Tag Archives: Old Testament

Freedom and bound: a personal relationship with God

Carla, Man and Narrator meet each other in the Nieuwe Café near the Nieuw Kerk in Amsterdam.

“Personal relationships with Gods are of all time after in the distant past mankind and the Gods have received a place in each other’s lives. These relationships are not always easy and obvious; Gods and people regularly disappointed each other or let each other down.

The relationships between people and Gods varies – as all kinds of relationships – depending on the characters, circumstances and requirements between: absent and negligence, superficial and practical, purposeful and calculated, internalized and comprehensive, to intense and unbearable.

In the course of time human societies became larger, more complex and layered whereby also stratification in the concept of God has increased. Although the Supreme Gods play an aloof overarching role in the kingdoms or empires, the household gods or the pagan gods [1] still play the lead role in daily life of local communities. Many local farming communities have remained pagan in the eyes of the official churches [2].

Within the Catholic world, the local Saints have taken the position of the former local pagan gods. With its usual pragmatism the Catholic Church has assimilated local rituals and incorporated in its general habits, the church offers a large vessel which provides – under its terms and imposed limits – a place for church saints and local customs with their own rites [3].
For ordinary local people the Catholic God was – just as Jesus – an unattainable creature who, like distant rulers and armies just caused misfortune. The local clergy and rulers – each in their own way – should keep the Catholic God pleased. On passing through through South Limburg, I have heard a local alderman cry out in despair: “God in the Hague!!” upon a new Dutch rule. Pastoral letters from the Pope in Rome and the Bishop of the diocese are welcome if the content meets the local customs, but if the content does not fit then the local use continues – just a little less public or slightly customised –; the elderly know that over time all would once change in their own rhythm.

Especially women – and men occasionally after confession or during a church service – ask the Virgin Mary for help and consolation usually by praying the rosary: Mary was always more important and more helpful than the unattainable God [4].

Maagd Maria
The local saints exist in the material world: they are tangible, they are in the church and are carried in the processions: the local holy statue is the saint. As a result, parishioners are so upset when an old weathered statue is restored or replaced with new one from the factory. In the famous churches the statues of the saints attract two groups of visitors: parishioners and pilgrims who communicate with a real person / a better (or higher) being, and tourists who look at an example of religious art.

The personal relationship between the local saints and parishioners is mutual. The parishioners take care and venerate the saints, but sometimes the statue of the saint should also be flattered and bullied just as a lazy local administrator. When the local saint does not answer the prayers, the image can also be punished; there are examples of throwing in the river of statues or punishment like facing the wall of the statue [6].

The rulers maintain a reciprocal relationship with their gods; they receive advice, support and assistance in their activities, they keep the gods alive by expressing due honor to express and they explain the habits of the Gods – to mutual benefit – to their citizens.

Sometimes the relationship between the ruler and the gods becomes upsets. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Xerxes – king of the Persian Empire between 485 – 465 BC – punished the sea goddess of the Hellespont by flogging her waves with three hundred lashes and branding her with red hot irons after a storm had destroyed the cables which supported the boat bridge of about 1300 meters across the Hellespont [7].

Xerxes golven[8]

This morning we have very briefly seen how the Christian church has become the official state church of the Roman Empire practiced under Constantine the Great after the Edict of Milan in 313 AC. This evolution is based on at least two developments. The first development is the revolution of monotheism, as developed in Judaism more than 1,000 years earlier [9], and as adopted by Emperor Aurelius in 275 AC. in the form of the invincible Sun God ( Deus Sol Invictus ) taken from Syria after his victory in the East [10] . The monotheism of the Sun God was not absolute, whereby this faith was very convenient for Emperor Aurelius to adopt without hurting individual sensitivities of people. With all Roman citizens convened around this obvious national God, the second development took place: with the general acceptance of this obvious monotheistic God it was possible that the representative of the Sun God on earth was surrounded obvious supra-powerful features. This bond between the Sun God and his representative on earth was shown throughout the empire in images of both on coins, which represented “(barter) objects in the middle” that were guaranteed by the Sun-god and his earthly representative. The impact of this second development, we still have in our daily life with the name of the “Lord’s Day”: Sunday [11].

Munt zonnegod
At 324 AC Constantine the Great became ruler of the Roman Empire after he had defeated Licinius – ruler of the eastern part of the empire until then. Herewith Constantine created “One God , One Empire , One Emperor”. How Constantine had made the transition from the Sun God to the Christian God can no longer accurately be traced. With this gradual introduction, the administrative organization of the Roman Empire and the church organization were adapted to each other in the course of time. Within administrative units of the empire, a bishop was appointed as the head of the Church’s unit: “One God , One province, one representative of God”. By this development in parts of Europe, the ecclesiastical provinces still reflect the former provinces of the Roman Empire. According to the history books this development took place relatively smoothly , but in practice often an iron fist was applied whereby many battles and internal strife over the secular and ecclesiastical power have been fought [13].

The Old Testament often shows an angry – and sometimes rancorous – God when his people have let him down again and again or his people has been unfaithful to the covenant. After the emergence of the “One God, One Empire, One ruler” directly connected with “One God, One Church, One regional representative”, the conservation of the ruler / representative and church / empire require all attention, so the position of a monotheistic God as Supreme God was no longer an issue. Religious disputes aimed at on one hand the extent to which the monotheistic Roman Father God was Almighty and the positions of the universe of heavenly entities – Christ, The Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints and angels, etc. – with and around God, and on other hand the relationship between humanity and the world with God, his universe, the origin and end of it. Shall we enter the New Church?”, says Narrator.

Carla, Narrator and Man enter the Church. They stand at the pulpit.

“Wonderful introduction. On seeing this pulpit, I have to interrupt you, because this pulpit reminds me of the tent of Alexander the Great after his death in which he still ensured order and unity from his throne.

preekstoel Nieuwe Kerk[14]
Briefly: Alexander the Great left after his death in 323 BC a vast empire that reached over the whole civilized world from Greece, Egypt, just beyond the Indus River in the east. During his life, Alexander the Great – with his immense charisma, his policy of divide and rule, his reward for loyalty and his ruthless revenge on unfaithful – was the sole binding factor with an almost divine status [15]. Without a clearly appointed successor after his untimely death, a ruthless power struggle soon began between (alleged) pretenders and supporters. Within a short time most of Alexander’s direct pretenders – women and children – were murdered; also women took part in the mutual slaughter of each other and each other’s children.

The actual battle for his succession was conducted within Alexander’s small circle of confidants – who alternately had assumed the role of general, comrades and executors – and various local rulers, whom Alexander the Great had left as guardians of parts of his empire during his triumph.

One of Alexander’s confidants was his secretary Eumenes – an outsider and foreigner of Greek origin – who had played an increasingly important role during the succession in which he had primarily fulfilled the role as protector of the mother and only surviving son of Alexander. In this struggle Eumenes had proved an outstanding military strategist and tactician, and he won most battles, but otherwise he missed all the good and bad qualities of Alexander in charisma and revenge, while he had also remained a stranger to the Macedonians. At the moment he had to make a unity between different factions within the army, including the headstrong and self-confident Silver Shields – the never defeated elite troops that Alexander had inherited from his father Philip II and who had given him many victories in his triumph; many were already over 60 years old – Eumenes had decided to bring the ghost of Alexander back to life. He told the commanders of the troops who were entrusted to him that Alexander had appeared to him in a dream and had given him the order to let all commanders appear before Alexander’s throne in a tent for deliberation. The commanders had accepted this proposal. Eumenes had ordered to cast the throne from gold of the royal treasury and he placed on it Alexander’s scepter and diadem in a tent. All commanders had brought honours to the empty throne by burning incense to him – the Ghost of Alexander on the throne. Eumenes had promised that as long as they met as council before the throne and accepted orders from him , then Alexander would be present and guide them in their decisions. After Eumenes and the commanders had accepted this way of decision-making, the mutual tension was significantly decreased. Obviously Eumenes had the most input during the deliberation [16]. Almost Eumenes had managed to secure the throne for the family of Alexander, but in the decisive final battle the opponent had conquered the baggage train with women and possessions of the Silver Shields. A faction of the Silver Shields had finally chosen for their belongings and they had delivered Eumenes with a list to his opponent. First, the opponent did not dare to kill Eumenes out of respect, but later he gave this command. The Invincible Silver Shields were dissolved, the commander was killed and the individual infantrymen received in remote areas impossible tasks that they usually did not survive. All this time the Ghost on the throne had led them in this turbulent period in taking decisions and had led them to victories when they remained faithful to the decisions [17].

Upon seeing this pulpit, I notice the similarity with the tent of Alexander and a Ghost on the throne”, says Carla.

“Fascinating addition. Shall we continue with this topic this evening”, says Narrator.
“That is good”, says Man.

[1] “Pagan Gods” is derived from Gods of the pagus or pays. Pagus means in Latijn: village
[2] Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, p. 50
[3] See e.g.: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007, Chapter 7: Fairies, Virgins, Gods and Priests.
[4] See also: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007, Chapter 7: Fairies, Virgins, Gods and Priests and Histoire de la Vie privée. Tome 3: De la Renaissance aux Lumière. Red. Ariès, Philippe & Duby, George. Chapter 1 (p. 85 from the Dutch version)
[5] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosaire
[6] Source: Robb, Graham, The discovery of France. London: Picador, 2007, p. 133 – 134
[7] See: Herodotus 7.35 en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerxes’_Pontoon_Bridges
[8] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Xerxes_lash_sea.JPG
[9] See amongst others: Potok, Chaim, Omzwervingen, ‘s-Gravenhage: BZZTôH 1999 and Schama, Simon, De geschiedenis van de Joden – Deel 1: De woorden vinden 1000 v.C. – 1492. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Atlas Contact, 2013
[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus
[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zondag and Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, p. 30
[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus
[13] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010, Part II “One Church, One Faith, One Lord?”and Trouillez, Pierre, Bevrijd en gebonden – De Kerk van Constantijn (4e en 5e eeuw n. Chr.). Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2006, Chapters II and III
[14] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nieuwe_Kerk_(Amsterdam)
[15] See also: Lane Fox, Robin, Alexander de Grote, Amsterdam: Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers, 2005
[16] Source: Romm, James, Ghost on the Thone – The death of Alexander the Great and the war for crown and empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. p. 220-221, 235
[17] See: Romm, James, Ghost on the Thone – The death of Alexander the Great and the war for crown and empire. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. Chapter 10


Five common realities – facts and logic 5

Carla, Man and the Narrator are sitting in a restaurant for their dinner. They have received their drinks and menu map.

“Cheers, on the progress of our quest. Are you happy so far?”, says Man.

“Partly. The All-encompassing One – and also the binding between the other with the All-encompassing – are well discussed, but the “other” as entity remains underexposed. Maybe we can give more attention to the other”, says Narrator.

“I may have put too much emphasis on the “All-encompassing One” due too many forced separations during my life. The last years I gave much – maybe too much – attention to all kind of links between events in my life. What do you think, Carla?”, says Man.

“During my introduction to the ordered chaos I will pay attention to the other; this is necessary in an overview of the development in science in a nutshell. Please add information from your background and conceptual framework. Let us first order our meal”, says Carla.

Carla, Man and the Narrator make their choice from the menu and they ordering their diner.

“An overview of the development of science – which in our time accumulated in an ordered chaos – can be given in many ways . There are many books with excellent introductions to the origin of logic, mathematics, physics, astronomy and other sciences. My introduction is a personal one and is certainly susceptible to criticism; a characteristic of science according to Popper and Kuhn [1]. In my opinion science had started when people began to consciously pay attention to their living environment so that they could increase their survival by getting grip on conditions and tangible things [2]. Probably people had initially tried to give interpretation to their environment by means of rituals such as hunter-gatherers had identified with their prey via rituals [3], pastoralists via the cattle-cycle [4] and via worshipping the golden calf in the Old Testament to maintain and enhance their cattle, and farmers via timing with corresponding rituals to determine the moment for sowing and harvesting during the year. At the same time people have also given magical powers to rituals whereby rituals could accomplish the desired circumstances. This creative act of giving meaning and perceiving meaning [5] by rituals was a first revolution in the scientific development of people; remnants of this revolution we can still see today in current rituals within our society, for example at rituals during major changes in personal and public life and at the year celebrations.

feiten en logica 51[6]

The second revolution in the scientific development of mankind consisted of a shift of attention from obtaining desired conditions or tangible things through the provision of rituals to an understanding  – and research – of human life on earth; the self/Self became subject of research. In the Western world a temporary cohesive peak was achieved in the Medieval Scholasticism, in which its philosophy – at that time directly connected to the theology – completely stated (an gave interpretation to) the entire human environment; life was in service of God, his creation, and the afterlife (preferable in heaven or in hell after a bad life). In India around 600 BC, this attention resulted in the Upanishads with emphasis on “self/One” as oneness [7]; and life became subject of meditation.

feiten en logica 52[8]

The third revolution in the scientific development of mankind consisted of the shift in attention from the central ”Self/One”– or God within the Medieval Scholasticism in which everything was directly connected with God in one way or another – to a self-awareness of the individual and to “the other” which consisted of the other people, the setting, the circumstances and the tangible things. In the Western world, science – and later philosophy – were separated from religion so scientific research could develop open-minded, (value) free from dogmas and focused on facts and logic. In the Renaissance, mankind initially depicted science like a clockwork in which the mutual movement of wheels and links had to be discovered, from which the living environment and the way things worked could be explained [9]. Thereafter scientists tried to find mathematical equations for everything [10]. The first developments were so impressive that mankind still uses the equations of the classical mechanics [11] to send spacecraft extremely precise through space.

feiten en logica 53[12]

After a while, the knowledge about solving mathematical equations became an inhibiting factor: a number of linear (differential) equations were relatively easy to solve. Science tried to describe the living environment under ideal conditions – without friction, headwind and all the unknown factors were summarized in constants – in linear equations whose solution was known, just like our world is only arranged as cultivated French gardens.

feiten en logica 54[13]

Until more than a hundred years ago the development of science was so promising that only a few small imperfections – like how gravity is transferred and whether light is composed of particles or of waves – need to be solved. The first cracks in this expectation arose after it became clear that light consists at the same time of particle and of light waves, that in quantum mechanics the speed and location of particles cannot be determined at the same time, and that results in the theory of relativity are dependent on the way of perceiving.

These cracks grew with the observation that our everyday environment largely consists of non-linear differential equations that cannot be solved and often only can be approximated. Furthermore, even simple models – like the three-body-problem [14] in space – are extremely complex and can only be solved in simple special circumstances. In addition simple models – such as a double rod pendulum [15] – showed chaotic characteristics where the outcome considerably differs over time with minor differences in the initial state. I see that our meal will be served. I’ll continue later”, says Carla.

“Upon hearing your introduction, it stikes me that the Mahābhārata caused a similar revolution compared to the Upanishads which focus on the One/All-encompassing. In the Mahābhārata, the attention shifted to the other/self in relation to the One/Self, wherein nothing can be understood independent of the rest. The Self is a being in relationship with itself and at the same time the Self is itself a being in respect to the other and herewith One’s/one’s own life is connected to the life of the other [16]. The way – in which attention is shifted in the Mahābhārata – is more focused on explaining and describing life and less focused on control and grip on the living environment”, says Narrator.

“During your introduction, I am reminded of the title of a collection of poems by Rutger Kopland:

Who finds something,

has badly sought. [17]

and of a statement of Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen during his lectures at Delft University of Technology:

“To prove” is compellingly letting know in order that the other has to kneel.

Maybe something to think about during the continuation of our quest”, says Man.

“Interesting thoughts; I will come back on “compellingly letting know” at the mind of the warrior, but first let us enjoy our meal”, says Carla.

“Enjoy your meal”, say Man and Narrator.

[1] See also: Nārāyana, Narrator, Carla Drift – An Outlier, A Biography. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 34

[2] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A Survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 103. See also: Calvin, William H., The River That Runs Uphill: A Journey from the Big Bang to the Big Brain. New York: Macmillan, 1986

[3] See also: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume I, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982, p. 5 and Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A Survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 111 – 112

[4] Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A Survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 33 – 34 en 94 – 95

[5] See also for the creative act of giving meaning and perceiving meaning: Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phénoménologie de la perception. Paris: Gallimard, 1945

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

[7] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholastiek

[9] See also: Stewart, Ian, Does God Play Dice? London: Penguin Books, 1992², p. 5 – 8

[10] See also: Stewart, Ian, Does God Play Dice? London: Penguin Books, 1992², p. 18 – 33

[11] Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_mechanics

[12] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch

[13] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_formal_garden

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three-body_problem

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

[16] See also: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 530

[17] Source: Kopland, Rutger, Verzamelde gedichten. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij G.A. van Oorschot, 2010, p. 103

Five common realities – facts and logic 3

“After my afternoon-rest I have enough energy for the evening. The many tropical diseases left their traces in my body; a whole day staying active is often too much for me. What books did you buy?”, says Carla.

“An Italian course for Sanskrit to revive my study and “Six memos for the next Millennium” by Italo Calvino. The titles of these memos are intriguing:

  • 1 – Lightness,
  • 2 – Quickness,
  • 3 – Exactitude,
  • 4 – Visibility,
  • 5 – Multiplicity

and the never written memo “6 – Consistency”. The titles for these memos may also be guidelines for our Odyssey, in which we – just like Italo Calvino –can never put the sixth memo on paper, because then we should describe the entire universe in its complete infinity”, says Man.

feiten en logica 31[1]

“There I see Narrator approaching. Good to sit here in the evening sun overlooking the “Basilica di Santa Maria Novella”. Does the façade of the Basilica also meet the titles of the memos?”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 32[2]

“Good question with many answers. Did you have a good meeting with your friend?”, says Man.

“Nice to see each other again after so many years. We have change a lot and also remained the same; familiar and different. Over the years, the physical attraction had disappeared but the pleasantness of being together has stayed. Let’s first order drinks and ask for the menu”, says Narrator.

“That is good. After we ordered our meals, I will share with you – as promised this afternoon – my view on “facts and logic” of “Who are you”?”

Carla, Man and Narrator order their drinks, make their choice from the menu and order their meals.

“Yesterday I started in “Man is not only – A philosophy of Religion” by Abraham Heschel [3]. The title of this book appeals to me, because my first name is mentioned in it and because I wish to know more about the faith in God that has remained strange to me in my adult life. I have lived in monasteries and I have guided groups on Oriental wisdom, but I’ve never had an experience of God’s presence. The first eight chapters of the book on “the Unspeakable”, “the Supreme Astonishment”, “the ultimate question that exceeds words” come directly from my heart and exceed it, like blossom on a tree – included in the universe – arose from the earth, is fed by it and will return in it [4]. In Chapter 9 of the book is a passage – I quote – “We praise together with the pebbles on the road surface that appear petrified marvels, together with all flowers and trees that look like they are hypnotized in silence. When mind and spirit correspond, faith born” [5]. Until here the book makes perfect sense to me, as also the fact that the “One” – that is omnipresent – exists, wherein we are completely included and from which we, each and everything around us are temporary manifestations. But God – as the Other – remains a stranger to me. Who is he? Whereby is God separated from “the Unspeakable”, “the Supreme Astonishment”, “the ultimate question that goes beyond words”? This separation is unreal for me; I cannot understand it: it is not logical”, says Man. feiten en logica 331[6]

“In the land of my ancestors, the “Individual One” or Ātman [7] and the “One all-encompassing” or Brahman [8] are expressed and taught by the Upanishads [9]. Through a full consciousness that Ātman and Brahman are two manifestations of the “One” and thereby fall together like a drop in the ocean, we transcend humanity on Earth.

feiten en logica 34[10]

Whether one believes – or one does not – in an “All-encompassing Self” as permanent entity, is hardly of any importance in our daily life with common happiness, suffering and madness. Buddhism follows a strict Middle Way between “One All-encompassing Self” and “human daily life” in order to avoid the bottomless pit of metaphysical questions and the discussions over them [11]. A branche of the Middle Way is the metaphor of Indra’s Net [12] that gives a limited rendering of the interconnectedness between all the separate manifestations en the “All-encompassing Self”. The Mahābhārata had marked a radical shift by moving the mind in daily life from Ātman to “Dharma” – or world order and duty [13]; Dharma means literally “placing the continuous self/Self”. In the Bhagavad Gita – a small and old part of the Mahābhārata – the “attention to daily life” accumulates when Arjuna enters the arena in which families, teachers and students face each other in the field of tension between – on the one hand – the world order and duty (Dharmakshetra [14]) and – on the other hand – human actions (Kurukshetra [15]). When Arjuna faces his family, teachers and loved ones among the opponents, he refuses to give the go-ahead in the battle between the two parties. Kṛṣṇa – his spiritual leader and charioteer during this battle – encourages Arjuna to fulfil his duty within the world order and Kṛṣṇa only succeeds herein when he takes his Godlike form during this dialogue; hereupon Arjuna gives the starting signal for the battle with disastrous consequences to all main actors, but in which they fulfil their duty and task within the resulting world order. Within and coinciding with the “All-encompassing Self”, the Godlike form of Kṛṣṇa is the guardian and spiritual leader in this part of the Mahābhārata”, says Narrator.

“Within the mind-set of your ancestors with their view on “facts and logic”, humans and Gods fulfil their role in the world order. Within my conceptual framework, a Godlike role separated from “the All-encompassing One” does not fit: I feel myself at home within the mind-set of the Upanishads and within the Middle Way of Buddhism, but I like to study views with which I disagree in order to figure out what others have seen and I didn’t see until now”, says Man.

“In the last sentence I notice a statement by Professor Dr. W. Luijpen during his lectures series in philosophy at the Delft University of Technology. I too have studied a lot in my life with which I fully disagree. In my studies of crimes against humanity, I came across many sound, incorrect and false mind-sets with which I totally disagree. After studying the Old Testament and the Mahābhārata – with emphasis on ahiṃsā or non-violence as foundation of life [16] – I came to the conclusion that these books aim at peace, although both books are full of cheating, violence and atrocities. I see that our meal is arriving. Later, I hope to tell a little about the warrior mind-set”, says Carla.feiten en logica 35 [17]

“Enjoy your meal; later we will continue with our quest”, says Man.

“Did our discussion meet the titles of the six memos from Italo Calvino?”, asks Narrator.

“I think so”, says Carla.

“Fully”, says Man.

[1] See also: Calvino, Italo, Six Memos for the next Millennium. New York: Vintage Books, 1993

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_Novella

[3] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, De mens is niet alleen – De ervaring van Gods aanwezigheid. Utrecht: Kok, 2011. The original edition is: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Man is not alone – A Philosophy of Religion. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1951. See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Joshua_Heschel

[4] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 50 – 51

[5] See: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, De mens is niet alleen – De ervaring van Gods aanwezigheid. Utrecht: Kok, 2011, p. 85.

[6] Source image: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Is-Not-Alone-Philosophy/dp/B0015KDICQ

[7] See amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%80tman_(Hinduism)

[8] The word Brahman is probably derived from the verbroot √bhṝ meaning “enhance or enlarge”. See for a further introduction: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

[9] Upanishad literally means in Sanskrit: “sitting down to”. This sitting takes place near a teacher for teaching in the perpetual all-encompassing mystery that is our life is. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.  Zie ook: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upanishads

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahman

[11] See also: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 67 – 68

[12] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam publisher, 2012, p. 65 – 67;  Cook, Francis, Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra. University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977; Cleary, Thomas, Entry Into the Inconceivable: An Introduction to Hua-yen Buddhism. Boston:  Shambhala, 2002; en Cleary, Thomas, The Flower Ornament Scripture, a Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Boston: Shambhala, 1993

[13] Source: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 68. See also chapter 4 for an introduction to Dharma.

[14] Dharmakshetra consists of Dharma “placing of the continuous self/Self”, and “kshetra” – litterally: field (to be ploughed).

[15] Kurukshetra consists of Kuru – a conjugation of “kr” meaning “to make, do or act” and “kshetra” – litterally: veld (to be ploughed).

[16] See also: chapter 5 of Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006

[17] Source image: http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/mahabharata-inquiry-in-human-condition-idh471/

Five common realities – introduction

The quest for “Who are you” in the form of a “survey into our existence” is a contemporary Odyssey with 17 stages. At the end, we will look back on our journey. We will notice that everything is fulfilled in one sigh.

Before we resume our Odyssey by entering the world of everyday life, we will give a brief summary of the journey so far.

At the first stage you and I have experienced the perfect oneness from where we travelled via “Solipsism”, “The universe is but a dream”, “Pantheism” and “Indra’s net” to the second stage.


At the second stage the perfect oneness is disintegrated after the initial division of air and earth [2] in innumerable particles. Also you and I were completely disintegrated in an awful lot minimal particles. After a first organisation within these particles we – the main characters Carla Drift, Man Leben and Narrator – returned in human form on our earth after an immense long time.


At the third stage, we saw how mutual trust and reciprocal connectedness between people was realised and perpetuated by placing “people, objects, offerings and the word in the middle” between people and/or between the mutual uncertainty and people.

kroning van karel de grote[4]

As preparation for the continuation of our Odyssey – in which we will enter everyday life – there followed an interlude and afterwards the three main characters described each other’s biography. The report of the first part of our Odyssey and the three biographies are available on the website of the Publisher.

carla drift VK

VK1Carla Drift - een buitenbeentje voorkantNarrator-Nordic1


During the second part of our Odyssey we will visit the following five common realities as stages for everyday life, because these points of view provide a good impression of human daily experience:

o Facts and logic

o Intensities and associations

o Void

o Change

o Interconnectedness

Do these five common realities offer everything we need on our quest for “Who are you?” [5]. We once read that:

“If you use the five common realities in a correct way, then you are completely included in the perfect universe. Do you use this accesses in a wrong way, then you will stay a mortal being.” [6]

At the end of these common realities we will look back to see if we still are normal mortals and/or if we are included in the perfect universe.

[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra’s_net

[2] According to Genesis 1:1 – the first book of Old Testament – God created/separated the sky and earth at the beginning of time. The Hebrew verb core “bara” in the Hebrew version of Genesis 1:1 has four meanings: “creation”, “cleave”, “selection” and “feed”.  Source: http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/1.html

In the Western translations of the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, the word “shamayim” is translated as “Heaven”. Probably “sky” or “firmament” is a better translation for the Hebrew word “shamayim”. See also: http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/1.html and http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/35_home.html and Benner, Jeff A.A Mechanical Translation of the Book of Genesis – The Hebrew text literally translated word for word. 2007

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom

[4] Source image: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne

[5] According Buddhism, the five skandhas provide everything that we need for our spiritual development. See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence –part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012 p. 172 – 183

[6] Source: The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. San Francisco: Buddhist Text Translation Society, 2002, p. 381 – 382. Remark: “Buddha–use” and “Store enveloping consciousness” are rendered by your Narrator as “perfect universe”.

Narrator – back to the civilised world 2

After the day trip on the plateau of Hardangervidda – a National Park in Norway – my beloved and I travelled in one day to Oslo. In Gol [1] we visited our last medieval stave church in Norway. Actually, it is a copy of the original that once stood on this site and now is placed in an open air museum near Oslo. It struck us that this church was much lusher than the stave churches that we had seen before – we were approaching the civilised world.


From Gol to Oslo the road became fuller and busier, we approached a medium-sized city. The quiet floating on the roads in our Goddess [3] was finished, now traffic required attention again.

Upon our arrival in Oslo we first put the tent in the city camp-ground. Then we visited the Norwegian Folk Museum where we saw the original stave church from Gol again. We noticed that the interior of the traditional Norwegian houses was always the same and always different. The design of the furniture and the household was different, but inside the house the objects were always positioned in the same place. This created an immediate recognition for every resident and visitor, while the individuality of the residents was shown. A unity in multitude and multitude in the same design.


The next day my beloved and I visited the Frogner Park [5] in which a sculpture collection made by the Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland [6] is exhibited. In the Centre of the park stands a monolithic column composed of intertwined human figures. My lover was deeply touched by the similarity with the stave churches and by the intertwined worlds of people portrayed. He thought the column looked like a forefinger reminding us that we will once pass Heaven’s Gate together.


I told my beloved a parable which my father has heard of his ancestors:

“When I was a child, my parents taught me and said:” Let Your heart carry our lives! For peace will increase in days and nights of Your life. Our benefit and fidelity will not leave You, You carry them, breathes them and the world shares in Your peace [8]. Hereinafter my father began to recite the first verses of the īśāvāsya upaniṣad: “That is overall. This is overall. Overall comes from overall. Take away overall from overall and thus remains overall. Peace, peace, peace”.

In a pitch dark period of my life I have violated the trust of my parents. My heart was cold and empty, my fidelity to the peace in the world changed in hatred and I enjoyed myself in wrongdoing that I committed to fill my heart with vanity. In one night I set the forest around a village on fire, the wind and the fire gods spread the flames. I shot on everything and everyone who wanted to escape the flames. I was happy! [9]

The next morning I saw that everything of value for filling my empty heart with vanity was turned into ashes and corpses by the fire. The stench of rotting and the flies remained. Hungry and empty I moved on. On the road I filled my stomach with food and my heart with compassion. Kindliness, detachment and joy came into view again.

Years later I shared my food with several hungry beggars. They thanked me with the words: “All in All, may you realize that Our fidelity and benefit cannot leave You”. Via the words of this passer-by, my heart felt again the continuing benefit and fidelity that I always carry and breath wherever I go”. 

After this parable my father taught me the meaning of the key word “realize” that is composed of “re”, “all”, “ïśe” [10], whereby “realize” origins from honouring “again and again”, “all and everything”, “in Your omnipotence”.

Wherever You go and whatever You do, the benefit and fidelity will not leave You”.

At the end of this parable my beloved said that everyone and everything is enlightened; we must realize it constantly. I still had a long way to go. Fortunately, there was benevolence and joy in my life again; detachment would follow soon.

After the visit to the Frogner Park we walked a few streets in the Embassy district where a friend of ours lived with a group in a beautiful traditional wooden house. During our visit we heard worrying news from Amsterdam. Many of our friends and former lovers suffered from a mysterious illness whereby they quickly lost weight; the disease fully exhausted them. The doctors had no cure and no answer; at the West Coast of America several distant friends were already deceased by this mystery.

When retrieving the post-restante at the post office in Oslo, my beloved read in a letter from his sister that his mother was very ill. During a phone call with his sister, he heard that his mother had less than a year to live.

Although we felt at home in Oslo, our concern about the fate of our friends in Amsterdam and the illness of the mother of my lover overshadowed our stay in this city. After a week we travelled to Stockholm via a water rich area. At the beginning of autumn we arrived in Gamla Stan. The leaves on the trees at the water front showed their red, brown, yellow glow. That autumn and winter was the last time my lover and I were carefree together.


[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gol,_Norway

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gol,_Norway

[3] Our white Citroën DS

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

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frogner_Park

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

[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigelandpark

[8] The first sentences of this parable are a free rendering of chapter 3 of the Proverbs of Salomo in the Old Testament.

[9] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where  at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84; in her study Ruth Katz can hardly explain these crimes done by Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa.

[10] This is the locative of Īśa. In Sanskrit Īśa means amongst others “God in Heaven”, “someone with omnipotence”. The sound of īśā resembles “ich” – the German pronoun first person singular.

[11] Source image: http://www.communityofsweden.com/photos/photo/?photo=41411. This image is not included in the Creative Common Licence; see the conditions for use via the following hyperlink: http://www.communityofsweden.com/footer/editorial/community-of-sweden/terms-of-service/

Narrator – Amsterdam: the inverted world 3

My first autumn in Amsterdam was cold and wet. Still, I marvelled about the abundance of water and at the uneasiness that people felt during rainy weather. Rain was a feast in my home country, because regularly there was a lack of water for the cattle [1]. My mother moved around with her herd looking for water and new pasture. In Holland, this is all in abundance; a hole of half a meter deep is enough for water and pastures are everywhere.

During my first year in Holland, I came to love the skies. The clouds are of an enchanting beauty. The paintings of the Dutch masters show a glimpse of this wealth; the real sky together with the sun are a world miracle without precedent. In this reverse world nobody is interested in looking at the sky; except artists, but they are seen as idlers. “Time is money and we cannot make a living from looking at the sky; we have something better to do”, is the opinion of the people in Holland.


Dutch consider themselves God’s steward, but they omit to pay attention to half of God’s creation [3]: the heavenly sky [4]. In the Dutch literature is one main character who gave attention to the sky and the play of the sun, but this painter became insane, because he could not capture the sunset on a painting [5].


The second winter in Holland I began to love the shelter and the confinement of fog and mist. In this reverse world clouds on the ground are still present, as if God had chosen not to complete the separation of sky and earth around Amsterdam. The people in Holland do not notice this. The Kingdom of Heaven is for the poor in spirit [7], normal mortals should take care of the earth and afterwards God will allow the elect to his Kingdom. For me Holland was a Godlike paradise with a heavenly splendour on earth.


The next spring, a Goddess appeared in my life. One of my lovers stayed for half a year abroad and I was allowed to use his house and his Citroën DS in the meantime. He gave me ample living allowance [9]. That summer I was gliding with my white Goddess over the roads of Europe; I also visited my friends in Rome.


At the end of my second year in Amsterdam I changed from an attractive exotic appearance into an idol. In the world of fashion and vanity, I became a favourite icon. I was desired by influential attractive men who love men and equally authoritative as the King’s daughter Draupadi [11] in the Mahābhārata [12], I lived with them in polyandry.

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

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolk

[3] According to Genesis 1:1 – the first book of Old Testament – God created/separated the sky and earth at the beginning of time. The Hebrew verb core “bara” in the Hebrew version of Genesis 1:1 has four meanings: “creation”, “cleave”, “selection” and “feed”.  Source: http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/1.html

[4] In the Western translations of the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, the word “shamayim” is translated as “Heaven”. Probably “sky” or “firmament” is a better translation for the Hebrew word “shamayim”. See also: http://www.qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament/genesis/1.html and http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/35_home.html and Benner, Jeff A.A Mechanical Translation of the Book of Genesis – The Hebrew text literally translated word for word. 2007

[5] See: The painter Bavink in amongst others De uitvreter en Titaantjes in: Nescio, Verzameld werk I. Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Nijgh en van Ditmar en Uitgeverij van Oorschot, 1996.

[6] Source photo: Marieke Grijpink

[7] See: the Gospel of Matthew 5:3 in the New Testament.

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mist

[9] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allowance_(money). In Holland a living allowance is just sufficient for daily life.

[10] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citro%C3%ABn_DS

[11] See also: McGrath, Kevin, STR women in Epic Mahâbhârata. Cambridge: Ilex Foundation, 2009 en http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draupadi

[12] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahabharata