Han Marie Stiekema Sermes
Q. Hearing the word "inner prayer", I
immediately had to think of the Church.
A. We in the West abandoned
Christian practices for good reasons. Because of our deprivation, there was a great hunger
for inner search and realization, something the Church couldn't give us, so we turned to
Q. Well, I am practicing Zazen myself.
A. For a long time we have been
thinking that compared to meditation, prayer was very inferior. Meditation was equal to
Self-realization, while prayer merely stood for a very superficial relationship with some
Q. That is exactly how I feel. That's why I
became very curious, why you - as the representative of a new spiritual initiative - are
apparently cherishing the old way.
A. To be honest it also came as
a "shock" to me. Until this very moment there is still a small part in me, that
offers resistance to the idea of "prayer".
Q. So what turned you on?
A. Let me explain. First of
all, in the beginning you indeed think, that the "once Enlightened, forever
Enlightened" idea corresponds with reality. However, life teaches you differently. In
practice, life moves from the Ultimate Dissolution to identification with the ego and vice
versa, including all states of consciousness in between.
Q. What kind of difference does it make?
A. Well, that even after
Attainment every day is different. Although you may have a sense of Oneness, your actual
awareness changes its color all the time e.g. the quality of actual awareness is never the
Q. Which means?
A. The crucial thing is, that
once actual Oneness is leaving you and has become the background of your daily existence,
your new situation is characterized by "you being here" and "THAT"
Q. So even after Realization some kind of
dualism is restored?
A. I don't like to call it like
that. Dualism is a fixed state of mind. What I mean is very different. The state of
consciousness is a dynamic one, moving constantly from one pole to the other, from the
Ultimate Oneness to the ego, including various planes of consciousness. Crucial is the
acknowledgement, that in the new situation a new kind of relationship has originated, that
between THAT and your actual state of mind.
Q. In practice it means, that sometimes you are
in Oneness, sometimes in a state of relationship.
A. Correct. Moreover - to make
it a little more complicated - Oneness proves not to be the Ultimate. There is something
Beyond. Something that cannot be grasped or realized. It is what the Buddhists call
"Nirvana" or "Emptiness beyond Emptiness". I called it the
Cosmic Womb or Great Mother. While Oneness can be realized (but not constantly, see
above), the Mother cannot. So, how to relate to Her?
Q. So how?
A. Well, at this crucial moment
the Mother has sent Teresa of Avila on my Path. From her I learned the practice of
Q. Is it different from what you had to do in
A. Of course. Furthermore,
while meditation brings you to your True Self, with the possibility of expanding your
awareness further (toward the Ultimate), inner prayer is establishing a relationship
between you and the Ultimate right from the start. Thus, I had to revise my opinion
Q. But isn't prayer very superficial, while
meditation immediately brings you to your deeper layers?
A. That depends. Every approach
has its own surprises. The emotional aspect of meditation has long been neglected
(especially in Zen-Buddhism). This is a mistake. F.i., a strong longing for Wholeness has
proven to be very crucial. "Inner prayer" has always cherished this aspect,
Q. Could you elaborate further on the method of
A. First of all, you should
become aware what kind of relationship you have with the Great Mother. Is it an
intellectual one? Did you read about Her? Or is it more emotional? Do you have a heart
relationship with Her? Or is it perhaps a more intuitive one, one in which you sense Her
Presence in the HereNow?
Q. In my case it would be a more emotional one.
A. Okay, please sit down in
that chair and relax. Close your eyes. Start feeling your feet in contact with the floor
and your back in contact with the chair. Watch your feeling. Once you are firmly
established in yourself, you try to feel the space in this room. Try to establish a
relationship between your inner observer, your bodily feeling and the space around you.
Subsequently, you imagine the space to be the "Subtle Energy" (Presence) of the
Q. It is very weak indeed, but it is there.
A. Good. Once the relationship
of you being here and "She" being there is established, then you open your
heart, and you start allowing yourself to talk to the Mother. Anything that is
spontaneously coming up. The less inner restraints you have, the more beneficial it will
be. Entrusting your most intimate feelings to Her, is where it is all about. Crucial is to
simultaneously being aware of yourself, the Great Mother and your talking. Everything has
to happen in the same space. Only when inner prayer coincides with the HereNow, only then
something can start happening.
Q. This is very unusual for me.
A. I understand very well. At
least you may have some idea about the "technique" now. Please, open your eyes,
breath deeply and move your body a little.
Q. What should one know more about it? On the
one hand I feel reluctant, on the other hand I feel a certain attraction.
A. Don't force yourself in any
way. If the right time is there, the Mother will pull you toward Her. In the mean time, it
is good to be as natural as possible during your prayer. In fact, the more you feel
yourself like a child, the more the Mother "will feel attracted to you". Mothers
are fond of children, after all.
A. I am very serious in this
regard. The thing the Mother likes most, is you becoming like a child, once again. Once
you do it, She cannot resist you. All kinds of benefits, gifts and miracles are being
bestowed upon you. For the Mother nothing is impossible. She is ruling the universe after
all. She governs your spiritual, emotional and physical "bodies". Everything
returns to Her while continuously being reborn. So, if your plea is genuine, authentic,
passionate and truly devotional, She certainly will give you what you need most.
Q. Please, explain more about "becoming a
A. It usually starts with
visualizing yourself as the small child, you once were. Simultaneously, you visualize the
Mother as a Cosmic Womb, Something through Which you feel embraced and protected. You are
giving in to whatever childish impulse is popping up. So, you see yourself running toward
the Mother, throwing yourself in Her "arms", saying "never leave me,
ever" and the like etc. The more intense this happens (while watching), the more
beneficial it is. Sooner or later visualization (function of the mind) will turn into
feeling (function of the heart). Feeling yourself embraced etc. by the Mother is the
Q. Indeed, this could never have become a
prayer, favored by the Church.
A. Thank the Mother for your
foolishness. It is a treasure within.
That we all may become fools of
so help us the Great Mother!
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