Stepping Stones
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Stepping Stones

Excerpts from an interview with Jivanjili by Soumya.

What events, or stepping stones, brought you to be the one you are here and now?

I cannot omit anything; it maybe eating a hard-boiled egg, but I know what you mean. Before I answer your question, I would like to state once more that I have never been a victim. I have nothing to complain about.
One of the first events I can remember very vividly has to do with my mother’s desperation; she was deeply troubled.
When I was about three years old, she pushed me under water. At first I fought against her and then I remember coming into a boundless peaceful space, into stillness. I felt complete freedom. When she pulled me up, I was grasping for air. This is just a physical reflex. I remember that my first feeling on coming up for air had been of loosing that freedom. The wonder of that experience and the desire to know more about that boundless space have awakened in me forever more a deep longing and urge to continue the search. It marked the birth of “homesickness”, as I used to call it.


Universal sound

Another event that stands out in these early memories concerns my dolls. I lovingly cared for my dolls and communicated with them. One doll was called Roosje, means little Rose, and another one, Olof, a little rubber doll. I gave them all my attention. One night my mother entered my room and took one doll away. She put it way up on a cupboard. I screamed so loudly and would not stop. I remember being aware of the power of the sound and of listening to myself…the sound seemed to come from somewhere beyond me. My mother came towards me and shouted: “What is it? “And I screamed: “You wouldn’t want to sit all night long on that cupboard, would you?” She gave me my doll back! She told me later: “There was such power in your screaming that it frightened me. I had to give you back your doll”. She had been touched by this, as I was. I have never forgotten that there is a power that surpasses all boundaries…. And it does not “belong” to anyone in particular.


As in a dream

I have vivid memories of the next event. It was a profound experience. I must have been about 5 years old. I was looking at the wall, as I laid in bed in complete darkness. I saw little lights moving in many colours, passing like trains. When I tried to follow one…it disappeared in a random manner. I could not find a beginning or an end to the moving garlands of colorful lights. I also noticed that there the darkness had depth, like a void. I realized that when I touched the wall, there was not really a sense of depth. As I observed the wall night after night I thought: “Maybe the boundless void I am longing for has no depth, not even a millimeter. My senses report depth while there is none. Maybe nothing exists really, maybe it is as in a dream. Adults must know about this and they can teach me”.


Where was I before I was born?

When I was six years old, it was time for me to go to school. I expected to learn about life. It was not the case: we were taught a.b.c.’s and other things, not what I was looking for.
My father was a physician in the village and after I started school, many children wanted to come home with me on the first few days of the new term. I thought these children liked me very much and were my friends. My mother told me that the children were not coming for me; she said they came because their parents had told them that in the doctor’s house babies were waiting lined up in the basement. This was the local story about where children come from. My mother, however, told me how babies grow in a woman’s body, and how I was born from her womb and therefore became her daughter. I looked at her and said: “This cannot be. I cannot be your child. Where was I before I was born?” I simply knew of an endless beginning in me. She didn’t understand what I was asking, she probably didn’t even hear it and said: “Oh…God knows.”


The house of God

The village where my family lived was very religious in a dogmatic and rigid way. Some people didn’t even want to be treated by my father, because our family did not attend the church. Yet, somewhere I had learned that the church was the house where God lived. So, one Sunday morning I decided to go to church by myself. At age 6, I sneaked out of the house and went. I was eager to find my answers from God, since no one seemed to be able to tell me what I wanted to know. In church I only found people with serious long faces, all dressed in black. Nothing was as I expected… after a while I felt that church was not the place to get answers… silently I sneaked out again. I have never told this to anyone. That day I understood that I was alone.


Meditation in the graveyard

I started to seek the silence of the graveyard. I would sit for hours…with the feeling that I was very close to home…. I have spent hours and hours quenching my “homesickness” in the stillness of cemeteries. In retrospect, this must have been a kind of spontaneous Vipassana.
I now understood that something was really “off” with me. (smile)


“Studying life”

I never gave up the search for answers. When I was ten years old I asked for a medical encyclopedia for my birthday, thinking that I could get answers by studying the cells of the body. I got the ten volumes and I read them all. But understanding the mystery of life still eluded me.


No time for love

After high school I went to nursing school hoping for an understanding of the mystery of life through the births and deaths one could glimpse at a hospital. But I did not find anything resembling the love that I wished to give. I remember hearing a doctor tell a patient that she had cancer. He gave her the information and then left almost immediately. She was frightened and wept, so I went to sit with her a moment, exchanging a few words. Just then the head nurse came in and said: “Oh, I see you have nothing to do; don’t waste your time, go help somewhere else.” Being human was called doing nothing, a waste of time.
My nursing career was short lived after this incident.
By this time I was cured of many illusions: not this – not that.


The organizer

By grace I got a very good job as a manager for a film company. We were responsible for the organization of a big annual international film festival, which was attended by thousands of people and which involved the whole city centre. It was like the birthday cake, I just accepted the job and did it without ever asking myself if I was capable of doing it. When I look back on this period of my life, I cannot say how it happened. Ideas just came to me, took form and were executed. Through this experience I learned that when the question is there, the answer must also be there. It has nothing to do with how much one knows. I understood that there is a quality in action that is beyond evaluation on a “personal” level.

Walking on the edge supported only by intuition, one does not always know.
Consciousness is a complete and spontaneous occurrence; you can never really know anything or control an outcome. My experience is that freedom from premeditated results and the fear of failure, or striving for success, makes for the emergence of just action. Being free from those mental burdens brings clarity and capability far beyond what we might possibly imagine from a more limited perspective.
Action that comes from intuition is authentic and carefree, yet this does not at all imply acting carelessly. The contrary is even true…


What other major stepping stone do you wish to evoke for us?

Marriage and the amazing experience of giving birth. I have three daughters. With the conception of each child, I thought that while life is growing inside me and when I give birth, I would surely know something that cannot be known from books alone. Some of the mystery might be revealed in this profound experience of existence. smile)
And indeed, motherhood has been rich and intense. In giving birth, I experienced pain from a plane that matched the universal power that I had seen as a child. I also experienced a deep joy that can only be called universal and which is indescribable. When I held my first baby in my arms, I looked into her eyes and said: “Your name is Sacha”. This was very profound and spontaneous. I looked in her little eyes and I saw nothing and said to her: ”Your name is Sacha. I can never own you, you only came into my arms to be supported and guided on your unknown path, until you can walk without my hands behind your little butt.”

In a way, all eyes show emptiness and energy; the way I look in them can be a little different, showing a big secret.
Yes it is amazing! Emptiness is potential and completely impersonal. You can see it. I have looked into eyes many times, I was and still am fascinated! I have looked into the eyes of sheep- horses- cows- birds- flowers… I continued looking all the way until I could see only One eye! I was also amazed by the way puppies looked up into my eyes after opening their eyes ten days after birth. I wondered how it was possible, my eyes were so small from their perspective and yet they sought mine and we melted into each other. The light is just upon the light. My greatest wish is that one day we may all look at each other with empty eyes, with eyes of pure love. In this way everything can be reflected just as it is without evaluation or invalidation.
Looking with empty eyes is unconditional love. All details are completely irrelevant in that perspective.


No social butterfly

After the birth of our three children, my husband graduated and specialized in radiology. He was quite successful and was invited to seminars all over the world. For a period of one year the University of California at Davis invited us to come to the US with the whole family. On our second day in California I was invited to a tea party for wives of faculty members. The party was held in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ style. I was pinned with a badge with a green frame, which meant ‘newcomer’. Everyone approached me with a big smile. All said the same greeting: “Where are you from?” And before I could answer their question, they were already gone. One woman came up to me and I heard her say: “Look, how cute she is, now she is going to be a social butterfly.” I smiled, took my children and left the ‘party’. When my husband came home, I asked him if it would be important for his career for me to attend these parties. He said “No”, which was a mistake I think, but he didn’t realize it at the time. Freed of social obligations, I went to art school and began ballet classes again. There I met someone who told me about a communication course in scientology. I was immediately attracted by it. I went to the course and got a book by L. Ron Hubbard. All the domino pieces seemed to fall into place on reading that book. I had finally stumbled upon information that resonated deeply inside me, something I felt I knew. Everything I studied could be applied to life and this appealed to me very much. It was not a theory and I was completely taken by this approach. I went so fast through the study materials that I obtained a scholarship from the scientology organization. Scientology courses are quite expensive, and I was thus able to study later in Amsterdam nearly for free. I studied everything I could lay my hands on. I got never “glued” to the church of scientology, as it is called. It is impossible for me to be a “member” of anything. The whole study has been one great recognition and a joy for a thirsty heart.


It sometimes takes time to make the connection between that what you already know and the concepts that are used to describe these experiences.

I fully agree. I was born in 1945. For instance, nowadays the word ‘meditation’ is known everywhere. I began to hear about Krishnamurti, Da Free John, the Masters of the East, and I was very touched and impressed. Being introduced to the concept of “enlightenment” seemed to be the ultimate crescendo of possibility for the mind in the human species. My heart’s True Quest was finally catching the scent of “home”. I was surprised to find that I could not share these things at all with my husband or with our friends. They were all intellectuals; I thought their intelligence would make them want to learn about life’s dynamics and beyond. Who cannot be amazed looking up in the stars at night? Who cannot be amazed feeling one’s own heartbeat? But they were more interested in Beaujolais Primeur wine than in what I had to say. So I felt lonely and suffocated. This situation finally ended in divorce, leaving me with only my three daughters and the scriptures.
This was a huge stepping stone to leave behind. New beginnings once more…


Meeting Osho

Osho came in my life through a video of him that touched me very deeply. Speaking of empty eyes…….. oh….
This transparent being radiated such an empty potency. I felt deep love for Osho and bowed down to his feet. I wrote Osho telling him that I had studied all scientology materials in awe and wonder, but that now I felt like a walking encyclopedia while my heart felt like dancing in love. He gave me the name Prem Savaab, which means ‘Love is reality’. This is a stepping stone isn’t it? I finally found the True Master!

A confirmation.
Yes. And then the next stepping stone appeared when I heard that Osho had left his body. That was a very profound moment for me. I didn’t know that he was leaving his body. I was in Holland, but I remember that someone was sitting with me on the couch and suddenly it felt like my skull was opening and I was simply lifted out of my body. Just completely in transparent boundlessness, like in the drowning situation I experienced as a child. The one who was sitting next to me got so scared and grabbed me. A few hours later we heard that Osho had died. I wept and at the same time I felt that he could not really leave. I understood at a profound level that awareness is not dependent on anything, not even a body! I had realized that inside and outside do not really exist.

The last meditation method that Osho left us was called ‘Mystic Rose Meditation’. The method consists of one week of laughing for three hours a day, one week of weeping for three hours a day and one week of silent meditation for three hours a day. I went to India to give prânam to Osho’s Maha Samadhi and signed up for the meditation course. The last week, the week of silent meditation, had been in the air-conditioned glass corridor in Osho’s garden. As I was sitting there in deep peaceful silence, a swan came up to the glass, right in front of me. Spreading his wings wide open, I heard a loud and clear male voice inside saying: “This is the quality of your being! Don’t settle for less.” I knew right away that I was not going to ignore that voice; the time of compromise and negotiation was over! Back in Holland, I remember sitting at my table with empty hands in all possible ways and said: “God, okay I am dead and done even when it brings me water and bread, now You tell me what to do.” From there on people came to me to talk about their lives, and meditation groups were started, and although I didn’t “do” anything, this just happened. It felt like this no-work, was really Osho’s work, and through the refined atmosphere of the whisper of love I experienced His guidance.


The fruit is ripe

This went all on for a couple of years, until there came a moment that I started to be frightened and doubts arose about my activities. After all I didn’t really know what I was doing, and more and more people seemed to surrender at my feet. I saw that people “loved” me and I couldn’t really see any reality in the one they took for real. I could not find a “me” for a long time. What was I doing with those people? It felt even like a sin to work in the position that I found myself in…I felt that I might be even fooling people. I was desperate and called out to the sky: “Osho, please speak to me with a loud real voice for once!” A friend who found me in that desperate condition proposed to drive to the Osho center in Amsterdam to take a break from what I was doing. Arriving there, we sat in the big room all by ourselves until a sannyasin came in with the request to leave because the space was rented out that night. I didn’t feel like moving one inch and stayed. Some more people came in and sat… and then a woman stepped in. I just saw her big toe entering the space and I got a shock: I saw myself. She took place in front of the audience and began speaking. She entered my subject immediately without me speaking a word! I felt such an utter completion, that I didn’t even hear words, all went blank. The only words that came after a while were: “I am seeing myself in you”. And I didn’t utter them, didn’t even move….I was speechless. After everyone left, I still didn’t move and when someone who knew me, came to me, I could only mumble: “Who is that woman?” He said: “Her name is ShantiMayi and she is an enlightened Master. Her domicile is Rishikesh, India, in the winter time”. I just knew she was my Master. So I booked a ticket to visit her in India; I wanted to speak to her, to tell her that she is my Master, although Osho is my Master; now what was I to do? Somehow I knew that Osho gave me the greatest gift he could give and that was ShantiMayi. The day after my arrival I was able to have an appointment with ShantiMayi. I kneeled down at her feet and said: “You are my Master!” “Yes”, she replied and our eyes touched as One. It has all been so obvious and strong, that I have not second guessed for a moment, ever! In Rishikesh, I also heard for the first time that the name ‘Sacha’ was the name of the lineage of ShantiMayi. In the first conversation I had with ShantiMayi, I told her that I had given this name to my eldest daughter. She said: “It is all much bigger than you think”. Again immediately I understood that one cannot conceptualize the depth of the heart. This is truly beautiful to realize.
A few months later a postcard from Her arrived in the mail. I received it on my birthday! She wrote:
“It is our turn in consciousness to lead humanity back to humanness. All we have to give is Love, to those who are undeserving as well. This makes love more precious. If you would ask for a name, the name I would give you is Jivanjili. It means: My life is an offering to the Self within, and a prayer as well. Live and Love,  ShantiMayi.
My heart rejoiced in gratitude and bliss. The name Jivanjili carries the finest resonance.

So this are my stepping-stones roughly.
And there will be always stepping-stones…. Utterly empty and eternal. This is the meaning of the mantra Gaté gaté paragaté parasamgaté bodhi svaha.

Read the full interview.

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