On trust

[...] Maybe people should talk to each other once more about all the 'big' issues. For a moment they could bring their fleeting lives to a stop and sit down round the table with a glass of wine and a piece of bread. They could ask each other the question of the meaning of life and whether they're happier than their cat or dog.

People can talk their lives over with each other and the lives of all other living souls. There's no need for them to deliver a monologue on the eternal truth of the soul or the universe or the nation, but they can listen to each other while endlessly talking about all those questions that Socrates and his friends discussed in Athens.

We don't need truth. We endlessly hold up our opinions so as not to have end our talk. We keep on questioning each other and giving answers. We know we can't escape from our cave, yet we may seem to control our illusions that we project onto the wall. Thus they are the self-invented shadows to dispel boredom. That's how time goes by while being unnoticed by us. However lively we talk to each other, we don't do much more than a contented pig does lying lazily in the mud. The conversation ends where it began: in ignorance. [...]

(adapted from Klaas Rozemond in 'Filosofie voor de zwijnen')*

The quotation above led us to organize a round-table-meeting. In order to explore the Amigo theme of trust in good company, knowing that we cannot know. As long as we would confine ourselves to an encyclopedic definition, we would come away unscathed. However, sparkling round the core we played the game exploring the topic: Can 'trust' be a keyword on the (apparent) way to the expression of being, which you (already) are?


We can start discussing trust, but let's begin with its opposite: what is distrust?

It's a sign of distrust when you want to figure out what has to happen tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, when it makes you feel uncomfortable lacking a mental workout for the concept of tomorrow.
It's also a thought of distrust when you think you can do it better yourself instead of letting things happen as they do, which they don't do right. They should happen the way you had in mind.

You can also respond to the question 'what is distrust?' going from feeling, otherwise it becomes a rather limited conceptual story. The notion of distrust touches a deeper level of feeling inside of me as well. There trust means: surrender. The words then denote something that cannot really be denoted.

Does the word 'distrust' reach for that layer of feeling sooner than 'trust'?

It begins with what is real. That is always of a positive and essential value. If that is disturbed you get the opposite. The heart of the matter here is trust. Distrust merely tells that there is no trust. And that means giving proof of trust once again.
I think there's the rub in the word 'trust': is there an opposite in the first place? It seems to give access to something of which there is no opposite.

It is a tool in everyday life too. If you watch someone behaving suspiciously, it's all right to mistrust. It then functions as a warning system.

Well, actually you're saying: 'I trust my distrust', so it's a matter of trust after all. So it is still awkward.

Do you distrust only if you're afraid of something?

It is like that if it's hard for you to accept that losing is part of the game and that things you don't like are part of it all.

As I see it, it's connected to individual motives and preferences; this shouldn't happen and that should. Then you get into distrust and trust. 'I trust that...', which is followed by some thing which is alright for me.

If trust is made known, if it shows itself when there is danger, only then could you put meaning on the term of 'trust', putting it in contrast to something else. Trust isn't clear to you until you discover distrust.

unconscious trust

I think a baby doesn't know distrust. It's something that is acquired. You are trustful by nature, you cannot learn it. The essence of your being is trust.

In watching a child I recognize trust within myself. A child is in total trust. That's how I would like to be and that's what trust means to me. It certainly exists naturally, until you come to know that that's not very practical everywhere and all the time.

At the same time there's a trusting that things, this house, won't collapse. Likewise there are a lot of things that you take for granted. So there is a large basic trust of which you aren't consciously aware. You aren't aware of the constant dangers that could be there. So neither are you aware of the fact that you are continually in trust. If you ask me: do you trust right now, well, I don't know. The word doesn't mean a thing to me. When I see somebody thinking up concepts for the next day, I ask myself 'why?' Why should there be a strategy and why do you panic if you don't have any? To me that's distrust. Right from there you can form the notion of 'trust' and say that you're living in trust - that is, by comparison. But you don't think: 'Gee, how I'm trusting all this', just like I don't think: 'Hey, that chair may break'.

As I learned how to ride a bike for the first time, I trusted myself, my physical ability. When I'm watching outside, whether I'm three or eighty years old, I trust that my eyes will work. I do not anyhow trust my eyes beforehand. So there's no separate perception which you could denote trust, at most it's your state of being.. If something goes wrong, you won't call it a matter of distrust.

surrender and peace

To me it's also about risk. Knowing there's a risk, you run the risk, out of trust.

Then you get at surrender. For instance, if my son goes on a skiing trip, I must trust that he will be all right. I can be comfortable again when trust turns into surrender. They are quite close, but there is a subtle distinction. To trust then is trying to reassure oneself, after that surrender may occur and you pass on to the order of the day.

Can there be mere trust, without 'differently' or 'better'? Just plain trust. At Bhagwan's trusting was practiced by 'worshipping', dedicating everything you do to Bhagwan. In the VPRO documentary 'New Man'** on the Bhagwan organization, there was a woman for whom this trained trust had turned into surrender, surrender to life as it is, nothing 'more', 'different' or 'better'. Peace in what is.

Trust means the absence of thoughts that figure things out for you, amongst which there are fears. Anxiety refers to something in the future. Being trustful means the absence of those kind of thoughts. And what remains is: 'that which is'. Then there seems to be, next to 'that which is' yet another me, that may or may not accept this. Whereas 'that which is' is the sum total of what is being experienced at the moment. There is no me in it. I think that is trust.

Then you're done with the word. Being trustful then means: to live in and along with 'that which is'. Exploring the word will stop.

Of course you may start analyzing the word, as a specific perception. However, the person perceiving is completely innocent, is unaware of his 'trusting'. By definition it's somebody else that says: this person is trustful. That's how an external qualification comes about: 'Gosh, how trustful you are!'

Yet you can only say so if you recognize it within you...

keywords and their counterparts

Well then what makes words such as love, grace, trust be apt to function as a 'gateway'? Some particular words make the penny drop all at once. For some it's 'love', for others it's 'trust'. Why not 'anxiety'? In such a word as love the dividing line feels to be just flimsy, as if you would tumble down the hole right away. It seems to be a keyword.
The question then is: Can a word signify or produce a revelation?

Wouldn't that be possible for any notion, if taken to its extreme? You may take distrust or selfishness for that matter.

Maybe, but I rather think these are words that are able to trigger something inside of you at the right moment. However, it is possible just as well that the word is of no importance.

Could there be 'privileged' words?

I don't think so; the man at the baker's on the corner may say something unawares, which is strikingly significant.

Picking up any word you like out of a telephone book, you won't have this conversation. So there is something to that word. You can sense it. You should dare to talk from feeling, if not you won't have any real conversation any more, everything will be the same everywhere. So, if theoretically true, we don't talk like that. We see distinctions between the words. To enjoy this coffee doesn't run as deep as to say goodbye to a woman I have loved for ten years. Not taking this into account brings you right back again to the supremely abstract level of transcendental reality.

What we're doing here is to play the impotent game of forms. We know we are powerless from the start, but let's pretend we're supposed to know and wait and see what comes out. Certain words apparently evoke some magic; we can watch or explore them and find out what reaction they brings about.

Okay. Let's go back to the question. How come in duality it's always only one side of the matter that refers to oneness? Trust is doing better than distrust, love does it better than hate.

You've got to decide then from which level you watch. If I observe the animal instinct in man, it's pretty clear right away. I then see trust as a biological function. We want to survive collectively. Thinking in terms of 'aliveness' you'll always arrive at positive values. All else springs from non-aliveness, but that's of no interest to human existence.

Sure, man is a standard for all things. However, if from human existence we're defining non-duality as 'trust' moreover, it seems as if only just one side of duality refers to the one. You'll still have got the positive versus the negative, whereas the one is truly undivided altogether.

Let's see then if the other side, the negative, also refers to oneness. When looking at ancient times and their horrible battles, you'll see man is competitive, he wants to attack, by nature. In the animal world distrust is sometimes quite natural. So why do we think trust is more important than distrust, whereas the latter protects us better? Perhaps being trustful goes with nice feelings. But from a functional point of view it needn't be the best. If only people would have been a bit more mistrusting during World War II, they would have stopped Hitler at once.

cake or toothache

Wolter Keers said: 'Do you choose the cake or the toothache?' You choose the cake of course. What does this preference for the positive originate from in the first place?

That too is a purely biological mechanism, a kind of innate instinct for survival. In comfortable living surroundings you increase your chances of survival.

Once having obtained something though, after a while you are back for more. Having eaten a cake, you want another one. A Volkswagen first, then a Ferrari... It's human nature wanting for more all the time.

Isn't there a hierarchy, like the Maslow pyramid of needs? First you want a house, then relationship and attention, then art, culture and finally transcendence. In the West we are at the top. If you are somewhere down in the pyramid, you are in quite a different register altogether: What I need is what you need too and if there's not enough for the two of us, we beat each other's brains out. So what remains of this transcendental trust?

I've always believed I would never be capable of killing, until my children were born. I found out a killer may appear inside of me, if my child is being hurt. So what is happening and how you will be acting cannot be judged by your image of yourself, or the image of you others have, to which you feel committed. All that appears within you is 'what is', and you can do nothing but trust that, can you?

If being trustful means: to trust that which appears inside of you, that's alright with me. Yet I may trust as well that I won't kill even in that situation.

the agenda and the morrow

If tracing it then to daily proportions: when somebody wants to enter the next day after endless laborious thinking, or when somebody feels deeply sorry about something, I think: that's a shame. It is too bad if anybody should be burdened with either of these. Why panic, if you failed to plan for the next day? Why are you planning anyhow?

Well, writing things down in your agenda is functional after all, isn't it?

The question is where the functional turns into something troublesome.. And to my view that's when there's a 'me' coming in...

But then, with or without a me, to 'it' it makes no difference whether or not your agenda has been written in? If you are planning for the next week, it doesn't mean you need a 'me' to do that. It happens or doesn't happen.

It's happening of course. But still it is a fact that a lot of people are stuck with troublesome thoughts of the future and can't change that. I just don't understand why.

Planning things is nice because you can realize something. It possibly means having a nice day tomorrow. I do understand that people are building a future reality that doesn't exist and which you are projecting forward: so as to feel more comfortable. In actual fact we don't know what tomorrow will be like.
Okay, it's always now, but I can't be really aware of that. We know it is so, and yet we start dealing with this future. You are moving toward something not existing, that's funny, is it?
Which implies that I as a director am in control. In any case it's rather peculiar for me to be occupied with the life that has been and is going to be, whereas in reality it's always now and can never be not-now.

Well, while at the dentist's I'd be only too glad if it were not now.

trust starts from connecting

Trust seems to be connected with things that have happened to you. You must have gone through bad experiences first in order to get to know distrust. I think it's about people's relationships also.

Trust always relates to something. You may consider trust from your full human being, feelings, mind and body. Seeing trust that way, you could call it a kind of connection. For instance in 'worshipping'. This woman has managed to connect the trusting to the completeness surrounding her, a transcendental being whole.

She opened to Bhagwan, and later on to totality. Perhaps you should begin somewhere to connect yourself. You can either keep out of life's way or make life invite you. You only do so by connecting to things you come across in your life.

You should look at yourself in relation to an object. Then you are in a duality that you understand best. You can tell: I trust my mother, I trust my guru, I trust totality.
At totality we've finished up. Yet, there's nothing left to say anymore. If you still want to be able to talk, you've got to stick to the ordinary objects as a consequence.
Trust then is still comprehensible. For instance, I trust Rinus Michels, because of what has happened earlier on. I trust Osho. Why? Because you stake something whole of yourself, which wants to direct itself to even more of that. So we've got to find an object and have a look at trust afterwards.

Do cynicism and skepticism get in the way of trust?

I think the power of trust outweighs any cynicism by far. It always wants to increase, we always want to get absorbed into the 'greater'. That's the reason why there is this drive. It's there in order to get something, that's true, but if you look on this motive as the source of life, things become clear. Trust may come into being out of anything, from a simple intention to worshipping the highest of all. You continually add to it, until you slip into totality.

increasing trust

I find it fascinating that trust may grow. It may increase more and more. So what is this? There is something to it as a consequence, which is not in the word, but is in me.
You trust a number of set things and your mind watches over them. The first bit of trust is easy to come by. You can test it. And it may keep on growing bit by bit, just like the woman 'worshipping' and finally opening into complete surrender.

Isn't that because of her experience? In that she sees things work out well again and again and lets go of all her other desires...

...or, on the contrary, has a strong desire for something. That's because without longing for something, you won't stir yourself. If you're going to see totality as a living, dynamical thing, you end up in a whirlpool. It gets more and more real to you. It will absorb ever more aspects of you. Just regard it as a metaphor for the process of realization. The realization of a word, in this case: trust. In doing so the word may enliven, otherwise you'll knock it out straight away.

trust as an abstraction

Increasing trust is an image, an abstraction. The ever-fascinating thing to me is to see through abstractions so that notions lose substance of meaning and become meaningless.

So what is it that you see through in those abstractions?

That they are abstractions. The moment you see through them, what remains is what is concrete.

Which is?

'What is'. And there's nothing to tell about that, except by way of abstractions. Abstractions are structures, constructs. 'What is' is never a construct. The risk of using metaphors is that they make people really believe in them.

To me that may be right on a functional level. I go to someone like Osho and I'm skeptical. Yet, I agree more and more, transfer my bank account and leave my family. That's about increasing trust, isn't it? I can say 'it's what is', but that's not what happens to me. Emotional surrender takes place. That is an approaching route to 'what is' for that matter, is it?
The power of surrender may burn off the personality as on might say.

celebrate life

Is it possible to celebrate and live life without trust?

I don't remember I ever needed trust in order to understand what things are about. Trust doesn't mean anything to me. Why not just celebrate life as it presents itself?

I associate 'celebration' with the Christian community. Celebration doesn't mean that much to me. When I walk outside in a couple of minutes, will I be celebrating my life? Would that be the state of being that you've longed for all day long? It may again be a word to make another penny drop, but which is not the ultimate as it is. Even if the penny dropped, you still won't go through life celebrating all day, will you? You may be fed up with life or just don't think anything of it. Quite often there's just nothing at all just the ordinariness of life.

Then we arrive at neutrality.
Just doing things nice and easy, in trust one time, out of distrust the other time. As a matter of fact you won't get away from setting targets, having desires. For a while I thought you could and should, but after some time that idea passed by all by itself. And now once more I take up all sorts of things. I've found out that once you let go of those rigid assumptions as to what life should be like; things get a lot easier. You can still feel annoyed, but you don't really believe in it any more. On the other hand you are making use of it to satisfy desires that you sense to be there. If not I don't know what to do and I would become a 'plant'.

You can split up a man's life and analyze it to death, but there's no getting away from the fact that life must be lived.

Of course it's also about everyday life. 'To celebrate 'perhaps sounds a bit cheerful, but it is the day-to-day play, the wonder of taking everyday life for real. You aren't always aware of that.
Our understanding that so-called reality is mere sensory perceptions makes a substantial hole in this reality's authenticity, as a consequence of which its weight falls down.

is it a play or is it real?

I always compare it to playing tennis, trying your very best to win. You know it is a game, yet you play it the best you can, because if you don't it's no fun. In the same attitude of mind you go to the movies; it's no fun watching a movie and realizing 'it's just film' all the time. The essence of a game is to pretend it's not a game. You should play it true to life.

Do you have a choice? And first you've got to know what is real, until you know something is a play.
Is this we're doing here a play? I think it's real. The difference between play and real, in my view, is quite difficult to make. Because we don't exactly know what is real. I consider my whole life to be real.

You consider it real, but it isn't real.

Who tells you? In my opinion you think you really experience things most of the time. And even then I would have to realize it's a play. That's quite serious already. Just try and play a game truly. There's always some seriousness in the background.

You've just got to take it for real, or else the play is no fun.

If you play a game, you don't take it seriously. Now what is the difference between play and real? If I'm doing badly on the job, they'll kick me out. Well, is that real or is it play? Is it different from losing a game of chess? That's a little less intense, yet gives you the same feeling. For, if not, it's no fun at all.

Ah well, it's a game of words...

...and we're playing it only too seriously...

Seated round the table: Nico Gietema, Herman Snijders, Ruud Houweling, Vincent Peeters and Kees Schreuders.

*'Filosofie voor de Zwijnen' was published in Dutch by Veen Magazines

**1984, 20 years ago, scriptwriter Frank Wiering made a film on the Bhagwan organization (New Man). He followed four of them, from a living communion in The Veluwe (The Netherlands) through to the commune in Amsterdam to Rasneeshpuram in the US, the place where the master stayed at the time. It's the eighties: They, just like Wiering himself, were seeking after a more profound life, struggling out of the compelling consumer society, career and status.

Twenty years after the first documentary (New Man) Frank Wiering filmed the four Bhagwan devotees he had followed in 1984, once again. The result: New Man 2.
What happened to these four people who entirely dedicated themselves to their ideals? Where did they end up? And how have the master's lessons determined their lives? Evidently they spread all over the world, from Australia to Denmark. It's about seeking a different way of looking at life. An amazing, enviable and touching confrontation with existence.

(edited by Kees Schreuders & Vincent Peeters, Utrecht, February 2005. Translated in English by José Zwaferink)