Tag Archives: life

The Oude kerk in Amsterdam – a church on the move


The next morning Carla, Man and Narrator drink coffee at the Nieuwmarkt near the Waag in Amsterdam.

“Yesterday evening I thought of Yunmen’s [1]: “The monks hall, the Church, the kitchen, and the monastery gate” to his question: ”What is each and every person’s radiant light?[2], when I read the the statement by the Polish Cardinal Hosius [3] – attending the Council of Trent [4] that had taken place with several intervals between 1545 and 1663 AC to find an answer within the Catholic Churcht on the Reformation – about the Bible: “If the Church did not exist, then the bible was as unbelievable as the tales of Aesopus” [5]. During this Council the decision had been taken that the revelation from the Holy Scriptures can only exists together with the tradition of the Church, whereby the Latin Vulgate Translation [6] of the bible – an adapted rendering in Vulgar Latin from 400 AC – should be the standard text of the Holy Scripture for the Catholics. What answer might Yunmen have given to Cardinal Hosius?”, asks Carla.

“I think an answer similar to the comment on this Buddhist question: “Even if the Church and the Bible are the ancestors of Buddha, they cannot avoid being each and every person””, says Man.

““The Universe – including the Church and the Bible – embody the radiant light [7], people of immeasurable greatness are tossed in the ebb and flow of words [8]”, and as hard-handed Zen master Yunmen will pinch the nose of the questioner – and hereby himself and the entire universe – with the words: “Look the radiant light – work hard to the enlightenment of all and everyone”. Shall we visit the Oude Kerk”, says Narrator.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam 1[9]

Carla, Man and Narrator walk via the Monnikensteeg and the Oudekennissteeg to the bridge near the Oudekerkplein at the Oudezijdsachterburgwal.

“In the first half of the thirteenth century a small wooden chapel with a graveyard had stood on the site of the Oude Kerk. In the second half of the thirteenth century this wooden chapel had been replaced by a stone hall church. This church had probably belonged to the Church parish of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel. Starting from 1334 AC, Amsterdam got its own parish with at this place the parish church dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors. In the beginning of the 15th century AC a new parish had been started in the western part of Amsterdam with a new parish Church. From that time both parts of Amsterdam were named Oudekerkszijde and Nieuwekerkszijde, or abbreviated with the Oude- and Nieuwezijde. For the time being the Oude Kerk remained the main church of Amsterdam. Over time, the Oude Kerk had been rebuilt and enlarged many times: this can be seen clearly from here. In 1655 the cemetery around the old church had been cleared. Herewith the nowadays Oudekerksplein around the Oude Kerk was created [10]. Shall we enter the Church?”, says Narrator.

768px-Amsterdam_oude_kerk2[11]

Carla, Man and Narrator enter the church.

“Upon hearing your introduction I was reminded of a reference to a quotation of Herakleitos [12] in a book with work of the architect Aldo van Eyck [13]; freely rendered: “You cannot enter the same Church twice”, says Man.

“During the iconoclasm of 1566 AC in Amsterdam the altars of the Oude Kerk were damaged. After the Alteration of 1578 AC – whereby the Catholic administration in Amsterdam had been deposited – the Church was redecorated for the Protestant worship. From 1584 to 1611 AC – the year wherein the Beurs of Hendrick de Keyser was opened at the Rokin – the Oude Kerk had served as a hall of exchange for traders. From 1632 AC the Church Council meetings had alternately taken place in the Oude Kerk and the Nieuwe Kerk. After the construction of the Town Hall on the Dam, the Nieuwe Kerk became more important and became finally the main church. From 1951, the Oude Kerk had been restored during 24 years, because danger of collapse threatened due to problems with the foundation. In 1994/1998 the Church had been restored again. This is in a nutshell the history of the old church”, says Narrator.

“Before the iconoclastic the Oude Kerk must have been full – or maybe overcrowded – with images of Christ, Mary and Saints for invoking support, courage and comfort in fearful times. The walls and ceilings must have been full with paintings as sermons in paint. Now with these white walls, I am reminded of a sentence by Aldo van Eyck from an article about the work of Gerrit Rietveld: “Since his Style-period, Gerrit Rietveld has usually avoided active colour and has bounded his spaces with ‘white’, perhaps because he was one of the few to create space not so much by material boundaries but by the shaping of light [14]”. Is the Church room the radiant light in the Oude Kerk ?”, says Man.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam 3.jpg[15]

“This is a good comparison with the art movement “de Stijl”: this movement can be seen as a recent iconoclasm and rebellion against an excessive and overly visual imagery of the Amsterdam school as we can see in the Scheepvaarhuis at the Prins Hendrikkade.

Scheepvaarthuis Amsterdam[16]

Scheepvaarthuis Amsterdam 2[17]

“As possibly Gerrit Rietveld – during his Style-period – had avoided boundaries through walls, images and painted colours, so during and after the Reformation the Protestants did not accept imagery – as comics for the uneducated – symbols and ancient practices of the Catholic Church anymore as a bridge with the eternal light of God and his revelations in the Holy Scriptures. They would like to have the possibility of direct access to God’s grace and they wished to explore his revelations by themselves. But like many small innovative communities, the church communities must face the dilemma of the transfer of the renewal to posterity. By perpetuating the transfer of the true original renewal to the offspring, the communities often inclined to a strict internal discipline with an authoritarian oppression.

During the singing of church hymns – sung by the entire congregation lustily – they would initially not be hindered by musical instruments. Later the churches noticed that an organ is sensible to connect the singing of the Church community. In the Old Church the church organ is regularly updated and expanded. This afternoon I would like to come back to the iconoclasm. Shall we go outside now”, says Narrator.

Oude Kerk Amsterdam 4.jpg.png[18]

“This innovation in religion and in political system has a downside of an unrestrained commercialism and a nearly boundless urge for conquest and conversion. I would like to come back to this subject”, says Carla.

Carla, Man and Narrator leave the Oude Kerk.

“The Oude Kerk is probably the only Church in the world where the church square is almost exclusively surrounded by brothels. This fact is honoured with a statue “Belle” with the tekst: “Respect sex workers all over the world” [19] . Everywhere I see “Belle” on my way, I am reminded of Matthew 21:23 where Jezus says: “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you”. And when I see or hear disapproval about whores, I thinking of the Buddhist question Chao Chou’s [20] Supreme Way: “The Supreme Way is not difficult, it simply dislikes choosing”. [21]

Oudekerkplein Belle Amsterdam[22]

In 1993, an anonymous artist had place a sculpture in the pavement of the square depicting a hand holding a female breast”, says Narrator.

Oudekerkplein Amsterdam[23]

“When I hear God’s Kingdom, I am reminded of my elementary school time in South Limburg. At that time – during the second world war – it came as it came, it was like it was and it went as it went. In the Catholic Church the pastor sang with a creaky voice “Credo in unum Deum [24]”, whereafter the choir continued with the beautifully sung “Patrem omnipotentem, factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium [25]”. The men – if they went to church – played their card game in the back of the Church or they heard Mass in the portal; usually their church attendance remained limited to four times a year. Only at Christmas, Easter – the men had confessed a few days earlier so they could go to communion –, before the great procession and with all Saints’ and all Souls’ day the Church was completely full. During the consecration [26] indicated with three times the clinging of bells, everyone was silent; after the consecration the Church began to come back to life with the murmur of people.

During my high school years – after my move with my aunt to Rotterdam – I went to a Reformed Church. The whole Church sang passionately: “Thine be the glory”; the sermons were carefully listened to and at home after the church service the sermon was discussed. The intensity with which one in Holland confessed faith corresponded to the full commitment whereby one fought against the water: pump or drown. With the same intensity and fear of God the true faith – to the letter and to the spirit – was looked for and confessed.

In South Limburg the pastor or chaplain took confession behind a closed door; after the confession followed by several Our Fathers and Holy Marys in the Church – one of my classmate had once got a turn around the ears by the pastor – almost all human sins were forgiven, and through the communion the sinner was again included in the large vessel of the Catholic Church and thus in God’s mercy.

During my first year at high school – after my move to Rotterdam – I had seen with stupefaction how in the Reformed Church a sinner confessed openly to the Church community his sin; I understood that – although in this church community God’s mercy was a mystery – the sinner was included again in the Church community. Another religious believe – though it concerned only another explanation of one faith issue – could be a reason for a schism within the Church community and – therefore – a schism within families, friends and acquaintances: so important was the true faith. In 1944 during the German occupation a church schism (or liberation) had taken place within the reformed church about whether baptism is only valid if the baptised continues the rest of her/his life to profess the true faith and may have a forecast on a presumptive afterlife in God’s grace (the Synodales), or is baptism a sign of God’s promise that you may be his child whereby the baptised is called to live as a child of God (the Liberates). This schism during the worst of the German occupation was terrible and inevitable for the Church communities and for the families in question [27]. As a separate pillars both Reformed Churches continued having several schisms afterwards.

Verzuiling in Nederland[28]

A few years later I read in high school a sentence from the Gospel of John:

In the Word was life and life was the light for all people [29].

On Yunmen’s question: “What is each and every person’s radiant light?” I answer according this sentence from the Gospel of John: “Life”. With Mŗtyū [30] – in the Mahābhārata death in the form of a woman created by Brahman – I wonder: “Why don’t people learn to live?””, says Man.

“Why don’t people allow light in each others’ eyes”, says Carla.

“Wherein do people differ from Krishna (the charioteer) who encouraged Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – towards entering the battle in which families, teachers and disciplines face each other in the tension between, on the one hand, world order and duty and, on the other hand, human action [31]? She/he who knows the world speak! Shall we continue this afternoon with the iconoclasm?”, says Narrator.

“That is good”, says Carla.

“May I invite you for a simple lunch”, says Man.


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

[2] See: Tanahashi, Kazuaki ed., Treasury of the true dharma eye – Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo. Boston: Shambhala, 2012, p. 419 – 420

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

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

[5] See: Fernández – Armesto, Felipe & Wilson, Derek, Reformatie – Christendom en de wereld 1500 – 2000, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Anthos, 1997, p. 61

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

[7] See also case 14 in:  App, Urs, Master Yunmen. New York: Kodansha International: 1994, p. 91. Freely rendered: Someone asked: “What is the eye of true faith?”. Yunmen answered: “Everywhere”.

[8] Source of this sentence: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_koans_by_Yunmen_Wenyan

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[10] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oudekerksplein

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[12] See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heraclitus

[13] Source: Eyck, Aldo van, Writings – The Child, the City and the Artist. Nijmegen: Sun, 2006, p. 73

[14] Source: Eyck, Aldo van, Writings – Collected articles and other writings 1947 – 1998. Nijmegen: Sun, 2006, p.145

[15] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[16] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheepvaarthuis

[17] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheepvaarthuis

[18] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[19] See: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oudekerksplein

[20] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhaozhou_Congshen

[21] See also: Hekiganroku – Casus 2. Zie ook: Yamada Kôun Roshi, Hekiganroku, Die Niederschrift vom blauen Fels. München: Kösel-Verlag, 2002

[22] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_%28Amsterdam%29

[23] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_%28Amsterdam%29

[24] Translation: “I believe in one God”

[25] Translation: “Allmighty father, creator of heaven and earth, of the visible and the invisible”

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

[27] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reformed_Churches_in_the_Netherlands_(Liberated)

[28] An overview of several pillarisations of Churches in the Netherlands. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gereformeerde_Kerken_vrijgemaakt

[29] From: John 1:4

[30] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence, Part 2: Five common realities – Facts and logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 124 and: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 170 – 173

[31] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence, Part 2: Five common realities – Facts and logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 117

Who are you – Part 2.1 / E-book and Paperback


Who are you 21

Then rained down into
The high fiction of mind
of rising people

The Odyssey to “Who are you – survey into our existence” is an quest with many stages. The search for “Who are you” is about you and me and all that is in connection with us. Nothing is on beforehand excluded. Are you and I connected or are we separated? What makes you to the person who you are? Who are you before your birth and who will you be after your death? The answer to these questions is currently unknown, but nevertheless we raise these questions.

You, imagination, that prevented us
Many times to perceive the world,
Although around may sound a thousand cymbals

What moved you, outside our sense?
A flash of light, created in heaven,
By itself, or by the will of God.

The first part of this contemporary Odyssey includes our oneness and separation and also our connectedness in mutual trust.

The second part of this quest deals with five common realities; section 2.1 is an exploration of “facts and logicduring a holiday week in Florence, where the three main characters consider the transition from Medieval Scholastic to Renaissance. At the same time they explore the limits of “facts and logicthe boundaries of science, life and death, the hereafter, God, and the possibility of God in the form of a man, the mind of the warrior and the foreshadows of the Reformation.

Printing of this Ebook is allowed for your own use or for educational purposes. Readers and users of publications by Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher may show their gratefulness by donations to charities of their choice.

Author Jan van Origo
Title Who are you – A survey into our existence / Part 2.1Five common realities – Facts and logic
ISBN number 9789491633126 and 9789491633133
 
Print 1.0
Edition E-book in Pdf-format – 16 MB
Format A5 – format
Pages 196
Publisher Omnia Amsterdam Publisher
Publication status Published in 2013
Available

under: Books / Published

Price Suggestion: a donation of $ 15.00 to a charity of your choice 

  

Five common realities – facts en logic 13


After their visit to the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting on the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella for their simple lunch.

“During your introduction to Kṛṣṇa – as God in human shape – it struck me how much sound agreement the name Kṛṣṇa has with Christ, the son of God within the Catholic Trinity. Both are appearances of God in human shape, who are immaculately received by their mothers. Are there any more similarities?”, asks Carla.

Feiten en logica 13a[1]

“The source of a possible immaculate conception of Kṛṣṇa by his mother is shrouded in mystery. This information may well be attached later, after this movement of Hinduism has come into contact with Christianity. The source for my introduction to Kṛṣṇa as God in human shape is the Bhagavad Gītā, which is composed well before our era. In the names of Christ and Kṛṣṇa, the verb root “kr” can be recognised meaning “to make, to do, and to act”, and “Īś” or “Ish” meaning “God or Supreme Spirit”. The combination of both word cores represents the incarnation of Kṛṣṇa as God in human shape and Christ as Messiah very well”, says Narrator.

“I do not exclude that there have been exchanges of religious ideas between India and Asia Minor around and after the time of Alexander the Great. The New Testament is written about a hundred years after the birth of Christ and the four Gospels show significant differences in content. Maybe the Evangelists in Asia Minor were familiar with several religious elements from the Bhagavad Gītā including Kṛṣṇa as God in human shape. I have no information about this thought; this may require a separate quest”, says Man.

“Christ and Kṛṣṇa have died both and at the same time they are both seen as “the unborn and unchanging source” by believers. Apparently God – in human shape – is on the one hand tied to the law of cause and effect, and on the other hand immortal. I think both facts are applicable on all manifestations in Indra’s Net. Let me explain this using a parable [2] from the Mahābhārata with the title “What is dead?”.

Feiten en logica 13b.jpg[3]

The battlefield – described in the Bhagavad Gītā – between the world order and duty (Dharmakshetra [4]) and human action (Kurukshetra) shows countless horrors. One of these horrors on the battlefield is the death of the beautiful son of Arjuna. The oldest brother of Arjuna – and crown pretender of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – is inconsolable. After this loss, he oversees the battlefield with the many fallen and he says: “This is worth no victory in this war, no kingdom, no heaven and no immortality“. He asks Vyāsa – the narrator of the Mahabharata –: “Family, teachers and loved ones are lying broken on the Earth with death as their identity. Why are they now known as “death”? Who dies here? What causes death? And why does death claim the living?

Hereafter Vyāsa tells the story about the origin of Death – Mŗtyu [5] in the form of a woman – by Brahman. Mŗtyu askes him: “Why am I created?”. Brahman tells her that she is created to relieve the Earth from the intolerable burden of the ever growing population of living beings. Hereafter Mŗtyu begins to cry uncontrollably. Brahman takes her tears in his hands, but some fall on the Earth. From these tears, the diseases are created whereby the bodies of living beings will die. Mŗtyu demands an explanation from Brahman: “Why did you create me in this form of a woman? Why am I knowingly engaged in the misery and cruelty of devouring of living beings. By taking away the lives of children, parents, loved ones and friends, their relatives will mourn on the loss and I will be the object of their hatred and fear. But I will fear the tears of sorrow the most. No, I will not be able to extinguish life; save me from this fatal existence”. Brahman explains her: “There is dead and there is no death at the same time. All living things cause their own death by sticking to their own delusions in sins [6] and in happiness. In Truth, there is no death. The tears of Death are the tears of our sorrow that cause death and destruction everywhere around us. Just as easily we can create, enrich en preserve a True life for ourselves and for others.” After this explanation Mŗtyu – death – asks bewildered:

“Why don’t you learn to live?” [7]

Why do we so anxiously hold to our manifestations in Indra’s Net? This living manifestations – in sins and in happiness – evaporate sooner or later; Mŗtyu will carry them away as she also had carried away all main characters from the Mahābhārata in all their different manifestations.

Why don’t we learn to live as a “True Man with no ranks going out and in through the portals of Your face“; I think that Mŗtyu – in her bewilderment – has asked this to Brahman”, says Narrator.

Feiten en logica 13c.jpg[8]

“During the question “Why don’t you learn to live” by Mŗtyu, I created the following haiku:

One living being,

Nothing is born and dies,

Wave in ocean

Feiten en logica 13d[9]

This haiku shows in an indirect way why the manifestation of God in human shape is bound by the law of cause and effect. In a human shape God is – just like any living being – created from dust and will return to dust, as a wave is born from the ocean and will return into the ocean. Which form does God have in Indra’s Net?”, says Man.

“May I formulate this question more directly: Is a living being – for example a human life of God in a human form – a manifestation of the True Man or is it the True Man self?”, asks Narrator.

“During my preparation for the Holy Communion, I had learned that a human being consists of a physical body and an immaterial soul. The body is mortal and goes back to the earth after death; the soul lives further after death in the purgatory or goes straight to heaven. At that time, I have never understood where my soul – and where life – originates from, and I still don’t understand it. The metaphors “Indra’s Net” and “golf in the ocean” give me an opaque image how people – as manifestations of the All-encompassing One – are born from dust and return to dust. I can comprehend this opaque image intellectually and I understand the concept of incarnation, but the image does not become transparent”, says Carla.

“Maybe we may have touched upon the limits of our human comprehension and we must conclude that “Mysterium est magnum, quod nos procul dubio transcendit” [10] or “The mystery is great, that transcends us doubtless”, just as the mystery of the wave without doubt originates from the ocean and without doubt returns into the ocean”, says Man.

“I notice a development in your thinking. During “The Word as object in the middle[11] at the first part of our Odyssey, you perceived the life mystery as so great, that it transcends us completely: this mystery transcends our doubt, with or without religion, and with or without sacrifice. Now you perceive the mystery of the human life that is created and merged in the All-encompassing One without doubt. Do I see this development well?”, says Carla.

“It is not a kind of a development or a change in thinking, it is a “Mysterium continuum” or a “constant mystery” in my thinking”, says Man.

“Shall we clean up our lunch? Later during our Odyssey at “And death has no dominion here” we can go further into the question “What is death?”. Shall we visit – as transition to mind of the warrior – the Palace de Medici this afternoon after the rest hour by Carla?”, says Narrator.

Feiten en logica 13e[12]


[1]The life of Jezus in a nutshell” by Matthias Grünewald at the Isenheimer altar. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jezus_(traditioneel-christelijk)

[2] Free and abridged taken from: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 170 – 173

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dood

[4] See footnotes 15 and 16 in the last post for an explanation on both words.

[5] The name Mŗtyu means “death, dying” in Sanskrit. The name consists of Mŗt – where the sound of the Dutch word “moord” and the French word “mort” may be recognised – and “yu” meaning “to unite, to bind” in Sanskrit. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[6] See also the Seven Deadly Sins in the Catholic Church in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins . See also the Seven Deadly Sins in the Divina Commedia by Dante Alighieri.

[7] Free and abridged rendering of: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 170 – 173

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

[9] Painting “The Wave” by Gustave Courbet. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ozean

[10] 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 “Īś” 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 – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 163

[11] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 163

[12] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Medici_Riccardi

Narrator – A Nordic Cycle, A year from a biography


If you want to avoid misery, rely on your own lot.

Narrator-Nordic1

As free E-Book available via the website of the publisher:

www.omnia-amsterdam.com/document/narrator-nordic-cycle-year-biography-e-book

Carla Drift, Narrator Nārāyana and Man Leben are the three main characters on this part of the Odyssey “Who are you – A survey into our existence”.

“A Nordic Cycle” is one year from the biography on the life of Narrator so far. In this year Narrator fled his existence as idol in Amsterdam by living with his beloved in. Together they made a trip to the North Cape in midsummer; they returned via the Norwegian fjords, the Hardangervidda, and Oslo. There they heared that acquaintances and friends in Amsterdam suffered from a mysterious disease; the beloved of Narrator receives a letter with the news that his mother was seriously ill. The following spring Narrator’s beloved returned to America and Narrator decided to live in Copenhagen. At the end of the spring he visited Amsterdam to attend the funeral of a former lover who is deceased by AIDS.

The Odyssey to “Who are you – survey into our existence” is an quest with many stages. The search for “Who are you” is about you and me and all that is in connection with us. Nothing is on beforehand excluded. Are you and I connected or are we separated? What makes you to the person who you are? Who are you before your birth and who will you be after your death? The answer to these questions is currently unknown, but nevertheless we raise these questions.

The progress of this quest to “Who are you” can be read on the weblog of Jan van Origo: www.janvanorigo.com

The following two part of “Who are you” will include the chapters 5, 7 and 0 of this quest.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Photos, images, renderings and quotations in the text may be copyrighted by third parties.

Printing of this Ebook is allowed for your own use or for educational purposes. Readers and users of publications by Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher may show their gratefulness by donations to charities of their choice.

Narrator – A cold winter


At the beginning of the winter, I came back to my attic room in Copenhagen. I mourned for the loss and the death of two former lovers from Amsterdam who had died from AIDS. A few days after my return I was ill with a cold. I had fever, I sweated at night in bed, I had a headache, my breathing was difficult and I felt exhausted. In the library I had read the beginning symptoms of AIDS – I was afraid that I was also infected by the virus. After a few weeks the cold was gone, but my concern for infection with the disease remained.

My attic room was not properly heated. That winter I was only in my room at night; I slept under a thick duvet at the open window when the weather allowed. In bad weather with the window closed, I felt trapped in my room; my nightly fearful visions could find no way out. During daytime I was rarely home; usually I was at friends, I read in the library or I played in a jazz band.

Zolderkamer[1]

In this attic room I slowly detached myself from the three embarrassments [2] , which I read in the book with Buddhist questions that I had received as farewell gift by my previous beloved.

The first embarrassments wherefrom I had detached myself at the end of my youth, was an own home. As a child I had moved around with my mother and her herd; our home was the place where we had stayed temporarily. In my time as child soldier, the militia was my temporal home. After my flight from the militia, I continued to wander with temporary resting places. During my stay in Copenhagen my house became more and more transparent coinciding with the human world during daytime and with the universe during night-time when the window of my attic room was open. Once I hoped to arrive home, maybe at the end of the Odyssey to “Who are you”.

800px-Glass_House_2006[3]

The second embarrassments that I gave up gradually, was an own body, because due to aging my appearance as exotic idol eroded and because due to the threat of infection with HIV I saw the individuality of my body in a different light. In Copenhagen my body became more and more connected with the city, the world and, of course, the universe.

Anterior_view_of_human_female_and_male,_with_labels[4]

The third embarrassment that disappeared gradually, was an own life. After reading and studying in libraries in the neighbourhood of my attic room, I became increasingly connected with all the knowledge in the world. Also I read in a book the questions: “Where is a Buffalo when it is eaten by a lion” and “How does a lion change after eating Buffalo?”.

Male_Lion_and_Cub_Chitwa_South_Africa_Luca_Galuzzi_2004[5]

Together with my body, my life became gradually connected to the world and the universe. At that time I read in a novel by Hermann Hesse: “Deine Seele ist die ganze Welt” [6] – or in English: “Your soul is the whole world“. In the dark at the open window in my attic room, my life became interconnected with the whole space.

The legacy that my beloved had left behind for me, depleted. I had no money left to maintain the white Citroën DS; it was time to give this Goddess another destination. With a part of the selling price, I bought a bike. After some practice I could move around with the inhabitants floating on the roads through the city.

800px-Cyclists_at_red_Kopenhagen[7]

The next spring I made several long bike tours through Europe.


[1] Source image://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comble_(architecture)

[2] Source: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 120 – 124. The “three embarrassments” are freely rendered in this post.

[3] “The Glass House or Johnson house, built in 1949 in New Canaan, Connecticut – USA, was designed by Philip Johnson as his own residence”. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glass_House

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_anatomy

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

[6] See: Hesse Hermann, Siddhartha. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag: 1989 p. 10.

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycling_in_Copenhagen. This photo was made around 2010.

Man Leben – love


Liebe muß man leben, sie wächst und sie kann auch wieder vergehen

Love one must live, she grows and she may also perish again

You continue the story of your life:

“After my journey to Auschwitz in the beginning of the autumn in 1993, there are three surprises in my life. The first surprise is working in a design office to introduce a modular industrial way of building. This work is unexpectedly successful.

The second surprise is completely unexpected. I have previously told that I have suddenly fallen in love at the age of ten on a girl in the village in South Limburg. It seemed that lightning struck, so fierce and unexpected; I only saw a white glow. In grammar school I have fallen in love several times. Nobody has ever known of this love. After my studies I have met my wife through my work on the architectural office. The first time I saw her in a white charming glow. We have had a happy time until our roads slowly split. The divorce was not easy; I should have shown more wisdom and compassion. At the end of our marriage until the start of my trip to Auschwitz, there have ever been women in my life, but always at a certain distance.

After Auschwitz, love has adopted the form of compassion and sympathy in my life. These feelings are expressed in the poem “Bani Adam” or “Opening of all Gates“, which is composed about 700 years ago by Abū Muṣliḥ al-Dīn Muḥammad bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī-– better known by his pen name Saʿdī  (or Saadi):

“The children of Adam are limbs of one body

Having been created of one essence.

When the calamity of time afflicts one limb

The other limbs cannot remain at rest.

If you have no sympathy for the troubles of others

You are not worthy to be called by the name of “Man (or Woman) [1]

 This poem is addressed to me personally; I wear the name Man.

[2]

Not so long ago, I read that an old zen master once said: “If there would be no suffering and no sentient people, then there would be no finger, no eye, no ear, no hand. Everywhere and One would be empty and deep, deep. There would be no loss and no gain” [3]. These sentences also express my form of love at that time. Buddhism has the word “Karuṇa” which means in Sanskrit compassion. The word Karuṇa is associated with wisdom. [4]

In the summer of 2003 I turned my head and I saw her face full of furrows of life, bottomless eyes, wrinkled hands. As companions we have admired each wrinkle and scar of our life. Later I have written the following short poem:

Your eyes bottomless

Together in eternity

Tender little death

Two years later we met Her big death. The following message more about the third surprise – simplicity – in my life”, you say.

The following post is about the third surprise in your life


[1] See amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saadi_(poet)

[2] The tomb of Saʿdī in Shiraz, Iran. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saadi_(poet)

[3] Source: Wick, Gerry Shishin, The Book of Equanimity – Illuminating Classic Zen Koans. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005 p. 170

[4] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love

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

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Lamb of God


In the previous post we have looked at the sacrifice as “object in the middle”. For this, you and I have looked at the movie “Offret” – or “The Sacrifice” by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1986. At the end of the film we have seen how the father has sacrificed everything he owns and binds him in this life, to God. He has made this sacrifice to save the world, in order that everything remains as it was before the threat of war and to be freed from that deadly, unbearable, animal fear. This sacrifice of the father is as well an unintentional sacrifice of his family and his relatives.

The son brings three sacrifices. He loses his father because his father sticks to his word and to God’s word. He is constantly giving water to the dead tree and therefore he brings the tree – the tree of life – back to life. By the third sacrifice he remains silent throughout the film.

The son asks to his father – and to God – why his father should keep his word. The son does not need any words for his sacrifice; his life, his actions and his knowledge precedes words.

Rightly the son asks at the end of the film: “In the beginning was the word. Why Father? ”

This question brings us to the first sentence in John’s Gospel in the New Testament [1]. Later in our Odyssey, we will try to give answers to this unavoidable question of the son.

In this post we will look further at the sacrifice as “object in the middle”. We look at the painting of the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck in Ghent. This painting depicts Jesus in the form of the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God is described in the first chapter of John’s Gospel in the New Testament: “The next day St. John sees Jesus approaching. St. John says: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”[2]

[3]

In me I hear the Agnus Dei from Mass in B – minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, Miserere Nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, Miserere Nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, Dona Nobis Pacem. [4]

“It seems that the last weeks of our Odyssey we are travelling according parts of the liturgy of Holy Mass from the Catholic Church. A few weeks ago we started with the Kyrie: the word “church” probably originates from Kyrie[5]. Inside the churches, we continued with the Credo in the form of light and hope. The reflection and the sermon followed within two meditation rooms. And now we arrive at the sacrifice by watching the movie “Offret” and at the Agnus Dei [6] as the Lamb of God, “I say.

[7]

“I could never say the Credo – or I believe – with conviction. It is not possible for me to believe in the Christian theology”, you say.

“You’re not alone and I feel this doubt with you. Also Thomas one of the disciples of Jesus, cannot believe in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the resurrection of Jesus as salvation and resurrection of all people or believers. Caravaggio’s painting shows that. This doubt of Thomas is not taken away by feeling the wound. Probably, faith and doubt go hand in hand for many Christians”, I say.

[8]

“I believe that every day the sun rises as resurrection and I believe in my next breath. But I cannot believe in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God as salvation of the universe”, you say.

“People have also questioned the next rising of the sun and the next breath. Hereof many rituals are known for establishing and perpetuating this confidence. People know a lot of uncertainties about the past, the present and the future. Christian theology tries to overcome these uncertainties (“in doubt” or “doubt” in Latin) by faith, rituals – including offerings – and hope. A deeply religious Christian once said: “The last thing I want to lose is my faith.” For me, this sentence includes even a trace of doubt. A rock-solid belief never fades. By rituals people try to establish and maintain trust and hope. The Christian faith says: “And they that know your name, will put their trust in you.” [9]  The painting of the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck nicely show this: the Father, the Son as the Lamb of God and the Holy Spirit as trinity”, I say.

“The Bible includes the Book of Job that is about a rock-solid faith [10]. I also think of the Japanese poet Rӯokan. Once at night everything was stolen from his simple hut:

“The thief leaves behind,

the ever changeful Moon

at the firmament.” [11]

The moon [12] points to the firm belief of Rӯokan”, you say.

“The faith of people in the past often seems more certain, because we see their past as well established. But maybe their rock-solid faith does also know uncertainties in their lives. If we look with their eyes, do we see a different world, other uncertainties, different expectations, a different religion? I do not know”, I say.

“Me neither. Shall we continue with the Dove as the Holy Spirit in the next post?”, you say.


[1] St. John 1:1 from the New Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

[2] St. John 1:29 and 1:36 from the New Testament.

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamb_of_God

[4] Translation: Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

[5] The source of the word “Church” probably is Greek: “Kūrios” meaning “Lord, Master”. Source: Ayto, John, Word Origins, the hidden History of English Words from A to Z. London: A &C Black, 2008. Maybe the word Church originates via the German word “Kirche” from the compound of Indo-European words “kr” (karoti, kurute) meaning “make, do, perform”, and “ish” depending on the “sh” sound either “sacrifice” or “ruler”, or “ich – I ” in Sanskrit.

[6] “The Agnus Dei is part of the Mass in the Catholic church and seems to be introduced for the first time during a Mass by Pope Sergius I (687-701 AD).  Agnus Dei means Lamb of God and literally refers to Christ in his role as the perfect sacrifice that reconciles the sins of mankind in the Christian theology. The prayer dates from the time of the ancient Jewish sacramental sacrifices. The Agnus Dei is sung during Mass when the priest breaks the Holy Bread and unification takes place, the priest drops a piece of the wafer in the chalice – filled with wine and water as blood of Christ.
The sacrifice of a lamb and the blood of the lamb are often used metaphors in the religions of the Middle East. It refers to the ancient Jewish custom to liberate people from their sins by a sacrifice. In the Protestant churches in the Revelation the phrase “washed in the blood of the lamb” is used to designate the deliverance of the original sin supposed by the churches. On our Odyssey, we already have encountered the cattle-sacrifice in the myth and Trito cattle cycle.
In art, Agnus Dei, the figure of a lamb bearing a cross, symbolizing Jesus as the Lamb of God. This metaphor is often used in Christian art, where the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck in Ghent is famous.
Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnus_Dei

[7] Source image: http://www.bertsgeschiedenissite.nl/middeleeuwen/eeuw15/jan_van_eyck.htm

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas_by_Caravaggio.jpg

[9] Source: Psalm 9:10: “God, the protector of the believers”.

[10] Also Job despairs when he and his wife feel the big setbacks directly in their bodies. Job asks God why he deserves these setbacks, his faith is unconditional. In a storm God replies: “Where were you when I separated the sky and the earth and created the universe!”. Hereafter Job recognizes his ignorance, he calls for teaching and confesses that he has directly God in his omnipotence. Job does penance in dust and ashes. After a cattle sacrifice, God’s wrath disappears and prosperity returns for Job.

When Job would have recognized all setbacks as part of himself, may Job have answered God that he is present in the separation of air and earth? May he have the courage to say that his appearance in the separation of air and earth is adapted to the circumstances?  That he always remains one during and after the separation of air and earth and during and after all the crackle that follows?

[11] Source: Stevens, John, Three Zen Masters, Ikkyū, Hakuin, Rӯokan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993. Page 131.

[12] Rӯokan is a Japanese Zen Buddhist. Zen Buddhism starts in China by a merger of Taoism and Buddhism. Taoism knows Tao as a keyword meaning “road or course of life”, but this word is probably derived from the ancient Chinese word for “Moon”. Source: Porter, Bill, Road to Heaven – Encounters with Chinese Hermits. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1993 Page: 35.

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Sacrifice


In the previous post, we have entered two meditation rooms. The first room is the Mark Rothko Chapel in Houston. The other meditation room is everywhere and always present.

Now you and I consider the sacrifice as “object in the middle”. For this we look at the last part of the movie “Offret” or “The Sacrifice” by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1986.

[1]

Before we start watching this part of the movie, we read first several introductions and reflections on this film. We start with “The sealed time” [2]: reflections on the cinema by Andrei Tarkovsky.

“The sealed time” is also a good name for the interior of the Mark Rothko Chapel”, you say.

In these reflections Andrei Tarkovsky writes: “The protagonist of the film” Offret ” is meant as a weak personality. No hero, but a thinker and an honest person who is able to sacrifice for a higher ideal. If the situation requires, he does not back and tries to leave the act of sacrifice to someone else. He faces not being understood by others and to be seen as destructive and desperate. He exceeds the permissible limit of normal behavior by which he is seen as insane, because he feels bound to the fate of all mankind. He only responds to the call of his heart. He is not master of fate, but only servant. His efforts remain unnoticed and misunderstood, but do contribute to the harmony of the world.[3]

“Do you recognize yourself in this description?” I ask.

“With shame. I often follow my own way and I have neglected other people unnecessarily”, you say.

“Who does not?” I say.

“Saints?”, you say

“We both aren’t,” I say.

In the afterword to these considerations Andrei Tarkovsky writes: “Throughout history ideologues and politicians have shown people “the only right way” that can save the world. To partake in this salvation the individual should – according to ideologues, politicians and/or society – give up all own ideas in order to channel all energy to the proposed rescue. For this progress, that has to safeguard the future of humanity, the individual sacrifices his inner life. His personality is lost in following this ideal. Because mankind thinks of the interests of all, it forgets its own personal interest as Christ preaches: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This means: “Love yourself so much that you respect the divine principle in yourself, the suprapersonal that prohibits selfishness and obliges you to give yourself to others unconditionally, loyalty to yourself from the I as a personal centre of life.” [4] [5]

“This requires a major balancing act between self-interest – in which the world is reflected – and sacrifices for others – whereby each sacrifice for another is a sacrifice to yourself”, you say.

“Somewhere I read that a beggar and a benefactor show compassion for each other by an offering. The beggar gives the benefactor the opportunity to demonstrate compassion and the benefactor shows compassion with another expression of his own life”, I say.

“To give offerings in an unconditional manner, we still have a long way to go. Andrei Tarkovsky describes a first step towards a Buddhist bodhisattva [6]. The ideal of salvation and the unconditional offerings to others is present. Only the efforts and the ways to achieve one’s own perfection before the bodhisattva encourages others to prepare for enlightenment, lacks”, you say.

“Within mahâyâna [7] Buddhism enlightenment is only possible for everyone at the same time. The metaphor of Indra’s Net shows this. First one’s own glass bead has to be prepares for enlightenment. Thereafter, all other glass beads have to be able to enter enlightenment. If one glass bead is illuminated, all other pearls are also lit: no jewel within Indra’s Net is left behind, because otherwise the dust on one non-enlightened jewel reflects on all”, I say.

“Absolutely. Because the protagonist is not clear in his mind, he cannot save the world. If he does so, he remains behind with his faults and is at least one small part of the world that is not saved. Hereby the protagonist is not a bodhisattva, but a tragic hero”, you say.

“He cannot be a classic tragic hero, because he believes in a God who may grant him salvation,” I say.

“Later on our Odyssey, we will encounter enlightenment again. You and I share the same shortcomings as the protagonist in the film. I hope we are able to see a glimpse of the enlightenment. Odysseus has been tied to the mast of his ship in the vicinity of the Sirens. The ears of his crew were filled with wax to prevent noticing the seductive sounds. This reasoning is not sound, anyway”, you say.

“Let us watch the movie”, I say.

The last film of Andrei Tarkovsky – finished shortly before his death – begins with the monologue by the father – Alexander – to his son who will not speak during the entire movie due to a throat disease: “A long ago, an old monk named Pamve was in an Orthodox monastery. He has planted a dead tree. His pupil – named Ivan Kolvo – may give water to the tree every day. Every morning he climbs with a full bucket of water uphill and gives water to the dead trunk. On one day after three years, the tree blooms with full blossom [8]. Every action has its consequence. If you perform undisturbed at the same time every day the same ritual, the world will change irrevocably. [9]

“My mother once put a dead stick on the ground outside to the wall. After several months, the stick has rooted”, you say.

[10]

During the film a threat of a war develops that will destroy everything and everyone. Under this pressure, the main character – Alexander – goes to his study. He kneels on the ground and does something he never has done before. He prays: “Lord, save us in this fearful hour. Do not let my children and friends die, my wife, everyone who loves and believes in you. And those who do not believe in you because they are blind and have not given thoughts to you because they have not really been unhappy. Anyone who will lose his hopes now, his future his life and the opportunity to be guided by your word. Those who are filled with fear and feel the end is nearing. Who do not fear for themselves but for their neighbours. For those who nobody else can save but you. Because this war is the last, a terrible war. After this there will be no victors and vanquished any more. No towns and villages, trees and grass. No water in the springs or birds in the sky. I give you everything I own. I leave my family that I love. I destroy my house and take away my son. I will remain silent and talk to nobody. I renounce all that binds me to this life. If you only ensure that everything is as it was. And I am freed from that deadly, unbearable, animal fear. Lord, help me. I will do what I promised.”

The next morning, the threat is disappeared. Alexander sticks to his word and lures all the residents to the seaside before putting the house on fire. All his possessions are on fire. He sacrifices his soul for his neighbours and the world. He is retrieved by an ambulance for admission to a mental institution.

[11]

“This sacrifice is not only a sacrifice of the protagonist. It is also a sacrifice made by his family and friends. Without any direct say, they lose Alexander, their house and possessions. Can a sacrifice be a real sacrifice when innocent people involved “[12], you ask.

While the ambulance passes, the son is ready to water the dead tree with full buckets of water. The Aria “Erbarme dich“ from St. Matthew Passion begins.

“Erbarme dich,
Mein Gott,
Um meiner want Zahren
Schaue here
Herz und Auge weint vor dir
Bitterlich.”
[13]

The son looks at the crown of the tree and says his only words during the film: “In the beginning is the word [14]. Why Father? “.

At the appearance of the text mentioning that the film is dedicated to the son of Andrei Tarkovsky – with hope and consolation, the crown of the tree seems to bloom.

“The son makes three sacrifices. He loses his father because his father sticks to his word and to God’s word. He makes his second sacrifice by continuously giving water to the tree and bringing this tree back to life. By the third sacrifice he remain silent throughout the film. Fully justified the son asks his father – and God – why his father must keep his word”, you say.

“For me this is a film of hope, because the last film by Andrei Tarkovsky is dedicated to his son with hope and consolation. At the end of this film, the light gives bloom to the tree of life. The life of his father – now a dry tree, because he has stopped acting – becomes a tree of life for the son by means of water. The son does not need any words for his sacrifices; his life, his actions and his knowledge precedes all words”, I say.

“A great enhancement of my impressions. Tarkovsky transcends “the sealed time” with this end of his last film”, you say.

[15]

The next post is about the Lamb of God as sacrifice.


[1] Source image: front of DVD-cover of the Swedish version of the film “Offret”.

[2] Tarkovski, Andrei, Sculpting in Time – Reflections on the Cinema. 1989

[3] Tarkovski, Andrei, De verzegelde tijd – Beschouwingen over de filmkunst. Pagina 203.

[4] Tarkovski, Andrei, De verzegelde tijd – Beschouwingen over de filmkunst. Pagina 207 – 208.

[5] For consideration: Indra’s Net as metaphor; see also: “Indra’s net” in post “Introduction: One – Pantheism – Indra’s net” of 8th April 2011

[6] The word bodhisattva consists of two words “bodhi” and “sattva” meaning “perfect knowledge, wisdom” and “being, conscience, living being” in Sanskrit. The school of mahâyâna 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 enlightment. In the meantime a bodhisattva will prepare everyone and everything for enlightenment.

[7] Mahâyâna means “large vehicle”. All and everyone is enclosed in this large vehicle, no particle is excluded.

[8] See also the post of 2nd of April 2011 “Introduction One – Blossom.”

[9] See also the posts of 24th en 27th March 2011 on rituels.

[10] Source image: http://www.jaapnoordzij.nl/credo/2010/09/offret-het-offer.html

[11] Source image: http://www.discordance.fr/top-5-les-meilleurs-epilogues-du-cinema-27740/1_offret

[12] Source: Fanu, Mark Le, The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky. London: BFI Publishing, 1987, page 125

[13] Aria from the St. Matthew Passion by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Translation: “Have mercy, my God, regarding my tears, look at me, heart and eyes weep for you bitterly.”

[14] See also: Opening of the Gospel of St. John from the New Testament.

[15] Source image: http://www.elitisti.net/artikkeli/2005/02/004308/offret_1986_uhri.html

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – part 3


In the previous post you and I have made ​​a first exploration to the role of symbols – like “objects in the middle” – to establish and consolidate mutual confidence. We have noticed that the symbols call hope, expectation and deep trust in people, but that symbols also give rise to deep disgust. In addition, symbols may incite violence, destruction and outright hatred. Sometimes symbols have a comprehensive influence and provide a strong bond of mutual trust, but symbols rarely provide an input to the “perfect oneness” for all. [1].

Now you and I encounter another “object in the middle” that is seen by many people as a place to establish and maintain mutual confidence with the close family. This “object in the middle” is our home [2]. For individuals, the uterus is the first house where human beings pass about the whole evolution before their birth. After birth a baby depends on its parents, educators and a community where the child grows to adulthood. As adult the environment with which one has become accustomed, is seen as home.

Hunter-gatherers experience their habitat – literally, where one lives – as their familiar surroundings. Violations of trust, that may arise between the hunter-gatherers and their habitat, is – as far as we know – restored through rituals. E.g. in rituals hunter-gatherers identify themselves with their prey for two reasons. They seek redemption for the sin of killing their prey, and they identify with their prey to maintain their unique system of survival for both hunter and prey [3].

[4]

Pastoral people will also see their habitat – in which they wander – as their home and environment. Their habitat provides forage for their herds and, indirectly, for themselves. Through rituals pastoral peoples try to maintain trust between the knowable and unknowable habitat on one hand and themselves on the other hand. In previous posts, you and I have seen the Trito myth and the cattle-cycle as examples of these myths and rituals.

Farmers will experience their fields and crops as their habitat. Initial the farmers move on after a short time when the land has impoverished by growing the same crops several times in succession. Once the farmers have developed a periodic system for maintaining a balance in time between different crops and the soil, they stay in permanent residences. They see their habitat as their home.

Later in our Odyssey, we will encounter people who are constantly at home everywhere. A glimpse of this, we may see in the following poem by Rӯokan:

Even though I sleep
Every night in my life
Always somewhere else,
The eternal dream takes me
everywhere to my home.
[5]

Many people see a home as a safe haven and as a origin from where the world is experienced. They see a house not only as a familiar environment, but they largely identify themselves with their home: they give shape to their house and the house expresses who they are.

 [6]

In this respect, our present society only recognises people when one has a nationality and a permanent residence. Without possession of a nationality and a permanent residence, people loose many of their common rights within today’s society. We see that today’s society gives much faith to a home as “object in the middle”. In other times and under different circumstances, people have given another value and trust to a home as “object in the middle”.

Why is our society so attached to a permanent residence? Has our society only confidence in its people with this specific “object in the middle”?

The previous night, you and I have slept under the stars. Tonight you and I will sleep in a caravan where the ceiling will show the sky in the dark as a reminder of the sky in the open air. Tomorrow you and I will sleep in a house.

The next post is about the house of God as “object in the middle”.


[1] See posts related to Introduction of “One”

[2] In Sanskrit “grham” is one of the words for house. This word possibly consists of “grh” meaning “take, grasp en encompass” and “aham” meaning “I” – first person, singular, nominative.

[3] See also: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume I, page 5.

[4] Source image: http://www.defeatdiabetes.org/advocacy_community/text.asp?id=MADDCAP_Impact_Food

[5] Free rendering of translation of Tanka from Rӯokan on page 170 in the bundle: Tooren, J.van, Tanka – het lied van Japan. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1983

[6] Source image: http://www.drsfilm.tv/en/utrecht_by_the_sea