Frans Vermeulen interview with John de Ruiter in May 26 2014 in The Netherlands. This article originally appeared in Dutch on renvogel.com.
John De Ruiter calls himself a philosopher and meeting him has a deep nature indeed. His meetings are about knowing the meaning we give to all aspects of life. In this context, an expression he often uses is ‘profound honesty.’ He encourages his listeners to approach life from knowing and sincerity rather than fear, desire, and assumption.
One of John’s sayings is: “Life is mysterious, yet we are capable of knowing. We know how we are inside, whether the heart is hard or soft.” His method consists of spoken dialogue and connections in silence. He speaks slowly, yet people that come to see him don’t seem to mind, on the contrary, it enables them to deeply connect with him and to explore the foundation and subtleties of being human. Existence, according to this Canadian with Dutch roots, challenges us to know and be the truth.
John: “Core-splitting honesty simply wants to know the complete truth just so that it can surrender to it and be it. Follow gently and with all your heart what you love and there will only be love. Your worries are your anchor; your love is your freedom.”
In the past John regularly spoke of Jesus. Today he no longer does, as it may lead to controversy.
“If someone’s association draws out a negative or a positive sentiment, in both cases there is an emotional reaction that will take people away from where I come from.”
Where do you come from?
“That which people know is true. The same counts for reincarnation. If people ask me: “Do I come back?” it comes from a conviction. It divides people in two groups: believers and non-believers. I want people to realise that they have drawn a conclusion of something without knowing the truth of such a conviction.
So what would you like to see? That people investigate all their conclusions?
“Yes, in order for them to get to know what they know is true. To believe something you do not know the truth of, even if it is true, can do as much damage as if it were untrue. That is because you don’t truly have a relationship with a concept.”
I get that, yet is a concept not a reference to know the truth?
“Yes, but than use a concept of which you know what is true.”
In recent weeks I’ve been looking at the expression, “I love you” and contemplating what it means. What is love?
“In most cases what people perceive to be love takes place on the level of the personality, the self. That is a personal love dependent on personal attachment. A deeper level of love is the kind of love where you look at each others personality from a distance.
Can I take steps toward a deeper level consciously?
You can go a level deeper by being yourself, knowing yourself, and seeing another person’s self beyond the personality. Than there is a connection on the level of the self, which is deeper than the love between two persons. If you go a level deeper than the person and the self, to the heart, the person and the self are hardly in the picture anymore, it becomes one heart knowing another heart. This love is deeper and more silent. If we wake up to what we truly are’ – John uses the term beings – ‘than this love is deeper than the love of the heart. That is a bond that surpasses human emotion.
John de Ruiter, Canadian with Dutch parents, is a philosopher, teacher and author. At the age of seventeen without preparation or warning, he experienced a state of awakening. He teaches at The College of Integrated Philosophy in Edmonton. He also travels around the world to teach and regularly visits Holland. The title of his book is Unveiling Reality (1999).
To summarize that in my own words, from the level that you take as true through the senses, you go to what you experience with your heart, and then move towards the ultimate level of being. What is the door towards that third level?
“That is a knowing and a deepening awareness. You can only enter what you consciously have entered.”
Does that happen to you or is it a conscious doing?
“Both. The problem is that if someone is not conscious of being but does have the longing for it, the person uses that which they know. They use the place of the self or of the heart to get to what is deeper. That doesn’t work.”
So if I let go of that which I know than what remains is that which is deeper?
Yes, whether you are aware of it or not. It is a sensitivity towards subtleties, which you at first may not understand, that gives you access to your being. Don’t try to understand it, but know it, and there you will see the door.”
I always hear that actually letting go is a frightening place.
“It is frightening for people. During your life you are most used to you person and your self. Also because if this identification is missing you feel unsafe. To use the self to see what it is like to not have a self is horrifying. Yet if you don’t use yourself to let go of the self, than honesty of awareness remains. With it comes a deeper knowing and rest”.
In the process of letting go, is there a place for giving?
“Yes, and as it is with love, giving on each level is different. The giving becomes deeper on each level and so does the vulnerability. To give as a being no longer has a relationship with the familiar forms of the person, the self or the heart, while there is a tendency to use the familiar level.”
Does that cause a person at first to go back and forth between levels?
“What you value determines where you give from. This is why your values need to change.”
Which I decides the values?
“There is one I on all levels and on each level there is a totally different experience of the I. On the level of the self the I is intensely personal. On the level of knowing there is no personal awareness of the I. That is why the I knows the truth about the deeper I, because it comes from there. But if there is self-importance in the self, that threatens to disappear into that which is of greater value, the self tries to access the next level without disappearing, and there is no access.”
You once said: “Only total surrender brings you back in a state of awakening.”
“Without unconditional and total surrender a person will always hold on to the space he or she is in. It is like throwing out an anchor in what is known and slowly descending into that which you know the truth of. That is depth with safety measures.”
Than you still try to keep controle and remain in the comfort zone? “ Yes, but if awareness is honest, than it knows it is more comfortable in total surrender than holding on to its own identity.”
Can a human being in all honesty say “I do not know?”
“Of course, but as awareness, a human being becomes silent, soft, and honest. If someone asks ‘do I know something?’ the person comes to see, ‘I know something and I know what it is. But if someone is busy mentally, than the answer is often ‘no.’ There are also levels of honesty.
Can you always bring a person to that point of insight, even if they’re unwilling?
“Yes. It is because I know the depth of their identity. If I touch the deep in someone, than another kind of willingness is opened. After that, two reactions are possible. Either someone moves along or someone says, ‘I know what you mean but I won’t go in there.’ But that person already has his foot in the water, has been reached and changed.”
How do you do that?
“I address them on the level they can still hear me, but where they are not accustomed to moving. So I don’t need to come from the deepest place, but I take people into a deeper level. It is all about reading the underlying space a group of people is prepared to respond to. If there are more levels, there are more entrances.
I have often heard people say that if they talk to you they see your face change. Why is that?
“As soon as someone goes into a deeper level, the sense of reality changes. The perception of the self changes. The person’s experience of his body changes, seeing changes, and therefore a deeper level can be seen. People see something different which can be shocking but at the same time, familiar because they know the truth of it.”
People seem to wish to repeat this experience. How helpful is that?
“It is distracting because the wanting is something completely different from where you are at that moment.”
You once said, “To choose life means openness and softness of heart at any cost.”
“If you have a house, a car and a job and you know there is a deeper and more meaningful level in yourself than your house, your car and your job, you want this deeper level. But you don’t want to give up your house, car or job for a deeper level. You wish to preserve the old and have the deep for your house, car and job to become better. That will never work.”
Is that the reason for a spiritual crisis? People are not letting go of the old?
“Not necessarily. Letting go doesn’t mean throwing away. There is nothing wrong with your house, job or car. If your relationship changes from what you already have to what is deeper, all that you already have remains. After that you are deeper in your house, in your job and in your car.”
That feels uncomfortable.
“That may be so, and it can be somewhat strange because you are different from what you were before. Still, these are beautiful adjustments.”
Does this also apply to the relationship between parent and child?
“If the child grows up, and as a parent, you don’t hold onto how you have always known your child to be, the love and dearness is no less. Even though the relationship changes on the surface, nothing is lost. The more you sincerely let go of the familiar, the greater the understanding on the level of the heart for what you are letting go of.”
How difficult are we making things if we use words like “God?”
“There is always an attraction to more expression in form. If someone knows something deeper, there is the tendency to label, to use familiar words. In using the word ‘God’ you are using an every day word for something that is extraordinary and high. If you choose a convenient word, you choose the short road and you create a larger distance to your deeper inner knowing.”
Is that also the reason why you generally speak slowly and leave silences?
“I also speak more slowly in my direct deeper connection with someone because I can then see how deeply a person can hear me. Words are not only received mentally, but also on a deeper level. If I speak faster, I activate thinking and the deeper receiving closes.”
And what about the people who sit with you in ‘the chair’ and don’t recall afterwards?
“That is,” according to John, ”because someone isn’t listening with the conceptual mind, but from a deeper place. What remains afterwards is a sense of “that was very pleasant.”
More importantly: a return from not knowing to knowing. The memory of knowing.