John de Ruiter
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John de Ruiter

A mysterious man who sits very still and talks very slowly

Satsang regulars tired of introspecting on the Unknowable Self, and in search of 'stuff' find therapeutic catharsis in Edmonton - the New Age alternative to the Christian Pentecostal love-fest 'the Toronto Blessing'.

When John de Ruiter first hit the satsang scene he sounded like a Christian Advaitist. He had studied a lot on his way to the top suggested the biography put out by his Edmonton organisation, Oasis, but other than a truncated two year stint at theological seminary, they do not mention what he came across.

Exorcism? John sometimes talks about "entities" that "mine" human beings of their life force - sounds like 'The Matrix' - I love that movie, and so does John. John's wife, Joyce, recounts how her brother-in-law would be rolling on the floor as if possessed by a demon. Maybe he was.

John used to say his teacher was Jesus. Can we presume that he still is? John won't say. His students can only speculate. There is a lot of speculating going on around John.

John doesn't answer many questions. And when he does the answers tend to be abstract, topographical, other worldly, idealistic. John pauses more than speaks, and a pause can last up to 3 hours.

John attracts a mixed crowd: satsang regulars, psychics and healers, 'A Course in Miracles' students, tai chi teachers, and Osho sannyasins.

One student said John expected to be assassinated by born-again Christians. Possible but currently unlikely, especially when they occasionally remember the commandment prohibiting murder. Legend has it that John put up a sign in his old cobbler's shop saying "Jesus Christ says Christianity is Satan's masterpiece". Which, it sometimes is.

John's real troubles come from much closer to home since he took two sisters as wife numbers 2 & 3. Some students left over that affair, but a lot stayed on. To be fair to John if he was seriously motivated by lust and interested in polygamy he could have taken many more wives. But Truth told him to take what he got.

John mellowly exhorts his audience to be "warmly, and tenderly OK with what is". The shared psychic pain at these events often becomes visible and vocal. That might change. One well-heard UK lady, would punctuate the frequent silences with bloodcurdling reminiscent of foxes being culled. Even John flinched, though only ever so perceptibly. She was asked to leave eventually.

At one time it seemed people got the idea that 'being OK with everything" meant that John does not have boundaries - so they kept pushing for more and more contact time. John used to be the last person to leave the hall - everyone stopped him for a hug and some eye gazing. John and Oasis have now stopped this after-meeting ritual as John wasn't getting away until the wee hours of the morning.

John's presentation has changed over the years. He used to speak at conversational speeds. He now seems to talk from a distant place, drawing the questioner out of themselves and into an empty space around him. He speaks less now, and rather pithily, using a developed jargon which insiders believe that after listening to at least 4 years of taped meetings that they halfway understand.

When a Papaji satsang teachers met up with John rumours spread through Edmonton's Spiritual Olympic Village that John was the Guru of All Gurus.

Neelam publicly cried in his lap, and was reconciled with her husband (was). He told Ganagji that she was of the same hardy spiritual stock as he - and he wasn't talking lumberjack speak. It was said that Isaac Shapiro was to follow his ex--wife Kali from Australia to Edmonton. John had asked him to relocate. At least that's how it read in the transcript that made the e-mail rounds of shocked Papajians. "Isaac? How could he? Still seeking after all these years?"

We heard that John was the "lost white brother" of the native American Indians. Apparently that is a messianic figure not just a honorary title and more than getting the keys to Teepee Village for the day.

John was personally taught by Jesus Christ, who is not as easy to find as Christians claim. Hah, knew it!

After travelling to India, visiting both Osho Rajneesh's and Ramana Maharshi's ashram, John declared that he not found anyone as True as himself. This raised shocked gasps from assorted Ramana, Osho and Satya Sai Baba devotees.

So I asked John if he really is The Big Boss. No-one needs such aggravation especially for such paltry wages. He told me "it's all talk..." and after long pause "and drama".

I first met John in 1997. We had several chats, up to 2 hours in length.

I will tell them this: John is energetically powerful, and has undergone a profound transformation. He is surrendering to something and teaches that. Whether it is the real thing - who knows? Who has the best b.s. detector? Maybe Ken Wilber? Only joking Ken - actually I was name-dropping. I have never read any Wilber. Tsk, tsk! Well, as a seeker I never heard anyone get enlightened by reading Ken.

John's followers say John perfectly embodies Truth. When did that happen? John has suggested otherwise. Sorry folks but we are supposed to wake up from the dream not get more into it!

He talked about becoming even more 'less', becoming more of a nobody - which might mean becoming less a 'personality' - and letting more Truth in. It's not clear what this means or if he applies this too himself. Nothing is clear around John. I'll be the first to say that Truth cannot be put into words - to imply that it can would be misleading. Could John be clearer? I don't know - that's why I told him that he is a bit of a mystery. All sorts of misunderstandings are now spreading around him

If John has made some confusing statements it would be good if he cleared things up - all teachers for that matter otherwise we start a new age of opposing fundamentalist camps!

What is John like outside meetings? By all accounts a bit of a pratical joker. It's a shame he shows such devilish wit only occasionally on the stage.

John has cast his net very wide, and pulls in a lot of different fish. He tirelessly teaches anyone who gets on the mic, though I sense that he is being increasing judicial in how much he gives out to some people. The audience are a seething mass of chaotic energies. It's an extreme teaching environment. But where is it all heading?

Unlike many satsang teachers John lets people tell their dramas. He does not forcefully intervene, nor ask them to shut up - though once he did uncharacteristically repeat that one man "get a job". It seems that John is confident that the energetic communing makes transformation happen.

On this I agree, and what I like is that he is prepared to talk about all sorts of manifestations of energy, a subject which many satsang teachers make taboo, claiming that it is irrelevant. Sometimes it is relevant, but it does have a place, and the mark of a full, and well-rounded teacher is their experience in such matters. Also, my take is that one could speak with a teacher on any subject and come to realisation, because for me words are just words.