Tag Archives: Bhikṣu

Way of emptiness


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kikker[3]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maan eenMaan twee[11]

And the poem accompanying this question reads:

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

Upon reading this poem I have made this haiku:

Every season
Without a cloud in your mind
A good season

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

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

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

“Please”, says Carla.

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

The mantra is as follows:

tadyathā | gate gate pāragate pārasaṅgate bodhi svāhā

Wherein the separate words have the following meaning:

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

Prästgatan[17]

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

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

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

Time for some bread and wine”, says Narrator.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenia[19]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And mine too”, says Man.

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

Waddenzee[20]

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

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

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

Mist


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meditatie[7]

This Buddhist question includes several sub-questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meditatie 2[13]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steenmannetje[20]

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

Glasshouse[21]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Five common realities – facts en logic 12


The next morning Carla, Man and Narrator have their breakfast seated on a beanch at the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, in Florence.

“Last night I read the following two comments by a Zen master on a Buddhistic question, that are in line with our discussion during our supper last night:

“Fundamentally there is no delusion or enlightenment

“Peace is originally the accomplishment of the general, but the general is not allowed to see peace.” [1]

The first comment reflects Carla’s introduction on the sometimes razor-thin difference between delusion and reality. I think the Zen master goes several steps further than Carla; in the tradition of the Heart Sūtra [2], the Zen master will probably identify delusion and enlightenment as empty; we will come to this later – at “Void” as the “Third common reality”. The second comment is not clear to me. Do you know an explanation?”, asks Man to Carla and Narrator.

feiten en logica 12a[3]

“This comment looks structurally like the well-known fallacy in logic “Every ox is an animal, so each animal is an ox”; in this comment, a denial in the second clause might cause a tautology. In my opinion, peace is originally only possible if it includes peace in everything and everyone; but due to entropy [4] – or very loosely interpreted: the organised  chaos – it is not possible to create and establish human peace for all an everyone. The effort to maintain this form of entropy, surpasses our environment”, says Carla.

“You are right for the manifestations in our environment, and that is partly meant with this comment on the  Buddhistic question “Zhaozhou’s was your bowl”. The question is:

“Have you had breakfast yet?”

“Yes, I have eaten”

“Then go wash your bowl”

In this question “breakfast” stands for (a personal experience of) Buddhist enlightingment and “Go was your bowl” stands for realising Buddhistic enlightenment – as bodhisattva – for the All-encompassing One [5].

feiten en logica 12b[6]

Within Indra’s Net is not possible to see peace, because on the one hand an eye cannot fully see itself and because no peace and no war exists in Indra’s Net: Indra’s Net is empty of these concepts.

Shall I use this second comment as prelude to my introduction to Kṛṣṇa?”, says Narrator.

“Good explanation of both comments in words; a Zen master asks to show the answer directly and immediately within Indra’s net. I am looking forward to your introduction to Kṛṣṇa”, says Man.

“I will formulate the comment more precisely:

“Shānti [7] (peace, rest, calmness of mind, absence of passion, comfort, son of Indra, son of Kṛṣṇa and  kālindi) is originally the accomplishment of Īśvara [8] (or the general), but Īśvara is not allowed to see peace”.

In the course of my introduction it will become clear why this comment is so aptly for Kṛṣṇa.

The emergence of Kṛṣṇa is shrouded in mystery. According to Vedic tradition Kṛṣṇa is – after an immaculate conception [9] – born about 5000 years ago in Mathura – the former capital of the kingdom Shurasena (now Uttar Pradesh) – in Northern India [10].

feiten en logica 12c[11]

In the third book of the Mahābhārata [12] – composed more than 2500 years ago – Kṛṣṇa shouts:

“I am Nārāyaņa. I am creator and destroyer. I am Vişņu [13]. I am Brahman. I am Indra the master God.” [14]

In our contemporary ears, this exclamation sounds extremely overconfident. Within the metaphor of Indra’s Net, it is an open door, because every manifestation in Indra’s Net reflects and shapes the entire net as a creator and destroyer.

According to the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa refuses to take sides at the beginning of the battle for the Kingdom between the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – including Arjuna – and their many Kaurava cousins; he is only willing to enter the arena on the side of Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers as charioteer and leader of Arjuna.

At the beginning of the Bhagavad Gītā – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – the army of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers stands in battle order on the battlefield – with the place name Kurukshetra – opposite the army of their Kaurava cousins. In addition to a battle for a Kingdom, they stand on the battlefield in the tension between on one hand world order and duty (Dharmakshetra [15]) and on the other hand human action (Kurukshetra [16]). At the start of the battle, Arjuna – as leader of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – refuses to give the starting signal for the attack; in the opposite battle order he sees many family members, teachers, and loved ones. Kṛṣṇa – the leader and charioteer of Arjuna during this fight – encourages Arjuna to fulfil his duty within the world order. Kṛṣṇa only succeeds after he adopts his Godlike form during the dialogue with Arjuna.

In the Bhagavad Gītā Kṛṣṇa is called amongst others Parameshvara [17] or the Supreme God [18]. Some of the statements of Kṛṣṇa during the dialogue with Arjuna are:

“Although I am the Unborn and of immutable essence, although I am the Īśvara of the created beings, I enter my Godlike shape and come into finite existence from age to age” [19]

“I am equal to all created beings, there is no object of my particular favour or disfavour.”[20]

“Have your mind and life directed to Me, enlighten one another and talk about Me constantly.” [21]

feiten en logica 12d[22]

This last statement of Kṛṣṇa was applicable to my mask of an idol in the inverted world in Amsterdam [23].

Through this Godlike shape, Kṛṣṇa – in this part of the Mahābhārata – is a guardian and a leader of the world order and duty, and of human action. Within the world order of the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa is not allowed to see peace – also this Godlike shape in the form of Kṛṣṇa is bound by the law of cause and effect.

The outcome of the battle for the Kingdom is disastrous for all concerned. The heroes had been slain in battle; the survivors were consumed with hate, anger and grief; and the women and children mourn miserably for the loss of the fallen. At the end of the Mahabharata, all are deceased.

May I come back on the death this afternoon?”, says Narrator.

“That will be a good transition to my introduction to the mind of the warrior; wars eventually see only losers. I will come back to this later”, says Carla.

“Narrator, what do you think might be the answers by Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa to the Buddhistic question  “Zhaozhou’s Wash your bowl””, asks Man to Narrator.

“Arjuna puts his hands to his mouth as battle horn and roars; Kṛṣṇa spurs the battle horses”, says Narrator.

“Would Zhaozhou approve these answers?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“Zhaozhou accepts the answer of Arjuna, and he gives Arjuna right away “Linji’s True Man” as next Buddhistic question. According to Hinduism, Arjuna has met “The true Man” within his possibilities and limitations [24]. Zhaozhou rejects the answer of Kṛṣṇa, after which Kṛṣṇa – in the incarnation as Bhikṣu – immediately makes the gestures of cleansing of the begging bowl”, says Narrator.

“So far I have mostly listened during your introductions to God in human shape. The “Deus ex homine” has for me characteristics of a “Deus ex machina””, says Carla

“Almost all religious movements have struggled with this problem. As we have seen before, Christ was only recognized as son of God within the Trinity after many altercations and struggle within the Catholic Church. The doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary – the mother of Christ – by the Holy Spirit has caused much discussion. In 1854 A.C. with the Papal Bull “Ineffabilis Deus” (the inexpressible God), Pope Pius IX proclaimed this dogma [25]”, says Man.

“During my life I have often renounced “Deus ex homine”, because in this manifestation I was not allowed to see peace”, says Narrator.

“Later on our Odyssey – during “Incarnatus est” at “Seven other realities “– I hope to learn more about the wonder of life within the void and the manifestations of Indra’s Net”, says Man.

“Shall we clean up our breakfast and visit the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella?”, says Carla.


[1] Both sentences are comments by the Zen master Xuedou on the koan ‘Zhaozhou’s “Wash your bowl’. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 172

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

[3] In this human painting of peace, it is doubtful if peace also extends to the ox and the bay leaves. Mural of Peace by Gari Melchers. Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, Washington, D.C. Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace

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

[5] A bodhisattva is a human who – on the verge of personal Buddhistic enlightenment – decides to remain in the world to work on the enlightenment of the whole universe; a bodhisattva has made the vow to enter enlightenment together with all around us at the same. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhisattva

[6] Woodcut of Zhaozhou. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhaozhou_Congshen

[7] Shānti is comparable with Sanctus meaning in Dutch “Part of the Eucharist before the consecration” and “Holy praising”, and in Latin “holy, inviolable, untouchable” en “holy, honourable, exalted, godlike, pure and pious”. Sources: Dictionaries Dutch and Latin published by Wolters – Noordhoff

[8] Īśvara means in Sanskrit amongst others “being able to”, “Supreme being/soul”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[9] Source: Bhagavata Purana according to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna

[10] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna_(god)

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krishna

[12] See: Book 3, 188 (or 189), 5 from the Mahābhārata

[13] A Hindu supreme God, manifestation of Brahman, also named Nārāyaņa. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu

[14] Source: Radhakrishnan, S, Indian Philosophy – Centenary Edition. London: Unwin Hyman Limited, 1989, Vol. One, p. 485 – 486

[15] Dharmakshetra consists of “to place the continuous self/Self”, and “kshetra” – litterally: field.

[16] Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, to do or act”, and “kshetra” – litterally: field.

[17] Parameshvara consists of para and Īśvara wherein “para” means “highest” in het Sanskrit.

[18] Source: Bhagavad Gītā (11.3-4). A word by word translation is available, see: Sargeant, Winthrop, The Bhagavad Gȋtâ. Albany: State New York University Press, 1994

[19] Source: Bhagavad Gītā IV.6

[20] Source: Bhagavad Gītā IX.29

[21] Source: Bhagavad Gītā X.9

[22] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurukshetra

[23] See:  Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 93 – 98

[24] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arjuna

[25] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immaculate_Conception

Five common realities – facts en logic 11


Carla and Narrator are waiting for Man outside their guest house in Florence.

“This afternoon I forgot to say that objects, symbols, rituals, words, slogans, music, literature, philosophy and religion can direct – and take over – the behaviour and consiousness of people. Two extreme examples in negative sense are:

  • a political leader and followers influence each other in words and rituals so far-reaching that a part of society proceeds to genocide,
  • a religion sect degenerates by rituals, slogans, words and behavior in religious madness.

feiten en logica 111[1]

In a positive sense, behaviour and consciousness of people are influenced – as exercises for the soul – by music, literature, religion (for basic trust), architecture, art, science. Via symbols and rituals, people feel security and belonging. An outspoken example is the hostia (sacramental bread) which – according to the Catholic Church – changes into the body of Christ after the epiklesis and the consecration during the Eucharist [2]. I think we should not delve into this further, because we use lightness and quickness as two guidelines during our Odyssey”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 112[3]

“Within the conceptional framework of Indra’s Net, every particle, every object and every living being reflects the body of Christ – as a historical person and as a Godlike being”, says Narrator.

“There is a small difference: Catholics believe that the hostia only after the epiklesis (or convocation of the Holy Spirit) and the consecration during a Catholic Eucharist changes in the body of Christ. The metaphor of Indra’s Net reflects the Catholic faith and at the same time, the disbelief in the hostia as a body of Christ in all its manifestations”, says Carla.

“You are right, we don’t have time to fully investigate the influences of symbols and slogans on the human behaviour next to our Odyssey to who are you. There is Man”, says Narrator.

“Do you like a real dinner tonight or shall we buy a simple supper in the supermarket and eat it in the park of the Piazza Massimo D’Azeglio, just like Dutch people?”, asks Man.

“Right then, just as people from Holland”, says Carla.

“I haven’t done otherwise for years, for me it’s all right”, says Narrator.

After a visit to the supermarket, they sit in the park and have the following conversation.

“Narrator, your last name Nārāyana is similar to the title of one of the older Upanishads that probably is created at the end of the Vedic period in India [4]. I refer to the following brief passage from the Nārāyana Upanishad [5] as stepping stone to my introduction to Kṛṣṇa as God in a human shape:

Nārāyana is the Supreme Reality designated as Brahman.

Nārāyana is the highest (Self).

Nārāyana is the supreme Light. Narayana is the infinite Self.

The supreme person Nārāyana willed to create beings.

Everything in this world is pervaded by Nārāyana within and without [6].

Did you know this similarity in name with your last name?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“My father had told me this in one of his stories when I was a young man. Later on in my life – during my incarnation as Bhikṣu – I have read the Nārāyana Upanishad via de University Library in Heidelberg.  In Sanskrit, Nārāyana means amongst others “son of the original Man”[7], whereby “Man” in Sanskrit means “to think, believe and perceive”. The book with Buddhistic questions that I had received from my American beloved, includes the question “True Man” about the meaning of “Man”. This beginning of this question is:

“There is a True Man with no ranks going out and in through the portals of Your face [8].

Beginners who have not witnessed it, Look, Look”

And the verse in this koan starts as follows:

“Delusion and (Buddhistic) enlightenment are opposite,

Subtly communicated, with simplicity;

Spring opens the hundred flowers [9], in one puff. [10]

Delusion and (Buddhistic) enlightenment also include symbols, rituals, words, slogans, literature, philosophy and religion that direct and even take over the behaviour and consiousness of humans in a positive and negative way. The “son of the original Man” in my last name Nārāyana is not only the human man, but also indicates the “True Man” in this Buddhistic question”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 113[11]

“The difference between delusion and reality, crime and goodness are often paper thin and as a rule dependent on the framework wherein it is perceived. Your explanation about “thinking, believing and perceiving” show this. “Sein und Zeit[12] – the magnum opus by Martin Heidegger – also shows a glimp of this. Martin Heidegger has made a distinction between the “Improper Man” – or Delusion – and the “Own Self”. I am not sure if Martin Heidegger would equate the “Own Self” to the “True Man” in the Buddhistic question”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 114[13]

“I am deeply impressed by your introduction to Nārāyana and the “True Man”; you can express this far better than I can. Would you like to tell us who Kṛṣṇa is?”, says Man.

“May I do that tomorrow, let us first have our supper on this beautiful late summer evening in the park. Shall I break the bread and pour the wine?”, says Narrator.

“That is good”, say Carla and Man.

feiten en logica 115[14]


[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consecration

[3] Images of a traditional and modern monstrance. The monstrance is a holder in which the hostia (or sacramental bread) – that after the epiklesis (or the invocation of the Holy Spirit) and the consecration during the Eucharist, according to the Catholic Church changes into the body of Christ – is shown. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstrance and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacramental_bread.  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstrance

[4] The Mahānārāyana Upanishad is, as chapter 10 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka, part of the dark – or inconceivable – Yajurveda (or Veda during sacrifices). See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taittiriya_Aranyaka#Taittiriya_Aranyaka

[5] The tekst in Sanskrit is available under the title “mahAnArAyaNa” at: http://sanskritdocuments.org/doc_upanishhat/

[6] Source: XIII-4 and XIII-5 from the English translation of the Mahānārāyana Upanishad via: http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/hinduism-forum/230825-maha-narayana-upanishad-translation-english.html

[7] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.

[8] Next to human face, “Your face” also refers to the “face of the world” and the “face of Indra’s Net”.

[9] See for an interpretation of flowers also “One – Blossom” in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 50 – 53

[10] Abridged version of the Zen Koan “Linji’s True Man” from: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 167 – 170

[11] One of the unendless many manifestations of the “True Man”. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann

[12] Heidegger, Martin, Sein und Zeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2006. See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sein_und_Zeit#Verfallenheit_und_Eigentlichkeit:_Das_Man

[13] Image of a tool to understand the main concepts in Heidegger’s “Sein und Zeit” – (Being and Time). Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sein_und_Zeit#Verfallenheit_und_Eigentlichkeit:_Das_Man

[14] Piazza Massimo D’Azeglio. Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_d’Azeglio

Narrator – εἰς τὴν Πόλιν on the way to “this”


My third incarnation as Bhikṣu or – in the words of everyday life – as wanderer who followed the annual trek of the birds, ended in Istanbul. In this former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire [1] I became part of the “polis” [2] – not only part of the City State with a public secular politics, but at home in the universal community of environment and people

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[3]

My Acropolis was not a temple where in the past the Greeks gave a house [4] to their Gods with all the splendour and exceptional beauty. Although I was at home everywhere, I found no lasting home in a church, mosque or temple.

Akropolis[5]

Between the many churches and mosques of Istanbul I experienced my body and “polis” – in the form of the universal living environment – as the temple of God [6].

Blauwe moskee[7]

In the poem “This we have now” by Rumi I read a reflection of my world in Istanbul:

This

That we are now

Created the body, cell by cell,

Like bees building a honeycomb.

The human body and the univers

Grow from This [8]

During my first three incarnations – first as Kṛṣṇa in Kenya, then as idol in Amsterdam and several Northern cities, and thereafter as Bhikṣu who followed the annual trek of the birds between South and North Europe – I had only seen reflections of “This” within my own living environment.

In my fourth incarnation I wanted to leave the protection of the cave [9] – in which I found shelter until now – with only reflections of the all-encompassing “This” as Plato described in his Politeia [10].

Grot[11]

Slowly at the beginning of my new incarnation I became perfectly included in the universe. In the libraries of Istanbul I read translations of the works of Rumi. Along with his poems I swirlingly began a new existence.

With the new spring – at the invitation of Carla Drift – Man Leben arrived in Istanbul. Carla, Man and I decided to start “Who are you – a survey into our existence”. Before we entered everyday life on this quest, we wrote each other’s biographies.


[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis

[3] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corne_d%27Or

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

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polis

[6] See also: The first letter to the Corinthians 12 – 20

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

[8] Part of the English version of the poem “This we have now” by Rumi. See also: Barks, Coleman, The Essential Rumi. New York: Castle Books, 1997, p. 262

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

[10] In English the Politeia is often translated with “State” or “Republic”. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staat_(Plato)

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

Narrator – on the way 2


After the death of Raven I spent every year’s winter in South Spain. In the spring I migrated with the birds to the North wandering the summer season in Northern Europe. The wind, the weather and the people I met on my way, gave direction to the temporary shelter in the northern cities.

Vogeltrek[1]

Regularly I visited Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. The volatile friends from the past were swept away from everyday life by the mysterious disease that had the name AIDS. Several old friends started another life without place for a wandering Bhikṣu. Usually I lived by the street with magic, storytelling and I had started singing.

My performance of Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas” [2], moved the audience. Parts of the text about shadows – during the night shadows of murdered villagers and in daytime shadows of lost beloved ones – was applicable on my life.

Let me be

Shadow of your shadow

Shadow of your hand

Shadow of your own. [3]

schaduwen[4]

After 18 years wintering in the South and in summertime wandering in the north, I was an adult in my third incarnation; each moment, hour, day, year was different and the same. Although I carried always the shadows from my previous life with me, this simple life rhythm gave some inner peace.

In the autumn I sang lines from “Ne me quitte pas” for an audience on the Leidseplein in Amsterdam:

I, I will give you

Pearls of rain

from lands

Where it never rains.[5]

After singing the words “from lands where it never rains” I knew that my mother had died. Her commandment to move to Amsterdam and its realisation had ended. I bowed to the audience and in honour of her memory I immediately set off “εἰς τὴν Πόλιν” – to the city – to Istanbul [6]. From Istanbul I wished to move to Konia the following spring. It was time to swirl in the footsteps of Rumi [7].

Come, Come, whoever you are,

Wanderer, idolatrous narrator and worshipper of the golden glow,

Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times,

Come, and come yet again.

Ours is not a caravan of despair. [8]

Derwish[9]

On the road to Istanbul I was accompanied by my mother, like Rumi wrote in a poem:

“My thoughts are in the heart of my mother,

the heart of her will be sick

without the thoughts of me”. [10]

The fourth incarnation in my life had begun. I deviated from my usual autumn migration to South Spain. That year, the winter started early in Middle Europe. Mid November there was already snow. On the way to Istanbul I became adrift by the cold. Early December it froze solid. I had nothing to eat. The next clear night at new moon my breath watched over me. The ghosts and shadows from my life temporary found peace. The frost took me in; earth and firmament were one.

Stone and stilled

Inside and outside

One in the cosmos

Sterrenhemel[11]


[1] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogelzug

[2] To be listened via: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za_6A0XnMyw

[3] Source: Own translation of the last lines from Jacques Brel’s “Ne me quitte pas”.

[4] Source image: http://bat-smg.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abruozdielis:Southwark_Park_Evening_Shadows.JPG

[5] Source: translation of the first lines from the second verse of “Ne me quitte pas” by Jacques Brel.

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

[7] Jalāl ad-Dīn – in the West known as Rumi – was born near Balkh in Afghanistan in the 13th century CE. His parents fled for the Huns. Jalāl ad-Dīn received the name Rumi in the Arab world because he lived in Konia South of Ankara in the current Turkey while writing his great works. This part of the Arabic world was identified with Rome from the Roman Empire. Hence Jalāl ad-Dīn is named after the name of his main domicile in the Arab/Persian world. Source: Lewis, Franklin D., Rumi, Past and Present, East and West. Oxford: Oneworld, 2003 p. 9

[8] Free rendering of verses by Rumi. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi en Rumi and His Sufi Path of Love (2007) by M Fatih Citlak and Huseyin Bingul, p. 81

[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dervish

[10] Free rendering of a poem by Rumi. Source: Nicholson, Reynold A., The Mathnawi of Jalálu’ddin Rúmí, Book II. Cambridge: Biddles Ltd, 2001 p. 281

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Starry_Night