Han Marie Stiekema Sermes
Q. It started so hopeful. Meditation as the Way
to bring you closer to everyday reality, to your True Self, or to God. The outcome being
compassion with all "sentient and non-sentient" beings. It seems, the reality
has belied these expectations. Could you comment?
A. The irony is, that concern
about the purity of meditation has been the major cause of its decline. Some time ago,
asking "what is meditation?" used to be answered "To become (be)
aware" or "Mindfulness". If asking, what the goal of meditation was, the
answer was invariably "meditation has no goal" or "meditation itself is the
Q. Is this very wrong?
A. Not at all. In essence,
awareness is meditation and meditation is awareness. To go to the core of it, is its
strong point. It is helping you to get more insight into your Deeper Self. However, its
"neutrality" would show unexpected weaknesses as well. It didn't take the power
of materialism into account. The question "what for" had been omitted. Ever
since, we have paid dearly for that.
Q. How come?
A. At the beginning, the
principle of meditation was purely spiritual. It was an expression of "finding your
True Self". This True Self was said to be the Source of Peace, Love and Harmony. By
realizing this, your life automatically became transformed. And not only this, this new
inner quality would "spontaneously" "radiate" around you, so that
inner Peace etc. "automatically" would touch the hearts of other people.
Q. A kind of positive chain-reaction, so to
A. The first discussion that
flared up, was about TM. In contrast to its more "puritan" brothers, it started
promoting meditation as a tool for improving health and well-being. Not only could it
contribute to inner calm and peace, considerably reducing stress-levels, but it was said
to be an excellent way to get rid of all kinds of "psycho-somatic" disorders as
well, high blood pressure and the like.
Q. Something people very much welcomed, isn't?
A. An increasing stressful
society was desperately searching for all kinds of stress-reducing methods. Meditation was
one of them. From that moment on, it seemed, it was "every man for himself".
Once meditation became more familiar, all kinds of demands came to the surface. Under
pressure of the "market-economy", in which everybody had (has) to be his or her
own entrepreneur, an increasing number of teachers were prepared to meet those demands.
Everybody has to make a living, after all. So, all kinds of training's suddenly popped up,
shifting from individual guidance to fulfilling the needs of overstressed employees.
Q. Moving themselves away from spirituality,
A. It is worse.
"Spirituality" was stripped off from its original meaning and purity. It became
heavily corrupted, serving both the interests of individual careers, as well of that of
big business. It is the situation we are in today.
Q. What can be done?
A. Hopefully, we can have
agreement about the fact, that there is a hell of a difference between somebody, who
meditates because he wants to increase his chances on the career ladder and another one,
who sincerely wants to lead a spiritual life. In the current situation, both can be
participants in the same class, talking about the "same" "spiritual"
issues, doing exactly the same exercises. The first step is to change this outrageous
situation. Hence, the "what for" question has still to be answered.
Q. Does it mean, asking people about their
motivation, before they will be allowed to start class?
A. From the painful experience,
that "becoming aware", can be (mis)used for all kinds of purposes, even those
which are anti-spiritual - those forces who deliberately want to destroy authentic
spirituality - yes, we have no other choice, but to put "motivation" at the
foundation of our practice.
Q. Which could be?
A. Redefining meditation, is
where it is all about. We have to indicate, what meditation is all about, in such a way,
that only those who feel attracted to the goal of meditation, as we have defined it,
will become participants.
Q. What could be such a new definition?
A. First of all, it is
important, that the candidate acknowledges the situation he or she is in. He or she must
be honestly giving account of his attachment to the ego and everything connected to it. He
or she has to (painfully) acknowledge his or her imprisonment with the world of
materialism and individualism, sincerely expressing his or her longing for Wholeness.
Q. Wow, this sounds very powerful indeed. As a
new foundation, it could really give some hope.
A. We also have to do our
homework, obviously. It consists of giving our spiritual work a new dimension. Meditation
has to be defined as "a tool" for overcoming one's alienation, isolation and
addiction. Isn't our suffering "to be cut off from Heaven, earth and the
community?" The "what for" of meditation will be exactly that. Not only
will it help to become aware, but also helps you to fitting in into the Whole - Heaven,
earth and the (new) community - once again. It is a new definition of our True Nature.
Contrary to the past, this is not confined to an individualistic interpretation, but
reflects the necessity for the individual of living in a meaningful context.
Q. Does this have implications for meditation
as such as well?
A. Meditation is all about
restoring contact. While sitting, you first restore contact with the floor (earth).
Subsequently you relax, helping you to find your inner observer (Heaven). Through
expanding your awareness into your immediate surroundings, you start including others
(community). This is not "a technique", but the spontaneous outcome of
"feeling awareness". The details you may find elsewhere*.
* See "The Integral Way" Step 4
It is all about Wholeness.
Don't forget: the Mother is
looking at you from a distance.
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