The Comfort Zone as a Danger Zone


Interview with Jivanjili by André de Jong for “InZicht” (InSight) magazine. February 2009
The theme of the February 2009 issue has been: “InSight of and about women”.

People are coming to you and they expect to learn something. What motivates them?

When you have been looking outside yourself long enough, and you have changed your hairstyle many times, bought enough new clothes, second boats and third houses, traveled all over the world and married again, then it is possible that you become aware of the endless hole you are unable to fill up, and of an undefined longing to come home. That is the first sign of awakening of consciousness. You start to see that you cannot be fulfilled by stimulus from outside yourself.
Zen tradition says: “The human skull is the only ‘beggars’ cup that can never be filled up”, one cannot get enough. Finally it can only lead to oversaturation and one gets physically and mentally exhausted. Oftentimes this is the turning point. The dynamism has gone. You can experience this as panic, or end up in a crisis. But a crisis can be very beneficial. That comfort zone, totally protected with so called securities, is dangerous. There society goes to hell, because we tenaciously hold on to our securities, because we think we know something. But we don’t know anything when we look deeper. Not-knowing is free of control and we are so scared to lose that so called control.
Take for instance a wave, a high wave. There is a lot of dynamism in it, but then as it reaches its peak, the dynamism is exhausted and it falls back into the ocean. You could say that the peak, the moment of exhaustion, is the turning point.
That, what we call spirituality, is an incomprehensible driving power which cannot hold out any longer and falls back into the ocean. All water goes back into the ocean in its own time. That is a universal law.
With that the teacher is like a tree, unmovable and without judgment, unconditional in love. People can rest under that tree and come home to the tranquility within.
Some stay, others go on after a while. All is fruit but not all fruits are ripe at the same time. When you reach the point of exhaustion, then you are ready to meet your Teacher.
That can be the turning point from being aimed outside, into going inside.
Is it true what “they” say? Is it true that we have to wear yellow and black this spring? Who in fact is saying so? With what/whom am I measuring myself?
You are getting tired of comparing. Then, when you turn inside, another sense opens up:  the Ear of the Heart. Then you will hear the heartbeat in yourself, but also in the wind, in everything, and then you will see that there is more than I, me and mine. Then the notion occurs “who am I really, what do I have to give?”
That you could call spirituality. But you can call everything spirituality. I’d rather call it here clarity. With clarity it can also be cloudy now and then, but the identification with the situation is gone. Through that, the understanding of the temporary nature of the clouds is stable. Moreover, the sun is always shining behind the clouds.

Do you think that something like male and female spirituality exists?

I think that spirituality as such does not exist. Either everything is spiritual, or nothing is spiritual. When we use the word ‘spirituality’ as distinction, then I am the last one that is spiritual. ‘I Am’, is the only thing I can say. That is total, beyond every concept, including the concept ‘spirituality’. That is the heartbeat in everything and everybody, including the smallest fly, in all forms of creation, in all phenomena.
But I do understand what you mean; you try to reduce consciousness to men and women. That gives immediately a dualistic perspective. Through that a polarity arises: there is day and night, coming and going, male and female, etc. As soon as there is a word there appears its opposite. So, through this dualistic perspective we tune into a part of the whole.
In a concept such as ‘spiritual people’ we see mankind in separation. Then we forget that this human being is a part of the whole. When we separate ourselves and we don’t have to wonder whether we have anything to do with the neighbor or the Earth that we walk on, the air we breathe or the elephants in the Savanna. Our ignorance consists of the fact that we are identified with only a part of the whole of universal phenomena. Universe means “one song, one verse”, the heartbeat in everything and everybody.

When you notice that people come to that understanding, do you see a difference between the way men and women are maturing?

Yes. absolutely. I don’t want to generalize, because when it comes to an individual and, for instance, I look into your eyes, I see neither man nor women. I see God looking at God.  In duality we distinguish  men and women, and they go together. They don’t only go together to reproduce, but also in all sorts of other ways they interact, as rhythm. Creation is intelligent, not intellectual but completely intelligent. There is no leaf that doesn’t develop with the tree it is on, there is no tree that doesn’t ripen with the seasons. Everything is one rhythm and rhyme. Men and women, different in gender, do have indeed different characterists in waking up. Eventually there is neither male nor female. But the way to maturing can be energetically quite different for women and men. The various spiritual traditions take this also into account.
The nature of women is the ability to receive. Receptivity is a natural feminine quality. When you are pregnant, the only thing you can do is to wait for nine months. Imagine, as a man, that something like this happens to you, without having anything to say about it. That the fruit comes out in its own time, oftentimes with infernal pain, through an exit that seems to be much too small for it. And after that your body produces food. Isn’t that miraculous?
The nature of receptivity, I see it as totally impersonal, is fostering, instinctive, sensitive and intuitive. Those are the qualities you need to mature, so that you are aware of when you are listening to your intuition and when you are compromising. Women have easier access to this quality, but also have a pitfall: the sensitive body in its immature form is an emotional body and that is an obstacle that can be transformed.
When we talk about men now; they are the ones who have to feed and protect the women in that time of pregnancy when the women are so vulnerable.  We are no hunters and gatherers anymore, but the principle still exists. Those qualities require that the man is mentally very sharp and is able to estimate situations very well. In his immature form, rationalizing is oftentimes the obstacle on the spiritual path of the man. The wish to argue and analyze can here be transformed into intuition.

When you say it like this it sounds like the distinction between Jnani and Bhakti, the way of knowledge and devotion, in its immature form.

Yes, they are qualities too, and as qualities they are maturing fully when they are interwoven. Jnani without heart, without Bhakti, is as dry as the dessert. And Bhakti without Jnani can be an emotional rag. Then we keep on worshipping outside ourselves, we are so very sensitive, and we cry crocodile tears and you may are wonder “where is the backbone”.
The male and the female principle go together. They complement each other perfectly in their truly natural state. The way of consciousness is a way of integration of Jnani and Bhakti, in which we are going to see through the illusion of separation. Then we get the transparent eye.
Feminism has done a good job, indispensable, but we are one and that we may never forget. We need each other.
When we, as man or women, live in any separation, we cannot realize the oneness.

The living in separation is a habit that is deeply rooted. It requires a great discipline to not do it.

Exactly. As long as we have a judgment we remain sensitive to it. That doesn’t mean that we have to allow everything. Accept also that what you cannot accept. It is important not to go into the emotionality of the women or the rationalizing of the man. When we don’t judge we are clear and in that clarity we know if we should do something or do nothing and be in peace with it: “It is like it is”.
In clarity there is a certain efficiency, an inseparable attention, like a Zen master who cannot be distracted when he shoots an arrow. Efficiency means that your actions are clear without going into complicated thought streams.
There are times in our lives that we all get shocked in our heart. When we look back, shocks can be those moments in our lives where we make a huge jump in consciousness. We always get what we need, but oftentimes it is not what we want at that moment. Everything, really everything, is for our development or better to say for our awakening. We free ourselves more and more from identifications.

It is as if life pushes us out of the comfort zone.

The comfort zone is a danger zone because we are bored stiff and will rust in it. We are on a treadmill and lose creativity. And then we think it is shocking when we move to another camping site, after being on the same camping site for 26 years.
I am talking here about the true call for Waking Up. Often the push is involuntary because you are shaken from your comfort zone by a shocking incident: a child gets leukemia, your house is flooded, all of a sudden your money loses its value. See how people at present are shocked out of their comfort zone, all over the world. That goes much further than getting new neighbors on the camping site.

What about your own history? I read on your website that you had quite an ‘unsafe’ childhood according to the Dutch norm. Has that had any influence?

I can only speak from my own experience. I came into this live with a certain clarity, without knowing that it was clarity. It was hard to push me in a box. I did not take anything for granted.  From my nature I have always protested vigorously against getting the truth forced as dogma. So, I was a difficult child. I did not really “fit” in.
The background I had should bring a lack of confidence. I was so negated and denied, by pronouncements as “you should never have been born, take care that I never see you, and that I do not want to be reminded about your existence”. That was painful, but don’t forget that the universe is intelligent, and in my case I looked deeper and deeper inside to see how bad I actually was. While looking inside, call it contemplation, I found the Heart. The Heart or the Centre as a borderless open space, which was neither mine nor someone else’s. And I understood quickly that nobody, including my father or mother, could say that I should have never been there. I fell completely through it, already as a child.

For myself I have the idea that I would have bargained away everything in my childhood, up to God, just to get the love of my parents.

Yes, but my parents didn’t give me any opportunity to love them. My parents didn’t have any time (for me). We had a separate nursery and we had staff. There was much distance, all opportunities to feel lost. Outward appearance was very important while both my father and my mother were in an emotional crisis. But what is the advantage of that? If I go to a psychologist with this story, he will give me free therapy for years. In our society we are used to make a drama out of this, but that is not necessary. There was no way that I could come into a comfort zone. Attachment was not possible, and enlightenment is being fully detached.  So, I am deeply grateful. Who knows what is really going on; maybe my mother was a Zen master full of compassion who used the Zen sword time after time so that I could not root anywhere. I really had to go inward to realize that there is not really an “I” and a “you”, that in essence everything is ONE.

That I can imagine but my mind is protesting.  

Now, that is typical male. For one time, you don’t have to get it, but just let it be what it is. And see that it is nothing else then a, until now probably unfamiliar, possibility for you. Listening without analyzing is Pure Love which doesn’t know any conditions. It will open doors in consciousness up to infinity. The danger about thinking that something is not possible is, in this case in relation to my childhood, that we never overcome our childhood because we are stuck in a dogma. We probably all had a mother who had said “boo!” to us when we were three years old. We do not need to be by definition dysfunctional because of that.
Here in Holland (the West) we have made our ‘I’ much too important in our psychological belief system. We really like to linger in that.  In that way it can be an easy excuse to not live our full potential and take responsibility for our actions.
This applies for men and women.
In principle I see everybody as fully competent, intelligent beings.
You ARE love anyhow and your heart knows.