So much to discover... - interview with Ganga Cording
- 30. 08. 2017
Ganga Cording is facilitating meditation retreats for over 40 years. This meditation teacher speaks on her experience in working with people, on therapy and meditation, creativity, longing for oneself and whether curiosity is enough.
AoN: Your first experience and tools for understanding yourself was through Western psychology. Where do you see the difference between therapy and meditation?
For me, basically the turning point was when I studied psychology, where I thought if I gather enough knowledge about certain parameters, I will learn how to find out who I am and also who others are. It was a very powerful time for me, when working in a youth and children psychiatry clinic as a clinical psychologist, I realized that it is, actually, all crap, not true. Nobody is really interested in helping people stand on their own two feet. Everybody was interested in fixing people so that they could function in school, job, and family. Nobody was really listening to them. There was no space for uniqueness. They have to be brought into the norm, but nobody was interested in understanding the person.
That, and together with my marriage falling apart, being in a new relationship, and just feeling 'I don’t know how to love, there is so much love and I am fucking it up. I don’t know how to do this'... It was a big turning point in my life.
Soon I came in contact with Osho where it is all about ‘being’ and ‘love’, about what does it mean to be a human being, what is ‘love’, “who am I”. That is where meditation really started for me. Before I had already had some contact with buddhist meditation, but the seed of real understanding Osho planted. Without telling me directly how to go about it, I had so much to chew on, that I began to look inside and find out who I am.
And I am still on it, though I am not looking for answers about who I am anymore, because that I know, but I am still in the process of figuring out the way I function, how my personality is sabotaging or directing my actions. It requires a lot of awareness, a lot of learning, undoing, looking at beliefs... I guess it is a kind of work that will never stop, but the basic connection with my being, with me is there...I would be very surprised if I would all of a sudden discover that it is not true (laughter).
And this experience of being me is the paradox of the work, that it is nothing personal. I don’t exist as a person, though I am here more of an individual than I have ever been, but the experience of who I am is a connectedness with life, with the universe, that is not personal. We all have it, we are actually born in it and we all have this connection.
The way I experience this connection and the way I live it, that is unique. Each one of us makes an unique contribution to this rainbow of life and how we live this connection, but the experience of being, of love, of truth, of consciousness...there is no ‘my consciousness, your consciousness’, consciousness is consciousness, we might have different understandings, due to our conditioning, learning, age, life experience and everything, but your consciousness is not different from mine or from anybody else’s, no matter what race, even animals and plants have it, consciousness is consciousness.
It is a very interesting journey...meditation seems to reflect more the eastern approach, with an emphasis on being, while the west focuses more on psychology and scientific research. The combination of the two is a huge enrichment in understanding man.
The Awareness Intensive process (‘Satori’ and the ‘Who is in’), or ‘Enlightenment Intensive‘, is born out of the meeting of these two worlds.
AoN: Is it that meditation is more around the unknown and unknowable, while therapy is more around the known?
Of course, in therapy, too, one gets to a point where there is nothing more to be known, where I stand in front of the mystery I can go on analyzing an experience, looking into how my mind structures are and how my personality is, and at some point I will also come to a point where there is something which is far deeper, which is the foundation, the unknowable. Who does this personality belong to, what are my roots, where do I come from...? These meditation questions come automatically. If I really do my homework...
AoN: If meditation is so simple, why is it so difficult?
Because it is so simple! (laughter) The mind likes food, the thinking mind likes to have problems, to dig into them and solve them.
Meditation, if I wanted to define it, is just to be here-now, to welcome whatever is going on inside, interpreting nothing as good or bad, yes or no. It is just welcoming.
If anger is there: ‘be my guest’, if joy is there: ‘be my guest’, not to get involved in it, not to direct the show, not to improve, not wanting anything else, but relax with what is.
That is a total ego bummer, because the ego wants to conquer, wants to have success, wants to reach somewhere, it is goal oriented and in meditation there is no goal. If one has a mind structure that is goal- or success oriented, one can maybe say, ‘ok, the goal is to be here’, so that the mind has something to do. For the thinking mind it is not interesting to be here, it is considered boring, there is nothing happening, it’s not a big bang
And it is not that by being present here I cannot experience spaces which are totally mind-blowing, but it’s not about excitement, it’s not about having a breakthrough experience to get somewhere, but a relaxation, an on-going relaxation into being present inside, in the body, this moment, with senses wide open fully enjoying this moment. So, meditation has a lot to do with being in the body. And this relaxation of 'I only can really be in the body and be sensitive to it if I say yes to what’s going on', if I have any ideas to improve myself then I create a split. I give myself the message 'not ok, not good enough'.
AoN: If one wants to really know him/herself, is curiosity enough?
It’s not. Curiosity stays kind of on the surface, it doesn’t make any real difference if I get to know myself or not. It is connected with the mind. It’s about sensation, of something new.
It is not really an essential thirst. It needs to be more of a quest and that has to do with taking the risk of letting go of the status quo, to come out of the comfort zone, to take risks, to expose myself and not hang on to routines and little cozy corners.
In curiosity, I don’t have to come out of my cozy corners. I just get some food for the mind, like having a new taste of ice-cream. There is no life involved, I know it in my head but it doesn’t affect me on a deeper level.
Inquiry touches me deeply, it’s challenging. To find out is a question of life and death, not just to see a new shade of something. In inquiry I need to be prepared that things might change, it’s much more risky.
AoN: Exploring who they are inevitably leads people to a crisis, how is that and why do people still do it?
Well, it’s true. The process requires that, in order to come out of a certain frame of mind, one has to go through a crisis. I guess that somewhere we all know that if we keep the status quo, as it is, it doesn’t work. That motivates us to go to Satori, for example, or any other process. The Satori process provides this safe holding environment, this container, where it is actually possible to fall apart. Everybody is afraid to fall apart because the whole education is towards being in control and never losing our composure. It ́s as if I am doing a mistake or set myself up as a failure.
But in a process like this, I need to actually understand that I need to go through this identity crisis so that I can come out of my habitual frame of mind. I need to give myself the chance to get in touch with something new. Of course, I don’t know yet what this new is going to be, so I am facing the fear of the unknown or making a mistake. I want to escape, because I have been taught to avoid moving ahead without any guarantee...so, it’s a handful I am facing. Yes, we are creating an artificial identity crisis in this process.
People who ask themselves the question “who am I” - not everybody does - know intuitively that there is more to them than they are in contact with. They know there is more possibility, more joy, more love, more trust...and that they are not in touch with these. This frustration, discrepancy and distance from oneself is painful and that motivates people. Without a certain degree of frustration and suffering, nothing much can happen. It gives me the fire, the fuel behind...'I need to find out'.
Of course, you can do that in many ways. It doesn’t require the Satori structure, although this is a very powerful one because not only is the sole focus on ‘who am I’, but also it’s not limited to ‘what am I feeling now’, nor is it problem oriented. It just goes straight to the core of finding out who I am, to re-establish that connection, to remember myself.
AoN: There is no goal in meditation and in today’s world it is difficult to imagine doing things without a goal. I have experienced the goal many times as being the very obstacle to getting things done. How can one unlearn being an achiever?
I guess reframing helps. Let's clarify something first. Ramesh Balsekar - as I remember - differentiates between the Thinking Mind and the Working Mind. The Thinking Mind deals with evaluation, saying 'good' and 'bad', it's all the 'abouts' as well as all this obsessive, compulsive thinking 'am I good enough', 'can I say this'. It has little to do with the facts of the moment. That is the domain of the the Working Mind.
So, if I have a goal oriented mind, 'I want to be the best, the most creative, the most beautiful, to have the right weight' and so forth..., I can replace these mostly self-destructive ideas with other ideas. If my understanding is that these goals are not helpful for me, then I can find other goals which support and nourish the self, like being present or being grateful for what I have.
To be more present means to be more aware, and I can only be more aware if I am in my senses and in the body. So I might discover I need to go for walks in nature instead of sitting in front of a tv...I can find new inputs for my mind. I put the working mind to work instead of being tortured with useless stuff produced by the thinking mind. But I have to feed it with the right input. And in the bigger picture all this is trivia in the face of Big Mind.
"No water, No Moon" - Nyodai and the Broken Water Bucket, by Yoshitoshi, 4th c.
AoN: Is the thinking mind that cooperative?
The thinking mind will be cooperative if it can see this is the better strategy. For that, I need to give it proper food first and practice. I have to go through this limbo period; with that we are back to where we started, the crisis, the 'falling apart'. I have to somehow convince the mind, like 'let me do this for 21 days and then you can look and see if this is really helping'. Or finding reasonable steps where I am not asking myself to do the impossible, but where I look for something I actually can do, where the thinking mind says 'ok', where I get the permission. I really have to be in a respectful relationship with the thinking mind.
If I just say 'fuck off, leave me alone!' All I will get is similar to the reaction of a kid throwing a tantrum. I need to use my intelligence and say ‘I want to try this, please cooperate. Give me some time to do this and then we’ll see’.
That’s painstaking work. Of course to a certain degree I can learn how to learn, which will speed up the process, but basically I have to do the same procedure with every belief I have. First I have to detect it, acknowledge that it is there, I have to find out what my strategies are, how am I relating to the belief, and then see what I can do differently.
There the western approaches come in, some very evolved methods of how these different parts of the inner can be explored, like gestalt, NLP, bioenergetics, neuro science and many others. Then this, slowly, slowly, makes the thinking mind say 'hm, it works' and it can start to cooperate. But, it is work, it's not just having a direct experience of being one with everything and being very elated and big and happy. It is great when it happens but that is the point when the home-work starts. As Jack Kornfield puts it, “after the ecstasy, the laundry”. First, the mind needs to be convinced, then it can start cooperating. That's the work and that needs patience.
AoN: You offer no shortcuts. Are there shortcuts?
No, there are no shortcuts. But the way people go in are different. Some people just go in and take a free fall. They jump and go right to the core, but have no notion of what’s happening on the way. Other people go step by step and kind of clean up everything as they go, so by the time they come home, everything is taken care of.
Those who take the jump, might take care of issues as they go about everyday life but not in a systematic way as the others. It may look as though some people are faster or more courageous in getting it. I see it as a different mode of operating. Working with so many people during the years, I saw everybody has their own unique way of going in. So, I had to let go of many ideas about what is the right way. Who am I to say which one is better than the other? So, shortcuts....would be nice, but - no. (laughter)
AoN: It seems we are flooded with advice, does advice work?
Basically, no. If advice is given without any investment on the advisers side, like a suggestion 'how about looking at that?' and it resonates in the other person and they say 'hm, I am gonna look into that and try this'....But then, it is not really an advice, suggesting others what to do, then it ́s more being a friend lending another set of eyes. Or, if I am the one receiving the advice, and I can feel the other is saying this to support me, i I have the space and freedom to take it or leave it.
In that sense it can be helpful, because there is no investment attached to it and it is an incentive for me to explore. What really helps is my exploration into it, not just following what somebody else says, because then I stay immature. If I am basically giving my authority to the other, saying 'ok, I try this because you know better, what is good for me', then it is probably not fruitful. It might work for that moment, but I will not have the experience of discovering that I actually have the intelligence and capacities of dealing with the situation myself.
So, it depends on the one receiving the advice. If they want to take it in a mature way, taking the responsibility for the exploration and making a decision their self 'ok, I want to try this', then it has nothing to do with the other any more. Then it comes from 'I take it on board, I try it, whatever the consequences I will carry them'. In this way, even if it turns out to be a mistake, it is good that I made this mistake, because with every mistake I make I am a little closer to finding a solution, because I know already this one doesn't work and I can go on looking. In this way I come more into my own authority. And still can be open to suggestions from others. But if I don’t do that homework, then I just keep myself in dependency and at some point get pissed off with it all and stop searching and say 'bye bye'.
AoN: Today, many different approaches are being offered. How to find our way?
For me, it‘s trial and error. If I click with someone: great. With such a multitude of approaches, it is impossible to check out each single one, I have to use other ways. Like, do I feel drawn to someone, what is my belly saying, how do friends feel after a retreat, testimonials online, etc.
It’s my responsibility to choose where I am going and why. Do I want to be fixed by someone, get a contact-high, be entertained? Do I want others to do the job for me or do I want to inquire into myself and learn how to respond and love myself, move towards inner freedom and joy? For me if it just makes me feel 'all right, I am ok' I don’t think it's worth it to go there again, it‘s more like a lullaby. Going to a movie or having a nice meal, a nice satsang, is all ok, but I don't think it will stimulate any lasting change. It will not bring me closer to my potential, it will not make me more free, it will entertain me and there is real good entertainment!
AoN: Human life is often painful, as well, what is the role of pain and suffering in our lives?
Well, potentially, suffering allows me to wake up because I have to look at what is not working. There is a disharmony, it hurts. So, I have to find out what it is that hurts. I don't know if this is so generally true, but suffering is caused by humans. It is our crazy ideas we impose on life that cause suffering.
For example, if someone whom I am very connected with dies, I will feel pain, I will be sad, I will be mourning, but I am not suffering. Suffering is like resistance to what actually is, I don't want to feel what is because I have ideas that it should be different. I am fighting with life. Not that things don’t hurt, there are many difficulties in life, but to turn it into suffering...let's call it a misunderstanding. It's self-induced, avoiding pain by questioning what's happening instead of opening myself to the direct experience of it.
Who says that sadness is bad, who says that anger is bad, who says that hate is bad? We wouldn't have it if we wouldn't need it. If I judge myself or others for it, I cause suffering for myself and others, because I deny myself a direct exploration of this manifestation of life. I impose that on others, also, by not being straight. It has something to do with straightness. With suffering there is an extra loop, going straight there is just the facticity: ouch, it hurts. If I think 'that shouldn't happen to me' or 'somebody should not have done this to me', then I move into suffering.
photo by Anthony N. Chandler
AoN: What is preventing us from being joyful in doing simple, everyday stuff?
Ideas, ideals, desires.... Ideas that we have to be special, rich, famous, slim. Basically, 'If I only had that, be like her, then...' is the big carrot. If I want to enjoy this moment, hear the birds sing, laugh and cry, and find I don’t then I need to take a look at what pulls me out of this moment. We are back with the ideas, ideals, beliefs, goals, the list of what needs to be done, the list of what is good and what is bad, what is spiritual and what is mundane. If I have this belief that 'only if everything is appearing in white light', then any little shade of grey or green will not be good enough. Basically, these ideas and ideals pull me out of the moment, so if I want to enjoy the little things of life I have to make this famous 180 degree turn, the mystics talk about so often. I come back to the experience of myself in the body in this moment and stop following some things I picked up somewhere. Usually, these are not even my own ideas, I picked them up somewhere from somebody, I wasn’t born with them. So, to make that turn and take a look: well, who is in now? what's wrong with now?
AoN: Meditation does not give promises and still, in my mind lingers a hope when I intend to meditate.
To just sit down and meditate is not easy, it takes a lot of practice. It is not easy because it is not entertaining, so the thinking mind is giving a good battle, trying in any way to get us up and do something else.
I think we wouldn't sit down and expose ourselves to this challenging situation unless, somewhere, we feel this longing, this wanting to come back into the natural state which we all know deep down, into which we are born, our inner resting place, our home.
This longing, to be free, to be in a friendly, harmonious inner space with ourselves and others...At least in my case, knowing this is possible helps me to remain sitting there. Slowly the mind relaxes, the breathing comes to the foreground and the mind -in my case often compulsively questioning myself- slowly, slowly fades into the background. I am settling down connected with my breathing. It is deeply fulfilling but not exciting and the mind is looking for excitement. There can be blissful moments, but when I sit down there is no guarantee that any will happen. If I had one yesterday that does not mean I will have one today, or a bigger one. It might take days with nothing revealing happening, just sitting there. One time 40 minutes can feel like 5 hours, and sometimes like 5 minutes. I never know how it is going to be today, the ultimate adventure.....
AoN: The everyday lives we lead often make us feel the routine in it. How to go around it?
It’s kind of strange, because in the self-inquiry technique is a lot of ‘routine’, but routine which allows me to wake up to what I am doing and who I am. It slows me down and doesn’t let me escape, but brings me back here. The outer routine is like a replacement for awareness. If I am present in the moment, there is no routine. From the outside it might look like a routine, but from the inside it’s completely different. Routine and presence don ́t go together.
There cannot be any routine in the connection with myself, every moment is fresh and alive, I never know what I am going to find when I go in. This is the risky and scary part because I really don’t know what I am going to find. This keeps me on my toes and prevents me from going to sleep and doing inquiry in a mechanical way. If I use it as just some motions to go through, then I am not present, I am not inquiring. Basically, I can manage to go through any situation mechanically, but then I deprive myself of all the treasures and benefits it can provide.
If I inquire in a mechanical way, and find myself thinking of something else, I need to take a look at my motivation. Do I think I am a better person if I do this? did I promise somebody else to do this? Why am I not fascinated and passionate with myself?
Also, if I want to find out if a certain technique is useful for me, I will put myself through a routine. I would say ‘I am going to do this for a week, one month, six months`. So, I don’t decide every day anew if I want to do it. No matter what my mind has to say to it, I just do it. After this period I will be in a better position to decide if this is useful for me and if I want to continue.
If I do it because I should, or am doing it for somebody else, I probably will not enjoy it and it will not be very beneficial either; it only works if I am in it. Maybe if I sit on the bicycle in the gym, I still might have some benefit burning up some calories but it always surprises me, people watching tv in the gym , while there is so much to watch in the body. It could be a meditation.
AoN: If one’s truth is an intimate and individual experience, it seems you would have a tough job working with people, of not doing their work for them and still doing something.
I like to approach people in a way that gives them the full credit for trying their best. For me, it’s most interesting to find out how they are actually inquiring. I let them take me on their discovery and contribute whatever comes up for me. If the person can do something with it, great, if not also great.
There is no investment, no set frame of mind of how this person should be, or that there is a right way. It‘s fun to meet someone in this open space, without a set idea of how this person should be. They take me on a tour through their inner world and I contribute whatever comes up inside of me with a total freedom for the other to take it or leave it.
There is another aspect to it, also. Truth has that quality that if it is spoken, it creates a resonance; a resonance in the body, in the heart, in the mind. It’s a very strong sign, and however it is experienced, it leads the way. In the interviews - meeting individually with people - I kind of sniff it, like a dog taking up a scent. I continue listening and wait until I feel I can find a way in. Of course, that requires a lot of respect for the other, not assuming anything or imposing my perception on the other, but to point out things which might allow the other to expand their experience of themselves.
Usually, then there is this relaxation, this 'aah' when this meeting happens, we are on the same page. There is this delicious resonance. It is hard to describe what actually happens there, it is like this fresh breeze is sweeping thru; aaah... all separation gone, meeting, oneness. Truth is truth and if one can share this together, it is a wonderful experience.
And yet, there isn't THE Truth. Everybody has their own experience and access, there is no 'that is THE Truth, now I found it'; every moment it needs to be discovered again. We can meet in truth and we know it when there is resonance. Truth is more powerful than resistance.
AoN: You led countless retreats. What kind of motivations do you find in people that apply to retreats?
There is a whole spectrum. Some people just know what meditation does for them, like brushing the teeth every day, they know they need time that is just for them, where they stop and look. It is like a mental hygiene, coming for a retreat, they need this otherwise they lose contact. These people will come pretty regularly. They feel the need and that it is really nourishing for them, it grounds them, they are more in the body again; much needed for being present. The perspective of what is important and what is not important gets sorted out. They just feel even more ready to dive into the next moment in life.
And there are some spiritual types who are often afraid of their anger and afraid to live. They usually don’t come to Satori because it’s too much work, too confronting, but they might go to silent retreats where they can feel more at ease and lift themselves above others and be ‘holy’, but basically, it’s an escape from life.
And there are the ones who like just to sit and be with themselves in a holding environment together with others but without any interaction.
AoN: You have a passion for calligraphy. How are creativity and meditation connected?
Well, a few years ago...people kept saying 'I am in such a good space after Satori, then I go back into my daily life and it doesn't take long - it's all gone. What can we do?'. The Satori process does involve both sides of the brain, but it involves the left side more, because we really have to make an effort to express our experience, to allow this Me, or whatever the experience is in the moment, to surface, and then communicate it.
For many people the left side of the brain is quite challenged,- the logical, linear, straight reasoning. Of course, in each experience the right side of the brain is also involved. It stands for creativity, being open, not for the logical, linear thinking, it's more like the pictorial, multidimensional, creative, poetic way of experiencing life.
Then I thought 'Ok, what can be done?'. For many people, trusting their experience was kind of crushed in their childhood, so I was looking for ways on how to provide this trust. One of them is chinese calligraphy, the way I use it, because we don't know anything about it. We don ́t have any criteria to judge. It is a method very much like inquiry, only the medium is different. Instead of using the voice you use the brush and put on paper whatever there is in the moment. You put on paper whatever you find in this moment. Working with the chinese paper and the brush... well, you cannot correct anything. There it is, like it or not.
This method encourages very much to be oneself, to actually live in the moment, using a medium one has no clue of. It is not about becoming a calligrapher or produce nice paintings, it is just expressing oneself on paper, in that moment, with whatever energy is there. It is amazing, nobody can imagine what happens. It’s sheer expression of oneself in the moment. It’s very powerful for people and fairly safe, it’s you, brush and the paper. The uniqueness of each single one clearly appears in no time. If there are no rules one has no choice but to be oneself.
In the other things I do, the clowning, lies much more challenge because others are involved. It’s the same thing: it’s not about becoming a funny clown, it’s about presenting yourself, who you are. Done up with a red nose it is much easier to show yourself. The clown is allowed to fail, to repeat things, to perform and be real...for people who like to go to meditation retreats and often have difficulties in meeting others or stand and give a speech, showing themselves and being seen, is a very powerful method. It is touching to see what people go through, the effects...
It has nothing to do with being an excellent or lousy artist. In calligraphy, for example, I even consider to make a big fire with all the 'good' and 'bad' paintings, because it’s not about success, or with having something to present. It’s for oneself to learn to trust, to be more spontaneous, joyous and friendly with oneself, to have more space inside. To live all these wonderfully different shades of oneself.
AoN: In that light, how do you see artists today?
Well, I guess there are all types; some people use their art as their way of inquiry, I think they are probably more interested in their own process, how to resolve issues in their life (through painting, songwriting, music, etc.) and not about the public appearance. If they are skilled on top, they might be very successful.
And there are others, who do art to become famous or whatever, using their skill for some other target. There it’s not really about being an artist, it is more an ego thing, the focus is more on the approval from others and not so much on the inner satisfaction which is fulfilling for them.
In between there are all possible varieties.
For me the real creativity is the creation of myself. How to find ways to live my potential? How to realize what I am born with, what life has given to me? How do I access that? How do I live it? Basically, not being passive and just letting it happen, but actively taking part in the unfolding of this bundle of life force.
It is inbuilt in life that a rose wants to flower, that a cabbage wants to be a cabbage. If it doesn’t do that something is not ok, if it’s trying to be somebody else. It is about finding out who am I, who is this mysterious me, how can I cooperate, so it can unfold.
AoN: You yourself use opportunities to meet other meditation masters and treat yourself with retreats. How is it to change roles, from being a facilitator to being a participant?
For me, there is not really a difference. It is very clear that being a teacher and a student belong together. In Satori I often sit with a person and inquire my own stuff, and whatever comes, comes. I don’t feel I am losing authority by showing my humanness, that I have tears, that I am angry, that I don’t know what to do, that I get bored, just like everybody else. How can it be different?
So, for me it is important to be myself. I cannot always take part by sitting on the cushion but I also have to stay in the role of the facilitator. Therefore it is nice for me sometimes to go somewhere else where I can explore parts of myself which I might not so easily get in touch with by myself, where I need some input. That is when I go to retreats. I like it, to be somewhere where nobody knows me, where I am there just for myself, where I don’t have to keep an eye on how the things are going with other people. Where it’s just about me. I find it very nourishing and enriching because I get new stimulation, a new ‘aha’, a new understanding. Since the good news about inquiry is that one can go into it headlong and the mystery is never going to be finished, I don’t need to worry if I do too much, I end up with nothing (laughter).
It just goes on... There is so much to discover, and not just in my personal life, I just love learning.
There are so many findings in neuroscience opening doors...researches of how big the radiation of the heart is, for example. We live in this world of 'I am here with my little heart' when in fact it spreads over hundreds of meters. The two of us right now, the people going on the balcony over there, we are in each other’s radius, but I am not aware of it. I feel there is so much more to discover and I’d like to make myself available to that. I think we really need it, in this time on this planet, to bring as much awareness on how we deal with each other and the environment. We really need to pay attention... it’s all about consciousness. If I am conscious that I am not different from anybody else (maybe it appears so through a bit different arrangement, but the me in you and you in me is not so different) and open to that reality, because it is a reality and not just a fancy fantasy or a dream, and to how that can be lived... There is an urgency to find out, without getting tense about it. If there is something I can pick up and experience inside, because only what I am in touch with inside that I can live, only that I can live with others. But if it’s not conscious to me, it can’t be of any assistance to myself or to others. Consciousness is the determining factor. That is why I like to go to other places, and see other people, other teachers, and learn.
AoN: You led an exciting life, started in the ’60s, during the student movement, ended up living in Asia for almost 30 years and we can say, forgetting about your yearly schedule, you settled on an island. And still, whenever I see you, it seems the adventure goes on and on.
It does. Yes, I have an intense traveling schedule, some parts of it are tiring, but what I like about it is the practice of flexibility. The constant letting-go...I have to let go my garden, my cats, friends...whatever is not completed, it is not completed, it is just a fact. It helps me to let go, to be flexible. I see it as good practice in flexibility. And being in different environments, countries, groups of people, gives me the opportunity to stay awake. And it keeps me on my toes. It is easy if I am sitting down in my paradise, which is very nice, and it is also easy to go to sleep. It helps to experience all ways of being alive and not be in a routine. Sometimes it is good just to do something else, coming out of routine and letting that go, seeing where it takes me. Not being afraid, because I trust my capacities to find out...