This book is a synthesis of insights deeply inspired and verified by the following work:
Peter D. Hershock (1996). Liberating Intimacy. Enlightenment and Social Virtuosity in Ch’an Buddhism. Uitgeverij State University of New York Press.
Jerry Katz. (2007). One. Essential Writings on Nonduality. Sentient Publications.
Jean Klein (2006). Who am I? The Secret Quest. Non-duality Press.
Jean Klein (2014). I am. Non-duality Press.
Lama Thubten Yeshe. (2014). Introduction to Tantra. The transformation of Desire. Wisdom Publications.
Daniel Odier (2001). Desire. The tantric path to awakening. Uitgeverij Inner Traditions
Bernadette Roberts. (2005). What is Self? Sentient Publications.
Rumi (1996). Jewels of Remembrance. Treshhold Books Servire.
Jos Stollman. (2001). Jezus als zenmeester. Het Thomas-evangelie opnieuw vertaald en geïnterpreteerd. [Jesus as Zen Master. The Gospel of Thomas re-translated and re-interpreted.]. Uitgeverij Servire.
Tarthang Tulku. (1981). Hidden Mind of Freedom. Dharma Publishing.
Thich Nhat Hanh. (2007). Living Buddha, living Christ. Pinguin Putnam.
Word of thanks
Thanks to Elisabeth Claes for bringing me into closer contact with the ‘yogic’ spirituality: advaita, kundalini and tantra.
Thanks to Eric Lancksweerdt and Marleen Van den Bosch for the valuable suggestions and words of appreciation.
Thanks also to Greet Deckers for reading the manuscript with an open-minded, and yet also critical-appreciative eye.
Thanks to Stefanie Claes for the wonderful illustrations which capture and support the spirit of the text.
About the author
Sven De Weerdt is a meditation teacher and an 'in-vivo' researcher on how to live life to the fullest.
Further, he is a leadership development consultant (University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium), a visiting professor at Hasselt University, an independent facilitator of learning and development processes, and the author of books and other publications.
This book pays little attention to the ten thousand different, private 'mystical' or 'spiritual' experiences that people can have. It merely lays bare in concise terms the basic structure and dynamics of human consciousness. But to make clear that this book is no abstract philosophical treatise, I will briefly describe three different core experiences that have enabled me to give the source a place in my life.
(1) At some point in my childhood I found myself lying on the sofa suffering from a fever. My father would then close the door to the kitchen to let me sleep comfortably. The kitchen used to be the 'nerve center' of our family, the place where it all happened: cooking, eating, talking, playing board games, hosting people, repairing things, etc. And there I was, lying ill next door in the living room: shaking, resting, awake with my eyes closed, completely at one with that bodily feeling of headache and hypersensitive skin. Those all-body sensations pushed my thoughts to the background. And then I remember those moments when the sounds of talking, clinking dishes, sliding chairs from the kitchen, that those sounds 'came to me' in a way that I experienced as intensely beneficial. Healing almost. Twenty-five years later, I would experience similar sensations during a silent retreat. Attention to those bodily sensations broaden to encompass the sounds of the wind, birds, for example, or floorboards creaking under footsteps. Then, that intimate encounter with all that presents itself in consciousness is all there is. The thinking mind becomes absorbed into a broader whole.
(2) In the final stages of writing this book, I had to go to the dentist. Sitting in the dentist's chair, you can do little more than keep your mouth open and follow what the dentist is doing. Somehow, in situations like these, a very salutary kind of bodily sensation springs up spontaneously from my lower abdomen and spreads over my whole body. I first experienced this about twenty years ago at work. My computer was no longer working properly and an IT specialist came to take a look. He sat down at my computer and started doing all kinds of things that I understood very little about. I sat beside him, simply observing what was happening. And then I experienced the same kind of energetic sensations surging up from my lower abdomen. When I described this experience to others, they had little understanding of what I was talking about. After many years, that feeling has become quite familiar and has been quasi-permanently available. It has become a path to return to consciousness time and again. These sensations are not quite as strange as I first had thought. They are referred to as kundalini energy by Indian scholars. There are many practices that can increase awareness of this energy.
(3) I once ran into an acquaintance in a train station. The meeting was heartfelt and candid. We had a chat and then went our separate ways again. In the minutes that followed something peculiar happened. It felt as if I had been immersed in a bath of deep peace and love. In the days that followed, I experienced intense connection with the people around me: strangers on the street, colleagues, family, and friends. I simply saw them more clearly. I more accurately saw what they ‘really’ are. They radiated, so it appeared, and at the same time remained the same. It was as if I could see through their armor. I saw human sensitivity all around me, behind layers of defense. In the process, I felt a deep love for life. It was as if I had returned home to myself and to others. The importance of existential questions fell away. This experience lasted about a week and then faded away. A few weeks prior to the encounter in the train station I had been part of an intense, five-day group learning experience which had increased my sensitivity to the uniqueness of people, to their differences and to the relational stuff that happens between them. On the basis of that intense group experience, the image of mankind as a (gigantic) bundle of four-dimensional onions came to the surface. People can be imagined as 4D onions that share their core. People's minds are located somewhere in one of the outer layers. That is where we experience distinction and separateness. But when we are more in touch with our deeper layers, with our common 'heart', we experience more unity and connection. From that unity, we become aware of the tremendous richness, uniqueness and diversity between people who are all here to be.
Later I came to realize that each of these experiences were signposts to ‘the source’. More than that, they are manifestations of the source itself in ever-changing guises.