't do it! What you have to do, and I advise everyone to do that, is to play with the things that enthrall you. The Odyssey has 'played' itself in me, it is a kind of seduction of yourself. What is nice about it is, your becoming aware that again and again something new strikes you that you were not aware of before. The entire Odyssey just fell in my lap, but that's also 'two times two is three'(an apparent result from an apparent cause, in other words a story). I can't see it any other way than that everything falls in your lap. And that doesn't come from me but from Consciousness itself, and that always sits in the box and follows the show from a surveying point of view which has Jan's humility as a by product.
That is not a supposed situation, but I survey from a place that can't be influenced, and that at the same time is conscious of knowing that little Jan has nothing to say about it. I am the witness of Jan's humility. Because of that Jan can no longer get away with being the full-of- himself sufferer as in the past, because I have him sharp in focus: I see without any trouble that he has nothing to say. Isn't that just like the Odyssey: a story that tells everything about 'nothing and no one'!
for more information on Jan (in Dutch): www.ods.nl/la-rousselie