Trust is just being your Self.
An exchange of thoughts with Douwe Tiemersma

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 of Trust.


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?

D: 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 block.

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.

Original 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 with people.

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 city.

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 to Self-being.

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 than another?

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 all right.

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: the Self-being.

V: Because there is nothing else.

D: Yes, that is the first and the last.

V: Is that trust not just plain (impersonal) Love?

D: Call it Love.

Being-in-bondage

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 every marriage.

V: Thus is everything that has form 'not trusting'?

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 then that 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 completely.

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 and anxious.

V: Actually you can be trusted, except as an 'I'.

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 so on.

Applying trust?

V: You often begin with the end of the whole 'story'.

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 as Conscious-being.
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 ceremony.'

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 resistance?

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 core.
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]