Tag Archives: Moon

Review: Taoteching by Lao Tzu (translation by Red Pine)


Lao-tzu's TaotechingLao-tzu’s Taoteching by Lao Tzu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This translation by Red Pine – Bill Porter – of the Tao Te Ching in 2009 is among the best available.
It is a revised version of the edition published in 1996.

Both versions start with:

The way that becomes a way
Is not the immortal Way

A footnote states that Tao originally meant “Moon”. This may well be the Moon as pointer to the All-encompassing One, wherein this Moon and pointer are fully encompassed as waves in the ocean.

Also highly recommended are the translations by:
– Ellen M. Chen – with different interpretations for several verses
– Jonathan Star – also including an interpretation per Chinese character

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Review: One Robe, One Bowl – The Zen Poetry of Ryokan, translated and introduced by John Stevens


One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of RyokanOne Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan by John Stevens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This translation and introduction by John Stevens is highly recommended for its beauty. It is also a marvellous introduction to the way of living of the Japanese hermit-monk Ryokan

One example: after returning to his small hut – metaphor for clinging to his earthly ego? – Ryokan noticed that all was gone, he composed the haiku:

The thief left behind
the moon
At the window.

Another translation of this haiku:

The thief leaves behind,
the ever changeful Moon
at the firmament

Moon is often used to refer to Tao; it also indicates the firm belief of Ryokan.

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Final word in biography of Narrator


Narrator told me the story of his life told in several parts. In his narratives facts, fiction and faction are intertwined, as in everyday life the separation of the air and earth is artificial [1].

During the narration of the prelude to his life I understood that Narrator’s stories are focused on an universal truth that precedes and goes beyond our existence. This truth is based upon a rhythm wherefrom we originate. This rhythm is rolling through his life in various interwoven cycles.

The first cycle in his life story consists of the four incarnations that Narrator mentioned as interpretation for his life. These four incarnations in the life of the Narrator reminded me of the four seasons [2]. The second cycle in Narrator’s life is the rhythm of vanity, action and consequences [3]. The third cycle is the Northern cycle in which Narrator is incentive and spiritual charioteer for enlightenment and home coming of his American beloved. The fourth cycle is the rhythm of trust and betrayal in Narrator’s life together with Raven and Fox in the mirror world inhabited by the secret services of many countries [4]. And always the cycle of the Moon and the starry sky is the steadfast mate in Narrator’s life. I leave the search for the other cycles in the life of the Narrator to the reader.

It is an honour and a joy to be with Narrator and Carla Drift on the search of “Who are you”. On this Odyssey, Narrator is my beacon and spiritual charioteer, for example at my study Sanskrit – the language of the Gods in the world of men –, when studying Buddhist texts and when reading the works of Rumi.

[1] See also: Quammen, David, Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012, p. 219 – 234. In this popular scientific book a study is made on the interaction and life game – sometimes with far fetching consequences – between higher and lower organisms. During this interaction and life game the division between earth and air is artificial; for example in the description of Q-fever that moved by the wind in Noord Brabant in the Netherlands.

spillover[2] See also: The film “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring” directed by: Kim Ki-Duk. This film gives possibly an interpretation to the crimes by Narrator as child soldier in Africa. The youngster in the film committed several crimes as child in naivety, and as adolescent in a zest for life whereby he must endure the consequences during the rest of his life.

Spring[3] See also: The film “Why has Bodhi-Dharma left to the East?” by: Bae Yong-Kyun. This film provides insight into this cycle of vanity, action and consequences, perhaps because a boy inflicts – in an idle urge – a fatal wound to one bird of bird couple. In vain the boy tries to keep the bird alive. The living bird of the couple continues to haunt the boy and gives him a first insight in the fleeting nature of life and death, interconnectedness, passions, sin and fear.

why-did-bodhi-dharma-leave-for-the-east[4] See also: Le Carré, John,  The Quest for Karla. New York: Knopf, 1982; and see also: Deighton, Len, The Bernie Samson series. published between 1983 and 1996.

The manuscript for the biography of Narrator is available for download at:

http://www.omnia-amsterdam.int/site-page/manuscripts

Narrator – On foot through France 3


Via the GR 5 in France I walked from the Jura to the Vosges. This area was more populated and I found less easily a place to sleep. On a rainy evening at twilight I was only welcome when I paid for my overnight stay. My stories and my kindness were not enough. I had no more money and after a few kilometres walk I found a place to sleep in the open air. Covered in plastic I spent the night vigilant. The next morning I was clammy and benumbed. After an hour walk I was warm again.

In the Vosges there were sufficient opportunities to spent the night in the wild. It was beautiful weather. At night the moon and the starry sky gave me comfort. During the day I enjoyed the beautiful view. At a few places I could almost oversee my whole way from the snowy Alps.

[1]

During my walk on the mountain peaks of the Vosges I met new ghosts. A century ago this chain of peaks formed the border between Alsace in Germany and Lorraine in France. The road – Route des Crêtes – was built by the French army during the First World War [2]. The road is situated on the French side of the chain, so the road was less vulnerable for the German guns. The ghosts of the victims during these many wars between France and Germany accompanied me to the Luxembourg border. On this part they were my companions. I promised that my breath would be their breath as long as I lived just as my breath was already the breath of the villagers. Once I hoped to arrive home together with them all.

[3]

The path on the mountain peaks was congested; I got help and support of many people. In the valleys I felt less at home. By cover in the valleys I could not see the road; I felt trapped. I wanted to keep an eye on the road. Without sight on the heaven and earth, the ghosts of the villagers and of the fallen soldiers came before my eyes [4]. Only much later could I could unite heaven and earth; afterwards I had no more difficulty to fall asleep anywhere – even within walls and in valleys.

[5]

With a companion in the North of France I made a small detour to the Maginot line [6]. We saw the remnants at Michelsberg [7] and Hackenberg [8]. We were surprised how a society could feel safe and sheltered behind this dark burrows in the ground filled with terror for the society on the other side. With my eyes on the road, unity had many faces, and two had no duality. The Maginot line – as part of the many wars between France and Germany – fell beyond my comprehension.

[9]

At Schengen I illegally entered the other world of Luxembourg. Later the treaty for free movement of people in a part of Europe was agreed upon at this place. After such a huge detour with so much suffering and madness of everyday life, unity could finally be restored. It remains curious that a Treaty on paper is needed for a unit that is for my mother as natural as breathing, moving eyes, hands, and moving legs for walking; unity with many faces and two without duality.

[10]

Much later – on the 12th of October 2012 – the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union, because the European Union and its predecessors had contributed to peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe for more than sixty years. So much effort for a contribution that is as natural as breathing.

In Luxembourg, I entered a fairy-tale troll country.


[1] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Col_du_Grand_Ballon.jpg

[2] Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Route_des_Cr%C3%AAtes

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rothenbachkopf_nord.jpg

[4] See also: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 70.

[5] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Vosges_val_munster.jpg

[6] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maginotlinie

[7] See also: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_du_Michelsberg

[8] See also: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_du_Hackenberg

[9] Source image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Ouvrage_du_Michelsberg

[10] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_(Luxemburg)

Narrator – On foot through France 2


On my hike through France, I met many people. I stood out by my dark skin; there were no other Maasai/Indian walkers on our way. In the Jura, people were dismissive at first sight: I was strange, unknown and obscure. But almost all fellow walkers thawed by my smile and with a friendly greeting in the French language. The farmers were more suspicious. This is understandable because they had to defend their homes against a dark unknown stranger.

[1]

Eventually I met much hospitality on the road. With two fellow travellers I walked several days to the North. We saw several cairns as guardians along our path. At one cairn we decided to have our lunch. One of my companions wondered how many people had placed stones here. The other asked where the people were now. I replied: “In any case we are here”. Then we had to laugh. While I drank water, I was wondering where all the sages of the past remained. Suddenly I felt clearly that we were directly connected with the people who had piled stones here and with all sages from the past [2]. We lived our life directly in the footsteps of the others.

[3]

The next night I dreamed the dream that I regularly dreamed after the fire in the forest during the night where my fellow militia members and I had massacred a village. In this dream the flames came toward me together with the ghosts of the villagers. They started to engulf me. My skin was already blackened by the flames and I began to lose myself in the ghosts of the villagers.

[4]

At the moment they were threatening to devour me, I awoke; I was all sweaty and I breathed heavily. When I opened my eyes, I saw the Moon and the starry sky as reassurance. The night sky slowly brought me back to life as in the Maasai myth the god Engaï brought the Moon to life each night [5].

[6]

The night after the cairn, that dream proceeded in the same way, but the moment I woke up terrified, the sky was completely cloudy. The moon and the stars could not offer me any consolation. Everything was pitch dark and I heard only a quick loud painful breathing; my chest moved violently. Terrified I asked myself: “What breath is there? [7]”. First I thought that the breath of the ghosts of the villagers had come back to life inside me. Therefor I dared not stop panting because, I was afraid that my breath would be carried away with the spirits when they disappeared in the dark.

Slowly my breath calmed down and I came to rest. In the darkness I promised the dead villagers that from now on my breath was their breath. I promised that my breath – as long as I lived – would be a temporal home for them. Once I hoped to arrive home together with them. After this, the dream returned less often.

I was on my way to Amsterdam – my new home for the time being.


[1] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Maison_typique_du_Jura_2.jpg

[2] See also koan “Attendant Huo passes tea” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 60 – 62

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

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

[5] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_sterrennacht

[7] This is the last question in the koan “Yunmen’s two sicknesses”. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 46 – 50. See also: Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan, The hazy moon of enlightenment. Somersville: Wisdom Publications, 2007 p. 21 – 27

Narrator – Away from Rome


In Rome I had recovered the heaven on earth from my childhood. That autumn and winter I was totally absorbed in this city. However, the following spring I left this heaven on earth. Looking back on my life, it would have been better if I had stayed in Rome.

Much later in books I read an explanation for my departure: “When the light doesn’t  penetrate completely, there are two kinds of sickness. One sickness is when not everything is clear and there is still something in front of you to achieve. The second sickness is when you live in heaven and your clinging to heaven is not forgotten. Even completely in heaven, the question remains: “What breath is there?” – this too is sickness [1]”.

Although I was perfectly happy in Rome, I still suffered on both forms of sickness. I imagined myself in heaven, but my existence was still not clear. Also the command of my mother to start a new life in the city of Amsterdam was looming in my heart. And my craving for happiness subsisted in Rome. The healing of the sickness caused by the question “What breath is there?” began during our Odyssey “Who are you”.

[2]

In early spring, I gave substance to the command of my mother to start a new life in the city of Amsterdam where men may love men. I left my heaven on earth.

I started my foot trip from Rome to Amsterdam with a small backpack and some money for food. In Italy, I visited the cities of Siena [3] and Florence [4] where I enjoyed the museums and the beautiful buildings. In both cities, I stayed a short time with lovers; my exotic appearance wafted through these cities. After more than two months walking, I reached Northern Italy. Here I left behind the golden glow of my half year in Italy.

At my arrival in Aosta, the weather was inclement and the mountains were threatening in the distance. I could find no place to sleep. I watched the whole night under a cloudy sky with lots of rain.

[5]

The next day the weather brightened and I dried myself in the sun. I walked through the Aosta Valley via Courmayeur [6] to the entrance of the Mont Blanc tunnel. For the first time I saw a white snowy mountain range. I had never seen such a wonderful bright world. This enchanting world was the antitype of my origin and my existence until now.

[7]

By truck I was smuggled via the Mont Blanc tunnel to France; this caused no problems. I dared not to cross the border with my travel documents, because my visa was only valid for the Netherlands.

In Chamonix just over the French border, the tops of the mountains looked like the teeth of a monster. This was not my world. With the train I left the Valley of Chamonix.

[8]

In France I followed the GR 5 hiking trail to the North.


[1] This is a shortened and very free rendering of the koan: “Yunmen’s two sicknesses”. See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 46 – 50. See also: Maezumi, Hakuyu Taizan, The hazy moon of enlightenment. Somersville: Wisdom Publications, 2007 p. 21 – 27

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rome_(stad)

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

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

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aosta

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

[7] Source image: Photo by Matthieu Riegler via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mont_Blanc_depuis_Valmorel.jpg

[8] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chamonix-Mont-Blanc

Narrator – away from home


Like my father, I travelled from my mother country to another continent to have a better life. I didn’t want to wander around Europe but I decided to live in Amsterdam – a city where men may love men. Finally this intention worked out exactly reversed.

Via the parents of Arjen – named Arjuna by me – I received documents and a visa for the Netherlands. I left my name Kṛṣṇa behind in Kenya. In this way I hoped to leave behind the dark pages in my life in which I lived with the hungry ghosts in hell. This was not successful: in my dreams and in my stories these pages returned for a long time.

[1]

In my passport I have listed as first name Narrator [2]; like my father I wished to have the role of storyteller in life’s story for the audience. As a tribute to my father, I provided the surname Nārāyana [3].

At the end of the school year I resigned as indwelling teacher at the school. I said goodbye to Arjen and his parents and I thanked them for all the help. One of the teachers at school introduced me to a driver who regularly travelled via Nakuru and Lodwar to Jūbā in South Sudan. The driver made contact with a colleague who drove to Khartoum – the capital of Sudan [4]. In Khartoum I could travel to Wadi Halfa, just before the border with Egypt.

My experience and instinct as a soldier were helpful at a roadblock. With yet another bend to go, the driver noticed a checkpoint in the distance just before a town. The driver could not justify my presence. In the bend I could slip out of the truck. Via a detour through the scrub I entered the town. There I met the driver again to continue our travel.

At Wadi Halfa I could start as indwelling servant on a tourist boat on Lake Victoria. This boat travelled to the North. At Abu Simbil I visited the Temple of Ramses II. Here I saw images of rulers from lost times who were venerated as idols in their hubris. On my trip along the Nile I noticed more forms of pride – as dust particles in the universe. At school I learned the first commandment according to the Catholic format from the sisters: “Thou shalt not worship idols, but worship only Me and above all love me”. This “Me” always remained for me the starry Night and the Moon. These images of idols were no match for the sight of the night sky at new moon.

[5]

In Egypt I travelled the Nile with different boats. On the way I saw several pyramids at a distance – for me pointers to the starry Night and the Moon.

[6]

I could pass the Nile delta by boat to Alexandria. In the library of Alexandria, I read all the stories of Scheherazade – the narrator of the stories from “Thousand and one Night”. Every night she came back to life like the Moon was brought to life by the God Engaï [7] in the Maasai myth.

From Alexandria I left Africa. As my father never returned to India, I never came back in Africa. My mother was not able to come to Amsterdam, because she could not leave her herd. I dared not to ask my father, because I was afraid that he would never go back to my mother: I could not inflict that on her.


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hel_(mythologie)

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrator

[3] Nārāyana means in Sanskrit: “”Son of the original man”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[4] In Sanskrit “Su” means amongst others “supreme, good, excellent, beautiful, easy” and “Dān” means “to be, making straight.

[5] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aboe_Simbel

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

[7] According to a Maasai myth the God Engaï gives cattle to the people and he brings people to life after their death and each day he lets the Moon die. After a sin wherein an opponent was desired death, Engaï lets people die and each night he brought the Moon to life. Source:  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masa%C3%AF_(volk)