My story

| Ton Haarmans

My story

Bullshit Here is the story of my, er, 'spiritual' development. Maybe it is a recognizable story for some, although of course every story is different. For what it's worth:


Ever since my infancy I have had a passion to find out the origin of the world I find around me.

Fortunately, my parents never forced on me a belief, religion or ideology. I am still grateful to them for that. So I had plenty of room to learn and explore how the world works.

I dug holes in the kindergarten sandbox to see what would be hidden deep under the sand. Other kids didn't do that, although I didn't understand why. Wells and sewers also had my interest: an invisible and hidden world right under my feet. A little later, once I was able to read, I collected scientific articles from the local newspaper. The first results of the DNA research, the beginning of space travel. I loved it all. When I was a little older I devoured books on elementary particles and cosmology and had a simple chemistry lab in my parents' garage. I also gained admiration for it at school. I was certainly not the most popular, nor the smartest, but at least I knew things no one else knew ... in mijn lab

In addition to natural science, I also devoured books on parapsychology, UFOs, theosophy and things like that. I consulted the Tarot and the I Ching and did astrology. I was a strong believer in science, but I also believed that there are still many things for which science (yet) had no explanation at that time. All very exciting to me!

That chemistry hobby resulted in a lab worker training and it turned out that I was actually not suitable for the boring, detailed routine work of a laboratory employee. I briefly worked in a bacteriology lab of a hospital where I was fired for disinterest and careless work.

Glad I got out of there! And now the way was immediately open to do what I actually wanted to do: study philosophy at university. And I enjoyed doing that for five years. At least that study was about the 'big picture' and the Big Questions of life. Great, all those different views through the ages, including Eastern philosophies, left-wing radical theories, metaphysics, etcetera. I was inspired by the views of Teilhard de Chardin and Henri Bergson, by books like 'Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance', and 'Time, Space and Knowledge' by Tarthang Tulku. I read Luce Irigaray, Noam Chomsky, Itzhak Bentov, David Bohm, Victor Frankl, Carl Jung, Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Feyerabend, Deleuze and Guatari, and so on and so on. My secondary subjects were parapsychology (with the famous professor Tenhaeff) as a batchelor and andragology in my doctoral period. Rhizoom

Having almost graduated, I started one of my final theses: a postmodern treatise in which I tried to analyze my own dreams, à la Carl Jung, in a philosophical context of my own. Definitely not a dry, textual explanation with footnotes and literature. But that was in fact the intention, my supervisor thought. I only had to make comparisons of and with philosophers from the past and this in a traditional way. A view and approach of my own were definitely not honored ...

What now? Disillusioned, I decided to quit the study. It anyway consisted of thinking ABOUT reality, so I thought. It had nothing to do with a direct, wordless contact with reality itself. And that's what I wanted: I wanted to know what reality itself is - not just think about it, but immerse myself in it. During that time I had also become acquainted with psychotherapy and counseling and that already brought me in the direction (namely: out of my head) ...

I ended up in a left-wing anarcho-activist movement. Demonstrations, squatting and radical therapy had become my life. Changing and improving the world by improving myself. Politics is personal and the personal is political.

Meanwhile, I had also become interested in the works of Carlos Castaneda, J. Krishnamurti and George Gurdjieff. Again I found here the idea that behind the ordinary consensus reality there is another reality that is the origin of the duality of person and world. And that with the help of certain techniques you can become acquainted with this reality and even become one with it. That idea really appealed to me. Getting to know the real secret, reaching Enlightenment, knowing the Origin… Also some experiences with cannabis pointed me to a possibility to that deeper state of consciousness.

And who could help me with this? The only one I knew in my area (by hearsay, of course) was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. But wasn't he that weird, capitalist guru? No way that I would surrender to that! Krishnamurti was also still alive, but I had literally thrown his books into a corner: he offered no technique, no method, so I had no use for that! I wanted to learn from a real 'Master' and that's how I came into contact with this guru through contact with a number of Rajneesh's students. I read his books and fell back in amazement: the man's views turned my whole life upside down. I felt liberated from a lot of baggage. I no longer had to do any political action anymore! A whole new life of self-exploration and meditation beckoned, a journey into my own psyche in search of a deeper truth. At a certain point I could no longer avoid it for myself and surrendered to the guru's vision. I wanted to take 'sannyas' and visited the Rajneesh center in Amsterdam to request this. Apparently that was not so simple. I would have to learn the Rajneesh meditations for a while first and wear red clothes. Finally the permission came and after a while a letter came from Bhagwan's secretary that I had a new name: Swami Pantha Chinmayo. In the center I was able to pick up my mala (unfortunately not such a nice wooden one, but one made of plastic), which I had to wear over my red clothes from now on. met mala in Oregon

Then followed a ten-year immersion in the chaotic merry-go-round of the sannyas culture and subcultures with its therapy groups, communes, meditations, ecstasy trips, pushed trips to Oregon, with intimidating leaders and emotional blackmail. But also with fantastic parties, lots of exuberant and cheerful energy. I've done it all. Still with that ultimate goal of Enlightenment in mind ... I came into contact with Zen, Sufism, Shamanism, Tai-chi, rebirthing, and all kinds of humanistic psychotherapy. I half-and-half believed in karma, reincarnation, chakras and chanelling. Besides Rajneesh I also read Douglas Harding, UG Krishnamurti, Da Free John and others… I was convinced that Consciousness (with a capital letter) is the absolute origin of everything and that I am that.

After the death of Rajneesh (who in the meantime was called 'Osho') I felt that I had to look for a new Master (doubts about the role of Rajneesh in Oregon also played a role in this). I thought I had found it in the Australian Barry Long, but the man was indigestible serious and incomprehensible. Alexander Smit was in vogue too with many sannyasins (including Amrito/Jan Foudraine, until he died much too early. Many people went to Lukhnow, in northern India to 'sit' with Papaji. That was the beginning of the satsang movement. I have attended various satsangs. The teachers of that movement were much more approachable than Rajneesh and other 'Masters'. You could just drink a beer with them. That was already a relief. The ordinaryness of those people also made Enlightenment a lot more feasible, it seemed. In fact, I was already enlightened. I just had to 'see' it. No method. Just here and now. Just 'see'. There have been times when I thought I had 'it'. 'Bliss' from here to there (for a few days anyway) ...

Satsang width Djihi Marianne Many satsang teachers, but also Alexander, passed on (and still pass on) the story of their guru (Papaji, Nisargadatta, Krishna Menon) and that story is called 'Advaita Vedanta', a Hindu movement that teaches the unity of the deeper (or "higher") self (Atman) and the cosmic principle (Brahman): the Absolute One Consciousness. The world (and the self) is then just a dream of the Absolute. Enlightenment or Self-realization is to realize that that unity is (already) a fact. I believed deeply in that story and in the story that I only had to "see" that unity (the so-called "direct path"). The once seen oneness would change the personal consciousness (or lower self or "ego") in such a way that the personal self gives way permanently to the unified consciousness (the "wave" merging into the "ocean"). To realize this I have read dozens of books, attended many satsangs and watched YouTube videos. And once you are enlightened, you are of course also released from all those terrible 'trips', all those nasty sides of your 'ego'. You are calm and wise and people listen to you ... My girlfriend knew better of course :-)

But whatever I saw, or thought I saw, was never permanent. A little later I was already searching again. On to the next video of Jeff Foster, Rupert Spira, Ramesh Balsekar, Tony Parsons and whatever they may be called. Not all those 'teachers' learn classical Advaita, but they are all so-called 'non-dualists' and they all take consciousness ('consciousness' or 'awareness') as the primary reality. Instead of 'Consciousness' the terms 'Here and Now' are also used or 'This', or 'Presence', 'Energy' or 'Aliveness', all with or without capital letters. The things and processes that we find in reality are only 'appearances' and have no existence of their own outside of consciousness ...

And there was always the doubt: if consciousness is primary and the only thing that really exists, how can it be that in deep sleep or under anesthesia nothing is noticed? There is then, in my opinion, simply no consciousness. And how can 'consciousness' find out what consciousness really is? And how can it know what is going on 'outside' in the so-called material world? And none of the non-dualists has been able to give me a satisfactory answer to that. And so I kept looking ...

Influenced by the work of people like Joan Tollifson, Darryl Bailey, Salvadore Poe and especially Robert Saltzman and Shiv Sengupta, the bottom of all those spiritual and metaphysical stories have been washed away, including 'non-dualism'. I now see that nothing is permanent, not even being conscious. And what is that, consciousness? Or matter? We don't know at all what is actually there. There are no definitive answers, no final conclusions. Drawing a conclusion only gives a false sense of certainty. Teaching conclusions gives a false sense of authority. And there may be experiences of unity, but they also pass. I only experience (if I am noticing) an unspeakable, indefinable event that is constantly changing ...

The lack of a definitive answer only reveals reality as it is. And it is the reality of my own mind. Nothing is hidden. There is no 'inside' or 'outside'. Everything shows itself immediately: perceptions, thoughts, feelings. I have no life, I AM life. Life lives me and control over what comes up is just a story I tell myself. But no one knows what life actually is. Nothing has an intrinsic meaning, except meanings that I give myself. There is, as far as I know, no plan, no destiny, there is neither god nor soul, and that means life is ultimately free.

The origin and essence of the world and the self is a mystery and that's OK. It's OK not to know. I just have to be careful not to make THIS story an absolute truth again and thereby close myself off from what is always offering itself as new ...


"Mistake after mistake is the perfect way"

Elihu Genmyo Smith

"We are all human here, but only some of us are really adults. A real adult acknowledges impermanence, death, and human limitation, and is not looking for escapes from the inevitable. Forget about 'enlightenment'. It's only another idea among many. Find your own mind."

Robert Saltzman