The very beginning
Before I was six years old, I nearly died several times. I nearly suffocated at birth, was ill with whooping cough, I was rescued from drowning, and we nearly shipwrecked in a hurricane at sea on our way to the USA. I’m not sharing this because of the story or because of any drama, but because survival, death and contraction became a theme in my life through which I discovered That which cannot die.
The near death experience of almost drowning is the very first time I saw that I am not confined or limited. In the beginning it felt as if I was in my little body, fighting to surface, clawing for air, but at a certain point I was no longer in it, the body was fighting within Mé. It was spacious, peaceful, and overflowing with love! I wás that loving presence for whom it did not matter if the body would die or if it would live. There was just calm being, and I knew it was Me. As soon as I surfaced it felt as if I was in the body again.
Because this happened at such a young age there were no ‘adult words’ for the experience. At home I spoke of beautiful fish and wonderful colors, while the water was murky and muddy. They laughed. That was not possible. Later on, I made this drawing.
In the sky I am silently watching, on earth a contracted body with her teeth clenched. What a clear picture of what was experienced then, and what a beautiful metaphor for my spiritual quest later on.
The near ship wrecking happened a year later and apparently the peace of that experience was still ‘in the front of my mind’. I woke up in the middle of the night and asked my father: ”What is going on?” He answered: “The ship is probably going to sink down”. I did see the distress, but somehow it didn’t mean anything. I replied: “Who cares, then I will become an angel”, turned over and went back to sleep.
To know who we are means to be safe no matter what, but of course it was not a conscious knowing yet.
Getting older all of this was forgotten, the near death experience lingering in the background as some vague memory. I took on being a separate me, I learnt to adjust, live up to the norms of society and my upbringing. As most of us do. I often felt like an outsider. I just did not feel at home.
One of the ways I felt the most at ease and happy was out in nature, living in my own fantasy worlds, and through creating art. In that I could express myself, in that I vanished.
Throughout the years challenging situations like a divorce and death of two life partners intensified the contraction. My body was often in a state of alert as if there was still something to fight for, or against. I wanted to get away from life, and knew a deep longing, but did not know for what. Due to that, there was more and more physical pain. I looked in all directions for relief of this deeply felt discomfort.
At the most unexpected times there were these beautiful experiences, expanded states, and openings revealing glimpses of another reality, right in the midst of the dark, of despair, of the challenging...and I turned to spirituality.
My search in that direction was pretty intense, as if a matter of life and death. It started with more superficial choices like buying angel cards or special gems, wearing certain clothes, innocently thinking and hoping that would bring me closer to peace. Closer to enlightenment.
That very first awakening came back to mind. Somehow I felt there was a message within it, something of significance. Yet, I was still interpreting it on a personal level, trying to find its meaning but not grasping the truth of it.
The glimpse itself was an experience that I subconsciously longed for. The idéa of home. I did not know that the experience pointed to the ever present.
When I heard about non duality, it felt new, ánd known. It was as if a fire was lit within me.
I read lots of books, visited multiple teachers, several Dutch ones, but also Adyashanti, Unmani, Jeff Foster, Mukti, and searched online. I watched hours and hours of videos of Mooji, asked many questions, even took the liberty to phone teachers. Anyone and anything that would quench my thirst.
And then I met Rupert Spira. That was like a home coming and I knew he was ‘my teacher’. I attended webinars, retreats, watched his videos and through his yoga meditations and answers something within shifted. For good.
I was no longer looking from a body, but át the body, totally free of any limitation. I was happy, ecstatic! For months and months I couldn’t care less if the mind was coming up with all these ideas. I was waving it all away, laughing: “Take it up with the boss”.
Wanting it back
Until...IN that realisation and IN the ever present being that I am, the old residues of contraction, survival and death started to surface. Fear, panic, trying to hold on to the body, tight muscles..all of it. I thought I had done something wrong and lost it.
Now I know that is not true. What we are is ever present and can never be lost. It had never been lost, it was just forgotten. These residues came up to reveal a deeper understanding. To be let go of, to align.
But at that time it was such a disappointment and I struggled with it, resisted it, fiercely trying to be the space, discarding all of life. Listening to certain teachers this approach seemed to be confirmed, and the only way to go. But it hurt.
Abiding ‘as I am’ became a way to exclude myself from life and thereby from the natural expression of I, Being. It was a form of fear, seeking control and a denial of this human experience. When Rupert spoke of inclusion and showed ways to explore and to open, there was a huge relief. Exclusion cost me so much energy, separating myself out from..ultimately..myself.
And then I nearly died again. It was a moment of distress..full on confronted with intense fear, and simultaneously moments of deep peace and total surrender. In the midst of it I sometimes felt like a small child wanting to be held. I was brought back to a state of vulnerability, opening my hands to ‘God’ saying: “Here I am”.
It was only afterwards that I felt ashamed. The idea that I should have met the intense pain and the possibility of dying with peace and I should not have been affected by any of it, was painful. That which I am, I, the ever present allowing Silence, replicated and hijacked by mind.
It sounds crazy but in retrospect, my body has been a great teacher. The pain, the fear, the contraction are Love. Love urging me home. Love turning to itself. I sometimes found and find it hard to trust that. It is only through experience I know it is true.
I would lie if I would say that I always like or love pain, I Anneke don’t. For a long time I thought that being spiritual meant being in a certain state and being able to be with pain in ‘a beautiful way’, but that was the way my mind translated being Love into ‘doing love’. It was another way of suppression and living up to a norm, this time a so-called spiritual one.
They sometimes speak of the path of disillusionment or disappointment and I know what it means, seeking like crazy in the ever changing for permanent joy and peace. Seeking any possible healing or diet or herb to ‘cure’ the body. I failed. It was more of the same pressure. I had to learn, know, what surrender really is.
I saw a video of Gangaji, and something compelled me to write her. I was granted a membership and joined the forum. They encouraged me to write blog posts and share my insights, just like the others.
It is as if the floodgates opened and one blog post after another started pouring out. There was such a joy in expressing what I knew the truth of. It was like an ‘out-coming’, openly ‘confessing’ that this is what I love and this is what I am.
That period was a great opportunity to speak it all out loud. It was an acknowledgement and helped me establish in the recognition, which also supported being more gentle with pain and contraction.
In the meantime Rupert’s teachings encouraged me to go deeper, abide, include, and cooperate. To have a direct experience instead of living a life based on assumptions and beliefs. He offers the possibility to explore the mind, how this felt sense of me resides in the body, if there is a body at all or just sensations. Not to get stuck by discarding the phenomena, but returning to the very core of what life really is. All of life!!
I am so grateful for all the insights, the experience of openness, the deepening of knowing myself, of being myself. Which is the same.
But, it is important to see for ourselves what we really are. So we don’t have to believe a teacher or remain dependent. Believing immediately means doubt, being dependent we place the authority outside ourselves, while it is right here. Then you knów what you are! We all have equal access to the truth of our being. We can all find out right now.
Sinking back into Myself, abiding as I am, aligns all experience with What I am. It becomes more and more clear that I’m not confined to a body, relieving me of the seeming limitations of ‘being a body’ or ‘a me residing in a body separate from the world’.
Knowing there is no body at all, no inside, no outside, just a ‘field of being’ relaxes the contractions, which are there to protect this me. This body. Thoughts appear to be empty, the world is revealing its beauty. Which is a beauty belonging to Awareness itself.
It is all surrendered to Itself. Seeing there is already just the One. What was taken on, rehearsed, experienced over and over, what seemed so real, is gradually realigned by seeing, by felt understanding, by experiencing over and over what we really are.
From becoming to being
I am watching the sky, the clouds, hearing an airplane, the chirping of birds, I feel the wind on my skin while resting my attention in what I really am. All is revealed to be without dimension. It is one indivisible whole. It is so intimately beautiful. My footsteps, someone who asks for directions. The simplicity, the immediacy of now.
Experiences of being. Knowing being. I am that. You are that.
Even the near death awakening was an expérience! But it was I who was aware of it, of Myself. I don’t have to attempt to get it back, I already am what it was made of. I discovered death happens within what we are, my last exhale seen with great love and tenderness. A first breath when birth appears. Sensations dancing in freedom. Freedom dancing. It is all opened up, revealed, uncovered. And alréady true!
No longer running towards some future goal hoping to find freedom and love, trying to escape discomfort and pain. Which only takes me deeper into contraction. The running is slowed down, by seeing what is here.
True healing lies in discovering what is already present. What is already fulfilling and whole. In finding my true nature within all that exists. Not by thinking about it, but by direct experience. Thén I can honestly say ”Yes, I know”.
That this is what I long(ed) for! So simple. Right here, right now.
Infinite, whole, ever present, unconfined, appearing as the life we know.
The body within Me, and Me in the body, the Formless in form, the Timeless in time, the Impersonal as the personal.
Quietly ‘in the sky’ and full on experiencing an Anneke ‘on earth’.