Being complete with what presents itself
Dick de Boom in conversation with JanKees Vergouw
When I arrived a bit too early on June 11, 2004 for an interview with JanKees Vergouw, JanKees was still making music with a friend. JanKees plays a complicated looking instrument, the sarod, which comes originally from India. He had sarod lessons with Alexander Smit. His friend was playing two drums, the tabla. It was a welcome kickoff for the interview.
We do the interview outside in the sun in the statue garden situated next to a greenhouse in the restful neighborhood of Haaldersbroek in Zandaam. JanKees who is 56 has lived in this area his entire life. Currently he gives yoga lesson there following the Kashmir-tradition. Actually, he prefers to call it relaxation exercises. Every first Saturday of the month there is satsang for at most twelve people in which Satsang is interspersed with Kashmir-yoga exercises.
The truth and nothing but the truth
Dick: What is the truth?
JanKees: What comes to me is that the only true thing is that which stands by itself. There are many truths that are known to be relative truths; but what is really true is that which you actually are. What you are essentially are stands by itself, it has no origin or consequences, no beginning or end. Everything that is relative cannot be essentially true. It can be true, but always in relation to something else. That is why we call it relative.
D: For very many people truth is to be found in everyday life. This is true, and that is not true. People live in their truth or the confusion of the day and are in search of truth.
JK: As soon as you have found your truth you have to defend it, because every truth that you have found can be taken away from you again.
D: Do many people search for the truth?
JK: The search for truth is the longing for your true home, for your natural state.
D: Finally is everything not truth, thus also all the things that we call truth?
JK: There is nothing wrong with relative truth. Searching for truth is not about the relative, for example, that the grass is green and the sky is blue are agreements. And it has remained like that for centuries. Those can be called truths, but these truths look like agreements nevertheless. They are projections of the thinking, which we naturally need in order to recognize things. I believe something like that is called perception.
If you speak about truth you can approach that from a philosophical standpoint, but then you arrive at Bok or Jasper. (This is an expression from JanKees' region that he often uses; it means 'from this to that'.) Sometimes philosophy arrives nowhere. It is much easier to just avoid philosophy altogether and all other approaches that belong to a gradual awakening. You can follow the long process of spiritual disciplines if that interest you, but why shouldn't you recognize the so-called truth immediately?
D: What is the purpose of the yoga exercises that you offer?
JK: The yoga-practice (and especially the Kashmir-method) has very beneficial effects. If you feel called to do some such practice you will naturally pluck its benefits. But like all the means that are available during the search, they do not bring you a hair's breadth closer to self-realization. What is actually true is immediate; you can't go to it.
D: What about functioning in daily life and the half-truths that you have to deal with if you know how it is with Truth?
JK: We wrestle with these things and then become unsure and begin to doubt. If you live without any doubts about your real nature then there is no flaw to be found, then you live complete with what presents itself. Then all the truths and untruths with which every person manages are there for you also, but you are not in conflict with them.
You can't remember clarity
D: There where thinking stops, is that the truth?
JK: That is a truth projected by thought. As long as this being immediately available is a projection in your mind there will be doubts with all their consequences. Thus we can have moments of total clarity, but the paradox is that you can't remember clarity. You can remember how the organism responded to what we call a realization. What I mean by that is that the body – and all that goes with that: thinking and feeling – can become rather confused or blissful. That we can remember, but not the realization itself. Realization is the immediate seeing that there is nobody. Therefore you can only remember what the effect of a similar such 'happening' was. Seeing that there is no somebody falls outside of the safety nets of thought as far as I am concerned.
D: If there is a conflict between two people who are both convinced that they are right…
JK: ... then we can speak about a fictive meeting between two objects, just to put it a bit clinically. But, if one of them is convinced that he is right, and the other also, but there is no conflict then it can be nice, you call that the charm of meeting.
D: In the absolute sense, is it then impossible to find the 'truth'?
JK: Relative truths can be found left and right, those can be found, but it is evident that whatever you find can also be taken away from you. So, when you seek, you are seeking for a relative truth that we generally call self-realization. When seeking ceases, where is the sought?
D: But, if I now speak with a thousand people would there be anyone who understands this (although that is also an assumption).
JK: You can also not say what truth is. You can point to it, but you cannot say what it is. It is so simple that a child could understand it. Thus, you can never confirm the truth by means of a statement, or a gesture, or anything at all. What is true needs no confirmation. In Satsang the point that can't be localized is always being indicated, undivided seeing.
D: Can one conceive of circumstances that might form an obstacle to truth, for example certain living conditions?
JK: There is absolutely no condition that could form an obstacle to the realization of your immediateness. That's absolutely impossible. Such conditions do not exist.
Without seeking there is no passion
D: Nevertheless many teachers indicate methods, such as meditation for example. Does reading a lot of books help?
JK: There is no question of whether something like that helps, it is almost unavoidable that we read books that we come across about self-realization. That happens. There are very few examples that can be named of people who came to self-realization without having read, or having meditated, or having gazed at the sun, or having stood on their heads There are very few people who have not done that. It is not about whether that is needed, it is apparent that something like that happens. You can't avoid meditating, going to satsang, reading books. Apparently this passion is inherent in the seeking. Without searching there is no passion, and without seeking there is no longing to dissolve the experience of separateness.
Thus, searching for a solution is inherent in the reading of books, meditating, going to Satsang or expressly not doing any of that. That is the great paradox – searching for a solution. It stands in the way of the self-evident naturalness that we apparently are. Your whole life seems to be filled with just one longing: wanting to become enlightened. At least it was so in my case.
D: In that respect, perhaps you can say something about your way or path to self-realization.
JK: As a child I was often baffled as it were by seeing that there is no I.
Indeed, that seems like a contradiction, but that's just the way it was. Then my father would lay his hand on my forehead and I would become calm again. When I was around 18 I was in a café and I asked other youngsters if they also knew that: that you are not somebody and that you scarcely have a body. At that moment everyone had a good laugh about that, but later one of the boys came to me and told me that his yoga teacher always talked about that. That is how I found my first teacher. When I was 22 he advised me to go to Jean Klein who used to come to Holland twice a year. After that, or just before that - I don't remember that anymore– there was the experience of the stopping of the known broke through and there was no notion of individuality anymore and no body. The landscape was ablaze and there was absolutely no connection anymore to what is known by us. I don't know how long that lasted in the chronological sense, but very slowly the thought arose in me: now I am dead. With the thinking of that line I noticed that I was sitting straight up in the bed and my body began to 'shake' for a few hours. Since then no bliss, no peace and no being free of fear, but well the existence of an absolutely penetrated, clear notion that the I on which we hang our existence is nothing other than a thought or a reflex.
D: You had sarod lessons from Alexander Smit. What role did Alexander play in your spiritual process?
JK: Actually Alexander did not give music lessons, but he made an exception for me. He had a great passion for classical Indian music. I had weekly lessons from Alexander from 1980 to 1984 and attended his Satsangs that were still in his living room every now and then. I have very good and friendly memories of that time. I certainly considered him to be the man who could take away the last remnants of doubt from me. In one satsang weekend, which coincided with my birthday he asked me what I wanted to have. 'Total self-realization' was my greedy reaction. 'You shouldn't ask me for things that I can't give you' was his immediate answer. After that the seeking stopped.
The question and answer game
D: In conclusion I would like to ask you if you would like to a little game of 'true' or 'not true' with me.
The truth is only accessible to few people:
JK: Not true
D: You can do violence to the truth:
JK: Not true.
D: You cannot do any violence to the truth:
D: Truth can only be seen by realization:
D: Honesty does not exist:
D: Facts are not the same as the truth:
D: You can only be honest to your self:
JK: Not true.
D: Truth will out:
D: You can only search for truth if your daily life is under control:
JK: Not true.
D: Truth is the most boring thing there is.
JK: Nor true.
D: Truth is the same as love:
D: Truth remains if nothing else remains:
JK: Not true.
D: The truth is searching for you. You can't find the truth:
JK: Not true. (Laughing: there is never anyone who seeks and the truth doesn't exist at all)
In closing a short piece from a bundle written by JanKees.
'The manifest as a universe of appearances reveals itself in the law of opposites. This law cannot be anything other than that which is inferred or projected on what appears to perception. Perception is the disposition of the immediate seeing and thus can never be the perceiver.
The perceiver doesn't have a leg to stand on. It is a mistake to experience or see yourself as a perceiver. You imagine being the perceiver, and in that you can't look through the eyes of the now. Through the eyes of the now there is extreme enjoyment. It is not so that you enjoy, there is enjoyment.
In this way we can say that perception is the undivided seeing that you are. It is the only thing that really is. This perceiving effortlessly contains light and dark, hard and soft, and maybe the most penetrating opposites, life and decomposition in itself. A perception such as light and dark or a table lamp, is a momentary coming together of a so-called object with its name. Thus, when the label table lamp, which is knowledge, disappears, you don't know what you see. If there is a sound you don't know what you hear and so on.
There is absolutely no conflict or division in the presence or non-presence of this perception and the recognition of the so-called things. This knowledge is always ready to function. There is nothing wrong with this directly functioning and that can never be separated from here where you are, or in other words: the immediate seeing'.
JanKees website (in Dutch): www.oogvannu.nl
[interview: Dick de Boom]