Nuggets From Jolanda Van Den Berg's Call
Posted by Kozo Hattori on Jun 28, 2020
Jolanda van den Berg defies the conventional labels our world has to offer. Her work over 25 years has transformed the lives of thousands of put-at-risk children in Peru. She has created a series of boutique hotels, and offers private 1:1 sessions with people struggling with various life challenges. By some definitions, she might be dubbed a philanthropist, a social entrepreneur, a life coach, or even a mystic. But Jolanda's expansive life resists reductive titles. After swimming with the dolphins in Iquitos in 1995, Jolanda flew back to the Netherlands. Six months later she was in back in Cusco—after having quit her job and sold her possessions. She had no concrete plan, little money, and spoke no Spanish. But her resolve was clear—if she could help even a single child, that was enough. Twenty-four years later Jolanda and the organization she founded have transformed the lives of thousands of street children.
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...
- For me love means everything that seems to appear. That means love for me. So the one you are with in this moment, the seemingly one you are with, is your biggest lover. That can be a cake, that can be your wife, that can be the sun. That is what love is for me. Or that can be a thought or the sadness of someone you lost that you are still identified with. There is only love for me.
- 5 years ago, I saw that there is no one to see anything. It is just appearance. It looks like that something is happening, but that is the illusion at the same time. But that is very difficult to explain. So what I saw 5 years ago, that the Jolanda character was really never there. That is the illusion of existence, you could say. It defines you, so you can never define the other way around. It is too complicated. It is not only too complicated, it is impossible. Why I didn't speak for 5 years because it is a story in a story. So if people think that it happened to me, that is not true. Because what you see is that there was never a person experiencing anything. So the words that come out of me are just coming out without me doing anything. But as a person we believe that we are talking, but there is just talking, to say it like that. Whatever that is, is it.
- I looked at the sea, and I am the sea. But where am I? I was gone. I realized that I was never really there. That I never existed before.
- What I see, what I experience, is me, but not me as a person. There is no difference between me and the beach or between me and another person. That is the whole joke.
- It is all illusion, but it is fantastic. Suddenly, I understood art, I understood religion, I understood everything, because all is referring to the same thing. It was fantastic. From that moment on, it couldn't ever be the same.
- It is just whatever happens, happens. There is no one ever doing anything. It is just appearance.
- I see what people are talking about. There are seemingly things going on. But I don't see it anymore as someone doing something to someone else. When my child hurts herself, of course, I feel it. It would be weird if I wouldn't feel anything anymore because then there would be someone who changed. So for me nothing changed. It is all exactly the same, and I still feel, of course, I feel maybe more intense, but I don't take it personally anymore. So in that moment when I feel sadness, then it is not I feel sadness, then there is just sadness...I experience it, but I don't believe in it anymore.
- From a personal perspective it feels like you have to reach something or you have to change something or you have to be someone or whatever. In my perspective, everything that seems to come in the picture is what I am, you could say. And without that I wouldn't even exist or even imagine that I exist. It is fascinating. You become the fascination itself.
- I don't have any tips, tricks, or lists. In these 24 years that I lived in Peru, I had so many people say, "Can you give me a list like how you did the things? Like the 8 steps to reach something?" I would reply, "I don't even have a plan for the next minute, so I cannot tell you anything. It just happens. Now you know how I see it."
- You cannot be spontaneous because then it is not spontaneous anymore.
- What I cannot explain is that whatever seems to happen is defining me, you can say it like that. People think that it is me, like she had a special experience, so she knows about death and about illusion. And it is not true, because I don't know anything. And that is all I know.
- Beauty for me is the same like a feeling. For me there is nothing more beautiful when someone is falling through her/himself. There is the identification as a person and then when someone fall out of identification, then you see the beauty. And that is the same beauty as the light in the trees at 5:30 in the afternoon. And that is the same beauty of seeing someone in love with whatever there is. It is all the same beauty for me. For me it was always nice bringing people together and just being there. No one has to be special or not special or everything is just what it is. And that is beauty for me.
- Enjoy life. That is the most beautiful thing we can be for each other. Just be open and loving. That is the most beautiful thing you can do. I think everything is perfect exactly the way it is, so I don't have wishes in that sense.
Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!