Excerpt from a dialogue with John de Ruiter on May 10, 2015
Q: I was very touched by the image you gave of a sail boat. I can relate to that because I’ve done a lot of sailing, but I would like to know more about being in touch with the keel, and how to stay in touch with the deep while adjusting on the surface.
John: When you’re sailing you feel the whole boat, you feel all the tensions and you’re also in touch with the pressure on the keel. You have a sense of all the stresses within the entire boat, including the stresses that are unseen beneath the water because the keel registers into the rest of the boat.
Q: So in daily living, to also be in touch with what’s happening below the surface?
John: With your keel, because your keel gives you a different reading on what’s taking place than what’s above the surface.
Q: You also spoke about the keel and to be aware of the presence in the deeper being.
John: Not your being, a deeper level of your self. Basically, the underside of your self.
Q: I thought you meant to be really in contact with what you know of your being.
John: Yes, but you can’t really be in your deeper self without being in what you know and applying that deeply in your self. The metaphor works first for your self, and then once that’s integrated, the metaphor works for your being but you can’t go straight to your being if you’re not knowing your keel and your deeper self. You’re not going to have a keel in your being when you’re under pressure.
Q: Do you mean to be in contact with your being or your deeper self when you’re under pressure?
John: Your deeper self is closer to your being than your accustomed self. Being aware of what’s going on in your deeper self while you are in your accustomed self means that you’re really feeling your keel under pressure. So when you’re under pressure, your accustomed self is being informed by what you know in your deeper self.
When you’re on your deathbed, you’re in your deeper self. Be in touch with the depth of awareness that you have in your self when you’re on your deathbed. Have an awareness of that while you’re in your life, particularly when you’re under pressure. Then you have a keel that goes into your deeper self and as soon as pressure hits, immediately you’re in touch with it; you feel it because it registers all the way through your self. Without a keel you can’t sail – a little wind and you’ll immediately flip.
Q: I’m not saying I do it all the time, but there’s a place I relate to under pressure that I do know is better, and then I don’t react in my usual way.
John: That has to do with your deeper self.
Q: Is there a way to be sure that you’re not fooling your self? The self can be so tricky.
John: Yes. Trust what is immediately simple in the midst of any circumstance and that simplicity takes you in and deeper. When you’re under pressure, it needs to be real to you what the three things are that you really need to understand, which matter more than anything else that you’re experiencing. Those three things will form your keel.
Q: So what are those three things?
John: That while your self is under pressure you have to move, you don’t have the option of doing nothing. The self has to do with action. When your self is under pressure you need to open because without opening you can’t see. You need to soften because without softening you’re not going to be in your heart and you need to move forward. These three things have to come together, and if they matter more than what you experience in your self and what’s taking place on the surface, then your sailboat has a keel. And that doesn’t mean that your keel is going to manage absolutely everything. If you don’t do right by everything else on the boat it can still capsize.
Q: I don’t automatically experience an openness and softness but I do know first of all not to relate to the pressure in the way that I normally would, so that just has me relating differently right away.
John: You don’t experience it but you need to. It matters to you that you’re opening, you’re softening and you’re moving forward.
Q: I don’t relate to the experience in my heart that much.
John: To be in your heart, engage dearness. For example, if you’re with someone and you don’t know how to engage dearness, then begin with feeling sorry for that person. It’s very coarse but what it engages is feeling instead of emotion. You can feel it because if you’re feeling for someone you’re already in touch. As soon as you have something to feel sorry for in the other person, quickly move. Don’t stay there, because there isn’t a lot of value in feeling sorry for someone. Then feel for the other person. That’s a deeper level of connectivity. As soon as you’re able to feel for the other person, don’t stay there because that will be mixed. Move directly into feeling the other one. So it’s not their person, it’s not their self: it’s something that’s subtle and deeper.
Q: And that all has to do with dearness and relating to my heart?
John: If you can’t find your heart, then begin with the first one. Then move to the second and the third. It’s all quite coarse but it can get you moving in the right direction, instead of not knowing where your heart is or being able to find it. If you can get into a coarse aspect of your heart then you’re finding your way.