Book launch Hans Siepel’s Openbaring:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
On Wednesday afternoon, 22 April, a special event took place in the library when communications advisor and former public official Hans Siepel presented his new book Openbaring (‘Revelation’) to an invited audience.
Director Esther Ritman opened the afternoon and gave the floor to four speakers who from their own area of expertise respectively reflected on their relationship with Siepel or on the contents of his new book Openbaring. The first speaker was Roelof van den Broek, professor emeritus of the History of Christianity at the University of Utrecht and author of several acclaimed works on Gnosis and Hermetica to have been published in the Pimander series of the Ritman Library’s publishing house ‘In de Pelikaan’. Van den Broek defined the Hermetica as a philosophy showing us how to become one with God. The next speaker was Minne Buwalda, a trained philosopher who as an editor and writer focuses on trends in spirituality and also gives talks on this subject. Buwalda specifically addressed the twin issues of intuitive knowledge and spirituality. The next speaker was Henk van der Steeg, retired hospital consultant and hospital administrator, who talked about leadership. He claimed that the strength of the message lies in repetition. Furthermore, he said that you can find out about yourself by looking inwards. Then it was time for Alexander Meijer, Chief Executive and General Director of De Ronde Venen, a municipality in the middle of the Netherlands, to share his views on change and renewal in local official bodies. As an expert on this subject, he held a talk in 2014 called ‘The Gospel of Change’. According to Meijer, man has the capacity to connect heaven and earth. He went on to explain his proposed system SAMEN (‘together’). The initial components of the Dutch acronym SAMEN together embody the vital qualities of this system.
Prior to the official book launch by Siepel, Joost Ritman, founder of the library, and Esther Ritman, director, offered him a copy of Hermes Trismegistus, a work compiled by Roel van den Broek and published by ‘In de Pelikaan’. In turn, Siepel spoke about his special relationship with the library. After having fallen seriously ill in 1998 he embarked on a lengthy quest that ended in the library, where he felt he had finally landed when he first visited. Siepel went on to place his book Openbaring and the creative writing process preceding it in a wider context, after which he presented the first copy to Frank Regtvoort. He then offered all the guests a copy of the book, calling upon the audience to bring Openbaring and its vision into practice.
The festive and animated afternoon ended with a brief tour of the rare books room, the ‘Holy of Holies’ of the library.
So what is Openbaring about? Siepel’s book consists of essays and articles written over the past 10 years. In this volume he unfolds his views on the current state of politics in the Netherlands and pleads for a different approach to be taken by politicians. There is much more than just our rational thinking, he says. It is time we also turn to our inner world and inner Self. From the blurb:
‘The key concept of this book is “awareness”. An awareness fed by fear, anger and ignorance creates an altogether different reality than an awareness inspired by solidarity, love and sustainability. The choice is ours. Siepel shows us how we can make that choice: by embracing a revolution coming from within, which will cause a landslide change in the way we act and think. With Openbaring, Siepel has added another link to the chain of the Hermetic tradition’.
In a specially written afterword, Siepel refers to the current exhibition in the library: ‘Hermes Trismegistus, Master of Change’. He imagines the legendary figure of Hermes Trismegistus, messenger of universal wisdom from a distant past, calling on modern man to take on the great project of change based on universal wisdom. As Siepel already outlined in his talk on 22 May, Hermes signals to us that it is possible to achieve a new awareness and reach the conviction that radical changes are not utopian. He acknowledges that ‘it takes courage.
The courage to let higher values take the place of self-interest. But above all, it requires a new awareness, the awareness that man is capable of making that change. That we are not only aware of the possibilities we have, but even more that we become aware of how creating new realities works’.
According to Siepel, it’s an appeal to all of us. As such, Siepel’s Openbaring reads like an echo of the words spoken by Mahatma Gandhi: ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’.