Memories of Alexander Smit
The beginning of the eighties, in an Utrecht attic room, there were five of us. Someone had told me that a man was coming to talk there, and that perhaps it was worth checking out. That evening, for the very first time in my life, I heard someone speaking as straight as an arrow, my ears were fully alert, no word eluded me. After two hours I went down the stairs, my head swimming. I had not a single memory about what had been said that evening.
Is this a guru* then, I wondered. I was to find that out soon enough. From that first evening on, I would always be there, absorbing like a sponge. Where he was, I was, and for the following ten years I wouldn’t miss one satsang. Soon he told me that it would take me three years to awaken. It seemed to me an insurmountable length of time, three years… He also said that I was going to give satsang myself. The first prediction was a little off and proved an enduring exercise in patience, eventually giving way to timelessness.
The last prediction came to fruition as well, and although my being dissolved in another spiritual lineage, no day goes by that I do not feel Alexander’s blessing in my heart, his love omnipresent.
What golden times his meetings were: so crystal clear, so wise, so full of humour. How we laughed uncontrollably. His wonderful warm voice, his roaring laugh, who could ever forget it? His words were sharp as well. He liked to tease, to scorn and to mock, but always embedded in cabaret-like entertainment and love. Among all this, my being always became light and sparkling and I would fall into inwardness, silently deeply moved.
The few people at his meetings – each placing five guilders in a dish, just enough for his train journey home – gradually expanded.
Satsang moved to the village of Baarn, to the beautiful house of Rama and Kitty Polderman. Over the years many thousands found their way to that room, which held thirty but often had a hundred sitting in it. There we enjoyed thrilling dialogues and pearls offered to us time and time again.
Breathlessly I sat at his feet, drinking from spiritual teachings of the highest quality. They were continually bewildering and moving – so deep, so high, so ordinary. Immersed in the stillness that enveloped Alexander, my eyes closed and I fell into an ocean of blessings.
Alexander let us taste, feel and listen to the culture of India, where Advaita* originates. He introduced us to its cooking and classical music. He played the sarod, organised music evenings and we regularly accompanied him to concerts. Even before I had set foot on Indian soil, I felt so at home in that country, due to everything that Alexander had offered us, not least with his masterful storytelling.
After ten years of intensity with Alexander – almost being ‘part of the furniture’ – my journey took me to another lineage. Although I hardly saw him during the last years of his life, I never really left. That was just not possible. His heart lay so much in mine. He helped to turn my life from I to Thou and I am immensely grateful for his healing presence and the divine dance of our souls.
He told me that he would live till he was 87. It turned out he had other plans, clocking out even before he turned fifty!
This is a text from the book Wings of Freedom
* Alexander Smit
Spiritual teacher in the Netherlands in the last two decades of the 20th century. Student of Nisargadatta from Mumbai. Alexander was the first guru of Prajnaparamita.
Literally, removing darkness. Gu means darkness, ru means light. Teacher, spiritual or otherwise, that leads the disciple from the darkness of ignorance to the light of truth.
Literally ‘not two’ or ‘One without a second’. Advaita Vedanta is a non-dual spiritual path that holds that only the Absolute exists and that all manifestations of existence are illusion. This path leads from cognitive knowledge to wisdom that cannot be known, but is knowingness itself.
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