Published in InZicht, february 2012
Raf Pype: Most articles in InZicht are aimed at recognizing your true nature and speak from a direct realization of this. While I totally acknowledge the importance of the emphasis on this recognition, I still get the feeling that this isn’t the whole story…
Hans Laurentius: Pointing to what-is is crucial in the direct approach and of great importance as far as I’m concerned. The point is however that experience shows that only the ‘ripe’ listener can really be reached. By the way a ripe listener is not necessarily someone who has been spiritually busy for a long time, but let’s leave that aside for now. As far as I’m concerned there are usually two requirements: on the one hand the recognition of the true nature (directly) and on the other hand a suitable energy system to let the recognition sink through (process). The latter often needs time, self-confrontation and guidance. People are full of attitudes, unprocessed emotional charges, fears, convictions and conditionings. As long as those take up all energy, transformation is not possible. That’s why I already wrote in my first book that for most people it’s best to walk both paths: ripening the energy system (becoming conscious, cleaning up) and exposing yourself to direct teaching/experience.
R: Can you speak of something like ripening or can we dismiss this as ‘mere specifics of the person and therefore needing no attention’? And if there’s a reality to ripening, how can we let this occur?
H: There are two sides to ripening: before awakening and after. Before, it means something like becoming an adult or fully formed human being. Which means: letting go of the resistance to feel, letting go of the urge to avoid or force all kinds of things. Most people react emotionally like little children, as long as that is the case there can hardly be mention of being fully human or the chance to wake up. This requires learning how to feel, discovering that you’re no longer a child unable to deal with anything, but that you can fully feel all energetic movements (emotions) and let them dissolve, instead of resisting or denying them or wanting to get away from them. And you can, and that gets a lot of attention in my sessions and workshops. So instead of avoiding or rationalizing tensions, emotions and patterns, we can learn to approach and meet them. You’re actually meeting segregated parts of yourself. You have to go towards them, not away from them. That’s why I always say: don’t fight, don’t flee, but feel. You have to go or feel right through it.
The ripening after awakening is somewhat different, it’s a mostly spontaneous continuous dismantling of all kinds of leftovers. Clearing and breaking down the rubble. But there is little to no resistance to this anymore because the ego has lost its dominance. Awakening and resistance or denial don’t go well together.
R: What is needed to ripen the true insight in all corners of the personality? How can the realization that we’re just Awareness work its way through the ego structures that are still trying to remain intact? Or is it enough to see the illusory nature of ego?
H: Taking things head-on, in other words self-inquiry in the sense of self-confrontation is the most useful I think. So no denying or attacking, but daring to meet it. If someone claims the realization of being awareness, then there should be no problem to put that so-called person on the operating table. There should be little to no resistance anymore to facing things. So if something occurs it ideally gets fully experienced immediately (after all awareness experiences everything directly and fully, it knows no excuses or fear), which causes it to dissolve. All pent up energy restricts optimal functioning, both of a so-called awakened one and of anyone else. Adults are a bit like awakened ones, they also won’t be defending their ego’s all the time, but will be facing everything and daring to feel fully.
R: Is adulthood not part of ‘enlightenment’ anyway? What is the difference between those two (ripening after recognizing your true nature and becoming an adult)? And what do you see as characteristics of adulthood? Or: which are the most important ‘childish’ tendencies to be seen through (or conquered)?
H: So an adult human being is someone who isn’t afraid, has less inclination to rationalize or make excuses, or to fight or flee. The difference with an ‘enlightened one’ is that they still believe to be ‘someone’, albeit an adult ‘someone’, who is self-confident and trusts and enjoys, etc. A so-called enlightened one ‘knows’ that he doesn’t exist, he is out of the dream, while the adult is still within the dream and living optimally (those are very fine people by the way, completely self-expressive, relaxed, strong, sensitive, creative etc).
In short, in both cases the childish tantrums and overreactive nonsense has been eliminated, but not the spontaneity, joy etc. In the end they are very similar, but one is ‘out’ and the other isn’t. But to be honest, it makes no difference to me. I’d rather see a good actor or musician than a soapy weak performance, and whether or not that actor or artist knows it’s only a role, has little bearing on the performance.
Key is however, whatever you want, without self-confrontation, without daring to look and feel, you’ll get nowhere.
R: Does ripening/becoming an adult happen by itself or does it require following a certain path? And if so: Is this ever finished? Isn’t there the potential danger that ‘advaita’ expressions like “there is nothing to do” get applied on a level where there actually is something to do?
H: In reality everything happens by itself, ‘your’ efforts also happen by themselves, whether you see that or not. In that sense the path is exactly as it is laid out before you. The thing is that if people take it the wrong way, and they do, levels get mixed up. Then advaita expressions are used as an excuse, or to disguise fear and resistance… And yet that too is part of the whole thing. Ideally, teachers will point out to people what to address and what to leave be and how to switch perspectives and that excuses with a spiritual dressing are still excuses.
Most people will have to ‘do’ quite a lot before everything becomes effortless. And that will always be those things they don’t want, which makes sense, because: if you already wanted what was needed, you’d be there already, heehee. As long as you’re trying to get rid of something or fill a void, or you’re still being judgemental, you’re not quite ripe, but a child-human.
At a certain point you will start to experience that the whole process is happening by itself: attention aims itself spontaneously at what wants to be released, needs to be done or experienced. From the outside it looks like someone is doing all kinds of things, but the inner perception is different from someone who believes themselves to be the doer/thinker…
R: Does the mystic expression: ‘the dark night of the soul’, mean anything in the advaita path or is this necessarily linked to christianity?
H: As far as I’m concerned that is a period of intense self-confrontation where everything gets questioned and we start to lose ‘faith (in falsehood)’. The seeing that you are FAKE. A period where, let’s say, the screaming soul has had enough and wants to break through the ego walls. A spiritual crisis which either breaks you or starts to wake you up. McKenna calls that ‘the first step’. Many people think they’re burned-out for example, and think they have a problem with their job, heehee. It’s almost always a spiritual crisis, a battle between latching on to the old, inauthentic, limited existence, and the initial push of something that wants to be totally and truly free… fascinating, and beautiful when I get to guide such people and they have some ‘guts’.
In any case, again, if you want to move forward you shouldn’t stay where you used to be, and shouldn’t keep doing what you used to do. Waiting, refusing, avoiding, fighting, fleeing, spiritualizing and rationalizing does not help. When you’re ready you’ll see what hasn’t worked and you’ll expose yourself to what IS, whether it’s pleasant or painful, you will have to look and feel. What gets felt fully gets released. As long as you can’t do that not much will change, and you get to go another round. All good.
Addendum after the appearance of the InZicht edition
Some people were claiming here that ripening is nonsense because there’s nobody there etc. Indeed the insight doesn’t ripen, but IS. That is clear. At the body-mind level there certainly is a progression, clearing away, habituation, in other words embodiment. For me it was immediately clear that those who wrote that it’s nonsense haven’t realized it, but are just stuck in intellectual understanding. That is called mixing up levels. No problem. Let those who don’t ‘believe’ in it eat green tomatoes and deny that cheese only gets spicy after thorough ripening and that grape juice isn’t wine. Sure you can pick apples in march, but it’s not going to work. Those who have ‘gone through it’ know better.
So the title could also have been: Don’t fight, don’t flee, just BE.
Thanx to Mark Meijer for the thorough translation.