24 juni 2015

Spirituality, Inner Peace and World Peace, and Worldly Intrigue... a Historical Vignette

The day will come when a President will emerge who knows how to join with God in true prayer and find genuine inspiration. The Holy Spirit works with every individual on a case by case basis, and each one's focus should always be on working with Him.
                                                  Pursah, in Gary R. Renard, The Disappearance of the Universe, p. 399

This is the story of what could be described as a historical 'experiment' in the vein of the quote above. This account is based on a new book that was the doctoral thesis of its author, Dutch historian Han van Bree. He defended his thesis on June 24, 2015, and the book went into general circulation on June 25 in bookstores in Holland. The following is less a review of the book than a review of the events and their meaning, but in the process I shall highlight the significance of the book and treat it as the authoritative account which it is, being a very balanced view of the events, which had not existed until now. There is an English language summary of the book, here. The title of the book is: De geest van het Oude Loo, Juliana en haar vriendenkring 1947-1957. In English that would be: "The Spirit of 'Het Oude Loo,' Juliana and her circle of friends 1947-1957." Juliana was Queen of the Netherlands from 1948 to 1980, and "Het Oude Loo" is a medieval hunting castle next to the residence at that time of the Queen-mother, Wilhelmina, the palace Het Loo. The castle Het Oude Loo was the location for a series of spiritual conferences that ran from 1951 to 1957.

As a side note, I would observe that it is remarkable how at a different time and place, Thomas Jefferson, like Juliana, was very consciously a student of Jesus' teachings all of his life, and acutely aware of the distortions in Christianity that went back to Paul, who he called a dupe and an imposter, and the first corrupter of the teachings of Jesus. Jefferson clearly felt that Paul made a religion out of what were very simple teachings, by superimposing his theology. In his lifetime, Jefferson sought to codify, primarily for his own purposes, what to him were the essential teachings of Jesus in a small volume titled The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth, but which became known as the "Jefferson Bible," and the book was published only posthumously, long after his death. It could have gotten him in serious trouble had he made it known during his lifetime. Also like Juliana, he saw his personal relationship with his Creator, and evidently with Jesus, as the only thing that mattered to him and did not have any truck with the churches, other than where formality required it. As I have observed elsewhere, it is also remarkable how close Jefferson came to approximating the core text of the Thomas Gospel (which would only be discovered 125 years later, and which is the only existing document of Jesus' teachings that clearly pre-dates Paul) in that, like the Thomas Gospel, the Jefferson Bible and does not reflect Paul's views, but only Jesus' teachings themselves as Jefferson felt they must have been originally.

Clearly, it is difficult at times for a person in a leadership role to openly entertain religious or spiritual practices that could be threatening to the existing order of things. After all, that's why Socrates was killed by the Athenians, who saw his philosophical self-inquest of questioning everything to the bitter end as a threat to the established order. Still, our only way home is through learning to navigate by means of the Holy Spirit, or our Higher Self, or whatever you call it in your tradition. To Socrates truth was within. For Juliana and her mother, Wilhelmina, who were nominally Dutch Protestant, but ignored it in practice, and were more focused on the personal experience of faith than anything else.

In that way, Queen Juliana followed in the footsteps of her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, in 1948, but clearly her formative experience had been very much World War II and her exile in Canada at the time, where she acted from a distance as a spiritual supporter and emissary for the country. She spoke to troops leaving for the war in Europe, and this was when she befriended Eleanor Roosevelt. As a royal in a constitutional monarchy she had a duty to always remain above politics and focused on the general interest of the country, and in that sense the wartime German occupation of The Netherlands provided a strong national unity that would be much harder to preserve in the fractious politics of peacetime. Wilhelmina's radio addresses during the war had been the embodiment of the national spirit, and Juliana's annual Christmas message would continue that tradition. Her very personal and profound religious sense lent a suitably apolitical character to these messages, while being non-sectarian religiously. Combined with her quiet but strong feminism, where she openly regarded her role as mother to her children to be just as important as her role as Queen, she was a meaningful presence with a warm human quality. She strongly felt that she was a servant to her country and served only God's Will as best she knew how.

Preamble: 1951
Besides being the year of my birth, 1951 was the year when a series of unique, international spiritual conferences, later to be continued under the name "Open Field" meetings, was launched at the castle Het Oude Loo in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands (the name means "open field," like one might see in a forest, where there is a clearing). In this blog, I have occasionally mentioned these conferences, because Johan Willem Kaiser - usually he was referred to as "Wim" Kaiser (abbreviated herein to his initials as JWK) - was the conference's principal architect from a conceptual standpoint. The theme of the series was: "God founder of the world, and therefore invincible," and the purpose of the meetings which were to be completely non-sectarian and international in scope, was to provide a setting for a small group of people, which included the Queen and the Queen mother, to reflect on their relationship with God. The gatherings were held at the the old castle, next door to where Wilhelmina lived. Initially, invitations were issued in the name of the Queen, but as of the third conference that practice was abandoned. Also, speakers were never pre-announced, so people did not come to chase celebrities, or particular ideologies, but it remained a meeting of equals sharing their personal account of their relationship with God as they experienced it, each in their own individual way.

These Oude Loo conferences included Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Sufi/Muslim and other faiths on an equal footing. There was an appearance that the meetings were primarily Christian in nature, because the Queen and Queen mother "officially" would have viewed themselves as belonging to that tradition, although they were not much into "churchianity," but, rather, focused on their own personal relationship with God. Very likely the Queen and Queen-mother would have regarded themselves as loosely Christian, but more or less unaffiliated. A close reading of the work of JWK would suggest that he was about the teachings of Jesus as distinct from Christianity, which he regarded as a Pauline creation that put the teachings of Jesus on their head, a view similar to that of Thomas Jefferson, although Jefferson never publicly spoke out about it in his lifetime. Some of that thinking goes back to the time of the enlightenment, and also Nietsche's work reflects the same feeling.

June 24, 2015
It is about 60 years after the final Oude Loo conference (though the conferences did continue for another 10 years under the name "Open Field"), and Dutch historian Han van Bree receives his Ph.D. in history at the University of Leiden for his book about these events. It is a remarkable book in that it is the first objective retelling of what happened, which became possible, if not necessary, after ongoing revelations of the exploits of Prince Bernhard, the husband of Queen Juliana. During his lifetime, Bernhard had managed to control the dialog, including using the press to get the public behind his position in what was essentially a domestic affair. At one point a divorce seemed likely. However, various scandals he was involved in, such as the Lockheed bribery scandal in 1976 had long since cast him in a bad light, and his missteps may have led to an early abdication by Queen Juliana, in 1980. In his posthumous revelations, again via the press, he admitted to taking more than one million dollars in bribes from Lockheed, and also to having two daughters from extra-marital affairs. Suspicions remain that he confessed to only what was unavoidable because it had been found out, but that in all likelihood more that was left unsaid.

The summary version of events is that Queen Juliana originally sponsored the Oude Loo conventions, which were run by JWK, and with Ms. Hofmans in attendance. These two people had a collaboration in the area of spiritual teaching and development. Ms. Hofmans who channeled messages that she understood to be coming from Jesus, worked mostly with people with illnesses or challenges, to help them pray, and to "hear" how to deal with their situations. As answers came to her, she would relate them to these persons either verbally or in written form. JWK was writing books about his insights into the real teachings of Jesus, and he was certainly the coordinator of the content of the Oude Loo meetings, and the speakers who appeared there.

Bernhard had originally introduced Ms. Hofmans, who he made out to be some sort of 'faith healer' to Juliana, because of the near-total blindness of the youngest princess, but evidently he came to feel threatened later by the close relationship that the Queen subsequently developed with Ms. Hofmans. The Queen in her turn apparently became less and less tolerant of his exploits and in particular his girlfriends, so she wanted him to set up an office outside the palace, and she registered her concerns with the cabinet that his Bilderberg business conferences possibly came too close to a level of political influence that would be inappropriate in a constitutional monarchy. So tensions were high, and in 1956 Bernhard had an article written by the English journalist Sefton Delmer, but the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs intercepted it and prevented its publication. Later, however, the German weekly Der Spiegel 'got hold of it' and published it, and a scandal broke out. The Prince denied having anything to do with the article, its contents or its publication, but that was later shown to be untrue. But he had framed his arguments in such a way as to put the Queen on the defensive, including allegations that Ms.Hofmans was a Rasputin, etc. etc. In the end, the Queen gave up her participation in the conferences and severed her relationships with Ms. Hofmans and several close staff and friends, who were all involved in helping organize these conferences. And she abandoned the idea of a divorce, which would have resulted her having to abdicate the throne.

In any case, Bernhard conveniently used the "Oude Loo" conferences, as well as the Queen's relationship with Ms. Hofmans to cast aspersions on her, and mobilize public opinion against her. In the crisis of 1956 a committee of 'wise men' from Dutch politics (read: suitably chauvinistic males) counseled the couple, meaning mostly that they forced Juliana to remove any appearances of conflict and give up her ideas of a divorce. Ms. Hofmans became the convenient scapegoat, but at least a royal divorce and a constitutional crisis were avoided. On a personal note, reading this new book was a revelation for me, because my parents had been active participants in these conferences, and many of the other participants were familiar to me as I grew up, and they would be guests in my parents' home, or I would meet them in other social situations. This was the first time I'm reading the whole story of what went on around me, of which I only got glimpses as a kid.

About that peace thing... 
Especially in the years after World War II, the time of rebuilding, it was evident that there was a profound hunger for peace in The Netherlands, based on the awareness of never wanting to have to go through this much destruction ever again. It certainly seems that Queen Juliana was strongly aware that peace starts within. As the UNESCO charter says: "War starts in the minds of men." Well, so does peace. This realization makes it clear that inner peace is the first precondition to any kind of peace in the world. For Queen Juliana the Oude Loo conferences were a semi-private affair where she could be among friends on an equal basis, and that inner source of Peace was a central theme. The focus was very much on the idea that our relationship with God is the one and only thing that lies at the foundation of any contribution to the well-being of our fellow-men. Meanwhile Prins Bernhard was only marginally involved in the beginning of these conferences but actively went about his pursuits in the military realm with NATO, and global industrialization with the Bilderberg group.

Here were the curious parallel lives of Queen and Prince, where he was deeply involved in things like NATO, and evidently in the background built up 'interesting' relationships with the arms industry while the Queen, coming from a foundation of inner peace based on honoring our relationship to our Source, was talking about world peace. In 1952 the conflict came to a head during their preparations for a trip to the USA, where Juliana was planning to give some speeches that to Bernhard's ear were emphasizing peace too much to suit him as a freelance arms dealer, who was visiting the residence of his suppliers. He attempted to have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exercise censorship over her speeches, which the Queen resisted, except for some minor things that were best avoided, and she was subsequently vindicated by events for the speeches were well received, as Han van Bree's book documents. So the seeds of tension between Juliana and Bernhard were quite visible to the trained eye during the 1951 to 1956 period. But Juliana held firm to her beliefs, even if she compromised in her personal life for the sake of removing obstacles and potential misunderstandings.

Christ, Jesus, Christianity, Churchianity, or something else altogether...
Just as the outside world often misunderstood what these conferences were about, so also was there evidence of pervasive confusion within the ranks. As it were, JWK was the one who determined the 'orthodoxy' of the conferences, and he steadfastly clung to a universalist position where sectarianism was avoided. Few people really understood his language, and it was not necessarily always as clear as it could have been. For him Christianity as a religion was clearly an abomination, but he recognized Jesus as his Inner Teacher and merely rejected the interpretations of Paul and the Christian theological framework. To JWK the idea of Jesus dying on the cross for our sins was a lame excuse. Psychologically, it is typical for the ego to want to have its cake and eat it too. To him, Jesus was the inner teacher who represented complete obedience to God's Will. To him, Jesus' message was one of the complete reunion of the Father and the son. In that sense, in the parlance of JWK and Ms. Hofmans, the "Jesus," or "Christ," or "Master" or "Help" was more akin to how A Course in Miracles would define him: the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Ms. Hofmans frequently spoke of "Christ," as the source of her channeling, but sometimes simply "upstairs," or "the Help." In other words, she spoke often in non-sectarian ways, so that Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or anybody who was open to going within for answers could be comfortable with her way of speaking. She and Kaiser viewed the sonship as one, and Jesus as the Teacher who helps us restore the connection to our Creator and Source, which the thing he lived and taught, and which was very different from the theological framework that arose when Paul and his followers bombarded Jesus posthumously into being the founder of a religion. He was no such thing. He was an example, a teacher, and not the founder of another sectarian religion. Paul specifically denies the resurrection as a matter of the spirit, insisting that it is a bodily event, and thereby putting it off... till Kingdom come.

The language often led to confusion and misunderstandings, as Han van Bree hilariously recounts. In one story, Ms. Hofmans, speaking with some of the ministers during the crisis of '56 was evidently completely misconstrued. To her and JWK, the sonship was one and was God's creation, but they apparently were not able to find language that was clear enough to convey the real meaning of what they said. You have to really study their material before you get it. At one extreme, it is clear that in his translation and interpretation of the Gospel of Mark (in his book Beleving van het Evangelie/Experiencing the Gospel), JWK treats the whole story as a parable that explains the inner experience of the awakening of our Inner Teacher within each of us on our own inner journey. In other words, at that point the entire world has become metaphor. He does speak in many places of man's pseudo-reality but, again, never clearly works that out, and the founding principle of the Oude Loo conferences, "God founder of the world, and therefore invincible," leaves the impression stand that they may have regarded the physical world as God's Creation and only our individual interpretations as the "pseudo-reality" in which we tend to live in mental isolation. Salvation then is liberation from that pseudo-reality and return to the knowledge that what we are is God's Son, in whom he is well pleased, etc.
 ... When the Buddha said, "I am awake," he meant he realized he was not a participant in the illusion, but the maker of the entire illusion.  
Still, there is another step required, where the mind that is the maker of the illusion chooses completely against itself, in favor of God. Of course, someone of the Buddha's tremendous accomplishments had a snap of it, quickly going to the exact same awareness as J. But this was done by Buddha in a lifetime the world does not know about.
                            Arten in Gary R. Renard, The Disappearance of the Universe, p. 32, 33 
Their ambivalent language continued to leave the impression stand with some that the Oude Loo in the end was "Christian" in vision and orientation, which is a mischaracterisation. This confusion does play to a degree throughout the book by Han van Bree, but it is understandable, for very few of the participants ever sorted this out for themselves, and Kaiser and Hofmans implied more things than they expressed explicitly. Likely Wilhelmina and Juliana were not as categorically clear about Jesus not being the idol that Christianity made of him, and many visitors with them. The ostensible reason why Hofmans and JWK spoke of Jesus as their teacher, is because they felt he represented one step beyond Buddhahood, namely not just a full awakening, but the complete acceptance of the atonement and re-unification of the Father and the son, expressed in the title "Christ." That had nothing to do with Christianity as a religion, which makes a complete mockery of the teachings of Jesus, but it had to do with the fact that to them Jesus was their teacher, the risen Jesus as an Inner Teacher, our True Self, really, and not the historical figure speaking from a book. But the conference was testimony to the fact that they recognized and appreciated that different teachers might work for different people.

In an interesting comment in one of his books, JWK said that--in line with his view that Christianity is Paulinism and has nothing to do with Jesus, except in name--that it is not very likely that the churches would throw Paul out and let Jesus back in, but that it is quite possible that psychology would evolve to the point that it might do so. That comment from before 1960 in a way anticipated the 'transmission,' of A Course in Miracles by about 10-15 years. The Course, which was scribed between 1965 and 1972, and published in 1975, was not only recorded by two professors of psychology, but it integrates psychology and spirituality in an unprecedented manner, and quite in the manner JWK might have anticipated.

Dualism, Semi-dualism, non-dualism and pure non-dualism
Although it's true that the Holy Spirit works with all people in a way they can understand--which is why all spiritual paths are necessary--it's one of our challenges to you that teachings of dualism must eventually lead to teachings and practices of semi-dualism, non-dualism, and ultimately pure non-dualism, if one is to experience the Love of God.
                                       ...The reason it's true is because there are four major attitudes of learning you will go through during your return to God. Everyone will go through all four of them, and everyone who progresses will occasionally and unexpectedly bounce back and forth from one to the other.
                           Arten in Gary R. Renard, The Disappearance of the Universe, p. 15, 29 
The journey of spiritual awakening always starts where you are, and that is thinking you are a body in a dualistic world that is external to you. That is dualism. Whether you believe in God or not has nothing to do with it. It is the world of Newtonian physics. And it is the world of 'individual psychology,' which takes the individual, you, very seriously in your experience of yourself as subject and the world as the object. Here we grant objective reality to the physical world. From there, inner practice would lead one gradually through the steps to semi-dualism, non-dualism, and finally pure non-dualism.

It should be noted that even in Advaita Vedanta (Vedantic non-dualism), there are schools of thought that grant some reality to the world by viewing it as if the Godhead is merely playing a game and created the world to just pass the time. In this concept, the world is still illusion in some ultimate sense, but would still have reality to us who are in it. It is thus a non-dualism that is still compromised, and not a pure non-dualism. This is where JWK and Hofmans stood most with their premise "God founder of the world, and therefore invincible" for the Open Field conferences.  With that viewpoint, the world is seemingly granted some objective reality and our 'problem' is our perceptions of that world, our 'pseudo reality,' which is determined by our individual characteristics and psychological dynamics.

Today we may find ourselves in a different place, with A Course in Miracles, as a very modern re-statement of Jesus' teachings, which is an uncompromising, pure non-dualistic teaching. Particularly once you grasp its inner consistency with the Thomas Gospel, as the work of Gary Renard has demonstrated, it becomes clear that Jesus, the risen Jesus of JWK and the Course, teaches absolute non-dualism. The language of JWK as well as that of the Course gives shape to the teachings of Jesus in a way that works within the Christian framework, in part by purposely upsetting it and giving old familiar terms new meanings. With regard to the work of JWK, I am inclined to say that most of the time he moves into the realm of semi-dualism to non-dualism, and at times soars into pure non-dualism. A Course in Miracles teaches a pure non-dualism, but it employs dualistic language so as to meet us in our perceived reality as people living in a world, people who find themselves at the lower rungs of the ladder to Heaven. What is unique about the Course, however, is that unless you twist its words, the realization of pure-non dualism is inevitable in the end.

As a side note, we may observe that the meaning of the word "gnosis" is knowledge, as direct knowledge, which makes total sense at the level of non-dual awareness, but can be hard to take for those who are still hung up in duality. This is the level where many people cannot understand the level of total certainty of a truly enlightened person, for at that level, there simply is no doubt. Hence Jesus was not 'angry' when he threw the money changers out of the temple (assuming he ever did), and similarly, while JWK may have been a difficult personality anyway, at some level he also knew that inner certainty where no compromise is possible. That type of total certainty can be misinterpreted by some, who are not in touch with that dimension of themselves as 'inflexibility,' but it is not. The situation of an awakened person is similar to the adult who knows the stove is hot, versus the child who still has to learn: his insistence that the stove is hot is not 'inflexibility,' it is knowledge. Interestingly, the experience of the Oude Loo and Open Field conferences demonstrated that Kaiser's very strong hand in ensuring the appropriateness of the presenters and participants could be off-putting to some, but the results attest to the fact that he was largely effective in ensuring the kind of open dialog that set these conferences apart, and made them so worthwhile. He would not spare the Queen or Queen-mother if he felt they were inviting inappropriate people; he always stuck to the central vision, no matter who he was dealing with. (Note: See also the interview with Jason Lawrence in the references below, which might help to clarify this point further.)

Lastly, on the scientific front, quantum mechanics has moved us towards non-dualism to a great degree, starting with the realization that light is either a particle or a wave (signifying that there is no objective reality 'out there,' except if an observer makes it so). The presence of an observer is the critical determinant. Transpersonal psychology, too, has begun to reach into non-dualism, and the psychology of A Course in Miracles, certainly reaches beyond into pure non-dualism. The pure non-dualism of the Course's metaphysics goes further, and recently Alex Marchand in his book The Universe is Virtual attempts to frame a new scientific paradigm that would emerge on that basis, building on the work of Tom Campbell (My Big Toe trilogy) and Brian Whitworth (The Physical World is a Virtual Reality).

What does the apostle Thomas have to do with it?
Queen Juliana was instrumental in helping Prof. Gilles Quispel obtain the manuscript of the Thomas Gospel from Egypt. I have written about this in depth in my book, Closing the Circle. I can, however vaguely, remember my parents being all excited about hearing Quispel speak about it at an Oude Loo meeting, with the sense that this document might shed new light on the original teachings of Jesus. Somehow it was not to be. At the time there was still a tendency to date the Thomas Gospel with the other manuscripts that were found at Nag Hammadi, which puts it later than the Gospel of John by at least 50 to 100 years. And the fact that it was part of a predominantly gnostic collection of texts put Quispel on a dead-end track in assuming that the Thomas Gospel was a gnostic document, thus hopelessly complicating the reading of it. JWK dismissed Quispel as a hopeless scholarly busybody, and Quispel had no time for JWK's intuitive and to him un-scholarly way of relating to Jesus, so they passed like the proverbial ships in the night. Quispel spoke at an Oude Loo meeting in 1954, as reported by Han van Bree. I believe he spoke there one more time later, when the meetings were called Open Veld (Open Field) meetings, closer to the time when his translation of the Thomas Gospel appeared in Dutch in 1959.

For me personally, it was through the work of Gary Renard that the Thomas Gospel newly got my interest. Quispel's first Dutch translation is still on my bookshelves today, but the perspective has shifted. A few decades of new scholarship have changed the perceptions to the point that by reconstruction it has become evident that the Thomas Gospel predated the synoptic gospels of the New Testament, and was together as a book in ca. 50 CE, well before the influence of Paul made itself felt. Suddenly, the connections became clear. Thus, JWK in his day did not have the chance to understand that the Thomas Gospel was the record of Jesus as he taught prior to the Pauline interpretations and distortions of his teachings that were to become Christianity. Paul clearly took Jesus' non-dualism and turned it into dualism, in a similar vein as occurred in Hinduism when Madva's commentary to the Gita turned a non-dualist teaching, as Sankara had still understood it to be, into a dualistic one.

Another note about Queen Juliana
This book by Han van Bree reflects how history has caught up with Prince Bernhard, and how circumstances--this is the real shocker--allowed him to manipulate national opinion to support his interests for the rest of his lifetime. It is amazing to see how the Queen sacrificed a part of her personal life that was important to her and how Bernhard was able to continue both his extra-marital affairs and his inappropriate business relationships, literally soliciting bribes on government business. Even the committee of 'wise men,' who did their part to prevent the crisis from getting out of hand were essentially his puppets, aided by their chauvinism that would naturally not want the Queen to be as independent as she was.

What emerges is the picture of the Queen as a very strong woman, who in many ways was ahead of her time. Strong women and weak men has been the story of the Dutch royal family for several generations now. At the time of the palace crisis of 1956 Holland was still a country where a married woman was not competent before the law to carry on her own business, except with her husband's permission, and the government fired women on the day they married. Bernard used to joke that she was the boss in the land, but he was the boss at home. Emancipation caught up with that, eventually. And, as we learn from the book by Han van Bree, later in life Queen Juliana met up again with her personal secretary, Walraven van Heeckeren, and his wife, Rita, whom she had had to fire in the aftermath of the crisis of '56.

Clearly, Juliana was ahead of her time in her spiritual interests as well, and posterity would need to be grateful for her role in the Open Field conventions, which, in a quiet way, created both a lot of goodwill and global dialog. With the benefit of hindsight, some sixty years later, the way the press bought into the paranoia and hysterical exaggerations of Prince Bernhard and kept repeating it, making some sort of a dangerous witch out of Ms. Hofmans is almost funny. Ms. Hofmans' gift of listening to that Inner Voice, which people variously describe as "the Holy Spirit," "Jesus," "Quan Yin," or, as did Abraham Lincoln, "the better angels of our nature," was neither paranormal nor dangerous. What was remarkable was to what extent she was able to get her ego out of the way, so that she could hear clearly and thus be a clear channel. As far as the Queen is concerned, besides looking at her positive role in facilitating the Oude Loo conferences, we should also honor her for her role in the rescue of the Thomas Gospel by Prof. Gilles Quispel, by ensuring that he was getting the appropriate diplomatic support on his mission. In fact, I believe this should be viewed as one of her major accomplishments.

I met Ms. Hofmans when I was some two and a half years old. I never met JWK in person, but I became a student of his books. I know that the experience put me on a track of semi-dualism at first and increasingly of non-dualism later, and to that extent, I view it as preparation for my discovery of A Course in Miracles and its pure non-dualism later in life. I can only imagine what a breath of fresh air the Oude Loo conventions were to Queen Juliana, who already experienced her relationship with God as a very intimate and personal one and felt by nature not at home in the constraints of church dogmatism of any kind. I can hardly imagine the pain that must have gone with her decision to give up that part of her life, at least to the extent of severing friendships and withdrawing from the Oude Loo conferences. Yet, she also knew enough that the only connection that matters can never be lost. As a side note, it was interesting to see later on how Eleanor Roosevelt, a friend of Juliana's who once attended an Oude Loo conference, and who thought pretty much in terms of the external God of Christianity, commented to the effect that she thought it presumptious of participants in these conferences to think one could communicate with God directly. To that, A Course in Miracles would say the opposite, that it was presumptious to think you could not. Ms. Hofmans lived that truth, and told everyone that this connection is available to all of us when we really try.

From a purely personal point of view, the reading of Han van Bree's book was an amazing experience because I suddenly got to understand all the connections among a large number of people I met as I grew up, so I could hardly put it down.

Sources and references:

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