Tiruvannamalai, January 28 20019.
Hello Son of Bro,
This is my belated answer to your last email.
I have decided to make a blog out of our dialogue, so I have anonymized you to be the Son of Bro and will give the whole lot after this my email, as background information for the happy few that are interested.
Thanks for your last answer in which you give an extended ‘justification’ for the ashram rules being based on the solidity of the Scriptures.
I admit that I have asked for it, allowing my questions to be coming from my sligthly feeling irritated.
And it gives me a fixed (stand-)point in relation to which I will try to find expression to where I stand in this.
By the way, sorry for the delayed reply.
As it was already clear that I wouldn’t make it to the planned retreat in December, I gave myself in to preparing for my current trip to India.
By now I am already for the sixth week in India, having arrived in Tiruvannamalai after a month in Auroville.
Meanwhile brewing on the wider how and why of my growing stronger knowing that I am not going to visit the ashram at all at any time. Nor any other place that without knowing me is willingly putting me and others on restrictions that are seemingly unquestionable.
By now, having written what came up and reflecting on it, I might come one day, cause the restrictions you talk about are only at play for repeated visits.
And by then it might even something that could be brought up in satsang, as nowadays we call looking carefully to a subject that might be carrying unclarity with them.
I teased you on your saying that it is all about ending our suffering.
By asking you bluntly: are you suffering?
In your answer you widen this up again: it is about the suffering of all of us.
Yes, and it is about getting to the roots of this as you mentioned.
I have been around ‘getting to this roots’ for about fourty years now.
At this point it is fully clear to me that, apart from enlightened outbursts of extasy, in the end for basically all the people I know and have known, there is more to be cleared up, cleaned up, to be transformed.
It is by now also clear to me that there is not one single way out.
Despite the fact that many followers of many roads are convinced that ‘their’ way is the way.
Despite the good intentions it is unavoidable that any exclusion has side effects.
For instance in the form of judgements.
And it is a small step from better no sex to sex is wrong.
Or from no smoking allowed to the use of nicotine is despicable.
Or from no drugs to any use of drugs is not okay.
And what about no sex allowed, with nothing more in the user manual then ‘just don’t do it’.
We live in a world that is partly the result of some of this originally maybe well intended manuals for living.
The Belgian philosopher Marc De Kesel, in his deeply interesting book Auschwitz mon amour, says this about it (my translation from Dutch):
“This anti sexual tendency has gained influence in the course of history. With the expansion of the anti earthly, anti sexual christianity this tendency has conquered the West and gradually the whole world.”
For deeper insights in the side effect of exclusion read Giorgio Agamben.
If I were to give a quick improvisation of what he is talking about, it would kind of go like this: exclusion is done by a culture/society/group and the very act of exclusion has as its very effect that the excluded is right away included as the excluded.
That unforseen ‘presence’ leads to the act of suppression, to the excluded being chased down into the subconscious. (Or into the lowest cast, untouchables without rights).
From where it will, one way or the other, surface again and again.
Etcetera ad infinitum, or untill the excluded is consciously included again and dealt with in a proper way.
Every exclusion as such and perse has this kind of side effects.
It is about time to handle exclusions more carefully than it has been done in the past and up till now.
As a seventy plus year old male, I feel treated like a voiceless child when you write to me that when I come to your ‘guru’ and I intend to come back later, I am supposed to ‘keep the precepts’ for ever, also during the times ‘out there’.
In short that would mean in my case that I would be breaking the rules the rest of my life.
Because I am investigating life through many available means.
Means that are at first sigt excluded categorically in your (and many others’) outline of ‘right’ living.
For instance, the last months I have been experimenting with rapé.
And that brings me benefits.
(I came across this nicotine product thru meeting with some Brazilian shamanic Indians: https://www.hansvandergugten.nl/?p=4974).
So, now it is also on the surface that I also use other drugs.
I had a one time experience with peyote.
And last year a one time meeting with Iboga, a heavy meeting it was, yet again: benificial.
The most experience I have with the use of Ayahuasca.
Very benifical for me and for many others.
Two blogged examples.
And then we have sex, the most and best documented excluded thingy in the universe.
I think it is about time to stop stupidly, automatically, self righteously doing away with ‘sex’.
Me thinks it is time to find better ways of dealing with sexuality and all that comes with it.
There is nothing wrong with a rule in an ashram to not have sexual relations for the duration of a retreat.
In order to avoid relational confusions in the group for instance.
But any exclusion that brings along the idea, the judgement, that sexuality is as such not okay creates, has created the world in which we live right now.
To improve this poor condition in which humanity kind of ended up, me thinks that it is also benificial when people engage themselves in the research of, the analysis of the current confusion around sexuality, and the experimenting with better, more honest, inclusive ways of dealing with ‘sexual energy’.
There are a few giants that were a bit ahead of the herd who started out with this.
Two names: Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich.
In short, there are also roads that include sexuality.
I’m on one of this roads.
It is about time to stop excluding things from a principal, as if there is something absolutely not okay with them/it.
So, my slight irritation, that was as such not new to me, now has led me to the conclusion that I will not go anymore to places that, without giving it a up to date well informed thinking over, exclude all kinds of things.
I mean, what has it brought us?
An India where you can be raped in a bus, and with one of the highest rates of domestic violence on the planet.
And a Western world as it’s massive producer of pornography, spreading it out over the world.
As a unforseen side effect of the christian suppression of sexuality, in a different wave of christian mission, porn is vomitted out over the world, as a unavoidable selling-off of the accumulated subconscious filled with guilt, shame, blame and all the forbidden, so distorted, perverted phantasies about sexuality, often mixed with the agression that was triggered by the suppression and in its turn suppressed too, compressed into the subconscious already filled with the excluded sexuality.
(I am leaning here on the fresh up course Freud that is contained in the already mentioned book by Marc De Kesel).
The excluded, the suppressed, the hated, the feared, all of it included by the very act of exclusion, comes back like a boomerang.
With the message written upon it: find a better way to deal with it.
So, thanks for the opportunity to clear up for myself at least why I will renounce from visiting places where the validity of their rules is considered to span the globe and my whole lifetime.
For me, by now, doing the research and experimenting that I do is far more important (for me and for humanity) than hanging out in this or that ashram for a few weeks, despite the often present euphoria, partly coming from the feeling of being special for ‘keeping the precepts’.
I know what I am talking about, I have had my fair share of that.
So, again, no matter how loving, honest and true it all is expected to be in your ashram, or in any ashram for that matter, for the above given reasons I’ll waive my next visit when the condition for coming again will be living according to the house rules when I am out of the house.
Will I come for a first visit?
Time will tell.
PS. The whole thing is actually much more multy layered.
As Freud pointed out almost a century ago already, the organisation in and of culture itself, with it’s unavoidable limiting rules for all its members will lead to suppression and ‘Unbehagen’.
Background information for the happy few that are interested:
Last time in India, say in January 2018, I had some shiny meetings with a also shiny guy.
He told me about a guru/ashram where he had spent some time.
Being very enthousiastic about the place and the loving guru, he suggested me to come/go there also next time.
At the time he travelled with his son who also had been there.
Two or three years ago I have had a few meetings, also in Tiruvannamalai, with a fellow traveller, who in my eyes looks a bit like the archetypical Jesus, and I called him yogi for some reason.
Speaking about reason, he was discussing and arguing in a way that was hard to follow for me. Something like a combination of speed, highly abstract concepts, unstopable (as in questions not really being perceived as questions, but as a invitation to go on full speed on the same track again) and clearly fully convinced of having found the truth and nothing but the truth.
He also spoke about a guru that he had ‘discovered’, very special, very small scale, and he did not want to reveil either the name of the guru, nor the place on earth where all this exclusive outpouring of love takes place.
Then, at some moment while meeting the shiny guy and his son, the above mentioned Jesus look alike yogi came along and joined the conversation.
And soon it became clear that they know each other from this for me name and placeless guru. I shared this discovery with them.
After returning to my country, the invitation to visit there, somewhere in Kerala (that much I knew, so at the west coast of India), stayed hibernating but alive in the back of my mind.
Only by the end of October I started emailing about it to the shiny guy.
Below I will reproduce the email conversation, leaving out some personal paragraphs.
I make everyone except myself anonymous, because I want to bring something about myself and about something specific out in the open, something that has nothing to do with anyone of them.
The point I am going to make will be at the end of it, as a new email, still to be written and send to the son (Son of Bro), with of course a cc to his father (Bro).
The email conversation is way too long and only for lovers of detailed information like myself.
A short summary would be this: there is an air of exclusivity around this place and this guru.
On the one hand this is for me fully okay, but you can predict that there will develop a upcoming inner circle that builds a spiritual ego on this inevitably feeling special about belonging there.
At the end of the conversation the classis stuff comes up: no sex, no drugs, no entertainment (no recreational drugs).
Even during the intermittent times when you intend to come back there.
In my still to be written answer I will explain that all of this automated restrictions are for me a reason to not go to this ashram or any place alike anymore.
Including an attempt to verbalize the why of it.
There we go.
On Fri, 26 Oct 2018, 6:58 pm Hans van der Gugten wrote:
Hope you are doing well.
Suddenly I find myself looking back in our email exchange of the beginning of this year.
And no, you did not send me the info about your guru and the ashram.
Please do so now.
I remember that you said to me, or wrote to me like in the mail i react to now, that first i had to do a almost two week intensive.
That kept hanging in my system as something that was received with a feeling of disappointment.
(The stories were of something simple, in a beginning phase with no publicity and stuff like that, and i had expected a informal setting and lots of possibility to meet up with you.
That is what i became aware of by looking into the source of this disappointment feeling.
And it cooled also my initial enthusiasm, i noticed.
Only now i start acting on going to India again.
There was the idea of going even earlier this time and then visit this ashram, maybe.
The movement did not happen, till now.
I actually became aware that i unnoticed had a construction going of going even earlier then last time.
But last time i already went earlier and then the things that i had planned to do didn’t happen.
So going earlier is in fact equal to going as early as last year, meaning before half of December.
So, from there i start moving.
Let’s see if a visit to ‘your’ ashram fits into this scheme.
I await your answer.
PS I still owe you this report about my meeting with this woman from Mauritius or where ever it was.
Op 28 okt. 2018 15:17 schreef Bro:
i left India in late May of this year to participate in several more Camino de Santiagos in Europe and to avoid the monsoons.
i flew home to Canada end of August and have been here since.
While hiking, and still receiving news from my son and others in Kerola, it seemed to me a particularly heavy time of rains and flooding in the region. Poor folks, particularly those already living so close to, or below the poverty line…
As for giving you information as to the whereabouts, the precepts, or other, i prefer giving you my son’s contact. i find this a much more clear and benificial way of guiding interested parties to the ashram.
Because he lives there, he can also help find temporary lodging should one arrive a few days before an intensive begins, or wish to stay on to particiate in future satsangs.
i have followed this method for several others recently as well and it seems to work best.
He can be reached at :-):-):-):-):-)@gmaildotcom
Sure hope this works out for you.
Sending blessings for your path brother,
Op 28 okt. 2018 16:42 schreef “Hans van der Gugten” het volgende:
Hello Son of Bro,
We met in India in the beginning of this year.
I stayed in contact with Bro, your dad.
I forward you the answer of him to my email, so you have also the questions I asked him.
He asked me, long a go, this: Did i share with you or send you the ashram location/logistics as yet.
I came back on this as follows: And no, you did not send me the info about your guru and the ashram. Please do so now.
He delegates this to you.
Hope this will work.
Op 30 okt. 2018 02:28 schreef Bro’s son het volgende:
Nice to hear from you.
I hope you are well.
I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the Hrdayam (as we call the ‘ashram’ here).
There are ongoing satsang intensive periods most of the year save for a few 2-3 week pauses.
Indeed one has to take part in a full intensive period of 8-12 days as an initial comitment and then one can come and go.
It is indeed a small quiet place which seems to be growing slightly … slowly, organically.
It takes some commitment and dedication to stick around here as there are not the usual bells and wistles that come these days with most of the spiritual teachings out there. For those wishing to stay on or leave and then come back again… the precepts must be taken up. Ahimsa, asteya, satya, aparigraha, brahmacharya. (We can speak more about hese if you like).
This is also why drop-ins are not accomodated. One has to be willing to ‘sacrifice’ something.
This isn’t a place for guru shopping or guru worship. The outer Guru (Teacher) is only here to point us back to the Inner One. No fanfare, no line ups for hugs, touching feet. The true darshan is the dharma itself, the teachings, pointers indicating to us a deeper layer which needs to be revealed… seen, moment to moment.
There is no ‘time to waste’ …. only a dedication to this moment.
There is a small group of seriously dedicated individual here and all who seek Truth beyond fixed preconceptions or futuristic ideas of gaining are welcome. All who are open to see, hear… and bring up doubts, questions and most especially the hindrances that block them from seeing are welcome.
If this resonates and you want to know more let me know. Any questions etc.
I saw you mention something about mid-Dec to my dad. There will be an intensive around that time. Exact dates are not yet known.
We are situated in the Wayanad area of Kerala. All technical elements on how to get here etc can also be cleared up easily if you decide to come.
All the best on your journey.
“Do you think I know what I’m doing?
That for one breath or half-breath I belong to myself?
As much as a pen knows what it’s writing, or the ball can guess where it’s going next.”
“If the doors of your perception were cleansed,
everything would appear to you as it is: infinite.”
Op 1 nov. 2018 12:04 schreef “Hans van der Gugten” het volgende:
Hello Bro’s Son,
Thank you for your answer.
Yes, I am willing to come and stay for at least a 8 to 12 days full intensive period.
I can leave Amsterdam on or around December 12.
Normally I would fly to Chennai and then do my habitual round, ending up in Rishikesh and flying back from Delhi half of April.
If I come to the Hrdayam, how would I travel?
Fly to which city?
And how long will the traveling to the ashram take?
I am familiar with all the ashram rules.
Is there anything specific that you want to know from me?
I have been in satsang with Isaac Shapiro for almost 20 years, one month per year.
And go to meetings with Swami’s in India each year.
Especially Swami Atmananda from Atjatananda Ashram in Laxmanjhula/Rishikesh,
and Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati from Hyderabad.
And stay one month in Tiruvannamalai each year, partly because years ago I met this little girl Sindhu and became a ‘supporter’ of her.
Awaiting your answer.
Op 3 nov. 2018 17:28 schreef Bro’s son het volgende:
The nearest airport is Kozhikode..and also we are an overnight train journey from Chennai. Vadakara is the nearest train station. From there it is a 2 hour taxi ride to the Hrdayam.
The hermitage is a very peaceful and quiet place….basking in nature. The quietest place I’ve ever lived in India…well maybe minus Gomukh or something in the Himalayas.
Anyhow. It’s quiet…. but also rustic. Accomodation is simple and most of the time shared.
Although since you are from an older generation… there is a chance that you only need to share a room with one other but you never know.
Whether dorm or double room….it’s not the point anyhow. This is a place to go beyond our attachment to comforts among other things. And at the same time… I feel that one can be quite comfortable here.
This is also a place for serious seekers or those with an openess to learn and seeking a way out of suffering.
It isn’t geared towards people who just want to drop in for a day….as you well know already.
Noble silence is there and also no use of electronics within the hermitage…but one can step out the gate and speak or check phone if it is necessary.
There is a daily schedule also that must be followed.
Wake up at 5am. Lights out 9:30pm. Good ashram life!
Some sitting mediations but not too many … lots of time for rest….but also the emphasis is on carrying the light of meditation throughout the day. No breaks in that sense. About seeing…..throughout the day.
Also would need to know if you are married.
I.e. if you are coming as a householder or single.
The next intensive has been announced and for the first time it will be 15 days long.
From Dec.12th to 27.
Then there will most likely be a 4-5 day break and then another one in early Jan. But nothing is yet certain.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Op 4 nov. 2018 13:21 schreef “Hans van der Gugten” het volgende:
Hello Bro’s son,
Thanks for your answer again,
I must admit that there is a slight irritation here.
It feels as if there is a indirectness in speaking about the place that makes it puzzling here to find out what we are talking about.
When I ask to which city one flies from Europe, I need to get a city like Coimbatore or Bangalore.
All those smaller places make it a puzzle here to make vague guesses.
It feels as if I am talking to the wall of a developping inner circle.
As I said to a friend who came over for coffee: it feels like the well known enthusiasm of the euphoric people that have found ‘their’ place and want to defend it against ‘something’.
A phenomenon that happens in thousands of those places, all filled with people that think that they have found the most special one on earth.
A bit tiring.
What is the name of the teacher/guru by the way?
And has someone written something about him that I can find on the web?
Some lineage stuff maybe?
( I assume that he/the ashram has no website yet, is that so?).
On a practical note, (how is that important?), I am not married.
Another practical note: I guess that the temperature goes beyond 30 degrees there.
Is there any possibility to have a place that is air-conditioned? Otherwise it is very difficult for me to sleep.
Not using electronic devices. Does that mean that I can not use my tablet for writing even?
Should I come, is it possible to join in into this retreat that starts at December 12?
I will not make it in time anyhow.
“seeking a way out of suffering”
Are you suffering?
Op 4 nov. 2018 17:27 schreef Bro’s son het volgende:
You can fly to Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai… or even Delhi and then get a flight to Kozhikode.
Probably like most you will want to look at which flight in is cheapest.
If you look on google flights you can easily find flight between any of these big cities to Kozhikode.
From Bangalore and Chennai as I may have said you can take the train.
Sorry to hear you are feeling a slight irritation.
Not intending to confuse. And definitely not intending to keep you away from this place.
I am happy to help guide anyone wishing to come here but I also feel it is my duty to paint as clear a picture as possible of what is here before someone comes.
There’s less and less thinking about what I have found here these days… and more and more plunging into the very alive process that is unfolding.
I don’t feel to convince anyone else nor argue about what I clearly feel is here. Nor do I need anyone’s approval or disapproval. (Just saying)
And it’s definitely unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been.
There is also for me a deep sacredness in what I am living here which words cannot truly touch.
There are no websites, no books written and there most likely will never be.
The intention here is very clear and has no self-promoting or self made system or path ‘kind of thing’. No guru cult either although many who come and stay here have a great reverence and respect for the Teacher.
It’s about the teachings that flow through.
Lineage is that of the Vedas/Upanishads
It matters whether you are married or not since if you are married you are considered a ‘householder’ with all that this entails. If you are divorced, unmarried and so on… you come as being considered a ‘celibate student’ and must keep to the precepts for the duration of your stay.
Of course no vow needs to be taken and you may come for an initial stay and then go on with your life as you choose.
If however you wish to stay longer or leave and comeback then you must continue to keep the precepts.
Here’s something more I just wrote up spontaneously about the precepts (some repetition and very brief)
The precepts must be respected fully for anyone coming to stay here…for the entire duration of their stay. These are: Ahimsa, satya, asteya, aparigraha and brahmacharya.
If one resonates with the teachings and wishes to stay or go and then return at a later date…then the precepts must continue to be cultivated.
There is a very clear rhyme and reason for this. And also the possibility to come and clarify this for oneself. Usually for those ready to take up this path….the precepts come quite naturally especially after hearing the teachings for some days. Sometimes it takes longer to be convinced….but it starts with a willingness….and the need to seriously question the way we have been living our lives.
The Upanishads…Vedas…call for quite a different way of living…. living in tune with the sanatanadharma.
No new age beliefs in awakening to Self while keeping all of one’s vices and habits.
It’s a big topic…
But best to mention this before hand.
Anyhow… you first committ for 10 days and then see.
As an unmarried or divorced participant…
The big things that must be cut out are alcohol, recreational drugs… including any use of ganja, also psychadelics and sex.
There is a very clear reason for these precepts and it is found in many ancient traditions. More can be investigated if need be.
As for weather. We are 900 m up in the hills. Cool nights and mornings. Hot in the day but breezy and quite comfortable. Not much over 30 until April or May and not at all the suffocating heat of Tiru.
No AC room sorry but not needed really.
You probably can use your tablet for writing.
As for joining the intensive mid way or part way, it is usually not possible.
There will be another intensive in early Jan. however.
I hope this clarifies things a bit.
We could also have a voice conversation if you like.
As I said before I am not trying to hide anything and am glad to welcome you here.
If you would like to share more perhaps you can tell me what draws you to come here. Or what you are searching for? If anything. I r
Seeking a way out of suffering… we could say also ‘samsara’. And it’s not just about ‘my suffering’… since we are not separate isolated beings.
And the roots of suffering as you may know go very deep.
Truth knows truth and is always self revealing.
No amount of discussion and intellectual exchange will ever truly help us reveal who we truly are.
We must empty our cups, and face each moment head on… listening… experimenting …
The Vedas and Upanishads are to be explored in an entirely experiential way.
Let me know if you have further questions or how this sits.
Wishing you all the best!