WHAT DOES “BEING AT HOME” MEAN TO YOU?
! To me it means that you have discovered your inner being and that you are connected with it. I have always had the picture that the body is a house and that I am the inner part, the empty space in this house. In the middle of this house there is a big room and in the middle of this room is my centre. It is invisible but it exists. This centre may also be called “consciousness”.
My body is nothing more than a vehicle with which I move through time and space. And next to the body there is the exterior. To me my mind and ego correspond to the outside walls of this house. It is what I show to others and what I can see of the others from outside.
? As a matter of fact most people know places and people where their body relaxes and feels good, and other places that are fraught with tension. Doesn’t that mean that there are interactions between the inside and the outside?
! Yes, of course. My body reacts to the contact I have with other people. It reacts to their energies, to their auras. And if I let myself be captured too much by the outside I will be completely taken in by this plane. But that doesn’t make any difference on the inside plane. I know from my own experience that problems on the outside do not exist if I am in harmony with my inside.
? So you could feel at home in a prison cell as well?
! For instance.
! There is this story about a man who came from a completely unspiritual world: the American boxer Hurricane who was the subject of one of Bob Dylan’s songs. He had been convicted innocently and spent many years in jail. But one day he said stop. “I am in prison but within I am free. I will do everything to make sure my body be freed, too, but in my inside I am free! It is only my body that has a problem with being imprisoned.”
To me it was remarkable that a man from a completely unspiritual world arrived at this point – and I think that that actually happens quite often. Of course, I hope I will never be sent to jail – but isn’t society sometimes also like a prison? But all that is of no importance if you are truly centred.
? But isn’t it on the other hand also the case that a beautiful outside can ease the way to the inside? Many people find it easier to contact their inside when they are out in nature, for example, in the mountains or at the seaside…
! That is absolutely right. I noticed that when I moved from the countryside in the South of France to Paris. On the train or on the underground I could feel how disturbed I was by the tense energy of the people. I could feel the same kind of tension inside me. But by and by I learned even to meditate in this tenseness. That was a very important experience for me because before that I had always looked for a quiet and nice place for my meditations. During these train trips I learned even to meditate in the middle of chaos and noise. But of course it also happens that I lose my inner space when I am on the outside plane. My mind and my ego pull me into a space on the outside which I can’t control. When I become aware of that it is my responsibility to retrieve my inner space.
? What is it that helps you go inside?
! A very simple technique: I become aware of my body. I feel my feet on the ground or all the parts of my body that are in contact with the chair on which I sit. Then I observe my respiration. In my groups I create this moment of physical awareness several times a day, when I say: “Close your eyes and feel your feet on the ground. Let go of all tension, slightly open your mouth and observe your respiration.”
This is the way I return to my body, my house, to go inside. Then I can observe from the inside what happens on the outside. This being inside is my biggest treasure.
? So the path to the inside is via the body?
! Via the body and above all the heart. To me, to love is to receive. I often do this exercise:
I go into my respiration. To breathe in means to receive in my heart. When I breathe out I offer via the solar plexus. I receive and I offer. I expressly say that I offer because to give means to exert power over others. When you offer you leave it to the other person to accept or not to accept. To offer means to give unconditionally. The movement that is behind inhalation and exhalation is of utmost importance. It is a movement of energies and of our consciousness that is distributed by our respiration.
? We are living in a period where the physical body is the subject of cultic worshipping. We train intensively to shape our bodies. You’re not meant to have a belly, you must be beautiful – the body must be a beautiful temple…
! I have many doubts about that – firstly because I don’t conform to this ideal! (Laughs) I have a bit of a belly, I don’t do any sports anymore and my body is showing signs of exhaustion. I have always had my doubts about “beautiful churches” or “beautiful houses”. The most important thing to me is not the house but what happens inside of it.
I have met so many people with nice bodies – but when I look closely I can see that it’s not for themselves that they smarten up their bodies, they do it to have power over others. The power of seduction or the sword of criticism: “I do sports… AND YOU? YOU HAVE A BELLY!!!” But it’s my belly, my temple and I feel at ease with it. Many people want to have a nice body so that others can say: “You do have a nice body!”
But, of course, my body is important to me, too. It is my vehicle during this life. But if my vehicle has a few scratches and isn’t as smart anymore as a brand new Ferrari then that’s no problem to me. What counts is the driver, not the vehicle.
? So to you, your body is mainly the gate to your inside?
! Yes, of course. But, clearly, it is difficult to go inside if I am influenced too much by the outside, if I think too much about food, drugs and alcohol. I see the body as a bridge between the inside and the outside. If I erect too many obstacles on this bridge it will be difficult to reach my inner space. But the obstacles can also be of a completely different nature. For instance, you may say: “As a spiritual person I must be a vegetarian – therefore I will start eating just vegetarian food so I can better access my interior…” With that you have created a new obstacle, albeit one that is invisible: your spiritual ego! And that is surely just as big an obstacle as drugs and alcohol. The mind and the ego are the biggest manipulators. They constantly create situations that pull you towards the outside. The more you are connected with your inner space the smaller the power your mind and your ego can exert over you.
? So the ego likes clear rules: “You must be a vegetarian! You must meditate three times a day!”?
! No, the crucial difference is this: Am I a vegetarian in my own interest or because I want to demonstrate something to the outside world? Do I meditate in my own interest or because I want to demonstrate to other people: “I am a big meditator…”?
There is this nice card in the Osho tarot with a man on it who meditates under a tree and another one who sings and dances. The old meditator asks the wise man how many lives will be necessary before he will become enlightened. When the wise man responds “three lives” the meditator gets angry. Whereas the guitar player is just happy with his life and doesn’t find it at all bad that he has to live another thousand lives. This is the whole story of wrong spirituality. But, of course, the opposite can be the case as well if the guitar player just plays for other people to show them how free he is and how well he feels. For me the decisive words are: I do it for myself – not for or against others. And when I do it for myself then I don’t care about the image I deliver to the outside. People often tell me that I am a rebel because I don’t make compromises. In fact, I do make compromises from time to time, but when I do that I make them for myself. And when I am a rebel then I am a rebel in my own interest, not against others.
? Has it always been irrelevant for you what others think about you?
! No – that has happened by and by. Nevertheless, I have had this dimension about not caring too much about others since my childhood. But, of course, I also needed recognition and wanted to be loved – and sometimes it is still like that today.
? When was it that you first had the feeling of being completely within, completely at home with yourself?
! That was on 11 December 1981. The 11th of December is Osho’s birthday, but I didn’t know Osho back then. I had an accident on that day during which I was so much within that there wasn’t a boundary any more between myself and the exterior, nor between myself and time. This state lasted the whole night and it was only later, when I met Osho, that I learned that I had had a satori. That was my initiation because I experienced back then what it means to really be inside of yourself. But that is really the wrong word because in that state there is no “self”, there is only this oneness. Ever since then I have known that there is this space inside of me and I love to go into this space. But this space is still inside of my house – perhaps there won’t even be walls inside this house or around it one day which is to say no house, no outside, no inside. Perhaps that’s what enlightenment is all about.
? So your first satori came upon you like an accident?
! Yes, absolutely. I ran a restaurant back then and had even been awarded a Michelin star. I didn’t know anything about the spiritual world. So at first I thought I had gone crazy. But I was lucky to meet a doctor who was able to assess my experience correctly. We worked together for a few years and it was through him that I became a healer because he sent me his patients. Sometime later I closed my restaurant because I felt that the path of the healer was the right thing for me – even though I had loved working as a cook, in the same way that I have loved everything I have done in my life.
? Is your work as a healer also about going within and being at home with oneself?
! Absolutely. One often only sees the physical healing, but internal healing is just as important. Having said that, you can’t really heal the inside because it is not ill. How can you heal an empty space? How can you transform an empty space? To me, real healing means to discover this internal space. That is spiritual healing.
I recently saw a film about the ingenious physicist Stephen Hawking. He has suffered from ALS since being a very young man and is confined to a wheelchair – so his “house” is seriously damaged. He had been prophesized 50 years ago that he would only live for a few years. But he is still alive. His body is just a mere fragile vision but his inside is of immeasurable richness. His eyes are absolutely clear. I have never met this man but I can feel his inside. He has discovered a great inner dimension and that’s why he is much more intact, more whole than all the others who just have a beautiful body. To me he is a great spiritual person!