Tag Archives: Myth

Narrator – back on earth


The fire in the forest [1] burned all night. The next morning it still smouldered; in the late afternoon the fire finally died. The nocturnal massacre on the edge of the forest yielded nothing. The smell of burned forest mingled with the smell of dead bodies and blowflies were everywhere.

At the beginning of the next moonless night I left the militia. I walked the whole night. I followed the destination [2] of my name Kṛṣṇa [3] – in that moonless night I escaped alive from hell and I evaded the death of Engaï [4]. Later I understood that a few months later the militia was massacred by the army of the country. Just before the first sunlight I discarded my uniform and weapon.

[5]

The next day I traded some belongings from the militia against clothes. In just over a week I moved to my mother’s pastures [6]. Through information of acquaintances I found her temporary residence.

[7]

She saw me at a distance and my younger brothers and sisters ran to me. My mother was so happy until she saw my eyes – dark and cold as the night. She saw in my face the fire in the forest, my movements reflected the hungry ghosts and she smelled the hell on my skin. I received food and shelter, but the next morning she sent me away with the words: “You took from the world, now you must give back to the world. Afterwards you will be welcome as guest.”

By foot I went to the capital. On the outskirts of the city I received a non-paid post as indwelling teacher on a school. During the hours I helped pupils with their work and outside school time I went to the library for study. My English and Sanskrit improved tremendously and I learned and practised the important epic stories so I could start as storyteller – like my father.

[8]

In the city I met the most beautiful men on whom I secretly fell in love. After a year I encountered my first love – so normal, so obvious, so salvaged. His name was Arjen; I called him Arjuna [9]. His parents moved from Netherlands to Nairobi for their work. Outwardly we were only friends, secretly we were lovers. His skin was much lighter; he studied at the University. I helped him with Sanskrit; He helped me with English, French and German.

Two years later we visited my mother. She greeted me as her lost son. All my brothers and sisters were so joyful to see me. A few days later my father came along and we were happy.

My mother saw immediately that Arjen and I were more than just friends. To protect me against the overwhelming forces that a love between young men evokes in her country, she sent me away to a city in a distant land where men may love men. In this way she bridged [10] the dilemma between her world order and duty and human action [11]. She called the name of the city: Amsterdam. A few days later I left. Never I visited my parents again, but they accompany me wherever I go.


[1] See for the fire in the Khandava forest: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm book 1 Section CCXXVII and also: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990,  p. 71 – 84

[2] In Sanskrit  nāmadheya means next to  “name” or “title” also “designation”. Source: Maurer, Walter Harding, The Sanskrit Language, An Introductory Grammar and Reader. London: Routledge Curson, 2004 Deel II p. 771

[3] Kṛṣṇa means in Sanskrit amongst other “black”, “black blue”, “dark period of the mooncycle” Source: electronic version of the dictionaire Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[4] 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)

[5] Source image: http://ki.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunrise_over_Mount_Kenya.jpg

[6] In het Sanskriet betekent “nama” “weidegrond” (voor een nomadenvolk is dit een vorm van bestemming). Bron: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

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

[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya

[9] Arjuna is one of the main characters in the Mahābhārata. He is one of the five brothers who live together with one wife Draupadi – the most beautiful and influential wife of her time – in polyandry. The five brother fight for their rightful share of the kingdom, for the honour of Draupadi and for maintenance of the world order. The name Arjuna means amongst others “wit, clear, silver”; one may recognise also “arh” in the name meaning “worthy, capable of”.

[10] In Sanskrit the word “yuj” means also “link, tie, prepare, order”

[11] In the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – Krishna – the charioteer – encourages  Arjuna to start the battle wherein families, teachers and pupils stand opposite each other in the warfare between world order and duty (Dharmakshetra) en human behaviour (Kurukshetra). Dharmakshetra consists of  Dharma meaning “place of continuous self/Self”, and  “kshetra” – literally: field. Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, to do or to act” and “kshetra” – literally: field.

Advertisements

Philosophy behind “Who are you – an survey into our existence” – part 1


“Who are you – an survey of our existence – 1” begins with eight introductory posts wherein the background, the framework and the scope of the survey is outlined. The survey is described in the form of a quest, a contemporary myth and an Odyssey that will end in a homecoming.

In part 1 of the quest, the first three chapters (of the 17 chapters) are described. At the end of part 1 follows an interlude before the main characters will continue their quest in daily life in part 2. In part 3 of the Odyssey, the main characters transcend our everyday world. At the end of the Odyssey – in zero – the homecoming will take place.

In Chapter 1 of this Odyssey the main persons completely experience the philosophical Monism [1]. Within the metaphysics, Monism argues that the variety of existing things – or entities – in the universe are reducible to one substance or reality and therefore that the fundamental character of the universe is unity.

In the Oriental philosophy, Monism occurs in different forms in the Upanishads, in Hinduism, in Taoism and in Buddhism. Christianity provides direct and indirect references to Monism in many places. After the Industrial Revolution in Western Society, Schopenhauer [2] has studied Monism in the Upanishads [3] – including the īśāvāsya [4] (or Isha) Upaniṣhad [5] – and in Buddhism.

[6]

Francis Herbert Bradley [7] has studied Monism in his essay ‘ On Truth and Coherence ‘ written in 1909.

[8]

At the end of Chapter 1, Indra’s net [9] from the Avatamsaka Sutra [10] is described as transition to Atomism – and also as synthesis between Monism and Atomism. According to the Avatamsaka Sutra, the dust particles within the net of Indra have feelings and needs. They know anger, joy and knowledge and ignorance. Within their scope they can also make everything happy. The net of Indra can be healthy and ill [11]. The main characters look at the net of Indra in different dimensions on the basis of a 10-minute film “Powers of Ten” of Ray and Charles Eames from 1968 (and re-released in 1977) [12].

In Chapter 2 of the quest for “Who are you” the main characters experience Atomism [13]. After the original separation of Heaven and Earth, they fell apart in countless pieces until the smallest particles remained. In the 20th century, Atomic Physics was extensively studied by many physicists: this study has resulted in a great deal of knowledge and many more questions [14]. In philosophy Bertrand Russell [15] and Ludwig Wittgenstein [16] in his young adult life [17] were adherents of logical Atomism.

[18]

[19]

In Chapter 3 of the quest for “Who are you”, the main characters studied how mutual trust is established and perpetuated. The “person in the middle” and “various objects in the middle” including the Church, meditation rooms, the sacrifice, the Lamb of God, the Dove, the word and the “Spirit in the Middle” are reviewed.

As preparation of everyday life the main characters have made a concise study of the five skanda’s which according to Buddhism give everything what is needed for spiritual development. Looking back after their homecoming, the main characters will examine if this statement – and all other experiences – were useful and meaningful.

In an intermezzo they studied the own image of rowers that fully depends on the results of races; they saw the outcome of the madness of war on basis of the Peloponnesian War in Greece 2500 years ago.

Finally, one of the main characters rediscovered the bond with Monism on basis of the opening sentence from the John Gospel in the New Testament translated into Sanskrit by the eternal wind – which also includes God and the Gods.

 “A breath of the wind

In the rustling of the trees

Your voice is heard” [20]


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

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

[3] Upanishad literally means: “sit down next to”. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads

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

[5] A word by word translation of the Isha Upanishad into Dutch is available via the following hyperlink: http://www.arsfloreat.nl/documents/Isa.pdf

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

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._H._Bradley

[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._H._Bradley

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra’s_net

[10] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatamsaka_Sutra

[11] See also: Cleary, Thomas, The Flower Ornament Scripture, a Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Boston: Shambhala, 1993, p. 363.

[12] The film “Powers of Ten” can be viewed via the hyperlink: http://www.powersof10.com/film

[13] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomism_(logical)

[14] Brian Greene has written excellent books on atom physics, relativity en quantum mechanics. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Greene

[15] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

[16] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein

[17] See also: Sluga, Hans, Wittgenstein. Oxford: Wiley – Blackwell, 2011

[18] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

[19] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein (fair use of small image)

[20] Moses saw and heard  – the voice of – God in the burning bush. See Old Testament, Exodus 3:2

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

Introduction: Three – Person in the middle


During our third stage on our Odyssey, you and I have encountered the Trito myth and the cattle-cycle. These myths – with rituals – are a first way of restoring confidence between the gods, priests, men and classes of people themselves. Livestock is a metaphor for mutual trust, a role that money has taken over in our society.

After the first all-encompassing division between earth and air, all is disintegrated in innumerable parts. Then an initial structure is arisen, after which a start is made ​​with a creative process by giving a first meaning and deriving a first order from this initial structure.

You and I remain entirely separate from the complete oneness. It probably disappeared during the separation of earth and sky. Or is this oneness still present in the background? We do not know, but we will investigate this during our Odyssey.

In the Trito myth about the origin of the world, you and I have met the gods: Manu creates with the help of the gods the world from the parts of Twin. In this myth, the gods are necessary for Many to create the world. Who are these gods? You and I do not know. Are there more Gods or is there only one god? We do not know; each society has given different answers to this question. Is there a world without gods? We do not know. Are the gods an integral part of the complete oneness? We do not know. But you and I will investigate this later during our Odyssey. Let us provisionally accept that the gods exist. For now, they are necessary to create and maintain the world.

Following the creation of the world, the sky gods give cattle to Trito. After the storm gods help him during his adventures with the three-headed serpent, Trito sacrifices cattle to the air gods to restore and consolidate the mutual trust.

[1]

Within the cattle cycle, priests sacrifice animals to the gods in order to restore and maintain the confidence between gods, priests, people and categories of people.

According to these first myths, you and I have seen in the Proto-Indo-European world, the gods are needed to create and maintain the world. The trust and aid of the gods is vital for these people. How the people in this Proto-Indo-European world perceive the god in their daily life, we do not know. Though in this society, soon persons emerges who create and maintain the connections between the world of humans and the gods.

The forerunners of people who are not able to live without  a connection between humans and gods, we already have encountered in both myths.

The priests [6] have a role to establish and maintain a connection between the sky gods, the world and the people by preforming smoke sacrifices and rituals. This connection is of paramount importance to maintain and continue the rhythm of life. This connection maintained by the priests in the pre-scientific age, also gives a first answer to the questions where mankind comes from, why they are on the earth and what future awaits them. In the Catholic Church the pope acquires a role of Pontifex Maximus – or the great builder of bridges – between heaven and earth. In this church the Pope is – as first among his peers – the “person in the middle” who maintains the connection between heaven and earth and/or between God and humanity.

[2]

The warriors – and over time their chiefs in the form of emperor, king or general – get the role to establish and perpetuate order in society by conquest and military operations (with its rituals and practices). Later – as a representative of the gods – they regulate the affairs of the society on earth. For earthly matters, they increasingly act as the representative of the gods on earth. In this form they become a “person in the middle” between on one hand the complete oneness and on the other hand society and humanity. According to this way of thinking, society ceases to exist without this “person in the middle”: Roman legionaries fall into despair – their entire existence on earth falls apart – as a general of a legion threatens to leave the legion to its own fate [3].

[4]

The arrangement between priests and warriors – or between church and state – is usual sensitive. The hierarchy between these two roles changes continuously. Sometimes balance occurs: the pope crowns the emperor so the profane role of the emperor receives recognition by a sacral ritual performed by the pontifex maximus, while the role of the Pope – as a bridge between heaven and earth – is recognised and perpetuated within the same ritual.

[5]

The next post is about “the object in the middle”.


[1] Source of image: POVRAY – Clouds JvL

[2] Pope Gregorius I

[3] See also: Goldsworthy, Adrian, In the Name of Rome (2003)

[4] Charles Magne

[5] Coronation of Charles Magne as Emperor by Pope Leo III

[6] In Sanskrit √pṛ means: “be able, to show”; Ish: “ruler, god”; and √tṛ: “to cross”

Introduction: Three – Dubio transcendit


You and I arrive at the third stage on our Odyssey. Now we will give a first interpretation to – and derive a first meaning from [1] – the complex universe around us. By making sense and derive meaning from the things around us, a creative process starts. Most of this process of creating and recreating is beyond our perception [2]. This invisible creative process goes its own way. We can only trust in the good event of these developments beyond our control.

The tiny part of the creation and recreation that you and I may control, we try to change to our advantage. We think that we need this advantage for our survival. Here we act selfish. Later, you and I will encounter more complex forms of ethics. Now we start at the beginning of conscious creativity and our opinion about it.

Our selfishness is often overtly and socially acceptable in our society. We hunt and gather, we perform farming, we work in factories or offices, or by mutual agreement we will prevail over others. All these actions are questionable: later we will come back to this. But sometimes this selfishness is unacceptable and is obtained by force or by law suits.

In specific cases, we camouflage our selfishness by adding appropriate images to acts that are not acceptable on its own. Around wars and the conquest of land linger all sorts of myths and rituals [3].

In one particular case the number three is also used to justify the theft of cattle in a myth: it is the Trito myth followed by the myth of the cattle cycle [4] [5].

In the Proto-Indo-European world, the creation of the world is interpreted by the Trito myth.
The twins Manu – related to the word “man” [6] – and Twin travel through the universe accompanied by a cow. The two brothers decide at a certain moment to create the world. This requires that Twin must be sacrificed. From the remains of Twin, Manu creates with the help of the gods the separate parts of the world. By this act Manu became the first priest [7] and the first inventor of the ritual sacrifice by which the world was created.

When the world was finished, the sky-gods gave cattle to the “third man” named Trito. But the cattle was cleverly stolen by a three-headed snake. With help of the storm gods, Trito killed the snake and freed the animals. Some of the cattle were given to priests for a smoke offering to the sky gods. By this act Trito [8] was the first warrior. He restored the prosperity of the people and his gift of livestock to the gods ensured that the cycle of gifts between gods and humans continued.

The second myth – the cattle cycle [9] – is a continuation of the Trito myth. In the cattle cycle, God [10] gives cattle to the farmers who in turn take care of the cattle and and increase the herd. Foreign men raid the cattle. The warriors seize the cattle back and give a part of the cattle to the priests for smoke offerings to God who in turn thanks for the sacrifices by giving cattle to farmers again.

The raiding of cattle has obtained a central place in this culture by both myths.  It is an essential act to acquire property. With the acquisition of livestock by raiding, warriors may obtain means of exchange for acquiring one or more women [11]. In the Proto-Indo-European world, women represent the only real property of value [12]. Only by holding the highly regarded medium of exchange – cattle – warriors can get women for posterity.

The cattle cycle provides a basis for a ritual of mutual trust – Credo (I believe) – between gods, priests, men and classes of people themselves. In this case, cattle are a metaphor for mutual trust, a role that money has taken over in our society.

In the following messages you and I will encounter the “person in the middle, “the object in the middle” and the “spirit in the middle”.

[13]


[1] See : Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phénoménologie de la Perception

[2] See also: Eames-Charles&Ray, Powers of Ten (1977) and the post on this subject.

[3] See also: Keegan, John, A History of Warfare (2004); Goldsworthy, Adrian, In the Name of Rome (2003); Crefeld, Martin van, The Culture of War (2008).

[4] See: Anthony, David W., The horse, the Wheel and Language (2007), p. 134

[5] See: Mallory, J.P., In Search of the Indo-Europeans, p. 137

[6] √man: means “think” in Sankrit; “manu” means “intelligent, thought, wise”. Maybe this name already refers to the division of mind and matter similar to the division of sky and earth.

[7] In Sanskrit √pṛ means: “be able, show”; Ish means: “ruler, god”; and √tṛ means: “cross”

[8] kshatriya means warrior in Sanskrit.

[9] See: Mallory, J.P., In Search of the Indo-Europeans, p. 138

[10] “go” means “cow or bull” and “da” means “give”

[11] See Anthony, David W., The horse, the wheel and Language (2007), p. 239

[12] See: McGrath, Kevin, STR women in Epic Mahâbhârata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009 p. 9 – 15

[13] Source image: Povray – Float Cloud JvL