Why do others view me so differently than I do myself?

Why do others view me so differently than I do myself?

We have all been given the option (potential) to awaken, to come to Love, to Consciousness. A divine gift, a possibility. Some of us feel a strong call, from the inside, for total liberation: they follow a spiritual path with a master who has awoken, and they practice Vipassana meditation (1), because they realize that Pure Consciousness is the gate to total liberation.

Others do not feel that call, but they do long for liberation from deep, painful basic convictions, which stem from the psychological mind (the "I", the ego). The suffering that comes from those deep imprints can also serve to awaken from the dream state. 

Often liberation does not happen, because Pure Consciousness has not yet been recognized, so the identification with convictions (and the resultant suffering) is so strong that we simply avoid challenging the convictions and allowing the connected pain to melt. It simply feels too painful to enter into, too painful from the perspective: what I feel and think is true (identification with the psychological mind).

Nevertheless, we all do our levels best, we are all on our way and one tulip is blooming in May, the other in July. 

Those who want to come to Love long for liberation from the yoke called "I"  which gives humanity, deep down, such a strong sense of loneliness and alienation. The ‘I’ (ego) which applies everything to itself.
‘I’ means tension and a self-centered attitude, which stems from the fear: Am I welcome?  Do they like me? Am I really a part of the group? Am I good enough? Everything happening around us, in interaction with others, leads to this self-centered attitude, to self-talk. We think about ourselves for hours, because we apply everything to ourselves: he isn’t looking at me is translated to ‘he doesn’t like me’; and if we don’t receive a reply to our e-mail, we are afraid we may have said something wrong etc.

In essence, the psychological mind knows two modes: attraction or rejection. Attraction means: getting what you think you need or deserve, often through manipulation, from neediness. In other words: life or the other person ought to give us what we can’t give ourselves, because we are not at home in our Heart. 

Rejection means: everything we want to get rid of, everything we perceive as unwanted, everything that inhibits our alleged happiness or sense of well-being, actually everything we say 'no' to: I don’t want to experience, feel, face or acknowledge this. 

And it is these two modes of the psychological mind (attraction and rejection), resulting from identification with an ‘I’, with all convictions connected to that, that make people suffer. The basic tenor of the ‘I’ is fear, in contrast to the basic tenor of Life itself, which is Love.

Some time ago, a client visited my practice with the following question: I feel such a massive difference between the way others view me and the way I feel inside, how is that possible? People see me as an independent and strong person, who can help others with advice and wisdom, but I feel insecure and afraid of rejection, especially falling short and not belonging, and I often feel that way…, like I’m not a part of the group, excluded (for the reader: this is the ‘I’ and the self-centered approach to life, the self-talk, the psychological mind; a collective inclination based on age-old conditioning).

I ask her whether she can show others this insecurity and vulnerability. In many cases, no, she shows the outer world a self-confident attitude.
Then it is not strange that the outer world views you that way, isn’t it? Yes, that is true, she says.
What scares you about showing your vulnerability and insecurity? I ask.
Well, she says, when I show that, I feel like I disappear or dissolve.
What do you mean, disappear or dissolve?
Well…, I have the feeling that I don’t belong, and then I see this image of myself, standing outside the circle.
Do you recognize this from the past? It seems to refer to a family in which there was no room for vulnerability, softness, insecurity…, did you feel like an outsider in your family?

And then the stories start to flow:
She graduated, and some family members were there but her father was absent. After the graduation ceremony they get home, and the family members confront her father: your daughter graduated, shouldn’t you congratulate her? Her father answers: it was no more than her duty. He turns around and walks away.

She goes to gymnastics, it is evening, she has a nasty fall, the teacher calls home and asks her father to pick her up. He tells the teacher: she should just work out a way to get home. That night, she sleeps in the house of her teacher and his wife. When she gets home the following day, her father walks away without greeting her or looking at her.

She falls off her bike in front of the kitchen window. There is blood, grazes, the bike is damaged. Her father says nothing, except: you will pay the damage to the bike yourself.

And there are many similar experiences to share, she says quite composedly (an attitude that relates to her question: showing no vulnerability).

Imagine, I tell her, that mankind incarnates here on earth with a package of convictions that the soul took on to resolve during this lifetime. And the circumstances in which a person is born matches completly with these convictions so that the soul has the possibility to resolve these beliefs…, to reach liberation, to clean up that facet of the diamond. And existence is merciful…, you can take as long as is needed…, one life or hundreds of lives…, it is up to you, existence makes no demands, it is eternally patient and compassionate.

And if we look from the perspective I just outlined: the soul who brings along a package of convictions to work out during this life (or a next one); the soul who attracts those circumstances that match these convictions…, then what is the conviction that ‘your’ soul wants to resolve, I ask?
What is the conviction, that has a deep imprint in you?

I can’t be vulnerable. Showing softness, vulnerability, pain and insecurity leads to lovelessness, rejection and exclusion.
Yes, I say…,  and that is exactly what your soul wants to solve in this life. Do you see the perfection of existence in this? Do you see how these circumstances match with what 'your' soul wants to experience and heal?

And can you see that vulnerability is a great power, which is very disarming, unlike your conviction that showing vulnerability only leads to rejection and lovelessness?

You live on one side of the spectrum, but like light and dark can’t exist without each other, vulnerability can’t exist without the other side of the spectrum: inner strength and independence. Existence is challenging you to unite or outgrow this seeming contradiction. Strength is only truly strength when it carries softness and relaxation within it (and vice versa).

It is up to you whether you face the resolution of this conviction, but if you continue to act (or avoid action) based on this conviction then nothing will change, you will remain the captive of this conviction and you will leave life with unresolved convictions.

Thankfully, existence is merciful and simply gives us another round to work out what has not yet been resolved. The question is whether this is what you want? No, she says, if possible I’d like to heal all in this life, but how?

See (Be Aware) how this pain shapes your actions. See the movements of the mind. The principle of attraction based on neediness/pain: searching for confirmation ‘I belong’ or doubting whether you belong. And the principle of rejection, i.e. avoidance: I don’t want to show vulnerability, because I don’t want to feel the pain of exclusion and lovelessness.

Break the pattern of avoidance: show your insecurity and vulnerability. Realize that you interpret others behavior based on this deep conviction: they will not like me if I am myself, if I also show my vulnerability and insecurity.

If your daughter-in-law doesn’t return a call, take responsibility for the way you interpret this, do a reality check: is it true that you don’t want to have contact with me? Yes that’s true, she may say, I know that you empathize, but I haven’t recovered from the concussion yet and I need rest. Feel the pain of exclusion when it is triggered, while realizing that the pain says nothing about your daughter-in-law, but everything about the interpretation that you attach to it; it is old pain (exclusion), a residue from this life and others, that is being triggered, that hasn’t healed yet.

What is going on in me, but what I don't say outloud to her: go meditate (Vipassana), so that Pure Awareness can sprout and then the convictions are seen through and gradually extinguish. 

From Pure Awareness it is much easier to clean up your history, because identification with the psychological mind (e.g. convictions) loosen up (or dissolve completly), so that the pattern of avoidance is seen through and the pain can melt, without much effort: it no longer feels so ‘real’ or ‘true’. 

From Pure Awareness rises the possibility of total liberation. 

Liberation is the light of the diamond in its totality and not merely one or a few facets like specific convictions based on karma that you (the 'I', ego) try to change in this life. If you only focus on solving all kind of issues of the psychological mind (the facets), total liberation is not possible, because the psychological mind, the 'I', the ego, stays in charge, you are the one who is working hard to improve your state of being, but it is the identification with the 'I' that causes the suffering in the first place. And the psychological mind will continue to bring up a new problem after you have resolved the previous one. So meditation is a strong medicine to provoke Pure Awareness, to break down the identification with the psychological mind (the 'I'). 

Pure consciousness means transcending the mind; the light is 'on' and it shines: all convictions/problems gradually extinguish naturally in the Light of Awareness; no strong effort or hard work (= the 'I') is necessary. Yes, sometimes we have to descend deeper into certain resistances, but from Pure Awareness it's a totally different experience (less painful) than going deeper into the resistance from the mind. 

So, meditation enables you to break free from the wheel of reincarnation and karma, because you transcend the mind = it is the highway. 

If Pure Awareness is not recognized, you will remain a prisoner of the mind, a prisoner of the 'I' throughout your life, you are working hard on all kind of issues, but liberation will not reviel and then rebirth is a fact.

Time and time again, I am amazed by the strong influence of these deep convictions, which shape the lifespan of a person without their awareness. I listen and hear the strong identification, which goes hand in hand with the thoughts and emotions (that they firmly believe), which emanate from these convictions. And I feel/hear/see the perfection of existence throughout this lifespan: the potential for liberation, for which the soul is longing, liberation from the deep imprints from this life and others, which is the force behind this birth in these circumstances. 

It is this suffering, which is caused by the 'I' with these convictions, that pushes people to start searching for healing. What a beautiful design of existence. 

And I also see the other side: the massive power of maya, the total identification with these convictions which people continue to repeat, an entire life until death follows… and the next life… from which I say: look for a living master, practice self-inquiry, practice Vipassana meditation (1), in order to escape from the hold that the psychological mind has over you (including what I feel and think is ‘true’). 

(1): for more information and an introduction to Vipassana, have a look at http: //www.vipassana.nl/ 

Boeddha: the best way to stay in samsara is to resist it. Samsara is the wheel of endless birth and death under the influence of delusion and karma which causes suffering. 

Linked-In: Caroline Ootes

Climate change: a juicy steak or rather a veggie burger?

I love meat (chicken) and above all fish, like many. On the other hand, there are also people who aren't fond of meat or fish, or deliberately stopped doing so out of certain considerations.

Several times have I tried to live a vegetarian lifestyle, but without concrete results. Eventually the following movement developed in recent years: first the pig disappeared from the menu and then the cow (with some exception), but the chicken (no factory farming) and the fish stuck around. And for some time now, I feel that a next step is necessary.

I can no longer close my heart against the suffering inflicted on animals to meet our need for meat and fish. It simply hurts. I can feel the suffering of all animals on earth, of all animals that we perceive as property, as possessions with which we can do as we please.

Factory farming or grass-fed cows..., the point is that we have taken the right to deprive animals of their freedom, to treat them in a certain way (animal-friendly or animal-unfriendly) and then prematurely kill them for our consumption.

Imagine another species within the chain of life and death would treat humanity in this way?

Besides, the period of slavery is not far behind us - if it is behind us at all (think of children working in the clothing industry in Asian countries, for example). Furthermore, many people view their partner and/or kids as theirs and believe that they can rule over them. What we do to each other and to animals (exploitation, domination, compulsion, manipulation etc.) is a result of our state of 'being': loveless, disconnected from the heart, and unaware.

At the same time, I can look form the perspective that we are all part of the same chain of life and death. I'm not necessarily in favour of or against consuming meat and fish. After all, my body is inhabited by many living creatures (bacteria etc.) who use, sicken or kill us, and we are also prey for others (predators, snakes etc.) in the chain. And when we die, we are food for other living creatures or for the earth itself (ashes).

I do believe that the balance within the chain has been thoroughly disrupted.

Providing seven billion people with meat and fish is an impossible task for the earth itself: livestock farming requires unbelievable amounts of land and food. Land for growing grain/corn/soy to feed cattle, and land for grazing. And livestock farming requires unbelievable amounts of water (while potable water becomes increasingly scarce on earth). And however you treat the animals, once they are full-grown they are led to the slaughter.

Any kind of respect and gratitude for the life we consume, think of the Indians who lived in deep connection with nature, is  gone..., because we are not at home in our heart.

And then I'm watching an episode of Tegenlicht: Paul Kingsnorth, author and former climate activist (episode: De aarde draait door - The world continues to spin / The world is going crazy - 16 December 2018). And I hear the following statement: If you think that the web of life of which we are part is just a resource to mine, you are lost.

Yes, that's true. The tragedy of mankind is that we no longer live from connection with ourselves and the world around us. We are in a spiritual crisis.

The myth of progress (more and more again, so that we don't have to feel the emptiness) leads to a necessity for nature to contribute to economical growth: all in the service of mankind, all in the service of short-lived gratification, and it's never enough and we don't want to miss a thing... with the result of over-exploitation and depletion of the earth (and humanity: fatigue & burn-out).

Healing, however, is not to be found in 'more' or in 'growth.' Healing is to be found in resolving the alienation, opening the heart and meeting the emptiness and loneliness that lies within us all.

And then I see a documentary on Netflix.
Title: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.
I recommend this documentary to everyone (first month of Netflix is free). The following was set forth:
An online report of the United Nations states that livestock farming emits more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. This means that the meat and dairy industry emits more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, trains, boats and airplanes combined.
Cows and other farm animals produce a considerable amount of methane during the digestive process. Methane gas from cattle is 86 times as destructive as carbon dioxide from vehicles.
Moreover, the United Nations also note that cattle doesn't only contribute to global warming, but also to the depletion of resources (e.g. water, fertile land) and environmental degradation (manure/phosphate/methane), destroying and exhausting the planet.
Livestock farming uses 45% of all available land, 30% of all available water, and is (indirectly) responsible for 91% of the destruction of the Amazon, the lungs of the earth, sniff... (The Amazon is cut down for the production of grain and soy, and for grazing cattle.)

And yet we continue to eat meat/fish/dairy and sticking our heads in the sand.

How is that possible?

It is possible in part because the information about the impact of livestock farming on the climate (next to the suffering inflicted on animals) wasn't/isn't fully clear yet in the minds of many. It is also possible because in droves we close our eyes to the fact that the globe is warming: we read and hear about it, but we don't want to believe it - because we are the ones who cause climate change (apart from natural influences such as the sun) and that has consequences for our behavior. And we are creatures of habit, who resent change.

But above all, we continue to eat meat/fish/dairy because we aren't at home in our hearts and therefore we do not feel the suffering that we inflict on other animals and on the planet. Feeling it, would ask for a turnaround in lifestyle what is a major challenge for many (myself included), because we enjoy our meat or fish. Besides, telling our family that we no longer want to contribute to these practices can cause some friction.  And then I haven't even mentioned the dairy industry, which is as taxing for the climate as the consumption of meat and fish.

Finally: I'm greatly in favour of 'clean meat & fish' (and clean dairy). Developments are going fast, and within a few years we may see the first juicy steak made from a single stem cell in our local supermarket. No more is needed for clean meat/fish than overcoming our own aversion toward cultured meat or fish. That single stem cell (from a fish or a chicken or a cow etc.) can be cultivated endlessly. No animal has to be killed, and now nothing more is needed than a single cell.The world's population can be provided with clean meat and fish (and in time clean dairy). In the Netherlands, Meatable is one of the organisations who has made great progress in the development of clean meat. And the taste... is exactly the same as the meat or fish you consumed before.

But we're not there yet... and it is five to twelve regarding global warming and greenhouse gases. Time to get moving.

Perhaps reading this blog and watching the documentaries (Tegenlicht, Cowspiracy) can trigger you to reexamine your habits. Eventually, this is about the well-being of us all: humans, animals, flowers and plants, the earth.

Should you want to inform others, share this blog. And do you know a delicious vegetarian or vegan dish: tell others, there are multiple facebook pages with vegetarian recipes to which you can easily add yours.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Where Love is, is Freedom.

"If you believe that the person who you love should be different then she/he is, then you don't have a relationship with her/him. You have a relation with an ideal image in your head. You have a relationship with your own thoughts." (Scott Kiloby)

Before you read on, take a moment to examine the following question: 'What does Love mean to you in relation to your lover?'
Below are some answers, which have come over in exchange with people:
  • That you love the other person as he/she is... Even if he is grumpy or doesn't meet his/her appointments with you or is busy with the phone instead of with you...? Do you still love him or her?
  • If you really love someone, then you are there when the person needs you... Right? Then you are prepared to set yourself aside.
    After all, you are not only living for yourself.
  • In a love affair you agree with each other what you are going to do. You can't always do what you want, you also have to adjust to your loved one... Even if the inner voice actually indicates a different choice at that moment? Yes, even then.
  • Love is respectful to others, so you say 'yes' to an invitation to a birthday party or wedding party, even if you feel a 'no'. Not going is not loving towards the other person. You wouldn't like it yourself if people didn't show up at your party, right?
  • A love relationship is not only a love affair with the person him/herself, but also a relationship with his or her family. If you are not invited by your sweetheart to his/her family, then there is something wrong..., then he/she doesn't really love you, because otherwise he/she would involve you into the family, right? 
    Or the other way around: if you indicate that you have a relationship with him or her and not with his or her family, then according to your partner that isn't a full-fledged relationship, because that includes encounters with the family...
  • Love means that you don't criticize your partner in company. Even if you don't agree with your partner or if you really notice that he/she is talking nonsense…, you don't speak out because you don't want to hurt him or her. You have to be tactful, so that he/she doesn't have to feel ashamed or experience a loss of prestige in the sight of others. And above all, you don't want to have problems with your partner afterwards.
  • Love means you like being together, you want to spend as much time as possible together, you go on holiday together, go to friends together, watch series together on the couch etc. Or the opposite: you don't want an intimate relationship, because you experience a relationship as suffocating.
  • In conclusion..., Love is exclusive, special: I only love you... even though I sometimes dream about someone else who really listen to me and understand me... 
And is that then Love, the package of images/beliefs that we must adhere to or behave under the denominator of 'Love'???

Is that Love with a capital L? Love that is unconditional: love that doesn't want to change the other person, but takes the other person as he/she is. Love that doesn't get disturbed if the partner behaves differently from all those views and images we have about Love?

Or do we talk about love with a small letter 'l'? Love that sets conditions for the other person: I only love you if you follow a certain image I have about you and about love. Love that exists by the grace of rejection, disapproval and hate. In other words, a love that waveres: one moment I love you, the other moment I absolutely don't like you, I hate you and I dream about another partner who is capable to give me attention and see me as I am. 

Love that consists of needfullness, the other person must make me happy: he/she must give me a feeling of safety, support and friendship, because being alone and figuring everything out on my own is to difficult for me.
We think we know what Love is, Love with a capital L. We assume that the conceptions of Love are Love itself, but is that so?

And at some point we step into the marriage boat... because we love each other so much..., we marry to seal our love relationship…
But if we know so well what Love is, how is it possible that one in three marriages ends in divorce?

Well, we have just been brought up with different views (ideas) about the Heart, about Love and it is precisely these views that make us miss the Love with a capital L.
The head versus the heart.

Maybe we don't know what Love is. Perhaps the Love that we know exists only from all kinds of ideas about Love, but that is not Love itself, it are only ideas that we have received in the course of our lives, based on all sorts of cultural, religious and social influences.

And a recipe for Love is not Love, it is a recipe and a recipe leads in advance to frustration, loneliness, emptiness, disappointment, fear and guilt. The other doesn't meet up our expectations..., he/she doesn't behave according to the recipe, according to all conceptions of love that come from the mind. He/she doesn't make me happy..., he/she doesn't take me into account, he/she doesn't want to do anything for me, he/she is always working etc.

The heart however, has no conceptions about Love, the heart is Love. The heart makes no choice: for or against. The heart rejects nothing, is open, unlimited and unconditional, without any requirement or expectations towards the other.

The heart has no resistance switch. Love is total acceptance of what is, which, incidentally, doesn't mean that you take everything as sweet cake from the other and accept it.
It also doesn't mean that you can't express your wish or desire... you can, but don't expect a 'yes' in advance or if the other person says 'no', don't interpret this as: she/he doesn't love me.

Recently I listened to a satsang from Adyashanti.
An aged man who was born and raised in Japan said the following about his 30-year marriage: "When we marry in Japan we don't assume that we know what Love is, we see marriage as a possible opportunity to discover what Love is. At the beginning of our marriage there were all kinds of aspects to my wife that I didn't appreciate, that I wanted to change; some things of her bothered me and I tried subtly to change certain characteristics of her until I discovered that it wasn't Love with a capital L, so after a few years I stopped doing that. It took me 15 years to extinguish any form of subtle manipulation, to totally accept my wife as she is. And now I can rightly say that we discover Love."

Perhaps it is time to recognize that all these images of unconditional love are not Love itself. Let's start there..., let's assume that we don't know what Love is..., let us see through all ideas and opinions for what they are: inventions from the mind, the head instead of the Heart. Let us approach the other from openness and emptiness, all demands and expectations on the shovel. Maybe..., maybe we discover at some point in our lives what Love really is...

If you love a person, how can you destroy his or her freedom?
If you trust a person, you trust his or her freedom too.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Meditation..., just wasting time

I have an appointment with Lisa, she comes for the first time. Recently someone said to me: "Maybe you are not of meditation, maybe meditation as an entrance is not suitable for you." I wonder if that is the case. She continues: "I now read a book where meditation is recommended and I notice that I keep myself from it. I would like to look at this subject with you."

Okay, I say, tell me something more. I am not afraid of silence, says Lisa, I have also done some retreats including a 7-day vipassana retreat and yet I feel quite a bit of resistance at the thought that I have to spend time, every day, to meditate. I wonder what that is. Is it that I don't allow it myself? Don't I think it's worth it? Or is there something else going on? I know that I am a huge doer, she says. When I sit still, the thought soon comes up that it is a waste of my time.

Okay, I say, I hear you, would you like to share something about the 7-day silence retreat? What was the state of affairs and what did you encounter in that?

We meditated many hours a day and the meals were also in silence. We also did chores like washing dishes etc. The first days of the retreat I looked at the other participants with astonishment/admiration and thought: "What are you doing all your very best..., well, I can't do that." I just pulled my own plan, I did what I needed, sometimes I lay down during the meditation while everyone sat. Later the other participants indicated that they found me so strong that I state with myself, doing what I needed, but I thought it was very strong of them that they meditated hour after hour on their cushion or chair. My experience: the days were terribly long..., and I just missed out on contact with people..., a weekend in silence..., oke..., you can do that, but longer than a weekend..., it's really hard, I also need contact with others to grow and to mirror and if I sit or lie like that, then it just stagnates in me, then I get stuck in my own thoughts. Well, after 4 days I stopped, I had enough of it.

Okay, so you pulled your own plan..., you didn't surrender to the program as it was, but you did your own thing. That is already a remarkable fact, right? To see that through that behavior you create an escape route for what was going on in you during meditation. And that the mind then comes up with a explanation for your behavior: "I need other people to flip, without contact with people nothing happens, no insight, nothing, meditation just doesn't work for me." Interesting to watch all this, right?

Yes, says Lisa, I didn't look at it that way, I was actually proud of myself that I went my own way. Too bad the teacher didn't mirror this back to me.

And if you had completed the 7 days, what would you meet in yourself?

I would be bored to death, says Lisa sincere. I also often had thoughts like: "What am I doing here?, What is the use of this?, What a waste of my time." In my daily life I always arrive just in time at an appointment, never too early. Because I don't want to waste my time. I have to spend my time well and doing nothing, meditate, is not useful.

Interesting. So this is what you encounter during a 7-day vipassana. Every one meets his/her own pieces. And this is it for you: you go your own way, you miss the contact with others ..., you think you need others to meet yourself on a deeper level ..., you seek the fulfillment outside of you ..., without the exchange with the other you are thrown back on yourself and you feel that you are stagnating in your thinking, you discover that you are bored to death and you now realize that there is a conviction at basis: doing nothing is a waste of my time, I have to spend my time useful. Silent sitting and stagnating in your own thoughts is not useful, it does not yield anything, you decide to stop after 4 days.

Yes, Lisa says, I realize this now on a deeper level, I have not looked at it this way before. But how do I get rid of that conviction? And from that doer?

To see is to be free.

You see it now. You see the beliefs that determine your actions. That's where it starts. With 'seeing'. See what is happening, what is touched, just look at it, without judgement. Let the lamp of Consciousness shine on it, that's all. Don't fight with boredom or with lack of contact, don't get away, don't hook on, don't go with it, stay spectator of what the mind conjures up when you meditate: the boredom, the senseless and useless, the lack of contact and the explanation that the mind gives you after those 4 days.

When we want to get rid of anything, it just stick to us longer. If you are fighting with the mind, who in you is fighting? That is also the mind. Then you remain a prisoner of the mind, of the beliefs, so that is not the solution. Look at the resistance, the boredom..., and at some point it goes out automatically. Going inwards, slow down, is a first step to get out of the doer's addiction, to kick off the pattern in you that constantly thunders from one project to another.

If you understand what we are talking about, then you realize that there is a conditioned pattern: the doer (you can't do nothing, you have to be useful, you can't waste your time). Realize that the doer is driven by adrenaline. And that adrenaline ensures that your system is always 'active'. So a de-conditioning process is needed.

Sit or lie down on the couch, with calm music or without music, be relaxed, want nothing, don't expect a result, just be present at what passes by in body and mind on the moment you don't give in to the doer. Maybe you start to feel agitated when you are laying on the cough, all kinds of thoughts are passing by like: I have to hang up the laundry, do the shopping, I am wasting my time, etc. Something to that effect... do you recognize that?

Very recognizable, says Lisa.
Follow the process, that's all. Look. That is meditation: Being present at what is happening in you, without wanting to change anything. You allow yourself every day to be for half an hour (or longer), total relaxation for half an hour. And you will see that the adrenaline rush, which always wants to incite you to activity, decreases over time. You then experience more and more that you can rest in existence, can be ordinary, which is very healing, fulfilling and nourishing.

And if you still want to be useful, to use that term again... start with yourself. When you come home to yourself, at the source of love and wisdom that you are, you can assist the other on a deeper level. Now you give all kind of advice out of your mind (as you say yourself), but you don't incorporate the wisdom, you don't live it. So, to what extent can you really be of use to others when you are not living what you are talking about? Start with yourself. And if you see deep through a pattern (the doer) for long enough (when it is active again), from Consciousness, then a change process automatically takes place.

In the beginning it requires some effort to spend half an hour on yourself (kicking off the doer), but at a certain moment you discover and experience the power of 'doing' nothing: just be.

Delicious right?
Yes, thank you, says Lisa, I am glad that it is clear now what stops me to meditate. I need some time to digest what we spoke about, but I will experience and discover it.

When you are not doing anything at all, bodily, mentally…, on no level…, when all activity has ceased and you simple are, just being, that is what meditation is.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

My father wants euthanasia, the GP doesn't cooperate...

A few weeks ago I said to my mother: "I feel that Dad will not live long." She was shocked by that..., even though he is 90.

And now we're in the middle of it, and not suddenly. His body is worn out..., he doesn't want to live anymore..., he goes of and on into the hospital..., he wants euthanasia..., but yes, his heart is strong and the lungs are good..., so whether the GP will cooperate with the request of my Dad, that is still very much the question.

My father has a very advanced form of skin cancer on the upper body and head. The hospital has indicated that they are out of treatment, they can't do anything for him anymore. In addition, his knees are worn out, so it is difficult to walk and sometimes he falls, his eyes and ears are function badly, one eye can no longer be completely closed, because of some TIA's he has had, his hands are shaking so he must have an apron and must be fed and he can't wash/dress himself, he is difficult to understand because of the TIA's he has had.

And so it happens that I take care of my father one morning. My mother hears me come in and says, "Oh, you're a little earlier, okay, then you can rub his skin with ointment today." I swallow as I enter the bedroom. My father sits there, on the bed, without clothing, his eye half sewn and fur and blue from the operation, his upper body and head full of skin cancer spots and large bruises from the times he has fallen. I put on a glove and smear its skin that itches so terribly, the ointment gives relief, I dress him and do some small jobs here and there...

When I look at my father like that, I see the transience of existence..., there is no escape... and we are the next generation, then it's our turn...

My father sits on the bed..., he'll let everything happen..., no resistance..., no shame..., there is surrender..., surrender to the state of affairs ánd the desire to end his life: let death come..., I am ready for it..., my body is worn out..., my life has been good, now it is time to go.
 Yes, that is the energy of my father: a very ordinary man, who has become very fragile and vunerable over the years.

I talk with my father and mother about my father's desire for euthanasia. During the second or third conversation I ask my father without any detours: "Do you really want to die, Dad? You don't have to die, if you want to stay alive, that's okay, we'll take care of you." Yes, I know that, I am grateful for that, says my father, but I want euthanasia, it doesn't work anymore. Okay, I say, realize well that you are the one who must make clear to the GP that there is hopeless and unbearable suffering. Do you understand that, Dad? Yes I understand. Okay, Dad, what do you say when the doctor for example asks you if you are in pain? Well, then I say that it is not that bad..., you get used to pain. Yes, Dad, that is true, you get used to pain, and once again you don't have to die, but if you want to die, then you have to convince the GP that it is not working for you anymore. He understands the message.

The GP comes a few days later. I indicate that I want to link our conversations about euthanasia with her. The GP is not open to it, even though I had mentioned earlier that week that we wanted to talk about euthanasia during her home visit. She says, "I will first talk to your father, you are going very fast." Then she literally turns away from me and my mother and addresses the word to my father.

My father has understood the message from our conversation, which took place earlier in that week: he is on the move. And on a certain moment he comes out, he tells the doctor that he wants euthanasia. And then he names all complaints (sometimes difficult to understand) and consequences of the complaints from which he wants to die. In the background my mother and I watch and listen to my father. He's going to stand for it..., he pulls everything out of the closet to make it clear that he wants euthanasia.

During the conversation it becomes clear how the GP is in it, she doesn't want to cooperate: there is no file structure (in her opinion), although my father is member of the Dutch association for euthanasia for some years, and there is no question of an incurable disease in the sense that my father will die within 2 weeks to 6 months. In addition, she sees it as her task to ensure that the patient's final stage of life is as harmonious as possible by supporting the patient with medication and care. Passive or active euthanasia is not an option for her. And that's her right to see it like that.

After the interview, we decide to switch on the end-of-life clinic.

Well, what is hopeless and unbearable suffering? Who is going to decide about that? Who determines what is hopeless and what is unbearable suffering? Is there hopeless and unbearable suffering if you can hardly leave the door because your knees are worn out and the chance of a fall is great? Is there hopeless and unbearable suffering if you have to be cared for, washed and fed by third parties every day? Is there hopeless and unbearable suffering if the wounds of the skin cancer don't heal anymore (the skin is too thin), the itching is intense and you can't scratch, because otherwise you have to go to the hospital again to stop the umpteenth bleeding? Is there hopeless and unbearable suffering if the senses function poorly, your hands shaking constantly and social contacts outside the door are virtually impossible?

They are subjective data, that is true: what one experiences as hopeless and unbearable can be very different for another. That also makes it so difficult. Can someone else really judge about that? Judge about what you experience and feel?

And the strange thing is that my father, in addition to the request for euthanasia, still enjoys in his way. Especially of the food (one of the few pleasures that are still possible), even if it has to be fed. I do understand it. That is also what I admire in my father. He wants to die, but if the wish is not honored, then he surrenders: not as a victim, but from a basic fact that everything goes as it goes.

What else can you do? my father says. I can express my wish, but if it's not possible, then you surrender to that..., it's like it is.

Beautiful to be part of this process, I see surrender, a surrender that is neither happy nor sad. A surrender to the situation as it is. A surrender to life and death that is approaching, because yes ..., there is a time of coming and a time of going.

The procedure with the end-of-life clinic starts. After a few weeks comes the long-awaited statement from the end-of-life clinic and an independent physician, who evaluates the application for euthanasia:
'Yes, there is hopeless and unbearable suffering due to the accumulation of old age disorders.'

Pa feels relief and is grateful now that the end is in sight.

During one of the exchanges with the doctor of the end-of-life clinic, I ask him how he looks at active euthanasia. I say: 'Quite a few GPs indicate that they view active euthanasia as an act by which they kill someone, what is your view of that?' The doctor of the end-of-life clinic says: "I see euthanasia as a medical act to give the patient a dignified end of life."

Beautiful..., well..., that is a completely different perspective..., it is just how you look at it...

It's nice that the end-of-life clinic exists, that people can go there if the GP doesn't want and can't support the request for euthanasia.

Share the blog..., if it feels like that, so that the elderly among us can take this information in (quite a few older people don't know about the existence of the end-of-life clinic).

PS: My father received euthanasia on January 13, 2018.
A few weeks before his death I read a version of this blog to them (father/mother and at a later time the whole family). His reaction: "You described that very nicely..., you have to publish it so that the elderly among us know that they can go to the end-of-life clinic if their GP
doesn't want tot cooperate ." I will do so, Dad.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

I feel resistance, do I want to grow?

Isabel comes for a second session after she has canceled twice. She immediately starts to share what bothers her.
I don't know if I want this session. It wrenches in me, I feel resistance. Our previous session gave a lot of insight and at that moment I felt the value of it very strongly, but after a while it ebbed away and I fell back into my pattern.
In the last few months I have read several blogs of you and I went tree times through your notes of my previous consultation with you..., but I can't convert it into practice.
Okay, I say, awesome that you came, I feel your energy. I'm going to ask you something..., just look what's coming up... Is there a desire for growth in you, for liberation from patterns? Yes, Isabel says, I do long for 'something', but I don't know what... It is quiet for a moment and then Isabel says: "I would like to take a little more distance, want to choose more for myself and take less account of others."

Okay, so there is a desire in you for growth? Yes, says Isabel, but there is also something that keeps me from coming here. And that is? Fear..., that I don't have enough courage to really make that change. Because? I have to disappoint people, I am afraid that people get angry if I don't meet their expectations. How bad is that? May people be disappointed or angry? That is a human reaction, isn't it? You could also see it as a sign that they appreciate your presence otherwise it didn't mean anything to them.
Yes, that is true, but still...

I can't decide for you whether you want to grow or not. It is up to you to consider what is more important: devotion to yourself and liberation from suffocating patterns or maintaining the patterns, because it feels familiar, certain and safe, although it is oppresive. If you choose the latter, you will continue to invest a lot of time in others at the expense of yourself, you will continue to hoard what is bothering you, not expressing what is going on in you, adapting to others while they annoying you, keep everyone happy. Yes, says Isabel, that is the core..., keep everyone happy. And all that causes stress. Yes, says Isabel, it cost a lot of energy.
So, it is up to you to make the choice. I have no opinion about that. If you want to continue with your life as it is now..., it's okey. Only you can answer the question if you are ready to move, to start an inner growth that supports your well-being..., or not.

Let's look at a situation where the above is happening. Are you in for that? Yes, says Isabel, that's good. It concerns my mother. She is 86 years old and recently, at her request, she lives close to me. That was her wish. And I helped her with that. My mother is not an easy woman, she is someone who always thinks negatively, judges quickly and lives fairly selfishly. My father is no longer alive. The world of my mother has always been very small, she has no friends and almost no contacts. I actually supported my mother for a big part of her life, and still do.

I visit or call her everyday since she lives close to us. She indicates now that she is so alone, that she misses her neighbors, while she always told me that she had no contact with anyone in her previous home. So I don't understand her statement..., it is simply not true what she says. She says that she has nothing to do, but I don't see that. When I come I see that she is enjoying herself, doing all kind of things. Then, in my presence, she speaks to a new neighbor on the street and she says that it was my choice to move: "Isabel wanted it so much, so I moved for her." And that is not at all how it went..., she indicated that she wanted to live near me, because she is becoming more needy. I annoy myself immensely to those kinds of statements, which simply are not true.

And what do you say when you are confronted with such situations? Nothing, I close my mouth, I walk away or go to the toilet, it gives a lot of stress inside, because it is not true what she says. And if I ever say something about it, she says, "Oh, but I don't know that anymore."
Well, what can you say..., then you are spoken out.

Okay, I say, this is a situation that lends itself well to self-inquiry. Do you ever do self-examination? That you sit down and write down what is happening in you, what convictions exist in you? No. I would recommend that. Let's take a look. What lives in you when your mother tells the neighbor: "My daughter wanted me to live near her, I miss my neighborhood, my contacts." What is the interpretation you give to this statement from your mother? After some research Isabel comes to the core: that my mother is not happy with the move, that she has been put under pressure by me to come and live here.

Oh, interesting, I say..., how you look at it..., I had a completely different interpretation..., and that's so valuable from self-inquiry..., that you suddenly get a very clear picture what you stick to your mother's statement..., that is not the truth..., but that is what you see... That doesn't mean that your mother meant it that way..., you see this becasue you coloring it that way. Perhaps it is the other way around: that you felt pressured to move your mother your way through her statements about loneliness?

Do you know how I interpret her statement to the neighbour? No. That your mother indirectly want to say that she would like to have some contact with the neighbour. That is a very different coloring than you gave it. Not to say that this interpretation is correct..., it is more that I want to show you that everyone has their own view. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you realize that it is only a view, no more and no less, but if you assume that what you see is the truth, then there is friction and conflict within you and outside you.

Do you already feel that the identification with this view is coming off a bit? She nods. You can compare it with what is happening between you and me: we both look at the same situation, but you see something different then me. So you don't know from which intention your mother spoke to the neighbor in this way. I see that it resonates what we exchange with each other.

A next step may be that you start the conversation with your mother, not from accusation (what you say is wrong, you are lying), but from openness and understanding: everyone has his/her own coloring in of a situation. You share your interpretation ánd you ask about her experience. If you can see that it is your coloring in, then the load falls away, then you understand that it is not the truth, but an interpretation on your part. Then you can share that interpretation: Mom, I want to come back to the conversation you had with the neighbor... I felt irritated when you said you moved to this place because of me, I don't recognize that, I understood that you wanted to live closer to me, because you became more needy and yes..., you are right that it would be easier for me..., that's true, the knife cuts on two sides, but if you tell the neighbor that you moved because I wanted it so badly..., it just doen't feel true for me..., it gives me the feeling that you are not happy with the move and that you have felt pressured by me to move over here. I don't know if that is the case, that's how I see it, this is what I make of it, maybe you meant it very differently... So, I'm curious what's in you ma ...,

And then it may very well be that your mother says: Did I say that? I don't know it anymore. Or that she says: I have to get used to it, on this moment I don't feel really happy here, but that can change, I miss my house, my neighborhood, even though I felt lonely there, I still had my contact moments with the neighbors, it was not much, but I liked that, I just need a little more time before I feel at home again. Or: I also felt pressured, maybe you didn't meant that..., but I felt that I had no choice, I depend on you, so it was easier for you if I moved closer to you.

And then it's all about whether you can hear any answer from your mother, receive it without making it personal, without involving yourself (I didn't do it well, mom is not happy with it).

Realize that it's not about getting you right or defending your point of view, but that you have said what's bothering you... (instead of suppressing everything), and that the other person can share his/her experience. There is no right or wrong..., it is not that your perspective is correct and that of your mother is wrong, or the other way around: that the perspective of your mother is right and yours is not. We all create our own stories (interpretations) about reality. It's about sharing everyone's experience: "Oh, that's the way you look at the situation, that lives in you..., good to hear, I have another view."

Your mother and you don't differ from each other: you are both a prisoner of the mind. She sees everything negative and distorts facts according to your experience (that's her pattern) and you want to please everyone and hoard everything (that's your pattern).  You would like her to change, but as difficult as it is for her, it is for you too, right? Do you see that? Maybe it softens your perspective about her when you let that in: it is not easy to change, you need courage to take steps outside the comfort zone.

So the question is: 'Do you want to grow?' And if the answer is 'yes', then you take the resistance for granted, then you use every situation for your liberation, you go for it.

A week later I send her this blog to approve.
This is her reaction: I think it is very beautiful and clearly written and it has been very helpfull already. So clear to read it again and I can fully agree with the story. When I read it like this I am sure: yes, I want to grow and I can tell you that I am really working on it. I also had a good conversation with my mother and it was exactly as you described it... that it is indeed everyone's interpretation. Thank you for this beautiful blog.

Linked-in: Caroline Ootes

Self-inquiry: Love your mind, don't make it your enemy.

You have to go through your suffering, through your own hell. No one else can do it for you. 

A client comes for a coaching consult. She indicates that she wants peace in her head, that she is very much in her head. "I want an answer on everything, a explanation where it comes from," she says.
And then..., I ask, what does it yield you? Does the question then disappear or does a new question come in its place?
She laughs, from recognition: "Yes, those questions go on and on... that never stops, but I can’t stop it, it is a compulsive tendency." And what does it bring you? I ask. "Well, if I have a explanation, I can steer it or let it go.... I just have an issue with control and I can't stand it if I have no grip on anything. And this all started when I became unemployed a few years ago. And then I feel pressure that I have to go after work, that I have to apply, but there is no movement in me to do so, and I just don't understand what is happening in me..., I've never been like that..., I feel so frustrated ..., I don't recognize myself anymore. Before I became unemployed I was a completely different woman: independent, powerful, self-reliant, I was an entrepreneurial woman. But now I make a drama of everything. I just don't know myself anymore... And then I wonder if I should start to feel more or if I think too much... or too little. And my head goes on and on. Eventually I go outside to ride or walk very mindfull, just to get out of my head. I say to myself: now it must be over with that compulsive tendency to think..., but as soon as I get home, the head takes it over again. I didn't had that before I became unemployed. I don't get it, I don't understand myself anymore."

Recognizable to the reader? The tendency to float around in the head? The tendency to formulate an explanation or answer on every question in your life? The tendency to psychologize and analyze from an underlying need for control: if I understand what is happening in me, then I can steer it or let it go (if there would be a button to let go, you would already have done it, or not?). Recognizable that it keeps going on and you can't stop the inclination?

I feel her fear..., she loses grip on her life..., a grip that no one ever has, even though we think so... Nothing is clear and predictable for her anymore, she no longer has her life in her hand (what she never had). Since she has been unemployed, her personal will-power is extinguishing, she doesn't recognizes herself no more... and the mechanism (willpower) with which she could sweep tensions under the rug, which worked so well before she became unemployed, no longer functions. The ego is in a degradation process and the mind pulls out all the stops to survive: analyze, psychologize, fear, doubt, confusion.  Well, how do you find peace in your head then? 

I feel compassion for her and share with her what I perceive: there is a dying process going on, the personal will power goes out. Not easy..., but it eventually brings you home, it takes you to surrender to existence.  Everything is at the right place and time (a statement she used before she became unemployed) and serves you to wake up from the grip of the ego, from the grip of the mind, who wants to control, grasp, hold on, be secure and clear (this is me, my identity). That is not Life itself, because Life itself ..., what you essentially are..., flows... and lives in surrender with what is. I see the perfection of existence working through her: the suffering that serves to come home to the Self. I have gone through it myself and recognize what she describes: the personal will doesn't work anymore..., the image you had about yourself..., all the qualities with which you identified yourself..., it all collapses..., you don't recognize yourself anymore.  And to surrender to that..., to that demolition process..., to the fact that you have nothing in hand anymore (which was always the case), is not easy, the mind rebels, everything has to stay the way it was... Well, and then you come to a point in your life that everything that was solidified (job/image about yourself/your identity) is being turned upside down...

A follow-up appointment is made a month later. The evening before the consultation I come across a satsang of Osho on you tube with the title: How to stop thinking? After writing the latest blogs about self-inquiry, I wonder how Osho would answer this question. I listen to the satsang and enjoy his wisdom: Love your mind, don't make it an enemy. What a wonderful statement..., so true. Everything is at the right place and time: a coincidence - listening to the satsang - fits seamlessly with the client's request. I share the essence of the satsang with her, it comes in. And I share the metaphor described in my blog 'transforming beliefs, the direct way'. I see that something energetically happens during the transfer. 

Another month later she comes back. She says: something has really shifted in me and I blame you, she looks at me and gives a wink. A huge burden has fallen away from me. From one day to the next a load of stress fell away from me. I just don't understand what I've been so worried about all these years ..., all that stress was not necessary at all ..., I can see that now.

Well, it is so true what she is saying: all that stress was not necessary at all. But if you are in the middle of it, if you are being held hostage by the mind, if you believe all your thoughts/emotions, if you come from the mind (now I must be mindful) and battle with the mind, then life is a hell...,  until you discover the door that has always been open: witness consciousness.

Amazing how life can run... Yes, witness consciousness, that's what it's all about: getting out of the mind. Not by battleling the mind, but through love of the mind: see without judgment what takes place in the mind.  Louise indicates that my explanation about the metaphor of the hall of a theather (consciousness) and the stage (the mind) was very helpful to her (see blog: transforming beliefs, the direct way).

Love your mind, don't make it your enemy.
For those who like, hereby the link to Osho 'How to stop thinking?': 
www.awarenesscoaching.online LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

From what perspective are you looking?

A client comes into practice. Louise tells about a relative, let's call him Jos, who is incurably ill. Jos is still able to do the necessary in the home and outdoors, besides the rest he needs in connection with his illness. Louise is visiting them. She would like to offer her help. According to Louise, Jos makes use of his illness by expecting everyone to be ready for him, day and night, and to serve him at his best. His behavior is not much different than for the moment he became incurably ill: everything revolves around him, he manipulates everyone around him to satisfy his desires, everyone has to follow up his orders. Louise indicates that she would like to do something for Hilde, the wife of Jos, but she doesn't know what. 

After having gone out with them, a conversation arose between Louise and Hilde. Jos is in bed at that moment. Hilde indicates that she feels exhausted. She would also like to lie down on the couch, just like her husband. Or go out the door to run fast, but then she has to arrange so much for the children and her husband: it's too difficult... Besides that, Jos gives ongoing assignments, because he is ill, he needs attention and care. I ask Louise if she offered her help at that moment in the conversation, now that Hilde clearly indicates her wish. No, says Louise, I didn't offer any help, it went through me, but I thought that would not change the situation, actually most of the time I just thought one thing: 'He may also do something for her'. 

Well, that's how it goes... Apparently Louise has been triggered, so she can't be 'present', in alignment with Hilde, the energy is in her head (judgments) instead of being in her heart. 

The conversation between Louise and Hilde continues. Louise asks Hilde if she can give Jos small assignments to spare herself a little. No, says Hilde, I don't want to give Jos the feeling that he is not doing enough. Louise gives an example, Jos can prepare some fruit for the children, but Hilde keeps it off: she is afraid that Jos will get angry (as it has been until then in their marriage), then the atmosphere is negative and that is what she don't want. Louise feels the impotence of Hilde and feels herself powerless too. She doesn't know how she can handle this situation and what kind of help she can offer. I ask Louise what triggers her: What is your perspective on this situation? Which pictures/convictions are set in motion? From which glasses do you look? Louise says: he treats her as a slave, I would like to wake her up..., you are also a person who needs care and attention. Recognizable? I ask. Until recently you also lived a similar scenario, right? Do you see the mirrors you look at? That you, not too long ago, also felt exhausted and powerless..., you just kept running and taking care of the others and you also wanted to keep the sweet peace: if they don't talk about difficult subjects, then I also keep my mouth... Louise recognizes the mirrors. Besides powerlessness she also feels frustration. Whose frustration is that? I ask. Is that about Hilde and Jos or is it your frustration? Frustration, because you went through so long in an unhealthy situation? Frustration, because you continued to give care and attention, while you yourself needed that care and attention, but could not ask... She recognizes what I give back. Apparently there is still a lot of frustration in you over the past years and that frustration is triggered by this situation of Hilde and Jos. Yes, says Louise, I have put a lot of frustration away..., I didn't want to feel that feeling of helplessness and impotence. When I feel it, I push it away as soon as possible. Yes, I say, and that's what you want with Jos and Hilde: pushing away their powerlessness and frustration... May she feel powerless and frustrated? Yes, I see what you mean, says Louise.

And further..., I ask, what else is there in you? Well, says Louise, I would really like Hilde to get a cup of coffee from him. It isn't that everything is only about Jos and that he can afford to ruin the atmosphere if Hilde doesn't do what he says. 

Is that so: that it can't be that everything revolves around Jos? I see something else. What I see is that the situation is as it is: everything revolves around Jos, and Hilde is willing to do everything she can to prevent him from being angry or completely ignoring her. That is the reality, those are the facts. Yes, says Louise, that is true. 

Can you be with that? 

Hard, says Louise. If Hilde indicates that she wants to continue with this man in the same way as she did before, who are you to want something different? If you would like to offer help, out of compassion with her situation, then it would be without any conditions? Or should she speak out to her partner because you are still frustrated from your situation, from all those times that you have not spoken? If you really want to give your support, then I can imagine that you are offering her to visit her and that she has, so to speak, two hours for herself to do what she would like to do at that moment (running/rest/looking for a friend). And then you also say to her that you will take good care of her husband... Louise looks at me with big eyes. Yes, I say, that is exactly what her care is about..., it is too complicated, too big to arrange a babysitter for the children and for this man in particular. She realizes very well that he is a tyrant, which she doesn't oppose..., and certainly not now that he is incurably ill... She has her motives to do it the way she does..., is that allowed? Or should she and Jos change before you can step into the boat to give them help? Can you be with what is? And this is it: a woman who maintains a destructive pattern to keep the sweet peace, because her husband will die in not too long time. That is the reality. See that your frustration and impotence runs through, so you can't feel and can give what is needed for Hilde. That is not bad..., it's not about right or wrong..., but about the motives that make you react like you react. If you see through it, there will be freedom of movement and you can offer the help that is appropriate. Can you feel compassion for her and for the situation she is in? Because you yourself have experienced that you were not in a position to step out of a destructive pattern? Because you have personally experienced that you had your motives to maintain an unhealthy situation? Because you yourself have experienced that it requires a lot of courage to revolt? Yes, Louise says, I feel what you are saying, it comes in. I could share this with her, from person to person, that I understand that she is in a difficult situation, that I recognize it... and that I would like to assist her in the way it feels good to her. Yes, that's the way..., now I feel your heart.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Self-inquiry: I ​​would like to live in the here and now, but I live from one dot on the horizon to the next dot.

I meet a woman in practice. For the sake of convenience I call her Silvia. 
A conversation unfolds. Silvia indicates that in her life she always has a tendency to be 20 steps further than she is now. She finds it difficult to live in the here and now. She actually lives from one dot on the horizon to the next dot on the horizon. And this doesn't only take place in the field of her work (the next step on the career ladder), but also in relation to relationships. 

She says: "I just can't stop it ..., I am always busy with the next step, I constantly make pictures in my head about my work and about a new relationship that started some time ago. My coaching question is how I can be in the here and now."

I invite her to share more. She talks about a new relationship. From the start they went straight into the depths: a totally new experience for her. She indicates that she wants him to come closer, but that she is also afraid of it. Like him. He has let her know that he has fear of commitment through an earlier stifling relationship in his life. At some point she jokingly invites him to join her family on a family weekend. She knows in advance the answer he will give, so she says: "I don't ask you, but I share with you that my brother joked around that this weekend is perhaps the moment to get to know each other." The invitation from the brother of Silvia immediately triggers a feeling of suffocation in Silvia's friend: there is tension on his throat, he feels pressured. "You really don't have to come along, says Silvia to him, I didn't ask you anyway..., I just shared what my brother have said." 

After this meeting, she notices that she is in the grip of her mind. All sorts of thoughts haunted her mind, which makes her doubt whether she should continue the relationship with this man: "Is there a future for us? Not only does he keep the relationship at a distance, me too." 

I ask Silvia what her pictures (thoughts) are: bring them all into the light, what is haunting through you? "Well, Silvia says, first and foremost, I imagine what this fear of intimity  means for our relationship in the nearby future..." Then I think: "Gee, this man is very damaged..., and I don't want to be his therapist..., but we do have deep exchanges, that is very nice..., and it also comes to me well that he has a form of fear of commitment..., then I don't have to cross the bridge myself..., and... if I'm very honest..., it feels safe that he keeps distance, then it can't go wrong..., because there is a strong thought in me that it will go wrong again." 

She continues: "Yes, I see that the thinking machine is going on, I see that I am completely absorbed by all those pictures, all those thoughts, but I can't resist, the mind just goes on. I would love to live in the here and now. Actually, I myself break what is there now (nice exchanges) by constantly anticipating the nearby future."

"Yes, I say, I feel your energy..., it lacks confidence..., I feel that you want guidance, certainty, clarity... and that isn't possible, because the situation is as it is. And besides that..., life itself is also insecure by nature: you don't know what the next moment brings, so no answer is possible." 

It resonates: there is no trust. She bursts out crying: "If I start to trust now, I'm so afraid to get the lid on my nose." She is crying. I give her the time to feel her grief. After some time I ask her what she means when she says she is so afraid to get the lid on her nose. "That I can be hurt," says Silvia. What does that look like? What are you afraid of? I ask. "I'm afraid he'll pull out the plug." What would be his story to pull out the plug? "Well, I am afraid that he thinks that I am not good enough, that I am not worthy of his love." And then? What are you afraid of? "That I'll stay behind alone." Yes, that's what I feel, I say, you closed your heart at some point in your life, like him, you are so afraid of being hurt..., I feel that you are led by a conviction: love is not there for me, no one who really wants me, I just stay behind.

This remark triggers a flood of grief. I feel compassion for her and invite her to fully allow the old pain. After a while I ask: "Do you realize this is child pain? It seems that in your childhood you picked up the message from your parents that they didn't really love you, which you have translated into: I am not good enough, I am not worth it." 

Again she bursts out crying. She says: "It resonates 100%. As a child I sometimes thought that I had been adopted, despite my birth pictures as proof." Stay with your grief, I say, feel where it is in your body, bring all your attention to this pain and let it melt, don't go to your head, to stories. After the necessary shocks of intense grief, it is quiet again in Silvia. 

Yes, I say, this is the pain you have been carrying with you for a lifetime. And where you act from. This pain has never fully seen the light. And existence is very gracious to you, by bringing this man on your path, giving you the opportunity to melt the pain of the child you were. This pain makes you always take refuge to your head: there is no trust. At some point in your life you have closed yourself: you long for intimacy and openness, that is your heart. Everyone's heart longs for connection, for proximity and contact, but the pain of not being loved is still there." 

I will now return to the question you came in with: "How can I be in the here and now?" There are several ways. First of all: let this pain melt, which has become clear today. Every time when fear and doubt is triggered and a compulsive tendency arises to make pictures (thoughts) about this relationship, turn inside and feel the pain that lies beneath the pictures: everything is uncertain (that's right: life is uncertain), I don't know what to do (that is true, you can't know, the flow of life is not predictable), shall I go on with this relationship (that will naturally become clear in time), I am so afraid that it goes wrong, that no one will be there for me, that I stay behind (the pain of the child and existential pain: a deep sense of loneliness). When you have felt the pain to the root, it evaporates. Then the tendency to make pictures (the thinking machine) can still be triggered, but you will no longer be held hostage by the mind, it is then possible to be present: you see what takes place in the mind. The Self (Consciousness) looks at the self (the mind). You see the story that takes place in your head. And then look total: view everything that is being performed by the mind, from the beginning to the end..., be present..., look at the whole movie that your mind produces..., realizing that you are not the story, but the lamp of awareness, who sees the story. By fully consciously observing the antics of the mind, the pattern is completely illuminated and at a certain moment it goes out. Is it a new situation that triggers you, a situation that you can't let go of (it keeps you busy): look, observe what happens, what do you say, do... and research on a quiet moment what is touched, what convictions (pictures) have been triggered. Don't concern yourself with what the other person did right or wrong. Don't concern yourself with what you did or didn't do well: that is not self-research, that is the mind, that wants to declare the other guilty and/or yourself. Don't go to psychological analysis and explanations. Simply bring everything into the light, that is self-inquiry: let the lamp of Conscious Being shine on the convictions and fears until you reach the pit, the pain point (see previous blog). 

Sometimes seeing through the trigger is enough to see reality as it is, sometimes more work is needed: feeling the original pain as it happened in you today. How does that pain feel? The pain of not being loved, the pain of loneliness. Don't go to statements and stories about your youth. Go to the pain that lies behind the thought that you often feel that you were adopted: no one who loves me, loneliness. Let that pain melt. And then your heart opens and it is possible to really enter into an intimate relationship. 

And realize the impact of your process on your partner: everything you clean up has a healing effect on him and on everyone you connect with. That is great, isn't it? 

Another way to get out of the head is: being present in the here and now. And I see/feel that the lamp of awareness is no longer completely veiled by identification with the mind: you see, you notice that you always take refuge in your head, to explanations, to doubts, distrust. Don't judge this tendency, it is not personal, it is collective, we have all been raised in this field of fear and shortage. And it's already a lot that you see the inclination. The majority of mankind doesn't realize that they live continuously from this field, from the mind: in the past or in the future, but not here and now. They are fully identified with the mind, with their thoughts and emotions, which they consider appropriate (my story). 

And change begins with seeing, with awareness. So great that you see the inclination. The exercise I want to give you is: return to the here and now. Every time you notice that you are in your head, bring attention to this moment. This is not easy, because it is a deeply ingrained groove: the head as a survival strategy to prevent hurt, the head that wants grip on a situation (relationship) to prevent disappointment and pain, the head that wants clarity and certainty what is impossible, because life is uncertain and open, so it is not predictable. 

And that reminds me of Nisargadatta, a spiritual teacher who died in 1981. Do you know him? No. He came to liberation by consistently applying a simple instruction from his master. Every time there was identification with the mind (I am the world, this personality, the body, my faith, culture, my thoughts etc.) he brought the attention back to the original principle, to the 'being' principle, the 'I am'. To that which is..., beyond the mind..., beyond all assumptions and beliefs that are claimed by the ego (I am so and so). If that falls away from us..., the identification with the mind..., what is left? That what is: I am. And after I am... it is quiet, no interpretation, no hold on anything: openness, no identification with the mind, that is Life. I am..., there is no more to say. Every time there is a tendency to go into a story, a story about yourself or about the other, a story about the past or about the future: return to I am, to Beingness, to just being. This ends the session. She is very grateful to me. "How is it possible that we came to the core in such a short time," she says. Yes... sometimes it goes like that..., you're a ripe apple. 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Socrates: an unexamined life, is not worth living.

The all-seeing eye of Horus 

Today the words 'Know Your Self' went through me. 'Know Your Self' stood above the temple of Apollo, the temple where the Greeks consulted the Oracle of Delphi. Many classical Greek philosophers, such as Socrates, were convinced of the idea that true knowledge about life starts with intensive self-examination. In fact, according to Socrates, an unexamined life is not worth living. For the sake of clarity: Socrates doesn't say that an unexamined life is worth nothing. 

I recognize this statement from Socrates. An unexamined life is not Life..., it is a life that proceeds mechanically according to learned patterns that we develop as a child. Example: you always fulfill the role of mediator (as an adult), because as a child you were in the middle of serious arguments between your parents, they often had a fight. Result: as soon as there is disagreement in a company or in the relationship, mechanically the pattern is put into action, you mediate, whether you want it or not, you are taken over by the pattern, because the last thing you want is to be in an atmosphere of fighting and quarreling. So any circumstance that has similarity with this atmosphere, triggers a feeling of insecurity, the insecurity you experienced as a child from which you stepped in between your parents. So you act 'unconsciously'. Actually, according to your learned program, which you have no control over, because this program is still unconscious in you, there can't be disagreement. Disagreement or quarrel, which in time is a given in a lifetime, means to you: insecurity. You don't want to be confronted with this feeling. 

Another pattern can be: distract. For example, you come from a family that didn't talk about emotions or difficult situations, because the parents themselves didn't learn how to deal with emotions. The example you have seen as a child: as soon as emotions or vulnerability are in play, your parents distract you. Consequence: as an adult you repeat, completely unconsciously, automatically, this pattern when emotions are popping up in a conversation with your child, partner or friends. Another consequence: you don't understand why you feel so empty..., cut off as you are of your own emotions and vulnerabilities... You feel alone with some regularity, you don't experience connection, contact, friendship, without being aware that this is caused by this pattern. 

Everyone, without anyone, knows painful experiences whose pain has never fully seen the light (for example the pain of being left out), but this pain does direct our behavior, without us knowing it. Unless... 'being aware' stands up in us.

In addition to learned patterns (appeasing, doing your best, distraction, wanting to be liked etc.), we also learn from a young age what is right and wrong. In this way many 'pictures' live in us, which we lay about reality. 

Example: to be lazy and doing nothing is wrong, nobody dies from working. Again we are guided by these 'pictures', which are automatically activated when a situation in the present agrees: your son or daughter, who with some regularity takes time and space to relax, is encouraged to work, you give him or her an assignment for a household job or let him/her know that homework needs to be done: lazing is not allowed. The reality is: a daughter or son who relaxes. That reality is therefore neutral, but not for you, because you have received the picture that doing nothing is wrong. This is one example, but I can tell you, through years of self-examination, that there are many pictures and beliefs in our lives that directs our behavior, without having to say anything about it..., unless we wake up, become aware. 

Whether we like it or not: we are lived by all those pictures, parental voices and beliefs, which we are not aware of. Ignorance and old pain determine our behavior. 

Okay, intensive self-examination seems to be necessary to wake up from the state of ignorance, also called the dreamstate. Yes, I agree. And that requires 'Consciousness', 'Awareness'. 

A first step is that we see the pattern. But what do you mean by seeing? Do you look from the mind? Or do you look from Awareness/Consciousness? If we look from the mind, we have an opinion about it: we condemn what we see. You see, for example, that a judgment passes and immediately a thought is activated: I am not allowed to judge, because judging is an expression of the mind. This is not the seeing that will free us from our suffering. It is about seeing from Consciousness, then it is perceived without judgment. And that is an essential development: the leap of seeing from the mind (which rejects what is seen) to seeing from the Source, which is clear, loving and neutral (our Buddha nature). 

How do you look? With what eye do you view your behavior and actions? Research that once every day. Do you look from the mind? Or is there a seeing from neutrality, a gentle, loving view of what is taking place in you? And what do you see? Do you see the patterns and beliefs in you that guide your behavior? Do you see which deeper pain is being affected, that you don't want to feel? The pain that lies behind irritation, judgment, distraction, your best efforts, guilt, shame, not being good enough, fear? 

Let the old pain melt, make contact with this pain that you have been carrying for so long: the pain of being unloved, the pain of loneliness and rejection, the pain of emptiness, the pain of not being welcome, the pain of helplessness and powerlessness, the pain of not being understood and heard, of being insecure and unsupported, the pain of oppression, of having no voice. The story is not important, because it keeps you in identification with the mind. Just feel the pain out of  Awareness (no story, be totaly aware while feeling the pain). The way out is the way in. 

Self-examination has a condition. What would this condition be? Any idea? What is essential to be able to reap the fruits of self-examination? 

My answer: a deep sense that you are the only one who is responsible for your pain. And we don't find that easy, because we are all avoiders..., avoidance of pain. And in order not to feel that pain or hurt, we point out, to the other, the others are the cause of my pain. And this conviction is very persistent: I feel so and that is because of you. No, that is not because of the other (s), the other only triggers the pain that is already present in you. If that pain is not present in you, there would be no pain at all, you would not experience the grumbling of your partner if you ask him to turn off the TV, because the bottom for it is missing in you. You can only be touched if there is a hook in you of previous pain, which seems to agree with what you think you perceive with the other person(s): my partner doesn't consider me important, he has no attention for me, only for that TV (mobile phone, other people etc.) If you are hurt, take responsibility for what is happening in you. And let the pain of the child you were melting. 

And the reward of self-examination is: inner liberation, unconditional love, suffering that ceases to exist, a clean lens, emptiness (there is nothing between you and reality: you see things as they are). A rich reward, which is not just thrown into our lap. It requires a total effort and then one day... the shift takes place... and you are no longer a slave of the mind. There is more and more vision, clear vision, the identification with the painful emotions and convictions gradually goes out (or suddenly), as the Consciousness deepens itself. If you feel challenged by this path, the way of self-examination, know that you are welcome for some guidance and support.

An examined life is worth living. 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes  

Nothing is certain, learn to love that.


If nothing is certain, everything is possible. 

We (my partner and our daughter) are on holiday in another country, a country where we haven't been before. At some point our daughter shows that she misses her sister, who died last year (summer 2016) around this time. She indicates that during other holidays with the family she was used to go out with her in the evening, that is no longer possible. She is sad. 

Later she let us know that she is in the mood of meeting peers to chill together. She is placing a message on tinder friends and not much later she's receiving a message from a young man of her age, who is 17 km away from our address in a holiday home, together with two other men. She's showing us a picture of the young man, who's indicating that they have rented a spacious holiday home, which is located in a remote spot. 

We are on the beach when this conversation is happening. My partner is a few meters away, he is lying in the shadow and is listening from a distance to the conversation that unfolds between my daughter and me. She wants  an adventure, she says. She wonders how she gets there and how she returns home at night. During the conversation my partner stands up and walks towards us. He makes it clear that he doesn't want her to go: an unknown country, 17 km away from our address, isolated house, 3 men she doesn't know..., what does that all mean..., it is our last evening, he says, I don't want you to go over there. 

In everything I feel that his reaction comes from fear. So afraid to lose another daughter..., he feels that he has no control over the situation... Well, how do you deal with such a situation if your daughter is an adult woman of 26 years and your partner clearly indicates that he doesn't like this trip from his daughter? 

Her father goes into the sea. She resumes the conversation with me. What do you think? What shall I do? No idea, I say, what is going through you now? Well, I don't want to disappoint Dad, and of course it is also nice to end up with a dinner and I also understand that he is afraid, but yes, I am 26 years old... and I feel a pressure when Daddy is talking like that..., it feels like I can't do what I want..., I just love some adventure... 

Okay, and further..., what else is going on in you? Well, I like it to meet people and chill out with each other, but yes, transport is still a problem: how do I get there and how do I get back home? What shall I do? Do what is right for you, I say, even if it is not right for your father. You are not responsible for his feelings, whether that is fear... or disappointment from an expectation that he has about our last night. And of course, your father has every right to express himself, to express his need and to show his fear, but that doesn't mean you have to stick to it. The pressure you experience is not caused by your father, the pressure lives in you, it is the pressure of adaptation, which lives in each of us. It is not easy to be your-Self, to be faithful to the inner voice, especially when the other person has an expectation that doesn't match with what you want. It is up to you to discover what the inner voice is whispering to you, to discover what is right for you. And there are several possibilities: you can first go out for dinner with us and then visit these young men, you can go out for dinner with us and then see what the possibilities are in the immediate environment to meet some peers (café in de neighborhood/ happening on the beach), you can eat out with us and then we walk together to the old city to stroll and have a drink somewhere, you can also decide not to obey the urge to adventure, to experience what that brings about in you, what you meet in yourself if you don't 'go'. 

She lets it all sink in for a moment. At some point she says: I am not going,  I don't know how to get there and also the return journey is a problem. Can't you pick me up? No, I say, I don't feel like that. I want to bring you as long as it is light, nice to explore the area by car, but you have to arrange the return journey differently. Okay, she says, I'm not going, too complicated. 

Some time later the young man appt, he is ready to pick her up, but since he wants to drink some alcoholic drinks himself, he can't bring her back to the address where we are staying. His reaction changes her thoughts: she indicates that she wants to go to the invitation and asks if he can arrange a taxi for the return journey. Not much later, a name and telephone number of a taxi driver who is willing to bring her home, even if it is in the middle of the night, follows. She says: I am going..., first I am going to eat with you and Dad and then I will let him pick me up from our address. Okay, I say, then it seems nice to meet him at the moment he comes to pick you up and I want the address where he stays, his name and phone number. Can you show me the picture of this young man again? I look once more and feel the energy of the young man on the photo: good energy, confidence-inspiring. The situation as it unfolds feels right for me.
My daughter says: Do I have to tell it to daddy? 
We'll see how it unfolds..., I don't know that yet either. In any case, you can borrow the money for the taxi and it's nice that we're going out for dinner together, your father will like that. 

After eating, she is picked up from our residence address. We walk outside and say hello to the young man. He gets out of the car, introduces himself. I share with him our thought: we are in an unfamiliar environment, we don't know you and our daughter is dear to us. He reacts with understanding: I can imagine, he says, very well to keep an eye on her. After the short acquaintance my partner is reassured. She steps in and promises to send an app. I lived on the assumption that she would send the address of the young men's stay. The next day it turned out that she had already mentioned the location prior to her appointment, which I hadn't registered properly. 

Three quarters of an hour later I go to bed, there hasn't yet been an app with the address. She's probably forgotten that..., well, it's okay..., I'm going to sleep. After a few hours I go to the toilet and then look at the phone. No message. It's a pity, I don't know how things are going with her and the address where she is staying is not known (I thought). I am in the zone of 'uncertainty'. And yet there is no movement to send her an app. 

I get back in bed. It is warm, I can't sleep. I see one scenario after the other scenario for my mind's eye appearing, unmoved I look at the possibilities: she can be raped, she can be murdered, she can experience a great evening and get back home somewhere in the night, she can have a great time and decide to stay asleep, she can have so much fun that she decides to stay with them for another week. I see the possibilities and I am calm under it. 

But behind the scenarios there is a different deep tone, a tone that is related to fear: the tone of the uncertain, the tone of not knowing, of the unknown, of total openness, what Life itself is: unknown, fresh, new, an adventure. It feels frightening... that total openness. 
Around three o'clock I visit the toilet again and look again on the phone: no message. I'll call her. She picks up, she has fun and is now waiting for the taxi to come home. I am glad that she likes it, that she enjoys, without her sister, who can't be there anymore. And for us..., for me... another test of Life itself: surrender to existence itself, that's what it's about..., without any reserve..., surrender to total openness..., not knowing what the next moment brings, not knowing what the outcome is, not knowing how this situation will unfold..., which is always the case..., even though we live under the assumption that we can control existence and/or situations... 
The reality is that we have no control at all, that is the actual situation what we prefer to avoid as long as we view ourselves as separate from existence: "I" and the world. 

And what does the world mean to us? Is there confidence in us? Or do we experience the world as threatening and hostile? What is our perspective? The "I" (ego) knows no trust, the "I" is a creation of the mind through which we experience ourselves separately from Life itself. The 'I' wants certainty and clarity, wants to know what and when, but the reality is that nothing is certain, there is no hold, there is nothing to cling to, even if we think so, even though we try to create all kinds of certainties (home, partner, work, health, etc.). 

And then I hear my teacher say: nothing is certain, learn to love that. Yes, that is what we experienced to the fullest in the summer of 2016: the death of our daughter. I feel that a deep process of release is going on in me..., a slow dismantling of the 'I', of the identity, of the self-image (this is me). 

Nothing is certain anymore..., that realization is going on, a process of demolition is taking place... And if nothing is certain, all answers are possible, all scenarios..., because that is Life. Trust in existence, that's what it's all about..., which, incidentally, doesn't mean naive stepping into a situation. 
In this situation it meant for me the following aspects: viewing of the photo, getting acquainted, name and phone number of the young man and the address of their stay. 

And so the universe regularly carries out unforeseen tests like the above situation with our daughter. And the consciousness in me is watching: What does this situation bring about in me? How do I react? From fear and being worried or trust? No address of the young man's stay (I thought) + no movement to send an app to ask for the address... In the past I would have contacted directly from fear in such situations... Well, that's Life. 

Which tests of the universe do you encounter? Do you see them? And what do these tests bring about in you? Is there resistance? Are you stuck? Or are you moving? Are you investigating for yourself what this test is showing you? 

Every test has the potential for growth, for consciousness. And then I am very grateful to our daughter for her adventurous spirit, her trust in humanity, a mirror for us, even though she sometimes makes a mistake. 

The next day I read the blog to her and I ask her if it's okay if I publish it? Yes, she says, it's okay. What is the hitch that I hear, I say. I am afraid that people will fall over me again, that I haven't taken you and Dad into account, while Simone died about this time a year ago. Well, I say, I'll put that in the blog..., maybe they'll also understand the other side of the coin..., that you serve us in our growth..., it's not always easy..., I have to admit, but I am grateful to you..., very grateful for who you are... 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Courage means to feel fear and yet follow your heart.

Courage means to feel fear and yet follow your heart.

We are on holiday. Acquaintances from the environment come by, on visit. The husband and wife share the facts of the past year. We listen to the news and ask here and there. Nice to hear what concrete changes have taken place in their lives (refurbishment/other job).

The pace of the conversation is 'high'. One story after another is shared. After a while I notice that there is no reciprocal exchange. They share, we (my partner and I) listen. What makes this exchange so?

What I notice is that there is little space in the conversation, space in the sense of openness, space in the sense of time-lag, space in the sense of pauses during sharing, space in the sense of: silence. The silence, the openness, the time-lag from which you can experience depth..., a real meeting and humor.

At a certain moment a question is asked by them: what news do you have?
I don't feel any impuls to share anything. Nothing comes up. I have no news to share.
We have gone through a process after the death of our daughter (summer 2016) of which they are aware.

The energy in the company is 'high' or is 'rushed', 'fast'. I notice that I need some time to sag, to descend, to feel what needs to be shared from within, but that time is lacking. And I don't speak out about that. My partner makes an attempt to share some news. The news is picked up in a certain way and translated by the others. There is no exchange going on and soon the roles are reversed again. Here and there I make another comment, but there is no real meeting going on.

I view our interaction. Yes, that's how it goes..., this is the main menu, not the starter, but the main menu: the facts. No silence, break, time-lag from which depth and humor can arise, but sending at a fast pace.

He lacks contact, he lacks the exchange of emotions, the visitor indicates. I understand that when I see the conversation. He feels alone, lonely, knows few people. I understand that, if I listen to the conversation like that.

After an hour and a half the time comes to say goodbye. The man indicates that we can always come by if we need something..., that they would like to walk with us... and finally he invites us for a barbecue in 6 days.

And then it comes down to it: What do I say? What is my truth? What do I feel? Do I want further contact? Do I want to barbecue with them? And dare I express myself even if the other person experiences this as a rejection or disappointment?

One thing is clear to me on forehand: I don't want to barbecue. I don't feel like spending a few hours of my time with people moving at the level of news. Not that something is wrong with them (they are sympathetic people) or with the exchange of news, but that can also be done by making a chat, now and then.

Okay, the invitation. What is my answer?
I say: I don't know yet. To which the other person reacts: how is it possible that you don't know it now? I say: I want to consult with my partner first, I'll let you know. Why is consultation needed for this? he ask. You know now if you want to barbeque in 6 days, or not? (And that's right, I know my answer, but I am not alone, there is also a partner, and I don't find it easy to say 'no').

And then he looks questioningly at my partner: what do you think? And I say again that I want to consult with my partner: I'll let you know in a few days. My partner nods in agreement to me and the company. I see and feel that the visitor is irritated and feels rejected.

I pick up the thread again and say: I don't know the answer now, maybe it just feels too fast, it feels more right when we agree to barbecue in a month..., and I also just want to tune in with my partner. To which the visitor responds irritably: About a month? he says, well, then I don't know if I'm there, maybe I'll be on vacation. To which I say: Okay, so be it. He doesn't like my answer. And I add: If the answer is 'no', if we reject your invitation, don't see it as a disapproval of you. It is not about you, I like you, but the question is whether I want to meet with you in this way. Well, he reacts really annoyed: I want to know a few days in advance if you are coming, so I have time to do the shopping. I will let you know in time, I say.

Do you feel the conversation? Do you feel how difficult it is to remain true to yourself if you feel a strong appeal from the other side to contact? If you know that the other person feels lonely, even though I am not responsible for the loneliness of the other person? Do you feel what a huge challenge there is to speak out, to live your truth?

Every now and then a chat or a cup of coffee/tea, that is the answer from within or my truth. It is not easy to stand up to give this message in all openness and honesty. I don't reject them, but that is how they interpret it. The answer it is not about them, but about me: what is right for me? Even if that is not right for the other...

Yes, but you can't always follow your inner truth? That is selfish.
Is that right? Is it selfish to be faithful to yourself? Or is it selfish of the other person to assume in advance that you meet the expectation (the invitation) of the other person? It is an invitation, right? In other words: a question, right? And several answers are possible for a question: yes, no, maybe. Can I say 'no'? Or should I actually say 'yes', because the other person feels otherwise rejected or disappointed, as if I am responsible for the other's reaction?

Am I responsible for the pain that the other person carries, the pain that is touched at the moment when I say 'no', the pain that has ever arisen in his or her history? Do I then have to live the life that others expect from me because they may feel rejected or disappointed?

Do I have reached the point where I can receive a rejection from the other person, knowing that this rejection says nothing about me, but everything about the other person? He or she gets triggered by a 'no', he or she has an expectation which I can't meet.The answer that I have to give must be a 'yes', there is no space for a different answer.
Is this love?

How big is the other person's heart when implicit demands are made?
Is it selfish to listen to yourself? To find out what's right for you? Even if that isn't right for the other person... Do I have to live to all the expectations and desires of others? So that I ignore the answer that knocks from the inside?

From which do we want to meet the expectations of others? Is it guilt or fear? Then I am not a good...: father, mother, daughter, son, neighbor/husband, partner, employee, employer?

Are we moving along with the expectations to prevent possible judgments of others? Judgments that still exist in ourselves, because otherwise the judgments of others would not touch us at all. Judgments that come from convictions, which we have received from childhood: if you think of yourself, you are an egoist, then you don't take the other person into account. Is that right? Are you an egoist when you take yourself into account? Are you an egoist if you following what is true for you?

To what extent are you really present, in connection, in contact, when you say 'yes', while it is a 'no' inside? To what extent is that affectionately towards the other? But above all to yourself? Why do so many people feel tired and exhausted? Could this have to do with the fact that we don't listen to what the inner voice indicates, because we are lived by all sorts of convictions that have been given to us by educators and society?

Okay, back to the situation. The invitation for the barbecue. I consult with my partner and ask him what he wants. He indicates that he doesn't like barbecuing. Every now and then a cup of coffee or tea, fine. And maybe now and then a walk with the male visitor, but no barbecue.

This is the answer I sent the visitors:

Ha dear people,
Barbecue: no. We like to visit you on Sunday, see the renovation and have a chat, if it is okay for you too.

I got the following answer: Hi, Okay on Sunday.

Well, that's the way it goes..., and maybe he'll ask on Sunday why we don't want to barbecue. Again a challenge: what do I say? And my answer is differs from my partner's response. Do I dare to show openly and honestly what the inner voice tells me? Every now and then a chat, that's it, it has nothing to do with you personally, this is just the answer I feel from the inside.

I wonder what will unfold on Sunday.

PS does this mean that my partner has to choose the same? No. If he wants to go for a walk, eat, chat or otherwise..., go ahead... you're a free person... just like me.

The liberty that is rising in me, I grant everyone else.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Alone but not lonely

Known sound: that you feel alone..., lonely. And that that has nothing to do with being alone. Being alone, in the sense of: without social contacts. On the contrary, you live with people, you meet colleagues at work, you visit family, friends..., and so on..., enough people around you, enough social exchanges..., and yet... you feel alone, lonely. 

What is that? From where do we feel alone..., lonely..., even when we are in company or on ourselves? Any idea? For years I have felt alone in the sence of 'lonely'. Actually, for a long time I didn't feel at home on planet earth and I didn't understand it. Enough people around me, I lacked nothing... and yet I felt lonely. For years I fled for those feelings by distraction. Too painful to really let in the feeling of loneliness. Recognizable? Do you recognize the escape routes that you use to avoid feelings of loneliness? Forms of distractions such as: a lot of food, alcohol/drugs, festivals, TV/series, get out every night, lots of acquaintances and friends, hard work, courses, training and therapy to work on yourself (in the hope that the feeling of being unhappy disappears). 

In short: we fill our time. We fill our time in with all kinds of distraction..., in order not to feel the void in us ..., to avoid the emptiness..., the emptiness that we all carry within us. It is not easy to enter into those feelings of loneliness when the power and insight are lacking that loneliness has nothing to do with outer circumstances, but with an inner quality: we are not at home in our-Selves, we are not at home in our Heart. And if we are not at home in our-Selves, then we look for 'it' (connection, contact, love) outside of us: then we need the other person. The other person must take away our feelings of loneliness, alienation and not being understood. The other person must approve us and makes us happy (which is impossible). And because of this conviction (that loneliness can only be solved by another), we feel dependent on others. We are not dependent, that is not our reality (we can take care of ourselves), but we have made ourselves dependent: we are convinced that we need the other person for our sense of well-being. And the assumption that we can't be happy without the other person, makes us dependent on the love and approval of the other. And then there is only one way to recieve the love we need: adapatation. So we constantly ask ourselves how we come across to others: how should I behave, what can I say/do and what is not desirable to say/do, what does the group expect of me (colleagues, friends, sports club, political party), what is not done, what is appropriate, what is expedient behavior to be accepted, to belong? 

In other words, we show the outside world a mask. We don't show what really matters to us, because when we show our true face, people reject us (we think). What we don't realize is that the rejection lives in ourselves (the critic in us): we reject ourselves, from which we are afraid that the other person will also reject us. And to avoid rejection, we do differently (cheerful, friendly, helpful, interested etc.) than what is going on in us at that moment, because yes..., we have made ourselves dependent on the confirmation and approval by others. Consequence: we give up our individuality, our-Self (a process that occurs from an early age). We follow, we become imitators, manipulators, otherwise we will not get what we need, we will be left alone. 

We become part of the crowd, in the adjustment..., in exchange for ...? Yes, for what? What does attention of the other mean if we have to give up our individuality? What does acceptance mean if we behave differently, if we don't dare to be ourselves? Yes, but it is like that..., we need the other person? Nobody wants to be alone? Nobody wants to stay behind, right? Oh, is that really true? Is happiness in life dependent on someone else? Or do we think this, because we don't know otherwise, because we live from the adjustment and we have lost our individuality. Do we think this because we have not yet started the confrontation with the emptiness? Because we avoid painful feelings of loneliness? As soon as the loneliness presents itself, we will take flight again. 

How do we know what is on the other side if we have never met the emptiness, the loneliness? Without the other, we are thrown back on ourselves. If we are thrown back on ourselves (quarrel, removal, relationship goes out, partner dies, friendship ends), feelings of loneliness will knock on our door. Stay with it, even if it causes fear and you want to run back to the other or to a flight route that is familiar to you. Enter the loneliness... Yes, it feels like an abyss of deep lack and emptiness, I know all about it. Deep lack and emptiness to what? To connect with our-Self, to connect with our essence: the Heart. And yes, courage is needed and insight to stay with the pain, but when we actually meet the emptiness, the loss and the loneliness, a melting process takes place. Slowly we come home to our Heart, we discover who we really are (apart from others), feelings of alienation dissolve, our individual Self rises, the adjustment and neediness (I need the other) disappears: you are and you experience that you have a good time with your Self. Your sense of well-being no longer depends on approval, confirmation, acceptance, appreciation, being seen or understood by the other person. Loneliness transforms into being-alone (being all-one: you are One). You are happy, without any reason, you don't need the other person. Not that you don't want to be with others... On the contrary: you are able to be with others and live together because you are yourself. I conclude with a paragraph of Osho (Zen tarot, card 9, aloneness) about loneliness versus being alone. 'Loneliness is a negative condition. You long for the presence of the other person, you long for real contact and connection, but the other person is absent and you are also absent, not present in the heart. 

Being alone, which is something other than loneliness, is the presence of yourself. Being alone means fulfillment, abundance, you don't need anyone, nice when there are others, but you don't need them to feel happy or fulfilled.

'Until you get comfortable with being alone, you will never know if you are choosing someone out of love or loneliness'. (Mandy Hale) 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

When the heart is closed, the mind reigns.

When the heart is closed, the mind reigns.

We don't see reality as it is, it is the mind that determines what we see. And as long as the mind is at the helm, we look at reality from a colored pair of glasses. These glasses consist labels that we stick on ourselves, the other and the world.
Example: the world is unsafe, all those foreigners and refugees take over our country and commit violence against homosexuals and women.

In other words, we see reality through a veil of opinions, judgments, preferences and disapproval, religious beliefs and so on..., so we don't see reality as it is, but as we conceive it.
We are a prisoner of the mind, without realizing that.
And this is not an individual issue (some people have prejudices and others don't), no, it is a collective matter: humanity is not at home in the Heart.
We live from fear and distrust.
Fear of shortage: foreigners take our jobs and houses (conviction).
Fear of fellow man: Turkish people and Moroccans can't be trusted (profiteers and rioters).
Fear of condemnation and violence: as a homosexual we no longer walk hand in hand on the street, because we don't want to provoke others (conviction).
As long as we are not at home in the Heart, we are hurting ourselves and others. We are hurting ourselves with judgments about ourselves: the feeling of not being good enough, shame and guilt etc. 
And we hurt others, whom we label as 'profiteers', 'unwanted' and 'not welcome'.

Painful, because we are all people..., and no one is more or less than the other. Painful to be excluded as a Moroccan, Turk, refugee, gay, female, Jew... and so on. Cause: identification with the mind.

Identification with the mind means that we don't approach the other 'openly'. There is a veil of opinions between you and the other(s).
And this makes it so difficult to really understand each other, to meet each other from heart to heart. 
Consequence: discussion, wanting to be right (my point of view is true, yours not), misunderstandings (because we can't empathize with the other), quarrel, hatred, exclusion, war. 

We don't see the light in ourselves and therefore not in the other: the heart is closed. And we don't realize that we fill our ecosystem day in and day out with all our thoughts, opinions and judgments… 
We don't know better... From an early age we are brought up in the collective field of the mind. It is not surprising that the world looks like it is.

Do you recognize what I indicate? Do you recognize the tendency in yourself to continually value everything and everyone? 
Opinions all over the place...

Do you ever think about the impact of this tendency? The impact of all those judgments that we hold about ourselves and others? What does that do to us and to the other persons? Is it loving to criticize ourselves and others time and time again? 

How do we approach others when we assume that others are our enemy, not welcome? How do we approach others when we are afraid of others? What kind of energy do we transfer to others where they react on?

What does it do to Moroccans, Turks (etc.) and refugees, who are not allowed to participate in society? Is it loving to deal with fellow human beings in this way?

Do you ever reflect on the impact of all those convictions, opinions on society as a whole? And the world?

Well, the Mind versus the Heart.

Example: The polling station.
There is a man of immigrant origin with partner in a voting booth. 
The man wears a djellaba (long robe). There are some people waiting at the table where the ballots are handed out. The man of immigrant origin stands behind his partner, bent over her in the voting booth. 
A man, standing in the queue, speaks to the immigrant man with a loud, aggressive voice: 'Hey, what are you doing over there..., that isn't allowed at all..., you can't stand in the voting booth with someone else. A man who sits behind the table with the ballots, takes it over and says with firm charge: 'You are here in the Netherlands, you must comply with the rules of the Netherlands, it isn't allowed to be in the voting booth with two people. 
The waiting man takes over the baton again and says in a loud, aggressive tone: 'I don't know what you're doing there with that phone on the ballot, but that's forbidden.' 
To which the man of immigrant origin says: 'I help my wife, she can't read and write, and she also has the right to vote. 
The mood is charged and hostile.

Do you see the effect of the mind? The elaboration of judgments and opinions about the other? Any idea what images exist in the man, who is waiting in the queue, about the couple in the voting booth?

Possible images: 'Another foreigner who doesn't behave, who ignores the rules and then decides for his wife what she has to vote, she must certainly vote exactly what he deems good, all women of immigrants are being suppressed, just look, this is what happens here and now, we don't tolerate that.'

And what was the reality? The Muslim man helped his wife fill in the ballot. And the rule is that it isn't allowed that two people are in a voting booth. That's all. 

How would the situation have gone when the collective field is the Heart? 

And that's what I want to end this blog with: the Heart. 
There are people who receive refugees in their homes, there are people who guide refugees in the Netherlands, there are people who give Moroccans (etc.) a chance to participate in society, there are people who take an initiative to bridge the gap between population groups, a gap that is caused by the mind.

Not so long ago I watched a documentary: Nice People.
A documentary about a group of Somali immigrants in Borlänge, Sweden, who were be steamed in 2014 to participate in the world bandy band (a variant of ice hockey) in Russia as the national team of Somalia.
Look at the documentary from the Heart..., in my case the tears rolled down my cheeks. Wonderful to see and feel the effect of such an initiative on the immigrants and residents of the Borlänge. 
Google 'Nice People' or try this link: http://www.moviesthatmatter.nl/festival/programma/film/1881 

Finally, take a look at the way the mind works throughout the day. Observe all those opinions and judgments that go through you on a daily basis. Experience what it is like to live a day without judgments and opinions, to be present one day without preference or disapproval, to experience one day of your life from the Heart, out of compassion and openness. And if that doesn't work, then you may realize for the first time that you are a prisoner of the mind. 
Don't condemn yourself for that..., we are all ignorant of our true nature.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes


What is the meaning of Life?

 What is the meaning of Life?

During a meeting where I offer support as a volunteer, I listen to a speech about the meaning of life.

The following questions are offered to the participants:
Why is this happening to me? Why do I have to experience this?

These are questions, says the trainer, which we ask ourselves when everything that seems certain becomes uncertain. The naturalness of the world as it was before, falls away. Illness, war, a loved one who dies, bankruptcy, a relationship that break... It can all be times when you ask yourself:'Why? Why is this happening to me?'

On the way back, in the car, I ponder a bit about the meeting and realize that I didn't ask these questions (why?) after the death of our daughter (July 2016). They didn't rise up in me.

And if I now let the questions go through me (why?),then my answer is: I don't know, I really don't know, the event takes place, that is all I can say. She is dead, that is all I know, she is no longer there, no longer in earthly form.

And why is it happening to me/us? A counter question: Why is it not happening to me/us? Everyone is confronted with death at some point, with crisis, with loss. There is no explanation, no why or what.

What is..., is the experience itself: in my case the death of a loved one.

I can indicate what the effect of this event is, seen from the perspective that every challenge or crisis is an opportunity for inner growth, but that doesn't mean that the meaning behind the event itself is answered.

I can think of a explanation (besides the medical statement), but that doesn't say anything about the truth itself (the why of her death), because I don't not know. And I am in peace with the fact that I don't know...,  that her death is a mystery (the mystery of Life itself).

And what about you? Can you live in limbo with regard to your life?

You can map out everything or think about the meaning you want to give to your life, but that doesn't give you any guarantee about the outcome. On the contrary, Life often differs from what you had or thought up for yourself, right?

And how easy or difficult is it for you to be in limbo about events that you experience as a crisis?

Your partner indicates that he/she wants to divorce..., your company is almost bankrupt..., your child is being bullied at school..., you have heard that you are incurably ill..., the country is preparing for a war etc.
You don't know how the next  moment will look like..., the naturalness of things falls away, total uncertainty. How is that for you? Can you be with that uncertainty?

Deep inside, because we start from a separate self, an 'I' that is separate from Life itself, we are deeply afraid to trust Life itself.

If we can't live in the openness of Life itself, then there is always the mind that can help us out by formulating a meaning, purpose, explanation and conviction.

Beliefs such as:

The course of things is fixed, I have no influence, it's just your destiny, sometimes you're lucky and sometimes unlucky.

Or:My life is in the hands of God, I am at the service of my religion and I fight for it.
Or: I have influence, I am at the helm, I give direction, everything is possible if you give your bet.

Or: If life doesn't make sense: pick the day, don't think about tomorrow, enjoy.

Or: Life makes sense, it is important to do good, you are here to give and to leave the world a little better.

Or: fill in..., what is your philosophy of life, which meaning do you give to your existence?

And everything we think about the meaning of life is not what life itself is. Life itself can't be thought of.

So we regularly have to adjust our beliefs, because what was believed today can be, will be, different tomorrow. Opinions and beliefs changes, it's just how it goes in life. And it would not be a problem when we don't hang our life on a purpose, a meaning, a religion, but that isn't the case. So it can be very painful to let go of a conviction or religion. Why? Because the religion or conviction has become part of our identity (this is me, this is my view, my life as I see it).
For example: you belief that you have to kill people for your religion. Imagine the situation that you are firmly convinced that you are doing the right thing for a higher purpose..., and then one day doubt is coming up..., you don't want to admit the doubt..., because then your whole world is falling apart... Who am I if I give up what I strongly believed in?
Another example: Your belief is that you are at the helm of your life, everything is possible if you give your best effort for it. And then, one day, you get a heavy car accident and everything that you thought up collapsed.

And then I haven't yet talked about the gaping gap that exists between a belief and reality itself: we often don't live what we have thought up. Just think of the many intentions/goals that we don't realize. What does that say about the 'me', who is in control and at the helm? Or is that 'I' just a dream?

And there's another point to make: all that attention about the meaning of life, all those explanations we give to events, all those goals we set ourselves..., it keeps us trapped in the mind instead of experiencing Life in the here and now, in this moment where everything just unfolds as it unfolds.

Convictions, goals and explanations... versus ... Life itself.

And Life itself, which we essentially are, can't be squeezed into a mold. Life itself flows, is subject to change, is uncertain, knows no anchors, no future and past than the moment itself, no support in the form of answers.

I wonder from which, as humanity, we feel the need to ask ourselves these questions of meaning (why/what)? From which is not the experience of life itself sufficient enough and do we want to philosophize about the meaning of life or the meaning of a certain event? Any idea? Stop here for a moment before reading on ...

Does it offer consolation to give an explanation to an event? Does it give reassurance to know what you are living for and what the purpose of your existence is? Does the handhold provide certainty that there is a god or that there is no life after death?

Or do we protect ourselves from feeling pain (for example the grief/loss of a loved one), by dealing with the why and what (the explanations)?

The answer could just be affirmative: yes, those answers provide guidance and protection, that's right. We all want something to hold on to and security? We all want to know what the day of tomorrow brings. We want to feel protected and safe..., right?

Even if that protection is only a very thin, fragile layer of varnish that can crack at any moment? Your partner runs away, a war breaks out, you get sick, get fired, someone dies, etc.

In the end... what we deep down already know... we can't hold onto anything..., we really don't know what the next minute brings, but that given, that we know somewhere that there is nothing to cling on..., that given is to hard to let in..., that is too scary..., no soil under our feet..., no anchors..., uncertainty triumphs... In other words: you are being handed over to Life itself. Yes, that is how it feels for the 'I' but if that 'I' is part of Life itself, if there is no separation between you and existence, because you and existence are one, can you than still talk of 'being handed over to existence'?

From where do we feel the need to protect ourselves through false certainties and handholds? What conviction lies beneath that? Is the world not a safe place and is Life not good enough for us (conviction)? Do we look at Life from fear of poverty and shortage?

What if we let us realize that life is insecure and vulnerable? What does that evoke? What is it then that we don't want to feel? What is it that we don't want to realize?

Without meaning, without goals to live for...
Without a purpose...
Without religions, that provide stability and security...
Without a future, because you really don't know what life will bring
Without a past, without explanations, without why, without a story
Life just IS.

Is there then no certainty?

Yes, the only certainty there is... is... that we all die... one day... which day and which hour is not known...

And Life itself is ultimately nothing but a preparation for death, the uncertainty. Death is: the big unknown. Just like Life, which is also uncertain (even though we believe we control life).

Do we dare to surrender to the great unknown: Death and Life itself? Do we dare to live from not-knowing, from trust and surrender? Surrender to the course of things, because we are part of the whole, because we are one with Life itself?

Life (birth) and death happen to us, even though we like to hold on to the conviction that we live Life, that we, as a director, direct our lives and determine the course. But is that so? Do we have Life in hand? Is there an 'I' that sets a course? Or is the direction, the course of Life and Life itself..., one?
And therefore uncertain and insecure?

Okay, but what is then the meaning of existence?

Life itself is the meaning of existence. And because life has no goals and destiny than the experience itself, it is so beautiful. Hindus calls life Lila, which means 'play', life is a play.

When there is no goal, no meaning, no destination..., when nothing needs to be achieved..., when there is no striving..., then there is nothing to do..., nothing at all...

Relax, sink deeper and deeper into existence, in the moment itself, live life totally, experience Life in its fullness..., as it unfolds..., from there follows the significance automatically..., then surrender to existence follows and barriers and fears disappear.

That is what I experience more and more..., surrender to existence...

Surrender to the flow of Life... and experience how easy life is when you are not in control.

Then the resistance melt. Then Life unfolds without a story made up out of your mind, without any expectation or desire. Then every meaning or non-meaning around the question whether Life makes sense or not, just falls away. In resonance with existence, in the experience itself, the significance of the events unfold naturally.

You live... that's all. And the next moment you don't know. You are. Period.

And occasionally a philosophical debate among us..., delicious right? That is also Life.

Life is a purposeless play, drop the future completly, only this moment exists, only this life is all. Live from moment to moment.

A bit of relaxation after this matter: a great video on you tube, fascinating, especially the first 3 minutes, the meaning of life, a boy of 9 years explains the finer.

Attention: scroll downwards when you have opened the link below.

Linked-in: Caroline Ootes

Self-inquiry: Everything in my life is a 'must'... and I am so tired already.

Self-inquiry: The wires.
What do I mean by 'wires'? Sometimes we are placed before a situation and we experience different thoughts/emotions (the mind/the ego) from which we find it difficult to make a choice or to be completely open to ourselves and to others. In the latter case (open to ourselves and to others) there is a tendency to share some wires (thoughts/emotions) and omit other threads. Why is that? Do you have any idea?

Before you read on, examine this question: what keeps me away from revealing all wires (emotions/thoughts) about myself and in realtion to the other person? See if you can answer the question. What is it why I don't want to reveal myself totally?

This is the answer I have discovered: we have a judgement about the wires. We label some wires as good and condemn other wires: I don't want to acknowledge these emotions/thoughts about myself, I'm not like that (jealous etc.) and certainly I'm not going to reveal all what I think or feel to someone close to me, I am afraid they will reject me, because I reject this emotions and thought in myself.

We prefer to suppress all nasty, annoying thoughts and emotions (or eat away, or drink away etc.), because we have labeled them. It is the mind/ego that judges and condemns.

Our essence, our true nature is free, knows no judgments, can't be hurt and doesn't hurt either..., because it IS..., like the sun that IS: always and always shining. It doesn't have an opinion or feeling like the mind: today I don't feel like shining, I am in a bad mood, I feel rejected, so I don't shine today. No, the sun, our essence shines always. Our nature is non-judgmental and compassionate. Out of the heart it looks at what appears on the scene. It has no opinions about the wires, no label in the sense of good or bad emotions/thoughts, it looks at the wires for what they are, nothing more, nothing less.

The suffering we experience in our lives has to do with the fact that we believe what the mind is telling us. We believe all those wires and therefore we don't want to acknowledge the 'bad' wires: we feel blamed, but we don't share it; we feel jealous or not good enough, but suppress those emotions etc. Who wants to feel jealous? Nobody, right?

There is nothing wrong with all those judgments and convictions were it not that we value it so much. We believe  what the mind mirrows us and that is the cause of our suffering: the identification with the mind. We are not at home in the sun, in our heart, but a prisoner of our mind, a prisoner of our emotions and thoughts, which we accept as true. And if we accept them as true, then we don't want to look to all those nasty emotions. It is just too painful.

If we want to escape from the prison of mind (suffering), then self-inquiry is an important tool, an instrument that is regularly used during the sessions of awareness coaching. And self-examination is only possible if we allow ourselves to bring everything to light: to observe without judgment (sun) what happens in us. And if there are judgments... (and there are plenty of them), then that is what we observe. It's about loosening faith in all those judgments, getting out of the mind, you're not the mind, but the light (sun) where the thoughts and emotions appear in.

At some point I discovered in my process and in my work with clients how important it is to reveil and investigate all the threads: the so-called 'beautiful', 'pleasant','horrible','ugly' thoughts and emotions.
Even though the critical voice labels the wires as good or bad, realize that the wires are only wires, they are not true or false or contradictory: they are. In other words, shift the attention of the mind to Awareness (our essence), to the space that you are in which the wires (emotions and thoughts) appear.

Okay..., after the theory, now an example: a while ago a client came in where the research of the wires stood central. The client, I call her for the readability Yvon, had agreed with girlfriend Tineke to participate in a certain contest, because 'we do this every year' (= pattern). She noticed that during the making of the appointment a movement in her body was going on, indicating that she didn't really felt like it, so tired, but yes, the actual date was a bit further away, and who knows…, maybe by then she would like to go, because it is nice to be outside, the race would take place in the nature what she loves, and they went together every year, so she had said 'yes' to her friend. 

It struck me that Tineke (her friend) had not asked her, but that she automatically assumed that they would go together again this year (conditioned pattern), and yes, according to Yvon...Tineke had it not so easy..., so to say 'no' to her..., that was a bit too far..., because I am still that support for her to train... When I am going, then she goes and that motivates her to train..., and yes, appointment is appointment, I have said 'yes' to Tineke, so I have to fulfill my appointment with her (= conviction/rule), I just push myself to do what we have agreed. This is a learned pattern of the family: come on, don't complain, do it for her, give her the support she needs, it's not a big problem, don't worry about it... and you know that the match gives you energy and it is in nature, so just turn the knob. 

Recognizable to the reader? This kind of stories (wires) that go through us? 

I asked the client the following questions: Can you come back to an appointment? What would it be like if you were to wait for the moment itself (for example, one day before the race) to check how the flag stands for you internally? How is it for you to communicate all the wires with Tineke in all openness? And why is it not oké for you when Tineke may react disappointed? It is a normal reaction, right?

During our exchange it became clear to Yvon that she had to call Tineke to indicate that she didn't want to participate in this contest at the moment, that she would rather cancel the appointment, because she was so tired…, maybe her mood and energylevel changed during the coming period and possibly she would still participate in the competition, but at the moment she didn't know if that would be the case. 
Yvon also indicated that she was worried that Tineke would be disappointed and that she felt she couldn't say 'no', because Yvon was a support for her to train, but she also had to be honest with herself: I am so tired and I find it difficult to take care for myself.

Initially, Yvon was afraid to enter into this conversation with Tineke. Very understandable, because it also requires a lot: breaking several patterns and learned behavior: we do this match every year, the other needs my support, I can't abandon her like that, I am not used to be open and vulnerable to others. 

And it also meant that she had to break with several convictions: an appointment is an appointment, be nice and supportive to others, don't make a problem out of nothing. Yvon didn't want to disappoint Tineke, because she counts on her (that is what Yvon thinks = conviction) and Tineke 'needs' her support (conviction). This is the way Yvon looks at her friend..., that is not the reality..., but her coloring of the reality caused by all the programs of the mind/ego based on childhoodexperiences, society etc. It is a picture Yvon puts on Tineke: she needs me. The picture vanished on the moment that Yvon discovers that she herself has missed that support in her childhood and that she transfers that pain (no one to support me) on her friend. She doesn't want her friend to come across the same pain: that she had to figure it out all alone.

So an unconscious belief determines her behavior (taking care for her friend) without knowing it (blind spot): she can't share all the wires in all openness with Tineke, she is afraid that Tineke will feel abandoned (what is the unknown pain of Yvon herself). 

The next consultation I asked about the exchange with Tineke. Yvon indicate that Tineke had responded positively, not according to the wires of Yvon (that she needed her support, that she would be disappointed). Then I asked how the flag actually stood for a few days prior to the match and which decision she had finally taken? 

She indicated that the following wires had gone through her: Shall I cancel..., I really don't feel like it..., I get already tired at the thought, but yes, it's nice outside, in nature, I get energy from it and Tineke appreciates it so much, and once I'm in the contest, it will work out well for me etc.

What do you think she has decided?

She decided to go running. 
I asked Yvon if she sometimes responded to another important wire she had mentioned several times: that she didn't feel like it, that she is often so tired. Yvon said: No, I always go on. 
Then I asked the following question: And what would it be like to listen to that first voice, which indicates that you really don't feel like it, that you are tired? Yvon said: If I give in to that, then I am actually afraid that I will sink deep, that I will lose control of myself, that I will come to nothing, that I will become depressed…
My answer: Interesting..., and is that true? How do you know that? Have you ever tried it out? No, Yvon said.

How would it be for you to take this experiment? To listen to the voice that says: I really don't feel like it, I'm tired.
And could it also give you something if you would respond to that voice? Yvon: Yes, rest..., relaxation..., which I really long for..., everything in my life is 'work', is 'must' and I always anticipate what has to be done, I can't just sit still on the couch.

Yvon started the experiment. We have walked together for a while. After an x-number of sessions she indicates what a relief it is that the eternal must and care for others (instead of care for herself) is out of her system. She now recognizes the inner voice (instead of the voice of parents/society), she doesn't always act on it, but experiences it as a gift that she sees from where she moves, that there is consciousness, because without consciousness (awareness) you are simply lived by your patterns and beliefs. 
She is happy that she has learned to speak out and show vulnerability to others and experiences it as a blessing that so many learned patterns and beliefs evaporate. 
She thanks me for the transformation that has taken place. She says: 'If I hadn't come to you, I was now in the sick-law with a burn-out..., I have learned, felt and discovered so much through our exchanges and the 'homework assignments' that I received, I am extremely grateful to you.'

And I am grateful to Yvon for having given me the trust and that we were allowed to make this trip together. There is nothing more fulfilling than 'going open'... and coming home to your-Self.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes


What is the key to happiness?

What is happiness?

And is there a key to happiness? If so, what is the key?

Is there such a thing as permanent happiness or is happiness just temporary: it comes and it goes.

Is happiness feasible? Can you do or create 'happiness' or 'being happy'?

Does 'happiness' demand effort from our side, because it isn't there in advance, it can only be obtained through endeavor?

Or is 'happiness' something that happens to you?

What does the word 'happiness' or 'be happy' mean to you? Take the time to examine this... Go inside and ask yourself what 'happiness' means for you in your daily life.

Is happiness in the little things: a sunset, a rose, a look, a smile? So in something outside of us? Or in a state of Being that gives shine to everything that is?

And what do we do with 'being unhappy'? The opposite of 'happiness'.
Happiness can only exist by the grace of its opposite: 'suffering' or 'being unhappy'.

Are we giving ourself permission to be 'unhappy' in the rat race to 'happiness'?

Is happiness possible if we realize that every 'happiness' carries the seed of 'unhappiness', because it is temporary: happiness comes and goes, today you have a great day and tomorrow it is over.
And every 'unhappiness' carries the seed of 'happiness': after rain comes sunshine.

Would the pursuit of happiness be related to the fact that we often feel unhappy?

Could it be that the desire for 'happiness' (fill in: a partner, the right job, a child, peace in the world, recognition, appreciation, harmony, enlightenment) is precisely the cause of our suffering?

Could it be that these same desires cause us to feel unhappy in the here and now, because our attention is elsewhere, focused on realizing a desire somewhere in the future? Because we believe that life as it is, is not fulfilling, is not sufficient...

Not satisfactory? To what? To the image that the mind creates about reality: how it should be. Recognizable? It always has to be different than it is. We don't know a full 'yes'.
'Yes' in the sense that life is good as it is, with all the trimmings.

We 'live' from a 'no'. Because we believe that something is wrong with us, the other person, the world, the circumstances as they are: it has to be different..., says the mind.

Are you happy'? Stop a moment before reading on.
What is your answer to this question: Are you 'happy'?
Where do you say 'no' to? What doesn't meet your expectations?

And can the 'I' be happy?
The 'I' that strives for..., the 'I' that doesn't want this, but that (something else), the 'I' that disapproves and approves, the 'I' that sets so many conditions on life itself, the 'I' that has so many opinions and judgments?

If being happy is not possible for the 'I', then the question arises whether permanent happiness exists at all? Or is permanent happiness a fairytale?

The only way that I know to true happiness is 'awakening'. Being at home in the Self. Get  get rid of all the demands we place on life (on ourselves, the other and the world).
Live Life as it comes and goes, without assumptions. 
In the heart, out of the head which has all kind of ideas about 'happiness'.

And then I listen to the words of Osho:

'Life moves from perfection to perfection. Not from imperfection to perfection. No, life moves from perfection to perfection. '

Nothing needs to be improved or changed: all is well. Precisely all those efforts that it must be different than it is, is the cause of 'suffering'.
Awakening is about happiness that doesn't come and goes, happiness that is permanent. Call it Pure Awareness, Consciousness, Love, Light, the Buddha Nature. Then you are at home, at home in the Self that transcends light and darkness, the Self that knows no polarities (happiness/unhappiness), the Self that doesn't set conditions and makes nog demands on existence. The Self which is neutral, full of love.

Does that mean that there is no emotion or experience of sadness or pain anymore?
No, emotions appear and there can be pain. And that is it: there is an emotion or there is pain. If you don't have an opinion about that, then there is what there is: an emotion/pain. But at the moment that identification takes place with the emotion or the thought, then there is charge, then you are a prisoner of the mind, you believe the thought (I am worthless), in your mind it is really true (you are rejected), you are convinced that something is being done to you by someone else or by certain circumstances (you are fired), you make it personal (I am not good enough), a 'story' arises..., yes..., then there is 'suffering'. 

As awareness goes deeper, identification with the mind dissolves, which doesn't mean that you can't get caught now and then, but the identification is superficial and short-lived.

And yes..., coming home to the Self is a gift, then life is fulfilling and a deep sense of gratitude arises from the heart..., for everything that is..., as it is.

PS I lie on the massage table and listen to mantras. A thought appears: you have just written a blog about 'happiness', but how do you see the death of your daughter that took place in the summer of 2016? That is a great suffering? That is a big loss? That is terrible, isn't it? Yes, that is a big loss. Certainly... And yes, there were tears and strong feelings of loss...

And then Lao Tse (a philosopher from the 6th century BC) blows through me: 'Don't go that far to say that the death of your daughter brings bad luck (suffering). All you can say is that she is dead. That's a fact. Whether it brings misfortune or a blessing, you don't know, because this is only one fragment of reality. Who knows what else will follow?'

Yes, I don't know. And I don't need to know either. I can share what I experience now, six months after her death: total neutrality concerning her death, a neutrality that is loving, a neutrality that transcends attachment. Every now and then Simone blows through me, a warm wave, there is a heart connection, a connection that transcends death and life. Of course it is a great loss, a pity that she is no longer here on earth, we had a deep connection... And it is what it is: she is dead. And that's it.

What I also know is that Lao Tse speaks from the Source, the Source of Love that is neutral, the Source that knows no judgments. Is the death of our daughter a blessing or a curse? Who will say it? Everyone will be inclined to say that it is a curse. But what if you are at home in the Source? In the Self... where no form of polarity (unhappiness/ happiness) is present, because it is neutral. Not neutral in the sense of 'lifeless, death', but neutral in the sense of an unconditional 'yes'. Is it then still a blessing or a curse?

Discover it, meditate, find a living master who can guide you, who sees through your structure, who rattles your foundations. It takes a lot to defrost, to dismantle the structure (the ego/mind/conditioning/ convictions/beliefs/attachment/security/safety). The transformation process to Light, through all layers (physical, emotional, mental layer) is an enormous transformation. Years of fatigue, various physical complaints, the recognition of the black swan in me (which I experienced as a painful process)..., it wasn't easy but more than anything in life - worth it. Meditation and self-examination and a living master are the keys to 'happiness' for me.

Wake up, wake up.
That is the path to true happiness.

'Life moves from perfection to perfection. Not from imperfection to perfection. No, life moves from perfection to perfection.'

Linked-In: Caroline Ootes

Documentary: A family affair. With what eyes are you looking?

A photo of Marianne Hertz, the woman in the documentary.
My girlfriend and I watch a documentary called: A family affair.
Recommended. Really look at the moment you are 'in' for it.

Below: a summary of the documentary with an invitation to reflect while viewing the documentary; a piece of dialogue from the documentary with some reflection from my side and the link to the documentary.

A family affair is a family story by filmmaker Tom Fassaert, who on his thirtieth birthday receives an invitation from his 95-year-old grandmother (Marianne Hertz) to visit her in South Africa, Tom himself lives in the Netherlands.
Marianne broke up with her sons a long time ago, then left for South Africa, no longer fulfilling the mother role. Before her death she wants to return to the Netherlands one more time to say goodbye to her family. 

Grandson Tom addresses her invitation. 
He has never met his Grandmother and only knows her from the predominantly negative stories told by his father. 

Marianne Hertz, Tom's grandmother, became a well-known model in South Africa in the 1950s and she opened also some fashion stores.
The two sons, the father of Tom, who later became a psychologist and his uncle, who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for some time after his mother's departure, have suffered from their mother's departure their whole life. Tom Fassaert (grandson) decides to accept the invitation of his grandmother and takes his camera with him.

An invitation to reflection while viewing the documentary:  
While you look at the documentary, register what goes on in you: what do you notice? what do you see? with what eyes do you look? which judgments come along? which interpretations cross your mind? 

Do you look through glasses of opinions and beliefs (ego) or do you take reality as it is? Can you watch without the critical voice, which finds something of everything? Do you rate the choices that are made? Do you think it's right or wrong? Is there something between you and that which is shown in the documentary? Between you and the reality of this family history?

Or are you looking at reality as it is shown in the documentary? 
Are you receptive, open and in resonance with what is happening in this family? Are you looking from the heart: open, without judgment, full of compassion for everyone's experience and for the choices that have been made?

And what if you find yourself looking from judgments and opinions? 
What if you look from the mind, the critical voice? 
What if you see that your glasses are pretty fogged and you notice that a lot of opinions are passing by, so you can't see, feel, and hear in an open way, because your "truth" is in between? 
What if you want to look from the heart without judgment, but you notice that this isn't the case? 

All you have to do is: Awareness. 
See what is triggered in you, what is touched in you, take a step back (Awareness), see the judgments and opinions, that is all. And don't value what you see, don't identify with all the stories and analyzes that the mind tells you. 
Don't believe what the mind suggests,because everything what you belief comes from conditioning and social coding (you should not leave your children behind). 

And don't think: I may not have judgments, because then you are again a prisoner of the critic, the mind.

The judgments don't have to go away, they don't have to be worked out or solved..., then you are busy for a lifetime..., with the mind..., which always comes up with something else that needs attention..., the next issue to be resolved (ps: there is nothing wrong with the mind when it relates to practical matters or intelligence that is necessary for scientific purposes, building bridges etc.).
Focus your attention on Awareness: who or what in us sees these judgments? Focus your attention on 'That'. Not on the judgments themselves, but on 'That' what the judgments perceive. 
THAT is neutral, THAT is compassion, THAT means: looking from the heart, from consciousness.

A fragment from a dialogue between grandmother and grandson with some reflection:
A 95-year-old woman named Marianne, who was given the role of grandmother, says to her grandson Tom:
'How do you actually see me? Somewhere we have the same wavelength although the age is very different. You are 30 and I am three times as old, but that age doesn't really play a big role. That is the strange thing. I love you..., too much. I can't, it is wrong, but it is a fact. You see, I am going to open myself completely to you and that doesn't happen much. I can't do it, but I can do it for you. 
Strange, I never had expected to be so in love with you. It is retarded. What do you think of that?
Tom, the grandson, indicates that he doesn't know what to say, that he sees her as a grandmother and wants to film the family history.
To which Marianne says: 'Listen, Tom, I don't believe that you only see me as a grandmother..., I don't believe it. Somewhere you might think: was she only 25 or 26 years old... Then it was a passionate love affair, fantastic..., fantastic..., fantastic...
Tom: it doesn't matter to you that I only see you as a grandmother...
No, says Marianne, there is more, there is more... 
Tom continues to indicate that he considers Marianne to be his grandmother even though he doesn't know what a grandmother is, because she has been out of the picture for much of his life. To which Marianne says: 'Ah you with your grandmother, keep your mouth about Grandma.' Tom: 'Why don't you want to be my grandmother?'
Marianne: 'I think that's too official, too unromantic, too real, too real.'

Reflection: When I watch this documentary, this woman, I melt. I just melt when I listen to hear and feel her energy - in contrast to several reviews written about the documentary and about her.

What I see, hear and feel is: Love. 
Love for Marianne who doesn't want to be a 'grandmother', who doesn't want to play a roll, she wants to be a human being in relation to another human being. 

I feel love for a woman who appears with curlers on the camera. 
Love for a woman who, without any gene, comprehensively prepares herself for the camara, while she indicates that appearance is not important. 
Love for a woman who is doing gymnastic exercises every day at the age of 95. Love for the woman who clearly indicates her limits (I don't want to talk about that, that is another topic). 
Love for the woman who gradually opens her heart to Tom (grandson). 

Finally there is someone within the family/in her life, who is really interested in her, in her story, her history, her motives. 
It is her grandson, whom she doesn't want to see as a grandson, but as a human being, who listens to her and sees her. Even though there is now and then friction between them: they meet from heart to heart, beyond all words. 

Marianne translates this as 'being in love', as 'somewhere we have the same wavelength', as 'there is more between us, there is more', but what actually happens is that her heart opens, gradually she opens up and shows her love to Tom. 

At the end of the documentary, in the last phase of her life, when she is in the hospital, Tom moves to the bed, he holds her hand and says: 'Marianne (not 'grandmother', he approaches her as a human being), I am there, I am there. She smiles blissfully and gives him some strokes over his hand. Tom asks how she is doing. And she says: With me? Fantastic... And again a blissful smile appears on her face. Not much later she dies.

Well, that is pure love... That is what I see, feel and hear. 
What do you see, feel and hear?

Below is a paragraph from a review written by a newspaper in Holland  (Volkskrant): with what eyes is this written?
'With that disconcerting outpouring, captured by the camera, Fassaert comes closest to the core of Marianne's personality. She is an unstoppable flirt, a narcissist who never seems to have feelings of motherhood and doesn't want to be a grandmother. 
When she later tells about her own difficult childhood, it is hard to believe her; who knows, she increases her story to make an impression, just as her entire performance is aimed at winning over others.'

Finally, a quote from Marianne and a quotation from Tom:
Marianne: 'When is something true? Truth is personal. There is no real truth. Truth: forget it..., you never find it!'
Quote from Tom: 'I was fascinated by the fact that my father tried to build up a relationship with her every time. How seventy-year-olds, like my father and brother, How seventy-year-olds, like my father and brother, the desire for a mother, that originated in childhood, continues to play a role in their whole life.
Yes, truth doesn't exist..., not on the relative level. 
Everyone has his/her own view and experience and holds on to memories, to a story from the past that prevents us from meeting the other person in openness, because all our projections (all the judgments that we "stick" to the other) are in between. 

That's how it goes..., as long as you're not awake, everyone lives in her/his virtual reality, conceived by the head, which leads to conflicts and suffering when you think your view, your story is the right one: what I see is true, what the other sees is not true, I am right, you are wrong. 

Yes, Marianne understood this well: truth on the relative level doesn't exist. But what passes beyond everyone's experience, everyone's truth, beyond all colorations, beyond all judgments (positive or negative) and memories? Focus your attention on That, who or what sees that personal truth?

Consciousness..., and when you are at home in awareness, then reality unfolds as it is, then you can hear, feel and see the other as it is, then there is nothing between you and reality, then real love unfolds.

The link to the documentary 'A family Affair':

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

The heart speaks: a meeting in the supermarket.

I am in the supermarket to buy the last groceries for Christmas. 
At some point I hear someone calling my name: 'Ha Car...'. 
The voice sounds familiarly, well-known, even though I don't know yet to whom the voice belongs to. I turn around and look into the face of a man who is about 30 years old. I don't recognize him.
He sees from my eyes that there is no recognition and he says: 'Car, you know who I am, right?' 
I say: 'No, I don't recognize you..., I don't know who you are.'
While this exchange is going on, a picture of him from years ago appears before my mind's eye. Oh, it's Klaas...
Klaas says, 'It's me, Klaas.' 
'Yes, now I recognize you, I say, you have changed a lot. Your hair is different, another model..., and you have glasses and a red spot in your face that I haven't seen before..., and your whole appearance is different...' 'Yes, that's right', he says. 
I ask: 'How are you?' 
'Things are going well, he says. I have a different job since a few months, I am now a salesperson at an office.'
'You don't mean that, I say, that is really awesome.' 
'Yes, he says, I am finally gone as a salesman in a clothing shop.' 
And he talks about the change, the office, the colleagues, a big deal that he has managed to get in, the appreciation he received from his collegues and boss... 
And from that point on tears start to roll down my cheeks while Klaas is sharing his experiences. At some point, Klaas asks somewhat uncomfortable: 'What is happening in you, Car, do you have to cry? 
Are you crying for Simone?' (Simone is our daughter who died in the summer of 2016). 'No, I say, I'm not crying for Simone..., I'm so happy for you..., I feel so much thankfulness..., it feels like a blessing of the sky, a gift of existence that brought you and the company together..., and you are the right person for that job, I see you realizing those deals, you have all the qualities for it...,it feels so great for you..., I know you've wanted a change for a couple of years, you wanted to grow, go further, leave the branch of the clothing industry. I know that you have made efforts to develop yourself, but that the result didn't come true. I know your situation sometimes felt hopeless for you... as if you were forever tied to the job you had in the clothing store. And then to receive this message from you, after not having spoken to you for about 7 years..., yes, then I just feel love and gratitude..., I can feel what this change means to you...'
Klaas looks at me..., he is touched by my tears and words. He spreads his arms and I receive his invitation for a hugh. 
'Thank you, Klaas says, yes..., I am also very happy with this change..., you have felt that well Car, and expresses exactly how it is for me. And so we stand together in the supermarket, in each other's arms, while the tears flow in silence...
Wonderful... when the heart is open...

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Darkness is the absence of Light.

I listen to a satsang from Osho. Below an abbreviated and edited view. 

Darkness is the absence of light.
You can't fight directly with darkness, with lonelyness, fear, sorrow, hate, anger or isolation. The reason is that all these things doesn't exist (only in our mind). They are the absence of Light, just as darkness is the absence of Light.

What do you do when you don't want the room to be dark?
Try to understand: don't do anything directly with darkness. It will not work. You can't push it out. You yourself can't dissolve the darkness by being busy with it (thinking about it, analyzing, worrying). Why? Because the one who is busy with is, is the darkness itself: the mind (ego). So there is no way to make any arrangement with the darkness. The solution is that you do something with the Light. Bring Light in the darkness and the darkness vanish. A small candle is enough to fade out the darkness in a room.

Don't touch the darkness, don't think about it, because bottom line: it doesn't exist. It is simply an absence of Light. Just bring Light (awareness) and you will find no darkness at all. 

You can go on fighting with darkness your whole life and you will not succeed to banish it, the darkness will remain. So work for the Light. And anything that was it's absence (fear etc.) automaticaly disappears. Light is awareness, light is the energy of the heart. Bring awareness in the darkness: just see what is there, without any judgement, without any resistance, total neutrality.

The day after I listened to the satsang, I went to a singing/dancing workshop. After a few hours there was a break and a possibility to rest on a mat. I am lying next to another woman. She offers to put a blanket over me and get a cup of tea for me, I feel her caring energy, nice. After being in silence for some time, I get up to drink my cup of tea. A conversation arises between her and me. 

She asks: 'How are you now, 5 months after the death of your daughter (she died in the summer of 2016)? I response: 'I am okay'. 
She looks at me: how is that possible? 
She invites me to tell something more. 
Well, of course it is a great loss, but it is a gift to experience what 8 years of spiritual development has brought me. In the end you only know how the flag stands when you are tested by life. 

She asks what the gift is. My answer: That the loss is being carried in a natural way. So I don't say: can be carried. No, it is worn, there is no resistance to experience pain. It is there, it is as it is, sometimes there is sadness, emptiness, sometimes there are tears, that is all, point, no drama. 

Isn't that a great gift? That such a big loss is being carried in a natural way, without resistance... I feel blessed and I am grateful for the inner strength that has arisen in me in recent years. 

At some point I ask her how she is doing. She indicates that she is not where I am. She experiences a lot of worries, tension, problems. Everything feels heavy and dark, she says. She shares a few of her concerns. I feel compassion for her. 
Yes, I say, everyone is tested in her/his own way in life. For me it concerns a loss of a child, but what you share is also not easy. Children who no longer want to see you after you have been divorced from their biological father, no work, almost no income and you have to take care of your parents. All in all, that isn't easy as well. 

I feel that she is fully identified with her problems, with the darkness. And in answer I share the essence of the satsang of Osho. 

Wonderful that the essence of a satsang, which I have listened to the evening before this workshop, can now be passed on again. 

Darkness is the absence of light, I say. Feed the light, don't fight with the darkness. Do you see that you are completely absorbed in your worries, fears and problems? That doesn't help you. 

Come home in your heart, in the neutrality of the heart. You can spend all your life with solving problems, with 'processeing the darkness', but that doesn't solve the darkness. We create the darkness ourselves, caused by identification with our thoughts and emotions. 

Strengthen the Light: let the Light shine on that which is dark. You are not the darkness, you are the Light, come home in your heart, in trust. And existence is at your side, supports you, even though it doesn't seem that way. Maybe it is possible that you can do some babysitting or cleaning work to generate income... 
She shares that working with children is her profession, but she isn't accepted anywhere, because she is overqualified. And in addition, she also feels resistance: she had recently entered a day care center where she registered how the childcare providers dealt with the children and she wasn't happy about that. She admits that her look is quite critical. 

I can hear that, I say. Do you see that you 'choose' for the darkness? Not that you do that consciously... You are set to it, programmed, you have learned to look at your circumstances in this way... Another view is also possible. The same situation can also been seen from a positive side: you notice the caring side of the childcare providers towards the children, but that view doesn't exist in you. 

You only see one side: the darkness. And life is not one-dimensional. The way you look at the relationship between the childcare providers and the children, is also the way you look at all your personal circumstances: your view is 'dark'. 

What if you exceed light and darkness? What if you don't opt ​​for one side (the positive attitude of the leaders with the children) and also don't opt for the other side (the negative approach of the leaders with the children)? 

What if you look from the heart, from awareness, from neutrality? 
Then you don't reject anything, you just observe without judgement. Compare it with the energy of nature. 
Why do we find it so nice to be in nature? 
We enjoy nature, because nature doesn't judge, it is neutral, it knows no good and bad days, it doesn't judge when you walk over the grass and stamp it flat, it has no opinions if you choose certain trails and neglect other paths, it doesn't feel any pain if you embrace one tree or consider it beautiful and ignore the other trees.

That is the quality of neutrality, the quality of the heart, the quality of 'being' with what is, without putting any label on any circumstance. 

Identification with thoughts and emotions (which means that you are convinced that what you feel and think is'true') gives a charge or load to circumstances which are essentially neutral. 

I sometimes say to people: place yourself on a stage. 
Life with all circumstances and your view of it takes place on that stage. All those worries and fears are set on the stage, but you (Boeddha nature, the heart, awareness) are not on stage, but in the hall. Take a seat in the hall and look from the hall to what is happening on the stage of life.
That hall is the space of neutrality, of Love, of Light. Everything is as it is..., you look at what is happening on the stage from love and compassion. 

Don't work with your problems, but strengthen witness consciousness, strengthen the Light within you, the light that always shines, which is not the same as the light of positive thoughts and emotions that are perishable, as well as negative thoughts and emotions, they come and go. I am talking about that source in us that has nothing to do with preference or rejection, with positive or negative; these are still labels, opinions and assumptions. 

Come home in your heart, then you experience compassion, love and trust: everything is as it is. Then the knots that are still in the heart melt and the resistance to allow pain dissolves, because you realize that you are not the pain.
The pain is only darkness created by the mind, by memories, by conditioned programs (beliefs), by identification with your thoughts and emotions. When you come home in your heart, the circumstances are the same, but 'your' view is neutral. 

I see that something comes in from what I share..., there is a gradual shift. 

After our exchange she says to me: thanks..., you really helped me... And I want to thank you for being so open that I could share this with you. Without this openness, this conversation wouldn't have taken place. 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Just Be..., without any expectations.

Some time ago I spoke to a client about the expectations she had regarding a girlfriend. She had canceled a possible appointment with her friend, because she had an image about friendship: friendship must come from two sides, I expect her to contact me and I don't like it when the initiative is always coming from my side.

When her friend didn't behave according to her expectations during an e-mail exhange, the client became angry and canceled the appointment she had recently made with her friend.

What she didn't saw was the implicit demand she had towards her friend: she didn't give her friend the freedom to contact her or not.
Conviction: it isn't normal that the initiative for an appointment within a friendship always comes from one side. 

My experience is that many people confirm this statement of the client.

My reaction: is that right? What if your need is completely different from her need? Maybe you always take the initiative first, because your need is stronger than that of her...
Before she can feel that she wants to contact you, you already contact her. And that is how a pattern develops over the years: you are always the first one who contacts her. And why is that a problem? If you don't have any opinion about that, if it doesn't trigger anything of pain in you, then that is the situation: you always contact her first for an appointment and she confirms your proposal to meet each other. That's all.

And have you ever spoken in all openness about your friendship? What does friendship means for you and for her? What is the need that you feel and what is her need in relation to your friendship and how often do you want to see each other?

And do you see which images you stick on her if she doesn't contact you? And that those images aren't about her, but about pain that is already present in you, which is triggered by your friend? 

She isn't the cause of your pain, she triggers the pain (I am not important to her), who has already been in you since your childhood. 
Do you see that you react from that old pain? And that the mind created a belief about friendship in order not to feel the child's underlying pain, the pain of not being worthy of receiving attention?

Do you see the result of that conviction? That you impose a demand on her, an expectation that she has to meet: she must contact me. And the moment she doesn't…, you get triggered (old pain of not being loved) and you think you can rightly be angry at her... 

That's how it goes: we condemn the other, we blame the other person, without realizing that we thereby avoid the pain that is hit in us on a deeper level..., old pain. The pain of the child, the pain of not getting the attention that we needed.

Every form of expectation and desire leads to pain: 
disappointment, because reality always differs from expectation; 
anger, because the other doesn't do what we implicitly expect from the other person; 
sadness, because the other person doesn't live up to our image what we had created about friendship.

How would our life be without expectation? Without desire? Without implicit or explicit demands? Without images about ourselves, the other person or about a situation?

Investigate what expectations and desires exist in your life and what the consequences are in encounters with others. 

It isn't about suppressing desires (it is wrong to have expectations or desires), but about recognizing and acknowledging the expectations and desires that lives in you. And realizing the effect of desires: it leads to conflict and pain.

If you really see the effect of all those expectations, the desires will slowly extinguish so that you can release the other person.

Then friendship and intimacy is really possible.

Buddha said continually: 'Be free from desires and you will be free from samsara, from suffering; free from the world.'

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Go where the wind takes you..., not my will will be done, but Your will.

I do voluntary work for half a day per week. I support a trainer in his work on a frequent basis, together with another volunteer(s).
Last week, the trainer told me that he had asked several volunteers to support a colleague at another location. His colleague has no volunteers at all, so she has no support in her work. 
The trainer let me know that all the volunteers he had asked reacted in a negative way. Then he asks me if I want to assist his colleague. 
My first impulsive reaction is: 'No, I'm enjoying myself here with the other volunteers, and with one in particular (we have a lot of fun together), and I also just started again after a short period of absence after my daughter died.'

The following day I receive an email from the trainer:
Ha Caroline, 
I understand that you enjoy working with X. But I would like to invite you once again to help my colleague on Friday. Just for once, without obligation, then you can meet each other. Something (intuition?) tells me that it will click well between you two.
With kind regards, 
Well, what do you do in such a situation?
What do you let yourself be led by?

Do you let yourself be guided by your own need, your personal will: 
I like it, fine cooperation with other volunteers and I also contribute in supporting the meeting. 

Or do you allow yourself to be guided by existence itself, by the current that existence takes in the form of a question by the trainer? 

Are you moving where the wind is taking you or do you respond to personal desires, expectations and needs? 
Everything is possible..., nothing is right or wrong. See from which you move, that is what matters.
I recently listened to an awesome satsang by Adyashanti: Beyond the Personal Will (to be found at www.adyashanti.org) and read his book 'Jesus, the mystic', a book in which Adyashanti shows how important events in the life of Jesus run parallel with different phases of spiritual awakening.
Adyashanti indicates in the satsang that after awakening there are years to follow where the personal will gradually dies out... until nothing is left and complete realization takes place. 
He also indicates that this extinction of personal will (the ego) generally takes years..., so strong is the power of personal will and the illusion of a separate self (identity).

I give you an explanatory quotation from his book (Jesus, the mystic) about awakening itself (page 235): 
'We rise above the identification with the ego and the mind, we realize our true nature of being divine. But when you transcend something, this doesn't mean that what you transcended has gone somewhere. 
And so we come into the time of trials, when life gives us (...) situations that help us (…) to embody what we have realized. 
When we have gone through many trials that teaches us to embody spirit (Divine being) - and this stage often takes a few years - we come to a deep and intense sense of calmness, of well-being.'

And that is where I am (autumn 2016): in the years of trials and the extinguishing of personal will. A very big ordeal occurred this summer (2016) when our daughter unexpectedly died at the age of 28.
I will write about that at a different time. 

A very small 'ordeal', I would rather call it a small 'test', is the question that the trainer presented to me. 

I wrote an e-mail to my fellow volunteer, which I enjoy working with every Friday. Below you will read a part of the mail: 
Well..., a great pity that we no longer see each other on a frequent basis, but I can also look at it from the perspective that existence triggers this flow (this explicit request from the trainer), besides the fact that we naturally every now and then can drink a cup of coffee after our meetings that will take place at the same time, only at another location which is close by..., and I also want to contribute where I am needed..., from the heart..., what is beyond personal interests and needs. 
Well, X, I didn't expect that it would unfold the way it unfolds..., talking about expectations... what my previous blog was about..., but I'm flexible enough to move with the flow of life... So I'm going to assist the other trainer next week..., which way it goes..., no idea..., but I'll keep you informed.

And then the time has come. I meet the other trainer on Friday at a new location. And again some small challenges arises: it is initially freezing cold in the room (the air conditioning couldn't be switched of) and the windows are covered with sturdy net curtains so that there is no distraction for the participants, and also no contact with the outside world (with nature) and the lighting of the space leaves much to be desired. In other words: I clearly don't improve on space and atmosphere.

Okay, I say to myself: that's the way it is. Next time I dress on it..., this is where existence brings me. 
I give the support to the trainer that is needed and I clearly feel that the request for help didn't come out of the blue: I am needed here and I feel that I want to give her the back up that she needs. 
The next day I mail the trainer, who asked me to support his colleague, that from now on I will help his colleague.

And so it goes..., if you no longer allow yourself to be led by your personal will, but by the heart, by existence itself…

That's the flow of life..., if you voluntarily hand over the helm..., then you go where the wind takes you... 

For some time there is almost no resistance anymore when life invites me to move with the flow of Life itself.
Yes, I notice the tails of personal will and also the tendency to attach (I liked it to work with the other volunteer, because we had so much fun together), but there isn't much needed to let it go. 

The key is the heart: the heart is open and is touched when the trainer asked me once again to go along with his colleague and that made the movement possible.

In all other cases (if the heart is not open) the 'choice', whether or not to move, comes from the mind or from personal will: let them find another volunteer, I will not leave. 

Or we move along, because religious currents asks us to practice certain virtues such as servitude, charity, calmness. 
Then the movement also doesn't come from the heart, but from the head, the ego: I have to do well, I have to be friendly, I will practice unconditional kindness (as if it can be practiced, who is practicing it: personal will?).

Or we say 'yes', we can't say 'no' because we want to be liked. 
Even then the movement doesn't come from the heart, but from a learned program from our youth. In other words, the personal will remains intact. 

It is therefore not possible to make a project of dismantling the personal will, because the motive from which you then move is the personal will itself (I am now going to break down the slave driver in me, the personal will with all its desires and needs).
Who is the 'I' who intends to do this? 

The only solution I see for the extinguishment of personal will is the opening of the heart. And that is what consciousness coaching is about and is meant for: the transformation from head to heart.

Not my will happens, but Your will..., the will of Life itself, beyond the ego, beyond the imaginary "I" who thinks that she/he can control life (personal will).

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Transforming beliefs, the direct way.

There is an experience. The experience leads to a conviction and that conviction then determines our behavior. We are aware of some beliefs, but at the same time there are many convictions of which we are unaware that also determine our (avoidance) behavior. And whether or not we are aware of the conviction, the conviction travels with us for a large part of our lives (sometimes a whole life), unless we wake up - then the conviction(s) can extinguish.

It is actually too bizarre for words that one traumatic experience from the past can have such far-reaching consequences for the rest of our life. And yet, that’s how it is…

The fear that we could not fully bear and feel at that time gives an imprint in the nervous system. Example: An unpleasant experience with a horse in the past makes my body automatically react with fear when I get close to a horse. One painful experience led to the conviction: I am afraid of horses, horses are unpredictable and dangerous. Behavior: from puberty on I avoid horses. I would rather take a detour, out of fear, than drive past the horse. Unbelievable..., but true, because the experience of that time was stored unprocessed in the nervous system.

Well you can easily avoid horses in your life..., I don't meet them every day and when I meet them, it requires little effort to take a detour. Time passes, and before I know it 40 years have passed without an incentive to investigate the conviction that horses are scary, as I rarely meet any. On the contrary, I would be crazy..., you're not going to encounter something you're afraid of, right? What we are afraid of, we prefer to avoid, right?

So, many convictions travel with us for a lifetime..., and these convictions determine our behavior even though we often don't know that ourselves.

There are also convictions that you can't avoid, because you are faced with them every day. I will give some examples of such beliefs: people are not trustworthy, I am not good enough, my work has to be perfect, I am a egoist, life has to be nice and cozy, everyone makes demands on me, you have to be useful, doing nothing is not done, be successful etc.

All these convictions determine how we 'look' at the outside world, what 'vision' we have. The outside world reflects our inner world, our 'view'. If you are convinced that people are not trustworthy, then you look at other people through those glasses. In other words, you interpret the behavior of other people from the belief that lives in you.
What you believe is what you see.

What do you believe? What do you see? What are your convictions? Time and again we 'search' unconsciously for confirmation of our convictions, because we can not 'see' nothing else as long as we are still a prisoner of a certain conviction. You don't see the other person as he or she is, because, for example, the belief runs through your veins that the other person behaves irresponsibly and always will (can you look into the future?).

Time after time, we interpret the behavior of the other person from the beliefs that exist in us, beliefs that we picked up from childhood.

Another example. You look through the glasses 'I'm not good enough' and from those glasses you believe that every form of feedback is critical, any form of feedback is interpreted as 'not good enough'. You can't actually hear or meet the person that gives you feedback, because that conviction stands in between.

Until there comes a moment in our existence that we wake up. That we come apart from all those beliefs that prevent us from Living. Not by fighting the convictions or by eliminating them one by one (nothing needs to be done), but by recognizing the beliefs and challenging them when they are active.

If you are scared to open up your mouth in front of a group: go for it and experience, be aware what it brings about in your body without denying anything, be vulnerable, share with those who are present what goes through you (I find it very exciting to share something about myself, I notice that my heart beats faster and I don't know what I want to share etc.). You don't have to pretend otherwise than you are.

In addition to challenging beliefs, there is another approach that I want to bring to your attention: the direct path to the Self, to the eternal principle in us that doesn't come and doesn't go, is not born and doesn't die. It is our Divinity, our Nature.

Okay, there we go. Everything begins with 'seeing': becoming aware that convictions influence our perception. The consequence of this influence is: distortion of our perception, we do not see reality as it.

I can tell you, out of my own experience, recognizing beliefs isn't easy, because we are simply blind. The beliefs are printed so deeply in our nervous system..., it demands a lot of 'attention' to see them at all.

And the next step is: perceiving the conviction (for example: I am guilty) when it is activated in you. To see is to be free. A statement that I first heard years ago: to see is to be free. Everything begins with: seeing. Look..., just watch..., be witness to what the mind conjures up. That is all: look and if looking is really 'looking', then you become free from what the mind reflects (thoughts and emotions). You discover that you are not the emotions and thoughts, but THAT which watches the emotions and thoughts.

In other words: You are not guilty or stupid (conviction) unless you believe that. Look at this belief, don't go with it. Don't identify with it. Or do you think you were born guilty or stupid (or whatever...)? Guilty and stupid are labels stuck on us by parents, school, culture, religion. We have received all these beliefs from an early age and pass this package of convictions on to the next generation. An endless cycle of suffering.

And because we live in a collective field where we believe that we are our thoughts and emotions, we massively believe what we think and feel. We don't know better. We are en masse under hypnosis, asleep. We really think that thoughts and emotions determine our sense of Being. We fully identify with it (this is me). And yes..., many thoughts and emotions are painful, so we start looking for therapies that can deliver us from all sorts of psychological obstacles in the hope of getting happiness in return. Therapy has its place in life, especially when someone is very fragmented, but the concept of 'seeing' is something completly different than therapy or analyzing your problems based on past experiences. Analyzing and therapy will keep you identified with the level of the psyche. 'Seeing' is meant to transcend the level of the mind/the psyche (you are not your emotions and thoughts).

Okay, but if I'm not those emotions and thoughts (convictions), what am I? You are Consciousness. You are THAT what perceives the guilt or stupidity, but is completely separate from it: Witness Consciousness.

Witness Consciousness records everything that passes. I sometimes give clients the following picture: imagine a theater room. Within the theater there is a hall and a stage. The hall is the Witness Consciousness and the stage is the theater where life itself takes place. On the stage all experiences appear: the roles we play in life as mother, father, child, partner, teacher, politician, the critic, the adventurer, the child in us etc. and all convictions that are connected to those roles. All experiences that take place on stage are temporary; they come and go. And there is something that doesn't come and goes: that is you. And you (Consciousness, Buddha nature) are sitting in the hall and watching. You watch the movie of your life that takes place on stage. "You" stands for Witness Consciousness (awareness).

In reality, nobody is in the room. Witness consciousness is not a 'someone', it is a form of Consciousness: neutral, without judgment. From the perspective of the room you look at everything that happens on stage. That's all..., look...

It seems so simple, but the phenomenon of 'looking' has a solid pitfall, because we have such a strong identification with everything the mind mirrors us. What is the pitfall? If you watch and condemn yourself for what you see on stage, then you are a prisoner of what happens on stage, you are not in the hall at that moment, but on stage: a part of the ego appears on stage that provides criticism, compares and judges.

That is not the Witness Consciousness. Witness Consciousness has no opinions. It is like an eye that looks lovingly from the hall to the antics that take place on stage. By 'witnessing' (it grows from within, you can't 'do’ it and at the same time it does require some effort on our part), we get rid of all the dramas that take place on the stage, we get rid of all convictions that cause the feeling of drama, they extinguish by looking at it.

That is why this road is also called the direct way. No efforts by the psychological way, but again and again you take place in the hall and watch what happens on the stage, without identification. And also challenge the beliefs in real life.

From my own experience I can tell you that these last sentences meant a developmental path of several years for me. You can't enforce Witness Consciousness, it occurs from within. By being present in the hall, space is created around the experiences on stage, we are no longer (completely) involved, so we are no longer (completely) occupied with what happens to us on the stage: we can look at it (Witness Consciousness). It is then possible to gradually (or suddenly) separate from identification with the beliefs themselves, because we gradually (or suddenly) come home to our Self (Consciousness, Being). Your point of perception change: first the structure (mind/ego) is at the forefront and we believe that we are our thoughts and emotions, then the focus shifts to Witness Consciousness and we experience on a deeper level that that is our actual home.

Collectively, there is no form of support for our Buddha nature, because in real life no one is at home in the Self. That makes it difficult, because everything and everyone around us confirms the old concept of humanity (we are the mind). We are our emotions and thoughts, we think. So it takes a lot to wake up against the current stream of the dream state (the dramas on stage). We simply don't know the way, we have never had education in meditation, in self-examination, in awareness.

In addition, we also haven't learned to deal with pain, to be fully present at a painful event. We prefer to close our eyes and avoid pain; we don't know what to do with feelings like loneliness, desolation, anxiety and the like. But there is a way out, thank God, there is a way out of suffering, for everyone... Witness Consciousness is the first step, besides investigating and challenging your convictions. Once at home in the hall, a big reward awaits us: Liberation.

But how does it work? Does this mean that the beliefs disappear like snow in the sun when they are observed? That is possible, but usually it takes more time before the Witness Consciousness unfolds fully.

In order to sketch a possible course of development for the release of the beliefs, I give an example of how a belief can change over time: 'I feel so guilty' (you are the emotion, you believe the emotion) changes into 'I feel guilty' (there is identification, but it doesn't feel so heavy anymore). This changes into: 'I notice that a sense of guilt is triggered' (the identification on the belief is released) and from there it changes into 'a (slight) touch in your body of guilt without any identification with the guilt itself (the energy of guilt is still tapped into the body, from the imprint in the nervous system, but there is no identification with the emotion). And that changes into: the guilt goes out, it disappears from the system. The identification on 'guilt' (or any other emotion/belief) gradually extinguishes by staying deeper and deeper in Witness Consciousness.

And sometimes some extra work is needed, especially in those situations where Witness Consciousness was not 'on', because the trigger, the pain, the conviction took us over completely. I have written about that in other blogs. Pain/suffering is caused by identification. Identification means that you believe what you see: it is really true what I see. Examples: he is not an reliable person; it is really true that I am not good enough; it is really true that I am lonely etc. If we are identified, we don't see that we are a prisoner of the beliefs, we just don't know, there is no awareness.

The way out is Witness Consciousness. The deeper the Witness Consciousness is 'on' (so to speak), the more we realize that we are not the puppets on the stage, but THAT  which sees the puppets: the loving eye, which is without judgment. And then the identification with the puppets on the stage comes apart. We are no longer dragged along by a conviction, we can investigate the conviction and experience the pain associated with it and we can take steps to challenge the conviction (very important). When there is Witness Consciousness, pain is experienced very differently (no longer as a phenomenon that has to be avoided). It then becomes possible to totally experience the pain that has never been felt, causing it to dissolve. Then feeling 'loneliness', without psychology, without a story around it, purely experiencing the emotion in the root, is a 'gift'.

For many this sounds unbelievable, until Witness Consciousness is in the foreground. Then we realize that everything is..., nothing has to go, preference or rejection of certain emotions and thoughts ceases to exist. Then there is room in us to fully experience those difficult, painful emotions. And then the beliefs fade. We are more and more at home in our Self.

If this appeals to you, the way to liberation, and you want to reflect on your convictions/triggers and how you can challenge the beliefs in daily life, then you are most welcome.

Which convictions do you see? And which convictions do you not see because you are still blind? Ask someone for feedback and be prepared to examine it: from love and attention of the heart. And experiment with 'attention', with Witness Consciousness. Take a step back and look from the hall... from the loving eye. Everything that you give attention... grows. What do you pay attention to? To the mind? The ego? You are guilty, not good enough etc.?  Or do you feed the essence that you are: Consciousness & Love.
So that you become free from the 'dramas' of life. It feels like 'drama', because you see it like this. You don't know better. Go beyond that. Come home in your Heart.
Come home in your Self.

For beautiful explanation about witnessconsciousness is given by Mooji: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANOAkJQkNxs 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Karma: It must have been my own fault, my life is the result of my past life.

A client comes into practice. At some point she indicates that she believes that the course of her life, which hasn't been easy (and still brings the necessary challenges), is determined by karma.
Karma is also called the law of cause and effect. This means that everything we do (action) is a cause that has a consequence at a later date. That later time can relate to this life or a next life.

I ask the client what it means to her that she believes in reincarnation & karma. 
She says: "It must have been my own fault that my life has run like   this, I am the cause of it. Is that right? I ask. Is it your own fault?
Do you know what all your actions were in a past life that makes your current life run as it is? No, she says.
Do you have the control of your life? Did you choose the nest in which you were born? The conditions as they look like? Have you chosen your parents? Were you doing that? I don't know, she says. 

Is it your Life or Life that is living you? 

And which voice do you hear when you say:'It is all my fault?'
Is that the voice of the heart, the voice of compassion and love?
Or the voice of your parents, the voice of the past, the voice that is connected to painful memories, the voice of the mind, that keeps repeating the same scenario: it is your fault that your life runs like this... Is that true? And are these convictions helpful? 

As long as we are programmed and conditioned beings, can there be freedom of choice? The freedom to act differently from the scenarios written in our program?

What is the use of looking at yourself and existence in this way (guilt and penance)? Do you see that the mind seizes everything, even the concept of karma and reincarnation to keep you trapped in guilt, in condemnation of yourself?

Yes, says the client, that is what I realized later..., it isn't helpful. The only thing what I can do, is how I deal with this life in this moment. Exactly, I say, taking responsibility for what comes on your way, waking up from the conditioned state of being, awakening from all those learned reaction patterns and beliefs that don't support Life. That has nothing to do with guilt or punishment. 

In the end we don't know if karma exist, we don't know if reincarnation is true or untrue. And does it matter? 
Your life take place here and now, focus on that. 
Meditate and use self-examination to escape from the grip of the mind, which terrorizes you with thoughts and emotions such as guilt, fear, not being good enough, karma etc.

And: Life remains a mystery. Fortunately…, we can philosophize about it, but we don't know the final answer. And that's a good thing too.

Having said that, I feel an affinity with the concept of 'reincarnation'. In other words: the Consciousness, Life itself (not an 'I' or 'ego') chooses the circumstances (life after life), to come home to the Self (which we already are, but don't remember) from where we are released from the wheel of rebirth.

A while ago I read a book by Osho (Until you die) in which he gives a refreshing view of the basic concepts of religions such as Hinduism (reincarnation/karma), Sufism and Christianity. It fascinated me.
I would therefore like to share with the reader what Osho has to say about these topics. A few pages from the book (page 144 and further), in a shortened version, form the basis for the text below. The italics of certain Osho statements comes from me, as well as some words that are written in brackets. By 'false' is meant: the conditioned, mechanical structure (ego/mind).

Okay, here we go:
'The truth can't be told directly to you. Something needs to be done so that you gradually follow your path to truth. (...) Knowledge must gradually grow in you through certain circumstances. And of course only false circumstances will help, because you are unreal. (...) 
To give an example: suppose you live in a closed house, a house you have never been out of. You have never seen the sun, you never heard the birds, you never felt the wind going through the trees. You have never been outside, you have never seen flowers or the rain. You have lived in a closed house, completely closed, not even a window. Then I come to you and I want you to come out and sing with the birds and dance with the wind and be like the flowers that open (...) for the infinite. But how can I tell you something about the world outside? There is no language for it. If I talk about flowers, you will not understand. 'Flowers?', you will ask, 'What do you mean by flowers? Prove first that they exist.' (...) And with whatever proof I come, you can refute it, you can come up with counter-arguments. (...) 
'You dream,', you will say. 'It is your imagination', you will say, 'there is no outside world'. This is the only world; there is no other world. What are you talking about?' (…)
The difficulty is: in which language should I speak to you, which parables, which symbols should I use? Whatever is said, it will evoke misunderstandings - because you can only understand something when you have experienced it. (...) 
I will have to apply some method. 
That method is neither true nor false. (…) 

For example, I can create a fever situation: 'The house collapses. Come out as soon as possible! (...) Jesus did that. 
He said, 'The whole world will collapse. (...) 
The end is near - The Day of Judgment.'
So far it hasn't happened. And Jesus said to his disciples, 'Before you die the day of judgment will come. Make sure you undergo a transformation, change yourself, repent! Come to repent! Because time passes quickly and the house collapses.'(...) 

What does he say? 
You can't understand the language of freedom, only the language of fear. That is why he says that the day of judgment is near.
Jesus says: 'There is only one life. Once lost, always lost.' 
That is why Jesus never used the Indian tool of reincarnation. (...) Jesus says, 'This is the only life', to induce a fever in you of fear. Because if he says that there are many lives, you can relax; then you can say: 'There is no hurry. This house will not collapse during my life and there will be more lives, so why should I hurry now?'(...) This way you can keep postponing. Jesus rejected procrastination. He said, 'There is only one life, this is the only life.' (...) 'And soon in this life, before your death, the day of judgment will dawn. Then your sins will be judged and you will be punished.'
What does he say? (…)
He is trying to get you out of your house. (...) As soon as you follow Jesus, as soon as you leave the house, you know that it was a ruse, that you were lured out. But then you are not angry: you feel grateful because it was the only way. And you were so unreal that even a Jesus had to use a lie to get you out of it. But once you get out, you forget everything about the day of judgment and god and his kingdom; then you forget everything about death and fear. As soon as you are outside, in the open air, in the wind and sunshine, you celebrate that, then you enjoy, then you are eternally and forever grateful to Jesus, because he showed such compassion that he even lied to you to be able to bring you outside.

In India we have used a different method and there are several reasons for that. India is very old. (...) The West is young. When you talk to an old man, you talk differently than when you talk to a young man - because their attitude is completely different. A young man always looks to the future. An old man always looks at the past, because there is no future for an old man. (...) The Eastern spirit wants to be delivered from both life and death. The East is bored, like every old man. (...) The East has enough of life. You can't promise more life. That is not a promise, on the contrary, that seems like a punishment. That is why we have used a completely different method in the East and that method is: the wheel of life and death. We say that you were born millions of times (...). And everyone continues to repeat the same pattern - childhood and the fantasies of childhood; youth and the follies of youth; old age and boredom and then death. And the wheel keeps moving. (…) 
What is the message behind reincarnation theory? 
The message is: enough is enough! Take it for granted now! Come out now! If you stay in the wheel, it will keep running. (...) 
That is a language that a bored person can understand. 
But both the one and the other are methods. Don't ask me if they are true. They are neither true nor untrue. Once you are out of the house, you will know if it is true; if you stay inside, you will never know the truth.
Everything that helps you on your way to the open air, to freedom, to openness, is true. If a religion can no longer help, it is false. 

The idea of ​​Jesus will not help the West much now. That is why the Western spirit turns to the East. Now the philosophy of boredom will be better because you are now old too. Christianity is less appealing. Hinduism, Buddhism are more attractive. You have grown old! (...) Reincarnation speaks more than one life. The Day of Judgment seems childish and one life doesn't seem sufficient. How can you judge a person by giving him only one chance? At least more opportunities will be needed to make a judgment, because he can only learn by trial and error. By giving him only one chance, you don't actually give him a chance. If he makes a mistake, he is mistaken. Then there is no time to correct the error. (…) 

They are tools. 'A tool' is something that is neither true nor false.
It can help. If it helps, it is true. If it is a hindrance, then it is false. (…) And when you really are out, there is no need for any method anymore. All methods serve only to get you out of your closeness, out of your grave, out of your insensitivity, out of your unconsciousness.(...) 

Sufis say that everything in life is so interrelated that the karma theory can't be right. And they are right, because their method is true too. If everything in life is so interrelated, how can karma theory make sense? According to karma theory, you are connected to your previous life, only with your previous life; you are a result of your own karmas and you reap the results of your own karmas. 
But Sufis say that there is a connection between everything that lives: the karma of everyone else is my karma and my karma is the karma of everyone else. It is a network of mutual affinity. (...) 
You throw a stone in the lake and the whole lake comes into turmoil. Everyone is like a stone in the lake. Whatever you do, you produce waves, vibrations. (...) The whole is whole thanks to everyone. 
Sufis say that the karma theory basicly testifies to an egoistic attitude. And they are right! 
According to the theory of karma you are - so what you sow you will harvest. That strengthens you, the ego. Sufis use a different pattern to take you out. You are no longer there. The whole is. You're just a wave. What does it make sense to think you are? Sufis say, if you understand the interconnection of everything, you simply let fall the point of view of an ego, then you are no longer a me. (...) 
It is a method.

Hindus have their own method (karma theory). They say: 'If you sow, you will reap.' They mean: if you are in a bad mood, you yourself are the cause of it. If you are in fear, you have sown the poison somewhere in some kind of life and you now harvest the result. Why do they put so much emphasis on this? 

For two reasons: First. If you feel that you are responsible, only you can let go of your misery and fear; there is no other way. If you think someone else is just as responsible as you are, you will stay as you are. What can you do about it? You alone can't change anything about it. This makes it impossible to let go of your misery and your fear.

Secondly and of greater significance: the Hindu method teaches that the whole phenomenon of the past - whatever you have done, whatever you have thought - is present in you right now. People think that the past can't be undone. Hindus say it can be undone because the past is part of the present. You carry it with you. You can't only change the present and the future, you can also change the past, you can drop it. 

And, they say, freedom is possible, because you are the only one who is responsible for your life.(…)

Hindus believe that you are responsible for your karmas. Which is good. If you are responsible, then you can change, then transformation is possible. You are the only one involved. You can let go of your karma or you can carry it with you, whatever you want? And who would like to carry fear, misery, hell with him? You'll drop it all.'
End of a shortened version.

'Religion is opium for the people', a statement by Karl Marx.
It keeps people asleep. They remain slaves to those who are the rulers - whether this is the pope in Rome (etc.) or the big capital. And so it is..., any form of religion that doesn't bring us home in our hearts, keeps man in a coma. 

Through the centuries we have been poisoned by the religions with guilt, penance, duty and hatred to ourselves and to others who live or think differently (homosexuals etc.) then that what is proclaimed. 
The head (commandments/prohibitions: no abortion, monogamy, no homosexuality etc.) instead of the heart (open and free).

Identification with a belief (I am a Christian, Muslim, Jew etc.) has led to many conflicts and wars - and still does. With the mouth 'peace' and 'humanity' is preached and at the same time the sword is raised against everyone who lives and think differently. Or the opposite: there is being threatened with hell and damnation under the guise of Love and redemption of our suffering.

The word 'religion' etymologically refers among other things to the word 'religare' which means 'reconnect'. An interpretation that resonates with me, like the interpretation of Osho: religion is a tool - to turn inward (instead of outward).

Religion can be a tool to reconnect us to the divine essence that we are, beyond belief and unbelief, beyond any rule or doctrine, beyond the mind. And if a religion doesn't bring you home..., release it, it doesn't serve you. And go in search of a living master who can guide you on your path to awakening.
Everything that helps you on your way to the open air, to freedom, to openness, is true. 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes


Fear: I'm afraid I'll die.

A young client comes into practice.
A few years ago she also visited the practice a few times and now she is back again, I'm curious how she's doing, nice to meet her again.
She indicates that she has been afraid to fly for several years and that she has recently experienced the same fear as she gets into the car.
She comprehends on a deeper level than before that death is a real given. When she gets into the car, she realizes that a traffic accident is possible and that a violent collision can result in death. And the thought of a possible death evokes fear.

She also had a dream about a crashing plane. In her dream, she saw a plane from the beach lifelike above the sea. The moment the plane was at altitude and ended up in the stabilization phase, it suddenly plunged down, deep into the ocean, and then it rose again above the water. She saw that the plane was split in two: everyone at the front of the plane was still alive and everyone at the back of the plane was dead.

Her last aircraft experience was recently, a skiing holiday. Three days in advance, she felt the tension rising in her and it continued until the plane had entered the stabilization phase.
She says: 'I am afraid to die, and I also often have the idea that I will die when I am physically ill'.

How did you deal with the fear of flying the last time?
Well, I reassured myself that it would all be okay and I just let the fear be there, I squeezed my friend's hand and slowly the fear subsided. Great, I say, and how did it go then?
At a certain moment it was quiet again…

Okay, so the fear went out... because you did not fight against it, but just stayed with it.

Yes, but I find it a very annoying feeling, I never had a fear of flying in the past. It is strange that it suddenly comes up. I think that the explanation is...
And then she talks about a plane experience 2 years ago, that she was shocked by the turbulence, grabbed her sister's arm, who reacted in a negative way to it.

It is certainly possible that that experience had a specific impact, but you aren't sure if that is the explanation for what is going on in you. Before that experience, two years ago, were you always calm during turbulence with other flights? No, she says, I could also be a little anxious, but not as bad as the flights of the past two years.
How bad is it really? I ask.
Well, she says, if you're nervous three days in advance…, the last time I even had to cry at the thought that I was going to fly…, I just want it to go away..., that it's doesn't bother me any longer. 
She is crying a few tears. Allow it, I say, do you feel the fear now? Yes. Okay, I say, just go with your attention to the pain, just look where that fear is in your body... and stay right there..., breathe into the fear..., feel your feet on the ground... and observe the energy of the fear..., let the energy be there without fighting it..., you are so afraid of dying…
She sobs… For a moment she allows her anxiety/grief to melt, but soon I see that something takes place internally which stops the grief. What is happening to you now? You felt the fear, there were tears and then? Then comes the thought: 'don't make an issue of nothing, don't be childish'. Okay, I say. Do you recognize those voices?
What do you mean? she says.
That these messages were given to you, that this is not your Nature, but your structure? Structure is all that has been learned: how you should behave, how to (not) deal with pain..., the whole package of beliefs that you get from upbringing and society etc.
Nature is your essence which incidentally is not yours, as if there are two: you and nature... No, you yourself are nature. The structure later emerges as a layer over your Nature. The structure is also a part of your nature, but a tight, restricted version of it.

You indicated earlier in the conversation that you wanted to e-mail me for an appointment and that it took a while before you actually sent the e-mail, because these voices (you can do it on your own, there is not really a problem, be strong, don't be childish) initially prevented you from making an appointment.
Yes that's right.
Is it nature or structure that you wanted to mail me for an appointment? Nature, she says. Exactly, I say, and the voices that said 'nothing is wrong, don't make an issue of it', is that nature or structure? Structure, she says.
Yes, the structure is everything that is supposedly poured into you by parents, family, school and culture. Not that your parents are to blame..., that's not what it's all about, it's just a collective fact that hardly anyone has learned to deal with pain and everyone received messages like 'don't be childish, be strong', and above that we haven't learned at all to deal with uncertainty, to deal with the great unknown factor of existence: death. Existence by itself is unknown, uncertain, you never know what will happen the next moment. 

We are afraid of Life, we don't want to feel insecure, we want to have control, we want to know what the next moment brings, what is not possible, because existence, Life itself, is by nature uncertain.

Humanity is massively focused on pleasure, life has to be fun.
The dark may not be there, the dark isn't allowed. Fear, hatred, loneliness, impotence, insecurity and so on, have to leave. We suppress everything that is painful, because we don't want to feel vulnerable, impotent and insecure.
Massively we avoid pain by stunning ourselves with anything and everything (alcohol, candy, watching series, drugs).
And what people don't understand is that suffering is caused by the suppression of all those painful emotions.
Do you understand? If you only want to drink from the cup that presents 'light' and avoid the cup that presents 'darkness', then suffering is the result, because the dark also wants to be seen, so that it can melt or evaporate. 

There is light and there is darkness, day and night, cold and heat. It is like the two sides of a coin. They belong together. Dark can't exist without light and light can't exist without darkness. By allowing pain, by being present in fear, by bringing light to that which appears dark, the pain melts, the fear melts, the fear extinguishes. But that isn't what we have been given. We have often learned to suppress and avoid pain by seeking distraction.
And it seems that existence is knocking on your door: see me (face death, the great unknown, uncertainty, look at the dark sight), meet me. Existence invites you to overcome the fear of death... so that you can live to the full, so that you no longer have to cling to anything and everything, to false certainties. Do not forget who you are. You are Nature, the Light, Life itself. And life is uncertain, because Life flows... and you never know where it is going… (although you think you know it).
'Your' soul wants to make a growth spurt and it puts 'mortal fear' on your plate. Yes, and then of course there is resistance from the structure (I don't want to feel this, it has to go away), because that is what we have learned: suppress anxiety or swallow it away with medication. Which doesn't mean that medication is not a solution for some people, it really is, because not everyone is able to turn inwards and endure the oppressed pain.
Embrace the fear of death from the Light, from awareness, from attentiveness, so that the fear of death can melt. You are not the fear. The fear takes place in you, but you (Nature, Beingness) are free of fear. Stay fully present with the fear, realizing that you are not the fear, but that the energy of fear is passing through you. You look, as it were, at the movement and experience of mortal fear. When it provokes sadness or certain images..., stay with it, look at it..., but don't go into a story..., be with it until it goes out and it becomes quiet in you. Experience what it is like to be totally insecure and vulnerable. Experience what it is like to have no control over Life (even if you think so). If you dare to look at Death, you discover Life.

Over time you increasingly come home to yourself, your Nature, then you can see through the layer called structure, which has been laid over your Nature, you don't act on it anymore. 
So don't honor those voices (your pain is nothing, don't be childish) when the fear or sadness is there. Stay with your full attention and experience the pain. Give up your resistance. That's all...

At the end of the consultation, the client is thanking me for the insights. She feels relieved, she now understands what is going on.
Three quarters of a year later she e-mails, after a few flights with the plane, that the fear has largely been extinguished by presence, by looking at fear instead of surpressing the fear.

It is good that we don't have a full choise. If we had full choice, we would not choose any experience who is painful; if you would only go for the sugar flavor experience, you would not grow. So life, out of love for all of its forms, brings you what you need, but you often don't like.

Linked-In: Caroline Ootes

Emotions are not good or bad: they are. I'm jealous.

        I am jealous.                  

Emotions are not good or bad: they are. 
They are there because they have a message for you. 
The fact that emotions and thoughts are there, indicates that they have a right to exist. They are. They come from the Void, from the Source, from Beingness. 

If we are identified with - in our eyes - unpleasant emotions and thoughts, then there is suffering. If we view our emotions and thoughts - from pure awareness - then there is space around these emotions and thoughts. Then there is the possibility to judgment-free observation of everything that takes place in us. 

No emotion or thought is good or bad: they are. At the moment that we can perceive emotions and thoughts, there are other options for these 'annoying' emotions and thoughts, namely: self-examination. 

I am jealous, says Suzanne. It really doesn't make sense, but it is true. What is the situation? Suzanne went with her boyfriend to a massage parlor. They both had a massage appointment that took place simultaneously in a separate room reserved for them (without other massage customers). 
Okay, I say, and what happened then? Well, there was an old masseuse and a young masseuse. The young masseuse first washed my feet and then washed the feet of my friend. Yes, and then? 
I (Suzanne) thought: the young masseuse will give me a massage, because she washed my feet first... and the old masseuse will give a massage to my friend, but that's not how it went... 
The young masseuse went to my friend and the older masseuse came to me to give me a massage. Okay, I say, and then? 
Well, I couldn't stand it that the young masseuse was going to massage my friend, while I really, deep down, wanted the old masseuse, because they aren't so soft as young masseuses and I like a solid massage. 
And then, what happened in you? I say. 
I couldn't enjoy the massage at all. I thought: that young masseuse has deliberately swapped with that old masseuse so she could massage my friend. The whole time I was keeping an eye on her while she was busy with my boyfriend and I felt very jealous. And then another thought came up: I can't be jealous, that is stupid. 

Good that you see all that, I say. And if you do some more research now, do you realize that you are driven by interpretations? The interpretation is that the young masseuse was actually meant for you, because she was washing your feet first. 
Why should she be meant for you? Because she first washed your feet? 

And is the thought 'true' that she would rather massage your friend? Could it be that the old masseuse is spared a bit and that the appointment is that the young masseuse washes all the feet? 

Or that the old masseuse gave instructions to the young masseuse that she had to give your friend a massage... Or another explanation..., many possibilities why situations run as they go... 

And you color it as you see it, not as it really is, but as you see it. It is your interpretation, your coloring of the situation, it says everything about you than about the situation itself. 
Yes, says Suzanne, that is true, it are all assumptions on my part..., of course I don't know what actually takes place in the head of the masseurs. 
No, I say, exactly, you don't know. You are coloring the situation with all kind of images..., we all do, you are really no exception. Until we start waking up from our assumptions... and see that we look at the outside world through a colored pair of glasses…

Okay now a step further: if every emotion has something to tell, what does the jealousy of this moment tell you? 
What is hidden behind the jealousy? 
That he gets so much attention from her..., she says, that they are so intimate with each other. 
And what does that tell you? 
I'm actually jealous of the attention he gets. 
And if everything is projection, what does this tell you? 
That I long for his attention, for attention for each other.
Is that completly correct? Is this what is hidden behind the jealousy? I ask.
Yes, says Suzanne, last week/weeks we had a very busy time with a lot of visitors, we had little time for each other and I felt that I wanted to spend some time alone with him, but there was no space for that, at least that's what I thought. 
A friend (woman) of my boyfriend stayed with us for one week before she would go abroid again and my boyfriend mainly paid attention to her, he didn't see me at, all attention went to her.
Okay: and how would it be for you to ask for that attention? 
Hard, says Suzanne. Because? 
Well, I don't find it easy to recognize that I need attention from him. Okay, so there seems to be a ban on needing attention? I say. 
Yes, says Suzanne..., I hadn't seen it that way yet... 
Well, then you know what you have to do, I say. 
Express your need: Dear darling, I would love to spend some time together with you, I have missed you over the past few weeks and I feel like a small child who needs attention... and I was very jealous of that friend of yours who asked so much attention from you... and then you also got that young masseuse who was so intimate with you..., I couldn't stand it any longer, I want you all for myself, when is that possible? 
Oohh, she says, exciting to share so openly what is happening in me and to put my need for attention in the light and express it, but I will do it.
I'm curious, I say. The need for attention melts automatically when the taboo is seen through. Recognize that this need for attention lives in you..., utter yourself, live the need of attention..., until it is no longer an issue..., because you don't make it an issue anymore, because attention versus no attention as imprint (pain point) in your system goes out. Then there is no more charge on the theme of 'attention'. But if you resist this need, the charge will only increase and jealousy will stick to you for a long time. And I know everything about that… 

And if you don't get the attention you ask for, because your friend makes another choice at that moment..., and it hurts…, feel the pain. It's the pain of the young child that didn't get the attention she needed. Feel the pain, knowing that it is 'old pain' without blaming your friend for not having attention for you at that moment.Take responsibility for your own 'old pain'.
And make a new appointment with your friend for quality time.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Nude: who or what am I?

Who or what am I in essence?

Imagine that you no longer have any assumption about yourself..., that all labels/qualities that you (and others) attribute to yourself, fall away from you...
You no longer identify with certain labels and characteristics: I am honest, restless, cheerful, introvert, compliant, sociable, harmonious, a black-eyed viewer, a dreamer, an artist, loyal, smart, stupid, creative and so on. None of that…
Imagine that you no longer attach to certain ideas, beliefs, concepts, a political party... Yes, opinions and points of view pass by, but in the end you realize that these are relative, you don't hold on to anything, not to any belief, because you realize that these aren't the truth - the essence of us. They are only ideas, concepts, opinions that are subject to change. What we believe is true today, can be different tomorrow. And everything that is subject to change (thoughts/emotions) doesn't reflect our essence, doesn't reflect 'That' which is unchangeable, our Nature, Beingness.

Imagine that you no longer identify with all the roles that you fulfill in your life. The role you fulfill from your profession or social roles, including all the opinions we have about these roles in us: I am married and that means that I don't meet up with a friend in the weekend (assumption), I am a mother/father and as a parent you always have to be ready for your children (assuming), I am a grandmother/ grandfather and as a grandmother and grandfather you are of course always willing to help and to look after your grandchildren (assuming).

Imagine that you don't identify with gender, sexual preference or skin color: I am gay and as a gay person you haven't an easy life (assumption), I am a Negro and that means that white people are against me (assumption). No identity on sex, sexual preference or skin color, being black or white or being heterosexual or gay, doesn't define who you are - in essence.

Imagine that you don't have a view of the world or a human image. For example: people can be trusted, people are selfish, people are heartless, the world is a mess, etc. And you don't have an assumption about life itself: life is good, bad, pleasant, gracious, hard, lonely etc. 

You are in the moment, now, without all those assumptions, without thoughts, without roles, without beliefs or convictions, without expectations, without desires, without ambitions, without self-image (image), without purposes, without history, no past, no future, no name..., not a woman or a man..., nothing.
Naked, naked and naked again…
What will remain if everything that has been taught to us, what we believe in, falls away?
Emptiness, Essence, Beingness, Pure Awareness, Truth, Reality, Love.

Pure awareness itself is absolute (not subject to change), like the sun. Many forms and colors appear in Pure Awareness, but the Awareness itself is unassailable, neutral, unconditional, ever present, without judgment (like the sun that ever and always shines).
That is our essence: Pure Awareness, Emptiness..., infinite space..., where all energies (thoughts, feelings) come in, are recorded, known, felt and let go.
There is no clearly defined 'I', there is consciousness, there is Life. We are Life itself, we are Consciousness. Our essence is Divine, is Love.
The flow of Life has many colors and forms, which are experienced and released through us. Unless we cling and identify again. Then we forget who we are in essence and we get entangled in the dream, the dream of illusions, the dream of the mind. We believe that we are the colors and shapes, we believe that we are our views, roles, assumptions, qualities (this is me, this is true and that is not true). We believe that we are 'someone'. We are identified with our self-image. And identification always leads to 'suffering', 'collision' and 'conflict' on the moment that reality doesn't match our image, our expectation about ourselves or about the other, the world and life itself.
From where do we feel so much the need to cling to ourselves, the need for a clear-cut self-image, the need for 'this is me'?

We don't know better... We have learned to see ourselves as a separate 'someone' with certain characteristics. An I-awareness has been given to us from an early age.
What would it be like to let go of the grip on the imaginary I- the ego? To be out of openness and emptiness? To let Life flow its own way? To surrender to existence from trust and total relaxation? 
To hand over the helm? To flow with the existence itself?

Story: Illusions (Richard Bach)
Once there was a village full of creatures at the bottom of a large crystal river. The stream went silently over them all - young and old, rich and poor, good and bad, the stream went its own way, and knew its own crystal Self.
Each creature clung to the branches and rocks on the river bottom in their own way, for clinging was their way of life, and everyone had learned from the birth to resist the current.
But in the end a creature said: 'I'm tired of clinging. Although I can't see it with my own eyes, I trust that the flow knows where it is going. I will let go and let it take me where it wants. If I cling any longer, I will die of boredom.'
The other creatures laughed and said, 'Fool! Let go and the current that you adore so greatly will make you crash into the rocks and you will die sooner than boredom!'
But the creature didn't pay any attention to them and took a deep breath and then let go. Immediately he was transported by the current and hit against the rocks. After some time, when the creature refused to cling again, the current however raised him above the bottom and he was no longer hurt. 
And the creatures that lived downstream, for whom he was a stranger, cried: 'Behold a miracle! A creature like us, he flies! See the Messiah who has come to redeem us all!'
And the one in the stream said: 'I am no more a savior than you. The river is content to free us if we only dare to let go. Our real work is this journey, this adventure.'

We are the river..., our real work is to live the journey of Life..., surrender..., let go and be carried by existence, by the flow of Life itself, because that is what you are: you are Life, Light and Love...
LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Self-inquiry in relations.

Self-inquiry in relations: what do I mean by that?
You start self-examination in relations at the moment that there is a conflict in you or between you and another person. Together with the other you confess and share what is happening in you.

As long as we are identified with the mind, as long as we still consider our thoughts and emotions as 'true' (I am right, you are wrong), this exercise will be perceived as tough by both 'parties'.

Showing yourself fully during sharing requires openness and vulnerability, which isn't an easy task for many people, because the heart is not yet fully open.

And listening to the other person is also not easy. Before we know it, the mind functions, causing all kinds of thoughts (it is not true what you are saying) which undermines the connection with the heart.

Clear agreements are essential to obtain clarification on an issue, because that is the goal of self-inquiry: cleaning, clarification, so that you can continue with a clean slate.

So you agree with each other who will be the first to start with sharing and how much time everyone gets for the self-examination in presence of the other person.

You could start with 15 minutes per person, but it could well be half an hour, so that the person who is telling can quietly examine and share all the aspects (see previous blog).

The other person listens, is present and tries to feel in and hear you totally (even if the person is talking about you, which is not an easy job). What is her or his experience of the situation?

Sometimes there are silences..., let it happen, don't assume that the one who shares is ready. You don't turn the roll until the time, that you have agreed upon, is over. In the silence, other aspects can still pop up or are further being explored.

The listener has the task of being a field of attention. The listener is not supposed to ask any questions to 'help' the other person if he or she falls silent. Keep listening, in silence, until the time is over. Then turn the roll without any evaluation or exchange about what has been said.

It is quite a challenge to remain 'empty' as a listener.
All kinds of opinions, judgments, emotions (mind) come by while you are listening to the experience of the other person. It occurs that you feel the urge to interrupt the other person to tell him/her the truth..., your truth: no, it isn't true what you are saying, it didn't go that way...

The question is whether that is the case. Do you see it correctly? What makes you assume that your interpretation of the conflict is correct and the interpretation of the other is not?

Why should one coloring of reality be correct and the other coloring not? They are both colorations or interpretations, both for those who share and for those who listen.

Do you realize that there is no right or wrong or truth at the moment that there are interpretations?

If you really realize that, then you realize that you are both a prisoner of a 'story', a story that the mind predicts you, a story that seems 'true' to you and 'true' to the other one, but it isn't, it's a story. Yes, that story can be painful…, that's true, especially if you believe in it.

Before we realize it, we are convinced that we are right and we blame the other person. We aren't aware that these accusations aren't about the other person but about aspects of ourselves.

We accuse the other person of selfish behavior (you don't take me into account at all) without realizing that we don't take ourselves into account, because we have learned from childhood that the other person gets priority. So you don't express your need or you even don't know what your need is or what you want... and you automatically adapt to the other person. 

Self-examination means, among other things, research into what these reproaches have to say about ourselves: I blame you for not taking me into account, but I discover that I haven't spoken about what I like or want..., I have gone along with your need and put my need aside, so actually I am angry with myself... that I let this happen again... that I didn't take responsibility for my need.
I was angry with you, but that wasn't right, I can see now that I am the cause of the conflict, because I didn't express my need aloud. Actually I should be more 'selfish' by expressing my need, but I assumed in advance that you wouldn't listen to me..., I can see that now. And I realize that it is also possible that we both have a different need at a certain moment..., that doesn't mean that I have to adapt to you in advance (what I automatically do as a result of the upbringing) or that you need to adapt to me..., we can then decide how we deal with the situation.

Well, it is not easy to separate ourselves from the story that we have been completely identified with (you behave selfishly), but it is very essential to grow in consciousness.

So: realize what is going on..., you don't see reality as it is, neither the other one. A conflict means in advance: distortion of reality, you look through a colored pair of glasses at the other one and the other looks at you through colored glasses..., and you both believe what the mind previews...

If you take the above as a starting point, then self-examination in the presence of the other person can be enormously fruitful. 
If both 'parties' understand at an essential level that they don't hold the truth (which doesn't exist at the level of the mind: each person has his/her interpretations), if both 'parties' realize that they are responsible for the glasses that they have (colored glasses), if both 'parties' are willing to investigate the judgments and reproaches we have about the other, then self-examination in front of the other person is a great gift, a blessing.

Self-examination in the presence of those with whom we are in conflict is therefore a tough exercise, but also yields a lot of self-insight and intimacy. There is nothing going underground that can blur the relationship. Everyone gets the space and the time to investigate what is going on. There is understanding for everyone's world of experience, the connection is cleaned up and the noise disappears: o, now I understand you, you come from that perspective, o..., that was happening in you..., that conviction was triggered from which you reacted so angry. There is again a clean slate.

Self-inquiry leads to a deepening of contact, friendship or cooperation, but this is only possible if we are really willing to put our ego aside (I am right, you are wrong). We have to be willing to open ourselves completely so that we can feel and hear the other person and above all: ourselves.
We have to listen to the other person from 'the void' (without the mind), from the heart, but you can't force this.

If that 'emptiness' is not yet present in us, then it is important to see your judgments/opinions while you are listening to the other person: see the judgments, but don't act on it by disturbing the other person or by telling the other one the truth (your truth) when it's your turn (then you're a prisoner of the mind again, a prisoner of your story).

You can't 'understand' or hear the other person if you are so full of your story... Try to open up yourself to the other, even if all kinds of judgments pass by on your side, try to understand where the other comes from: what is his or her 'story', what is his or her interpretation of the situation?

It doesn't mean that the story is 'true' or that you have to 'agree' or 'disagree' with the other... It isn't about 'true' or 'not true', everyone has her or his own interpretation, that's all.

And to be very precise: the goal of self-examination is not to throw a bucket of mud over the other or spit your gall. No, then you haven't understood what is the basis of self-inquiry: sharing what takes place within you, examine what the deeper motives are from which you react as you reacted. And last but not least: to meet the other person and yourself on a deep level from which mutual understanding unfolds.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Projection: Which images do you stick onto reality? And how to proceed?

Projection: Which images do you stick onto reality? And how to proceed? 

How can I get to the root of a certain pain? And are there other ways to break away from identification with emotions and thoughts (the images)?

Yes, there are other direct paths to liberation, which I discuss in another blog, but first a more in-depth exploration of feeling pain.

Feeling old pain is only necessary when the pain is currently present. In other words: the pain feels so real that you can't ignore it, you are fully identified with the pain, with the story that the mind has come up with. For example, you feel deep loneliness, nobody really loves you, it seems like that..., all alone. And you can't separate yourself from the fact that this thought, which activates an emotion, is an image which says nothing about reality itself.

The reality can be that you live alone, without a relationship, that's all. The mind creates the image: loneliness. You think you need others to experience light and love in your existence. You seek light and love outside yourself, with others, instead of discovering Light and Love within yourself. Okay, so it is like that..., for the moment. You are fully identified with 'loneliness'.

How do you embrace that pain? asked a blog reader.

When the pain is clearly present and you are alone, go inside. Use, for example, music: songs that release the emotion of 'loneliness' for you or that get the emotion going, so that the grief that lies behind the thought 'I am so lonely' can start to flow.

Realize that it is an image based on a childhood experience (even if it doesn't feel that way yet), be totally present with the emotion 'loneliness'. Go all the way while you stay present. Feel where the emotion 'loneliness' resides in your body: your stomach, heart, throat...? Go there with your attention and stay there.

Yes..., but what do you mean by staying 'present' or 'attentive' while experiencing the emotion? By that I mean that there is 'something' that perceives this emotion, otherwise you wouldn't be aware that this emotion is present in you at all.

How do you know that a certain emotion or thought passes through you? You know that because there is 'something' that perceives this emotion/thought. That 'something' is what I call 'presence'. It is also called Buddha nature or Pure Awareness or Beingness.

Our essence is Consciousness (Pure Awareness) and within that Consciousness the emotion 'loneliness' appears. Look at the emotion from the perspective of that 'something', Pure Awareness, and let the emotion go to the bone. No stories, no analyses...
Yes, it is possible that certain images from the past are spontaneously triggered, which are linked to 'loneliness' for you..., see them pass by without diving into them, they are memories, past tense, only ideas that have no real value in the NOW, the experiences are long gone, they don't exist in the present, what does exist is the pain that was not fully felt at the time it arose..., that's what it's all about: feel how 'loneliness' feels... until the tears automatically stop.

If you are not present, if you lose yourself in the emotion..., then you are lost, you become the emotion yourself, you become totally identified with the emotion and you are no longer able to see (no awareness) that it is an image (story based on an painful memory).

You really think it is true now, you really think that you are lonely now, that there is no one who loves you... with the result that you feel deeply miserable. Then you are in the grip of the mind (the ego/the story). You are completely identified with the mind, with the thought and emotions. That is not our purpose. Hence the importance of Awareness.

Throughout our lives we are focused on avoiding pain. Go the other way: meet the pain, from Awareness, and find out what the effect is. You see reality as it is, without the image 'loneliness', because you have given yourself complete permission to deeply experience how 'loneliness' feels, so that the emotion melts, evaporates, dies out. You may have to follow this procedure several times, because some imprints (experiences) have left a considerable trace in our nervous system. That takes time, unless you are completely aware while you are feeling the pain; then once or twice is enough to evaporate the pain.

In addition to music, you can also use other inputs to express the emotion of loneliness, for example painting or turning on your voice recorder and sharing out loud what loneliness means for you. From there, the emotion itself starts to move. Don't force it, turn inwards when the emotion is present. See which entrance works for you.

Blueprints don’t – and sometimes they do – simply disappear from the system. The more you let go of the belief that 'it's true', 'I am really lonely' or 'she/he has left me'..., the more you see that it is an old trace you project onto reality, the more the resistance to feel pain dissolves...., the greater the chance that the blueprints melt. 

Some imprints (I am not good enough, I am stupid, guilty etc.) are 'punched' so deeply into our nervous system, that remnants of it will occasionally be triggered, but because the realization is becoming deeper that it is a projection, an image that is superimposed onto reality..., it becomes easier to let go of the image. Just a cry or a conversation with someone who helps you out of the identification with a story..., and already the light is turned on again (Consciousness).

So it is twofold: seeing through the images, getting a deeper understanding of the mechanism of  projection and allowing pain (without resistance) when pain occurs. The latter is not that simple yet..., identification with the pain makes us want to avoid the pain, because we are convinced that what we feel is really true. In addition, we live in a culture where pain is often suppressed and this oppression also lives in us.

Well, that is waking up: realize that you are not the story (the emotion/thought of loneliness), but THAT in which the story appears (Beingness, Pure Awareness). This realization enables you to separate yourself from identification with the emotions/thoughts, without denying the pain...

And that 'something' (Beingness, Pure Awareness) can't be done..., that's Grace...

You can work with the pain that arises when you are triggered by a certain situation that comes your way..., you can focus your attention on avoidance behavior that you use to flee from pain (for example, engage in many social contacts to avoid loneliness). You can understand the mechanism of projection on a deeper and deeper level... (which images do I stick onto reality), but the shift from the emotional/mental layer to THAT (Pure Awareness) is something you can't control..., but at some point in time it will awaken in you. Then it is really possible to allow old pain fully.

And are there other ways to break away from identification with emotions and thoughts (the images)? Yes, above all meditation. And a 'method' that is described in the blog: Transforming beliefs, the direct way.

If you need support, feel free to contact me for a consult. 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes


Projection: Which images do you stick onto reality? Don't leave me...

Projection: Which images do you stick onto reality? Don't leave me...  

'Yes, nice, that blog of yours about attaching images, but it is really true that he left overnight. Although you say that I am not the emotions and thoughts, I feel a lot of pain, disbelief, anger and sadness. So, what's up with that?'

Well, not easy and very recognizable, because sometimes I am also surprised by an image that I identify with (that I believe and value as truth) from which a story arises with the result of 'suffering'.

A few years ago there was such a situation.

The joints..., that is a weakness in 'my' body. I had just started in the gym: to work on my condition. I started calmly, but soon I experienced an injury in the knee joint. The knee became thick and the doctor indicated that a piece of bone might have been loosened (a joint mouse) which caused the pain. In addition, before the knee injury, I had given our bathroom a cleaning. Let me try again, I thought, even though I knew (memory) that the shoulder joint doesn't really appreciate it, but you never know. After giving the shoulder joint rest for some months, it seemed worthwhile to try and see what cleaning the bathroom meant for the body (the shoulder and the knees). Pain and limitation were the result.

These two situations led to identification with the pain, identification with the body, and the following story arose after a visit to the doctor: 'Gee, the left ankle worn out and the right kneecap..., now also the left knee and again my right shoulder..., if this goes on, what will happen with this body in the future?
What if I ever stand alone?' And then the GP casually says: 'It will not get better in the future, only worse... and there is little we can do, you will have to live with it.'

Sadness overwhelmed me when I got home..., and I noticed that I identified myself with the GP's thoughts, I believed them, I got caught in them, the joint pain was fixated by the mind. The story of the GP and the pain itself were taken by the mind as: forever, the rest of my life, always that pain and it only gets worse... I saw myself being taken away by the thought (the story of the GP), the emotion (grief), the pain (which was reinforced in the consciousness by the story I believed).

Well, everything you give attention... grows. And for a few days, now and again, I was crying.  Until the moment I woke up again from the dream, from the story that had started through the events with the knee/shoulder and the communication with the GP. I became present again, in the NOW. And I realized that I didn't know what the future would bring. Yes, the doctor's story could be true (that it will only get worse), but what the future really has in store for this body is unknown. If I fully go along with what the doctor mirrors, if I identify with the image (an idea, not reality itself) of a possible future (which doesn't exist, only the NOW), then I project to the future: worsening, pain, decline of the joints.

If the identification with this thought is no longer there, then there is this moment, then there is pain now, then I can check whether there is a medical intervention/physiotherapy or something else to relieve the pain in the joints..., and that is it then, PERIOD, end of story, I don't know the future.

In addition, I know from previes experience that the degree of pain in the joints has ups and downs. There are times when I hardly experience any pain and there are periods when pain is present. So nothing is fixed for the future (which doesn't exist), I don't know what the future will bring.

Once I was present again, the story had fallen away from me..., and what about the physical pain? A lot lighter, because I didn't attribute value to the story anymore. And who knows which medical progress will take place in the coming years which can be significant for the joints...

Yes, but what about 'abandoned'?

Ask yourself what those words actually mean and what they refer to. The reality is that he makes a different choice and continues on his way. What you are sticking onto it is that you feel abandoned. Is that story correct? Well, he adored me, he placed me on a pedestal and overnight he left me. I can imagine that that is very painful ...

Yes, I felt loved and when he left, I felt completely thrown back upon myself. What do you mean? I ask.
That there is no one for me..., I feel lost and lonely, he has just abandoned me.

What part of you looks through the lens of 'abandoned'? Is that the mature woman you are... or a memory from a gray past that you stick onto the present?

Ohhh..., yes..., I didn't look at it that way..., she says, my mother died when I was a small child and I felt abandoned by her. Now I feel sadness...

Let it be..., I say. It's not easy when someone you loved (mother/partner/child) suddenly disappears from your life. It's not nothing if you finally thought that you received the attention and love that you longed for all your life and then suddenly he disappears from your life, for that moment, because you don't know if another connection can arise from the goodbye. But for NOW the connection, the exchange, ceases to exist. That hurts. And it is necessary that you allow the pain to melt down.

And realize that this child pain, where neediness in the now comes from (need for attention, being loved, being welcome), has been living in you since your childhood..., long before this partner appeared in your life. The pain you feel is the pain of the child who felt abandoned and lost when her mother died.

Go to the root and experience this deep pain..., then the pain melts and you no longer need to transfer it to a next relationship. Feel the pain, totally, without the story..., the story doesn't matter, don't analyze it.

You don't have to wonder why things went as they went with this partner. You don't have to wonder which signals you have missed, causing the other person to disappear overnight. You don't have to dig into your past to find out which events have made you feel like you feel right now. If you do, you become entangled in 'stories', 'memories', 'past' or 'the mind'.

The only thing that matters is the emotion 'being abandoned'.

For you the origin of the pain is already clear: the death of your mother, that is enough. That emotion, the feeling of being left, is still stored in the cell memory. Give yourself the space to fully experience this emotion, from the realization that you aren't that emotion, but the loving presence (awareness) in which this emotion, this pain, appears. It is unprocessed pain that we transfer to the next relationship, unless we are prepared to totally embrace this pain. Just allowing the emotion that comes from the thought: he has abandoned me. Child pain..., that's all. Allow it and it will disappear from the blueprint of the cells.

And another addition: you are not the only one who carries this child pain... As long as we (humanity) haven't come home, as long as we still live from a survival structure (fear and shortage) and as long as we are educated to think this way, we are needy beings. Why? Because our hearts are conditional (I love you only if you...) and our thinking is clouded by fear and lack. Nobody is guilty, there is no one to blame, this is the current state of affairs of mankind. See, recognize the old pain, and take responsibility for it. 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Projection: Which images do you stick onto reality?

Projection: Which images do you stick onto reality? 

As long as we don't perceive reality as it is, we stick on images. Images we have about ourselves (I am like that), the other person (he/she is like that) and the world (example: people can or cannot be trusted). In other words, we define ourselves (that is how I am), the other person (that is how he/she is) and we define the world.

These images give us a false sense of control, certainty and safety: we think we know who we are, who the other person is, what we believe and where we stand. That gives us a feeling of clarity and certainty, but it is not reality, it is not Life itself.

The images don't tell us anything about the here and now, about the reality of this moment, because here and now, this moment is always new, unknown, open and alive.

If you have defined yourself as 'loyal', then you have to act accordingly, because that is the image you have created about yourself. Not being or wanting to be loyal from time to time, because you disagree with the state of affairs, is actually no longer possible, because then the image of yourself is no longer correct.

The images refer to the mind, to a reality that is conceived, and a conceived reality is not Life itself.

We don't see the present for what it is, but we see the present through the lenses of the past and the future. We see the present through lenses of opinions, beliefs, and assumptions that we have acquired during childhood.

The lenses of the past are colored by positive and painful memories. And the painful memories stick to us most strongly, because the experiences that are connected with them have not been processed fully.

Collectively, we are focused on avoiding pain, as a result of which traces of these unprocessed experiences continue to color our perception, our lenses. Someone who has once been abandoned (which is a picture..., the reality is that the other continues her or his way and says goodbye), we keep repeating the record 'let down' by transferring this fear to future relationships.

Painful and pleasant memories thus lead to certain convictions and assumptions that influence the way we live and look at reality. Is this person trustworthy, will he/she not let me down? And because we look through these lenses, we quickly interpret the behavior of the other person as 'unreliable' while in most cases this distrust is misplaced. We look at the other person through a pair of glasses, a colored reality. And this coloring (people can't be trusted) determines what we meet in the world.

The same memories also color our thoughts about the future. The lenses of the future consist of all our fears, worries, hopes, expectations and desires about a time (future) that doesn't exist, the shape of which is therefore unknown to us.

Everything we think about the future is a conceived reality. Reality itself (for example an appointment that you have with someone) always differs from what you had in mind beforehand. That is inevitable, because Life can't be pushed into a mould, into a conjecture, Life flows and is always new.

So all that really exists is this moment, NOW. As soon as time falls away (past and future), as soon as time is seen as illusion (the past is over and the future doesn't exist), only the NOW remains. As long as we live in time, we live from the mind, our head, our thoughts, which are not Life itself, which is happening now.

We therefore live based on memories (the past), which we then project onto the future. Memories are no more than 'ideas' that come to life, because we continue to feed and believe the ideas (everything that you give attention... grows).

So many people, so many worlds, so many misunderstandings (and wars), because everyone looks from a distorted perception (the images based on memories).

This principle is also called 'projection': we stick something onto reality that is not there and we are convinced that our perception is correct.

Example: Compassionate Caroline

I am in a workshop. We start with an introductory exercise to practice the names. After two rounds, the following assignment is introduced: think of a quality/talent that suits you that starts with the first letter of your name. We stand in silence, in a circle. We are given a few minutes to check for ourselves which quality suits us and/or what quality we want to deepen/develop further. Well, the daily name for this person is Caroline, so the first letter of this name is a C.

And this is what the exercise brings about in me: okay, so we want to link an image to our name. I am not in favor of labeling, sticking labels from which we define ourselves and the other or reinforce the identity (this is me, this is you). Why? Because openness is gone by doing that... We no longer meet the other person and ourselves from emptiness (in which all colors are possible) but from a label. So balanced Bianca is defined as 'balanced'. Is that right? Is Bianca always balanced? And does Bianca want to walk around with a label? And what if she is not balanced? To what extent is there room in her/for her to be unbalanced if she defines herself as 'balanced' and her environment approaches her from that label: you are always so calm, so balanced... And what does that mean 'balanced'? What coloring does she give it? And what coloring do other people give it? From where does this tendency (exercise) arise to define or frame yourself and the other?

Okay, I'll join. Which quality starts with a C?

And it stays still in me. Nothing comes up. Blank and again blank. A quality with a C? I don't know any qualities with a C. I can't think of anything with a letter C. And the mind (the thinking, the ego) judges that: no strong entry if you are unable to name a quality later on.

Okay, this is it (the inner voice whispers): you don't know.

This is what is, this is what actually takes place: nothing comes up with a letter C. What is wrong with that? Well, there is nothing wrong with that.

If I don't attach any images to it, then this is what it is: I don't know a quality with the letter C. 

There is only something wrong when I (the mind/thought) imagine that something is wrong and believe in it: no strong entry.

The moment the images are seen for what they are - images that don't reflect reality or life itself - then they automatically extinguish.

Reality is: I don't know a quality with the letter C. That's all. No further story around it, no interpretation from thinking. This is what's there: I don't know a quality with the letter C.

And there I am: in silence in a circle. And now it feels quiet in me, because I have decided: soon I'll share what actually happened in the past minutes: I can think of no quality with the letter C, I don't know, and as far as I am concerned it feels more fitting to work with you as Caroline (without label/quality).

And there I am: in silence in a circle. And suddenly, after tens of seconds in silence, in the openness of Life itself, a quality with the letter C swirls from the emptiness in the consciousness: compassion.

What a great quality... Compassion. Fully in line with the process that just unfolded within me: compassion, that it is as it is.

Compassion unfolds when we no longer identify ourselves with the mind (thinking) and come home to Life itself. The images are recognized and no longer believed.

It is with the images that we stick to ourselves and to the others that we judge, approve, reject, restrict, distrust, define etc. ourselves and others. That is the effect of identification with the mind.

When there is Life, then there is openness, then there is emptiness, then the images are exposed and are no longer believed. What is, is..., without a story, without an interpretation..., what a relief.

And there I am: in silence in a circle. The supervisor of the training asks me at some point what the quality is for my name. I share what happened within me and that eventually compassion came up as quality. And soon the label is created: compassionate Caroline. Okay, I'm participating. This is what I can bring, compassion..., that everything is as it is... 

"Whatever the question, love is the answer." 
(Dr. Wayne Dyer) 

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes 

Justice: What would you do if ...?

"Sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and do what your heart is telling you."

Tell me what you would do? 
You walk on the street and you see an old woman being robbed by a man. What are you doing? Are you going for it? Do you stop that man? 
It is not right that an old grandmother is being robbed, is it? 
Then you have to intervene as a human being, right? 
You will not let that happen, right? says the one I speak during a meeting. So you intervene, he says, you go to that man, you give a few blows and pull that bag off him, which he just stole, but during the fight he falls badly on the street and becomes paralyzed..., what is justice then? Is it fair that the person who stood up for the grandmother is arrested? You have to do something when you see that happen, right? Then you can't help it that the other guy falls badly?

What would you do if you are placed in such a situation? he says to me. 

Before I can answer, he comes up with a following situation. 
Imagine that a woman is raped before your eyes. That is very intense, isn't it? If she is raped, she will be traumatized throughout her life, she has to go in therapy, because she no longer dares to walk alone... So you go for it, you will not let it happen, right?
You stop the man and give him a few punches.
Then the police come and they arrest you, I can't understand that... that's unjust? You have to intervene if you see something like that happening in front of you. 

What would you do in such a situation, he says to me, I am really curious about that.
I feel the dilemma of what he outlines about justice... 
Well, I say, it is not so simple... Yeh, what is justice? 
No idea, I say.
But what would you do in such a situation, he says. 
I really don't know, I say. I really don't know what I would do at such a time. Maybe I would intervene, maybe not. I can't give you the answer right NOW. If I answer NOW to that question, then that answer comes from the mind (a virtual reality that says nothing about Life itself). 
The answer that I give is conceived, it comes from the mind, it doesn't say anything about what actually unfolds when I am confronted with such a situation, so what is the use of answering this question? 
Every situation is different, even if it seems the same (grandmother being robbed), so the reaction to such a situation is unique. 

How can I predict in advance what the reaction of me will be? 
No idea..., apart from what is right or wrong..., because what is justice? Justice is a subjective fact: it is just how you look at it. 
Do you look at justice from the victim's glasses? Or from the perpetrator's glasses? Or from the eyes of the police and Justice?

And what if you wouldn't wear any glasses? What if you perceive reality as it is, without assumptions. What do you see then?

Some time ago, my partner came across a situation as described above.
I will describe it below.

He walks into the hall of the station and a man comes out, who seems to have stolen some clothes out of the shop (the alarm bell went off). 
The ladies of the shop walked behind the man to stop him. Coincidentally, at that moment my partner just passed the shop and before he knew it, he is facing the 'thief'. 
And..., what happened? I said to my partner. 
The 'thief' started yelling at me. 
What did he say? 
He said: Well, pull your weapon then? 
I say: You don't mean that, and then, how did you react? 
My husband said: I have no weapon (and he looked straight in the eyes of the 'thief'). And then? I said. 
The 'thief' shouted to me again: Well, grab your gun then? 
To which my husband once again said to the 'thief': I have no weapon, just look... (he rubbed his coat and pointed to his pockets, no weapon). 
At that moment this experience ended for my partner, the railway police had arrived and took the 'thief' with them. And my partner continued on his way home. Did you expect that you would react like that? I said. No, it just happened... His answer resonates..., and we think we can determine our reaction in advance... Were you afraid when the 'thief' yelled at you? Well, I felt a bit of fear, and yet I stopped...
Who or what determined that he remained standing on that spot? 

Who or what determines what happens at such a moment? 

Is there an 'I' that determines and can think in advance what you are going to do on such a moment? Or does Life determine what your reaction will be, Life that flows through you?

Quite often my children ask me: what should I do if... And then they outline a certain future situation (perhaps this study is too difficult for me, what do I have to do then?). 
And often my answer is: you are ahead of a situation that doesn't exist NOW, you are already busy with a future that isn't, a future that you don't know..., so what's the point of getting there already..., if the situation arises, trust that an answer will unfold, an answer that is right for you. 
More and more the children comprehend what I indicate. 
Yes, Mom, that's true..., I'm already worried about a future that isn't there. It's just like that, I say.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Go where you heart takes you. Follow your inner voice.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Letting go..., live the moment.

"Letting go is looking back without regret, looking ahead without expectations and experiencing life in the here and now."

What is letting go?
And what would you like to let go? 

If that were possible at all…, can you can do it?

Would you like to let go of your fear? Or feelings of loneliness? Or your concerns... or feelings of frustration? 

What would you like to let go? 

And did it work out well when you tried to let go of all those nasty feelings and thoughts?

Did you succeed?

Or was it a fight? You just wanted to get rid of all those annoying feelings and thoughts?

In the past I have tried so many times to let go. For example, to let go of certain unpleasant thoughts... 
I said to myself: 'Well you stop it, it's been enough, you don't know how it will work out at all, so it has no use to be busy with it', and a little later I was occupied again with the same annoying thoughts. It didn't work, the so-called 'let it go'.

What is letting go? Is it 'letting go' when I say: 'Stop it, it's been enought'? 

Is it possible to let go by your effort, the effort of the ego?

My experience: 'No, it is not possible, it only happens when you realize at a deep level that you can't control life, then a process starts from the inside, a process of dismantling of the ego, then you grow in surrender, in trust and you experience that letting go is happening by itself.'

Life lives you…, if you (the ego) likes it or not… 

The journey is to discover at a deep level that you don't know what the day of tomorrow will bring, even though every day seems the same. 

You realize at a deep level that you have no control over the next minute, even if you think so. 

You realize that you can think of everything about the past (why things have gone the way they went) or about the future (how will it continue later), but you discover that thinking  makes no sense, because only the Now really exists, this moment. And the rest is all conceived, future music which we have no view of, even if we think so.

So what's the point of worrying about what can happen, if only this moment IS real. Life runs through your veins, just follow the stream.  

Do you dare to move with what Life demands from you... or do you stick to what your mind thinks? Do you hold on to a virtual world, a world of thoughts, that doesn't tell you anything about reality itself or are you willing to give up the fight, because you realize it has no use at all: thought and emotions will stick on you, day in day out, if you want to get rid of them. 

Maybe you recognize it..., that everything you had previously thought about a particular situation or encounter, in the moment itself, is very different, because what is conceived is not Life itself. 

It is easy to say, just follow the stream of Life itself, but not easy to live when you are a prisoner of the mind, a prisoner of your thoughts and emotions, a prisoner of past and future. But if you really want to get out of the misery of the psychological mind, it is possible. 

Surrender…, to the flow of Life itself…, I know…, you can't do it. It is a process…, an awakening process…, you have to look deep inside to discover who you really are: not your thought and feelings but that what perceives the thought and feelings. 

If you need support to come home in your Self, to live out of trust instead of fear, you can contact me for a consult.  

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

I am right, you see it wrong.

I'm right, you see it wrong ...

I recently watched a TV program. It was a group of young people from the Netherlands who stepped into the lives of young people in a third world country. Some young people from the Netherlands struggled with each other, in particular with each other's views on the lifestyle that the young people in the third world country lead. In addition, discussions arose about whether or not to eat meat and other issues. 

What I noticed was the judgment the young people had towards each other. With amazement I listened and watched their exchange and thought: "How is it possible that people don’t give each other the space to have a different opinion or lifestyle?" It is unbelievable..., so much pain and frustration, because we reject the opinion or lifestyle of the other person. So many problems in dealing with each other, because we don’t respect the other person’s experience, we think we know it better…, we think we have to correct and change the other persons view and lifestyle, because I am right, he/she is wrong. We think we know what is right or wrong for the young people in the third world.

I found it remarkable to note the change in me. In a distant past I was one of those young people with strong opinions, who went into a battle with others who thought otherwise, because I was right, they saw it wrong. What a difference between the past and how I look now. There is no fixed judgment in me anymore: one eats meat and feeds the bio-industry, the other doesn’t eat meat and is a member of the party for the animals; one person signs up for the navy or foreign legion, the other is against war or chooses development work or doctors without frontiers; one chooses 'hard work', the other opts for 'doing nothing' etc. 

All scenarios exist side by side, one scenario is not better than the other scenario, although that seems to be the case if you have a certain fixed perspective. The scenario’s exist, regardless of whether or not we have an opinion about it. 

But war, murder... that is terrible, right? Yes, it is very painful to see and feel that we have become so alienated from our nature, our essence. 
I see only one fundamental solution: that we come home to our-Self, our heart, then there is no enemy anymore, because the enemy in us is seen through. Then we don’t have to project our dissatisfaction, frustration, fear of lack and the like on the outside world (refugees, gays, unemployed). Then we live in harmony with each other and with nature.

In addition, we can open ourselves to people who live and think differently instead of listening on the basis of 'I'm right, you see it wrong'.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Collective delusion

Collective delusion

If something serves mankind, then it is waking up from the dream, so that you come home in your-Self, your heart. That serves the world. Wars at small level (relationships) and collective level (wars in the world) arise from distorted perception, colored glasses, so that we don’t see reality for what it really is. The glasses are colored by emotions and thoughts such as guilt, shame, hatred, condemnation and fear: fear of shortage, fear of refugees, fear of poverty, fear of not satisfying, fear of not belonging, fear of loneliness, fear of life itself, fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of intimacy, fear of making mistakes. And so on ... and this is the glasses ..., a very painful pair of glasses, with which we look at ourselves, at the other and the world. Glasses that originate from identification with thoughts and emotions.
For centuries it has been our belief that we are our thoughts and emotions. We don’t know better. We firmly believe in our (often painful) thoughts and emotions, in the stories we create based on those thoughts and emotions: I'm not good enough, I have to do my best, I don’t belong, I'm not interesting, boring, who wants to be friends with me, I am too fat, stupid, etc.
And in the meantime we have forgotten who we really are. We are not the story, we are not our thoughts and emotions, we are the Light (consciousness) in which the story (our thoughts and emotions) appears. Compare it with the sun (consciousness) and the clouds (emotions and thoughts). You are the sun and the clouds represent emotions and thoughts where the sun shines its light upon. Those clouds come and go as thoughts and emotions come and go, but the sun is eternal, consciousness is eternal and that is what you are. It is not about denying our emotions and thoughts, they exist, they are neither wrong nor good. It is about identification with our thoughts and emotions, we believe that we are our thoughts and emotions with the result that man is at war with himself. Come home in the sun, let the Light shine (consciousness) so that you no longer identify with the stories/glasses that the mind wants you to believe. When the shift takes place, when you come home in the sun (the heart), when you no longer go along with the beliefs that the mind is mirroring to you, then your life changes from a painful perspective to love, wisdom and clarity. That is who you are in essence.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes

Inner voice.

Inner voice

In my work I meet many people who find the opinion of others very important and therefore they don’t know what they want. They often ask for advice from family, friends or acquaintances, hoping to find an answer to a decision that needs to be made. The confusion is growing when different opinions and advice are given. You become entangled in all pros and cons, and you don’t know what to do. 

Listening or asking for the opinion of others always comes from uncertainty. You reach out to the outside world for an answer, because you aren’t in tune with the inner voice: please tell me what to do, because I can't decide by myself. 

You don’t realize yet that nobody can tell you which decision is the right one. The only one who knows is YOU. After all the opinions of others, you try to figure it all out, but your head is not exactly the instrument to tell you what the inner voice indicates. 

The answer is in the heart, but if you don’t know what your heart tells you, how do you know what to do? 

Or do you know what the inner voice tells you, but are you afraid of the consequences of your decision? Because you fear the opinions of others or it leads to feelings of loneliness or otherwise. 

Consciousness coaching offers support in discovering your inner voice, your true self. We investigate what you encounter in yourself,  all the contradictions and beliefs that play a role in the matter. You discover that everything is allowed to see the light, you don’t have to hold back anything for yourself, if you do, you will never discover the inner voice. Share your deepest feelings, thoughts and fears, see the convictions that play a role… and then in the middle of not knowing you feel/discover what the inner voice is telling you.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes


Everyone is worrying sometimes, but what if you worry too much? What if the worrying goes so far that you are awake for many hours and can’t enjoy during the day, because you mainly live in your head? You would like to live Life, experience life, be alive, but the whirlpool of thoughts keeps you trapped in your head. You would like to feel, to be present in the Now, enjoying, laughing, crying, trusting, allowing whatever lives in you, but your attention is not here, not in the here and now. Although you really want to live in the present, the stream of thoughts is going on and on. Consciousness coaching helps you to shift the focus from your head to your heart…, to the source where all the answers lies... What is your concern? What do you feel? What does your heart tell you? What keeps you away to live that what your heart tells you? What is reallly important to you? With the coach you investigate what is happening in you, you discover the next step and realize on a deeper level that trust is the key, trust in life, trust that exactly that unfolds what is needed for you and your loved ones. We want to control life, but life can’t be planned, can’t be thought of, it unfolds. And every step takes you to the next step ..., do you dare to trust?

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes