Tag Archives: Buddhist question

Way of emptiness


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kikker[3]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maan eenMaan twee[11]

And the poem accompanying this question reads:

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

Upon reading this poem I have made this haiku:

Every season
Without a cloud in your mind
A good season

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

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

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

“Please”, says Carla.

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

The mantra is as follows:

tadyathā | gate gate pāragate pārasaṅgate bodhi svāhā

Wherein the separate words have the following meaning:

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

Prästgatan[17]

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

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

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

Time for some bread and wine”, says Narrator.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenia[19]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And mine too”, says Man.

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

Waddenzee[20]

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

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

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

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form


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

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

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

“Enjoy your meal”, say Carla and Narrator.

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

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

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

Drijvende eenden[1]

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

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

“Please”, says Man.

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

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

Superpositie[2]

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

“Both:

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

And:

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

And together in one haiku:

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

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

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

Or in Sanskrit:

iha rūpaṃ śūnyata śūnyataiva rūpam
rūpānna pṛthak śūnyatā śūnyatāyā na pṛthagrūpaṃ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Sūtra continues with a large number of negations:

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

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

Ontwikkelbad[11]

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

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

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

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

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

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

of interpretated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I will make some coffee”, says Man.

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

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

And the poem is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

De wereld anders[19]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Review: The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries


The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries
The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries by Donald S. Lopez Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tiny book “The Heart Sutra Explained” (230 pages) includes commentaries by Indian and Tibetan sages.

These commentaries are very useful to study the Heart Sutra from different perspectives.

E.g.: a commentary on the first line in the prologue “Thus I have hear at one time”:
“The commentator Vajrapani has high praise for the word Thus (“evam” in Sanskrit), the word with which sutras begin. Those four letters are the source of the 84.000 doctrines taught by Buddha and are the basis of all marvels. The meaning of the other words are less clear, there is controversy over the “I” who heard them and to the meaning of “at one time””.

The high praise of Thus – “evam” – is quite similar to the commentary of Bernie Glassman who says in “The Dude and the Zen Master” that the Heart Sutra begins with the most important word “Avalokiteshvara” or even better with the letter “A”. If this “A” is wholly encompassed, the Heart Sutra is all encompassed.

The controversy over the “I” who heard them and to the meaning of “at one time” may be seen as Buddhist question (or Koan) in my opinion .

This example given is only one of the many commentaries.

Next to this tiny book, a basic knowledge of Sanskrit is very helpful for a further study of the Heart Sutra.

“The Heart Sutra Explained” is highly recommended for a further study of the Heart Sutra from different perspectives, as is a basic course of Sanskrit.

For a first reading and basic study of the Heart Sutra, Red Pine’s translation and commentary is highly recommended.

For a first reading and more poetic commentary, “The Heart of Understanding” by Thich Nhat Hahn is also highly recommended.

View all my reviews

Who are you: Intensities and associations


Reunion in Amsterdam: two sermons in stone

“The square in front of Amsterdam Centraal railway Station is a good place to meet Narrator again after his trip from Florence [1]. I hear his specific rhythm in the bongos of the jazz band that plays Nature Boy [2] of Eden Ahbez [3] in the distance”, says Man.

“I hear, Narrator has seen us; he changes his rhythm”, says Carla.

Carla and Man listen to the singer:

There was a man [4]

A remarkable enchanting man

One says he wandered very far,

Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eyes

But very wise, so worldly-wise.

And one day, a magic day

He crossed my way, and while he spoke

Of many things, priests [5] and kings

He said to me:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

Is the immense wealth of goodness”

.

“The text of Nature Boy is adapted for us”, says Man.

After playing this song, Narrator takes his bongos, he says goodbye to his fellow musicians and he stands with Carla and Man.

“Beautiful song. Thanks for your card. Why did you invite us here as a starting point for the survey of “Intensities and associations” at the second common reality on our Odyssey to “Who are you”?”, asks Man to the Narrator.

Amsterdam_Sint_Nicolaas_Kerk[6]

“In the Golden Age at the beginning of the Reformation the smaller sea-going vessels – that had returned laden with merchandise from distant lands – had moored on this place. In the 19th century  Amsterdam Centraal railway Station was built at this place. Before the Reformation many expressions of the Christian faith could be seen everywhere throughout the city. Now we can only see two beacons of Christian faith from here. In the distance we see the tower of the Old Church [7], before the Alteration [8] – whereby the Catholic administration in Amsterdam was deposited –  the Old Church had been named the St. Nicholas Church after the patron of sailors. Here before us on the waterfront we see the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Nicholas [9] that had been built at the end of the 19th century as the third St. Nicholas Church; the second St. Nicholas Church which is now known under the name “Ons Lieve Heer op Solder” [10], is a hidden church on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, .

Amsterdam_Onze_Lieve_Heer_Op_Zolder[11]

As introduction to “Intensities and associations”, I suggest to visit this afternoon the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel for two sermons in stone that emerged from the Protestant Reformation. We can visit tomorrow the Old Church in the Centre of Amsterdam to look at the start of the Reformation”, says Narrator.

“The Basilica of Saint Nicholas has a Christian cross as floor map as many traditional Catholic churches; but a real church tower is missing and the Church is incorporated into the street plan instead of directing to the east”, says Man.

“I wish to show you the dome of the Basilica, because the ceiling displays the huge change that the Reformation had also caused within the Roman Catholic Church in Holland. Shall we go inside?”, asks Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator walk to the Basilica and go inside.

“The ceiling of the dome shows no painted sermon of the Catholic faith ordered to the Medieval Scholasticism with a Divine Trinity, a Roman Catholic worldview and heaven. This dome only shows the images of the four Evangelists of the New Testament and thus a reference to the Word of God in which the Son of God was sent to Earth for the salvation of the faithful. According to the painting of this dome, the four evangelists are the connection to the Divine Light. The reference to the Word of God – that the spectator could read alone after the rise of the printing press – in this painting of the dome has taken the place of the story in images in the domes of the churches in Florence. This change in the painting of the Church dome from the image of the self/Self according to the Medieval Scholasticism in the Florentine churches to the painting in this dome of intermediaries that refers to the Light of the Other – the invisible God –, shows similarities with the third revolution in the scientific development [12] with a reference to the open-minded and non-normative representation of the Light of the Other – in this case the Divine Trinity”, says Narrator.

“Also in this Basilica the light shines from above. With the light as hope for the resurrection, the dome itself shows the constant resurrection. “Et lux perpetua luceat eis –and let perpetual light shine upon them [13]”, says Man.

“On whom shines the perpetual light? Let’s rest this question until later on our quest. In Holland I am a woman from the South, in Florence I am a woman from the North. Although I think this Dome is also excessive, I feel more at home in this church than in the lavish churches in Southern Europe”, says Carla.

“Good question with many answers over which is fought hard. Many thought that they exclusively possessed the Divine Light whereby other lights had to be extinguished with fire and sword. Shall we go to the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel to observe the influence of the Reformation on Protestantism”, says Narrator.

Amsterdam_Koepel_Nicolaas_Kerk[14]

While Carla, Man and Narrator walk from the Prins Hendrikkade to the Singel, Narrator asks Man : “On which Buddhist question are you now working?”.

“With a – at first glance – very simple question with the metaphor of Indra’s Net in mind:

Question: “When arising and vanishing go on unceasingly, what then?”

Answer: “Whose arising and vanishing is it?”

And part of the accompanying verse:

Severing of entangling vines

Arising and vanishing in profusion – what is it? [15]

This question is very well applicable to the Reformation during the 80 year war in Holland; whose emergence and disappearance took place during this Reformation. What is “The” severing of entangling vines – arise and vanishing in profusion – of Christian faith in Holland? I do not know; “Mysterium est magnum, quod nos procul dubio transcendit” of “The mystery is great, that transcends us doubtless” [16]“, says Man.

“Life consists of change, but when everything is constantly changing, then change continues as a fixed constant. We have immediately mentioned the contradiction in this reasoning and in this starting point”, says Carla.

“I’m not so sure. The comments to this question states: “You don’t see the constant mover” and: “If you – the divine light? – agree, you have not yet escaped the senses, but if you disagree you are forever sunk in birth and death” [17]. This is a difficult question; it looks similar to the dilemma of the true faith and the direct relationship with God that the believers in Holland have constantly struggled with during and after the Reformation. There we see the Round Lutheran Church as a fortress in the shape of a donjon. The Lutherans were not allowed to build a church with a tower in Amsterdam”, says Narrator.

Amsterdam_Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk[18]

“This Lutheran Church reminds me of a hymn that I have learned at the Gymnasium in Rotterdam: “A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing” and “The enemy is nearing with raised flag”. At the end of this hymn is the verse: “God’s word will remain in eternity and not waiver an inch”. Let’s enter this bulwark”, says Man.

“The floor plan of the Church shows that the church-goers – as municipality in a circle – have focused their attention on the minister of the service: also these human municipalities need a “person in the middle” in order to establish and maintain mutual trust. The Church has no pictures, also no image of a Christian cross in the floor plan.

Plattegrond Ronde Lutherse Kerk Amsterdam[19]

In this church the rituals and the sermon in pictures have passed in the sermon of God’s Word. In this church sings no choir in the background, but the municipality sings at the top of their voices. The expressions of faith have changed from images, references, associations and persons in the middle as mediator for a relationship with God into an internalisation of God’s Word and singing of hymns together. In this church, it is important to be elected within God’s mighty fortress with a direct relationship with God, in which the minister expresses the common relationship with God”, says Narrator.

“This Round Lutheran Church shows me a donjon – a shelter and a private meeting – for the faithful and a rejection of and fear of infidels and dissenters. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas refers me as well via the evangelists to God’s Word, but is more distant in the reference to God and opener to outsiders as Christian beacon. The latter may have to do with my Catholic upbringing in South Limburg”, says Carla.

“Tonight I wish to give a short description of the 13th century Abbot Emo of Friesland as a contrast to the Reformation in the 16th century in Holland”, says Narrator.


[1] See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 165

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Boy. John Coltrane with his quartet has recorded a version of this song on LP record. A recent (illegal?) record of this song is available via the following hyperlink: http://soundcloud.com/lennart-ginman/nature-boy-live-recording-eiv

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

[4] In Sanskrit – the language of gods in the world of humans – “man” means amongst others “tot hink, to believe and to observe”.

[5] In het woord priester zijn de woordkernen “pŗ”, “ish” en “tr” te herkennen die in het Sanskriet respectievelijk “in staat tot, beschermen of levend houden”, “God of Hoogste Geest” en “oversteken, overbrengen” betekenen.

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alteratie

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._Nicholas,_Amsterdam

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[11] Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[12] See a description of this third revolution in science: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 50 en 51.

[13] Verse from the Catholic requiem mass. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_for_the_Requiem_Mass#Communion

[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[15] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183 – 186

[16] From the Papal encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista by Pope John Paulus II. In the word “Eucharista” one can recognise “Eu” meaning “good” in Greek, “car” pronounced as “char” meaning “to move” in Sanskrit and “I s ” pronounced as “ish” meaning “being able to” and “the supreme being/soul” in Sanskrit. See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013 p. 166 and Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 127

[17] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183

[18] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[19] Source image: Google afbeeldingen uit: Jaarboek Monumentenzorg 1990, Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1990

Five common realities – facts and logic 4


“May I come back to our discussion of last night before you will tell us more about organized chaos and the mind of the warrior?”, asks Man to Carla.

“All right, it’s better to finish a topic before starting a new subject”, says Carla.

“Last night I read in a book with Buddhist questions (a recent copy of the bundle that Narrator received from his American friend as farewell gift) the passage “All sentient beings just have active consciousness, boundless and unclear with no foundation to rely on“. As example is given:

When a monk passes and he is addressed with “Hey, you”, then right away this monk will turn his head towards the caller. When this monk hesitates upon the second question “Who are you?”, then this monk has an active consciousness, boundless and unclear without foundation to rely on”.

This fundamental affliction of ignorance in itself is – according to this question – the immutable knowledge of all Buddha’s. The verse accompanying this question is:

One call and one turns her/his head –Do you know the self/Self or not?

Vaguely, like the moon [1] through ivy, a crescent at that.

The child of riches, as soon as she/he falls

On the boundless road of destitution, has many sorrows. [2]

feiten en logica 41.jpg[3]

Upon reading this question and verse, I thought of our last discussion about God as “another, a stranger”, who is separated from “the Unspeakable”, ” the Supreme Astonishment”, “the ultimate question that exceeds words”. Before the separation [4] were God, the people and everything around us in this fundamental affliction of ignorance, as a healthy human body without ailments also forms a coherent entity without separate parts? Had they a foundation to rely upon and what foundation was it, or was the lack of a foundation the source of an active consciousness, boundless and unclear? I don’t know the answer to these questions. And – after the fall, after the separation – wherefrom arrives the boundless road of destitution with many sorrows? Heschel continues his essay “Man is not alone” [5] with the topics: “faith”, “one God”, “beyond faith”, “strive for oneness”, and “common actions are adventures”. Would Heschel have seen “One call” and “One turns her/his head” in the category “common actions are adventures”? I think so; but would he finally have seen “One call” and “One turns her/his head” as “one” or as “separate”? I see it vaguely as a crescent Moon through ivy”, says Man.   

“At the strophe “boundless and vague without foundation to rely upon” from the Buddhist question, I was reminded of “śūnya” – meaning “empty” – from the Heart Sūtra [6] in which “form is emptiness as emptiness is equal to form”; in emptiness is no Dharma – or world order or duty. Now I invite you to visit the Cappelle Medicee [7] in the Basilica of San Lorenzo [8]. This Chapel – located behind the Basilica – is a symbolic mausoleum of the family De Medici. This family was a “child of riches in the Renaissance that has known many sorrows once it had fallen on the boundless road of destitutions“. In my opinion the mausoleum superbly shows the immensity of the sorrows and the coldness of the destitution of this family”, says Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator visit the Cappelle Medicee.

feiten en logica 42.png[9]

They continue their discussion outside seated on a bench in the Piazza di Madonna degli Aldobrandini.

“Everything in the Cappelle Medicee aims to create distance to the spectator. I expect that in the past visits to this mausoleum were only allowed on invitation by the family. I think this mausoleum sought to remind the descendants of the Medici wherefrom they owed their wealth and to show visitors which “children of wealth” were commemorated here. At each grave in the mausoleum, I wondered “Who are you?” and “Do you know the self/self or not?”. I think “Vaguely, like the moon through the ivy”, but the abundance of the many types of “Ivy” will not be helpful to see the Moon”, says Man.

“May we visit the Basilica of San Lorenzo now? This building is austere outside, but the Basilica will show its beauty inside”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 43[10]

feiten en logica 44[11]

“I am pleased that we have continued the discussion, as this – and certainly the visit to the Basilica – creates a nice stepping stone to the separation between science and religion in the Renaissance. The transition in style of the choir dome toward the ceiling of the main and side aisles nicely showed the wish to change science – emerged from the Medieval Scholasticism – toward an orderly science that explains everything in case we know and apply the basics. May I continue on this subject the next time, because now I need to rest?”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 45[12]

“Please do”, says Man.

“During dinner?”, says Narrator.

“That’s fine”, says Carla.


[1] See also: Drift, Carla, Man Leben – One Life, A Biography. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 71 – 72

[2] Free rendering of a part of the Zen dialogue “Guishan’s Active Consiousness” from: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 163 – 166.

[3] Source image: http://www.shambhala.com/book-of-serenity.html

[4] See also: The parable of Adam en Eve expelled from paradise after the fall in Chapter 3 of Genesis in the Old Testament.

[5] See: 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. In “The Long Discourses of the Buddha. Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications, 1995 p. 38-39”, 32 abodes are mentioned for sentient beings; including 22 abodes for Gods. Are Gods also “children of riches” within this frame of mind?

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

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medici_Chapel

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Lorenzo,_Florence

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

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Lorenzo,_Florence

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Lorenzo,_Florence

[12] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_di_San_Lorenzo_di_Firenze

Narrator – on the way


During my first wintering in South Spain I didn’t need much. My camping equipment was sufficient for my stay at a winter camping in Malaga near the Mediterranean Sea. In the spring I woke up from my winter stay. First I hiked to Granada and then to Cordoba.

In Moorish times around 1000 AD, Cordoba was one of the largest cities in the world with at least half a million inhabitants. At that time Cordoba had the largest library in the world with over 400,000 books and in addition the Mezquita (Mosque) was built with more than 1000 marble columns. In the Catholic times the middle part of the mosque with associated columns was removed to make room for a Cathedral [1].

Mezquita[2]

In the Cordoba mosque with the Cathedral inside, I thought of a Buddhist question from the book received as farewell gift from my late American beloved:

 “The ancient  Buddha’s are merged with the open pillars – what level of activity is this?” When everyone remained speechless, the master himself said for them: “On the South Mountain rising clouds, on the North Mountain falling rain”. [3]

Upon my departure from Copenhagen I left the book behind in the University Library, because this collection of questions did not fit in my backpack. Before I handed the book to the librarian, I read the Buddhist question:

 “When the fire at the end of time rages through and everything is destroyed, is this destroyed or not?”  One master answered: “Destroyed, because it goes along with this”. Another master answered: “Not destroyed, because it is the same as this”. [4]

Apocalypse[5]

During my first wintering in South Spain, I retired. After my life as idol in Amsterdam and my years with my beloved in Sweden and Norway, I had received my income from playing in jazz ensembles and due to my limited share in the work of Raven. In Cordoba my savings were depleted. I had fled from the world of secret services after my safety net was gone with the death of Raven, and in Southern Spain there were no jazz ensembles that were waiting for a percussionist without congas.

A part of my income I got by magic and with telling of stories. The other part of my earnings came from alms. Quite young I was depending on a simple form of pension through a pay-as-you-go system that was in use for many centuries in several parts of Asia. When the role of men or women in a household was finished, they moved to another area where the local people provided them with food during their daily round for alms. The rest of the day they spent on the spiritual life of themselves or the whole universe. The men were called Bhikṣu and the women Bhikṣuṇī; the vulgar Dutch word “bikkesement” for “food” is probably related to this way of begging [6].

Bhikshu[7]

In addition to my night watch for the spirits of the deceased villagers, I started a day watch for the whole universe after my first wintering in South Spain. I began walking in the footsteps of my late American beloved. In the libraries of the large cities in Europe I studied the Holy Scriptures. For access to several books on South Asia, I visited the University Library in Heidelberg.

Heidelberg[8]

In Heidelberg, Raven had studied Philosophy and Linguistics before World War II. In this city I felt the nearness of this beloved who did penance for his actions constantly and who was always on guard for the unveiling of his loyalty and betrayal.

Raaf[9]

After my visit to Heidelberg, I held my nightly and daily vigils for him too.


[1] Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%B3rdoba,_Andalusia and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mosque_of_C%C3%B3rdoba

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosque%E2%80%93Cathedral_of_C%C3%B3rdoba

[3] See the koan “Yunmen’s Pillars” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 137 – 139

[4] Free rendering of the koan Dasui’s “Aeonic Fire” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 131 – 136

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

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

[7] Source image: http://jv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhiksu

[8] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universit%C3%A4tsbibliothek_Heidelberg

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

Narrator – Copenhagen and Amsterdam – a reunion


With all my belongings in the trunk of the Citroën DS, I left Stockholm on an early morning in spring. During the Nordic cycle that lasted more than one year, my reincarnation wherein I had adopted the appearance of an idol earlier in Amsterdam, evaporated. In the nearness of my beloved I had returned in the world of ordinary mortals again.

Just before the departure to his new stay in a monastery in America, my beloved was engaged in the Buddhist question: “One gain, One loss” [1]. Now he had left more than two months ago, my life felt like a gain and a loss – a void and a new destination. In the notes to this Buddhist question was written: “If you want to avoid misery, rely on your own lot” and “Gain and loss, right and wrong, let go of them all at once” [2]. Both sentences were applicable to my new reincarnation as ordinary mortal. Much later during the quest to “Who are you” I would get more insight in the first sentence. The peace of the second sentence I hoped to find in my final homecoming.

Via a road along the many water of several inland lakes – to which I had become accustomed during my stay in Holland – I drove in my white Citroën DS from Stockholm to Malmö. There I took the ferry to Copenhagen. First I visited my friends where I could stay a few nights. With their help I could quickly rent a room in the attic floor of a characteristic House in the Klosterstræde in the Centre of Copenhagen near the University and various libraries. First I saw this room as a temporary stay for several months; eventually I lived there for several years. I felt immediately at home. From my window I could see the moon and the starry sky at night. During daytime the name of the street reminded me of my beloved who really lived in a monastery now. I had received his book with Buddhist question [3] as a farewell gift. From time to time I read a passage from this book whereupon the question found a place in my life as far as I could realise. In this way my beloved and I remained connected with each other.

KLOSTE~1[4]

My years in Copenhagen I lived from the legacy – that my beloved had left for me – supplemented by a small income from performances in Jazz ensembles. Almost every day I visited the colourful painted houses along the Nyhavn, that reminded me of the fields with flowers and the canals in Holland.

Nyhavn_copenhagen[5]

My first autumn in Copenhagen I received sad news from Amsterdam; one of my precious lovers died from the mysterious disease which at that time around 1983 had received the name HIV and AIDS [6]. After reading the funeral card, I drove to Amsterdam in one day. Upon arrival I heard that many more of my former lovers suffered from this disease, which is caused by transfer of a virus – that affects the human immune system – during the love game [7].

Human_Immunodeficency_Virus_-_stylized_rendering[8]

In this sad environment I was welcomed by my former friends and acquaintances as an long lost friend and they saw me as a refound idol. I had discarded my mask of an idol during my stay in Sweden and the former carefree feast of everlasting love that wafted exotically around me through Amsterdam, was gone forever.

The funeral of my deceased lover was impressive. One of our loved ones was too ill to attend. With several former friends we cared for him until his death; his funeral was also intense. Both times all relatives, friends and acquaintances were present. For a number of lovers it was a sombre forecast for their future.

After this second funeral I fled to Copenhagen. Again it was an escape from my earlier stay in Amsterdam where I did not belong anymore and it was at the same time a flight for this disease wherefrom I was saved by a wondrous lot [9]. Later, during a medical examination it appeared that I belonged to a small group, which is resistant to the infection of HIV.

Back in Copenhagen, I was again an ordinary mortal, that was only noticed by a black/blue colour and rhythmic play on percussion during Jazz music.


[1] The Zen Koan: “Fayan points to the blinds”

[2] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 118

[3] Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998

[4] Source image: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Den_danske_guldalder

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

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

[7] See also: http://www.rivm.nl/Bibliotheek/Professioneel_Praktisch/Richtlijnen/Infectieziekten/LCI_richtlijnen/LCI_richtlijn_Hivinfectie

[8] Cross-section of the Human Immunodeficientie Virus (HIV). Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aids

[9] Source: http://www.nationaalkompas.nl/gezondheid-en-ziekte/ziekten-en-aandoeningen/infectieziekten-en-parasitaire-ziekten/soa/aids-en-hiv-infectie/welke-factoren-beinvloeden-de-kans-op-hiv-infectie-en-aids/