"Vision of A New Culture"
The Great Learning

An extensive autobiography of Han Marie Stiekema

HMS is not part of tradition; tradition is part of Him (...). Hence, his gratefulness to existence as a whole, in particular toward his four facilitators: Karl Graf Dürckheim, who showed him the realm of Awakening; Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who initiated him into the Supreme Threefold Realization, Sri Ramakrishna, who is his great example of Great Mother worship and Teresa of Avila who taught him the practice of prayer

(not having forgotten Hadewych, Beatrijs van Nazareth, Eckhart, Suso, Shinran Shonin,
Meera, Kabir
, Rumi, and all other great lovers of the Ultimate)

May his story inspire, encourage and support
you on your Path!



This is the wondrous tale about the life of the Servant/Messenger, confided to his wife, his great love, life companion and spiritual sister. At first she had great reluctance to publish it. However, with the "true mission" of the Sermes eventually uncovered, she felt she couldn't hold it back anymore. It is the authentic story of a modern "Hoffnungstraeger", a life characterized by purity, idealism, grace, sincerity, beauty and service. The uniqueness of his life lies in the fact, that he didn't strive in any way to achieve either spiritual illumination or a special role in society. On the contrary, everything - from his first revelation to his latest insights about his mission - happened without his doing. He wasn't spared suffering though. After his first ten years of uninterrupted bliss he went into a period of integration of parts of the old self and painful confrontation with the world. With as a result an ever growing compassion. His motto: "Being Nothing you are everything" expresses his resulting all-embracing attitude, in which the spiritual and the worldly are becoming one. In this most desperate of times his life is bearing the promise of a new society based on spiritual values, indeed a "Vision of A New Culture".

A life destined by the Mother through Her Vision of the Grail:
"Awaken, restructure your life and serve others"

1. After his graduation from university and equipped with lots of idealism the Sermes went to Germany and Austria to additionally qualify himself in natural e.g. holistic medicine. This was very rare indeed, since in his country natural medicine was pretty much unknown. Like many others at that time (1972) the Sermes moved to the countryside, where he opened a clinic for natural medicine. The family, now husband, wife and two little daughters lived in a small farmhouse, growing its own organic vegetables, baking their own bread, while the wife was dyeing, spinning and weaving from the wool produced by her own sheep. In a very short time Sermes' reputation grew to such an extent, that people from all directions came to his practice. His treatments included all natural therapies, later to be extended by psychotherapy. Apart from that Sermes considered it his duty to educate people, hence lectures, writing articles, giving interviews, radio talks and a TV program (very rare at that time), took at least half of his time. Although being a atheist his interest in spiritual matters was slowly growing. Due to the marital troubles friends advised him to start doing meditation. He therefore went to Karl Graf Dürckheim in the Black Forest where he practiced Zazen. The discovery of awareness, being the witness to his own thinking, indeed nothing less than a new identity was a great joy to him. Zazen became his regular practice, in which he was sitting up to five times half an hour a day. Many years later it resulted in the writing of an instruction manual, together with the foundation of the "Living Zen School". It was an innovation, because of the style being an integration of "East and West" with "feeling awareness" as the key practice.  


2. Extraordinary things started happening. First of all there was this very respected wise man from a nearby city, who was visiting his consultation hour. Upon the Sermes' question: "What can I do for you", the man answered that he wasn't a patient, but had come to the Sermes with a special message. Astonished about this strange introduction the Sermes' gave the man the opportunity to continue. Well, he said "he had followed the Sermes already quite a while and the reason he had come was to tell the Sermes, that the latter was an incarnation of Parcival. Therefore, the Sermes had to prepare himself for an extraordinary life, in which he would serve the whole of mankind". After having said that, he handed over a small booklet about the archangel Michael and went out of the room, leaving the Sermes behind in total amazement and disbelief. The Sermes decided not to take the "message" seriously though. Soon he had forgotten about the incident. However, about half a year later a much greater surprise would really turn his life upside down. While taking a rest in the afternoon, totally unexpected and with great room filling clarity - indeed an exalted state of mind - a Vision unfolded itself approximately two meters in front of his eyes. It started with St.John's Wort, with its small golden flowers and red pollen inside, slowly developing into a Jewish Menorah (originally the Canaaite Tree of Life), equally golden with red flames at the top of its seven arms, having its fullest expression in a radiating Golden Chalice, from which an endless stream of blood was pouring out. The intensity of the Light of the Chalice was indescribable. Although the Sermes was deeply touched by it, and not at all doubting its authenticity - e.g. the Vision as a true transcendental phenomenon - the former decided, mainly influenced by the Zen philosophy he was cherishing, not to pay any further attention to what had happened.


3. While the medical successes were moving to a spectacular height - even very complicated chronic diseases often proved to be "no problem" for him - his marital situation turned out to be catastrophic. It was characterized by fight, ugliness and despair. In that situation a friend appeared, who started talking about some guru in India, leaving behind a book. After reading only a few sentences, which struck straight into the Sermes' heart, a fire of love was ignited, of a kind and intensity such as he had never experienced before. It immediately made him decide to meet this Master - Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - personally, just to feel his presence. While being in the aircraft on his way to Poona, the Sermes' mind was lifted up, not dominated by the common thinking anymore. Once arrived this condition became permanent. He neither was interested in the people around him, nor in the programs offered. He only attended some of Bhagwan's lectures. During one of those lectures Bhagwan paused and penetrated the Sermes' mind with his eyes for quite a while, with such a power, that the Sermes realized that there wasn't any substance in himself, just emptiness. The day after the Lightning struck* (a Moment of Absolute Nothingness), wiping out his entire existence, while immediately after entering Full Enlightenment. This condition, in which his entire identity had disappeared into transcendental Light, lasted the whole day, giving rise to incredible joy and gratitude. The Sermes felt as if he was anointed by the universe e.g. blessed by the cosmos for no reason. Dissolved into IT the Sermes knew about the Ultimate as his true Identity. Everything is part of One Space, nothing excluded. The miracle was, that it happened totally unexpected, without any doing on his part. He had had no ambition whatsoever - no ego had interfered - just total surrender to the Master had made it possible.  However, this wasn't the end of the story. The following night - equally sudden and unexpected - both mind and body disappeared into an Ocean of black horror, that what traditionally is known as the Underworld. After an exhausting night in which his awareness had managed to survive, he realized the true character of his experience**. It was indeed a transcendental rebirth or resurrection.  

* Only to discover (almost 30 years! later), that the (transcendental) Lightning is symbolized by the Christian St.Michael. See under 8).

** The Sermes is one of the very few, who "attained" the Ultimate Realization: the unity of the Absolute (Emptiness beyond Emptiness), Enlightenment and the Great Darkness.

Being Nothing, you are everything

4. Since there wasn't neither reason for staying any longer - nor to become a sannyasin - the Sermes knew he had to go home. For "home" had turned into a mess, one which needed a big clean-up. So he and his wife decided to having a divorce. In order to have the practice continued, the Sermes trained his younger brother - who had just left university - natural medicine and turned the practice over to him. He also started a procedure of conscientious objection on the grounds that no human being was allowed to "kill his brother", which was granted to him without any objection. In between he was called during the night, rose up, took a pen and dictated by Nothingness he wrote down "My Message, the Ultimate Sutra", the first verse referring to the "Great Mother", the meaning of which he would understand only much later. Eventually he left the house, leaving behind his most beloved children. The ten years that followed can be characterized as one of permanent Bliss, One Eternal and Undivided Moment which included several other Great Experiences. The true meaning of the words "unless you become like a child" ("God's Fool")...became reality to him. His mind was exalted to a level in which it wasn't able to function "normally" anymore. Faculties of the mind like ambition, calculating, self-centeredness, efficiency, purposefulness, yes even the sense of personal survival had all disappeared (reason why he sometimes leaned too much on the material support of friends). The Sermes was just part of the Dance of Life, dancing IT joyfully, being totally carefree and without being concerned about the consequences of his actions. The latter varying from roaming around, being in nature, writing poems and having countless love affairs. He took everything for granted, since his condition was totally natural. No reflection on his condition occurred to him. He was just a lily in the field, yes he was the field itself, embracing everything without exception. He lived in the timeless Here and Now, hence his memory about that period is very poor. Of course, he does remember some details, f.i. how he deliberately lived on the bicycle, without a house, cycling around in wintertime, not knowing where he would sleep next day. Or his sense of total freedom, the beauty of the landscape or the intensity of love, which - in complete harmony with his character - were always a combination of lightness and great sincerity. Not sex, but togetherness, tenderness and joy were his main incentives. Generally, his presence aroused enthusiasm wherever he appeared. 


5. He slowly arrived at a crossroad in which he had to decide, whether to go on and become a guru with a group of followers, or to return to the "world". There were three main things to consider. First a growing sense of responsibility towards his children, whom he had not been able to support financially for quite some time; the occurrence of irritation and even outbursts of anger, which made him aware of the fact, that not everything was yet part of the great harmony and the thought "what the whole thing is worth, if the world is not becoming part of it". So the decision was made in favor of the latter. It would become the most difficult time of his life. Of course, problems did not really affect him, in the sense that they could penetrate his innermost core. But at the surface, yes, suffering was only accumulating. The main reason is obvious. After ten years of no-mind he suddenly had to function in a world, in which survival was solely depending on a clever mind. Learning to calculate, manipulate, putting self-interest e.g. profit and competition into the center of activity was a torture to him. So everything went wrong right from the start. Confrontation with the world was often painful, humiliating and extremely stressful. Not surprisingly thus, that after a very short time the first disaster - shutting down the clinic because of financial claims - announced itself. The result was a severe depression, in which the Sermes was kindly taken care of by friends who offered him hospitality. The reason for all this was perfectly clear to him. This was the "Dark Night of the Soul" in which he had to integrate "the world" in his New Identity. If he wanted to understand people, their worries, problems and suffering, he had to first "take up his own cross". Thus, every new crisis - including several years of suffering from severe electro-sensitivity - was giving rise to a new commitment, a self-determination to going on, whatever the difficulties yet to meet on his path. Logically, these confrontations were provoking all kinds of old non-integrated parts of his psyche. To acknowledge that he had not reached "perfection"; not being recognized, "seen" and "respected" as a Realized One only added to his problems. The paradox was this: on the one hand the experience of cosmic unity, of all-inclusiveness, on the other hand not being understood, his periods of social isolation and meaninglessness. Yes, indeed the question "why I am here" is also popping up at this kind of level. Painful to the Sermes were all those people who poke fun at him or who were looking at him pityingly. How could such a successful doctor have turned into a looser! There were even moments, in which he watched with bitterness the increasing number of "teachers", who after a first glimpse (of realization) managed to present themselves as "enlightened", creating huge flocks of followers. It was only after fully acknowledging, accepting and integrating all his suppressed parts - especially the above mentioned interwovenness of his pain, hatred and fear - that the light in the tunnel became visible.


6. Here a confession has to be made. Despite (or thanks to) his enlightened state the Sermes knew very little "religious feeling". You don't have to turn to the Divine, when you Are It...However, the bearing surface of Being was often very thin, the sense of being abandoned too often, to such an extent, that he more than once felt to be at the mercy of circumstances.Walking around in the "wasteland" with "his Enlightenment under his arm" did not always generate the expected joy and contentment either. Increasingly he understood, that Enlightenment couldn't be the final state, given the constant danger of identifying with it, creating a continuous fight within oneself. This wasn't the peace he was longing for! So, quite spontaneously a cry for help arose from the depths of his soul. But to whom - to What - to address? Increasingly aware of the fact, that there was something missing in his "world view", he started searching once again for the Ultimate Truth. From his own Realization he knew, that existence was bottomless. First there is the Self, then the Self dissolves in Enlightenment, whereafter the latter is becoming so transparent, that It looses every "substance". The result is coming back into the world, a world in which "the tree is again the tree and the mountain again the mountain". Although this was corresponding to his own experience, something was still missing. Suddenly it occurred to him. At the time of his Great Experiences the Light had been so overwhelming, that he had totally forgotten, that the breakthrough had started through the Lightning: that Moment of Total Annihilation, in which his entire existence had been wiped out. His conclusion: ever since he had only taken the Light seriously. By realizing this, everything fell into place. This was certain: in the sequence of events first there was the Vacuum, subsequently followed by Light and Darkness (the Underworld). Thus the Light is indeed not the Ultimate, but is being born out of Absolute Nothingness. Light and Darkness being two sides of the same coin, the first representing the creation part, the latter the destruction part of the Vacuum.

7. If existence is indeed bottomless, then the Vacuum is the Ultimate Bottomlessness! An inconceivable relief penetrated his entire Being. This was where he had been looking for. He had found his True Home. "God has not created out of nothingness, but Nothingness is giving birth to God!" Immediately he saw the entire picture evolving in front of his eyes. Religion, history, mythology and even physics all proved to be positive about the existence of the Vacuum. It can be traced back to pre-historic times, in which the Ultimate was interpreted as the Cosmic Womb, from which everything is originating and to which everything is returning. The great civilizations - from Mesopotamia, Egypt, India to China - all have a Great Mother as the beginning of time, just as in the creation myths of many indigenous peoples. In fact, in all great religions relics can be found, which are revealing a historical process, in which the maternal Origin sooner or later was taken over by patriarchal Gods. For the Sermes it meant letting go of every identification, including that with "his" Realization. The danger of falling back was definitively over. Moreover, he had found the ultimate meaning of life, consisting of surrender, worship and devotion. The Vacuum cannot be attained, possessed or realized. She is Emptiness beyond Emptiness, the intangible Ultimate Dimension. The Sermes thus re-discovered his feeling of true religiosity, which had been absent for such a long time. He even started praying to the Mother, prostrating himself spontaneously, a practice which was unthinkable only a short while ago. And the miracle is this: always when the Sermes is approaching an inner crossroad, the Mother is giving him direction and advice through his dreams, with a clarity and power that cannot be wrongly understood. Deprived of his earthly mother, he had found his Heavenly Mother instead. Hence, his teaching - of becoming aware, integrating the self into the New Identity, restoring the unity with "Heaven", earth and the community and the breakthrough of the Light - now culminating in taking refuge in the Great Mother. In order to survive, mankind has to obey Her "Law of the universe" - continuous dying and being reborn - in order to become part of the web of life again. After much reluctance e.g. long hesitation - it took some 25 years! - the Sermes realized his mission: guiding people on their way back home, home being the "Cosmic Womb", the Source of permanent regeneration! Acknowledging "his descent" he subsequently accepted his role as the Servant/Messenger of the Great Mother.    


8. In the process described above there were many moments, in which the need of getting more clarity about the initial revelation - the Vision of the Grail - was pushing itself forward. Slowly, the meaning of the revelation became more and more transparent. There was a necessity for it. Because, being unlimited in Essence, finding the right expression, an optimal form, wasn't an easy task. Showing himself as he was (is), was one of his difficulties anyway, so his need for guidance was growing correspondingly. Logically, his first interpretation was entirely spiritual. Through regular insights, which all confirmed each other, he came to the conclusion, that the Vision was authentic, of transcendental character, therefore exceeding any personal meaning. Indeed, the revelation has a great importance for a wider range of people, probably even for mankind as a whole. Every such insight had its immediate "setback" on further progress in the matter though, as if the Sermes got a shock reaction, because of their inherent implications. The second major breakthrough concerned the deeper meaning. By bits and pieces it was revealed to him, that St.John's Wort stood for awareness, Light, Enlightenment; the Menorrah for integration and the Chalice for selfless service. The result was a motto, now very well known though his writings, saying: "Awaken, restructure your life and serve others". Much later it was recognized by the Sermes as a Message of the Great Mother, reflecting Her Law of the Universe: the dynamic balance between rebirth, preservation (interconnectedness) and death. The Vision indeed being a moral guideline, so dearly needed in this time of total disorientation.

"I embody the tradition of the Great Mother with
Her dying and reviving son/lover"

9. Summarizing the spiritual Path of the Sermes can be distinguished in three stages. First there were these years of "separation" from the world, culminating in the incredible 10 years of uninterrupted Bliss. These were followed by even a longer period of time, in which he had to integrate parts of the old self into the New Identity. It was a stage of (painful) trial and error, including an episode of serious physical disorder, in which he wrote down and subsequently shared his experiences with everybody without exception. The result is a huge oevre somewhat disconnected from the Sermes himself. Even to such an extent, that some can't discover the writer behind his writings. So the time came, when he sought to reconcile his life. It coincided with stage three in his life, in which he had to leave the previous behind. This appeared to be not an easy task. It took him twenty years to write everything down, after all. Logically his mind had been pre-occupied with his writings. At a certain time strength turns into weakness though. The mind - instead of being an facilitator - is going to become an obstacle. The emphasis had to make a shift from sharing his work toward sharing his life. Finally he understood, that taking refuge in the Ultimate - the Great Mother - is the ultimate stage on the Way. Sooner or later he had to totally surrender, truly a leap into the Unknown. It is corresponding with the out-pouring Chalice of the Vision e.g. compassion flowing spontaneously out of the True Self. "Not my will, but Your Will shall be done". The outcome is the all-inclusive Unitive Life, a giving without giver, a serving without server, the ultimate selflessness. 

The Great Mother is turning our deepest fear into salvation

See also: The Integral Way and The Great Learning which says: "It is about enlightened action in the world, to love the people while abiding in one's true Self".

By the Grace of the Great Mother, the All-Embracing Womb, Queen of Heaven, Mother of God.

Written down in Truth, Amsterdam, June 2003

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 © 2000 Copyright Han Marie Stiekema
Last revising: 11/11/13