Rotterdam, an unusually warm
evening at the end of March. The promise of spring softly
fills the city and the hearts of her inhabitants. It sure
fills mine. It makes me uncommonly relaxed and easygoing,
mixed with an untamable expectation and a yearning for -
yes, what exactly? Well, probably the desire to be free.
Free from all the tangles that come with my personal me.
To be free from myself. In the end, that's what drives
me, almost monomaniacally, and all my emotions revolve
around reaching this goal.
I'm sitting in a cafe, it's early in the evening and just
barely the right time to be reading a while without
attracting too much attention. The tall man with his
stubbly beard, sitting beside me, seems to think the
same. He's reading, like me. The two of us are like an
island of tranquility within the hectic social
interaction bursting loose all around us at this very
moment. Is it the feeling of springtime coming? Is it the
undefined sense of loss, which seems to translate itself
into a longing for contact and mingles with the feeling
of informality? I don't know the answer, but even though
most of the time I clam up around other people, it
suddenly makes me open up towards my reading companion.
He's reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, I
notice. I know the book. For me it was so overwhelming I
read it straight through, twice. At over 800 pages, this
was an all-encompassing and deliciously long immersion in
a universe in which large and small, cosmic scale and
triviality mingle to give rise to a liberating ecstasy of
estrangement. Perhaps this is what I'm looking for. Will
the man beside me be getting the same message from the
The man has a relaxed friendly look in his eyes. On
impulse I decide to ask him the question.
"Pardon," I say in Dutch, "mag ik u wat
"English please," he replies with a northern
"Excuse me, may I ask you something?" I try
again. He answers with a small nod. "Would you agree
that this book is about freedom?"
The man looks me straight into the eyes. Friendly, I hear
myself think in a flash, and at the same time I realize
that his expression hasn't changed at all from when he
looked up from his book, nor has it now after hearing the
question. The same kindness - no more, no less. Suddenly
I hear myself add to my question:
about enlightenment?" Immediately I feel
embarrassed. Why did I say that? How can he possibly know
what I'm talking about? He must think I'm an idiot!
The same instant the redness of shame creeps onto my
cheeks, the man himself comes to my rescue, saying,
"That's exactly what this book is about."
My heart jumps with joy! I'm saved, and I seem to have
found someone who could be on the same wavelength as me.
Out of relief I show him the book I am reading, and
translate the Dutch title: You are not what you think.
The book is written by a Dutch guru I visited a couple of
times recently, and who I am rather taken with. I
understand exactly what he is talking about, which gives
me a pleasant and quite hopeful feeling.
"This book is about enlightenment too, but in a
direct way; through accounts of satsangs. Are you
familiar with the term 'satsang'?" I ask him.
The man smiles. "Yes," he says. "That
book, going by the title, might be about enlightenment.
But it's not about realization. Neither book is about
His answer takes me by surprise. "Excuse me, what
did you say?" I ask a little bewildered.
"Realization and enlightenment mean the same thing,
I would think
"If your book was about realization, the title would
be You are not what you are," says the man, grinning
and still looking at me with the same friendliness as
before. Unmoved kindness, I find myself thinking, I
didn't know that was possible. But still his answer makes
no sense to me. "I don't understand," I blurt,
trying desperately to get a grip on his answers. You're
not what you are? How, what
"Of course you don't understand," he replies,
"because if you could, it wouldn't be about
realization. But can you follow it?"
Now I am totally lost, and when I hear myself answer
"Yes," it feels like I have just lost my last
ally - still being looked at by those unmoved friendly
eyes. For an instant there is silence: while I can hear
the murmuring sounds around me, this noise seems to be
drawn into a bottomless pit and I'm sucked into it too.
I'm here, but I'm also gone. What is happening?
~ ~ ~
guys and girls,
We are about to engage in a series of what this mule Zil
calls 'SlamSatS'. Although that which we are pursuing has
no form and is older than the world, older than time in
fact, the way we will be pursuing it does have a form,
and it may strike some as 'new'. It isn't, it is just a
variation on the ancient 'neti-neti' - not this, not that
- approach, be it using a modern vocabulary and expanding
itself to persons, enlightened beings and everything else
you might hold holy.
Remember as we go on: if you take something personally,
look at what it is in you that takes it personally,
because it will be something that still thinks it's a
person. Mind you, even mules in full view can get
insulted. But that would be on topics like their car or
their wife. On matters concerning realization they cannot
be insulted, because their certainty is not on that
level. If, concerning realization, any feelings of hurt
or insult might come up in them anyhow, both the insult
and the insulter for them will be the source of deep
gratitude, because it means something lit up that
subsequently was destroyed by the mere fact it was in
~ ~ ~
1 (20) Sometimes
I get a long period of oneness, but then it's followed by
a feeling of separation. How does this happen?
2 Separation is a thought, do you see that, 20?
3 No Zil, actually I don't. I mean, it's not
something I invent, it's something I perceive, like I
perceive this room
and what you say...
4 That's what you think, but it is not true. There's this
oneness, everything is fine and warm and whatever - and
then all of a sudden: 'separation'
5 Yes, that's what happens.
6 Or so it seems. What's the crux of oneness?
7 Well, absence of separation - or is that just being
8 No, it's extremely well put in fact. There's no
separation in oneness. So can oneness recognize
separation, does separation have any meaning to oneness?
9 No, that doesn't seem possible...
10 It isn't. So what can recognize separation, something
that doesn't know about it or something that already
11 The second one, I guess.
12 Right you are again. In order to recognize separation,
there first has to arise something in which the seed of
separation is already present. Which is you, small you,
mule. There has to be the belief in an entity that is
separated already and only when that has formed, the
experience 'separation' can arise. Which means that
'separation' is a belief, a thought of this entity -
which in its turn consists of a belief called
'experience'. Thus, separation is a thought of an
experience. A belief within a belief.
13 But it doesn't feel like a thought, and on the
face of it it doesn't feel like ego either!
14 You can see that it must be there first, can't you?
15 I would have to admit that's the only answer.
16 So mule is there already, only it has not been
recognized as such yet. A moment later it takes the shape
of separation and then your good mood is ruined. Do you
know how it is possible for mule to already exist in that
oneness you talk about?
17 I think I'm scared to find out.
18 You'd better, because it will hurt. It is possible for
mule, because the oneness you experience is mule too.
It's an experience, an experience of oneness. That should
have made your alarm go off. Every experience is mule,
19 Damn. So there is no oneness?
20 Yes there is, but never as an experience. Realization
does not belong to a level, experience does. Experienced
oneness may be a side effect of the realization of
oneness, but that does not mean experienced oneness is
the same as realization. It's a common mistake of
enlightened mules to forget that. And as a result getting
attached to this great oneness-experience. Like you are.
Separation is a thought, oneness an experience. Both come
up. Accept that they do, accept that their appearance
does not matter at all. Then you won't be fooled by them.
if the experience of oneness isn't the
oneness itself, what's the point of being realized?
22 None at all for mule. None at all for oneness either,
because oneness cannot become more one by realization.
The realization that you want, the goodies that you
expect - they are all part of muleworld. And muleworld
will never become one, because it only exists by the
grace of separation. Seeming separation, because all is
one and will remain so no matter if you realize that or
not. That's why I say nothing changes with realization.
There's only experience, and experience does not exist...
23 So why should I...
24 ...try, want, strife? You shouldn't, it won't help you
a bit. You don't have to either, let me show you. Get
out. (points at the door)
~ ~ ~
1 (32) Lately I
feel like I'm getting more and more attached to silence.
And I'm starting to get the idea that you use a lot of
words. Why do you do that? Isn't realization all about
2 Realization is silence, 32. Nothing more silent than
nothing. But that silence has nothing to do with the
'little silence' you are describing. Your silence has an
opposite called 'noise'. In this case the noise of my
words. That silence is disturbed by the words - and by
the thoughts they provoke on your side. The silence that
can be realized is not only the silence that noise comes
in and disappears into again, but also the silence that
your little silence comes up in and disappears into again
when it's replaced by noise.
3 The real silence is a roaring, thunderous silence, a
silence that is as much present in a meditation cave in
the Himalayas as right in front of the Rolling Stones
performing. Every noise in this seeming world, and every
silence, consists only of this. Once your mule is in full
view, it is aware of this silence all the time. Not as
silence as such, but translated into some quality of
'shhhhh' that cannot be otherwise described. Within this
'shhhhh' everything happens, while the 'shhhhh' makes
this happening somewhat translucent, somewhat not
happening at the same time. Which is the actual
situation, or non-situation in fact. Your question and
the world of images and judgments behind it, get
slaughtered the same way by this 'shhhhh'. When that
happens, it turns out that these words, however agitated
they may seem, reflect the roaring silence in a very,
very clear and tranquil way.
4 (19) So you mean that the sense that I find your
blustering annoying is the sense that I am deaf for the
5 My dear mule, these words you just uttered were utterly
worthwhile to utter, because they present your
aggravation as a barrier. So they are useful. But they're
not true of course. That what can hear is not you. You
consist of deafness. There's no way you may hear the
silence, you'll never experience you being dead either.
You are the barrier itself. You'll have to die first and
who will hear the silence then?
6 But you said that the silence can be heard.
7 I did not. I said its effect can be perceived. This
effect is described as 'shhhhh', but it is not a sound,
it's a translation into a quality. But not a quality that
can be perceived as such. The only sign of its existence
is what it causes in its turn: a translucence of
everything that formerly was solidly existing within
space and time.
8 But isn't music a much more effective way to point
9 You're all undoubtedly familiar with the 'finger
pointing at the moon' phrase. And you all know that
looking at the finger instead of the moon is a mistake,
10 Well, there are two problems with music. First, it's
designed to enchant you, which is looking at the finger.
However, you might be able to get past that first trap,
look at what the finger is pointing at and suppose that
is the moon: some higher principle of beauty and
tranquility. Suppose you indeed are able to experience
truth in some shape or another. Then you might say that
the music does help to make you become aware of this
moon, doesn't it? Maybe even gets you there, which at
least must be awfully close to that?
11 Yes, that's what I experience and why it seems
such a good way...
12 ...to point at the moon. Well, maybe it is. But what
moon is the finger pointing at? Clearly something you can
imagine, feel, suspect... and ultimately even experience.
Which means it must be something that's part of muleworld
too. Only when it is part of your world or part of your
imagination, what I just described can happen, can't it?
Now, lots of spoken word is positive, imaginative,
describing the indescribable - and as such pointing at a
moon. And I agree, lots of times music can do that kind
of pointing better.
13 But how about a sentence like "That whole
pointing at the moon business is pure muleshit because
the moon consists of finger"? What music can give
you that precise notion? What music can break itself to
pieces like the words in these SlamSatS do? Words that
describe the moon in a way that says "These words
point at the moon. But don't be mistaken: the moon that
you can perceive, imagine or even suspect as being
pointed at by these words is not the moon they point
at"... Only words can be wielded with the precision
needed to kill themselves on the spot. Bang! It's a
bloody self-sacrificing bloodbath! And as such leaving
behind nothing alive or in one piece, which is as close
as you can get to describing the moon.
~ ~ ~
176 pages. $8.00
Purchase by PayPal and download