Tag Archives: Mausoleum

Five common realities – facts and logic 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

feiten en logica 41.jpg[3]

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

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

Carla, Man and Narrator visit the Cappelle Medicee.

feiten en logica 42.png[9]

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

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

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

feiten en logica 43[10]

feiten en logica 44[11]

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

feiten en logica 45[12]

“Please do”, says Man.

“During dinner?”, says Narrator.

“That’s fine”, says Carla.

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

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

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

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

[5] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Man is not alone – A Philosophy of Religion. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Joshua_Heschel. In “The Long Discourses of the Buddha. Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications, 1995 p. 38-39”, 32 abodes are mentioned for sentient beings; including 22 abodes for Gods. Are Gods also “children of riches” within this frame of mind?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Meditation rooms

In previous posts, you and I have visited several houses of God. With churches as “object in the middle” the faithful express a mutual trust between people and God. This confidence is continuously and periodically confirmed through rituals. Besides, the churches often create a bond between people mutual, but sometimes churches cause rejections. Churches are trying to be a timeless reference point from which the environment – air/heaven and earth separately and in combination – is experienced. The churches also provide hope for a transcendence of human life through a resurrection in an afterlife. We will visit all the churches that we encounter on our Odyssey.

We also encounter “objects in the middle” which give room for meditation. These special areas create the possibility for transcending the human scale and/or experiencing a complete oneness. Specific parts of the natural landscape have been used for this purpose for centuries. During our Odyssey we have seen stone circles, caves and stones in the landscape.

Probably with the occupation of homesteads people have created rooms for meditation that resemble their homesteads. Initially, the rooms for meditation are mainly located in or near their residences. Over time these rooms become major sacred places for worship and/or houses of God. Some of these places have been transferred in worldly contemplation places that we now encounter as museums and art galleries. During our Odyssey we visit almost all museums, but we cannot report on these visits.

Let us visit two special rooms for meditation. This first room – the Mark Rothko [1] chapel in Houston from 1967 – is building for religion and for art. The exterior is a monolithic octagon with a small entrance. At first glance it looks like a mausoleum.


We enter the chapel. The interior radiates serenity – as monolithic as the exterior. The light comes from above. Internally I sing the first chorus of Cantata 131 by Johann Sebastian Bach:

”Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr[3], zu dir.
Herr, höre meine Stimme, lass deine Ohren merken auf die Stimme meines Flehens!“


The windows to the outside consist of paintings by Mark Rothko from 1964 – 1967, shortly before his death.


The paintings render all impressions of the World. It seems that he tries to imprint on the panels – in translucent blue/black ink – every word ever written and spoken.” You say.

“That’s right. All glass beads of “Indra’s Net” [6] are included in the paint of the panels, the colours are so dense.” I say.

The sun breaks through. The blood of the earth lights in a purple red glow on the triptych.


We sit next to a meditating – Zen? – Buddhist. When the Buddhist stands up, we go outside.

Outside you say: “I once read: “A man asks a female Buddhist hermit in contemporary China to calligraphy the essence of Buddhist practise on paper. She puts the paper aside. A few months later, he receives four words by post: goodwill, compassion, joy and detachment. Her calligraphy is strong and clear as her mind.[8] Are these four words applicable to the chapel?”

“Yes.” I say.

“I have hesitated on joy, until the sun broke through.” You say.

In the next post we will watch the last part of the movie “Offret” – or “The Sacrifice” by Andrei Tarkovsky from 1986.

[1] For further information on Mark Rothko: Hughes, Robert, The Shock of the New – Art and the Century of Change; and Arnason, H.H., A History of Modern Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979, pages 533 – 534

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Rothko_chapel.jpg

[3] Maybe the German word “Herr” is linked to the verb root “hṛ” meaning “offer, present” and “seize, take away” in Sanskrit. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta. Both meanings of the verb root “hr” express the two roles of the warrior caste within the cattle-cycle: they rob the cattle and give a part of the cattle to the priests for offers to the Gods. A lord has also two roles: offering protection and taking a part of the harvest. Probably the role of Lord coincides with the role of God. In the experiences of many nationals the king and God are closely interwoven.

[4] Translation: “From the deep, Lord [3], I cry to you. Lord, hear my voice, let your ears hear the voice of my doubt!” In German the word “Flehens” means supplication. Here this word is translated with doubt, because doubt is the origin of nearly all supplication to God. See also the book Job from the Old testament.

[5] Source image: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703445904576118063020357484.html

[6] For further information on “Indra’s net”: the post “Introduction: one – Pantheïsm – Indra’s net” of 8th of April 2011.

[7] Source image: http://hayleygilchrist.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/contextual-studies/

[8] Source: Porter, Bill, Road to Heaven – Encounters with Chinese Hermits. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1993. page 109

[9] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:In_the_Tower_-_Mark_Rothko.JPG