Tag Archives: mutual trust

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.

 [2]

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!“
[4]

[9]

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

[5]

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.

[7]

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

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Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – part 2


At our first stage [1] we have met ancient stones in the landscape. These stones have for our ancestors a special importance as landmarks for interpretation of the knowable and the unknowable. The Catholic Church has tried to incorporate the role of these stones into the Christian faith by placing field crosses at these places.

In the previous post you and I have reported on the “object in the middle” as a metaphor for mutual trust and a symbol that the metaphor of the object surpasses and transgresses into the tangible reality that the “object in the middle” originally depicted. In this message we continue this exploration.

People visiting each other, exchange gifts in order to express and maintain mutual trust. In special circumstances, special gifts are given to commemorate and perpetuate the mutual relationship. Examples of these special circumstances are important changes in life such as birth, baptism, birthday, marriage, death of parents. Often these gifts are jewelry that – when wearing the jewels – symbolise the mutual bond and the special status of the wearer of jewels. Occasionally these jewels are buried with the owner in the grave after her or his death, so the owner may also show with the jewelry in the afterlife the confidence and status in the previous life.

[2]

In the graves of Neanderthals jewelry is never found [3]. Perhaps they did not use “objects in the middle” to demonstrate and consolidate mutual trust. Maybe they did not need interpretation in their lives, since they were fully confident? Didn’t they have known any interpretations or didn’t they make any image of these interpretations? We do not know.

Over time, people make images of “objects in the middle” in order to symbolise the original trust that the object depicts. For groups of people, these symbols become important to express the nameable and unnameable feelings within the group. The symbols receive their own dynamics in the form of flags and pictures with accompanying music and with rhythm in time. The Catholic Church shows many images of God and the saints. Group identity and national feelings are reinforced by flags and emblems.

[4]

In addition, these symbols raise distrust to outsiders. This distrust often takes shape as outright hatred: the outsiders are determined to completely extinguish the strange symbols – and everything that these represent – so all traces are erased. Many wars have begun in this way with their own dynamics: the flags, music, sound of boots and women placing flowers in the barrels of the guns do the rest. The group pressure to destroy the outsiders is so strong that outliers, who do not want to engage in violence, are threatened with expulsion or even execution.

In some cultures the unnameable and the higher is so overwhelming that it cannot be displayed. In the Islamic culture depictions of Allah are not allowed; also images of beings with a soul are not desirable. Yahweh in the Jewish faith cannot be displayed. In the Protestant churches no images of God are present. Do these ways of religion have surpassed the value of symbols and images? And have they overcome the aversion to strange symbols and images, because they have transgressed the value of symbols? Probably not, golden calves [5] are still revered and contested.


[1] See the post “One-Pantheism” in this weblog.

[2] Source image: http://www.rmo.nl/actueel/tentoonstellingen/archeologie-van-nederland/midden-nederland – Olst, Goud van de Goden.

[3] Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Het halssieraad van de Neanderthaler – Op zoek naar de eerste denkers. Amsterdam: Wereldbibiotheek: 1999

[4] Source image: http://home.scarlet.be/~hlvb/het%20land%20van%20beveren/heiligen/heiligen%20in%20Groot-Beveren.htm

[5] See previous post: “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – part 1”

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – part 1


On our last stage “Two”, first the sky and the earth are separated, and then everything has fallen apart into innumerable small parts. Afterwards a first order is arisen. Meaning and purpose given to this order, starts a first creative process.

People give interpretation to their environment, so they may increase their chances of survival by increasing their grip on touchable matters and circumstances. Furthermore, this interpretation takes shape in stories and myths which anchor knowledge and skills – from other times and circumstances – within the known world of people. Religion and rituals bring the unknowable and elusive within the scope of people; by performing recognisable acts we try to influence the unknown and elusive in our environment.

Within the Trito-myth and the cattle cycle you and I have seen the explanation of the originating of the world for people in Proto-Indo-European time. The cattle cycle gives a ritual as basis for trust between gods, priests, people and categories of people. In the previous post we have observed the role of “persons in the middle”- in this case priests and kings – acting as a bridge between the world of people and the world of the gods (or the complete oneness). Now you and I will have a glimpse into the “objects in the middle” that represent the gods (or the complete oneness) in the human world.

Cattle are a metaphor for mutual trust in the world of our ancestors. In our society money has taken over this role of cattle. In earlier societies, also objects – as replacement of living beings – serve their role of metaphor for mutual trust. Special shells, jewelry and precious artifacts are examples thereof.

Some items have risen above the role of metaphor for mutual trust. These objects are turned from metaphor into the physical reality itself. The banner [1] of a Roman legion is the identity (or entity) of the entire legion. If the banner is lost, the legion ceases to exist. The three legions led by Varus, have lost their banners in the Teutoburg Forest; they are never replaced [2].

[3]

Images of gods are worshiped by people as real gods. In the Old Testament, Moses has done everything to have recognised Yahweh – without image – as the only God of the Jewish people. After receiving the tables of the Ten Commandments from Yahweh (including the first two commandments: “I am Eternal your God, and thou shalt have no other gods before me”), on his return he notices that the people are worshipping a golden calf. The Jewish people are completely forgotten Yahweh and they see the golden calf as the “object in the middle” that has completely taken the place of God in the shape of mutual trust and eternal life.

[4]

Furiously Moses throws the tables of the Ten Commandments in pieces. He needs to return to the mountain again for receiving new tables of the covenant from Yahweh. These new tables including the Ten Commandments are carried with the people in the Ark of the Convenant. Later the ark is placed in the sacred space of the Temple in Jerusalem. Since that time, Yahweh is considered to be present above the ark in the void between the tips of the wings of two angels [5].

[6]

During the existence of the ark, Yahweh is deemed to exist in the void between the wings of the two angels. The Ark of the the Convenant was probably destroyed at the one of the devastation of the Temple in Jerusalem. After the destruction of the ark the image of Yahweh is gone. Is Yahweh now present everywhere?


[1] See also: Goldsworthy, Adrian, In the Name of Rome – The Men who won the Roman Empire. London: Phoenix, 2004

[2] See also: Wells, Peter S. The Battle that stopped Rome. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2004

[3] Source image: http://www.legionxxiv.org/signum/

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gouden_kalf_(Hebreeuwse_Bijbel)

[5] Source: Oude Testament; boeken Exodus 25:22 en Numeri 7:89

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