Tag Archives: Mahābhārata

Form is emptiness and emptiness is form


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

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

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

“Enjoy your meal”, say Carla and Narrator.

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

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

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

Drijvende eenden[1]

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

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

“Please”, says Man.

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

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

Superpositie[2]

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

“Both:

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

And:

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

And together in one haiku:

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

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

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

Or in Sanskrit:

iha rūpaṃ śūnyata śūnyataiva rūpam
rūpānna pṛthak śūnyatā śūnyatāyā na pṛthagrūpaṃ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Sūtra continues with a large number of negations:

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

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

Ontwikkelbad[11]

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

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

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

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

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

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

of interpretated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I will make some coffee”, says Man.

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

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

And the poem is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

De wereld anders[19]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Emptiness: to the end of the night


Night. A clear sky at new moon. Narrator drives the borrowed Skoda Superb [1] Combi from Amsterdam via the Noordoostpolder [2] to the marina at Lauwersoog near the departure of the ferry to Schiermonnikoog. Both headlights shine on the empty highway through the dark void land that over 50 years ago still was bottom of the Zuiderzee (Southernsea). Carla dozes in the back seat. Man sits as a passenger next Narrator; in the dim light of the dashboard they look to the exit at Emmeloord that in the far distance is lit by lantern light.

Skoda Superb Combi[3]

“Within the emptiness the headlights – with the lantern light in the distance – conjure a dark magic landscape wherein everything we now see emerges and immediately disappears like phantoms who are called to live in a flare in order to slip at once into the dark emptiness again.

As boy in South Limburg I have loved the dark nights with the infinite universe wherein I – included – was one with all the stars and galaxies in the firmament. Now I feel myself floating within a faint white glow on an infinite journey through the universe and thereby perfectly at home in this vessel. Tonight – before we were getting ready to depart – I have looked up a definition of Buddhist enlightenment [4] in a book: “Enlightenment is realising the oneness of life”[5].

I looked for this definition yesterday afternoon we have ended our survey of intensities and associations with the question: “One – what is that?”, that had been asked by a Buddhist sage to a wise woman. She was unable to answer this question. I wonder whether the inability – or the emptiness – of the wise woman to answer fits better with the question: “One – what is that?” than this definition of Buddhist enlightenment.

We now begin the survey of emptiness during our quest to “Who are you”. In Sanskrit the word for emptiness in the Heart Sutra is ” śūnyatā”. Do you know the meaning of this word in Sanskrit?”, asks Man.

The car is nearing the exit at Emmeloord. Narrator slows down and takes the exit to Lemmer; hereby Carla has awakened and she asks: “Where are we?”. “Near Emmeloord in the Noordoostpolder, now we are heading to Friesland. I have asked Narrator for the meaning of the word “śūnyatā””, says Man.

“The word ” śūnyatā” is usually translated with “emptiness” or “empty of self” [6], but this translation only reflects the core of the word just like within the core of the tropical cyclone there is usually a clear sky and no wind; the centre of the cyclone is sunny and “free” of wind.

Kern van een cycloon[7]

The word “śūnyatā” consists of the verb cores:
• “śvi” – with the weak form “śū” – meaning “swell”, “grow” and “increase”;
• “ya” meaning “mover” and “incentive”. My father was of the opinion that “ya” is closely related to “yaj” in the sense of “sacrifice”, “offering for a higher – Godlike/heavenly– purpose” (perhaps “God’s gift” in reciprocity”and,
• “tā” meaning “impassableness”, “inaccessibleness”, and also “unviolability” and “sacred” [8].

A contemporary Japanese Zen master in America had written in his explanation of “śūnyatā” that this word is not a negation of the concept of existence, but the word indicates that our entire existence in all its forms is completely dependent on the principle of cause and effect; we have read earlier that even the Gods are bound by the principle of cause and effect [9]. As the factors of cause and effect are changing constantly, there is no static – fixed – existence possible. The word “śūnyatā” categorically denies the possibility of the existence of static – fixed – manifestations. All appearances are relative and interdependent according to this contemporary Japanese Zen master.

In addition, he writes that “śūnyatā” also means “zero”, a concept that became known rather late in Europe, but has been in use for much longer in India. Zero has no numerical value in itself, but it represents the absence of numerical values and thus symbolises at the same time the possibility of all numerical values. Similarly “śūnyatā” – through the concept of “zero” or “no” – represents the possibility of the existence of all manifestations and it is also included in all forms, that themselves only exist in relation to their non-existence and by their interconnectedness [10]”, says Narrator.

vorm en leegte[11]

“The definition of zero is too limited: but I will not go into it now. If I understand it correctly, “śūnyatā” refers to “emptiness from” and “emptiness to” just as – in my opinion – Erich Fromm is referring to “freedom from” and “freedom to” in mutual dependency with the concept of “freedom” [12 ]. Here I am reminded of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty who has argued that manifestations are caused by a creative process of giving meaning and taking meaning at once[13]. The Zen master adds to this argument the void – or space – for allowing the creation of manifestations”, says Carla.

“Quite interesting that you refer to a creative process for the creation of manifestations. The Japanese Zen master indicates that an intuitive and immediate understanding of ” śūnyatā” is the basis for all understanding. But before he states this, he first mentiones the ” śūnyatā” of the ego and then the “śūnyatā” of dharma [14] – the world order and duty [15] – and of the subjective and the objective. After this he concludes that everything – every manifestation and every being – only exists through the principle of interdependence bound by the law of impermanence. The intuitive and immediate understanding leads to knowledge and understanding of the four great truths to know: impermanence, interconnectedness, manifestations and essence; maybe it’s good to come back on these four values later. The Zen master goes further in his statement on the importance of impermanence – emptiness or vanity – and interconnectedness than Maurice Merleau-Ponty in the arising or creation of all manifestations and of every being

I have this explanation of “śūnyatā” from the introduction by this Zen master in his book on the Buddhistische Heart Sūtra.

This description of the Zen master has stayed with me because it fits so well my perception of the ghosts in the night. As a child soldier in Africa with our militia we had put the forest around a village on fire at the end of the night. We had shot everything and everyone that had come out of the forest and we had been happy [16]. I still carry the ghosts of these villagers with me; their breath – in emptiness and vanity – has become my breath. At night they are as real to me as people I meet during the day; these spirits are connected with me in interdependence within the law of impermanence: during daytime they have disappeared”, says Narrator.

“Are these spirits really present for you here and now in this car?”, asks Man.

“No, driving the car I have my attention on the road, but if I do not focus my attention any longer, the ghost come to life from the emptiness of darkness just as real as a dream during sleep. Or to cite a quote often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain: “I am an old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened” [17]”, says Narrator.

“Fortunately, because otherwise I should have asked you to look for a parking place and we might continue our journey tomorrow during daylight. I have several versions of the Heart Sutra to study in my luggage. Would you like to help me with the interpretation of Sanskrit?”, asks Man.

“That is fine. I have a copy with the explanation by the Japanese Zen master with me. Do you have a waterproof compartment for books on your boat?”, asks Narrator.

“Your book easily fits within the waterproof ton. When we will lay dry at low tide, we will have time to read”, says Man.

“The definition of enlightenment that you have just mentioned, gives one aspect of enlightenment – in line with the interconnectedness within the metaphor of Indra’s Net – quite clearly. It is only one side of the coin, the other side is “śūnyatā”. In Buddhism, the term “nirvana” – literally absence of forest (or barriers) or the open plain [18] – is often used for enlightenment. In Hinduism one often addresses enlightenment with “moksha” [19] that comes from the verb core “muc” meaning amongst others “to loosen, or to liberate”. With both interpretations, I am not happy because in my opinion “śūnyatā” together with the metaphor of Indra’s Net gives a better interpretation of the term enlightenment. I think it is a good idea that we do not only survey emptiness in the sense of “empty from” at this part of our quest, but also in relation to the four great truths of Buddhism and in relation to Indra’s Net”, says Narrator.

“Good idea. When I had lain awake during my travels under the dark starry sky, I had felt myself fully included in space or in the infinite void. The boundaries between the space and myself had dissolved and I had become one with everything around me. In a book on Zen Buddhism I had read two poems mentioning an empty mirror as metaphor for life; in the second poem also the illusion of the empty mirror was removed just like during this journey by car through the dark polder the sight on the landscape is non-existing. Do you know the text of these poems?”, asks Carla.

“The two poems had been written during the appointment – or better the Dharma transmission – of Huineng [20] as the sixth Zen patriarch. In my own words: the fifth patriarch sensed that the obvious candidate was fit for the position. He asked each monk who would like to be candidate, to write a short poem on the core of Zen and to affix it on the monastery wall. Only obvious candidate anonymously published the following poem:

The body is a Bodhi tree;
The mind like an empty mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean
And let no dust alight [21]

Bodhi – with a sound (and a meaning via “et incarnatus est” [22]) akin to the English word body – meaning in Sanskrit “a tree of wisdom, or a tree where under a human becomes a Buddha” [23].

The next morning a second poem was affixed alongside the first poem with the following text:

Originally bodhi has no tree;
The empty mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a thing.
Where can dust alight?

In Sanskrit Bodhi has a second meaning: “perfect enlightenment” [24]. The Fifth Patriarch knew a humble firewood-gatherer – without any formal training as a monk – had written this second poem and he foresaw an uprising of the monastery to the appointment of this uneducated layman as Dharma heir. The following night, the Dharma transmission took place and at dawn the sixth Zen patriarch had to flee from the monastery. The monks have haunted him for a long time. Eventually after a long flight he had been fully accepted is as Dharma heir; every Zen master is in direct line associated with this sixth patriarch. And reciting the poem I also reflect him in the emptiness of this night”, says Man.

“Splendid explanation. Shall we continue tomorrow? I would like to continue dozing”, says Carla.
“Then I will also take a nap. Tomorrow we have to get up early”, says Man.

Narrator drives the car with Carla and Man sleeping via Friesland and Groningen to the parking place at Lauwersoog near the ferry departure to Schiermonnikoog. He parks the car facing east to see the dawn over a few hours. Upon seeing the first twilight he awakes Carla and Man.

“On this bright morning we have to see the sunrise before so we will start rigging the sailboat at the marina”, says Narrator.

“Upon seeing the emergence of the first sunrays trough this windshield, I think of the poem “The Windows” by Guido Gezelle, wherein he as a Catholic priest at the end of the nineteenth century has marginally repeated the iconoclasm:

THE WINDOWS

The windows are full of saints, mitred and staved,
martyrised, virgin crowned, duked and knighted;
that the burning from the oven fire glassed has in the shard,
that, glittering, speaks all the tongues from the heaven bows paints. [25]

Thou scare is again enkindled in the east the violence
Of sun flame, and does she touches the saints, so melted
The mitre from the mantle collar, the gold ware from the crone,
and all, even white now, shines and lightens even clean.

Disappeared art thou, dukes and counts then, so soft;
disappeared, virgins, martyrs and bishops: forever
no palms, staves, stolen anymore, ‘t is all gone, to
one clarity molten, in one sunlight – in God. [26]

– Guido Gezelle [27]

Kerkramen Noordzijde Keulen[28]

In my opinion Guido Gezelle advocates with this poem – despite the beauty of church windows as windows on the world – an empty mirror without stand in God’s face”, says Man.

 

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Superb
[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noordoostpolder
[3] Source image: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Superb
[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhi
[5] Source: Bridges, Jeff & Glassman, Bernie, The Dude and the Zen Master. New York: Plume, 2014, p. 95
[6] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunyata, see also the English Wikipedia-page on this subject
[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropische_cycloon
[8] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[9] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 85 and 122
[10] Source: Deshimaru, Taisen, Mushotoku Mind – The Heart of the Heart Sutra. Chino Valley: Hohm Press, p. 28, 29
[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81
[12] Source: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 97
[13] See also for the “creative act of giving meaning to and taking meaning from”: Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception 1945
[14] Dharma means literally “placing of the self/Self continuously”.
[15] Source: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 68. See also chapter 4 for an introduction on Dharma.
[16] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84
[17] See: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/10/04/never-happened/
[18] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[19] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moksha
[20] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huineng
[21] Source: The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. Burlingame: Buddhist text translation society, 2002, p. 67
[22] Literal translation from Latin: he/she/is becomes flesh
[23] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[24] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[25] “mitred and staved”: with signals of authority; “all the tongues from the heaven bows paints”: showing all the paintings on the ceilings of the churches.
[26] Free translation of this poem. Original: http://cf.hum.uva.nl/dsp/ljc/gezelle/rijmsnoer/ramen.htm This poem is date by Guido Gezelle on 14th of April 1895.
[27] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_Gezelle
[28] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stained_glass

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity


A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity
A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second volume of “A History of Religious Idea – From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity” by Mircea Eliade covers the vast religious area between:

  • The ancient religions in China (Taoism and Confucianism),
  • Brahmanism and Hinduism,
  • Buddhism,
  • Roman religions,
  • Celts and Germans,
  • Judaism,
  • The Hindu Synthesis: The Mahabharata including the Bhagavad Gita,
  • Iranian Synthesis,
  • Paganism,
  • The Birth of Christianity and
  • Christianity as official Religion of the Roman Empire.

This vast area of religious ideas is described in a considerable depth, although experts will certainly notice significant omissions at once; e.g. the Upanishads and the Mahabharata deserve more attention.

This volume ends with “Deus Sol Invictus”; a religious idea taken by the Roman Emperor Aurelius (270 – 275 AC) from Egypt as uniting monotheistic Sun-God principle in the Roman Empire, before his successor Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity a preferred religion within the Roman Empire. The name Sunday – the day of God – originates from “Deus Sol Invictus” or Sun-God in the Roman Empire.

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

Five common realities – facts en logic 15


“I think that we have finished our conversation about the paradox within the mind of the warrior in ourselves too abruptly. Although at an earlier age and in another way, I have known the euphoria of the conqueror. As young girl, I had caught a grasshopper in a matchbox. I felt an unknown joy; I would never be lonely any-more, because I would always have a companion in my life. When I had shaken the box, I could hear my grasshopper. The next morning the grasshopper was death. This was my first real loss in my life; herewith I lost my innocence: this started my decay. When I look at the Palace of the Medici, I am reminded of my matchbox”, says Carla.

Feiten en logica 15a.jpg[1]

“I had read somewhere that the family of de Medici – after a short exile from Florence – had wished to use its influence behind the scenes in the 15e centurary and purposely had wished to have a low profile to the outside world. The outside of this palace – build in commission of Cosimo de Medice – shows this strive [2]”, says Man

Carla, Man and Narrator enter the palace.

“In the 15th century the well-off in Florence were aware of the periodic floods of the Arno River, therefore they had their living areas on the first floor. This palace resembles the Ark of Noah [3] from the book Genesis in the Old Testament. In this palace an image was available of all wealth and of everything of value within the de Medici family. Everything in this Palace is a miniature reflection and a reminder of the conquests of the family in the outside world. When the tide goes well, then the reflection and the memory will be brought back into reality. This Palace shows the inner world of the family in all its wishes and with all its expectations”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 15b.[4]

“In this hall Luca Giordano [5], the aspiration of the familiy – displayed within this palace – shows God-like traits. The paintings on the ceiling of this hall resemble the ceiling paintings in the churches of this city.

feiten en logica 15c.[6]

The second dynasty of the Medici family is depicted by the painter Luca Giordano as a mirror image of the heaven wherein Cosimo de Medici – as the Central father-god – enthrones above his two sons and his brother. Here shows the inner of the prevailing “warrior” the ambition to at least match the Christian Divine Trinity, if not to take the place of God”, says Man.

feiten en logica 15d.[7]

“That is evident. At the height of his power, a warrior feels invincible and supreme: the warrior evades the world of mortals; the warrior can conquer the whole world. At the same time, the world of the warrior is dehumanised; care for the environment and the empathy for living beings and humans disappears. A state of euphoria – a perception of uniqueness and omnipotence, self-centredly focused on the warrior, his compagnons and the world for which they exist – arises. This state of euphoria can be recognised within Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa when they shot arrows with joy at everything that tried to escape from the fire in the Khandava forest, within you Narrator when you as a young warrior with a militia in Central Africa shot at everyone who tried to escape from a burning village, and within Karl Marlantes [8] when he – as lieutenant at the American Marines during the Vietnam war – let the air forces drop napalm on the jungle with Vietcong fighters [9]. ” says Carla.

feiten en logica 15e.[10]

“”The hel are the others” [11], had Jean-Paul Sartre written in one of his plays, maybe also because the others limit the warrior in his omnipotence – and thereby in his freedom”, says Man.

“You explain my feelings of joy and exhileration during the shooting at all and everyone who tried to escape from the burning village very well. But after this euphoria I felt shame and fathomless emptiness. In the first part of our Odyssee to “Who are you” [12] – at the description of the Peloponnesische war – we noticed on on-going cycle of honour/power – pride – wrath – revenge [13] among the parties concerned. In my experience we must add to this cycle “shame and emptiness” that simultaneously is an antipode to honour and power. In the time of my forefathers, the combatants in the old India took their spoils of conquest – usually stolen cattle within the cattle cycle – to their home village. There the loot was shared with everyone during a big feast. Showing the victory to the world was more important for the warriors than the victory itself [15]. After the feast an emptiness began to arise together with an emerging shame about aimlessness. With honour/power as antipode to this emptiness/shame, an urge arose for new conquests to confirm and maintain the inner and outer ego of the warriors. The conquest – or wealth in our time – creates at the same time an emptiness and a lack of something. Wealth creates a lack of richness that is not yet conquered. This hall reminds the living warriors within the family de Medici to the worldly riches which they must defend and expand, and to the richness of the Godlike Kingdom of Heaven that they still do not possess”, says Narrator.

“In this reasoning lies a truth. The decline begins after a conquest, because there is something to defend; the imperator must always conquer more for safeguard what he already owns. From the possession of wealth arises the need for more lasting wealth; also the imperator is subject to the law of nature called “greedy little pig”. Is there a difference between men and women?”, says Man.

“There is a study on the role of women in Mahābhārata. In the Mahābhārata a warrior only acquires immortal fame when fallen on the battlefield at the time women mourn him in shrill cries and weep over his life boasting his former beautiful appearance [16]. The women of the warrior caste put their men into action; the warriors are monomaniacal executors of the wishes of their women. When all warriors are deceased within the Kshatriya caste, the women go to the Brahmins to procreate new warriors. Women have their own role in the mind of the warrior”, says Narrator.

“Don’t we all have a role within the mind of the warrior? What do you think of the Gods and the Bodhisattvas?”, asks Carla.

“Also they, also we”, says Man.

“That is true. Shall we tomorrow – on our last day in Florence – visit Palazzo Pitti where the family of de Medici showed its splendour and magnificence to the outside world”, says Narrator.


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

[2] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palazzo_Medici_Riccardi

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noah%27s_Ark

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

[5] See also: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleria_di_Luca_Giordano

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

[7] The Apotheosis of the Medici: Cosimo III sat central between his two sons and his brother below him, Palazzo Medici-Riccardi. Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galleria_di_Luca_Giordano

[8] Source: Marlantes, Karl, What it is like to go to war. London: Corvus, 2012 p. 40 – 41

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

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

[11] In the play “Huis clos”. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Paul_Sartre

[12] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 200 – 209

[13] See: Lendon, J.E., Song of Wrath – the Peloponnesian war begins. New York: Basic Books, 2010 p. 9

[14] See cattle-cycle in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012

[15] See also a contemporary observation by Hannah Ahrendt in: Keen, David, Useful Enemies – When waging wars is more important than winning them. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, p. 9

[16] Source: McGrath, Kevin, STR Women in Epic Mahābhārata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009, p 25

Five common realities – facts en logic 14


Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting on the little square at the entrance of the Basilica of San Lorenzo before they will visit the Palace of the Medici.

“The mind of the warrior shows a number of contradictions. The parable of Mŗtyu – death in the form of a woman – gives a glimpse into the contradictions, when Arjuna’s oldest brother – as crown pretender of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – is inconsolable about the loss of the many killed on the battlefield including family members, teachers and students, and loved ones. As a result of the battle – between on the one hand the world order and duty, and on the other hand human action – over their legitimate kingdom, at the same time death and destruction occurs on an extensive scale among the loved ones. Another example is “fight for peace”. We do not only recognise the mind-set of the warrior – with these contradictions – on the battlefield, but also in science, religion, philosophy, government and, of course, within ourselves”, says Carla.

Feiten en logica 14a[1]

“The parable of Śīla [2] – freely interpreted as “All-encompassing Oneness” – from the Mahābhārata shows the mind of the warrior within ourselves. Through a consistent use of all (human) qualities – or Śīla – a wise king in ancient India had achieved peace and coherence within his kingdom and eventually within himself. This gave him also the immense power of goodness. Through the wealth of goodness he obtained the three worlds including the world of the gods. On a good day Indra – in a manifestation of medicine – appeared before the King, and Indra asked the King to learn what goodness really is. The King said that administration of the three worlds took all his attention: he had no time to show goodness to Indra. Indra in the form of medicine remained at the Court and served the King so superbly that the King said: “Ask for whatever you wish and it shall be giving“. In response Indra said: “You have already given me so much, but you would make me blissfully happy with your Śīla“. The King gave Śīla to Indra and the “medicine” left immediately. After the “medicine” was gone the King felt an inner unrest without knowing why. A column of light in human form came from his body. The King asked: “Who are you?”. The column of light answered, “I am Śīla. Until now we were inseparable. But you have given me away, and I am leaving you“. Soon a second column of light emerged from his body and again the King asked: “Who are you?”. The second column of light said: “I am Dharma – the world order – and I am leaving you, because I live where Śīla lives“. Right away three columns of light emerged from his body, and Truth, Goodness and Solidity left, because they live where Śīla lives. At last there appeared a column of light in the form of a woman, and the woman answered to the question “Who are you?”: “I am Śri – interconnectedness –, I am all that is desirable in a human life; I live where Śīla lives“. Paralyzed with fear the king asked to Brahman who that medicine was and what had happened. Brahman answered: “The medicine is Indra’s Net. Through Śīla, you had become who you are, and with Śīla you have given away yourself to Indra’s Net[3], says Narrator.

“This parable beautifully shows some of the contradictions within the mind-set of the warrior. An imperator obtains a kingdom by his actions and then the imperator cannot maintain the empire: several laws of nature prevent this. In addition, there may be recognised contradictions within the mind-set of the warrior during a successful conquest or defence of a desired object: at the moment of success the warrior feels the volatile euphoria of an “All-encompassing Oneness”. This euphoria sets his temporary self-image that immediately starts to erode with the vanish of Śīla. We have seen this volatile euphoria during a victory in the self-image of rowers in the two students’ boat crews who compete for victory during the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the Thames [4]”, says Carla.

Feiten en logica 14b[5]

“The same euphoria of temporary uniqueness showed Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa when they shot arrows with joy at everything that tried to escape from the fire in the Khandava forest [6]. With shame I must now confess that I had known this kind of euphoria when I – as a young warrior with a militia in Central Africa – shot at everyone who tried to escape from a burning village [7]. Śīla had already left me at my desire to experience the adventures of my ancestors upon my urge for comfort, money, fame and power. That night – when shooting at the villagers who wanted to escape the burning village – I lost the last remnants of my innocence. I still bear this contradiction between euphoria of a temporary oneness during violent conquests, and directly emerging decay, with me in the form of the breath of the villagers. Although the villagers have the identity “death” in the human world, I keep them alive with my breath”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 14c.[8]

“Shall we look at the inner unrest in the palace of the Medici?”, says Man.


[1] Image of Pallas Athene – goddess of wisdom, courage, justice and correct warfare. She is also the companion of shrewd heroes. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior

[2] Śīla means amongst others “natural way of living or of behaviour” in Sanskrit. In Buddhism Śīla means amongst “moral conduct or precept”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C4%ABla

[3] The parable of Śīla is a free rendering of the parable of Prahlāda from: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 101 – 102

[4] See the post “Amateurs” in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence –part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012 p. 190 – 194

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

[6] See also: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84

[7] See:  Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 22

[8] Image of Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa who shoot with joy arrows at all that tried to escape from the fire in the Khandava forest. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khandava_Forest

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

Five common realities – facts en logic 12


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

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

“Fundamentally there is no delusion or enlightenment

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

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

feiten en logica 12a[3]

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

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

“Have you had breakfast yet?”

“Yes, I have eaten”

“Then go wash your bowl”

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

feiten en logica 12b[6]

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

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

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

“I will formulate the comment more precisely:

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

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

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

feiten en logica 12c[11]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

feiten en logica 12d[22]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[19] Source: Bhagavad Gītā IV.6

[20] Source: Bhagavad Gītā IX.29

[21] Source: Bhagavad Gītā X.9

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

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

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

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