Excerpt from a dialogue with John de Ruiter on January 28, 2015
Q: It’s lovely to be here again with you in Tiruvannamalai. I know you have a love and respect for Sri Ramana (Maharshi) and I know there are a lot of Sri Ramana (Maharshi) lovers in the room so I wanted to ask you a question that relates to his method in particular and to meditation in general. A long time ago, during a meeting, you said ‘Sequester your self from your forms.’ So when I heard you say that, to me that meant meditation, and I never really addressed that with you so I think this is a good opportunity to do so now. Sri Ramana (Maharshi’s) whole system was based on one question and that was ‘who am I?’ And he said it was like a thorn that was used to remove a thorn. Once the thought was removed, the other thought could be thrown away and there was no more need for a system. I just wonder how his system would relate to yours, if there was any connection between the two, if his system could be used without deep honesty. I just wonder if you could address his system and, maybe, meditation in general.
John: If you have an un-awakened western mind, then the question to deeply ask ‘who am I?’ begs something to be realized that is much deeper than what we’re accustomed to. It shifts your thinking. Once you realize that the ‘who’ you are isn’t anything that you’re accustomed to, that the ‘who’ has nothing to do with the personality, the self, or the identity, it’s a completely different way of relating. Then what begs the question is no longer ‘who am I?’ but ‘what am I?’ The ‘who’ takes you to the deeper ‘I’, the ‘I’ that is aware. The ‘what am I?’ takes you into the quiet nature of the ‘I’ of awareness, a quality that can’t be realized by thought; it needs to be directly known.
Q: ‘What’ can’t be realized by thought?
John: You can think about ‘what’ you are but it can’t be directly realized, by thought. Thought can point you in the direction. Once you’re facing the direction of the deep within, awareness enters without a thought, and, as it enters directly, it realizes. Awareness enters what it really is, not with thought, feeling, and consideration, but with the direct realization of what it is. You can’t really enter ‘what’ you really are without being ‘what’ you really are. It is deeply, quietly realized.
Q: So there’s a condition to that realization. That is what you encourage us to be so we have that realization?
John: You can’t come into such a profound realization by using anything that you’re already familiar with. Asking ‘who am I?’ is only the beginning. The real question is ‘what am I?’
Q: For me, the whole point of the question of ‘who am I?’ is to remove the ‘who’ and move to a deeper level, which is what you’re talking about. Can you do that on your own, or would that require you to have a contact with somebody who’s already there, or is that not necessarily true?
John: Having an example that you directly resonate with, of course, helps directly, but if you don’t have that help, you don’t need that help. The way that awareness is on any level, when there’s any deeper measure of noticing, even within the person, when you’re in your person and in your personality, when you’re slightly quieted, you realize that there’s something deeper. When you move from awareness within your personality and your person and you drop down into your self, your experience of reality and your experience of your body are deeper and it’s different. From there, the direction continues.
It’s intuitive for awareness to go deeper, within. When awareness becomes honest to its present sense of what it is, whatever it’s used to, it knows that there’s something deeper. When you’re in your person and you drop down into your self, so that you’re being your self within your person, the direction is established that a deeper level of meaning, and more direct level of meaning, is within. It’s not outside. It’s not closer to the surface; it’s deeper within.
In moving from the person into the self, the direction established to go deeper, it is then realized that you can go into your own heart. Your heart is deeper and has less form than your person or your self. When you drop down from your self into your heart, your experience, again, if you notice, is that reality is different and your experience of your body is different. Each level that you move deeper within, your sense and acquaintance with reality changes.
When you’re in your heart, all that really exists, when you’re more honest to your heart than to your person or to your self, is that you know in your heart to open and to soften. That you know, when you’re in your heart, closing or hardening, you know to let go of that. The closing and the hardening isn’t really you. The opening and the softening is really you. On a heart level, openness and softness is home.
The openness and the softness is the closest level of the being to the heart. It’s the simplest level of being. As soon as you’re in your heart, it’s the first that you know. You know there to open and soften. It’s a beingness that you know and no longer a thinking and a feeling. Openness and softness can have feeling and can have thought, but then the openness and the softness are already moving into your self. When you do open and soften within your heart, you are being the same as your own being. The openness and softness is a level of your being. It’s the most surface level of your being.
What you also know on the surface-most level of your being is a very tender and a warm, unconditional okayness where everything is okay as is. It isn’t just the okayness that is the same as your being, but also the warmth.
Q: So it’s nothing like resignation.
John: Resignation is something which occurs within your self. As awareness, you can move through a sweet resignation to drop out of your self, to reside in your heart, but once you’re in your heart, there isn’t a resignation to go deeper because resignation has to do with something that you can comprehend in your self.
Once you’re open and soft and warmly okay, as is, in your heart, you are already the same as your own being. With that openness and that softness, as awareness, you know again that there’s much more within you. The deeper is always known. The more that you know and respond to what you know, such as just simply being in your heart, you know more. Response to knowing opens a deeper level of knowing. With all of this direction established of simply going within, once you’re resided in the heart, awareness goes deeper and deeper within.
That kind of beingness that you come into of your own being can’t be sustained in your life unless you’re being that beingness, such as the openness and softness of heart; being that in the midst of your self and in your life, in midstream of your life. The more that you’re being what your own being is like in your life, the more breadth you have as awareness to go deeply into your own being. Without aligning with your being, in your life, you’re able as awareness to go deeper within, deeper into your own being, and come into deeper levels, but it won’t have a breadth to it.
The breadth comes from the application of what you are as a being in your self and in your life.
That application is what gives awareness breadth.
Q: Is that where pain comes in? Is that where the circumstance of life and the daily pains of existence and our relations and with each other comes in to create breadth?
John: It isn’t the pain that creates depth or breadth, but when you are being the same as your own being, such as being open and soft in your heart, and being that openness and softness in the midst of your self, that makes your self vulnerable which introduces pain. The vulnerability is your own direct experience that your self is not like you; your self is not like your own being.
The forms of your being and the levels of your being are all forms and levels accurate to you, perfect and complete. The forms of your self are not accurate to you and they’re not complete. The forms of your self are forms of change. They’re meant to change.
When you’re being the same as your own being in the midst of your self, you expose all of the lack in your self. You expose everything that is not open and soft in your self. You expose all of the holding and all of the closing, all of the hardness. To be that openness and softness unconditionally in the midst of your experience, then you are being your own being in the midst of a self of yours that isn’t like that yet. Being that in the midst of your self is what transforms your self.
Q: Sometimes, like when I run into parts of my self that are revealed in that kind of circumstance, it can have a very discouraging impact on me. It can kind of make me want to turn away because they’re unpleasant and I have a judgment about them.
John: Wonderful. You’re getting to know your self. That’s what your self is like before transformation.
The whole nature of the self as it relates to likes and dislikes, comforts and discomforts; your being can’t comprehend that. It simply doesn’t relate that way. Your being is open and soft in the worst of conditions.
When you are being just like your being in the midst of what aggravates your self, that aggravation brings right into your experience what is not yet like your own being. When openness and softness of heart, being like your own being, matters more to you than your self, than how you experience your self, then you will unconditionally be open and soft like your being, in the midst of discomfort, in the midst of pleasure and pain, without a preference.
In this way you integrate your self. You integrate your self by being your own being in your own experience in every way that is contrary to your self. That contrariness opens and softness when you, awareness, are opening and softening in the midst of it.
Q: Can be a sense that you’re getting worse instead of better?
John: Yes. When you unconditionally open to your own being and you begin to have some access to its beautiful depths, upon returning to your self you’ll be in for a shock, because of the contrast. The difficulty in being that open in the midst of your self can be really painful.
Q: And it can make you want to turn away.
John: It can make you not want to open as much again. The more you genuinely open in your heart, the more vulnerable you make your self. You expose your self for what it is. You begin to see your self from a place of seeing that isn’t in your self; it’s in your own being.
Q: But that’s a place where you’d have no issue with what you see.
John: When you’re coming from what your own being is like, you love seeing, despite what you see. You’ll see everything that you didn’t want to see before. You’ll see what you’ve been avoiding seeing.
Q: So I could be encouraged rather than the opposite?
John: If it’s the deep, within, that you’re more sensitive to than what you experience in your self, you’ll be encouraged by a level of seeing that you didn’t have before, even though what you see might be quite unpleasant.
Q: Yeah. I often think I’m going down the tubes because I see how much hardness is in me.
John: As long as you, awareness, are even a little bit softer than your self, you’re fine. If you are a little bit softer than your self, you’re in your heart. You’re then being the difference, some of the difference, between your heart and your self. Once that opens, you naturally love what’s deeper.
Once you’re even a little bit more open and a little bit softer than your self, then you’re in your heart. You’re already being what is deeper. You’re already being something of what you know. It is a direct knowledge. Openness and softness is what you directly know, aside from any concept of that.
Q: Could all this happen without awareness, without you being aware of it?
John: It won’t be without you being aware of it, but it can occur without you having thought of it. So you may not have the cognitive thinking awareness in it.
Q: Thank you.
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