Tag Archives: Atman

Five common realities – facts en logic 8


Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting at the Piazza di Santa Croche for their lunch.

“Have we belittled the existing science in our introduction?”, asks Man.

“Certainly, because the existing science is – as well as the classical logic – the “best coherent intellectual system” that is well documented and prone to criticism. The pretension that the existing science could predict and prove everything of value, is too ambitious. You wish to hear our opinion about facts and logic of the outlook on God”, answers Carla to Man.

“Let me start with the All-encompassing One – and the two aspects of “One”-consciousness – and then continue with monotheism. Therefrom I would like to end with the monotheistic God in the shape of a human being. In order to keep the momentum of our quest, I think it would be wise to skip polytheism”, says Man.

feiten en logica 81[1]

“I think you are right; There are several good introductions to the history of God and to world religions wherein different forms of polytheism are explained”, says Narrator.

“When it might be necessary to study polytheism, we can still do so. I am looking forward to your explanation of the two aspects of “One”-consciousness; I can envisage different ideas, but I don’t know if my thoughts are in line with what you have read”, says Carla.

“In the “Commentary on the Awakening of Faith” by Fa-Tsang [2] I read an introduction to the cosmology [3] of “One” within the Hua-Yen [4] branche – based on the Avatamsaka Sutra [5] – of  Zen Buddhism [6]. In his commentary on the “Awakening of Faith” Fa-Tsang describes that “One”-consiousness exists of:

  • “Thusness” – or “evaṃ” [7] in Sanskrit. The “Thusness”-aspect is described as the essence without characteristics that is the source of emptiness or śūnyata [8] wherein all exists in mutual interdependency. The “Thusness”-aspect is all before it is named and it is also the emptiness within Indra’s Net [9]

and

  • “Saṃsāra” [10] – or the “Concourse of things”. The “Concourse of things”-aspect shapes all the characteristics and functions wherein all originates in mutual interdependency. The “Concourse of things”-aspect creates the perceived characteristics of Indra’s Net; it is the “Gestalt” [11] or the concourse of dharmas [12] that are created in mutual interdependency within emptiness.

feiten en logica 82[13]

At once this description creates a problem, because emptiness or śūnyata is unspeakable by lack of features and because the capabilities of features and functions – that arise in interdependence and reciprocity – are infinite. We cannot put it into words and maybe I should conclude with Wittgenstein at this point: “Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen [14]“ (Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must keep silent)”, says Man.

“That is a question; I’m not sure if the possibilities of characteristics and functions – that arise in interrelationships – are infinite [15]. In case these characteristics and features are finite, then the dependent combinations may also be finite. Please, continue your introduction”, says Carla.

“I remember the chapter “Looking back at my innocence” in your biography in which you – as a young girl – had shown by using matchboxes that you may well exist a number of times in the same form within the infinite universe.  For now the “Awakening of Faith” solves the problem of finiteness and infinity by pointing to the emptiness and fleetingness of all dharmas which are only names – without words and reality – for illusionary perception”, says Narrator.

“Suddenly I am reminded of holograms that are illusionary and lifelike at once. The older I am, the more my past looks like holograms: perfectly real and true and at the same time unreal and volatile”, says Man.

feiten en logica 83[16]

“Maybe we should now skip answering the question on the finity or infinity of śūnyata (or void). We can investigate this problem during our Odyssey when we encounter “emptiness” as the third common reality”, says Carla.

“That is good”, says Man.

“On hearing the “Thusness”-aspect and the “Concourse of things”-aspect of “One”-consciousness, I got the idea that herewith a synthesis began to emerge between the world of the Upanishads (with emphasis on Ātman) and the Mahābhārata (including the tension between – on one hand – the world order and duty (Dharmakshetra) and – on the other hand – human action (Kurukshetra)). I let this thought rest until you have finished the introduction”, says Narrator.

“The introduction to the commentary on the “Awakening of Faith” continues with the structure of consciousness. I explain this in a bird’s-eye view. “One”-consciousness has aspects of “Thusness”-consciousness and “Concourse of things”-consciousness. Thoughts arise – via an intermediate step – from the “Concourse of things”-consciousness (or “Gestalt”-consciousness) [17].

feiten en logica 84[18]

There are five forms of thought:

  1. Consciousness of cause and effect
  2. Consciousness of development and evolution
  3. Consciousness of manifestations
  4. Consciousness of differences and illusions
  5. Consciousness of continuing effects of cause and effect [19]

When the first three forms of thought are also based in the emptiness of “Thusness”-consciousness, then these forms may be a basis for Buddhist enlightenment. The last two forms are the onset for the discrimination of things.

The ability to discrimination leads to awareness of separate phenomena:

  • Consciousness of suffering and joy
  • Based on desires that come out of suffering and joy, objects get shape
  • When objects are shaped, names – including symbols and letters – arise for objects
  • Based on names and symbols, actions arise with “cause and effect”
  • Connected with actions, suffering (and joy) arises.

Then the introduction continues with an explanation of degenerate forms of consciousness that originate in a combination of a desire to illusions, symbols, acts, etc. Maybe we can go into this explanation during our investigation of the next common reality “intensities and associations”.

I wish to present this introduction to you because it gives in a nutshell an integral, differentiated and logical description of the origin of things, and of the degeneration of things. I also like this introduction because in this description a sacral and profane consciousness arise from one origin, and because at the same time enlightenment/heaven, profane/earthy and degenerate/hell are intertwined with each other in an all-encompassing oneness. In principle – according to this introduction – the enlighted/heavenly world is similar to our earthly existence [20]. Based on this reasoning, the “Porta del Paradiso” is always open; with our thoughts and illusion we close the doors and place a fence for the entry. What is your opinion about this introduction”, says Man.

“In your luggage I noticed a book on Hua-Yen Buddhism with the title “Entry into the inconceivable [21]”. This title is also very well applicable to your introduction. I have – of course – my usual questions about the definition of the first fundamentals of “One”-consciousness. But my questions and hesitations on the starting point in your introduction are far more abstract and fundamental than on the beginning of other parables, stories and introductions to the awakening of consciousness. I am looking forward to the third common reality “Emptiness” that we will investigate on our Odyssey. At the “concourse of things”-aspect and its sequel, I have additions, comments and criticism from phenomenology, but you know these already [22]”, says Carla.

“I will come back on a possible synthesis between the world of the Upanishads and the Mahābhārata; your explanation during the introduction to the commentary on the “Awakening of Faith” showed indeed a possibility for a synthesis at a high abstract level with other accents. Because we wish to travel in “lightness” and “quickness”, I think we can better move forward. I’m curious how you will connect “God in Search of Man” with this introduction. But let us first walk around the square”, says Narrator.


[1] Detail of Sistine Chapel fresco “Creation of the Sun and Moon” by Michelangelo (c. 1512). Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God

[2] See also: Vorenkamp, Dirck, An English Translation of Fa-Tsang’s Commentary on the Awakening of Faith. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press. 2004 p. 10 – 14

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmology

[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huayan_school

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatamsaka_Sutra

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen

[7] 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

[8] See also: Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 110 – 112

[9] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 66 – 68

[10] Saṃsāra consists of “sam” meaning “together, with, together with” and “sāra” meaning “course, motion, uitbreiding, strength, core, value” in Sanskrit, whereby Saṃsāra can be understood as “the concourse of things”.

[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

[12] See also: Five commen realities – facts and logic 3

[13] Emptiness (or śūnyata) and Gestalt (or Saṃsāra) may be compared with emptiness and bubbles; both create each other. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81

[14] See also: Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Amsterdam: Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennip, 1976 p. 152

[15] See also: Nārāyana, Narrator, “Carla Drift – An Outlier, A Biography”. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 156

[16] Example of a hologram. Souce image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holography

[17] See also: Vorenkamp, Dirck, An English Translation of Fa-Tsang’s Commentary on the Awakening of Faith. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press. 2004 p. 14 – 15

[18] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalttherapie

[19] Somewhere was written that even the gods are bound by the law of cause and effect.

[20] See also the parable about heaven and hell narrated by a parish priest in Valkenburg in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012 p. 82 – 83

[21] Cleary, Thomas, Entry into the inconceivable – An introduction to Hua-Yen Buddhism. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1983

[22] See also: Nārāyana, Narrator, “Carla Drift – An Outlier, A Biography”. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 34 en 114

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Five common realities – facts and logic 3


“After my afternoon-rest I have enough energy for the evening. The many tropical diseases left their traces in my body; a whole day staying active is often too much for me. What books did you buy?”, says Carla.

“An Italian course for Sanskrit to revive my study and “Six memos for the next Millennium” by Italo Calvino. The titles of these memos are intriguing:

  • 1 – Lightness,
  • 2 – Quickness,
  • 3 – Exactitude,
  • 4 – Visibility,
  • 5 – Multiplicity

and the never written memo “6 – Consistency”. The titles for these memos may also be guidelines for our Odyssey, in which we – just like Italo Calvino –can never put the sixth memo on paper, because then we should describe the entire universe in its complete infinity”, says Man.

feiten en logica 31[1]

“There I see Narrator approaching. Good to sit here in the evening sun overlooking the “Basilica di Santa Maria Novella”. Does the façade of the Basilica also meet the titles of the memos?”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 32[2]

“Good question with many answers. Did you have a good meeting with your friend?”, says Man.

“Nice to see each other again after so many years. We have change a lot and also remained the same; familiar and different. Over the years, the physical attraction had disappeared but the pleasantness of being together has stayed. Let’s first order drinks and ask for the menu”, says Narrator.

“That is good. After we ordered our meals, I will share with you – as promised this afternoon – my view on “facts and logic” of “Who are you”?”

Carla, Man and Narrator order their drinks, make their choice from the menu and order their meals.

“Yesterday I started in “Man is not only – A philosophy of Religion” by Abraham Heschel [3]. The title of this book appeals to me, because my first name is mentioned in it and because I wish to know more about the faith in God that has remained strange to me in my adult life. I have lived in monasteries and I have guided groups on Oriental wisdom, but I’ve never had an experience of God’s presence. The first eight chapters of the book on “the Unspeakable”, “the Supreme Astonishment”, “the ultimate question that exceeds words” come directly from my heart and exceed it, like blossom on a tree – included in the universe – arose from the earth, is fed by it and will return in it [4]. In Chapter 9 of the book is a passage – I quote – “We praise together with the pebbles on the road surface that appear petrified marvels, together with all flowers and trees that look like they are hypnotized in silence. When mind and spirit correspond, faith born” [5]. Until here the book makes perfect sense to me, as also the fact that the “One” – that is omnipresent – exists, wherein we are completely included and from which we, each and everything around us are temporary manifestations. But God – as the Other – remains a stranger to me. Who is he? Whereby is God separated from “the Unspeakable”, “the Supreme Astonishment”, “the ultimate question that goes beyond words”? This separation is unreal for me; I cannot understand it: it is not logical”, says Man. feiten en logica 331[6]

“In the land of my ancestors, the “Individual One” or Ātman [7] and the “One all-encompassing” or Brahman [8] are expressed and taught by the Upanishads [9]. Through a full consciousness that Ātman and Brahman are two manifestations of the “One” and thereby fall together like a drop in the ocean, we transcend humanity on Earth.

feiten en logica 34[10]

Whether one believes – or one does not – in an “All-encompassing Self” as permanent entity, is hardly of any importance in our daily life with common happiness, suffering and madness. Buddhism follows a strict Middle Way between “One All-encompassing Self” and “human daily life” in order to avoid the bottomless pit of metaphysical questions and the discussions over them [11]. A branche of the Middle Way is the metaphor of Indra’s Net [12] that gives a limited rendering of the interconnectedness between all the separate manifestations en the “All-encompassing Self”. The Mahābhārata had marked a radical shift by moving the mind in daily life from Ātman to “Dharma” – or world order and duty [13]; Dharma means literally “placing the continuous self/Self”. In the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – the “attention to daily life” accumulates when Arjuna enters the arena in which families, teachers and students face each other in the field of tension between – on the one hand – the world order and duty (Dharmakshetra [14]) and – on the other hand – human actions (Kurukshetra [15]). When Arjuna faces his family, teachers and loved ones among the opponents, he refuses to give the go-ahead in the battle between the two parties. Kṛṣṇa – his spiritual leader and charioteer during this battle – encourages Arjuna to fulfil his duty within the world order and Kṛṣṇa only succeeds herein when he takes his Godlike form during this dialogue; hereupon Arjuna gives the starting signal for the battle with disastrous consequences to all main actors, but in which they fulfil their duty and task within the resulting world order. Within and coinciding with the “All-encompassing Self”, the Godlike form of Kṛṣṇa is the guardian and spiritual leader in this part of the Mahābhārata”, says Narrator.

“Within the mind-set of your ancestors with their view on “facts and logic”, humans and Gods fulfil their role in the world order. Within my conceptual framework, a Godlike role separated from “the All-encompassing One” does not fit: I feel myself at home within the mind-set of the Upanishads and within the Middle Way of Buddhism, but I like to study views with which I disagree in order to figure out what others have seen and I didn’t see until now”, says Man.

“In the last sentence I notice a statement by Professor Dr. W. Luijpen during his lectures series in philosophy at the Delft University of Technology. I too have studied a lot in my life with which I fully disagree. In my studies of crimes against humanity, I came across many sound, incorrect and false mind-sets with which I totally disagree. After studying the Old Testament and the Mahābhārata – with emphasis on ahiṃsā or non-violence as foundation of life [16] – I came to the conclusion that these books aim at peace, although both books are full of cheating, violence and atrocities. I see that our meal is arriving. Later, I hope to tell a little about the warrior mind-set”, says Carla.feiten en logica 35 [17]

“Enjoy your meal; later we will continue with our quest”, says Man.

“Did our discussion meet the titles of the six memos from Italo Calvino?”, asks Narrator.

“I think so”, says Carla.

“Fully”, says Man.


[1] See also: Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the next Millennium. New York: Vintage Books, 1993

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_Novella

[3] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, De mens is niet alleen – De ervaring van Gods aanwezigheid. Utrecht: Kok, 2011. The original edition is: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Man is not alone – A Philosophy of Religion. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Joshua_Heschel

[4] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 50 – 51

[5] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, De mens is niet alleen – De ervaring van Gods aanwezigheid. Utrecht: Kok, 2011, p. 85.

[6] Source image: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Is-Not-Alone-Philosophy/dp/B0015KDICQ

[7] See amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80tman_(Hinduism)

[8] The word Brahman is probably derived from the verbroot √bhṝ meaning “enhance or enlarge”. See for a further introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

[9] Upanishad literally means in Sanskrit: “sitting down to”. This sitting takes place near a teacher for teaching in the perpetual all-encompassing mystery that is our life is. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.  Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

[11] See also: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 67 – 68

[12] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam publisher, 2012, p. 65 – 67;  Cook, Francis, Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra. University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977; Cleary, Thomas, Entry Into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-yen Buddhism. Boston:  Shambhala, 2002; en Cleary, Thomas, The Flower Ornament Scripture, a Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Boston: Shambhala, 1993

[13] 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 to Dharma.

[14] Dharmakshetra consists of Dharma “placing of the continuous self/Self”, and “kshetra” – litterally: field (to be ploughed).

[15] Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, do or act” and “kshetra” – litterally: veld (to be ploughed).

[16] See also: chapter 5 of Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006

[17] Source image: http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/mahabharata-inquiry-in-human-condition-idh471/

Intermezzo: Why Sanskrit?


Your Narrator has asked the second main character why he is studying Sanskrit. His answer is that it has happened naturally. In examining Buddhist texts he has noticed that a number of concepts are easy to follow in Sanskrit. For example the sound “âtman” is similar to our word “breath”. It also turns out that some writers on Buddhism [1], philosophy [2] and the origins of words [3] have studied Sanskrit.

The second main character is interested in the origins of our language as a form of archaeology to the origin of our consciousness or “man[4]-child”. At the start of the study it appeared that for lay people the origin of the Indo-European is not easy accessible: there are only a few standard studies available [5]. On the other hand, Sanskrit – one of our older sister languages – is already in a very early stage extensively documented and fixed. This fact has caused that Sanskrit first became an artificial language and later a dead language. On the other hand, by the artificiality Sanskrit received a high status. The comprehensive, logical and sophisticated grammar is documented by Pāṇini [6] and his contemporaries in the fourth century BC. Our alphabet has an incoherent order; the alphabet in Sanskrit is logically built up according to the way people express vowels and consonants from the inside out. There are also very comprehensive dictionaries Sanskrit – English available. An introduction to Sanskrit [7] can be studied with some perseverance. Sanskrit has provided a good opportunity for the second main character to study the origin of language and thus the interpretation/expression of our consciousness.

[8]

During the study of Sanskrit, the second main character has noticed that many names and places in Indian and Buddhist texts have a meaning. For example, Buddha [9] means “placing a bud of a flower” and Ānanda means “bliss and joy”. The Buddhist words and concepts get a larger depth with knowledge of Sanskrit.

During his recovery period, the second main character has read the book “Empires of the Word – A Language History of the World [10]“.

[11]

In Chapter 5 of this book, Sanskrit is addressed under the heading “Charming like a Creeper – the cultured Career of Sanskrit”. With surprise and recognition, the second main character has read how Sanskrit established itself in India and how it is spread with Buddhism across Southeast Asia, Tibet, China and Japan by trading caravans and via freight boats. In addition to the Chinese characters, the Japanese alphabet is modelled according to the alphabet in Sanskrit. A professor has said to the second main character that a language is the speech impediment of the ruler. Sanskrit is distributed in a large area in a relative nonviolent manner. By the religions that are linked to the Sanskrit – Hinduism and Buddhism – this language has had a great influence in this area. The easiness  and naturalness of this spread has surprised Nicholas Ostler [12]: he has discussed this fact with several friends from India. These friends have pointed out to Nicholas Ostler how little believers must give up for Buddhism and Hinduism: old religions do not have to be rejected. Other beliefs require far more from its believers. The second main character does not agree with these friends. By their nature, Hinduism and Mahāyāna Buddhism [13] require everything from its believers including their original religions.

Over time, Sanskrit is first expelled by Islam from parts of India and Indonesia and afterwards it is banished from China with Buddhism. But, the remains of Sanskrit – like Hebrew – can be seen everywhere for a specialist.

Also many words in German, English and Dutch have a richer meaning with knowledge of Sanskrit. During his recovery period, once the second main character strolled around. He overheard a small group of women talk to each other twittering like birds. When he walked along, one of the women said: “What that concerns [14], I say so, I say nothing”. Then the women continued their conversation. The second main character thought: “Tathāgata [15], evam [16], śūnya [17]” or “what the world of forms concerns, thus, void”. These three words summarize in one sentence the following stage during our Odyssey with the addition: “What comes from the power of the wind in the end becomes brooken and crumbled [18].

This additions reminds of a free rendering of a pop-song by Neil Young [18]:

“Life is like a flower.

It only grows on the vine.

Handful of thorns and you know you missed it.

And you lose it when you call it Mine, Mine, Mine”.


[1] For example: Sheng Yen, Footprints in the Snow – the Autobiography of a Chinese Buddhist Monk. New York: Doubleday, 2008

[2] For example: Pirsig, Robert M., Lila, an Inquiry in Morals. London: Bantam Press, 1991

[3] For example: Ayto, John, Word Origins – The hidden Histories of English Words from A to Z. London: A & C Black Publishers, 2008

[4] “man” means in Sanskrit “think/consider/observe”.

[5] For example: Fortson, Benjamin W., Indo-European Language and Culture – an Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004; Mallory, J.P. & Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007; Mallory, J.P., In Search of the Indo-Europeans. New York: Thames & Hudson, 2005

[6] See as introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/ under “Pāṇini”

[7] For example: Egenes, Thomas, Introduction to Sanskrit part 1 & 2. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2003 – 2005

[8] Source image: http://www.amazon.com

[9] In Sankrit 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 root “dha” meaning “place, grant, bestow”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[10] See: Ostler, Nicholas, Empires of the Word – A Language History of the World. New York: Harper Collins, 2005

[11] Source image: http://www.amazon.co.uk

[12] See:  Ostler, Nicholas, Empires of the Word – A Language History of the World. New York: Harper Collins, 2005 p. 217

[13] Mahāyāna literally means “big vessel”. All and everyone is present in this big vessel, no particle is excluded.

[14]The original in Dutch sounds “What Tathāgata” meaning “What that concerns”

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tath%C4%81gata. The word “tathāgata” consist of “tathā” meaning “thus” and “gata” or “āgata” meaning going or coming. In Mahāyāna Buddhism the word “tathāgata” has two meanings: on the one hand “the complete arising and vanishing Self” or “Buddha or Self” and on the other hand “the myriad forms as they are”.

[16] In Sanskrit the word “Evam” consists of the verb root “e” meaning “approach, arrive” and the noun “va” meaning “wind, ocean, water, stream, going”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[17] In Sanskrit “śūnya” means zero of void. The word “śūnya” consists of “śūna” meaning “swollen state of empty” and “ya” meaning “mover, traveller or wind”.

[18] Source: Wick, Gerry Shishin, The Book of Equanimity – Illuminating Classic Zen Koans. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005 p. 51 casus 16.

[19] See: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/neilyoung/loveisarose.html

Intermezzo: Bible in Sanskrit


Your Narrator has met the second main character. He was completely exhausted after undergoing the first three stages on our Odyssey to “Who are you”. The recovery of these efforts has lasted a long time, because the second main character is rather old. Now he is recovered more or less: the next week we can resume our Odyssey.

At the end of June – at the beginning of his rest period – he has attended the graduation ceremony of one of his granddaughters. She and her family beamed. He has been in the background: he is not invited to the ceremony, because he and his family are alienated from each other. In the next stage we will learn more about the life of the second main character. Now he will give his report.

During the graduation ceremony all successful candidates receive a Bible to their wish. It is a Christian school and although I am of Jewish origin, my children and grandchildren are raised Christian. Most students have chosen a Bible in the usual translations. Some have received a Bible in English and one girl from Japan has been given a bible in Japanese. Two outliers have received a Bible in Swahili – “Hakuna matata” [1]  – and a Koran. The Bible in Sanskrit – The language of the gods in the world of the men [2] – is not requested.

  [3]

A few months ago I have seen two translations of the New Testament in Sanskrit [4]. I started to study this language a few years ago, so my knowledge is still limited. Reading the John Gospel in Sanskrit, it strikes me that the opening sentence has an additional interpretation.

  [5]

  [6]

Or in our alphabet: “Âdau vâda âsît, sa ca vâda îshvarâbhisukha âsît”

At first glance, the translation [7] of this sentence is equal to the text in our language:

“In the beginning was the word,

and this word was with God”.

But looking closer at the words in the sentence, creates a deeper insight.

The first word “âdau” is a conjugation – locative singular – of the word âdi” meaning “beginning”.

The second word looks like the word “vada” meaning “good/meaningful word”. But the translator has, in my opinion correctly, choosen the word “vâda” meaning “word of/about”.  “Vâda” is composed of “vâ” meaning “blow like the wind” and “da” meaning “to give”. So “Vâda” can mean “gift from the wind” or “sound of the wind”. If the word ” Vâda” is interpreted in this sense, than “sound/gift of the wind” refers to the memory and remnants of the first separation of air and earth [8].

The third word  “âsît” is a conjugation of the verb root “as” meaning “to be”. This verb is conjugated  –  in accordance with the verb root – in the active voice or the “parasmaipada”: this means that the fruit of the action is transferred to the other. Here my preference is the middle voice or the “âtmanepada” [9]: the fruit of the action remains with “the Self”. In this case I choose for the verb root “âs” meaning “to sit/remain/exist/inhabit/praise”; I prefer to change “âsît” to “âsta”.

The fifth word is “ca” meaning “and”.

The fourth word is “sa” meaning in this case “this or his”.

The sixth word – “îshvarâbhisukha” – is a consistent of “îshvara” and “abhisukha”. The word “îshvara” is composed of the noun “îsh” – in which the German word “ich” may be recognized – meaning “God, ruler”; “va” meaning “wind, ocean, water, stream, go” and “ra” meaning “give, influence”.  “Abhisukha” means “approaching, focus the face on, in the vicinity of” and consist of “abhi” meaning “to, towards” and “sukha” meaning “happy, comfortable”.

The seventh Word is âsît again. Here I also prefer “âsta” meaning “he sat/remained/existed/inhabited/praised”.

With this background knowledge the opening sentence of the Gospel of John has the following additional interpretations in Sanskrit:

“In the beginning the gift of the wind exists,

and the sound of the wind was encompassed in the All/Self”.

With this additional interpretation the air and the earth are not yet separated in the opening-sentence of the Gospel of John. I love the sound of the wind. In it I still hear the connectedness of air, earth and water within one “All/Self”.

“A breath of the wind

In the rustling of the trees

Your voice is heard[10]

 In following post the second main character explains why he is studying Sanskrit.


[1] Literal meaning Swahili: “No problem”.

[2] Free rendering of the title: Pollock, Sheldon, The Language of the Gods in the World of Men – Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in the pre-modern India. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006

[3] Source image: http://www.ehow.com/how_7834631_frame-university-diploma.html

[4] See: http://sanskritebooks.wordpress.com/2009/11/26/the-bible-in-sanskrit/

[5] Source image: http://www.archive.org/details/dharmmapustakasy00brit

[6] Source image: http://www.archive.org/details/NewTestamentOfBibleInSanskrit

[7] In the analysis of the text the electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – the introduction to Sanskrit MWDDS v1.5 Beta, the introduction in Sanskrit by Egenes, Thomas and the Sanskrit by Mulder, Maaike and the Whitney, William Dwight are used.

[8] See former post “Two” of 11 April 2011.

[9] The word “âtman” means in Sanskrit “Breath, Self/self”; also “ât” means “thus/then” and “man” means “think/consider/observe”.

[10] Moses saw and heard – the voice of – God in the burning bush. See Old Testament, Exodus 3:2

Introduction: One – The Universe is but a Dream


The second classic that you and I visit on our detour, is “The Universe is as but a Dream” or “Maya “[1] in Sanskrit.

[2]

Several Eastern religions are based on the premise that all phenomena are included in or come from a universal being/entity (e.g. Âtman[3] or Brahman[4]). Beyond this universal entity, there is no independent being /entity: only this universal entity exists. All other observations beyond this entity are illusions. People rarely perceive this universal entity: mostly the myriads of illusions are regarded as separate illusionary realities.

[5]

Within the framework of this classic ordinary people experience the transient as permanent, and the permanent and transient.

The difference between “Solipsism” and “The Universe is but a Dream” is the fact that a Solipsist regards his own consciousness as the complete and universal entity. Within “The Universe is but a Dream”, the own consciousness and the perception is seen as illusions and dreams, that may or may not reflect a universal being/entity.

Solipsism is a classic supported by few, because:

  • Solipsism is inwardly consistent and logical, but it is not falsifiable, not refutable or provable[6];
  • Solipsism is exclusively confined to the consciousness of the observer, beyond which nothing exists. This hypothesis is very restrictive for scientists.

“The Universe is but a Dream” is a way of thinking with many manifestations. The “Ideas” of Plato have characteristics of this classic. The “Look” and “Bad Faith” from Sartre[7] – whereby you and I lose our freedom and are reduced to a thing[8] – are also characteristics of this classic. In the later chapters, the frame of mind of this second classic will appear in many forms.

Will you and I have internalized and surpassed the classic “The Universe is but a Dream” at the end of the Odyssey when we return home? We don’t know yet.

The next post will include the third classic “Pantheism”.


[1] “Creating an illusion” in Sanskrit. Source: electronic version od the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.

[2] Source immage: http://kunstbende.nl/nl/272-medewerkers – Anne Denneman

[3] In Sanskrit “Âtman” means amongst others “breath, universal soul, individual soul, nature, essence, highest existing entity).  “Âtman” consists of “Ât” meaning “thus, further” and “man” meaning “thinking, consciousness, knowledge, conceive”.  Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.

[4] “Brahman” means amongst others “religious of spiritual knowledge/wisdom”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta. The origin of this word is possible the root “brh” meaning “worship, enlarge, grow, enhance” and “man” meaning “thinking, consciousness, knowledge, conceive”.

[5] Source image: http://www.edc.ncl.ac.uk/highlight/rhnovember2006g02.php

[6] See also: Solipsism in Wikepedia

[7] See also: Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being and Nothingness. New York: Washington Square Press: 1977

[8] In chapter 5, you and I will meet this way of seeing.