Tag Archives: Mahâyâna Buddhism

Mist


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meditatie[7]

This Buddhist question includes several sub-questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meditatie 2[13]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steenmannetje[20]

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

Glasshouse[21]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Narrator – a new year


Around Easter the winter of that year was gone. The sun emerged and nature flourished again. Next to my city bike I had bought a touring bike by which I made several bike tours on the islands Amager and Sjælland whereupon the city of Copenhagen is located. In a few months I learned not only to cycle well, but I started to love this form of gliding over the roads in weather and wind.

Reiserad-beladen[1]

Near the end of spring I received again disturbing letters from former lovers in Amsterdam; they were also seriously ill with AIDS. I decided to travel to Amsterdam with my touring within a week. After a preparation of a small week, I departed to Amsterdam for a few months with a packed bike. My attic room I had temporary sublet to a friend.

Eventually I did two weeks about the trip, because I had almost always headwind. On the long straights, the turning of the pedals changed in turning of the prayer wheels in my experience, sometimes difficult, sometimes without effort.

Gebedsmolens[2]

On my way to Amsterdam I had the Buddhist question of the “iron ox” [3] in my mind. Some of my ancestors travelled on horseback. In Africa I had noticed people travelling on an ox. Now I was a rider on an iron steed instead of on horseback.

Man op os[4]

I missed the conversations on this question with my beloved who already lived in America at that time. My clue was the verse on the question:

“The works of an iron ox –

When the seal (of enlightenment [5] and of an idol) remains, the impression is ruined”. [6]

Cycling through northern Germany and the Netherlands my bike slowly took the shape of the “iron ox” in the Buddhist question. Sometimes nicely gliding, sometimes toiling during headwind, my iron ox did its work; we glided steadily with the road and the environment through the universe.

On the road I could usually stay with people during the night in exchange for stories or for some help on the farm. At resting place I tried to earn some money with magic, because during my bicycle trip I had no income from playing percussion with jazz ensembles. After some practice I could earn a national currency at each stop with two magic rope shows – which I had learned from a friend in Copenhagen; in Germany a D-mark and in a Netherlands guilder. During the first presentation a rope slid through my neck. A demonstration of this performance can be seen on the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=aSMZJ0w3DyM

During the second presentation, the rope glided unexpectedly through a ring. An example of this representation is shown on the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xx7UjeZYn4

When I performed both performances every day at five resting places, I earned enough money for daily meals for myself and another traveller with whom I shared the meal.

That summer and autumn in Amsterdam, I lived with and cared for old friends and former lovers with AIDS. In addition, I enjoyed the Dutch beaches and the beautiful clouds in Netherlands.

At the end of the autumn I cycled to Copenhagen with the wind in my back. The winter I spent in my attic room with the long nights in which the moon, the stars and the ghosts kept me company. I stuck to this rhythm of “heading to the south during summers” and “winters staying in Copenhagen” for several years; in later life I spent the winter in the south and passed the summer in the north.

Was this wintering on my attic room a penance for crimes committed as child soldier in a militia? Maybe, a year later I met a man who did penance for his deeds constantly.


[1] Source image: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cykeltyper . This photo is made in 2005 showing a cycle of a later date.

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

[3] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 125 – 130.

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Os_(rund). The oxen in Africa were not so well fed.

[5] According to Mahāyāna Buddhism, human enlightenment spreads a smell of vanity. Enlightenment only exists when all en everyone is enlightened.

[6] The first two lines of vers in the koan Fengxue’s “Iron Ox”. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 125 – 130.

Narrator – points to the snow


The first snow fell early in autumn; the days were still not very short. In that dark morning the crackling of snow under my shoes sounded muted in the Prästgatan wherein the Golden House of hopes and dreams was situated on the island Gamla Stan in Stockholm.

Prästgatan in Juni[1]

The white snow and cold absorbed all colours; the Moon and the starry sky merged with the snow and the full colours of last summer were gone. In the course of the morning the snow was smeared by everyday life. That evening a vague glow appeared in the light of lanterns.

Prästgatan in December[2]

My beloved came home that night from a visit to his sick mother in America. His return was the beginning of a big change in our lives. He wanted to live closer to his mother, because due to her illness she only had less than a years to live. During his stay in America my beloved visited various Buddhist communities; he had decided to enter a convent near the house of his parents. The contact with his father was still stiff by their mutual incomprehension about his evasion of military service during the Viet Nam war. Unbeknownst to my beloved, I wrote a letter to his father in which I made a comparison between the general pardon of president Carter in 1977 for evasion of military service during the Viet Nam war and the parable of the lost son [3] in the New Testament: Your son was lost and he is found [4] by the general pardon. After the next visit to his parents my beloved returned joyfully; his father had welcomed him with open arms.

That winter my beloved toiled on a Buddhist question in which a teacher points to the snow and asks: “Is there any that can go beyond this colour?”. Another teacher said: “At this point I had have pushed it over for him”.  A third teacher said: “He only knows how to push down, he does not know how to help up”. [5]

This question is about passing the Empty Gate and the state of enlightenment. Snow, cold and white in which the Moon merges are metaphors for enlightenment. The first teacher asked for any beyond this colour where this colour stands for the road after passing the Empty Gate or after enlightenment. The other teacher immediately removes the illusion of enlightenment and a road after passing the Empty Gate by amongst others to refer to the colourless colour and to the Bodhisattva ideal from Mahâyâna Buddhism in which a human who is on the verge of enlightenment – or even a living Buddha –forgoes out of compassion until everything and everyone is able to enter enlightenment or the state of a Buddha. My beloved could comprehend the statements of the first two teachers, but that winter he toiled on the third statement.

Just as many people I struggled with the short days in northern countries. Our last common Christmas and New Year’s evening we celebrated exuberantly with many friends and acquaintances. Fortunately, in January and February the days got longer.

That winter my beloved sold the country house in the Stockholm archipelago and the Golden House in the old town of Stockholm. For a short time we moved to a rented wooden house on the island of Södermalm where we had a beautiful view on the inner city of Stockholm. Here we lived our last two months together. My beloved studied and I played percussion in several jazz ensembles.

Asogatan_213_Stockholm[6]

At the beginning of the spring my beloved asked me what the meaning of “māyā” is in Sanskrit. I told him that in the distant antiquity “māyā” had the meaning of “art and wisdom” and later the meaning of “illusion”, “compassion, sympathy” and “one of the 24 small Buddhist sins” [7] were added. The name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama was Māyādevī wherein “devī ” as feminine form of “deva” [8] means among others “feminine goddess”. I also said that my father has taught me that “māyā” takes shape in the form of the general or cosmic consciousness and thus is directly connected with the all-encompassing Īśa, and in addition in the form of the individual or human consciousness and thus often has the meaning of illusion [9]. Both forms stem from and are included in the one reality.

After this explanation my beloved beamed. By the warmth of the sun glow the blossom buttons opened again. With the blossoms of spring my beloved moved to America permanently.

Bloesem Stockholm[10]

That summer, his mother past quietly. Four years later I received a sad message that my beloved had died from the mysterious disease that plagued our friends and acquaintances. In our correspondence he has never mentioned it. And always when the blossom …

In the society where I from, community means everything – you are who you know [11]. In Stockholm I was the friend of my beloved at best. Now I no longer really knew anybody, I was a nobody in Stockholm. At the end of the spring I terminated the rent of our beautiful wooden house and I moved to Copenhagen.


[1] Photo of the Prästgatan on the island Gamla Stan in the beginning of June. Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan

[2] Photo of the Prästgatan on the Island Gamla Stan in the beginning of December. Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan

[3] See the Gospel of Luke 15: 11-32 in the New Testament

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

[5] See also: http://zazen.rutgers.edu/talks/yangshanpointstosnow.html

[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_during_the_Age_of_Liberty

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

[8] The word Deva whereof Deus in Latin, Zeus in Greec and Dieu in French arose, is Sanskrit connected with the verb root “Div” meaning amongst others “to shinestralen, to play, to increase”.

[9] See also: Nikhilananda, Swami, The Upanishads – A new Translation, Volume I. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 2003, p. 57, 58

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kungstr%C3%A4dg%C3%A5rden

[11] See also: Reybrouck, David van, Congo – Een geschiedenis. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2012, p. 58

Man Leben – Oriental wisdom


Kann man leben in den Stand der Vollkommenheit?

Can you life in a state of perfection?

You continue the story of your life:

“In 1989 I left the monastery. At regular times I returned for guidance of groups and for consultation and advice on the state of affairs of the monastery and the convent. At that time I was 55 years old.

Driven by an inner need I studied Oriental wisdom. Initially I lived everywhere and nowhere. Occasionally I returned to the monastery for obligations and I lived with various friends and acquaintances. For more stability, Amsterdam seemed a good place to live. I found a modest room in the house of friends.

Between the activities I read many books on Buddhism, Taoism [1] and Hinduism.

[2]

Eventually I delved further in Mahāyāna Buddhism  [3] and the Upanishads  [4]. The consistency of contemplation, meditation and daily life kept me busy. How do they go together and how do they affect each other? At that time, my life seemed full concentration and attention. Later I read a metaphor for my way of life [5]. I lived in a crowd with a mug filled with water on my head. All attention was necessary in order to steer smoothly and naturally through a crowd without wasting a drop of water.

[6]

Every action, every thought, every impression was like a drop of water that falls in the water. The waves of the impact of the drop flow to the past, to the future and to everything around us. Nothing remains untouched.

[7]

In this study, I started reading the source texts. For a better understanding of the source texts, I began a study Sanskrit. In the beginning, I had difficulties remembering the characters of the Devanāgarī – literally meaning Divine city – alphabet  [8]. The sounds of the alphabet are very logical. In the overview below the alphabet is shown. The first three lines contain the basic vowels. The following five lines show the consonants – sounding hard, hard aspirated, soft, soft aspirated, nose aspirated. The penultimate line show the half vowels. And the last line shows the hisses and the uvula sound “ha”. The columns show the sounds made by the speaker from the inside out [9].

[10]

My whole life, I liked a sound order, but I loved the mavericks. In the Devanāgarī alphabet the half vowels – ya, ra, la, va – and the uvula sound – ha – are the mavericks. They have a special place in the alphabet and in the meaning of words.

The letter “ya” means in Sanskrit “joining, going, wind, attaining, meditation”. The letter “ra” means “to go, to give/affect, to roll”. The letter “la” means “of Indra”. Indra is the God of the heaven and also the God of war, storm and rain. In Buddhism Indra is often called by his other name Śakra  [11]  that literally means “able to create”. The letter “va” we have previously met; this letter means “wind, ocean, water, stream, going”. The uvula sound “ha” means “water, blood, meditation, heaven, paradise, dying, wisdom, war”.

These mavericks resembled my life around 1990. I did not need much, because my indwelling was cared for by the monastery and by friends. The few things that I needed, came from guiding groups and from organizing and guiding rebuilding of monasteries and later of houses of friends and acquaintances.

In 1993 my aunt and godmother died in short time. In that year I also visited Auschwitz”, you say.

The next post is about on your visit to Auschwitz.


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

[2] White Cloud Monastry bij Beijing. Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Baiyun.jpg

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

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

[5] Source: Wick, Gerry Shishin, The Book of Equanimity – Illuminating Classic Zen Koans. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005 p. 136.

[6] Amitābha Buddha statue from Borobodur, Indonesia. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seated_Buddha_Amitabha_statue.jpg

[7] Impact of a drop of water, a common analogy for Brahman and the Ātman. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wassertropfen.jpg

[8] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanskriet

[9] See also: http://www.arsfloreat.nl/sanskriet-alfabet.html

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

[11] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Aakra_(Buddhism)

Introduction: Five realities and five skandha’s


In the previous post your Narrator has given an introduction about the consistency between religion and science. In this post your Narrator will explore the question whether the five skandhas include everything that we may need for our spiritual development.

During the following stages on their Odyssey the two main characters will continue with their quest for who we are, where we come from and where we shall go to. First we will visit the five common realities:

o   Facts and logic – scientific reflection and consciousness

o   Intensities and associations – intuitive reflection and consciousness

o   Emptiness – mode of consciousness

o   Change – mode of consciousness

o   interconnectedness – mode of consciousness

How do these five realities relate to the five skandha’s from the Mahâyâna Buddhism and with the emptiness of these skandhas according to the Heart Sutra [1]?

The answer to the second question is easy at this moment: the two main characters will look for the answer at the third stage at the reality – Emptiness.

The answer to the first question is also quite simple. The five realities include the five skandhas whereby the five realities better reflect the contemporary consciousness.

The fifth and final skandha – consciousness – constitutes the other four skandha’s and at the same time is derives from these four skandhas [2]. Consciousness underlies the five realities and consciousness is formed by the five realities. As far as your Narrator is aware, there is no difference between the fifth skandha – including emptiness – and the five realities.

The first skandha – form – in contemporary form, coincides with the five realities, because form takes shape by facts and logic (or lack of it), by intensities and associations for the experience of form, by change because everything changes and by interconnectedness because a form exists in relation to other forms.

The second skandha – feelings and sensation – coincides with the second reality for the experience, with the fourth reality for the change of feelings and with the fifth reality for the experience of feelings within and by a society.

The third skandha – perception, recognition or distinction – coincides with the first reality as far as its nature of  facts and things, with the second reality insofar as the distinction of intensities and associations concerned, with the fourth reality for the change of distinction and recognition, and with the fifth reality for the distinction and recognition relative to other things, facts, entities, living beings and events.

The fourth skandha – mental impressions, impulses, imprinting – is reflected in a similar way as the third skandha in the first, second, fourth and fifth reality

As far as your Narrator is aware, the five skandhas – including the emptiness – coincide with the five realities which the main characters will visit.

At the end of the Odyssey, the two main characters may in retrospect perhaps conclude whether the five skandhas provide everything that is needed for our spiritual development.

The following post will be available within a few weeks. One of the main characters is still recovering from the efforts and the other main character has made the first part of the report on “One”, “Two” and “Three”; this report is almost ready to be published. The version in the English language is not ready yet. In about four weeks the main characters will resume their Odyssey.

   [3]


[1] See several translations of the Heart Sutra, e.g. by Red Pine (Bill Porter), Edward Conze, Donald S. Lopez Jr.

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

[3] Source image: http://www.gralon.net/articles/art-et-culture/litterature/article-l-odyssee—resume-et-episodes-mythologiques-1415.htm

Introduction: Five realities: a day without yesterday – a day without tomorrow?


In the previous post your Narrator has said that according to Buddhism, the five skandha’s provide everything what we need for our spiritual development [1]. The Heart Sutra [2] – one of the later Sutras in the Mahâyâna Buddhism – says that the skandha’s are empty. Are these statements correct?

Why don’t the two main characters examine these claims immediately? The explanation is very simple. The description of the first skandha “form or matter” over 2000 years ago – by the four elements earth, water, air and fire – is not compatible anymore with the contemporary perception of science. The refutation of the claim that the five skandha’s give everything what is needed for our spiritual development, is easily possible on the basis of the contemporary perception of science, because the description of the first skandha by the four elements earth, water, air and fire is completely obsolete. If we assume a universal description of the skandha’s – which adapt itself to the circumstances, then the refutation is less easy, because in this case the first skandha includes a large part of the natural sciences. In our contemporary society the spiritual and (natural) scientific reality are separated. Is this separation of religion and science justified?

The Belgian priest, astronomer and physicist Georges Lemaître [3] is the founder of the theory of the big bang and the expanding universe. He has also made a contribution to general relativity. He has developed the theory of the expanding universe on the basis of the premise that the observation of the red shift of light emitted from the celestial bodies is the result of the Doppler effect [4] by the expanding of these celestial bodies. In 1927 Einstein said to Lemaître: “Your calculations are correct, but your grasp of physics is abominable”. In 1933, Einstein has frankly admitted the incorrectness of his remark [5].

 [6]

During his lifetime, Georges Lemaître – also as a member and later President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences – has made a plea for a separation between religion and science. Has he maintained this distinction to avoid a mixing between inequivalent doctrines emerged from the (natural) science and the Catholic Church with its history of Scholasticism and the Roman Empire on the other? Or wishes he to maintain this distinction to avoid downsizing the “Mysterium magnum est, quod nos procul dubio transcendit” [7] – part of his priesthood? Your Narrator does not know the answer.

Possible George Lemaître does not wish to transcend the basic doctrine of the Catholic faith. The basic doctrine states that first there is a creation, then there is a life on Earth. After life on Earth there is an afterlife: for the elect a happy afterlife and for the damned follows repudiation [8]. The theory of the big bang is completely in line with this basic doctrine. Previous to the big bang, there is nothing: there is no day prior to the big bang or there is “no day before this first yesterday”. Is this assumption correct? Your Narrator does not know the answer, but he is aware of discussion on this topic.

 [9]

Has Indra’s net – the other metaphor that our two main characters have encountered on their Odyssee for “Mysterium magnum est, quod nos procul dubio transcendit”  – any difficulty with “the day before yesterday” or the time previous to the big bang? Your Narrator thinks that Indra’s net will respond to this issue in the Swahili with: “Hakuna matata [10]“. Your Narrator expects that Indra’s net will manifest “the day before yesterday” perfectly when the circumstances may arise. Your Narrator also expects that Indra’s net will reflect the distinction between the spiritual and (natural) scientific perfectly when the conditions for this are present. Indra’s net will let this distinction easily evaporate again or transcends it when conditions require.

The following message continues on the question whether the five skandha’s give everything that we need for our spiritual development.


[1] Source: Red Pine (Bill Porter), The Heart Sutra. Washington D.C.: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004 p. 56

[2] See: several translation of the Heart Sutra, e.g. by Red Pine (Bill Porter), Edward Conze, Donald S. Lopez Jr.

[3] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lema%C3%AEtre

[4] The Doppler effect is immediately noticed when a car drives past: the pitch of the sound is higher when the car is approaching and lower when the car drives away. The red shift in the light of the celestial bodies suggest that celestial bodies move away from our position.

[5] Source: Midbon, Mark, A Day Without Yesterday: Georges Lemaitre & the Big  Bang. Zie: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/science/sc0022.html

[6] Source image: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/1998/38

[7] From the Encyclical of Pope Johannes Paulus II on the Eucharist (Rome, 2003); see also the post “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – The Word” of 11th of Juni 2011.

[8] Source: Credo. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geloofsbelijdenis_van_Nicea-Constantinopel

[9] Source image: http://liaturches.blogspot.com/

[10] Literal meaning in Swahili: “No problem”.