Trust is just being your Self.
An exchange of thoughts with Douwe
Amigo asked me to speak with Douwe Tiemersma
on the subject of trust. To comply with this request I wrote
Douwe a letter asking him whether it could be the subject of
the evening (satsang) in Gouda. Thinking that this would happen
I sat open-minded in the beautiful space of the Advaita Center
in Gouda. Halfway through the evening the subject of Trust
arose spontaneously. What is nice about that sort of happening
is that there are apparently all sorts of people from different
backgrounds who evidently have questions on the same themes.
Below follows the conversations that took place during the
evening and what we later exchanged via mail on the subject
V: Trusting the teacher,
trusting life that just seems to go its own way, how do we handle
that, especially if fears lurk around the corner? How can you
be aware of your own fears?
Whenever there is any movement towards the boundary (of disappearing),
the remains of the I that are still there become one and all fear.
When that boundary is crossed and falls away then that seems to
be trust. But it is certain that there is fear at the edge of the
abyss as long as there is a trace of I. This fear can become a
Trust is then nothing other than being your Self.
There is trust in being the Self. Being a separated Self that we
call 'I' is by definition fear. That becomes very clear when you
approach the abyss, but also before that. The possibility of
disappearing can be experienced everywhere. As the Self you actually
have nothing to do with the structure of the I-world, the boundary
and going beyond the boundary. All of that is there just as the
little I experiences it.
It is good to realize that the spacious being Self
and trust are always already there, also in everyday life. Just
think of everything that you trust. There is actually a tremendous
amount of trust in everyone even in those who are distrustful.
That you are sitting there so comfortably means that you have great
trust in the chair, the piece of concrete under it, and the earth
on which it all rests. No one can exist without rest and without
trust - which is also rest. Everyone recognizes that in their own
lives. If you are immensely suspicious then you are paranoid. But
even the most paranoid figure still has a great deal of trust,
because if you mistrusted everything you would die. If you imagine
that there are deadly poison gasses here then you would stop breathing.
Nevertheless everyone breathes fully, so there is trust that the
air is a bit pure and that life goes on.
V: You trust that you will not fall through
this chair because you have seen in the past that you don't fall
through them. That has always been OK. Because you have sat in
the past you don't pay any attention to that, but there is a
subtle movement in thought behind that.
D: Movement in thought or not, at a certain
moment you trust that the chair will not collapse if you sit
on it, whether you make the thought detour or not. Mostly the
detour is not there and you just plain sit down. The fact that
you sit, that you breathe, that you are not sitting totally cramped
in your chair, doesn't that all indicate that you have trust?
V: You take it for granted; little by little
you take everything for granted.
D: That's just what I want to point out: that as
a matter-of-course you have an infinite trust.
V: Is that an original experience?
D: an original being experience! And not just for
a bit something like: now I'm experiencing that I'm getting a bit
of trust, and now trust is almost gone. It is an original being
experience that cannot be further discussed. When you go to bed
in the evening you trust that the bed will not fall apart and that
you will wake up in the morning. There are gradations from trust
to distrust and even up to paranoia, but nevertheless there are
always some pieces of original trust there.
V: For example that you trust your
complete not being there while sleeping?
D: Exactly, then you fall away and the question remains
if you will ever return. If you don't trust that you don't sleep.
V: Disturbances can occur in that trust,
especially in inter-personal contacts.
D: Disturbances can be everywhere, thus also in contact
between people. Not everyone has the same experience. But, the
fact remains, if you don't completely close up and
are autistic in any case, that there must be trust if you associate
V: Is fear then only a disturbance in trust?
Does no fear appear anymore in your Self-being?
D: What is fundamental is: do you identify yourself
with a limited I or with unending Self-being with unending trust?
Can you see that in everyday life the Self-being, including mistrust,
is present everywhere? When you become conscious of that you recognize
that you are actually already enlightened. Because you have an
unending trust in the world space, in the ground, and in people.
What is fine is that everyone can recognize that
in every day life. If you drive or walk through the city, and you
are not paranoid, then the Self-being is so spacious that the others,
and the surroundings have a place in that trust. It is remarkable
that you have so much trust that you can walk calmly through the
When real breaks appear in your life's sphere, when
you are informed of terrorist attacks, the trust can be damaged.
Therefore, something fundamental changes when people are suspicious.
Then there is no basis anymore for living together. But: this suspicion
is secondary. It is a deterioration of original trust.
Naïveté and surrender
V: Could you say that being naïve is
trust without clarity?
D: Depends on what kind of being naïve we are
talking about. I have said in the past that you have to foster
your naïveté so that it remains present. Promote your
naïveté, but do that a bit consciously. In a conscious
way, naïveté can become a life-style, in the good sense
of the word, namely that you remain open and keep good trust. Perhaps
it may be embarrassed every once in a while, but remain by the
great trust. Just let others call you naïve just turn that
around, keep your eyes on what is the most important.
That is also true for money affairs: there you can
get one percent point more, over there it is even cheaper, maybe
now you must sell your shares.
The quality of open Self-being is more important
than money, possessions or career. You can also say: what difference
does it all make, maybe a little less money, living in an open
sphere is more important than being clever in a limited situation.
It is not about the practical everyday situation
where you should trust more where you trust that everything will
be okay. Also, after you re-discover your trust when it is not
going well, has nothing to do with the most important:
the open Self-being.
V: Then there is pure surrender...
D: Not even that. See that you can use words in a
certain context, but when an actual situation arises the words
fall away. The most that you can still say is: trust is identical
V: It does begin with trust, for example
to go to a teacher...
D: It is clear that at a certain stage of development
as experienced by a person trust comes is clear. Just at the point
when Self-being becomes
more open and the obvious is no longer so obvious, when things
are less certain, then trust is important.
V: Why does one person trust more easily
D: There is not much to say about that, it is either
there or it isn't.
In a certain situation in duality a relation can happen with someone through
which something is experienced of the great Self-being and the great trust.
In a phase in which there are still some remains of the I with fears, such
a relation can be helpful to letting go of handholds and to making the transition.
That trust is necessary to make the transition is clear, because otherwise
it doesn't happen. As soon as the little I comes in the neighborhood of the
boundary it goes back directly, because it is scary there, then the personal
I-sphere contracts. The trust can be so great that fear falls away at that
moment. This trust can be helped by 'someone' who has already realized
that there is no somebody. For example you can be aware that there is no fear
in that person, also not for the ultimate Nothing. Then you know that it is
V: Does that lead to a search for trust?
D: What is it all about? Haul the direction of the
seeking back to you! It is the remains of an I form of which you
experience that something still needs to happen. What has to happen?
Consider that consciously by your Self. Everything has been there
all along. Therefore there is nothing to seek.
V: To me that is the difference between
trust and self-evidence. The moment that there is trust, there
is still an uncertain element in which the self-evidence is still
not present. Otherwise if the self-evidence were already there
you would not need the trust.
D: For some trust is self-evident. That is so evident
that then there is totally no problem. It is self-evident that
non-duality is unending Trust in spontaneous and evidently Self-being.
You can only speak about the presence of trust from a certain point
of view. This is about a child-like trust, child-like belief. Just
see how a child trusts without naming it that. It loves being thrown
in the air. If something goes wrong with that fundamental trust,
if for example grown-ups do something wrong, then later it hardly
ever becomes better again for such a child then the basis
of life, that grownups call trust is gone.
V: Sometimes it is scary, like when someone
lets himself fall backward onto a table or something, that is
really scary and then trust seems to be very big.
D: The naivety is excellent practice itself teaches
what is and is not possible. But it is good to become conscious
that everything is OK in the Self-being. And that good is not the
opposite of bad, but it means that everything can happen and that
there is relaxation, acceptance and trust. Even if you are really
mistrusting; take a look at who or what you mistrust. Some people
even mistrust themselves. But if you look at that more closely
maybe you mistrust your angers, emotions and thoughts. They can
set a trap for you. But the core of Self-being is what you trust
the most and most absolutely.
V: Actually you can't trust anything because
you never know beforehand what is going to happen.
D: You can trust everything you witness...
V: Everything happens in the Self-being.
You have no control over that. That could make you very mistrusting,
exactly because you have no control of it.
D: Not a single self-being, no one, mistrusts his
or her own Self-being. You can have doubts about everything, you
can mistrust everything, but the origin is always there, untouched:
V: Because there is nothing else.
D: Yes, that is the first and the last.
V: Is that trust not just plain (impersonal)
D: Call it Love.
V: Ver-trouwen, far and marriage, actually
a kind of mystical marriage.
(Ed: The following question arises
out of a word play. Trust in Dutch is vertrouwen, which the questioner
breaks up into 'ver'= distant and 'trouwen'= marriage)
D: Yes, it is that resting in being connected, being
carried, and becoming one. These are all words that are spoken
on the path where there is fear. But, it is good to realize that
there is also trust on that path. When everything opens you recognize
as the last the infinite trust: resting in Self-being. Discover
the unending trust in the ground of what you actually have.
V: Otherwise you will discover it just to
survive. It has to be there otherwise life would not be possible.
D: You don't have to discover it because it is already
there. Trust is something limited; sooner or later it gives rise
to problems. The I is limited, and what you marry or trust is limited.
Sooner or later that gives rise to problems. That happens after
V: Thus is everything that has form 'not
D: The actual trusting knows no forms separate from
your Self. It is not about the fact that limited people or things
in which your trust can be disappointed. If trust is disappointed
is something you do.
You suppose yourself to have trust in something from
your limited being. And mostly that does not end happily. Trust,
just like Love is fundamentally unbounded, unending. It is not
dependent on forms that you have to trust first, and certainly
not on the limited I. The I cannot have unending trust because
it is not unending itself.
V: Because it falls apart if you trust it
D: Precisely, therefore it remains suspicious. But
if you look a little further for a bit and you realize: I am unending
myself then the unending trust breaks open. If you observe that
there is already a lot of trust present in common life, then in
that you recognize that you are unending.
V: Why isn't it: I know what I can't trust
and I'll see what happens further?
D: But what do you see then? That it goes back and
forth between 'I trust it' and 'my trust was misplaced'? You begin
from a limited situation that proposes limited trust. The I can
only trust in a limited way, it is an I-tension, it remains suspicious
V: Actually you can be trusted, except as
D: You are your Self and that is unlimited trust.
You are it; it only needs to become conscious and so conscious
that the limited doesn't work anymore. People often talk about
self-confidence, 'You should have more self-confidence' If you
just become more assertive and your I becomes bigger then you can
accomplish something in life. The word self-confidence is excellent,
but you need to know what that self is. With a more assertive,
firmer I you maintain the problem of mistrust.
V: Thus it is not so that the ego needs
to be strengthened first in order to let it go later?
D: In general nothing can be said about that. Sometimes
it works like that, but sometime not. There was an extensive discussion
about that between Rama Polderman and Wolter Keers. Rama said that
the I-weakness had to disappear first. Thus there has to be therapy
first. Wolter disagreed and emphasized the independence of enlightenment
on conditions. Just remain open and then you will see everything
for yourself. Don't get stuck in an opinion ahead of time because
if you begin like that the end is lost. . In no case hang on to
conditions such as: I have to get rid of the I-weakness first and
V: You often begin with the end of the whole
D: Yes, the end is the beginning. Everything in the
middle is nonsense.
V: Still, begin and end are also nonsense.
D: Indications toward it can be useful on the path,
but non-duality does not take place in time. Then there is neither
a beginning nor an end. What more can you say about it? In the
dual situation, when it comes to fear, then it is good to look
further in the way that we are now discussing: that you will experience
that there is trust, that there is always a certain kind of resting
that is a certain kind of relaxation and thus is trust. It is always
unfounded and nevertheless it is there. Then you feel yourself
sitting, and you feel your weight. Out of becoming heavier you
experience your contact with the infinite carrying earth. You experience
yourself as the never ending. And you are that your Self!
V: As long as there is still an ego or little
I, courage can nevertheless still be needed to remain established
in trust, not to constantly be caught up in disturbing thoughts
and as warriors not surrender to them. You may observe fear of
suffering, but not fall into it just as Arjuna did (in the Bhagavad-Gita)
to finally establish the dissolution of your 'I' in yourSelf
Thus, as long as there is an ego sometimes courage is needed.
D: Being yourSelf, Conscious-being and Trust cannot
be put into words. They have their origin in the Nothing. That
is thus in the groundless everyday trust. Even if there is still
an I or a fragment of an I that original trust is always there
at the same time, namely in always being yourself.
Courage is more than an ego identity. People rise
above their ego in courage. However, this rising above does not
go very far because courage always presupposes a separate I sphere.
The identity of the warrior is broader than most, but nevertheless
it remains limited. It can be useful to be courageous and to encourage
in a certain phase, but it is advisable to look further as soon
as possible and to realize that you had unending courage, in the
sense that you have always been unending, much more roomy than
the warrior; see the story of the tea-server who did nothing but
still defeated the samurai. This is it.
Once there were a samurai and a tea-master. On
a certain day the tea-master had to fight against the samurai.
He visited many samurai trainers to learn about sword fighting
because he had never had a sword in his hands. However everyone
thought that it was impossible in the short time remaining. That
last samurai he visited asked him: 'What can you do really well?'
'Serving tea according to the ancient ritual.' The samurai's
advice was: 'approach the other as if you are beginning a tea
The moment for the fight arrived; the samurai
stood ready and the tea-master approached in the perfect manner
of the tea-master. The samurai with his sword ready to attack
saw the perfection; felt that there was no weakness where he
could strike and bowed as a sign that he had lost.
Finally there is only one surrender
V: So, back to original trust. Nevertheless,
there are often questions put to you such as: 'What more can
I do? And then the answer is: 'you can't do anything. No one
can do anything, not-someone.' That is why I find the silent
day so special: No one is doing anything. Then the question is:
Can you as a teacher make something clear to a student as long
as there is a somebody (person) who is stuck on the border of
D: The last resistance appears with the confrontation
with the last teacher. This resistance expresses itself as feeling
uncomfortable, feeling attacked, seeing the teacher as being hard
or even as an enemy in this last phase. If the teacher were not
there, the last resistance would not make itself known and everything
would remain the same.
If the last resistance appears and the student does
not pull back then the resistance disappears. The resistance cannot
exist in openness and love and the great trust in which the
limited personal is let loose.
That is all.
V: If the last resistance is visible and
the student does not pull back the resistance disappears. So
therefore; be a warrior?
D: No, not being a warrior, but to surrender consciously.
V: Therefore, conscious surrender to the
core of you that you recognize in the teacher. Surrender in the
trust that you are your Self?
D: Conscious surrender to the core of yourself that
you recognize in the teacher, in the trust that you are your Self.
To the extent that this recognition and that trust are not complete
there can be the recognition of the Self of the teacher and trust
in that when the I falls away. In this way, a genuine teacher seems
to be needed.
V: About surrender, a quote from you: 'There
comes a moment of surrender. The remains of the I come loose.
The feeling that I am dying, that the I becomes so insignificant
that it dissolves, it disappears. And there appears to be a Self-being
that is unending.'
You recognize that as the conscious core, it is not a blind
For all certainty, this is the same surrender, the conscious
surrender, that we have been discussing above, the trust that the
Not-Self is your-Self.
D: Right, there is a final surrender, and before
that all the concepts named and words have their place.
Dutch website Douwe Tiemersma: www.advaitacentrum.nl
[interview: Pia de Blok, with thanks to Gisela
Feld who typed out the conversation]