Windlessness


It is almost dark; the wind has dropped. Half an hour ago Man had lowered the sails and Carla, Man and narrator sailed on the outboard to their next stranding place near Terschelling in the direction of Vlieland. With the onset of darkness, Man lets the boat strand and lowers the anchor so that they will not float away with the next high tide. Man lights the gaslights in the cabin and on the aft deck, and they make the boat and beds ready for the night. Then Narrator makes preparations for a simple supper. Carla gets a bottle of red wine from her luggage, uncorks it and pours three glasses. They smell the wine.

“Good wine from a good year; the smell blends nicely with this quiet evening in a salty area”, says Narrator.

“Mmm, the wine also goes well with the old cheese. Thank you for this wine”, says Man to Carla.

“I thought that red wine may fit well with this beautiful evening with the lights on the islands in the distance. I’m glad you appreciate my gesture”, says Carla.

“While you took the wine out your overnight bag, I noticed that you have two books of Martin Heidegger [1] with you; I recognised a Dutch version of “Being and Time” [2] – I have understood that this is the most important work of Heidegger – and the title of the other book I could not identify. Professor Luijpen mentioned “being in the world” – one of the core themes in the work of Martin Heidegger – during his lectures in philosophy at the Technical University in Delft that you and I had attended in the late 70s. Are you studying Heidegger’s work?”, asks Man to Carla at the beginning of the meal.

“I have read “Sein und Zeit” (“Being and Time”) during my study in Amsterdam to take not of the views of Heidegger on humans and beings involved in the world. I could remember that Heidegger had also paid attention to being whole – or in our words to the “All-encompassing One” – in this book, but he had given little attention to it due to inability, because “being whole” is by definition unapproachable in his opinion.
Martin Heidegger[3]

The second book with work of Martin Heidegger – published in English translation more than ten years after his death under the title “Contributions to Philosophy (from Enowning)” – I have bought a few months ago in the sale at bookshop Broese in Utrecht. I have bought this second book because Heidegger continues on “being whole” – or All-encompassing One – in this book where he has stopped in “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”) due to his inability at that time”, says Carla.

“Could you summarise after our meal what Martin Heidegger has written on “being whole”. Afterwards I may tell – as prelude to the Heart Sutra – the introduction by Thich Nhat Hanh in his commentary to Heart Sutra [4]; the Dutch version has the title “Form is empty, empty is form”?”, asks Narrator.

“When we have coffee after the meal, I will tell you what I had noticed and remembered after quickly reading both books. By the way, the perennial Gouda cheese you took with you, tastes delicious with the brown bread and the wine”, says Carla.

“An old friend with a cheese shop has offered it yesterday afternoon after I had helped him cleaning his shop. He thought that this old cheese – as solidified and preserved life – may fit well with our boat trip on this part “emptiness” of our Odyssey. And he is right”, says Narrator.

“Shall I make coffee now or would you like to continue enjoying the wine?”, asks Man.

“Let us enjoy our cheese and wine for a while in this quietude without a single breath of wind”, says Carla.

After fifteen minutes Carla gets into warmer clothes, Narrator cleans the dishes and Man puts the kettle on for coffee and a few minutes later pours the boiling water through the coffee filter. When the coffee is ready, Man gives each a mug of coffee.

“Good to warm up with this coffee. Shall I now give my summary – or rather my impressions – of these books by Martin Heidegger?”, says Carla.

“That is good. Important works may well give rise to many impressions and based thereon a lot of different interpretations. I understand that the work of Heidegger has also provoked negative reaction”, says Man.

“That is right. Partly due to the position Heidegger has adopted at the rise of – and during – the Nazi regime and also by its abundant, distant – and at the same time, precise to the millimetre language with a distant engagement – about our “being” in its different facets. His critics did not feel any connection with Heidegger’s positive attitude toward the Nazi regime, and thereby they cherished another kind of engagement than Heidegger’s distant contemplative engagement that according to his critics was placed outside daily life. It is interesting to note that Heidegger had written his book “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”) in a chalet far away from the urban world”, says Carla.
Chalet[5]

“It is easy to criticise after the event the attitude people have before or during a particular regime. The other regime in Germany has been very extreme, but almost all regimes and religions have pitch-dark pages in their history: “Those of you who is without sin, may cast the first stone” [6]. And, we are now on our quest also far away from daily urban world: sometimes this is necessary for contemplation”, says Man.

“You are mild in your judgment. My memories of “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”) by Heidegger are coloured by the rest of my life and by our quest; I have read this work for the last time over 30 years ago. In my memory Heidegger distinguished various forms of “being”. These forms are: “being in the world” (“Insein” in German) is our human foundation for “being-t/here (“Dasein” in German): it is the human basis for being that I am myself [7]. A man is not alone on earth, we are with the other (“Mitsein” in German) or with things around us (“Mitdasein” in German). We are aware and knowing in the world [8] with the other or with things; this knowing is connected to “be in the world” (“Insein”) in German” [9]. “Being t/here” (“Dasein” in German) gets shape and form – in my capacity as a human being – in the context of “being in the world” in relation to the other or to things: herewith arises “being t/here” (“Dasein” in German) [10].

These separate ways of “being t/here” (“Dasein” in German) are for me perfectly clear with the metaphor of Indra’s Net [11] in mind. Additionally Martin Heidegger explored in this part of “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”) loss of being amongst others by death. Within the metaphor of Indra’s Net, this loss plays no role, because “being” inside Indra’s Net is present ungraspably changing in every glass pearl that reflects the whole pearl game, in the entire pearl game and in the emptiness of the pearl game. By its variability, elusiveness and omnipresence in every pearl, in the entire pearl game and in the emptiness, the loss of “being” is only a problem when Indra’s Net solidifies in time and every change does stop, the emptiness disappears and the pearl games comes to a standstill – similar to a continuous darkness wherein the lights and lighthouses on the horizon come forever to a stand – and/or light (life) disappears within the pearl game.

As far as I know, Martin Heidegger gives in his work “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”) a very limited answer to the question “Who are you”: you and I exist (“being t/here” or “Dasein” in German) in mutual relation to each other (“being with to other” or “Mitsein in German) and to the things around us (“Mitdasein” in German) in the world (“Insein” in German).

In the second part of “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”) Martin Heidegger addresses “being whole” (“ursprünglichen Ganzheit” in German); he concludes that “being whole” is by definition the end of all other forms of “being” in the world: because if “being” as separate being exists, it has not accomplished “being whole” [12]. The moment “being whole” has arrived, then this situation results in a complete loss of being in the world. “Being whole” can never be experienced according to Martin Heidegger [13]; I think that Heidegger made this statement because there is no one left to experience “being whole”.

During our stay at the first stage of our quest at All-encompassing One we have experienced that All-encompassing One cannot be captured in words, that are intended to distinguish.
Martin Heidegger does not dwell on “being whole”, probably he concludes with Ludwig Wittgenstein that “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen” (“Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we should remain silent”) [14]. He continues with subjects as temporality, worldliness and historicity. This is my recollection of “Sein und Seit” (“Being and Time”), says Carla.

“Impressive and a good accessible summary of a book that is seen by many as inaccessible. Probably Martin Heidegger – with his Roman Catholic background – had difficulty with the All-encompassing One, because within “being whole” also the separation of human beings with the Catholic Divine Trinity [15] and thus the existence of God and of humans is eliminated, and the existence of humans coincide completely with the existence of God. Sticking to the conceptual framework of “being whole” was certainly a bridge too far for Martin Heidegger in his time”, says Man.
Lam Gods[16]
“During your introduction I have noticed that Martin Heidegger is so close to our quest and – like a bird in flight – he clipped right past us without any touching. Maybe this is caused by the limitations of language or perhaps even by the limitations of human understanding. The Heart Sutra is slightly closer to the All-encompassing One without leaving daily world. I hope to be able showing this during our boat trip. How does Martin Heidegger continue with “being whole” – or the All-encompassing One – in his later work?”, says Narrator.

“In Contributions to Philosophy (from Enowning) – published after his death – Martin Heidegger makes a distinction between normal “being” in the sense of daily life, and “be-ing” in the sense of the All-encompassing One. Looked from the perspective of separate humans and/or beings, be-ing is no human or being, because “be-ing” in no “being” – so no human and/or separate living being –; “be-ing” is following our normal way of thinking “the nothing”. I do not know if “the nothing” of Martin Heidegger coincides with our concept of “emptiness” [17].

He continues with the position that “be-ing” is the basis of All-encompassing” (“Da” in German), and that “being” is the basis of our daily world wherein we live [18]. “Be-ing” does not surpass humans and beings, but exceeds the separation between “being” in the world and “be-ing”, and herewith at once goes beyond the possibility of surpassing “being” and “be-ing” [19]. Via the “All-encompassing be-ing” (Da-sein in German) humans are involved in the world of daily life (“Dasein” in German). “Be-ing” creates the basis for our involvement in the world [20]. By mentioning being in our daily life (“being”) separately from the All-encompassing One (“be-ing”) and at the same time letting both coincide with each other, Martin Heidegger tries to link “being t/here” (“Dasein” in German) with “being whole” (“ursprünglichen Ganzheit” in German).
The manner wherein Martin Heidegger creates this connection, corresponds to the way in which one and zero are reciprocally related to each other: without “zero” (or emptiness) there can exist no “one” (or All-encompassing One), because without “zero” there is no place for “one”, and without “one” the concept of emptiness or “zero” is completely empty of everything and without meaning and value”, says Carla.

“Your explanation of Martin Heidegger’s “being in daily world” along with “being in the All-encompassing One” shows similarities with the explanation hereof in some Buddhist books wherein the “Great Being” – also sometimes address with the “other shore” – is distinguished from “ordinary (human) being in the everyday life”.

Personally I think this distinction is artificial, because everyday life is completely included – or encompassed – in the “All-encompassing One”; any distinction between them, immediately forms the first schism in the “All-encompassing One” whereby the “All-encompassing One” ceases to exist as “being whole”. The same applies to “emptiness” and “form”: both create each other within the space of the “All-encompassing One”. To show this space of “emptiness” and “form” within the “All-encompassing One”, I have invited you for this boat trip on the Waddenzee”, says Man.

“It will be difficult to improve your explanation of “being whole” and “being t/here” in the work of Martin Heidegger. Martin Heidegger was a man of his time wherein “yes” and “no”, “zero” and “one” and “afterwards all other numbers starting with two” were clearly separated from each other. Surpassing these distinctions and then going beyond any kind of surpassing, I regard as a major intellectual achievement by Martin Heidegger in his time. Within the “All-encompassing One” the work of Martin Heidegger is comparable with a light spot on the horizon, as the light of one of the houses in the space of the dark distance. In my way of thinking, the light of one of the houses coincidents at the same time with the dark distance “one” and the “All-encompassing One”. My last sentence may not fully reflect the unspeakable wonder hereof. In my opinion Thich Nhat Hanh succeeds better in describing this miracle in the introduction to his commentary on the Heart Sutra [21]. Shall I continue herewith, or do we need more discussion on the work of Martin Heidegger”, says Narrator.
Aarde uit de ruimte bij nacht[22]

“The work of Martin Heidegger certainly requires more discussion: the libraries written about his work have still a lot of room left for works with new insights and outlooks. But tonight we have no time left for a further deepening of Heidegger’s work”, says Carla.

“Beautiful metaphor: the light of one of the houses. Examining this light in the world – with all the abilities and wisdom of humanity – will miss the core that Martin Heidegger – I think – had tried to interpret in his work. I’m looking forward to the introduction of Thich Nhat Hahn”, says Man.

“Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn begins his commentary on the Heart Sutra with the chapter “Inter-being” that – I think – goes beyond “being in reciprocal relation to one another” (or “Mitsein in German”) by Martin Heidegger, because the interconnectedness of “inter-being” is complete and because within “inter-being” the boundaries of the manifestations (phenomena) are diffuse at best and usually only artificial/imaginary as an illusion.

Waddenzee[23]

The chapter “inter-being” starts with the point of view of a poet who sees clearly that there is a cloud floating in the paper whereon he is writing his poem; and the sun also shines in the paper. Without the sun there is no rain, without rain the trees cannot grow, and without trees there is no paper for writing the poem. The woodcutter of the tree, the papermaker, etc. watch from the sheet of paper, without them there will be no sheet of paper for the poem. And also their parents and ancestors watch from the sheet, because without them there would be no woodcutter, no papermaker, etc. If we look closer then we ourselves – the writer, the future reader with all their loved ones, with all of our culture and civilization – are within this sheet of paper; without them no future bundle of poetry and no future readers of the poem. You can designate “nothing” that is not on one way or another connected to this sheet of paper. All – or “being whole” (or “Ganz Heit” in German) by Martin Heidegger – coexists with this sheet of paper.

According to Thich Nhat Hahn you cannot be on your own; or you wish or not, you must co-exist or “inter-being” with everything and everyone around you: the sheet of paper is created solely by “non-paper” humans and things.
Vel papier[24]

Carla – especially for you – Thich Nhat Hahn gives an interesting interpretation to the problem of the origin. Suppose you may wish to trace the rain, sunshine, or woodcutter to their origin H₂O, the sun or the ancestors of the woodcutter, is the paper of the poet then still possible? Thich Nhat Hahn says that the paper of the poet will not be able to exist: even how thin the sheet of paper is, the entire universe is inside.

The Heart Sutra even goes one step further than:

  • Martin Heidegger who states that “being a whole” is by definition the “nothing” or empty, because there is nothing to distinguish, and on the other hand that our being in the world is full of “being in”, “being with” and “being t/here” and
  • Thich Nhat Hahn who rightly points in the chapter “Inter-being” of his commentary on the Heart Sutra that a simple sheet of paper mainly is composed of “non-paper” people and beings,

because the Heart Sutra states that all things are empty. Later at this boat trip, I hope it will be possible to explore this statement on the subject emptiness in de Heart Sutra”, says Narrator.

“The explanation of “inter-being” has many characteristics of the metaphor of Indra’s Net and perhaps “inter-being” – as meant by Thich Nhat Hahn – may well be similar with this metaphor. The addition to the problem of the origin that you have mentioned is only part of the problems I have herewith: later during our quest maybe more. I’m starting to get chilly; shall we prepare for the night?”, says Carla.

“Good idea; I have missed some sleep last night in the car”, says Man.

“I will hold the night watch. It is already a little foggy: are we outside every sailing route at high tide tonight?”, asks Narrator.

“The boat is stranded stable and outside every sailing route. In case of emergency you may wake me”, says Man.

[1] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger
[2] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Time
[3] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger
[4] See: Thich Nhat Hahn, The Heart of Understanding. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1988, p. 3, 4
[5] Chalet where Martin Heidegger had written Being and time. Source image and see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Heidegger
[6] See: New Testament, John 8:7
[7] See: Heidegger, Martin, Zijn en Tijd. Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Sun, 2013, p. 80
[8] See: Heidegger, Martin, Zijn en Tijd. Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Sun, 2013, p. 88
[9] See: Heidegger, Martin, Zijn en Tijd. Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Sun, 2013, p. 89
[10] See: Heidegger, Martin, Zijn en Tijd. Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Sun, 2013, p. 67
[11] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 65 – 68
[12] See: Heidegger, Martin, Zijn en Tijd. Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Sun, 2013, p. 302
[13] See: Heidegger, Martin, Zijn en Tijd. Nijmegen: Uitgeverij Sun, 2013, p. 302
[14] See: Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Amsterdam: Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennip, 1976 p. 152
[15] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 145 – 159
[16] Source image: part of http://www.bertsgeschiedenissite.nl/middeleeuwen/eeuw15/jan_van_eyck.htm
[17] See: Heidegger, Martin, Contributions to Philosophy (from Enowning). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 173
[18] See: Heidegger, Martin, Contributions to Philosophy (from Enowning). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 174
[19] See: Heidegger, Martin, Contributions to Philosophy (from Enowning). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 177
[20] See: Heidegger, Martin, Contributions to Philosophy (from Enowning). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999, p. 177
[21] Zie: Thich Nhat Hahn, The Heart of Understanding. Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1988, p. 3, 4
[22] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacht
[23] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wattenmeer_(Nordsee)
[24] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papier

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