I grew up in a small town in the Netherlands next to Rotterdam. Religion played absolutely no part in my life until at the age of nineteen my heart opened unexpectedly in a powerful epiphany. If I had been lucky this could have been the end of my search, but life had other plans. My soul had opened to its source and it had to conclude its journey towards completion – no cutting corners allowed.
At twenty-one years of age I set out on the famous spiritual journey to India, driven by the strong currents of the inner seas of longing for wholeness, It is a long story, quite interesting too, but for now I will tell you the moral of the story – that all true seeking, wherever it may take you on this beautiful planet earth, will in the end lead you to no other place than your own self – your own limitless, shining, beautiful, eternal and quite ordinary self. The self, you, that has never been broken, no matter how strong the hurricanes of life become. It took me a good forty years to come to the understanding of what is often said – you are what you seek.
As the famous Persian poet Rumi says: “I looked in temples churches and mosques. But I found the Divine within my own heart.”
My journey began with transcendental meditation and moved from there to six months with the Hare Krishnas. Yes, dancing in the street and singing the glories of the Lord! Then at twenty-one years old I travelled to India where I lived for a year with the Tibetan refugees in the Himalayas studying Tibetan Buddhism, and meditated for almost two years in a Buddhist meditation centre. As much as I loved India, India did not always return the favour, or at least not in the ways I wished for. I returned home very ill.
Back in the Netherlands I came in contact with a Dutch Buddhist monk. He seemed sincere and knowledgeable and a worthy guide. Seemed is the key word here. After three and a half years of serving him as his right hand man it was clear that he could not help me any further on the spiritual path.
At the time of my departure from him, I was introduced to a new rising star at the spiritual firmament. My young heart’s longing for fulfilment was strong, I became once again a good attendant – this time of an American teacher called Andrew Cohen. I stayed with him for fourteen years. As is often the case with charismatic, self-proclaimed enlightened teachers of liberation, the beginning of this story was heaven and the ending was hell.
The events that led me to leave this community were emotionally so scarring that it took me many years of therapy, various forms of healing, and the ever present grace of life to resolve this complex period of my life.
Need For Healing
“When you go through a difficult period,
When all doors seem closed,
Even when you feel that you can not stand it a minute longer, DO NOT give up!
Because this is the moment that your life will change course.”
How true this is! If only we could remember this at the times of despair.
It was during my own crossing of the dark night of the soul that I came across a beautiful form of healing called Johrei (meaning “purification of the soul”), which helped me enormously. The inner sky of dark thunder clouds started to break open and showed glimpses of the bright blue sky beyond. I was fortunate to be taught and initiated into this healing art by an exceptional Japanese man, Mr. Ajiki. If ever there was a true Bodhisattva, his life exemplifies it by having done nothing else than heal people with Johrei his entire life. Never for a fee, always by voluntary donation. This gentle but profound healing art, which has Kwan Yin as its source of origin, helped me heal emotionally and physically at this critical point in my journey.
Around the same time I came across a beautiful ancient Daoist healing art called Chi Nei Tsang. This chi kung based massage of the inner organs was another gift from life that contributed greatly to my recovery.
A year later, in 2003, while living in Jerusalem, I was introduced to the brilliant trauma work of Peter Levine, which he coined Somatic Experiencing. After only one session I decided to school myself in this methodology. Somatic Experiencing proved itself to be invaluable for me.
I had the good fortune to be trained by Gina Ross, a tremendously gifted woman, who facilitates the trainings for Somatic Experiencing in Israel and is also a powerful force for peace in that troubled region of the world. I had several somatic experiencing sessions with Gina, and the benefit of each session felt equal to having done six months of therapy. It was quite remarkable. Somatic experiencing can resolve trauma and stress effectively. No wonder I became a somatic experiencing practitioner.
Life is infinitely generous. It keeps giving us opportunities for healing and growth on this journey towards completion. Oh yes, some of the challenges we get to face are entirely unfair, to say the least, they simply stink.
As true as this is, it is also true that the wound is the place where the light finds its way of entering us. If all you can do is crawl, then just crawl. Never give up. Help is always there, maybe just beyond the next corner.
Pain likes to lurk in the dark. You can be sure that when something keeps the mind in a pattern of agitation and disruption it is a given that life wants something deeply buried in the bowels of the unconscious to see the light of day, so that it can be understood and healed. This can be extremely uncomfortable and trying to say the least but there is no way around it; whatever is there, it has to be seen to be released.
Bring it out in the light of day. It is here, in the light of your own awareness that the cure is found. and perhaps in the company of a good friend, be it a therapist, teacher, husband or wife, or a stranger in a bar, or maybe simply by yourself, it is in the light of awareness, that the deepest healing takes place.
I met my beautiful wife Mirella in Jerusalem. We have a wonderful eleven year-old daughter. And more recently I have had the grace of finding the traditional teachings of India, the Upanishads. I have received so much help along the way. These Indian scriptures reveal a little known and even less appreciated astounding fact of life – that fulfilment, happiness and contentment are your birthright and therefore always within reach.
And I’d be honoured if I can be of assistance on a part of your journey.