Tonight is a very it's an emotional night for me personally too The Ritmans have been exceptionally generous with me, with your wisdom, with your friendship in so many ways, and this is just The last time I was in this room I had to wear a Hard Head I mean, to look at what happend here This is just absolutely beautiful and congratulations It's funny, I don't know if you remember this – Joost and I had this great conversation back when I was writing The Lost Symbol and we got talking about the universality of our individual, spiritual, experiences across cultures, across socio-economic backgrounds, across faiths that each one of us, as we look up at the heavens or as we hold a new born child, as we fall in love, as we fear our own mortality these are universal experiences that we all have And I remember asking you, I said: if all these experience are so universal, why are our religions so different? And I don't know if you remember what you said, but you told me: our religions actually aren't all that different That what happens with religion is that when we try to describe, using language, ethereal concept like faith and God we end up debating semantic debating vocabulary, and then it really is language that becomes a kind of barrier to universality and what you have done here by collecting languages from across cultures under one roof with an enormous understanding and desire to unify is an enormous service to humanity and I'm not overstating

What you are doing here is incredible important and I'm very moved Mr Ritman Much as I would love to congratulate you on sixtieth anniversary of your remarkable, very remarkable book collection I'm actually here for a different reason It's my great pleasure to award you with the Frans Banninck Cocq Penning of the city of Amsterdam Thank You! In this Embassy of the Free Mind we not only share wisdom we have 25000 books thanks to the donation of my parents last year of Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica they are not all here but we have the wisdom they contain at our fingertips We have a selection of this wonderful library we have embedded this collection, this core collection in this house but not only to study, but thanks to Dan Brown and the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds the collection is also digitally available so when you go online and every one all over the world goes online and click on the embassyofthefreemindcom there is now, as from today, 1500 books digitally available and they are so close that you can see and travel into the book, see the structure of the paper, see the letters on the other side of the paper and just be amazed by how close wisdom can be what is so special about this library is that it shows and it brings closer a component of our European culture that we haven't known so close up for a long time We have Religion, we have Philosophy, and there is a third component that it's called Gnosis, Knowledge, Wisdom and that's about individual wisdom It is not about institutionalized belief So, we believe that when acting by wisdom we can, with all of us and we invite you all to consider this make a difference in this world Well, in this Embassy of the Free Mind we invite you without too much explanation, we challenge you to discover, encounter, and enterprise because with wisdom you can see connections when you understand you connect when you connect you share when you know you act Thank you all for being here I don't know if I declare this, but why won't you declare? Please, please, together I will declare the Embassy of the Free Mind open!

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