Tag Archives: New Testament

Who are you: Intensities and associations


Reunion in Amsterdam: two sermons in stone

“The square in front of Amsterdam Centraal railway Station is a good place to meet Narrator again after his trip from Florence [1]. I hear his specific rhythm in the bongos of the jazz band that plays Nature Boy [2] of Eden Ahbez [3] in the distance”, says Man.

“I hear, Narrator has seen us; he changes his rhythm”, says Carla.

Carla and Man listen to the singer:

There was a man [4]

A remarkable enchanting man

One says he wandered very far,

Very far, over land and sea

A little shy and sad of eyes

But very wise, so worldly-wise.

And one day, a magic day

He crossed my way, and while he spoke

Of many things, priests [5] and kings

He said to me:

“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

Is the immense wealth of goodness”

.

“The text of Nature Boy is adapted for us”, says Man.

After playing this song, Narrator takes his bongos, he says goodbye to his fellow musicians and he stands with Carla and Man.

“Beautiful song. Thanks for your card. Why did you invite us here as a starting point for the survey of “Intensities and associations” at the second common reality on our Odyssey to “Who are you”?”, asks Man to the Narrator.

Amsterdam_Sint_Nicolaas_Kerk[6]

“In the Golden Age at the beginning of the Reformation the smaller sea-going vessels – that had returned laden with merchandise from distant lands – had moored on this place. In the 19th century  Amsterdam Centraal railway Station was built at this place. Before the Reformation many expressions of the Christian faith could be seen everywhere throughout the city. Now we can only see two beacons of Christian faith from here. In the distance we see the tower of the Old Church [7], before the Alteration [8] – whereby the Catholic administration in Amsterdam was deposited –  the Old Church had been named the St. Nicholas Church after the patron of sailors. Here before us on the waterfront we see the Roman Catholic Basilica of Saint Nicholas [9] that had been built at the end of the 19th century as the third St. Nicholas Church; the second St. Nicholas Church which is now known under the name “Ons Lieve Heer op Solder” [10], is a hidden church on the Oudezijds Voorburgwal, .

Amsterdam_Onze_Lieve_Heer_Op_Zolder[11]

As introduction to “Intensities and associations”, I suggest to visit this afternoon the Basilica of Saint Nicholas and the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel for two sermons in stone that emerged from the Protestant Reformation. We can visit tomorrow the Old Church in the Centre of Amsterdam to look at the start of the Reformation”, says Narrator.

“The Basilica of Saint Nicholas has a Christian cross as floor map as many traditional Catholic churches; but a real church tower is missing and the Church is incorporated into the street plan instead of directing to the east”, says Man.

“I wish to show you the dome of the Basilica, because the ceiling displays the huge change that the Reformation had also caused within the Roman Catholic Church in Holland. Shall we go inside?”, asks Narrator.

Carla, Man and Narrator walk to the Basilica and go inside.

“The ceiling of the dome shows no painted sermon of the Catholic faith ordered to the Medieval Scholasticism with a Divine Trinity, a Roman Catholic worldview and heaven. This dome only shows the images of the four Evangelists of the New Testament and thus a reference to the Word of God in which the Son of God was sent to Earth for the salvation of the faithful. According to the painting of this dome, the four evangelists are the connection to the Divine Light. The reference to the Word of God – that the spectator could read alone after the rise of the printing press – in this painting of the dome has taken the place of the story in images in the domes of the churches in Florence. This change in the painting of the Church dome from the image of the self/Self according to the Medieval Scholasticism in the Florentine churches to the painting in this dome of intermediaries that refers to the Light of the Other – the invisible God –, shows similarities with the third revolution in the scientific development [12] with a reference to the open-minded and non-normative representation of the Light of the Other – in this case the Divine Trinity”, says Narrator.

“Also in this Basilica the light shines from above. With the light as hope for the resurrection, the dome itself shows the constant resurrection. “Et lux perpetua luceat eis –and let perpetual light shine upon them [13]”, says Man.

“On whom shines the perpetual light? Let’s rest this question until later on our quest. In Holland I am a woman from the South, in Florence I am a woman from the North. Although I think this Dome is also excessive, I feel more at home in this church than in the lavish churches in Southern Europe”, says Carla.

“Good question with many answers over which is fought hard. Many thought that they exclusively possessed the Divine Light whereby other lights had to be extinguished with fire and sword. Shall we go to the Round Lutheran Church at the Singel to observe the influence of the Reformation on Protestantism”, says Narrator.

Amsterdam_Koepel_Nicolaas_Kerk[14]

While Carla, Man and Narrator walk from the Prins Hendrikkade to the Singel, Narrator asks Man : “On which Buddhist question are you now working?”.

“With a – at first glance – very simple question with the metaphor of Indra’s Net in mind:

Question: “When arising and vanishing go on unceasingly, what then?”

Answer: “Whose arising and vanishing is it?”

And part of the accompanying verse:

Severing of entangling vines

Arising and vanishing in profusion – what is it? [15]

This question is very well applicable to the Reformation during the 80 year war in Holland; whose emergence and disappearance took place during this Reformation. What is “The” severing of entangling vines – arise and vanishing in profusion – of Christian faith in Holland? I do not know; “Mysterium est magnum, quod nos procul dubio transcendit” of “The mystery is great, that transcends us doubtless” [16]“, says Man.

“Life consists of change, but when everything is constantly changing, then change continues as a fixed constant. We have immediately mentioned the contradiction in this reasoning and in this starting point”, says Carla.

“I’m not so sure. The comments to this question states: “You don’t see the constant mover” and: “If you – the divine light? – agree, you have not yet escaped the senses, but if you disagree you are forever sunk in birth and death” [17]. This is a difficult question; it looks similar to the dilemma of the true faith and the direct relationship with God that the believers in Holland have constantly struggled with during and after the Reformation. There we see the Round Lutheran Church as a fortress in the shape of a donjon. The Lutherans were not allowed to build a church with a tower in Amsterdam”, says Narrator.

Amsterdam_Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk[18]

“This Lutheran Church reminds me of a hymn that I have learned at the Gymnasium in Rotterdam: “A mighty fortress is our God. A bulwark never failing” and “The enemy is nearing with raised flag”. At the end of this hymn is the verse: “God’s word will remain in eternity and not waiver an inch”. Let’s enter this bulwark”, says Man.

“The floor plan of the Church shows that the church-goers – as municipality in a circle – have focused their attention on the minister of the service: also these human municipalities need a “person in the middle” in order to establish and maintain mutual trust. The Church has no pictures, also no image of a Christian cross in the floor plan.

Plattegrond Ronde Lutherse Kerk Amsterdam[19]

In this church the rituals and the sermon in pictures have passed in the sermon of God’s Word. In this church sings no choir in the background, but the municipality sings at the top of their voices. The expressions of faith have changed from images, references, associations and persons in the middle as mediator for a relationship with God into an internalisation of God’s Word and singing of hymns together. In this church, it is important to be elected within God’s mighty fortress with a direct relationship with God, in which the minister expresses the common relationship with God”, says Narrator.

“This Round Lutheran Church shows me a donjon – a shelter and a private meeting – for the faithful and a rejection of and fear of infidels and dissenters. The Basilica of Saint Nicholas refers me as well via the evangelists to God’s Word, but is more distant in the reference to God and opener to outsiders as Christian beacon. The latter may have to do with my Catholic upbringing in South Limburg”, says Carla.

“Tonight I wish to give a short description of the 13th century Abbot Emo of Friesland as a contrast to the Reformation in the 16th century in Holland”, says Narrator.


[1] See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 165

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_Boy. John Coltrane with his quartet has recorded a version of this song on LP record. A recent (illegal?) record of this song is available via the following hyperlink: http://soundcloud.com/lennart-ginman/nature-boy-live-recording-eiv

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

[4] In Sanskrit – the language of gods in the world of humans – “man” means amongst others “tot hink, to believe and to observe”.

[5] In het woord priester zijn de woordkernen “pŗ”, “ish” en “tr” te herkennen die in het Sanskriet respectievelijk “in staat tot, beschermen of levend houden”, “God of Hoogste Geest” en “oversteken, overbrengen” betekenen.

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oude_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[8] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alteratie

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St._Nicholas,_Amsterdam

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[11] Bron afbeelding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ons%27_Lieve_Heer_op_Solder

[12] See a description of this third revolution in science: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 50 en 51.

[13] Verse from the Catholic requiem mass. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_for_the_Requiem_Mass#Communion

[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sint-Nicolaaskerk_(Amsterdam)

[15] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183 – 186

[16] From the Papal encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista by Pope John Paulus II. In the word “Eucharista” one can recognise “Eu” meaning “good” in Greek, “car” pronounced as “char” meaning “to move” in Sanskrit and “I s ” pronounced as “ish” meaning “being able to” and “the supreme being/soul” in Sanskrit. See also: Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013 p. 166 and Origo, Jan van, “Who are you – A survey into our existence, Five common realities – Facts and logic”, Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 127

[17] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998, p. 183

[18] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronde_Lutherse_Kerk_(Amsterdam)

[19] Source image: Google afbeeldingen uit: Jaarboek Monumentenzorg 1990, Zwolle: Waanders Uitgevers, 1990

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Narrator – points to the snow


The first snow fell early in autumn; the days were still not very short. In that dark morning the crackling of snow under my shoes sounded muted in the Prästgatan wherein the Golden House of hopes and dreams was situated on the island Gamla Stan in Stockholm.

Prästgatan in Juni[1]

The white snow and cold absorbed all colours; the Moon and the starry sky merged with the snow and the full colours of last summer were gone. In the course of the morning the snow was smeared by everyday life. That evening a vague glow appeared in the light of lanterns.

Prästgatan in December[2]

My beloved came home that night from a visit to his sick mother in America. His return was the beginning of a big change in our lives. He wanted to live closer to his mother, because due to her illness she only had less than a years to live. During his stay in America my beloved visited various Buddhist communities; he had decided to enter a convent near the house of his parents. The contact with his father was still stiff by their mutual incomprehension about his evasion of military service during the Viet Nam war. Unbeknownst to my beloved, I wrote a letter to his father in which I made a comparison between the general pardon of president Carter in 1977 for evasion of military service during the Viet Nam war and the parable of the lost son [3] in the New Testament: Your son was lost and he is found [4] by the general pardon. After the next visit to his parents my beloved returned joyfully; his father had welcomed him with open arms.

That winter my beloved toiled on a Buddhist question in which a teacher points to the snow and asks: “Is there any that can go beyond this colour?”. Another teacher said: “At this point I had have pushed it over for him”.  A third teacher said: “He only knows how to push down, he does not know how to help up”. [5]

This question is about passing the Empty Gate and the state of enlightenment. Snow, cold and white in which the Moon merges are metaphors for enlightenment. The first teacher asked for any beyond this colour where this colour stands for the road after passing the Empty Gate or after enlightenment. The other teacher immediately removes the illusion of enlightenment and a road after passing the Empty Gate by amongst others to refer to the colourless colour and to the Bodhisattva ideal from Mahâyâna Buddhism in which a human who is on the verge of enlightenment – or even a living Buddha –forgoes out of compassion until everything and everyone is able to enter enlightenment or the state of a Buddha. My beloved could comprehend the statements of the first two teachers, but that winter he toiled on the third statement.

Just as many people I struggled with the short days in northern countries. Our last common Christmas and New Year’s evening we celebrated exuberantly with many friends and acquaintances. Fortunately, in January and February the days got longer.

That winter my beloved sold the country house in the Stockholm archipelago and the Golden House in the old town of Stockholm. For a short time we moved to a rented wooden house on the island of Södermalm where we had a beautiful view on the inner city of Stockholm. Here we lived our last two months together. My beloved studied and I played percussion in several jazz ensembles.

Asogatan_213_Stockholm[6]

At the beginning of the spring my beloved asked me what the meaning of “māyā” is in Sanskrit. I told him that in the distant antiquity “māyā” had the meaning of “art and wisdom” and later the meaning of “illusion”, “compassion, sympathy” and “one of the 24 small Buddhist sins” [7] were added. The name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama was Māyādevī wherein “devī ” as feminine form of “deva” [8] means among others “feminine goddess”. I also said that my father has taught me that “māyā” takes shape in the form of the general or cosmic consciousness and thus is directly connected with the all-encompassing Īśa, and in addition in the form of the individual or human consciousness and thus often has the meaning of illusion [9]. Both forms stem from and are included in the one reality.

After this explanation my beloved beamed. By the warmth of the sun glow the blossom buttons opened again. With the blossoms of spring my beloved moved to America permanently.

Bloesem Stockholm[10]

That summer, his mother past quietly. Four years later I received a sad message that my beloved had died from the mysterious disease that plagued our friends and acquaintances. In our correspondence he has never mentioned it. And always when the blossom …

In the society where I from, community means everything – you are who you know [11]. In Stockholm I was the friend of my beloved at best. Now I no longer really knew anybody, I was a nobody in Stockholm. At the end of the spring I terminated the rent of our beautiful wooden house and I moved to Copenhagen.


[1] Photo of the Prästgatan on the island Gamla Stan in the beginning of June. Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan

[2] Photo of the Prästgatan on the Island Gamla Stan in the beginning of December. Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan

[3] See the Gospel of Luke 15: 11-32 in the New Testament

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

[5] See also: http://zazen.rutgers.edu/talks/yangshanpointstosnow.html

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

[7] Source: elektronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[8] The word Deva whereof Deus in Latin, Zeus in Greec and Dieu in French arose, is Sanskrit connected with the verb root “Div” meaning amongst others “to shinestralen, to play, to increase”.

[9] See also: Nikhilananda, Swami, The Upanishads – A new Translation, Volume I. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 2003, p. 57, 58

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kungstr%C3%A4dg%C3%A5rden

[11] See also: Reybrouck, David van, Congo – Een geschiedenis. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2012, p. 58