Category Archives: Five

Published: Who are you – Part 2.3: Emptiness / E-book


Posts from this blog bundled as blook “Who are you part 2.3: Emptiness” are published as E-book on the website of Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher.

This E-book is freely downloadable via:

https://www.omnia-amsterdam.com/books/who-are-you-emptiness

Who are you 2-3Section 2.3 is an exploration of “emptiness” during a four-day sailing trip with the tidal flow on the Wadden Sea, where Carla Drift, Man Leben and Narrator first survey “emptiness” in the form of “empty from” and “empty to”, then consider “emptiness” as “being whole” (or “ursprünglichen Ganz Heit” in “Being and Time” by Martin Heidegger) and thereafter perceive “emptiness” as uniqueness – in unity and unicity – of everyday life superimposed within “being whole” as answer to the question “One, what is that?”. This exploration of “emptiness” provides an introduction and commentary on the Buddhist Heart Sūtra.

Printing of this Ebook is allowed for your own use or for educational purposes. Readers and users of publications by Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher may show their gratefulness by donations to charities of their choice.

 

Way of emptiness


Note: the original title “Weg van leegte” in Dutch, has three meanings: “Way of emptiness”, “Way from emptiness” and “Loving emptiness”

Halfway through the afternoon – when the boat is released by the rise of the tide – Narrator raises the anchor. Carla and Man hoist the sails and with a breeze from the west they sail with the flow in the direction of Lauwershaven.

“Where shall we moor tonight?”, asks Narrator to Man.

“With some luck southeast of Ameland. Tomorrow at the end of the morning – well before the change of weather – we will be back in the marina near Lauwersoog”, says Man.

“You are completely at home while sailing this boat: it seems that the boat, the waves, the wind and you fully go together. I recognise this, because looking back on my life I have always been completely at home in my four separate incarnations [1]: these have always fit me like the left eye and the left hand go together with the right eye and the right hand. In my third incarnation as wandering bhikṣu in Europe – following the annual migration of birds between South and North Europe – I have completely been absorbed in emptiness of meditation during my wanderings. My sense of time was gone, I lived in a timeless endlessness. If I look at you sailing in a relaxed and focused way, I perceive complete natural meditation in action: the boat goes – with help of small movement of helm and sail – smoothly by itself over the waves”, says Narrator.

“For me, sailing is a form of meditation; I already sail a long time. As a high school student, I aimed to sail as fast as possible and let the boat – without loss of speed – spectacularly cut through the waves. Now I let the wind and waves do the work together with the boat and the sails; I steer only occasional, as during meditation I let lingering thoughts drift away”, says Man.

“It is very easy for you”, says Narrator.

“That is partly true, I have to keep my attention and thoughts focused on the direction that we want to go and on the shoals that we must avoid. Meditation on a pillow is endlessly easier for me”, says Man.

“That is true for humans. I am not sure whether this is also true for other beings. A Buddhist teacher compares meditation with sitting as a frog. [2] Sitting is an everyday activity for a frog. The teacher says:

”When you are you, you see things as they are and you become One with your surroundings”.

In everyday life I see humanity often focused on a small part of oneself. Because of this, they lose sight of the things as they are – they confuse a wave with the ocean – and thus estrange from their surroundings.

Kikker[3]

Before we sailed away this afternoon, I saw the high tide arriving in waves; observing the interplay of waves and shells on the flats, this haiku originated:

In every wave
Nothing comes and goes;
Shell in the tide

Maybe this haiku came forth form the poem “Shell” by the Japanese poet Shinkichi Takahashi:

“Nothing, nothing at all is born, dies”, the shell says again and again
From the depth of hollowness.
Its body swept off by the tide – so what?
It sleeps in sand drying in sunlight, bathing in moonlight [4],
Nothing to do with sea or anything else.
Over and over it vanishes with the wave [5]

Since 30 years ago – at the opening of blossom buttons in the warmth of the sun – upon saying goodbye to my beloved [6], I carry this poem with me”, says Narrator.

“This haiku and poem give a voice to my perception of unicity – in oneness and uniqueness – while sailing”, says Man.

“Almost always when I’m busy with only one activity, I experience this feeling of oneness. When doing several things at once – for example: quickly packing luggage for a journey and also dealing with all kind of practical matters, such as paying bills, call people, etc. –, my experience of oneness evaporates in the cross swell caused by dividing my attention”, says Carla.

“The boat rocks so beautiful now; I will go back to sleep. Would you wake me at the beginning of the evening? Or no, please wake me when the boat has moored at low tide”, says Narrator.

Man sails the boat with help from Carla to the planned mooring. Carla and Man lower the sails, drop the anchor and let the boat moor. Carla wakes Narrator as promised.

“You have already ignited the lamp in the kitchen. Shall I prepare the supper for tonight? What would you like to drink? I have one last bottle of red wine”, says Carla.

“Nice, I think we have enough bread tonight and tomorrow”, says Man.

“I would prefer some water first, do we still have enough water left?”, asks Narrator.

“More than enough for two days”, says Man.

“Before I went to sleep, I thought that this afternoon – during our conversation while sailing – I have done injustice to everyday life. A Buddhist question focuses on the importance of everyday life. The question is as follows:

A student [7] asks a teacher: “What is the way (Tao)?”. The teacher answers: “Daily life [8] is the way”. The student asks: “Should we direct ourselves to it or not?”. The teacher answers: “If you direct to it, you go away from it”. The student asks: “If we do not direct to it, how can we know it is the way?”. The teacher answers: “The way does not belong to knowing and not-knowing. Knowing is an illusion, not-knowing is emptiness of consciousness. If you realise [9] the way, you perceive this way as vast and boundless as the endless empty firmament. How can the way be seen as right or wrong”. With this answer the consciousness was like the full moon. [10]

Maan eenMaan twee[11]

And the poem accompanying this question reads:

Flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
A cool breeze in summer, and snow in winter;
If there is no vain cloud in your mind,
For you it is a good season.

Upon reading this poem I have made this haiku:

Every season
Without a cloud in your mind
A good season

This question covers by all means the way of emptiness, of the All-encompassing One and of everyday life”, says Narrator.

“This is a famous question from the Mumonkan [12] – in English the “Gateless Gate” – the gateless gate to the gate of emptiness whereby every distinction within the All-encompassing One (or “being-whole” according to Martin Heidegger) is lifted. Via this question a Buddhist teacher has realised enlightenment: the voice of this teacher still sounds within all and everything. A student of this teacher was once confronted with a famous phrase by this teacher, whereupon the student said: “My teacher never said this. Please do not gossip about my teacher“. I think this student is referring to the universal teacher inseparable included within the All-encompassing One wherein also his former teacher completely coincides [13].
Mentioning the “Gateless Gate”, I think that we have arrived at the mantra of the Heart Sutra. Can you explain the meaning of this mantra in Sanskrit”, asks Man to Narrator.

“Delicious cheese with bread. Please, could you pour me some wine?”, asks Narrator to Carla.

“Please”, says Carla.

“The wine tastes wonderful with cheese and bread. It is like a dessert at this short boat trip.
The Heart Sūtra is one of the few sūtras with a mantra; hereby can be seen that it is a later Buddhist sūtra, because mantras became popular in India well after the onset of Buddhism [14].

The mantra is as follows:

tadyathā | gate gate pāragate pārasaṅgate bodhi svāhā

Wherein the separate words have the following meaning:

  • • “Tadyathā” consists of:
    • “tad” meaning “also, in this world”,
    • “ya”: we have seen this word in śūnyatā and it has the meaning “mover” and “incentive”. My father was of the opinion that “ya” is closely related to “√yaj” in the sense of “sacrifice”, “offering for a higher – Godlike/heavenly– purpose” (perhaps “God’s gift” in reciprocity). My father has also told me once that “ya” is connected with our word “yeah” as positive consent and confirmation,
    • “yathā” meaning “in this manner”,
      Hereby “tadyathā” has the meaning: “all thus”. The full literary meaning is: “All-encompassing One” or “being-whole” here and now in all its glory – as “God’s gift” in complete reciprocity.
  • The word “gate” has for me a very special meaning. I had lived one year of my life with my beloved lived in the Prästgatan – the priest street – on the island of Gamla Stan in Stockholm [15]. In Sanskrit “gate” is not only a conjugation of the verb “gam” meaning “to go”, but it is also the “locative or place-conjugation” of the noun derived from the verb “to go”. Thereby “gata” has the meaning of “disappeared, disappeared from this world, deceased, dead, gone, come, come forth, near, arrive, know, and spread everywhere” [16].

Prästgatan[17]

  • The word “para” is used in Sanskrit in three ways with the following meanings:
    • pāra: crossing, the other side, the other shore, guardian, fulfil, go through, to bring to a close. In Buddhism “the other shore” is used as metaphor for enlightenment.
    • parā: away, off, aside
    • para: highest, supreme, old, ancient, better or worse, and sometimes also superior or inferior.
      Here the first meaning of the word is used; my father added that while using one way and meaning of the word para, the other ways and meanings are always gently resonating.
  • The word “sam” meaning: “together, binding, intensity, complete, and completely destroyed”,
  • Bodhi: perfect wisdom, enlightened mind,
  • Svāhā: exclamation at an offer, hallelujah or “amen”.
    Usually this mantra is not translated; freely rendered the meaning of this mantra is:
    All thus, gone, gone, gone beyond, all and everyone gone together beyond, enlightenment, amen!

One commentator [18] has written that the first “gate” refers to the deep inner desire to enter the path of the Bodhisattva, the second “gate” refers to obtaining inner maturity and the third “gate” together with “pāra” to a perfect maturity – or probably enlightenment.
I think that every form of “gate” and every word in this mantra – like every word that we speak – directly and without distinction refers to the All-encompassing One or the “being-whole” as described by Martin Heidegger.

In the long version of the Sutra, several confirmations of the truth of the contents of the Sūtra and a few words of praise for the attendees follow upon the mantra; in the short version the Sutra ends with this mantra.

Time for some bread and wine”, says Narrator.

“What can I add to this introduction on the Heart Sūtra? Of course, a complete study as lifework can be made on many details and on the content and the influence of this sūtra. But I think the biggest challenge is the integration of the content of this sūtra in our daily lives. I do my best, but often I am carried away by the everyday concerns and ordinary issues”, says Man.

“The daily concerns and issues of the day are part of our “being-whole”: these concerns and the issues of the day are perfectly encompassed in “being-whole” and they certainly require attention – or better compassion – to receive a suitable place in our “being-whole” without outshining everything and causing a Buddhist hell. This compassion is nicely displayed in the words “All-encompassing One” for our “being-whole””, says Narrator.

“Until now, I have followed the introduction without giving significant additions, also because I want to take note of this new way of looking at emptiness. Now we have come to the end of the introduction, I see that the merging between “being-whole” and our everyday life provides a good basis for ethics; many ethical principles and assumptions of humanity and compassion are in some way based hereupon.

I understand this basis – static and dynamic – intellectually. But emotionally, I struggle to unite change, renewal and aging in our lives within the merging between “being-whole” and everyday life. In addition, I do not know how the miracle of “life” relates to the merger between “being-whole” and the issues of the day via superposition. Or in a metaphor: how does the hologram of impressions – that we have – relate to the whole interplay within Indra’s net, and also, where does the light within Indra’s net come from?”, says Carla.

“The miracle of the origin of life, the light and the origin of change seems to be beyond our comprehension, although we are constantly right in the middle of this miracle: just as the fish who will discover water as last although the fish is completely immersed herein. By being complete involvement, we live it constantly and completely”, says Narrator.

“What do you think of my following proposal: shall we locate “change” – the following common reality in our quest to “Who are you” – on a holiday tour in Kenya? It is my wish to go to Africa once in my life, and I understand that Carla also would like to return to Kenia again. I can easily offer the travel and stay from my funds. Narrator, I understand that you cannot travel to Africa because of your past as a child soldier and your former role in the worlds of secret services for which you are still on the run: maybe we should forget this proposal”, says Man.

Kenia[19]

“No, I think it’s a very good idea. I would like to hear a report of this tour to the country of my mother and my childhood. During the report, I will give the necessary additions. In the meantime, I can make preparations for the first two sub-parts “Ishvara” and “Et incarnatus est” of part three of the quest. These two sub-parts of the third part will fit well with “emptiness” in the form of “being-whole””, says Narrator.

“I would like to accept this offer gladly, but I have reservations about the absence of Narrator on this tour”, says Carla.

“From a distance I will travel constantly with you: I will breathe with your breath and will look with your eyes. If you will not go, I will not breathe the air of Africa and I will not see my homeland again with your eyes. I will join you on this tour within the emptiness of the “All-encompassing One”, says Narrator.

“Would you like one last sip of wine from the bottle? Maybe Man and I should fulfil our desire to visit Africa”, says Carla.

“Let us yet share the last sip of your wine with my bread and cheese before you go to sleep. And you should definitely go: I look forward to hear your experiences and learn the changes that have taken place in my homeland”, says Narrator.

“Yes, please one last sip of your delicious wine. We will sail away tomorrow at dawn. It’s good that Carla and I go to bed early; would you like to wake me up when you wish to transfer the vigil?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“I will keep the vigil; I will wake you at dawn, because I cannot sleep under the starry sky”, says Narrator.

After a few moments, Carla and Man go to bed. The next morning they sail to the marina near Lauwersoog. There they prepare the boat for the transfer to the friend of Man.
Mid-afternoon Carla and Man say goodbye to Narrator at the bus station.

“I am looking forward to see my friend in Groningen. Over 25 years ago we were both lovers within a turbulent life in Amsterdam, but now we are good friends who both have a pleasant life: he as an associate professor in Groningen and I am a wandering monk. Our mutual passion is gone, but the mutual compassion has remained. We are pleased to be able to see each other again: many of our friends did not survive the AIDS-era in Amsterdam. Meeting him again, I will also meet the deceased common old friends. I wish you a nice trip in Africa during the coming weeks. When you are back, I will contact you”, says Narrator.

“I am looking forward to your postcard for our next meeting”, says Man.

“I will let you know when I am back at Schiphol Airport. There is the bus to Groningen. Send my regards to your friend”, says Carla.

“And mine too”, says Man.

Near dinnertime the boat is ready for the transfer. At sunset Carla and Man drive to a hotel for overnight stay nearby.

Waddenzee[20]

During the next morning a storm rages over the Wadden Sea and hunts the water forth.

Voidness of the storm
In the water of the sea,
Hunts the waves forth

[1] See: Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way – One Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 202
[2] Source: Suzuki, Shunryu, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice. New York: Weatherhill, 1980, p. 80
[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kikkers
[4] In Buddhism the Moon is often a reference to religion – or to the All-encompassing One.
[5] Source: Stryk, Lucien & Ikemoto, Takashi, Zen Poetry. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd, 1981, p.133
[6] See: Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way – One Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 131 – 135
[7] This student is the later teacher Zhaozhou Congshen, who is also known as Joshu (the name whereby he is known in Japan). See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhaozhou_Congshen
[8] Free rendering of “The ordinairy way”
[9] Narrator has already given an explanation of “realise”: “My father has heard from his ancestors the meaning of the keyword “realise” that is composed of “re”, “all”, “Īśe” [this is the locative of Īśa whereby Īśa means in het Sanskrit amongst others “God in celestial heaven”, “One who is completely master of”. The sound of Īśa has similarity with “ich” – the German first person singular]. Herewith realise means amongst other “honouring” “again and again”, “all”, “in its all-encompassment”. See also: Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way – One Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 126
[10] See also: Shibayama, Zenkei, The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan. Boston: Shambhala, 2000, p. 140 – 147; Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990, 93 – 97; Green, James, The Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Joshu. Boston: Shambhala, 1998, p. 11
[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon
[12] The Mumonkan – in Engish mostly translated with Gateless Gate – is a collection of 48 Zen Koans that is compiled by the monk Mumon in the 13th century AC.
The character 無 (wú) has a fairly straightforward meaning: no, not, or without.
However, within Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, the term 無 (wú) is often a synonym for 空 (sunyata). This implies that the 無 (wú) rather than negating the gate (as in “gateless”) is specifying it, and hence refers to the “Gate of Emptiness”.
This is consistent with the Chinese Buddhist notion that the “Gate of Emptiness” 空門 is basically a synonym for Buddhism, or Buddhist practice. 門 (mén) is a very common character meaning door or gate. However, in the Buddhist sense, the term is often used to refer to a particular “aspect” or “method” of the Dharma teachings. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gateless_Gate
[13] See also: Shibayama, Zenkei, The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan. Boston: Shambhala, 2000, p. 262, middle of the page; Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990, 178, last paragraph
[14] Source: Lopez, Donald S. – The Heart Sutra explained Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990 p. 109
[15] Zie ook: : Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way – One Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 103 – 133
[16] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
[17] Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan
[18] The name of this commentor is Śrimahājana. Source: Lopez, Donald S. – The Heart Sutra explained Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990 p. 111
[19] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maasai_people
[20] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waddenzee

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form


Around half past one in the afternoon the fog slowly disappears. Carla awakes Narrator and she says that Man and she will start preparing lunch. Man proposes to have a warm lunch, so in darkness of the evening at the next landing point a simple meal will suffice.

When Narrator is up and fully awake, the warm lunch is ready.

“A simple but wholesome meal. I hope you will enjoy this meal”, says Man.

“Enjoy your meal”, say Carla and Narrator.

“I think we will have sufficient visibility to sail away at high tide”, says Man.

“That would be nice, because then I can take a nap at the end of the afternoon in a rocking boat”, says Narrator.

“Now we have mentioned the rocking of the boat; a few minutes ago I saw a few ducks floating by on the puddle of water next to the boat. Upon seeing the waves’ game caused by kicking their legs in the wake of these ducks, I thought of our conversation this morning about our life as a dream superimposed within “being-whole”. The waves’ game – a metaphor for our life as a dream, because the waves’ game in the water surface is a superposition within the surface – in the water is a metaphor for being-whole”, says Carla.

Drijvende eenden[1]

“A nice example of the combination of being-whole with the swirling manifestations of daily life”, says Man.

“Now mentioning it, could you hand me some water?”, asks Narrator to Man.

“Please”, says Man.

“I believe we have now arrived at the core of the second part of our quest to “Who are you”. Being-whole and “you” appearing in daily life go together within the ineffable all-encompassing “being-whole”, whereby we – the other and I in our everyday manifestations – are superimposed like a dream in the “wholeness”.

Here I am reminded of a radio signal – superimposed on a carrier – that as one signal is transmitted through space. Without the carrier no transference of a radio signal, without space no transference of the signal: they are mutually interconnected and interdependent in space.

Superpositie[2]

I come back to the question: “One – what is that?” to the wise woman in the Buddhist question whereupon she was unable to answer. Like a wave as manifestation and the ocean as “being-whole” inseparably superimposed on each other, is the “not knowing” of the wise woman also superimposed on “being whole” or is it fully encompassed in the “being-whole”?, asks Carla to Narrator.

“Both:

Night kisses the stars
And lets the waves move
Within the cosmos
The dream of dream a complete
Answer to: “One – what is that”

And:

A silent answer
To the question: “One – what is That”;
Being-whole in all

And together in one haiku:

In One breath
Form – empty, and empty – form
United in All

Herewith we have arrived at the heart of the Heart Sūtra according to one commentator [3] and the core of the Sūtra is:

“Here, form is emptiness and emptiness is form.
Emptiness is no other than form; form is no other than emptiness”.

Or in Sanskrit:

iha rūpaṃ śūnyata śūnyataiva rūpam
rūpānna pṛthak śūnyatā śūnyatāyā na pṛthagrūpaṃ

wherein we encounter several time the word “śūnyata”[4] for emptiness. The other keywords are:

  • iha is usually translated “here, in this world, in this place.” This adverb is composed of “i” meaning “compassion”, and “ha” meaning amongst others “meditation, knowledge, the moon, to destroy, to remove, to leave and as last letter of the alphabet also last breath or to kill”. Herewith the word “iha” has simultaneously the meanings of “removal of illusions with compassion” and “meditation and / or enlightenment in this world.”
  • rūpaṃ – the accusative of the word “rūpa” – usually translated with “form” and has also the meanings of “dreamlike appearance, inner nature, image, graceful shape and symptom.” The word “rūpa” comes from the verb core from the verb core √rūp meaning “to form, to figure” and also “to exhibit by gesture” and “to show oneself”. My father said that “to show oneself” is to realise – and to give shape to – the All-encompassing One or to “being-whole”.
  • “na pṛthak” is usually translated with “not without” or “not separate of”. [5]

According to the core of the Heart Sūtra, not only the manifestations of daily life and of our everyday life, but also “the realisation of the All-encompassing One and herewith being-whole” is empty”, says Narrator.

“In the Heart Sūtra several times an explanation is given to Shāriputra, for example: “Thus (evaṃ) Shāriputra, all Dharma’s are empty without characteristics, not arisen, not disappeared, nor immaculate, nor polluted, nor complete and nor unfilled”. What is the meaning of the name Shāriputra?”, asks Carla to Narrator.

“The name Shāriputra is composed of “Shār” meaning in Sanskrit “wind, arrow and injure”, and “putra” meaning “child” [6]. Herewith the name Shāriputra refers to “child of the wind” – volatile and always everywhere present – and thereby “child destined to remove the illusions (like an arrow in one sigh)”. Because this destination Shāriputra is described in several Mahayana texts standing with one foot in “being-whole” and with the other foor in “the phenomena of everyday world”; by this double role, Shāriputra is an ideal person to act in the “All-encompassing One” and within “the delusion of daily life” as part of “being-whole”. Shāriputra [7] is one of the most important disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. According to Buddhists Shakyamuni Buddha is the historical person Siddhārtha Gautama after his complete enlightenment”, says Narrator.

“Your explanation of the core of the Heart Sutra reminds me of the name YHWH for God in the Tanach [8] – and in the Old Testament of Christianity – meaning “Eternal” or “Always” and this name can also be understood as the Hebrew verb “הוא” or “is” from the verb “to be”. Usually “הוא” is translated as “He who is” but the originally meaning is just “is” without further interpretation. While interpreting their core, many religions fall back on the “unmentionable” for example in Hebrews 7: 3 with “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life” for the Messiah (or the eternal priest). But immediately after the mentioning of the “unmentionable being”, religions begin to explain this “unmentionable being” within daily life and afterwards to secure the place of the followers within “being-whole” and in relation to the “unmentionable being””, says Man.

“Similarly, the Heart Sūtra. After the core: “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form. Emptiness is no other than form; form is not different from emptiness”, the Heart Sutra begins slowly to turn again like a cyclone, because hereafter is restated that – in addition to form – the four other skanda’s are empty: “In the same way feeling, perception, thought and consciousness are empty”. After this – as Carla mentioned before – the Sutra says that all forms of self / Self are empty without content:

“Thus [9] all Dharma’s [10] are empty without characteristics, not arisen, not disappeared, nor immaculate, nor polluted, nor complete and nor unfilled”.

I can only read this as: all Dharma’s are – via “emptiness is form” – fully included in the All-encompassing One” or the unmentionable and indivisible “being-whole” of Martin Heidegger. ”

And the Sūtra continues with a large number of negations:

“Therefore, in emptiness there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no memory, no consciousness, neither eye nor ear or nose or tongue, neither body nor mind, nor form, neither sound nor smell nor taste, neither feeling nor traces of perception from eye to conceptual consciousness, nor causation from ignorance to old age and death, no end of causation from ignorance to old age and death, nor suffering, nor relief, no way, no knowledge, no achievement or non-achievement”

With these negations the Sūtra begins (after “Form – emptiness and emptiness – form”) slowly to get fully form (and emptiness) again – like a photo immerged in a photographic developer – within the All-encompassing One.

Ontwikkelbad[11]

Ah, finally the sun, within a short while the fog will disappear. With some luck we can soon look around us again. When are you planning to sail away?”, asks Narrator to Man.

“I propose to raise the anchor about three o’clock at high tide and start our return to Lauwersoog. Due to the fog this morning we have not been able to begin the last part of our trip to Vlieland. When we would sail this last part this afternoon, we will have a chance to end up in bad weather – according to the weather forecast – within two days: to me it seems better to avoid this. Now we can arrive in the marina before the weather change. And I can have the boat ready in time for the transfer to my friend”, says Man.

“”I’ve spoken so much that I’ve forgotten to eat. Could you hand me the bread and cheese?”, asks Narrator to Carla.

“Please. Are bread and cheese also empty according to the Heart Sūtra? I think I know the answer, but what do you think?”, asks Carla.

“They are no permanent – independent – forms: they are arisen by baking the bread and ripening of the cheese and they will change into another form during digestion. Even if they are not eaten, they will spoil within a short time. The generally accepted idea of “bread” and “cheese” are also no permanent independent forms: they receive meaning and value within a human society, they have originated once in the course of history, they change and they will disappear once again. In this way, bread and cheese are at the same time form and emptiness within our lifetime. In addition, they give form and emptiness to our lives within our “being-whole”.
Herakleitos had said according tradition:

“πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει” καὶ “δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης” [12]

of interpretated:

All changes and nothing remain still, and we cannot step twice in the same stream”.

Just like our sailing trip on the Waddensea: everything is constantly changing form, and no form is permanent. The fog that has just fully enveloped us, is gone. This reminds me of a short poem at the end of a Buddhist question. I have made this a haiku from this poem:

Sun shines in the sky
On vanishing of the mist
As bright as allways

Although we will consider “change” at the next part of our quest, I still ask the question now: Is the constant change within “being-whole” empty too?

This question is important because the Mahābhārata states on one hand that everything – even the gods – and perhaps “being-whole” is bound to dharma [13], but according to the Heart Sutra, the dharma’s are empty and simultaneously included in “being-whole”. Is the “being-whole” also empty?”, asks Man to Carla en Narrator.

“Based upon “facts and logic” no answer is possible according to the two incompleteness theorems [14] by Kurt Gödel [15]. Briefly – and focused on the question “Is “being-whole” empty” – the theorems read:

  • In case a system – “being-whole” or finite – is consistent (or empty), this system cannot be complete and
  • The consistency of the axiom’s like “Is “being-whole” empty” cannot be proven from the system – “being-whole” or endless – itself.

I come to this conclusion because “being-whole” is so unknowable endless, that there is always place for something additional. I think “being-whole” is endless because mathematics permits the concept of “infinity” easily, but I cannot prove that “being-whole” is infinite, because it is – due to indivisibility – by definition unknowable and incomparable in size.

From metaphysics, I think that “being-whole” has by definition has no distinction and is therefore indivisible; hereby “being-whole” is empty of all discrimination and understanding, because there is nothing to understand or grasp. I think this definition – as all assumptions – is debatable.

Besides that there are of course the various temporary manifestations superimposed within “being-whole”, like photos immerged in a photographic developer. These manifestations are as real as when I squeeze you in your arm and as volatile, empty and real – as form is emptiness and emptiness is form – within the metaphor of Indra’s Net”, says Carla

“This lunch was excellent; shall we have some coffee?”, says Narrator.

“I will make some coffee”, says Man.

“Your haiku is based on the poem in the Buddhist question “Wash you bowls”. Summarized and adapted to our time this question is:

“A student enters a monastry and asks for instructions. The teacher asks: “Did you have your lunch?” The student answers: “Yes, I have”. “Then”, the teacher says: “Wash your plate and cutlery”.

And the poem is:

Because it is so clear
It takes longer to realise.
If you acknowledge at once that candlelight is fire,
The lunch has long been prepared. [16]

Or said in another way: “A fish discovers water last of all. So it takes a long time to realise “being-whole” because it is omnipresent. When you recognise that all forms are completely included in the All-encompassing One, then this lunch has long been prepared”.

The poem gives immediately – or directly and momentaneously – an answer to the question where we may find “being-whole”: “Here (“iha” in Sanskrit) at this place where we sit” and “Here in the shoes wherein we stand”. Because it is so obvious, it will go unnoticed.

The non-dualistic Vedānte [17] – amongst other based upon the Upanishads and the Bagavad Gītā – often refers to the All-encompassing One, whereafter at once a distinction is introduced, for example the caste in India, student and teacher, higher beings and humans [18].
This same distinction within “being-whole” immediate arose within the Tanakh and the Old Testament where God – YHWH (or “is”) – humans are separated after a few words thereby entering our manifestations within everyday life.

Recently I read on the back cover of “Deze wereld anders – Politieke geschiedenis van het grote verhaal” (This world different – Political history of the grand story) by Ton Veerkamp:

“Christianity focused on heaven – the heaven of the folk religions – and the afterlife. Everyday life and the “here and now” was a side issue and thus Christianity has often excessively adapted itself to a world of power and oppression.”

De wereld anders[19]

I think every religion has done this in to some extent: nothing human is excluded from religions.
The Heart Sutra continues after mentioning the core of “being-whole” – and after a large number of negations of daily realities that are empty of content and form – by entering the path of the bodhisattva.

“Therefore without attainment, the bodhisattva’s [20] – via perfect wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) – are without obstructions on their life course. Without obstructions and thus without fear they surpass their illusions (within daily life and within “being-whole”) and nirvana [21]. Due to the perfect wisdom (prajñāpāramitā) all past, present and future Buddha’s realise the “All-encompassing One”.”

The All-encompassing One” is “Here (“iha” in Sanskrit) at this place where we sit” and “Here in the shoes wherein we stand”.

In this manner the Heart Sūtra – although in words that distinguish and create distance – has tried to describe life course (or Tao) within the non-dualistic All-encompassing One.
Time to wash my plate and cutlery”, says Narrator.

“With your plate and cutlery also the All-encompassing One” is washed within our world. This is perfectly clear within the metaphor of “Indra’s Net”.

In everyday life, I notice a limitation on the scope of washing your plate and cutlery, because the transfer of information – the light within the metaphor of Indra’s Net – has obvious limitations and because way of perception does affect our way of seeing.

Approached from the world of phenomena and viewed from everyday individual objects it is utterly impossible to wash only the plate and cutlery without having an impact on the environment, because there is always an influence on dishwasher, soap and the dishwater had an initial temperature by the sun before it is heated etc. etc.

In my life, I experience both worldviews as completely real and practical, but I cannot let both completely overlap in one comprehensive system: the metaphor of superposition of the world of phenomena within “being-whole” helps, but is not fully satisfactory for me”, says Carla.
“The Heart Sūtra is a scripture originated from Mahāyāna Buddhism. This form of Buddhism is also called the “middle way” because within this religion one tries to unite the world of “being-whole” with everyday life. This “middle way” takes shape in the bodhisattva ideal. A bodhisattva – with both feet together in the worlds of “being-whole” and of “everyday life” – will only enter the All-encompassing One together and at the same time with everyone and everything. Within this ideal a bodhisattva enters – here and now – constantly “being-whole” and “daily life” to save everything and everyone from life suffering”, says Narrator while washing his plate and cutlery.

 

[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superpositie_%28natuurkunde%29
[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amplitude_modulation
[3] See: Lopez, Donald S. – The Heart Sutra explained Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990 p. 57
[4] See for an exposure of “śūnyata” the post: “Emptiness: to the end of the night”
[5] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
[6] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sariputta
[8] Source: Tanach Heerenveen: Uitgeverij NBG, 2007, p. 113
[9] The Heart Sūtra uses the word “evaṃ”. See for an explanation footnote 14 in chapter “Mist”
[10] Dharma means literally “continuously placing of the self/Self”.
[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkroom
[12] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus
[13] See for an explanation of Dharma: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 34 e.v.
[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_G%C3%B6del
[15] See also: Origo, Jan van, a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 62 – 64
[16] See also: Shibayama, Zenkei, The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan. Boston: Shambhala, 2000, p. 67 – 71 and Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990, 40 – 43
[17] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedanta
[18] See: Venkataramanan, S. Select Works of Sri Sankaracharya. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 2003
[19] See: Veerkamp, Ton. Deze wereld anders – Politieke geschiedenis van het Grote Verhaal. Vught: Uitgeverij Skandalon, 2014
[20] The word bodhisattva consists of two words “bodhi” and “sattva” meaning “perfect knowledge, wisdom” and “being, conscience, living being” in Sanskrit. The school of Maha ya na buddhism knows the bodhisattva ideal. According to this ideal, a human who is on the verge of enlightenment – named bodhisattva, will refrain of entering until the complete universe and every particle is capable to enter enlightenment. In the meantime a bodhisattva will prepare everyone and everything for enlightenment.
[21] Literally: absence of forest (or barriers) or the open plain

Mist


At the beginning of the night, Narrator stands guard on a clear night sky while Carla and Man sleeping. Halfway through the night, the sea fog is getting thicker, so that the sight at the start of the morning is less than 20 meters.

Around 7 a.m. Narrator awakes Man and Carla as agreed. After a brief look outside Man says to Narrator that in the coming hours it will be impossible to sail with visibility less than 200 meters; he proposes to take over the watch, but Narrator prefers to sleep during the day while sailing, because then the boat is rocking pleasantly. Man asks to be awaken at 9 am at the latest or earlier in case the fog clears off. Carla and Man start sleeping again.

At 9 am Narrator starts making breakfast with fried eggs and cheese. Carla and Man are still dozing, but the smell of fried eggs makes them awake. They get up, they wash themselves with cold water and put quickly warm clothes on. Visibility is still poor.

“Low tide is nearing. It does not make sense to sail away this morning, because we do not have enough time to arrive at a next good landing place. We may enjoy this view until the next high tide. When the sun will starts shining it may be quite comfortable. Nice that you have already prepared the breakfast”, says Man.

“Delicious: fried eggs and coffee to start the day. After our discussion last night about “being whole” that – according to Martin Heidegger – is by definition “empty” or “the nothingness”, I had dreamed last night about the way women in the Buddhist question last week at the end of “intensities and associations” [1]; she was unable to answer the question: “One – what is that” [2]. Until tonight I thought that this wise woman was beaten dumb because the Buddhist sage had uncovered with this question her ignorance and misunderstanding regarding “One – what is that” had uncovered.

In my dream I knew that the wise man and wise woman were entirely included in the “being whole”; they were one – question and answer was one, speaking and silence was one and understanding and misunderstanding were merged into one – and herewith an answer was unpronounceable: it was not necessary and not possible. Suddenly I had a great respect for the inability of the wise woman to answer. Now, at daylight, in this fog my understanding of this answer begins to fade, as if the centre of the cyclone moves and swirls of the storm of daily life sweep away the oneness of “being whole”, says Carla.

“Man would you be so kind to pour me some coffee? Thank you. Until recently, I have studied a Buddhist question about “being whole” and diversity named “A woman comes out of meditation” [3]. Very briefly this question is as follows:

Once long ago, “being whole” – or All-encompassing One – was present in a place where many Buddha’s [4] had gathered. When Mañjuśrī – teacher of the seven Buddhas and and and excellent bodhisattvas [5]; his name comes from the verb cores √mañj meaning “to cleanse or to be bright” and √śrī meaning “to mix, to unite, to cook” whereby his name refers to perfect enlightenment in our earthly existence – arrived, the Buddha’s disappeared to their original abode. Only a young woman – in deep meditation – stayed behind near Shakyamuni [6] Buddha’s seat. Mañjuśrī asked Buddha: “Why can a young woman be near the seat of Buddha while I cannot?” Buddha replied: “Get her out of meditation and ask her yourself”. With all his knowledge and super-natural powers, Mañjuśrī was not able to get her out of meditation. The All-encompassing One told Mañjuśrī: “Countless Mañjuśrī are not yet able to get her out of meditation. Far beyond more countries than there are grains of sand in the world’s oceans, lives a junior bodhisattva who will be able to awaken her out this meditation”. Immediately this junior bodhisattva appeared and after a snap with his fingers the young woman came out of her meditation.

Meditatie[7]

This Buddhist question includes several sub-questions:

  • How can Mañjuśrī – a bodhisattva – be the teacher of Buddha’s?
  • What is the original abode of the Buddha’s and why do they return to their original abode at the moment Mañjuśrī arrives?
  • Why can a young woman be near Shakyamuni Buddha’s seat while Mañjuśrī cannot?
  • Why can’t Mañjuśrī – an excellent bodhisattva – get this young woman out of meditation while a student bodhisattva can do this with a snap of his finger?

A Zen master [8] gives an explanation to the question how Mañjuśrī as bodhisattva can be the teacher of Buddha’s. This is possible because Mañjuśrī is symbol of prajñā or wisdom of “being whole” – also called the complete emptiness or absolute equality from which everything is born and to which all returns – that surpasses the mundane and metaphysical world. This “being whole” is nothing more than the realisation of the enlightenment of all Buddhas. Hereby Mañjuśrī is called the master of the Buddha’s: in the world of Mañjuśrī there is no subject and object, no getting up and no sitting down, no getting into meditation and no coming out of meditation. The junior bodhisattva symbolises worldly distinction: in his world we can freely stand up and sit down, being absorbed in meditation and come out of meditation.

This Zen master continues his explanation:
Everything in the world has two aspects of “being whole”: an essential aspect of “being whole” and a phenomenal aspect. Based on the essential aspect all and everything is empty: it has no shape, no color, no size and no surface. Herewith all is the same. On the basis of the phenomenal aspect, everything has a shape, a color, a size and a surface. Herewith all is unique and completely different. We human beings have two aspects: an essential manifestation and a phenomenal manifestation. Our entire equality and our absolute differences are two aspects of one “being”. Intrinsically both aspects are one and the same of our “being whole”. Therefore we can say that everything has a form and at the same time has no form, and in the same way we take no step when we walk and in the middle of a hectic city we are in the core of a deep silence. The complete understanding of the Buddhist question stems from a complete understanding of the combination of the essential – or empty – manifestations with all phenomenal manifestations within the “All-encompasing One”.

This Zen master gives the following explanation to why the junior bodhisattva can get the young woman out of her meditation while Mañjuśrī is not capable hereof:
Mañjuśrī and the junior bodhisattva both have freedom to act within their possibilities. Mañjuśrī is free to not get the young woman out of her meditation and the junior bodhisattva is free to let her stand up, just like a horse is free to gallop and a snail is free to crawl on the ground and free to not to gallop. Not being able to gallop of a snake is an elegant way to give substance to this freedom. The horse and the snake have in common that they both have the ability and freedom to fulfill their core of deep silence or rather their “being whole” within their “All-encompassing One”; so Mañjuśrī and the junior bodhisattva in their “whole being” in complete interconnectedness with all manifestations are completely free to reflect their Dharma [9] and their unchangeable “being whole” [10] within Indra’s Net.

This question with the explanation of the Zen master is a good start for a further exploration of emptiness and a closer examination of the Heart Sūtra”, says Narrator.

“This question and the explanation give words to my feelings of oneness in my dream that I had as a result of our discussion last night about “being whole” and the All-encompasing One”, says Carla.

“I am still looking for – after all the years I have immersed myself in meditation – a balance between the silence of meditation and the hectic pace of everyday life. The freedom to “be” in both worlds I have explored within my capabilities and limitations. In the separate worlds of meditation and everyday life I am at home and I am experiencing regular “being whole”, but I do not know the full integration of the two separate worlds within my life; maybe this integration is not given to me within my capabilities and limitations, or perhaps this integration is not possible within a human life. This Buddhist question is about this integration that I am trying to achieve.

The Zen master who gives this explanation, is using the word Samādhi for meditation. Do you know the origin and meaning of the word Samādhi in Sanskrit?”, says Man.

“The fog does not clear of yet; shall we make new coffee?”, says Narrator.

“I will make new coffee, then you can continue your conversation”, says Carla.

“Meditation is a good translation of Samādhi. In Sanskrit the word Samādhi consists of:

  • “sam” meaning “conjunction, union, to join together, to place together, intensity, completeness”,
  • “ā” meaning “backwards, back, giving a direction, completely, and also compassion and/or consent” and
  • “dhi” – as a weak form of “√dhā”: “to place, to bring, to help, to grant, to produce, to cause” – meaning “delight, nourish, satiate, satisfy” [11].

My father said that “dhi” also refers to “the other” in conjunction with the All-encompassing One. Recently, while studying the Buddhist problem, I noticed in a dictionary the meaning “receptacle” [12] for “dhi”, whereby I immediately thought of the explanation by my father in the sense of: all separate fleeting manifestations in conjunction with “being whole “in the All-encompassing One.

Meditatie 2[13]

I smell the coffee. The beans come all the way from Kenya; the land of my mother and of my youth”, says Narrator.

“We had in mind to translate verbatim the Heart Sūtra during this trip; I think this is not going to work, let us postpone the translation to a later time when it’s more convenient. I suggest to limit us these days to a discussion of the Sūtra”, says Man.

“Good idea. Shall I hand you the coffee: the mist will last awhile”, says Carla.

“Please do, that will keep me warm and awake after the vigil of this night. If I am not mistaken, the long version of Heart Sūtra has the following structure:

  • Introduction
  • Question and answer
  • Form is emptiness and emptiness is form
  • The negations and enlightenment
  • The mantra “Sadyathā oṃ, gate, gate, pāragate, pārasaṃgate, bodhi svāhā” and
  • The epilogue.

In the short version the introduction, the question and the epilogue are missing.

I have the impression that the introduction is added to the Heart Sūtra at a later stage to adjust this Sūtra to structure of the many other Sūtra’s and to trace the origin of the Heart Sūtra back to the origin of Buddhism. For me the introduction of this Sutra might be limited to “thus” or “evaṃ” [14] in Sanskrit, because herewith the Sūtra is completely traced back to the origin and to the manifestation of all phenomena.

After the introduction the question is in brief: “How may humans achieve perfect wisdom – or “prajñāpāramitā in het Sanskrit?”

The answer – and this is the beginning of the short version of the Heart Sūtra – is:
“They should realise that the five skanda’s [15] – according to Buddhist doctrine “form, sensation, perception, thoughts and consciousness” and on our quest “facts and logic, intensities and associations, emptiness, change and interconnectedness” – are – essentially empty to be

One commentator [16] gives the following explanation to this “empty of inherent existence”. There are five types of “emptiness”:

  • Emptiness of what dit not exist before, such as the sailing trip we cannot make this morning due to the fog;
  • Emptiness of what does not exist anymore upon being destroyed, for instance spoiled whipped cream that can never be changed in good whipped cream;
  • Emptiness of the utter non-existence, like dividing by zero with a fixed finite outcome [17];
  • Emptiness of one not existing in the other, for instance a dog cannot exist within a cat;
  • Emptiness of any entity and distinction, like “being whole” according Martin Heidegger.

According to this commentator, the Heart Sūtra refers to the last form of emptiness: the five skanda’s are empty of any distinction and so empty of any inherent existence [18]. Another commentator gives as example of “emptiness of any inherent existence”: a cairn in the mountains that is mistaken from a distance to be a human [19].

Steenmannetje[20]

After my education as architect, I have always given a lot of attention to the experience of space and herewith emptiness and the limitation and boundary of space.

Glasshouse[21]

The emptiness of the five skanda’s surpasses the emptiness of the free spaces and the emptiness to use this freedom. The emptiness of the five skanda’s is both unmentionable – because inside “being whole” nothing can be distinguished and mentioned – and mentionable because “being whole” includes the four other ways of emptiness and thereby all possible manifestations appearing illusions upon a closer look, as cairns being mistaken a human beings from distance.

It’s a little lighter, but visibility is still bad. This morning we cannot sail”, says Man.

“Very interesting way to highlight that the five common realities on our quest – “facts and logic, intensities and associations, emptiness, change and interconnectedness” – are essentially empty and herewith as manifestations – or illusions – are indivisible and simultaneously as illusions distinctively included in “being whole”. I have read somewhere that life is but a dream; according to the Heart Sutra it is a dream included – or perhaps partly superimposed [22] – within the emptiness of “being whole””, says Carla.

“Although I still do not sleep much at night – because memories of atrocities in the past continue to haunt me in the dark – a short poem by Ryōkan has accompanied many years on my travels:

Though I always sleep
on my travels, each night
in another place,
the dream I always dream
brings me to my own house.
(Ryōkan) [23]

This short poem gave me comfort, acquiescence and connection with my nomadic life in Europe; and also it connected me again to the nomadic life in my childhood with my mother as Maasai nomad travelling around with her small herd in northern Kenya with my brothers and sisters whereby it was always a treat when we met my father on his trips as storyteller.

In recent years – as bhikṣu [24] – I carry this poem still with me in a slightly altered form:

Though I always sleep
on my travels, each night
in another place,
in the dream I always dream
I am still at home.
(Ryōkan) [23]

The interpretation of “my own house” has expanded to the “All-encompassing One” or “being whole” by Martin Heidegger and “the dream” has shifted from my nocturnal dream to “everyday life” including my nightly vigils and my vision at night of my misdeeds.
After my nightly vigil, I am going to take a nap until lunch”, says Narrator.

“Of Course. Sleep well. At lunch we will wake you. We will guard the boat and hope that the fog will clear off”, says Carla.

“I think the fog will be gone around lunch. Then we can take a walk on the dry Waddenzee, to sail away mid-afternoon”, says Man.

[1] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 134 – 135
[2] See: Caplow, Florence & Moon, Susan, edt. The hidden lamp – Stories from twenty-five Centuries of Awakened Women. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2013, p. 33
[3] See: Shibayama, Zenkei, The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan. Boston: Shambhala, 2000, p. 293 – 298 en Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990, 199 – 203
[4] In Sanskrit the name Buddha consists of the noun “bud” meaning “bud or knop” as “bud” in rosebud in the film “Citizen Kane” directed by Orson Wells – and the verb √dha meaning “place, grant, bestow”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
[5] The word bodhisattva consists of two words “bodhi” and “sattva” meaning “perfect knowledge, wisdom” and “being, conscience, living being” in Sanskrit. The school of Mahāyāna Buddhism knows the bodhisattva ideal. According to this ideal, a human who is on the verge of enlightenment – named bodhisattva, will refrain of entering until the complete universe and every particle is capable to enter enlightenment. In the meantime a bodhisattva will prepare everyone. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva
[6] Shakyamuni consists of “śakya” meaning “possible or being able” and “muni” meaning “seer or sage”.
[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation
[8] See: Yamada Kôun Roshi, Gateless Gate (Mumonkan). Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1990, p. 201 – 202
[9] An explanation of Dharma is given in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 34 etc.
[10] See for the second part of this sentence also: Shibayama, Zenkei, The Gateless Barrier, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan. Boston: Shambhala, 2000, p. 298
[11] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
[12] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
[13] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samadhi
[14] In Sanskrit the word “Evam” consists of the verb √e meaning “approach, reach, enter” and the noun “va” meaning “wind, ocean, water, stream, going”. Source: electronic version of the dictionairy Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta
See: Lopez – The Heart Sutra explained. 1990, p. 34; The commentary Vajrapāņi has high praise for the word Evam (thus), the word with which sūtras begin. Those four letters are the source of the 84.000 doctrines taught by the Buddha and are the basis of all marvels.”
See Red Pine (Bill Porter) – The Diamond Sutra. 2001, p. 41-42; Commentaries have written volumes on the profundity of evam (thus). Does it mean ”like so”, or does it mean ”just so”? And what is the difference? Is this sutra the finger that points to the moon, or is it the moon itself?”
See: Holstein, Alexander- Pointing at the Moon. 1993, p. 49; in the enlightened mind of a Zen master, probably, there is no distinction what the ordinary mind calls “to point at” and “the moon”. To the enlightened mind, the relation between the two is similar to the relation of an ocean to its waves.
[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skandha ; and see also for a brief introduction: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 172 – 174
[16] The name of this commentator is Praśāstrasena. Source: Lopez, Donald S. – The Heart Sutra explained Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990 p. 53
[17] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_by_zero
[18] The Heart Sūtra uses the word “svabhāvashūnya” in Sanskrit for “empty of inherent existence”. The word svabhāvashūnya consists of “sva” meaning “self”, “bhāva” mening “, being or to be” and shūnya” meaning “empty” referring to “being-whole” from Martin Heidegger.
[19] See also: Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way, One biografie. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 54
[20] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steenmannetje
[21] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_House
[22] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superposition_principle
[23] This Tanka is freely translated from: Tooren, J. van, Tanka – het lied van Japan. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1983, p. 170
[24] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikkhu

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

The wind in the sails


Around 9 o’clock in the morning Carla, Man and Narrator sail on the outboard motor through the ferry terminal at Lauwersoog harbour. Passengers are boarding the 9:30 morning ferry to Schiermonnikoog; they wave to the small sailboat. Carla and Man wave back while they are busy getting the sails ready: Narrator has already entered the cabin to sleep. One passenger calls: “Have a nice trip!” Man shouts back: “Have a nice day” and Carla: “Good holidays”. A man on the ferry calls: “No problem, the weather will be fine!”

Upon leaving the harbour Man puts the outboard off and tilts it out of the water. Then Man hoist the sails with help of Carla; first the headsail and the mizzen and afterwards the mainsail of this yawl-rigged [1] sailboat. There blows a gentle breeze from the southwest. Then the miracle happens: from nowhere the sails curve with the wind while slightly flapping and the boat is propelled by the wind. Man trims the sails tight and the boat is well on track.

Half hour later the ferry catches up with them; again passengers and Carla and Man are waiving to each other. Narrator is still sleeping quietly in the cabin.

Veerboot[2]

“Within half an hour we will have a flow of two knots along; with this wind and flow, we will sail at a speed of seven knots for about two hours and after passing Het Rif we can land the boat during low tide around 12 o’clock on the tidal flats of the Waddenzee in the direction of Ameland. Then we may have lunch and wait for the next high tide by the end of the afternoon to land again by nightfall near Terschelling”, says Man.

“A speed of seven knots is not bad, because with a waterline of around 5,80 meter a speed of 5,90 knots is possible with this Drascombe Drifter according the rule of thumb “2.45 x square root of the waterline (in meters) = hull speed””, says Carla.

“Maybe it’s good that I will give you some instructions to operate the boat when something happens to me. In that case you may sail the boat on the outboard motor to a harbour. When it begins to storm is wise to hoist only the mizzen sail, whereby the boat remains with the head in the wind and usually also the waves. When the engine fails, the boat will sail excellently with only the headsail and the mizzen. In case of emergency, you can always ask for help or you can land the boat at a beach”, says Man.

Yawl[3]
“Except during storm we can also save ourselves with the oars. Let’s hope it is not necessary”, says Carla.

After three hours sailing Man raises the fin keel, lets the boat strand and lowers the sails; Carla helps Man. On the two-burner gas stove Man bakes eggs for lunch. Carla awakes Narrator and she takes the bread, plates and cutlery. In the grand view of the tidal flats – exposed by low tide – they enjoy their lunch.

“Now I understand why you have invited us to come here for this boat trip. With the changing of the tide, water and flat lands merge – constantly complementary –into each and other infinitely changing, like emptiness and form. In the biography of Narrator you have included a part from the Heart Sutra [4] with the stanza “Form is the equal to emptiness as emptiness is equal to form.” Until now I have seen “form” and “emptiness” as complementary similar to “one” and “zero” within computer sciences that has created a completely new way of human communication via displays; without emptiness no form as without form no emptiness: both replace each other like letters on a blanc sheet – in graphics design – replaces emptiness.
Here on the mudflats on Het Wad during the tide changes, the boundaries between form and emptiness fade; still form and emptiness keep each other alive. Now I don’t see both as separate and complementary, but as interconnected and constantly intermingling in each”, says Carla.

Het Wad[5]

“Yeah, I always came back to Het Wad to experience this seemingly timeless intermingling of tides – according to the strict regularity of the tides – and at the same time constantly changing, always different. Within a day of sailing on Het Wad, I become one with the rhythm of the tide and my hectic daily ego fades. Thereby it requires constant discipline and overview to take care for a safe boat journey. Here I have always felt at home under all circumstances, even in bad weather and storm”, says Man.

“On my journey from Kenya – my mother’s land – to Rome, I have had the same experience of merging between form and emptiness in the outer skirts of the desert and desert steppe, on the boat on the Nile and during my boat trip across the Mediterranean; herewith I grew to a new life in a different environment [6]. Now in my life as bhikṣu I am back into the eternal womb of mother earth; and the wind takes me, in its volatility of form and emptiness”, says Narrator.

“Maybe an idea: shall we survey “change” – the next common reality on our quest to “Who are you” – in Africa (e.g. Kenya)? I have never been in Africa and for you it may be an excellent opportunity to revisit that part of the world. I can easily cover travel and subsistence from my means. Maybe something to come back to at the end of this boat trip.
As far as I am aware, form and emptiness are key concepts within the Heart Sūtra. What does the title of this Sūtra mean in het Sanskrit”, asks Man to Narrator.

“Shall we translate the Sūtra from Sanskrit?”, asks Narrator.

“That is one of my hidden wishes. Herewith my study of Sanskrit can be useful for everything and everyone. Without your help it will not be feasible”, says Man.

“Good idea. Then I will give comments from my background and general knowledge”, says Carla.

“Let us begin with the title of the sūtra. The full title “prajñāpāramitā hṛdaya sūtra” is often translated with “Complete transference of the heart – or the core – of wisdom” [7].

My father has explained the meaning of “prajñāpāramitā”, “hṛdaya” and “sūtra” by showing the separate parts of these words in their consistency.
According to my father the word “prajñāpāramitā” is composed of the main parts “prajñā”, “pāra” and “mitā”.

The word prajñā – mostly translated with wisdom – consists of pra and jñā, wherein:
• pra has the meaning of “before, forward, in front, away, excessive” and “filling, fulfilment, resemble, and like” – just as the Latin word “pro” as opposed to “contra” – and
• jñā has the meaning of “knowledge, apprehend, perceive, remember, familiar with” [8].
In its composition “prajñā” has the meaning of “wisdom (of life), intelligence, know about, discrimination and/or wisdom of a wise of sensible woman/mother”. This last meaning points at “tao” or “course of life” in the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching wherein “tao” – in the form of “name” – is the “mother of all things” [9]”, says Narrator.

Tao[10]

“I have read somewhere that Buddhism knows three kinds of “prajñā”:
• wisdom within our daily world, wherein temporality within our life is seen as permanent, where illusions are experienced as real and wherein the transitory ego is considered as the Real Self. Most people live within this framework of wisdom.
• Wisdom within the metaphysical world, wherein the permanent manifestations are seen as temporal, where reality is experienced as an illusion, and where the manifestation with a “self” is considered without a self. This wisdom is attainable with meditation and philosophy.
• Wisdom that surpasses our daily and metaphysical world wherein the manifestations are seen as neither temporal nor permanent, and are experienced as neither pure nor impure, neither with a “self” nor “without self”, and where all is unconceivable and inexpressible.
While our daily wisdom and metaphysical wisdom results in attachment to manifestations, illusions and characteristics, the third form of wisdom remains free hereof [11].
What kind of wisdom is meant here in Sanskrit?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“My father says that “prajñā” precedes all wisdom without passing any wisdom: it contains Al and One without passing the variety of things in our daily life, the ideas and thoughts in science and the knowledge and wisdom of the unconceivable and inexpressible”, says Narrator.

“Your father is a wise man”, says Man.

“Within all his limitations and bondages. Shall I continue with pāramitā?”, asks Narrator.
“That is good”, says Carla and Man.

“The word “para” is used in Sanskrit in three ways with the following meanings:
• pāra: crossing, the other side, the other shore, guardian, fulfil, go through, to bring to a close. In Buddhism “the other shore” is used as metaphor for enlightenment.
• parā: away, off, aside
• para: highest, supreme, old, ancient, better or worse, and sometimes also superior or inferior.
Here the first way and meaning of the word is used; my father added that using one way and meaning of the word para, the other ways and meanings are always gently resonating.
The main part “mitā” is the nominative (or subject) plural of the word “mita” – related to the Latin verb “mittere” with the meaning “do go” or “send” and “let go” – that in Sanskrit has the meaning “fixed, established, measured, containing, moderate, of a Godlike being”.

Via this analysis, the word “prajñāpāramitā” has next to the meaning “perfect wisdom” also a reference “tao” from the first chapter of the Tao Te Ching as “name” – not the “Immortal Name” but “the mother of all things” – at one hand in designation and on the other hand in volatility and inevitability.

In Buddhism – with a creative explanation of pāramitā that might be compose of “pāra” and “ita” meaning “gone”, “returned”, “obtained” and “remembered” in Sanskrit, and therefore in the assembly “go/return/recall to/of the other shore” [12] – the wisdom of “the other shore” or wisdom of the state of enlightenment is often meant with the word “prajñāpāramitā” whereby “the other shore” is interconnected with “the shore” of daily life by the river or the source [13], just like in the metaphor of the cyclone the core is connected by a wall of wind with the tolling tropical storm.

The word “hṛdaya” is often translated with “heart” or “interior of the body” and “heart, core, essence, best, dearest or most salvaged part of something” [14]. According to my father the word hṛdaya consists of the parts “hṛ”, “da” and “ya” with the meaning:
• “hṛ” meaning “take away, present, steal and offer” – as in the cattle-cycle [15], whereby this verb root is possible connected with the German word “Herr” – and “destroy/lose (also of one’s own ego), receive, win, charm, fascinate”
• “da” meaning in Sanskrit “give”, “grant”, “offer”, “produce” and “cutting of (as disparting from the “All and One” according to my father)”
• “ya” meaning “mover” and “incentive”. My father was of the opinion that “ya” is closely related to “yaj” in the sense of “sacrifice”, “offering for a higher – Godlike/heavenly – purpose”. My father uses this verb always in the form of “yayate”, whereby the fruit of the action of offering or giving reflects to the giver or the All-encompassing self and it is probably a “God’s gift” in complete reciprocity. He also says that “ya” is closely related to our word “Yeah” as a positive agreement and confirmation. In Holland, “yes” – with mercantilism always in mind – is close related to a deal, but I think that my father points at recognition of the other and at a consenting attitude for the other.

By looking at the meaning of the parts of “hṛdaya”, this word receives next to “heart, core, essence, best, dearest or most salvaged part of something” also the meaning of “empty core” similar to the core of a cyclone or a waterspout with far fetching consequences for all and everyone.

Hart[16]

In the word “sūtra” we see the two cores “sū” and “tṛ”, whereby “sū” in the Vedic time – and as prefix in words – had the meaning “good”. Later the meaning has changed in “create, procreate, vivify, produce, grant and bestow”. And “tṛ” has the meaning of “crossing”.

With this addition by my father, the usual translation “Complete transference of the heart – or the core – of wisdom” gets a widening and transparency – and at the same time a volatility – as life itself. Actually, this title is referring to life itself, in all its richness and facets”, says Narrator.

“During your explanation, I thought constantly of the pearls and all the separate reflections in the metaphor of “Indra’s Net”. Thinking of the metaphor of Indra’s Net, I have always thought – until now – of an entry into the unconceivable. With your explanation – completed by your father’s wisdom – of the title in Sanskrit Heart Sutra, it is clear to me that Indra’s Net is also a metaphor for our daily life”, says Carla.

“Upon a closer examination, all serious religious philosophies cover the same constantly. It is time to end this extensive lunch and we have to wash the plates and cutlery. We must prepare ourselves for the next part of our boat trip during the following high tide. Tonight we will have to eat in darkness after we have landed again. Now we must do the dishes, because that will not be easy during darkness before our evening meal. Besides my mother said that only Bohemians wash the dishes before the meal. I have nothing against Bohemians, but sailing a tidy boat is more enjoyable”, says Man.

“Do we have enough water for doing the dishes?”, asks Carla.

“I will put a kettle on: that should do when we rinse our plates and cutlery before in seawater”, says Man.

After they washed the dishes, the high tide slowly arrives. Man and Carla prepare the boat for sailing.

“At this landing I have placed the front of the boat in such a way that we can sail away at once with the flow. We do not need to push the boat against the tide to deeper water. There I see the tide already between Schiermonnikoog and Ameland. When I will give a signal, please raise the anchor”, says Man.

With the arrival of high tide, they sail away to their landing at the next low tide.

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yawl
[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wagenborg_(rederij)
[3] Example of a yawl-rigged sailboat. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yawl
[4] See: Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way – A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 110 – 112
[5] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wattenmeer_(Nordsee)
[6] See: Leben, Man, Narrator Nārāyana – One way– A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher 2013, p. 31 – 36
[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_Sutra Zie: Lopez, Donald S., The Heart Sutra explained. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990, p. 21 – 31. Zie: Red Pine (Bill Porter), The Heart Sutra. Washington D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004, p. 29 – 40
[8] Source translation of words from Sanskrit: electronic version of dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[9] See: Red Pine (Bill Porter), Lao-Tzu’s Tao Te Ching (revised edition). Port Townsend: Copper Canyon Press, 2006, p.2
[10] Symbol commonly used to represent Tao and its pursuit. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao
[11] Source: Red Pine (Bill Porter), The Heart Sutra. Washington D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004, p. 30 – 31
[12] Source: Lopez, Donald S., The Heart Sutra explained. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990, p. 21-22
[13] Sources: Lopez, Donald S., The Heart Sutra explained. Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990, p. 21-22 and Red Pine (Bill Porter), The Heart Sutra. Washington D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004, p. 32
[14] Source translation of words from Sanskrit: electronic version of dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[15] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 94 – 95
[16] Image of 3D echocardiogram of a human heart. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart

The wind takes you along


Carla, Man and narrator have seen the sunrise. They are sitting in the car waiting for the harbour master to handle some formalities before they can start their sailing trip on the Wadden Sea.

“After your explanation of the word ” śūnyatā” – via the core of a cyclone – I understand far better the symbolism of the black ink paint circle that Japanese Zen masters calligraphy in one smooth motion brush stroke. What is the name of this painted circle?”, asks Carla.

Enso[1]

“The Japanese name for this circle is “ensō” and the circle symbolises a minimal simplicity – as the core of the cyclone in the metaphor for ” śūnyatā” –, perfect enlightenment, strength, elegance, the entire universe and emptiness as in the word ” śūnyatā” in Sanskrit. The spiritual practice of ensō-painting and Japanese calligraphy with the aim of self-realization is named “hitsuzendo” – or the way of the brush – in Japan. Thereby “ensō” illustrates the various forms of “wabi-sabi” [2] or the all-encompassing Japanese world view and aesthetics in the acceptance of transience and imperfection via:

• Fukinsei (asymmetry, irregularty),
• Kanso (simplicity),
• Koko (basic; weathered),
• Shizen (without pretense pretentie; natural),
• Yugen (subtly profound grace),
• Datsuzoku (freedom) and
• Seijaku (tranquility) [3].

This all-encompassing worldview of impermanence and imperfection – how much during maintenance there is strived for rest, purity and consistency – can be seen in Japanese gardens.

Japanse tuin[4]

Sailing in a small boat does a great appeal on the same all-encompassing worldview of transience and imperfection in combination with rest, purity and consistency in rough weather with high waves”, says Man.

“Just before we rang the bell at the front door of your friend’s house to pick up the keys to his car, you told us that it would be a basic car. In my view we have travelled very comfortably in a luxurious limousine. How does the Skoda Superb fit within the Japanese worldview of basal weathered and unpretentious? Ann outdated basal Renault 4 from swinging late 60’s – comfortably rocking on the road – would better fit into the worldview of “wabi-sabi”, or I am wrong?”, says Carla.

Renault 4[5]

“From your point of view, you are fully right. Everything is relative: even the size and luxury of my friend’s cars. Until his retirement he had worked for 40 years in large construction companies; the last 25 years as director of major construction companies, before he has started a smaller company for modular construction with me. In his world of board activities, success and prosperity must be shown – in order to survive – with possession of lavish homes and the latest models of cars from the absolute top class. After his retirement he has chosen on my recommendation a modest middle-class car in which his sons who have very long legs, can also sit well in the backseats. In the worldview of my friend a Skoda Superb Combi is a very simple car; after purchasing the car he was jokingly asked if he had to earn as taxi-driver after his retirement: of course they knew better. He now lives in a – by his standards – simple house that was designed and built by our latest company”, says Man.
Modulair huis

[6]

“Has your friend had several sports cars in his heydays?”, asks Carla.

“No, that does not suit him. This, he said when you’re young enough for a sports car, you don’t have the money for it; and if you do have the money for it, then you’re too old to sit well in it. Actually, he is a sober man, but in the world of construction money came naturally to him. With every construction project he had earned several millions within a few years earns millions: so after some 20 projects he was a very wealthy man. After the death of his wife he lived sober given his background; he was 60 years old at that time. Their marriage was childless; they had two adoptive sons and he has – to my knowledge – no interest in other women. Half a year after the death of his wife, he asked me to start our company on modular construction. At that time, we were both in need for a new purpose in life and with this company we have found it.

No, sports cars really do not interest him: that does not fit with his Jewish background. He gets satisfaction from helping others. My friend has financially helped many friends in his surroundings, and from the profits of each project, he had certainly give away 10% to charity [7]: at this point he is an old fashioned man”, says Man.

“Maybe the all-encompassing worldview of “wabi-sabi” together with peace, purity and consistency is also possible in great wealth”, says Carla.

“His later life he is in my eyes an example of it, with a good balance between the next ten characteristics for Jewish spiritual leadership:

1. Sacrifice
2. Involvement,
3. Inspiration
4. Servitude
5. Overview
6. Unselfishness
7. Respect for predecessors
8. Aversion of authority
9. Practise what she/he preaches
10. Leadership without structure

Within his world he fulfils a role model for others”, says Man

“How did sailing come into your life”, asks Narrator.

“As my friend had adapted his lifestyle continuously to the circumstances wherein he was placed, so the sailboats in my life have been adapted to the circumstances; I did not bother: it came by itself.

As a boy at the beginning of elementary school, I was always playing with homemade model sailboats around a pond in the Beatrix park near our former home in the Rivierenbuurt in Amsterdam. At the other side of the pond I collected the boats again. In the vicinity of the village of my godparents in South Limburg were only small meandering rivulets; thus no possibility for sailing. After I had moved to Rotterdam I have started sailing with classmates, first on the Bergsche Plas in a small training boat and not much later on the Rottemeren in a Valk. At the end of grammar school we hiked during long weekends and vacations with sailing boat in South Holland.

Valk[8]

During my student years, I started sailing at sea around the North Sea coast on a 10-meter sailboat owned by father of my co-students. On this boat, I received my practical training to yachtsman. After my studies I have often sailed with friends who owned a seaworthy sailboat.

After our family had moved to Amsterdam and we had received a stable income from the trade in construction materials, I bought a seaworthy Norwegian 7.70 meter Nordic Folkboot [9]. Herewith I have spent many weekends and holidays with friends and acquaintances on the North Sea and the IJsselmeer. My wife and kids did not like the – in their eyes – Spartan existence on boat; they were often seasick.

Noorse Folkboot[10]

When my children were young I have sailed with them in an Optimist on lakes near Amsterdam; at the end of primary school the interest of my children changed and I have done away this boat to acquaintances with small children who wanted to learn sailing.
Optimist[11]

At the start of the walk to the grave of my mother [12] the Norwegian Folkboat disappeared from my life; a friendly couple had bought this practical boat from me with the plan to make half a world trip: they have sailed with this boat around a part of the world.
Between my divorce and my work for the modular construction material company there have been no sailboats in my life. The wind took me over land to many places [13].
During getting a foothold in the world again with modular construction, two new types of sailboats came into my life. First I bought a 4-meter Laser [14] sailboat, wherein I have gone boating for fun on many lakes in Europe: this Laser boat fitted on the roof of my station wagon. After my 70st birthday, I took leave of this boat: transporting and sail this boat had become too heavy for me.
Laser[15]

For the holidays, I bought after my retirement a new versions of a Folkboat: first a 6.63 meter long Drascombe Coaster with a small cabin. A few years later I have exchanged this boat for a Drascombe Drifter, a boat adapted by myself to modern standards and with just a little more comfort. Later today I will show you the adjustment I made. By a mizzenmast – a second sail on the back of the boat – both boats can be easy handled and kept on course by myself. Because of its shape and rigging the boat is pretty storm-proof”, says Man.
Drascombe Drifter[16]

“Is such a small boat seaworthy enough?”, asks Narrator.

“Also this is relative. With similar boats good crews did sail to the other side of the world. But I would not like to pass Cape Horn with my boat. For a full seaworthiness the boat is missing several components like a full railing. I have equipped my boat myself with air-tight chambers filled with foam, so the boat – even reversed – will always float. At high breaking waves hitting the boat sideways from behind, sailboats can easily turn over [17] ”, says Man.

“Fortunately the weather forecast for the next days in spring promises nice sailing weather with not too much wind”, says Carla.

“It is good to be always prepared to everything on a sailboat. In 1983, during Ascension it had promised to be a beautiful day for sailing in the Netherlands with a temperature of 14 degrees, moderate southerly wind, cloudy and in the afternoon a few tiny showers, but by mid-afternoon an unexpectedly brief heavy storm with gusts of local wind force 11 raged over The Netherlands [18]. That day two friends and I had planned having a long weekend sailing on my Norwegian Folkboat from Muiden via the IJsselmeer to the Wadden Sea.

Mid-afternoon we saw in the distance a pitch-black sky approaching. Very quickly we had lowered almost all sail and we prepared the boat for a heavy storm. Ten minutes later we were in a that very heavy storm that fortunately lasted less than half an hour. With good seamanship and a seaworthy boat all had ended well for us, but that afternoon several water sports enthusiast had not survived the storm. The rest of the day we had given help to heavily damaged boats. The rest of the weekend we had spent repairing the fortunately limited damage of my boat in the home marina”, says Man.

“Fortunately there are no tropical cyclones in the Wadden Sea. I once read that in the summer and early autumn – when the sea water is quite warm – waterspouts can occur under clouds”, says Carla.

“That’s true, I have seen these waterspouts [19] a few times seen in the Wadden Sea. Over land these whirlwinds usually loose power quickly, but at sea they can cause considerable damage to the sails and a sailboat with full sail can easily turn over”, says Man.
Waterhoos[20]

“Is there also rest in the core of a waterspout”, asks Narrator.

“I think the that the diameter of the eye of a waterspout is too small to experience this rest consciously. The eye of a tropical cyclone can have a diameter between 30 to 50 km [21]”, says Carla.

“To come back to the core. If we look on our life, have we personally fulfilled the ten characteristics of Jewish spiritual leadership?”, asks Narrator.

“I do not know if I have pursued spiritual leadership. But when I look at these characteristics without this pursuit, then I have seriously sinned against “respect for predecessors”; this comes forth from my character and my position as an outsider in society. I also might have offered a little more inspiration to others and shown a little more openness about my studies. In the past I considered this openness too dangerous, now I see better the relativity of danger and my personal life”, says Carla.

“I did my best, but usually I have not succeeded to give the all-encompassing worldview of “wabi-sabi” – with the acceptance of transience and imperfection – a worthy place in my life. Until middle age, I had tried to provide security for my family but at this point my intentions entirely failed: with this endeavour I have completely alienated my wife and children from me. Just like you, I am a sinner against the characteristics “respect for predecessors”: I try to do my best, but in my opinion it is not enough”, says Man.

“In my first three incarnations – first as Kṛṣṇa and child soldier, then as idol in Amsterdam, and afterwards as a player in the mirror palaces of secret services – I have sinned seriously against different (always other) characteristics. As Bhikṣu – or mendicant – in my last incarnation in this life, it just happened to live up to all these characteristics; it is no merit, in the absence of any endeavour these characteristic come naturally by itself into my life”, says Narrator

“There comes the harbour master. I have to settle several formalities with him and I will ask him for the last information on local currents and movements of shoals. I will also ask him for a cart to bring all our belongings to the boat”, says Man.

“Do you think we will be on time to sail by morning tide to the Wadden Sea?”, asks Narrator to Man.

“That will certainly happen, probably within half an hour we will leave the harbour on the motor sailing”, says Man.

Man goes to the office of the harbour master. Carla and Narrator bring all their luggage, and forage for a week with a cart to the boat and put it in the cabin. Several minutes later Man comes to the boat and together they store everything – according to instruction by Man – in the right place. Half an hour later they leave the marina on the motor sailing to the Wadden Sea.
[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D
[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi
[3] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D
[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi
[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_4
[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huf_Haus
[7] Source: Malachi 3:10 (book and prophet from the Tanakh (Hebrew bible; see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanakh). See also: http://www.nik.nl/2010/01/parsja-simchat-tora-wezot-haberacha/
[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valk_(boot)
[9] See: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folkboot and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_Folkboat
[10] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacht_(scheepstype)
[11] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimist_(Bootsklasse)
[12] See: Drift, Carla, Man Leben: One Life – A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 53 – 54
[13] See: Drift, Carla, Man Leben: One Life – A Biography. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 50 – 111
[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_(dinghy)
[15] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_(dinghy)
[16] Source image: http://www.nauticaltrek.com/12395-drascombe-drifter-a-vendre
[17] See also: Bruce, Peter, Adlard Coles’ Zwaarweerzeilen. Haarlem: Uitgeverij Hollandia B.V., 2010, p. 26
[18] Source: http://www.kb.nl/dossiers/nederland-algemeen/zomerstorm-hemelvaartsdag-1983
[19] See also: Youtube film showing a waterspout near Ameland (The Netherlands): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhpwuC8udzc
[20] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterspout
[21] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_cyclone

Emptiness: to the end of the night


Night. A clear sky at new moon. Narrator drives the borrowed Skoda Superb [1] Combi from Amsterdam via the Noordoostpolder [2] to the marina at Lauwersoog near the departure of the ferry to Schiermonnikoog. Both headlights shine on the empty highway through the dark void land that over 50 years ago still was bottom of the Zuiderzee (Southernsea). Carla dozes in the back seat. Man sits as a passenger next Narrator; in the dim light of the dashboard they look to the exit at Emmeloord that in the far distance is lit by lantern light.

Skoda Superb Combi[3]

“Within the emptiness the headlights – with the lantern light in the distance – conjure a dark magic landscape wherein everything we now see emerges and immediately disappears like phantoms who are called to live in a flare in order to slip at once into the dark emptiness again.

As boy in South Limburg I have loved the dark nights with the infinite universe wherein I – included – was one with all the stars and galaxies in the firmament. Now I feel myself floating within a faint white glow on an infinite journey through the universe and thereby perfectly at home in this vessel. Tonight – before we were getting ready to depart – I have looked up a definition of Buddhist enlightenment [4] in a book: “Enlightenment is realising the oneness of life”[5].

I looked for this definition yesterday afternoon we have ended our survey of intensities and associations with the question: “One – what is that?”, that had been asked by a Buddhist sage to a wise woman. She was unable to answer this question. I wonder whether the inability – or the emptiness – of the wise woman to answer fits better with the question: “One – what is that?” than this definition of Buddhist enlightenment.

We now begin the survey of emptiness during our quest to “Who are you”. In Sanskrit the word for emptiness in the Heart Sutra is ” śūnyatā”. Do you know the meaning of this word in Sanskrit?”, asks Man.

The car is nearing the exit at Emmeloord. Narrator slows down and takes the exit to Lemmer; hereby Carla has awakened and she asks: “Where are we?”. “Near Emmeloord in the Noordoostpolder, now we are heading to Friesland. I have asked Narrator for the meaning of the word “śūnyatā””, says Man.

“The word ” śūnyatā” is usually translated with “emptiness” or “empty of self” [6], but this translation only reflects the core of the word just like within the core of the tropical cyclone there is usually a clear sky and no wind; the centre of the cyclone is sunny and “free” of wind.

Kern van een cycloon[7]

The word “śūnyatā” consists of the verb cores:
• “śvi” – with the weak form “śū” – meaning “swell”, “grow” and “increase”;
• “ya” meaning “mover” and “incentive”. My father was of the opinion that “ya” is closely related to “yaj” in the sense of “sacrifice”, “offering for a higher – Godlike/heavenly– purpose” (perhaps “God’s gift” in reciprocity”and,
• “tā” meaning “impassableness”, “inaccessibleness”, and also “unviolability” and “sacred” [8].

A contemporary Japanese Zen master in America had written in his explanation of “śūnyatā” that this word is not a negation of the concept of existence, but the word indicates that our entire existence in all its forms is completely dependent on the principle of cause and effect; we have read earlier that even the Gods are bound by the principle of cause and effect [9]. As the factors of cause and effect are changing constantly, there is no static – fixed – existence possible. The word “śūnyatā” categorically denies the possibility of the existence of static – fixed – manifestations. All appearances are relative and interdependent according to this contemporary Japanese Zen master.

In addition, he writes that “śūnyatā” also means “zero”, a concept that became known rather late in Europe, but has been in use for much longer in India. Zero has no numerical value in itself, but it represents the absence of numerical values and thus symbolises at the same time the possibility of all numerical values. Similarly “śūnyatā” – through the concept of “zero” or “no” – represents the possibility of the existence of all manifestations and it is also included in all forms, that themselves only exist in relation to their non-existence and by their interconnectedness [10]”, says Narrator.

vorm en leegte[11]

“The definition of zero is too limited: but I will not go into it now. If I understand it correctly, “śūnyatā” refers to “emptiness from” and “emptiness to” just as – in my opinion – Erich Fromm is referring to “freedom from” and “freedom to” in mutual dependency with the concept of “freedom” [12 ]. Here I am reminded of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty who has argued that manifestations are caused by a creative process of giving meaning and taking meaning at once[13]. The Zen master adds to this argument the void – or space – for allowing the creation of manifestations”, says Carla.

“Quite interesting that you refer to a creative process for the creation of manifestations. The Japanese Zen master indicates that an intuitive and immediate understanding of ” śūnyatā” is the basis for all understanding. But before he states this, he first mentiones the ” śūnyatā” of the ego and then the “śūnyatā” of dharma [14] – the world order and duty [15] – and of the subjective and the objective. After this he concludes that everything – every manifestation and every being – only exists through the principle of interdependence bound by the law of impermanence. The intuitive and immediate understanding leads to knowledge and understanding of the four great truths to know: impermanence, interconnectedness, manifestations and essence; maybe it’s good to come back on these four values later. The Zen master goes further in his statement on the importance of impermanence – emptiness or vanity – and interconnectedness than Maurice Merleau-Ponty in the arising or creation of all manifestations and of every being

I have this explanation of “śūnyatā” from the introduction by this Zen master in his book on the Buddhistische Heart Sūtra.

This description of the Zen master has stayed with me because it fits so well my perception of the ghosts in the night. As a child soldier in Africa with our militia we had put the forest around a village on fire at the end of the night. We had shot everything and everyone that had come out of the forest and we had been happy [16]. I still carry the ghosts of these villagers with me; their breath – in emptiness and vanity – has become my breath. At night they are as real to me as people I meet during the day; these spirits are connected with me in interdependence within the law of impermanence: during daytime they have disappeared”, says Narrator.

“Are these spirits really present for you here and now in this car?”, asks Man.

“No, driving the car I have my attention on the road, but if I do not focus my attention any longer, the ghost come to life from the emptiness of darkness just as real as a dream during sleep. Or to cite a quote often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain: “I am an old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened” [17]”, says Narrator.

“Fortunately, because otherwise I should have asked you to look for a parking place and we might continue our journey tomorrow during daylight. I have several versions of the Heart Sutra to study in my luggage. Would you like to help me with the interpretation of Sanskrit?”, asks Man.

“That is fine. I have a copy with the explanation by the Japanese Zen master with me. Do you have a waterproof compartment for books on your boat?”, asks Narrator.

“Your book easily fits within the waterproof ton. When we will lay dry at low tide, we will have time to read”, says Man.

“The definition of enlightenment that you have just mentioned, gives one aspect of enlightenment – in line with the interconnectedness within the metaphor of Indra’s Net – quite clearly. It is only one side of the coin, the other side is “śūnyatā”. In Buddhism, the term “nirvana” – literally absence of forest (or barriers) or the open plain [18] – is often used for enlightenment. In Hinduism one often addresses enlightenment with “moksha” [19] that comes from the verb core “muc” meaning amongst others “to loosen, or to liberate”. With both interpretations, I am not happy because in my opinion “śūnyatā” together with the metaphor of Indra’s Net gives a better interpretation of the term enlightenment. I think it is a good idea that we do not only survey emptiness in the sense of “empty from” at this part of our quest, but also in relation to the four great truths of Buddhism and in relation to Indra’s Net”, says Narrator.

“Good idea. When I had lain awake during my travels under the dark starry sky, I had felt myself fully included in space or in the infinite void. The boundaries between the space and myself had dissolved and I had become one with everything around me. In a book on Zen Buddhism I had read two poems mentioning an empty mirror as metaphor for life; in the second poem also the illusion of the empty mirror was removed just like during this journey by car through the dark polder the sight on the landscape is non-existing. Do you know the text of these poems?”, asks Carla.

“The two poems had been written during the appointment – or better the Dharma transmission – of Huineng [20] as the sixth Zen patriarch. In my own words: the fifth patriarch sensed that the obvious candidate was fit for the position. He asked each monk who would like to be candidate, to write a short poem on the core of Zen and to affix it on the monastery wall. Only obvious candidate anonymously published the following poem:

The body is a Bodhi tree;
The mind like an empty mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean
And let no dust alight [21]

Bodhi – with a sound (and a meaning via “et incarnatus est” [22]) akin to the English word body – meaning in Sanskrit “a tree of wisdom, or a tree where under a human becomes a Buddha” [23].

The next morning a second poem was affixed alongside the first poem with the following text:

Originally bodhi has no tree;
The empty mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a thing.
Where can dust alight?

In Sanskrit Bodhi has a second meaning: “perfect enlightenment” [24]. The Fifth Patriarch knew a humble firewood-gatherer – without any formal training as a monk – had written this second poem and he foresaw an uprising of the monastery to the appointment of this uneducated layman as Dharma heir. The following night, the Dharma transmission took place and at dawn the sixth Zen patriarch had to flee from the monastery. The monks have haunted him for a long time. Eventually after a long flight he had been fully accepted is as Dharma heir; every Zen master is in direct line associated with this sixth patriarch. And reciting the poem I also reflect him in the emptiness of this night”, says Man.

“Splendid explanation. Shall we continue tomorrow? I would like to continue dozing”, says Carla.
“Then I will also take a nap. Tomorrow we have to get up early”, says Man.

Narrator drives the car with Carla and Man sleeping via Friesland and Groningen to the parking place at Lauwersoog near the ferry departure to Schiermonnikoog. He parks the car facing east to see the dawn over a few hours. Upon seeing the first twilight he awakes Carla and Man.

“On this bright morning we have to see the sunrise before so we will start rigging the sailboat at the marina”, says Narrator.

“Upon seeing the emergence of the first sunrays trough this windshield, I think of the poem “The Windows” by Guido Gezelle, wherein he as a Catholic priest at the end of the nineteenth century has marginally repeated the iconoclasm:

THE WINDOWS

The windows are full of saints, mitred and staved,
martyrised, virgin crowned, duked and knighted;
that the burning from the oven fire glassed has in the shard,
that, glittering, speaks all the tongues from the heaven bows paints. [25]

Thou scare is again enkindled in the east the violence
Of sun flame, and does she touches the saints, so melted
The mitre from the mantle collar, the gold ware from the crone,
and all, even white now, shines and lightens even clean.

Disappeared art thou, dukes and counts then, so soft;
disappeared, virgins, martyrs and bishops: forever
no palms, staves, stolen anymore, ‘t is all gone, to
one clarity molten, in one sunlight – in God. [26]

– Guido Gezelle [27]

Kerkramen Noordzijde Keulen[28]

In my opinion Guido Gezelle advocates with this poem – despite the beauty of church windows as windows on the world – an empty mirror without stand in God’s face”, says Man.

 

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Superb
[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noordoostpolder
[3] Source image: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Superb
[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhi
[5] Source: Bridges, Jeff & Glassman, Bernie, The Dude and the Zen Master. New York: Plume, 2014, p. 95
[6] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunyata, see also the English Wikipedia-page on this subject
[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropische_cycloon
[8] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[9] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 85 and 122
[10] Source: Deshimaru, Taisen, Mushotoku Mind – The Heart of the Heart Sutra. Chino Valley: Hohm Press, p. 28, 29
[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81
[12] Source: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 97
[13] See also for the “creative act of giving meaning to and taking meaning from”: Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception 1945
[14] Dharma means literally “placing of the self/Self continuously”.
[15] Source: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 68. See also chapter 4 for an introduction on Dharma.
[16] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84
[17] See: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/10/04/never-happened/
[18] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[19] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moksha
[20] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huineng
[21] Source: The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. Burlingame: Buddhist text translation society, 2002, p. 67
[22] Literal translation from Latin: he/she/is becomes flesh
[23] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[24] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[25] “mitred and staved”: with signals of authority; “all the tongues from the heaven bows paints”: showing all the paintings on the ceilings of the churches.
[26] Free translation of this poem. Original: http://cf.hum.uva.nl/dsp/ljc/gezelle/rijmsnoer/ramen.htm This poem is date by Guido Gezelle on 14th of April 1895.
[27] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_Gezelle
[28] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stained_glass

Intensities and associations in the end


Halfway through the afternoon Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting in the Vondelpark outside Het Blauwe Theehuis (The Blue Teahouse) [1].

Blauwe Theehuis[2]

“This morning I had mixed feelings about our proposal to start preparing the next part of our quest. On one hand, our proposal fits nicely with the overwhelming emptiness of the virtual digital world made of bits and monitors wherein we experience everyday world in our century; so I had noticed in the tram to the Vondelpark a mother giving her attention all the time to the 5 inch screen of her mobile phone instead of to her toddlers. On the other hand, in my opinion this part of our quest is not completely finished. In Florence – at the previous part of our quest – we had planned to give attention to the paintings in Holland. I also had in mind to address feelings, emotions, and the seven deadly sins according to Dante during this part of our quest. I am aware that these topics are quests in themselves. Maybe we can treat these topics in a nutshell, just like the treatment of capitalism this morning; I can nicely align the development of painting with the development of capitalism”, says Carla.

“You’re right. The transition is too abrupt, but the next few days it’s pretty stable weather for sailing: an opportunity not to let pass easily”, says Man.

“Could you summarise these subjects, so we can see how much attention will be needed”, says Narrator.

“Oil painting during and after the Reformation had boomed in Holland, because the inhabitants wanted to show their welfare within private homes – to themselves and to others – through images that showed landscapes designed by humans – as God’s steward –, paintings of tables displaying wealth of glassware, food and dishes and of course paintings of themselves and acquaintances in wealthy clothes. These paintings have characteristics of a desire to retain and acquire wealth. This way of looking, I have taken from John Berger’s “Ways of seeing” [3]; he shows a striking example of this display of prosperity with the painting “Mr. and Mrs. Robert Andrews” by the English painter Thomas Gainsborough. Many of the oil paintings by Dutch masters include a similar display of wealth and prosperity of the individual human being.

Mr and Mrs Rober Andrews[4]

In addition to the display of wealth and prosperity, these paintings ought to show always some moderation as a good steward of God suits. Essentially, many paintings show the election by God in the here and now and in the afterlife of the owner or of the person portrayed. This is in a nutshell the summary of my contribution on traditional oil painting in Holland to intensities associations. I am aware that I have done injustice to many masterpieces”, says Carla.

“I have always felt some discomfort seeing paintings made by most Dutch masters. You have aptly summarised my discomfort”, says Man.

“As idol in Amsterdam, I paid no attention to painting, I lived a life as a desirable exotic – non-Dutch – appearance. I myself was the shining chosen star to which everyone was attracted and around which life revolved. After I had left behind this life as idol, I never had time for viewing the Dutch masters. After our sailing trip I will visit several museums”, says Narrator.

“Could you give a similar summary on the seven deadly sins according to Dante?”, asks Man to Carla.

“OK. As brief as my summary of oil paintings in Holland.
The seven deadly sins of the Catholic Church had already been described in a systematic overview by clerics in the fourth century AD. In the sixth century AD, these deadly sins had been officially defined in a list by Pope Gregory. This list was used by Dante Alighieri in the Divine Comedy. Besides the Catholic church has seven virtues opposite to the seven deadly sins.
Vice[5]

Hieronymus Bosch had depicted the seven deadly sins in a painting [6].

Zeven hoofdzonden - Bosch
[7]

I will give a brief explanation of the seven deadly sins.

Lust is usually understood in the light of excessive thoughts, wishes or desires of a sexual nature. In Dante’s purgatory, sinners are purified of lustful/sexual thoughts and feelings by flames. In the hell of Dante sinners are blown by hurricane-like glowing winds that match their lack of self-control of lust in earthly life. During our search we have not encountered lust; in Aldous Huxly’s “Devil of Loudun” [8], lust as cardinal sin is treated: I think we can skip this cardinal sin during our quest.

Gluttony refers to both excessive eating and consuming things past the point of usefulness. Gluttony denotes waste by excessive energy: one of the pitfalls for God’s steward.
Greed/desire is a sin of excessiveness like lust and gluttony. Greed refers to a very excessive desire and a pursuit of wealth, status and power for personal gain: one of the pitfalls in the pursuit of success as a prelude to the grace of God.

Sloth has changed slightly in character in the course of the time. Initially it was seen as not fulfilling God’s gifts, talents and destination. Now it is seen as willfully negligence, e.g. of the duty of care for others, or for society. In my opinion sloth also implies the unwillingness to take notice and to be open to opinions or religions of others even if they do not comply with your own opinions or beliefs. This form of laziness consists of avoiding the question, “What is the other seen that I do not see?”.

Wrath or rage is the sin of excessive and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger. In its extreme form, wrath shows itself as self-destruction. The feelings of anger and hatred may persist many generations. Wrath or anger is the only sin not necessarily associated with selfishness or self-interest.

Envy is to some extent related to greed: both sins are characterized by an inner unsatisfied desire. Envy and greed differ on two points. Firstly, greed is usually linked to material things, while envy is characterized by a more general feeling of loss. Secondly envy recognises something missing in itself that another has or seems to have.

In almost every list pride or arrogance – e.g. the opinion to be exclusively God’s elect as individual, as group or as a religion – is considered the most serious cardinal sin: it is seen as the source of the other deadly sins. Characteristics of pride or arrogance are the desire to be more, more important or more attractive than others; herewith the good works of others – in religions God’s works through other religions – are ignored. The sinner has an inordinate love of his own or of his own environment and/or religion. Dante described it as “love of the ego – in religions, one’s own faith – perverted to hatred and contempt for the other.”
This is in a nutshell the summary of the seven deathly sins”, says Carla.

“Again impressive in extension and brevity. During this introduction I must think – with shame – of my many shortcomings and mistakes in my life”, says Man.

“My most serious deadly sins had not been born out of pride or arrogance. Envy – caused by a general feeling of absence – during my puberty has encouraged me to become a child soldier with consequences that I still carry with me. My life as an idol in Amsterdam had come naturally to me; fortunately, I have left it in time away. Maybe laziness was the cause of my years at the edges of the mirror palaces of the intelligence services; although in this part of my life I had fulfilled my talents and destination given by God, I should have given more attention to the duty of care for others outside my small environment. My life as a mendicant – or Bhikṣu – has elements of envy in the form of a general lack: at that time I’ve tried to avoid cardinal sins”, says Narrator.

“Could you summarise in the same way the many forms of emotions and feelings, after we’ve had a drink?”, asks Man to Carla.

“There are many theories about emotions and there are different approaches to classify emotions [9]. The psycho-evolutionary theory of emotion by Robert Plutchik is interesting because this theory is based upon the following ten postulates [10]:

  1. The concept of emotion is applicable to all evolutionary levels and applies to all animals including humans.
  2. Emotions have an evolutionary history and have evolved various forms of expression in different species.
  3. Emotions served an adaptive role in helping organisms deal with key survival issues posed by the environment.
  4. Despite different forms of expression of emotions in different species, there are certain common elements, or prototype patterns, that can be identified.
  5. There is a small number of basic, primary, or prototype emotions.
  6. All other emotions are mixed or derivative states; that is, they occur as combinations, mixtures, or compounds of the primary emotions.
  7. Primary emotions are hypothetical constructs or idealized states whose properties and characteristics can only be inferred from various kinds of evidence.
  8. Primary emotions can be conceptualized in terms of pairs of polar opposites.
  9. All emotions vary in their degree of similarity to one another.
  10. Each emotion can exist in varying degrees of intensity or levels of arousal.

Based upon amongst others these ten postulates, Robert Plutchik composed in 1980 a wheel of emotions that consisted of the following eight basic – or biologically primitive – emotions, and eight more advanced – to increase the reproductive fitness of animals, such as the flight or fight response – emotions, each composed of two basic emotions.

Basic emotion[11]

The wheel of emotions composed by Robert Plutchik looks like:

Wheel of emotions - Robert Plutchik[11]

Recently – based on a comprehensive study of existing theories of emotions [12] – the following table is compiled from opposing basic emotions. In compiling this table, the following three criteria have been applied for emotions: 1) mental experiences with a strongly motivating subjective quality like pleasure or pain; 2) mental experiences that are a response to a particular event or object that is either real or imagined; 3) mental experiences that motivate particular kinds of behavior. The combination of these criteria distinguish emotions of sensations, feelings and moods [11].

Kind of emotion[11]

These basic overviews of feelings and emotions provide a good starting point for further exploration of these feelings, but I think a far-reaching exploration is beyond the scope of our quest. In so doing, Robert Plutchik stated in one of his works [13] that poets and writers capture and summarise the nuances of emotions and feelings better than scientists; he gave the example of how Emily Dickinson who had been raised in a Calvinist family [14] describes her feelings of despair – in my opinion the despair over a separate existence after God’s election at the end of time as close of this life and the hereafter [15] – in her poem[16]:

My life closed twice before it’s close
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event in me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Probably this poem also partly expresses the hope and despair of Calvinism with – at the end of time – an unimaginable separation equal in inconceivability to the separation of air from earth at the beginning of time. Is my summary on this topic sufficient?”, says Carla.

“Comprehensive in its brevity. Impressive use of the poem by Emily Dickinson at the end. Your explanation reminds me of the Buddhist question:

“When the fire at the end of time rages through and everything is destroyed, is this destroyed or not?” One master answered: “Destroyed, because it goes along with this”. Another master answered: “Not destroyed, because it is the same as this”. [17]

At the end of this part of our quest, I have the impression that the Calvinists in Holland – with their many secessions – lived as if the end of time has already come. All we know of heaven is parting from the loved ones who have another believe, and all we need of hell. The end of time will not bring change to this, “said Narrator.

“The poem by Emily Dickinson describes for me the inconceivability of the end times.
Looking at the wheel of emotions by Robert Plutchik I have noticed with gladness that joy is a combination of the two emotions optimism and love. Tracing all emotions and investigating all combinations of emotions is indeed beyond our quest. Are there other topics that we wish to investigate?”, says Man.

“I am fascinated by intensities and associations and I am often surprised by intensities and associations within our environment, in relation to the other and by my own emotions and feelings. The quest to investigate all these kind of feelings requires a full human life, “says Carla.

“In my opinion this is applicable to every part of our quest”, says Man.

“And surpasses our lives. Shall I prepare a simple meal for us in Man’s kitchen as the close of intensities and associations?”, says Narrator.

“Then we can consider during the meal where we meet tomorrow to travel to my sailboat. I can borrow a car from a former companion; he is a couple of weeks on holiday, “says Man.

 

 

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blauwe_Theehuis
[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vondelpark
[3] Source: Berger, John, Ways of seeing. London: British Broadcasting Company and Penguin, 1972 p. 106 – 107
[4] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gainsborough
[5] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
[6] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Deadly_Sins_and_the_Four_Last_Things
[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
[8] See: Huxley, Aldous, The Devils of Loudun. 1953
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotion_classification
[10] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Plutchik
[11] Copied from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrasting_and_categorization_of_emotions
[12] Source: Robinson, D. L. (2009). Brain function, mental experience and personality. The Netherlands Journal of Psychology, 64, 152-167
[14] Bron: http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/church
[15] Another explanation of this poem is based on the loss of two beloved ones. According to Christian faith before the Reformation a reunion may be expected at the end of time, but the explanation suggests that Immortality may be a fiction and creates the hell of the future. See: Vendler, Helen, Dickinson – Selected poems and commentaries. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2010, p. 520 – 521
[16] Franklin, R.W. edited, The Poems of Emily Dickinson – Reading Edition. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 630 – 631
[17] Free rendering of the koan Dasui’s “Aeonic Fire” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 131 – 136

Freedom and bound: to have or to be


The next morning Carla and Man meet on the Beursplein.

“Last night I was too outspoken about Calvin’s predestination. Maybe I had the excesses in mind – e.g. the slave trade, the precipitation of revolts in the Dutch colonies, and the pursuit of capital – and I had too little attention to its merits, such as keeping livable a large piece of land below sea level and a large tolerance often based on a good business attitude. I am often too outspoken, more mildness would suit me”, says Carla.

“I admire Holland for its pictorial art, its pragmatism, its relatively good housing for everyone. This too is the result of the business attitude and God’s stewardship that has also taken shape in a socialist manner in last century. You have aptly expressed a number of starting points for derailments that were partly caused by Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. Any movement or sect that considers itself superior, has a strong tendency for derailment over time. There is Narrator”, says Man.

“Have you already been waiting a long time before this cathedral of capitalism? In many early Christian churches no regular church services take place anymore, because the believers have disappeared or have gone elsewhere. This capitalists’ cathedral is no longer in use, the followers of this religion have left for more profitable places like the South Axis in Amsterdam or the stock exchanges in London and New York”, says Narrator.
Berus van Berlage[1]

“That’s right, the capitalists pursuit maximization of profit [2], and hereby they are biting their own tails similar to players of a pyramid scheme. The sources of capital are enormous, but finite: once they will dry up.

Capitalism had already a long history before Calvinism had partially emerged from capitalism and gave further shape to it. Let me first tell you this long history in a nutshell.

Probably the meaning of capitalism is derived from the Roman word “caput” [3], which means head (of a person). This origin underlines the importance of private property within capitalism.
The onset of capitalism has probably been the use of devices by individual people to perform specific activities easier and/or faster. Among the hunter-gatherers such devices were stones to crack nuts, weapons to hunt animals and later devices combined with ingenuity to domesticate animals for food or for help during the hunt. In addition, hunter-gatherers needed a large environment as a means for their existence. When this environment or living conditions – also the possession of women and children – were threatened by other hunter-gatherers or groups of hunter-gatherers, these capital resources had to be defended.

Capitalism got a new dimension in nomadic societies of herdsmen; the capital of these nomadic herdsmen were their flocks and their pastures. The corresponding capital resources – such as animals for transport and for herding cattle – were used for tending and defending the herds of cattle, or men needed these devices – such as women and children – for survival. A religious expression within these societies of herdsmen was the cattle cycle [4]. In the Proto-Indo-European world, women represented the only possession of real value [5]; men needed the possession of livestock as a means of exchange to obtain women. In the Roman Catholic and Lutheran version of the Ten Commandments, we still see a relic hereof in the form of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s wife” prior to the tenth commandment: “Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s house” [6].

Within the agrarian capitalism of arable farming, the disposal – and later the possession of – land and water was necessary capital needed for survival [7]. In the course of time, the agrarian capitalism of arable farming has driven nomadic societies of farmers to the remote areas of Western society by occupying fixed crop lands. The introduction of the three-field system in arable farming during the early Middle Ages – in combination with limited cattle breeding – eventually allowed more people a living on permanent farmland.

Within the societies of herdsmen and farmers, bartering was needed, because people within these societies were not completely independent in their existence and because the need for specialized tools or services increased over time. There was barter needed at local markets or during fairs. The barter proceeded initially in kind; later rare objects – first rare stones or metals, and later coins with an image of a leader as trustworthy “person in the middle” – were used as “objects in the middle”.

During and after the Crusades in Western society in the second half of the Middle Ages, the trade in special items and services took further shape. Hereby, and also by the decay of feudalism arose a new economic organization during the Renaissance in Western Europe, where trade supported by the (city-)state in the form of mercantilism [8] increased further in importance. With mercantilism, the importance of coins as a trustworthy “object in the middle” also increased. Possession of coins became more and more an independent worthwhile life purpose in itself, because with money, all life goals could be obtained even remission of sins for a good afterlife through indulgences [9] within the Catholic Church.
Mercantilisme[9]

By mercantilism, the attention within the lives of people moved more and more from “to be” to “to have”. In the earlier world of scholasticism, one was a human in a predefined order of life in which one ought to live virtuously. In the new world order, ownership of money became a great good in itself whereby a good place in life and in the hereafter could be obtained; owning and maintaining money rose in esteem, and gaining profits changed in the course of time from despicable act in a praiseworthy activity.

This form of mercantilism boomed in the Dutch Republic enormously, because of the unique position of Holland in a major river delta, because of the lack of arable farming land in Holland whereby cereals must be obtained by trade like the city-state of Athens in the fifth century BC, and because of a unique system of collective management of the polders. Additionally, the merchants and wealthy citizens in Holland – the Nouveau Riche of that time – initiated far-reaching adaptations and innovations of mercantilism.

One of the changes was the replacement of coins as “barter in the middle” by bonds [10]. Without a direct purchaser of the cargo – after examining – a shipload could be exchanged on the Dam in Amsterdam for securities. The traders in Holland did everything to perpetuate confidence in these securities

One important innovation was issuing of shares in corporations of merchants in order to make risky trading on a large scale to distant overseas colonies possible. Herewith the initiative of issuing of shares moved from nobility or (city-)state to initiatives by private individuals.
Waardepapier van de VOC uit 1662[11]

These modifications shifted the importance from coins – minted out of precious metals and imprinted with the image of a confident ruler – to securities issued by merchants and wealthy. This change shifted the economic initiative form the nobility and the (city-)state to merchants and wealthy individuals and corporations thereof.

For the “common people” of farmers, local traders and craftsmen in Holland , this new form of mercantilism meant a landslide; their whole economic existence could completely disappear in a short time by a cause from outside; others – often in modified form – may easily take over their livelihoods. They could not influence this change in any way.

Within this change of the environment of the “common people” – from a world modelled after the medieval scholasticism to a new world of mercantilism – Calvinism arose during the Reformation in relatively prosperous Geneva [12], and it found a fertile ground in the Netherlands of the 17th century AC.

By Calvinism in connection with mercantilism, the main focus of people’s lives changed from “to be” to “to have”. While in Calvinism – with its the doctrine of predestination – “being” in God’s grace was of supreme importance. But on one hand the gratitude and obligation for the elect to be God’s steward and on the other hand the constant desire for success as forecast for the election by God, meant that “to have” in earthly life is of immanent and immeasurable importance for “to be” in this life and especially in the afterlife.
In continuation of his work “Fear of freedom”, Erich Fromm states in his later work “To have or to be” [13]:

“We live in a society that is based on the three pillars of private property, profit and power. Acquiring, possessing and making profit is a sacred and inalienable right – and a duty as God’s steward according to Calvin’s predestination – of an individual human being in the new world order that has emerged from the mercantilism. Thereby it does not matter where the property comes from, nor whether there might be obligations attached to one’s property” [14].

Calvin’s predestination – embedded in mercantilism – considers “having” possessions as a predestination of God, and therefore an immutable right and duty for God’s stewards. Dorothee Sölle states in her work “Mysticism and Resistance – Thou silent screams” that Erich Fromm rightly makes a meaningful distinction between on one hand the functional properties of utensils to be used for our existence and on the other hand property for enhancing the social status of the ego, guaranteeing security in the future or just for the convenience of self-desire. About ownership of the latter kind of property, Dorothee Sölle says – I think rightly –, that it destroys the relationship with the neighbour, with nature and with the I [14]. And she states freely rendered: the forecast of a hereafter in God’s grace through the pursuit of earthly possessions soon degenerates into a prison on earth and a herald of hell. Francis of Assisi had only allowed money on the dunghill. [14]

In our modern times, paper money is exchanged for virtual bits in computer systems that offer – via monitors – access to terrestrial resources. These virtual bits had started an environment of its own, wherein mankind will be more and more a servant – or slave – to the many forms of bitcoins in these computer systems. Having access to this world of bits and monitors overshadows “being” in our daily life. Through a long detour, the emptiness of the virtual bits and monitors have confiscated the richness of our existence. This is in a nutshell my introduction to capitalism”, says Carla.

“So much in so few words in front of this cathedral of capitalism. Near this building and during your introduction, I am reminded of the haiku by Rӯokan after thieves had taken everything out from his hut:

From my little hut
Thieves took everything
The moon stayed behind [15]

The moon stands for the unshakable believe of Rӯokan”, says Narrator.

“To have or to be. After this truly somber picture of human existence. I would like to show you a different kind of emptiness: the emptiness of the Waddenzee. The next few days the weather will be good. May I invite you for the last sailing trip with my small sailboat; soon I will give the boat to a good friend who is much younger. On the sailboat we may prepare “emptiness” – the next part of our quest”, says Man.

“Shall we this afternoon look into what we still have to investigate on this part of our quest?”, asks Carla.
[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beurs_van_Berlage
[2] Another explanation about Capitalism is given at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism
[3] Source: Ayto, John, Word Origins – The hidden Histories of English Words from A to Z. London: A & C Black Publishers, 2008
[4] See also: Origo, Jan van, Wie ben jij – een verkenning van ons bestaan – deel 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Uitgeverij, 2012 p. 33
[5] See: McGrath, Kevin, STRῙ Women in Epic Mahābhārata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009, p. 9 – 15
[6] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Commandments
[7] See also: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004
[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism and http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geschiedenis_van_Europa
[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence
[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercantilism
[11] A bond of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie from 1622 AC. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waardepapier
[12] See also: Fromm, Erich, De angst voor vrijheid – de vlucht in autoritarisme, destructivisme, conformisme. Utrecht: Bijleveld, 1973 p. 67 (Fromm, Erich, Fear for Freedom. New York: Rinehart & Co, 1941)
[13] Free rendering of paragraph from: Fromm, Erich, Haben oder Sein. München: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2011, p. 89 (Fromm, Erich, To have or to be?. New York: Harper and Row, 1976)
[14] Sölle, Dorothee, Mystiek en verzet – Gij stil geschreeuw. Baarn: Ten Have, 1998, p. 327 – 328
[15] Source: Stevens, John, Three Zen Masters, Ikkyū, Hakuin, Rӯokan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993, p. 131.