Windlessness


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waddenzee[23]

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

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

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

The Heart Sutra even goes one step further than:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

Published: Who are you – Part 2.2: Intensities and associations / E-book


Posts from this blog bundled as blook “Who are you part 2.2: Intensities and associations” 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-intensities-and-associations

Who are you 2-2This part 2.2 of “Who are you” is an exploration of “intensities and association” in Amsterdam, where Carla Drift, Man Leben and Narrator consider the Reformation and the consequences thereof in Holland. During this part of the survey they look into iconoclasm, a personal relationship with God, Calvinistic predestination, fear for freedom, capitalism, to have or to be, the end of time, “My life closed twice before it’s close” by Emily Dickinson and “One what is that”.

 

Review: Memories of a Marriage


Memories of a Marriage
Memories of a Marriage by Louis Begley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In “Memories of a marriage” by Louis Begley, a writer – named Philip – in his seventies reconnects with an old friend – named Lucy – whom he met right out of college and hasn’t seen for 40 years. Both main characters are from the East Coast privileged class: their capital acquired by their forefathers from one crime (slave-trade) or another. As parvenus their kind spend their life in luxury in places to be in Europe and at the East Coast.

Lucy once a beautiful woman with the world at her feet, has become a bitter divorce who fully puts the blame on her former husband Thomas. She has married Thomas – the son of a garage owner – after she has lost the opportunity for a good marriage with candidates from her own class after a few too many overtly sexual relations with Philip and many of his peers. Thomas became a very successful and well to do banker in Wall street, but he could never meet the parvenu’s class culture in the opinion of Lucy (never wear black shoes before the evening).

Philip is now a widower – having lost his beloved wife to cancer – and one day he runs into Lucy who is now divorced from Thomas who had died several years before. Lucy starts telling her side of what had happened in her marriage: all very negative toward Thomas. Unable to believe Lucy’s side, that is besides his own memory and admiration of Thomas and Lucy, Philip begins an investigation as preparation for a novel by asking questions to Lucy – who gives intimate details of her marriage to Thomas – and by questioning others who have known Thomas and Lucy as a couple.

Very well written although a small part in the middle – used to speed up the storyline – is slightly out of tone. In case this small part would be fully elaborated in the same style and the plotting slightly improved, this book might deserve five stars.

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Review: A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms


A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms
A History of Religious Ideas 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The third volume of “A History of Religious Idea – From Muhammed to the Age of Reforms” by Mircea Eliade covers the vast religious area between:
• Religions of Ancient Eurasia including shamanism, paganism, and the “Celestial God”
• Christian Churches in the eighth and ninth century
• Muhammed and the unfolding of Islam
• Western Catholicism from Charlemagne to the start of the Reformation
• Judaism in the Middle Ages
• Zwingli, Calvin and the Catholic Reformation
• Tibetan Religions

Similar to the first two volumes, this vast area of religious ideas is described in a considerable depth in this third volume, although experts will certainly notice significant major omissions at once; e.g. the Reformation in Holland is not covered.

Although I have the impression that Mircea Eliade could not finish this third volume: highly recommended!

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