Tag Archives: evam

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

Advertisements

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

Five common realities – facts en logic 9


Carla, Man and Narrator are walking around the Piazza di Santa Croce.

“I will come back on the synthesis between the world of the Upanishads and the Mahābhārata that Narrator has highlighted. Do you realise the difference between the “Thusness”-aspect and the “Concourse  of Things”-aspect?”, asks Man to Carla and Narrator.

“I have understood your explanation of this difference, but I wonder if in reality there is a difference between “thusness” and “concourse of things”. It seems to me that the “concourse of things” is another way of looking at “thusness”, or do I overlook something?”, says Carla.

“Carla may be right”, says Narrator.

“Carla is right. In my explanation, I have underlined the difference between both aspects to create a look on “Thusness” in two different ways. In the introduction to the “Awakening of Faith” initially the “Thusness”-aspect is indicated by “Thusness in essence (in emptiness and form)”; and “Saṃsāra – or Concourse of Things” is described as “Thusness in manifestations and characteristics”. After that, in the introduction the concepts of “Thusness”-aspect and “Concourse of Things”-aspect are both used to clarify both manifestations of “Thusness”. After reading this introduction I have fully realised what is meant by “evam” as first word – and also as summary – of all the Buddhist Sutras; “evam” includes everything, nothing is excluded”, says Man.

“Also with “evam” I have my usual question about the definition of this fundamental principle. When “evam” is finite, then Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem is applicable on “evam” [1]. But in case “evam” is infinite and all-encompassing, then nothing may exist outside “evam” to prove it or discuss “evam”; in case of infinity and all-encompassiveness, “evam” is by definition complete, because outside “evam” nothing exists. I will leave this question for the time being, because I think the answer is located in the inconceivable”, says Carla.

“It is an introduction to the “Awakening of Faith” and not an introduction to the “Awakening of Science”. The question of “evam” is a religious question; a question to the origin where people can fall back on when they don’t know or they cannot know. I think Carla is right; the answer probably lies in the inconceivable”, says Narrator.

“As stepping stone to “God in search of Man” – the book title includes my first name –, I use the book “Ich und Du” (“I and You”) from 1923 by the religious philosopher Martin Buber [2] (honorary professor in Frankfurt am Main) who in 1938 had escaped from the other regime in Germany by fleeing to Jerusalem. “In the beginning is the relation [3]” according to Martin Buber. Man can only say “I” due to “you” (or “it”), the relationship with others (and things) is dialogical. “I” and “you” are not separate objects or things; there is no “I” without “you”, there exists only a reciprocal relationship to one another. By interpreting this religiously – “In every You, we call the infinite all-encompassing [4]” – the relation with God is dialogic: in the all-encompassiveness we cannot describe God, but we can only appeal; our live is an existential dialog with the infinite all-encompassing “You”. Science together with religion offers no doctrine according to Martin Buber, but wisdom.

feiten en logica 91[5]

I read an example of this wisdom founded in science and religion on the backside of the book “God in search of Man” where the words of Baäl Sjem are mentioned as guidance:

If a man has seen evil, may he make no fuss.

Let he be aware of his own evil, and work hard to avoid it.

Because what he has seen, is also inside him.

Within the framework of the “Awakening of Faith” the words by Baäl Shem are crystal clear; all the good and the evil is – just like you and me – included in “evam” or “Thusness”. All the good and the evil is within us. Would Martin Buber see good and evil as manifestations of “Ich und Du“, as dialogical relationship between me and God, or would he place good and evil into his second dialogical relationship “Ich und Es” (“I and It”) ? I do not know; I’ll leave this question for the time being until we will arrive at God in the shape of a human being during my introduction.

When reading the first chapters of “God in search of Man” – in Sanskrit “Man” means amongst others “to think/consider/observe” – I was struck by the similarities in structure with the “Awakening of Faith”. Abraham Joshua Heschel had chosen the following three ways for this quest for God:

  • God – for Abraham Joshua Heschel this is the unspeakable all-encompassing One from the “Awakening of Faith”.
  • Revelation (unveiling or disclosure)
  • Resonance (respons)

The last two ways for the quest for God show similarities with “evam” where the “revelation” looks like “Thusness in essence (in emptiness and form)” during the transition to “Thusness in manifestations and characteristics” that looks like “resonance”. Is this coincidence or is this a fundamental resemblance with the “Awakening of Faith” of man?”, says Man.

“I think there is a fundamental difference between your introduction to the “Awakening of Faith” on one hand, and the reciprocal relationship between I and you by Martin Buber and the quest of God to human beings on the other hand. In Hua-yen Buddhism there is in principle no other, because all appearances and illusions arise from and are interwoven with “One”. Martin Buber and Abraham Joshua Heschel search and/or experience a dialogue with an everlasting all-encompassing You: there is a certain separation between I and You. This is similar to one key question on our quest: “Are you and I connected or are we separated“. I don’t know the answer, but it seems necessary to investigate this question more in depth”, says Carla.

“Maybe both ways of seeing are two manifestations of one and the same within Indra’s Net. Shall we first visit the inside of the Basilica di Santa Croce. Inside is the crucifix that was seriously damaged during the flood in 1996. This may offer a transition to God in the shape of a human being in our world”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 92[6]


[1] See for a simplified explanation of the evidence of this second incompleteness theorem: Nārāyana, Narrator, “Carla Drift – An Outlier, A Biography”. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 154

[2] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Buber

[3] Source: Buber, Martin, Ik en Jij. Utrecht: Erven J. Bijleveld, 2010 p. 24; see also the first sentence in the Gospel of John.

[4] Source: Buber, Martin, Ik en Jij. Utrecht: Erven J. Bijleveld, 2010 p. 110, 111

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

[6] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_Santa_Croce_de_Florence

Five common realities – facts en logic 8


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

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

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

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

feiten en logica 81[1]

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

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

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

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

and

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

feiten en logica 82[13]

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

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

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

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

feiten en logica 83[16]

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

“That is good”, says Man.

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

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

feiten en logica 84[18]

There are five forms of thought:

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

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

The ability to discrimination leads to awareness of separate phenomena:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Leben – interview 4


The previous interview was about love in your life. In this post I continue with some questions about the last surprise in your life.

“In the last part of your life you are involved in Oriental wisdom. In the description of your life you refer indirectly to a form of enlightenment. Aren’t you enlightened? “, I ask.

“Everything is enlightened. Nothing, not even the tiniest particle is excluded. Everything in all its natural forms is perfectly enlightened”, you say.

“Also all greed, all crimes, all murders, all illusions, all nonsense and vanity?”, I ask.

“Enlightenment is as natural as inhaling and exhaling whereby inhaling and exhaling are manifestations of enlightenment. We have experienced a glimpse of the complete enlightenment on our Odyssey when we have arrived on the peninsula at the end of the afternoon at the stage “Two – night at the beginning of the spring” [1] after a long day walking. The following morning at six o’clock we have seen the sunrise in the East at the beginning of spring. That afternoon we have washed ourselves in the water at the peninsula, we dried ourselves and put on clean clothes and then we have gathered wood for a small fire in an old tin. This is free rendering of the summary of the Diamond Sutra that directly reflects enlightenment [2]. The real summary is “evam” [3] – the first word of this sutra in Sanskrit – or in English “thus”. Every action, every word and every breath is completely enlightenment. The photo of the sunflowers in the header of this weblog “Who are you” is quite  appropriate. Every sunflower seed on this picture includes the entire universe perfectly and completely”, you say.

“Where do arise all crimes, all murders, all delusions, all greed, all nonsense and vanity?”, I ask.

“In stage One in the post on pantheism, we have encountered “Indra’s net” [4] as metaphor for the entire universe. Indra’s net [5] is in the Huayan school of Buddhism [6] a metaphor for everything, for enlightenment and also for illusions and delusions. If a glass pearl in the net represents an illusion or a delusion, this illusion or delusion is reflected by all other glass pearls in the net. If a glass pearl is enlightened, the enlightenment is reflected in all other pearls. Or if we translate this metaphor to our daily lives, if greed and crime are in our lives, then this affects everything and everyone; and if a person or thing is enlightened, then this enlightenment reflects on everything and everyone in the universe. Or practical, if we stick to possession, or sin against the ten commandments, then these actions affect the entire universe; and if we carefully share possession and perform appropriate action and non-action, then this is reflected in everything and everyone. Hence the Buddhist encouragement – work hard and show compassion with everything and everyone; exclude nothing and nobody”, you say.

[7]

“I can follow the reasoning. I will reconsider this metaphor. On our Odyssey we will encounter sufficient challenges. Many books on Buddhism describe the experience of enlightenment. Have you personally experienced enlightenment?”, I ask.

“You mean the experience to be included in everything and everyone in all its manifestations. I don’t know how, but if I look back then this has always been my basic attitude, also if I was blinded by love, anger or sadness. I can describe it clearer since I have read in a book that for an enlightened mind there is no difference between the finger pointing at the Moon and the Moon. In the same way there is no difference between the waves and the ocean [8]. Before, I have often mentioned as example in meditation meetings that the finger pointing to the moon may not be confused with the moon. After I have read this passage, it is suddenly clear that the manifestations “the finger”, “the Moon” and “the thoughts about these” are mutual perfectly connected. Everything and everyone are natural manifestations of this”, you say.

“For me, your description of “the fate of humans determines that we may sit between changing fires and ashes” and “the blossom growing from dust to dust” is pretty distressing and painful. Maybe the description of my life will clarify this beauty and distress. Do you try to live as a Buddha or as a Bodhisattva as described in the Avatamsaka sutra [9]“, I ask.

[10]

“I am not a Saint. I look forward to the description of your life and of Narrator and then the continuation of our Odyssey”, you say.

“May I bundle the posts about your life together with an introduction and a conclusion in a biography?”, I ask.

“If it will be published after my death”, you say.

In the following post I tell about the beginning of my life


[1] See post: “Two – Night at the beginning of spring” of 25 April 2011

[2] See: Red Pine (Bill Porter), The Diamond Sutra. New York: Counterpoint, 2001 p. 39.

[3] See: Lopez – The Heart Sutra explained. 1990 p 34; “The commentary Vajrapâņi 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.

[4] See post: “One – Pantheism – Indra’s net” of 8 April 2011

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra’s_net

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

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra’s_net

[8] Source: Holstein, Alexander. Pointing at the Moon. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1993, p. 49

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

[10] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhi

Intermezzo: Why Sanskrit?


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

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

[8]

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

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

[11]

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

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

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

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

“Life is like a flower.

It only grows on the vine.

Handful of thorns and you know you missed it.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[9] In Sankrit the name Buddha consists of the noun “bud” meaning “bud or knop” as “bud” in rosebud in the film “Citizen Kane” directed by Orson Wells – and the root “dha” meaning “place, grant, bestow”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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