Tag Archives: mosque

Narrator – εἰς τὴν Πόλιν on the way to “this”


My third incarnation as Bhikṣu or – in the words of everyday life – as wanderer who followed the annual trek of the birds, ended in Istanbul. In this former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire [1] I became part of the “polis” [2] – not only part of the City State with a public secular politics, but at home in the universal community of environment and people

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[3]

My Acropolis was not a temple where in the past the Greeks gave a house [4] to their Gods with all the splendour and exceptional beauty. Although I was at home everywhere, I found no lasting home in a church, mosque or temple.

Akropolis[5]

Between the many churches and mosques of Istanbul I experienced my body and “polis” – in the form of the universal living environment – as the temple of God [6].

Blauwe moskee[7]

In the poem “This we have now” by Rumi I read a reflection of my world in Istanbul:

This

That we are now

Created the body, cell by cell,

Like bees building a honeycomb.

The human body and the univers

Grow from This [8]

During my first three incarnations – first as Kṛṣṇa in Kenya, then as idol in Amsterdam and several Northern cities, and thereafter as Bhikṣu who followed the annual trek of the birds between South and North Europe – I had only seen reflections of “This” within my own living environment.

In my fourth incarnation I wanted to leave the protection of the cave [9] – in which I found shelter until now – with only reflections of the all-encompassing “This” as Plato described in his Politeia [10].

Grot[11]

Slowly at the beginning of my new incarnation I became perfectly included in the universe. In the libraries of Istanbul I read translations of the works of Rumi. Along with his poems I swirlingly began a new existence.

With the new spring – at the invitation of Carla Drift – Man Leben arrived in Istanbul. Carla, Man and I decided to start “Who are you – a survey into our existence”. Before we entered everyday life on this quest, we wrote each other’s biographies.


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

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

[3] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corne_d%27Or

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

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

[6] See also: The first letter to the Corinthians 12 – 20

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Istanbul

[8] Part of the English version of the poem “This we have now” by Rumi. See also: Barks, Coleman, The Essential Rumi. New York: Castle Books, 1997, p. 262

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

[10] In English the Politeia is often translated with “State” or “Republic”. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staat_(Plato)

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

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Narrator – on the way


During my first wintering in South Spain I didn’t need much. My camping equipment was sufficient for my stay at a winter camping in Malaga near the Mediterranean Sea. In the spring I woke up from my winter stay. First I hiked to Granada and then to Cordoba.

In Moorish times around 1000 AD, Cordoba was one of the largest cities in the world with at least half a million inhabitants. At that time Cordoba had the largest library in the world with over 400,000 books and in addition the Mezquita (Mosque) was built with more than 1000 marble columns. In the Catholic times the middle part of the mosque with associated columns was removed to make room for a Cathedral [1].

Mezquita[2]

In the Cordoba mosque with the Cathedral inside, I thought of a Buddhist question from the book received as farewell gift from my late American beloved:

 “The ancient  Buddha’s are merged with the open pillars – what level of activity is this?” When everyone remained speechless, the master himself said for them: “On the South Mountain rising clouds, on the North Mountain falling rain”. [3]

Upon my departure from Copenhagen I left the book behind in the University Library, because this collection of questions did not fit in my backpack. Before I handed the book to the librarian, I read the Buddhist question:

 “When the fire at the end of time rages through and everything is destroyed, is this destroyed or not?”  One master answered: “Destroyed, because it goes along with this”. Another master answered: “Not destroyed, because it is the same as this”. [4]

Apocalypse[5]

During my first wintering in South Spain, I retired. After my life as idol in Amsterdam and my years with my beloved in Sweden and Norway, I had received my income from playing in jazz ensembles and due to my limited share in the work of Raven. In Cordoba my savings were depleted. I had fled from the world of secret services after my safety net was gone with the death of Raven, and in Southern Spain there were no jazz ensembles that were waiting for a percussionist without congas.

A part of my income I got by magic and with telling of stories. The other part of my earnings came from alms. Quite young I was depending on a simple form of pension through a pay-as-you-go system that was in use for many centuries in several parts of Asia. When the role of men or women in a household was finished, they moved to another area where the local people provided them with food during their daily round for alms. The rest of the day they spent on the spiritual life of themselves or the whole universe. The men were called Bhikṣu and the women Bhikṣuṇī; the vulgar Dutch word “bikkesement” for “food” is probably related to this way of begging [6].

Bhikshu[7]

In addition to my night watch for the spirits of the deceased villagers, I started a day watch for the whole universe after my first wintering in South Spain. I began walking in the footsteps of my late American beloved. In the libraries of the large cities in Europe I studied the Holy Scriptures. For access to several books on South Asia, I visited the University Library in Heidelberg.

Heidelberg[8]

In Heidelberg, Raven had studied Philosophy and Linguistics before World War II. In this city I felt the nearness of this beloved who did penance for his actions constantly and who was always on guard for the unveiling of his loyalty and betrayal.

Raaf[9]

After my visit to Heidelberg, I held my nightly and daily vigils for him too.


[1] Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C%C3%B3rdoba,_Andalusia and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Mosque_of_C%C3%B3rdoba

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosque%E2%80%93Cathedral_of_C%C3%B3rdoba

[3] See the koan “Yunmen’s Pillars” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 137 – 139

[4] Free rendering of the koan Dasui’s “Aeonic Fire” in: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 131 – 136

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

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

[7] Source image: http://jv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhiksu

[8] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universit%C3%A4tsbibliothek_Heidelberg

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

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Church 2


In our search for the church [1] as “object in the middle” we make a trip of 5 miles. You and I begin in the – more than one thousand years old – Aachen Cathedral in Germany and continue in time through the village church in Wahlwiller in the Netherlands to the newly built church in the abbey Benedictusberg in Mamelis near Lemiers. At the same time this trip leads us back in time from the contemporary city of Aachen, by the village community of 50 years past to the monastic life of many centuries ago.

On this trip we travel through time as the main characters in the book “The once and future King” by Terence White. Kay and The Wart move forward in time and Merlin returns in time.” You say.

“If Merlin would follow our Odyssey back in time, than he has to accomplish an impossible task in the transition from Two to One. He must group an infinite number of fragments together to restore the complete oneness. Maybe Merlin has a chance.” I say.

“That’s impossible. A fractures bowl is beyond repair. I do not know what we may expect on our Odyssey. The transition to Zero is an impossible change in its own. Let’s first see the Cathedral.” You say.

We look at the light in the dome. As I look at the arches, I realize that Charlemagne fought violently with the Moors. But in this house of God that emerged from the palace church of Charlemagne, the shape and the colour of the arches are very similar to the arches in the mosque in Cordoba.

We look at the altar. A group of Germans enters behind us and starts to sing:

“Plorate, Filii Israel. Plorate, omnes Virgines, et Filiam Jephte unigenitiam in Carmine doloris lamentamini.[2][3][4]  

“Jephte makes a terrible sacrifice for his victory. His daughter keeps him to his promise to God by which she completely accepts her own fate.” You say.

“In that time, women keep men in their promises [5]. Will Jephte and his daughter rise from the death by following the promise to God by which they accept their doom? ” I ask.

“I do not know. Let us hope so. I hope that all people will resurrect who accept their fate. The light in the church gives hope.” You say.

The sun breaks through. The light in the dome shines around the altar and creates a golden glow. The cathedral shows itself in its full glory. “The light gives hope.” I say.

[6]

We continue our trip to Wahwiller by the road past the University Hospital, the Hochschule for Technology and the border post at Vaals. After a few kilometres, we see on our right side the Abbey Benedictusberg, our third destination today. A few moments later we leave the main road and enter the village Wahlwiller. We have come to admire the paintings by Aad de Haas [7] in the St. Cunibertus Church. The colours inside and the Stations of the Cross in this church are exceptional. In 1947 the paintings are far too daring for the Catholic Church. After more than thirty years, the paintings of the Stations of the Cross did return in church again.

[8]

We enter the church and again a golden glow. “People show the light of their surroundings. The main altar in the Storkyrkan on Gamla Stan in Stockholm consists of silver on dark ebony. This renders the bright spring light in the Nordic countries.” You say.

[9]

“In South Limburg the light is much softer, therefore this golden glow. The fifteenth station representing the resurrection – in addition to the traditional 14 Stations of the Cross – is beautiful. This painting should actually be directed towards the East and be positioned behind the altar. ” I say.

[10][11]

“The image of the Easter resurrection matches text: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.”[12]. Considering the resurrection, I also think about a resurrection from a tabernacle. Probably a tabernacle is mainly empty to give room for the resurrection. Above the Ark the area for Yahweh is also empty.” You say.

“Heaven and earth surpassing; only in the void, the sun rays may shine so beautifully in this church.” I say.

We return in the direction of Lemiers. At the beginning of the driveway to the abbey Benedictusberg, you read that we may join the prayer services. First we examine the photographs of the abbey church [13].

“It looks like the inside of a sanctuary. This absolute beauty of dimensions and the layout of space does not need any further images.” You say.

“Very contemporary and also completely timeless. Modern and also the very first church. It seems like time has no grip on this area. What a beautiful light from above.” I say.

[14]

“Let’s attend the Vespers [15].” You say.

“Very well.” I say.

The following post continues on meditation centers as “object in the middle”.


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

[2] Source: Oratorio by Carissimi, Giacomo (1605-1674), Jephte

[3] “Weep, Children of Israel. Weep, all young women, for the only daughter of Jephte weep with mournful songs.”

[4] See also: Old Testament, Judges chapter 11.

[5] See also: McGrath, Kevin, STRῙ women in Epic Mahâbhârata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009

[6] Source image: http://www.elfduizend.nl/reizen-Aken.php

[7] See: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aad_de_Haas

[8] Source image: http://www.vvvzuidlimburg.nl/beleefzuidlimburg/abc/vermelding.aspx?id=5471

[9] Source image: http://www.tripadvisor.com

[10] Source image: http://www.deroerom.nl/pagina/344/pasen

[11] Complete overview of the Stations of the Cross in the Church in Wahlwiller: http://home.kpn.nl/dreumpie/w/index_copy(1).htm

[12] See also: New Testament, St. John 12: 24

[13] Architecture: Dom Hans van der Laan. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_van_der_Laan_(architect)

[14] http://www.kerkgebouwen-in-limburg.nl/view.jsp?content=2044

[15] Evening prayer at the end of the afternoon.

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Church


In the previous post you and I have met the role of the house as “object in the middle”. The role of the home has changed over the years from the environment where we live to a habitation. This habitation in the form of a house is seen by our ancestors as a safe haven and as a reference point from where the world is experienced. Recently, people started to identify with their home: they give shape to the house and the house expresses who they are. Our society demands of us more and more that we have a nationality and a permanent home and residence. Without these assets, people are not treated as full citizens.

Now you and I are looking into the role of the house of God as “object in the middle”.  The first sacred places, we have already seen. We have encountered sacred stones on our Odyssey. We remember the stone circles as places for ceremonies which we no longer know.

[1]

We also know the golden calf as an image of a (demi-) god [2]. We have read in the Old Testament about Yahweh who is present between the tips of angel wings above the lost Ark of the Covenant,.

Probably the hunter-gatherers have already given shelter to Gods. We have read about rituals performed by the hunter-gatherers to unite the hunters with their prey as redemption for killing of the prey, and to maintain the unique bond between prey and hunter for both their survival. The rituals may be performed at specific times and places. These sites may be seen as a precursor to the house of God. The many caves with paintings of hunting scenes are a next step towards a house of God. Probably, these paintings also had a religious background.

Many nomadic peoples have travelled around with their herds. They may also have known fixed holy sites. And probably they have seen sacred sites of established residents. Have they identified themselves with the gods of the established residents and the hunter-gatherers? Probably not, but maybe they have adopted some elements of the faith of other people. As nomads, they will have carried their sacred objects on the travels with their herds. In their tents special places are reserved for shrines. One example is the Ark of the Covenant that the Jews carried around on the travels and place in a tent during stages. Even in the temple in Jerusalem, the ark is placed with poles on both sides as a reminder and a preparation for a new travel.

The form of Islamic mosques reminds you and me of temporary stays – large tents and outposts to indicate the entrance point – in a desert. These mosques are transferred in imposing houses of Allah with courts and outbuildings around. An example is the Suleyman Mosque in Istanbul.

[3]

Farmers with fixed fields are moving into permanent habitations. Also the gods receive their private habitations. The recognition of the house of Gods does not happen overnight. When we visit the oldest stave church at Urnes in Norway, the guide explains that the woodwork of the church is decorated with dragon motifs on the outside to keep the many evil spirits outside. This is necessary in the long dark winters. The Vikings have to leave their swords outside next to the door. Inside the church has only a few small lights from above. In that light a wooden crucifix is seen from which redemption and access to the afterlife may come. The priests at that time do try to change the image of Valhalla – the hall where the honorary fallen soldiers during battle continue eating, drinking and fighting to the end of time – into a longing for deliverance from sin and a Christian view of the afterlife. The blue paint color – lapis lazuli – on the wooden crucifix from around the 12th century AD comes from Afghanistan according to the guide.

During the explanation of the guide I think of Jalāl al-Dīn – also known as Rumi, who is born around the same time in Vaksh in Balkh Province in Afghanistan. Probably Rumi transcends the “object in the middle” in his contact with Allah: “My thoughts are in the heart of Allah, the heart of Allah will be sick without the thoughts of me [4]”. Later on our Odyssey more about this.

When we leave this church, you say: “Those light openings under the roof remind me of a saying by Oscar Wild:” We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars “.

[5]

“Do you remember the first rays of the sun at 6 o’clock in the morning on the first day of spring? [6]” I ask.

“Whenever I visit a church.” You answer.

The next message continues on churches as “object in the middle”.


[1] Source of image: Marieke Grijpink

[2] See the previous post “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – part 1” on 5th of May 2011

[3] Source image: http://www.islamleer.nl/islaam/biografie/geleerdenoverigen/758-kanuni-sultan-suleyman-i

[4] See: Nicholson, Reynold A., The Mathnawi of Jalálu’ddin Rúmí, Book II. Cambridge: Biddles Ltd, 2001 p. 281

[5] Source image: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/norway/urnes-stave-church

[6] See the last post on “Two” on 25th of April 2011