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The Light Within: How Openness Can Transcend Illness

The questioner's father had a stroke, resulting in a new openness in him, and a sweetness that wasn't there before. John explains how to come from your heart in the midst of a damaged body, in sickness and old age.

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This dialogue also appeared on VOD-000

Video Transcript

With John de Ruiter from the October 10, 2017 Edmonton, Canada Meeting

Q: About a month ago my father had a stroke. The stroke didn’t seem very serious but it’s induced a kind of dementia that’s come on very quickly. When I found that out I went to see him. I was able to be with him in a way that I’m quite sure was because of being around you – being in your field, here – that enabled me to open to all that was happening.

John: You opening here enabled you to open there.

Q: It felt like a kind of grace: the combination of opening to what was happening there, and the opening that my father was going through in shedding the shallower levels of his existence into something that was much deeper, having very little of his self and personality. In the last day or two he’d become so sweet: this incredible, pure sweetness – the kind of sweetness you see on babies’ faces when they’re looking around in wonder at the world. If you have anything to say about it all, I’d be very glad to hear.

John: There are no bad strokes.

Q: Do you mean the goodness that came out of the stroke for him?

John: And the good timing of it.

Q: What do you mean by “good timing?”

John: It isn’t inconvenient.

Q: Do you mean in relation to where I’m at?  

John: In relationship to him. It’s inconvenient to his self, not to him. As he moves with it he comes right to the surface, so he gets to shine brightly before he goes.

Q: Is it that way for most people?

John: Those who open: yes.

Q: I think one of the caretakers or nurses at the place said that some people, as they’re approaching the end, become angry and bitter and then others become sweet and gentle.

John: Opening or closing.

Q: It’s like all the abilities and layers of our self and personality get stripped away but there become fewer options, fewer things that hide or mitigate the opening and the closing. It’s more stark, I think.

John: You’re better to burn brightly than long.

Q: Can you talk about what that burning brightly means?

John: The heart freely living in the face and the eyes. It’s better than any other kind of life.

Q: Yes.

John: He’s showing you what matters more than what did.

Q: I really get that, what you said about the face and the eyes. I became aware of that quite a few times since then and while I was there: both the direct coming with the heart through the face and eyes, and also when I would slow it down or control it or, or notice that “oh, that’s when I would filter something.”

John: Close. It is only your being that can light your lamp.

Q: The being through the heart?

John: As your heart opens, up into your face and your eyes come your being and your heart. There is no other real life.

Q: That’s really, really big.

John: Beautifully big.

Q: And, in a way, also beautifully simple.

John: All else is illusory.

Q: So becoming involved in thoughts and intellectual life and mental movements without that …

John: Is nothing; it’s foolish.

Q: But that can be engaged-in with the heart involved.

John: The intellect belongs to the heart and being. Separate from it, it’s foolishness.

Q: It’s only through the heart and being that we can know meaning and be in touch with meaning. Is that right?

John: Yes. The intellect without the heart is de-humanized. In all of your life what really matters is what have you done with your heart? Then what matters is what have you, from within your heart, done with your mind?

Q: Can you say something more about that process of doing from the heart, through the mind?

John: That’s where doing is given to the heart. The heart is the doorway to the being. All of your self and your life, through your heart, belong to your being. You can separate from that, but then whatever life you have is a life of naught.

Q: My sense is when my heart comes forwards like that, everything else in me becomes very small; there’s not much else.

John: Self-importance shrinks to nothing while your self remains displaying what you really are: fundamentally, from the deep outwards, happy – stroked or not.

Q: When I was there, there were so many things to see to, to tend to, to care for, to sort out and it felt like there was a natural prioritizing, a very clear seeing of what was needed to be done. I just saw what needed doing.

John: And that doing belongs to your being, through your heart, involving all of your self. If that becomes separated, then the separation is from meaning. Then you live life being a show lamp.

Q: A show lamp is for illuminating something that’s not real. When we’re moving directly as and from the heart, then it’s like we are that light.

John: Yes. Through openness, your father is switched-on again.

Q: Yes, it surprised me, actually, to see him in the way he was. It was beautiful, unexpected. And that amidst all of the deterioration of his abilities to function in the world and in his body and his mind.

John: His lamp was a shame, but his light was on.

Q: His lamp was a …?

John: A shame: all falling apart, not looking very well anymore. Not the kind of lamp that anyone would want.

Q: Yeah. And I imagine a lot of people would overlook that lamp. They would see the lamp, the tattered lampshade, and really not notice the light underneath it.

John: Blinded with self-importance you can’t see what matters.

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