Question: What is Self-realization?
Jan: It is oneness with the Self, prior to anything. Initially it is a nothingness because you step out of something-ness... but soon the nothingness is extremely blissful love. So in a sense it is something. And it is pure beingness which has a throb to it, it is alive. However, despite this the Self remains eternally Pure Being prior to consciousness.
Q: What do you mean, nothingness? How can something be nothing and bliss at the same time?
J: I mean nothing seen from the point of view of the ignorant little self. Self-realization it is a state of no thing; yet it is fullness also. It is called no-thing-ness, because every thing you thought yourself to be before Self-realization, simply goes away. Apart from that you still have a mind full of it's silly things, but you are no longer caught in it; no longer identified with it; no longer identified with Jan. You realize that neither Jan, nor the mind have any permanence. In that sense Self is emptiness. But once you reach it you will understand it is in reality the only fullness that is; everything else is empty. The Self is love-bliss.
Q: What do you mean, Jan is not real? I see you in front of me, we are talking, you are real enough.
J: The Self is real, and it is pure nothing-fullness-bliss. The mind is real in a temporary sense. It exists in this moment as a product of circumstances. It is because of its continuity that you think it is real. From the point of view of the Self it has no permanence, and the concept of self, the I, that you have before Self-realization, is an illusion. After Self-realization the remnants of this fictive I begin to melt away by itself; then true ego-death begins.
Q: It feels permanent and real enough to me. I mean, I am a person sitting here talking to you. If it is unreal and becomes an illusion after Self-realization, then Self-realization is death, is it not?
J: Self-realization is the death of the illusion that you are the ego and the mind. With Self-realization that death has happened. Also the death of the ego is inevitable, though that does not happen just when you get Self-realized. Self-realization is only the beginning, the pre-requisite. If you try to kill off the ego without being Self-realized, that would only lead to misery. Don't try that. Get Self-realized, then it begins to happen by itself; it is unavoidable. In fact once you get Self-realized, you will realize that you were more dead before and only after becoming one with the Self have become fully alive.
Q: Why is ego death unavoidable after Self-realization? In what way does this work?
J: It takes energy to uphold an illusion. When the energy supply is cut off, the illusion begins to disintegrate. Ego is impermanent, but you are entangled in it and that upholds it. Once you get Self-realized you are no longer entangled and the ego is alone with no support. Ego falls off, you feel it very clearly going on. Ego begins to disappear.
Q: In the1890'ies, I think it was, the psychiatrist Bucke coined the term cosmic consciousness and wrote a book with that title. Have you read this book? And can you say if his cosmic consciousness is Self-realization?
J: I have read the book, yes. His cosmic consciousness is the same as Self-realization. But I dislike the term cosmic consciousness, because there is nothing cosmic about nothingness. Cosmic is so grandiose; there is nothing grandiose about Self-realization. In fact it is the most humble state you can have. How can it be otherwise? You are nothingness-love-bliss! Only something can be cosmic, nothingness-love-bliss can only be humble.
Q: What's it like living as a nothingness? It sounds a bit scary to me.
J: Don't be scared! Remember it is YOU and it is love-bliss. Even if you initially only experience the nothingness side of it, the love-bliss will soon emerge. The ego and the mind get scared because they don't understand it. Maybe I should not have used the word "nothingness", because it causes confusion. It is of course supreme fullness. Also understand there is nothing new about it. You are already the Self. The problem is you don't know it because you think you are the ego, the mind, all the emotions going on in the body and the mind. That's why I said Self-realization is nothing. Nothing new is added to you, you only get rid of an illusion you are trapped in. Self-realization is a beautiful state. To be true it is not an emptiness., though it is no-thing-ness; it is in its nature a fullness of pure love-bliss.
Q: So is Self-realization not a matter of evolution?
J: Up to a certain point it is, but when that point is reached, you no longer need the illusions and your job is to discard them and step out of that game. Evolution implies something that evolves. The Self is no-thing, so it does not change or evolve; things change and evolve. That's why I called Self "nothingness" in order to clear that misunderstanding of evolution out right away. Self is perfect as it is. What is imperfect is your understanding of perfection. You think that what ever you have, you have to have something better, something more perfect. A better mind, a more pure soul, a higher state of consciousness, and so forth. And when you get that, what ever it is you desire, that soon seems imperfect and so on. This is the minds notion of perfection and it justifies this endless game by calling it progress on the path of evolution. It is a game with only losers.
Q: When it happens, how can you be sure the state will last?
J: There is nowhere for it to go. Once you have realized your innate no-thing-ness, you can't become something again. It is not possible. Then real evolution begins, and that is the evolution of unfolding and manifesting the love-bliss in your daily life.
Q: A point of no return?
J: As I said before: don't be scared. It is your own Self. It's not some otherness, some thing, you get stuck in. That's one reason I initially called it nothingness rather than love-bliss. If you are afraid of reaching a Self-realization point which is a point of no return, then rest assured you will not reach it. It only comes when you are ready. Once you reach it, the mind may react and some anxiety come up, but it soon passes. The mind has to get used to a new state of affairs. At first it scares the mind and ego that they are no longer in charge, but then it becomes pleasurable.
Q: Is it only nothingness at first? If so it sounds a bit empty and meaningless.
J: Emptiness. very soon turns to joy that simply arises in you out of nowhere. It can also turn to extreme bliss. As the first weeks passed I felt the love-bliss increasing gradually. It goes up and down, but by and large emptiness. is turned to causeless joy. And then to a state of love-bliss so intense words utterly fail.
Q: If you are nothingness and full of love-bliss and the mind and desires are illusions to discard, what's the motivation to do anything? I also at times feel empty, but that is not nice and it drives me to accomplish something to fill me up.
J: You don't need filling up, because you are full. But what you are full of is no-thing, so I somewhat erroneously called it emptiness., though it is in reality vibrating, throbbing love-bliss. So the nothingness is in no way the same as when you, as an ego-identified person, feel empty inside. You are extremely full. As for motivation, things change after Self-realization. You no longer act out of an urge to fulfill something or get filled up or get a kick. Things sort of happen by themselves and you flow along. Problems arise, of course, and you fight them, but it is still a feeling of letting the drama unfold itself, rather than you insisting the drama follows your script. You want to play your part in the drama the best you can, but though you are in it, you are out of it at the same time. And you don't want to impose your script on the world anymore. Also great compassion arises.