Tag Archives: philosophy

Review: Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra


Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra
Hua-Yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra by Francis Harold Cook
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is about the world view of a Chinese form of Buddhism – named Hua-yen (Flower Ornament) – with a fascinating philosophy describing our existence as infinite realms upon realms, mutually containing one another (the jewel net of Indra).

Francis Cook’s book is in my opinion an excellent introduction in the English language to the Hua-yen school of Buddhism – one of the seven branches of Zen Buddhism.

Highly recommended.

Also highly recommended as an introduction to, and explanation and background of “The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra”, by Thomas Cleary.

View all my reviews

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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 – facts and logic


On our contemporary Odyssey to “Who are you” we arrived for our fourth stage “facts and logic” in Florence.

Why do we start our stage “facts and logic” in Florence?

The emergence of the first facts and logic in people is shrouded in mystery [1]. How did mankind for the first time become consciously aware of a fact? When using a stone as a melee weapon or during love feelings for descendants? How did mankind for the first time consciously notice a logical link? When consciously eating plants with specific properties or on foreseeing pregnancy after sexual intercourse? We do not know.

200px-Venus_von_Willendorf_01[2]

At this fourth stage, we wish to avoid the world of religion [3] – or where people fall back upon when interpretation should be given to the unknown, because at other stages during our quest we will address religion adequately.

IMG_1408 (1)[4]

Due to time constraints, we also ignore the genesis and further development of philosophy in ancient times [5].

Our fourth stage “facts and logic” starts at the transition from the medieval Scholasticism [6] to the Renaissance. Both philosophies have attempted to consider the world as deterministic, that is: when the principles and the internal rules are known, then the past, the present and the future are determined. Both philosophical currents had made every effort to determine the order and the internal rules to get grip and insight into our world centred around God [7] within the Scholasticism, or around mankind and human reason within the ruling elite in the Renaissance [8].

From the beginning, Christianity has never stopped to debate the relationship between truth revealed from God in the Holy Scriptures and the continuous discovery of truth and facts by human reason – also seen as a gift of God within the Christian faith [9]; these debates reached their peak in expansion and complexity during the heyday of Scholasticism.

At the beginning of the Renaissance in and around Florence the origin for the discovery of the actual reality permanently shifted from the revelations by God in the Holy Scriptures to human reason centred around mankind. According to the Old Testament the earth – founded by God – will never move [10], but around 1600 AD Copernicus [11] and Kepler had conclusively shown that the earth revolved around the Sun. Galileo Galilei had defended this factual discovery in 1632 AD in his writing Dialogo sopra i due Massimi Sistemi di Galileo Galilei del Mondo Tolemaico e Copernicano (Dialogue from Galileo Galilei over the two main world systems, the Ptolemaic and Copernican) in front of the Church Inquisition. The Christian Church had sentenced him in 1633 AD to house arrest and permanently banned the Dialogo. Over 100 years later – in 1737 AD – Galilei was reburied from a humble graveyard to a tomb in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. In October 1992 AD the name of Galilei was finally purified by the Catholic Church by Pope John Paul II [12].

graftombe galilei[13]

The continuum of the transition of Scholasticism into the Renaissance is perceived at our visit to the Santa Maria del Carmine [14] and in it the Cappella Brancacci located in Piazza del Carmine [15] in Florence.

Santa Maria del Carmine[16]

The following post will include the report of this visit.


[1] For interested readers: a small corner of the veil over the early emergence of facts and logic is lifted in: Arsuaga, Juan Luis, Het halssieraad van de Neanderthaler – Op zoek naar de eerste denkers. Amsterdam: Wereldbibiotheek: 1999; in: Lewis-Williams, David & Pearce, David, Inside the neolitic Mind. London: Thames & Hudson, 2009; and in: Beyens, Louis, De Graangodin – Het ontstaan van de landbouwcultuur. Amsterdam: Atlas, 2004

[2] Image of the Venus of Willendorf estimated to have been made more than 20,000 years BCE. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Willendorf

[3] For the emergence and development of religious ideas, we refer to the studies: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982; Johnston, Sarah Iles (ed.), Religions of the Ancient World – a Guide. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004;  Mallory, J.P. & Adams, D.Q., The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

[4] Stone circles in the Middle of England. Source image: Marieke Grijpink

[5] There are several standard works on the history of philosophy.

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

[7] For example: the Five arguments for the existence of God in de Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas

[8] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renaissance

[9] See also: MacCulloch, Diarmond, Christianity – The first three thousand Years. New York: Viking, 2010 p. 141

[10] See amongst others: Psalms 93:1, 96:10, 105:5 and 1 Chronicles 16:30

[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolaas_Copernicus

[12] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[13] Tomb of Galileï in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

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

[16] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Maria_del_Carmine,_Florence

Carla Drift – Study Humanities in Amsterdam


After my third academic year, I moved in the beginning of the summer holidays with the help of study friends from Delft to Amsterdam. I had found my new room with support of the charming man with whom I had followed the lecture series philosophy in Delft that were given by Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen. Halfway through the lecture series I understood that his name was Man Leben. He introduced me to friends of him who lived in the inner town of Amsterdam; they had a room available on the first floor. My whole study time in Amsterdam I lived in this room; I soon changed from a lodger to a housemate with my share in the overall domestic life – cooking, cleaning, a drink at the end of a busy day and very occasionally a feast. The friends of Man were happy with a nice person in their house and I needed this domesticity after I had left Delft with empty hands. Later more about this.

[1]

In Delft, I had followed the compulsory courses of humanities and philosophy. In addition, I chose to follow many additional courses in this area. I could not continue my technical scientific study in the direction I had in mind. After discussions with many people about my motives, I chose to continue my study in the field of humanities in Amsterdam – already the second mainstream of my study in Delft.

With my Bacholor in a technical study, I hardly receives any exemptions for subjects in the humanities. I read quickly and fortunately I could pass the compulsory courses in a high pace. Within a year, I had caught up with my study to beginning Masters level.

My study included psychology, especially focused on the development of people and behaviour of people in their daily life. In Delft, I had already studied the hierarchy of needs described by Abraham Maslow. Additionally, I studied how people learned to look and see; what processes play a role in imprinting and imaging. Imprinting and imaging can take place by looking at examples of parents and opinion makers, but it can also happen physically by eating spoiled food – afterwards the food that is associated with the sickness, will never taste pleasant anymore. I studied greed in relationship to survival of people; in doing so, I read many studies on the role of individuals in conflict and warfare, the consequences of these conflicts on individuals and the interactions between both. By glorification and honouring of heroic deeds during the warfare, individuals and societies are made ready for acceptance of the horrors of warfare. According to the inprinting in people and society, these horrors are required to achieve a higher goal in the field of religion, survival, prosperity or overcoming of basic fears; often these horrors are even glorified. Later, I followed a special topic on the interaction between literature and art on the one hand and warfare violence on the other hand. After following this subject, I always looked different at certain expressions of art. A number of Dadaist and surreal artists have acquired their visual language in the trenches of the first world war; they literally have seen the horrors – corpses and horses – hanging in the trees.

[2]

[3]

In the field of sociology, I studied group behaviour with my special attention to imprinting and imaging by initiation rites and groupthink. Also changes within groups – caused by the corresponding group dynamics – and the impact of these changes on the personal life of group members were studied by me. During the beginning of the first World War, the participation of young men was voluntary, but if this “voluntary” participation was not done, than the young men and their families were physically and mentally completely excluded from the local community – more examples follow later during our Odyssey.

[4]

I studied how history took shape over time under the influence of prevailing images of reality within a society. Often history was written by the victor or by the ruling class. By tradition the ruling class imposed upon society whether hunting of animals was a noble activity – a privilege of the nobility – or ordinary poaching – by people without privileges. The same way of imaging determined when a conquest had to be seen as a triumphant benefit for society or vile robbery of legal property. The reality and the associated image were often adapted to the needs and wishes of ruling class or to the emerging new class of rulers. One hundred years ago, the anarchist Mikhail Bakunin has noted quite rightly that within a year the revolutionaries in Russia would be worse than the tsar in their imaging and in their actions [5]. By the end of my study, I studied with great interest “The History of the personal Life” composed by Philippe Ariès [6] and George Duby [7]. This study showed that although everything changes, very many old elements remain active in a modified form. According to old Roman law, a father has the right to accept or reject a child after birth: the baptism of a new-born baby may still be a remnant of this old patriarchal law. The Roman Empire persisted in Belgium and the southern Netherlands in the Church provinces of the Roman Catholic Church. The chasubles of the priests in the Catholic Church still show strong resemblances  with the prevailing mode in Rome in the fifth century after Christ.

In the following post more about my study of the history of law and language.


[1] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I

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

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eerste_Wereldoorlog

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

[6] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe_Ari%C3%A8s

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

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

Man Leben – interview 4


The previous interview was about love in your life. In this post I continue with some questions about the last surprise in your life.

“In the last part of your life you are involved in Oriental wisdom. In the description of your life you refer indirectly to a form of enlightenment. Aren’t you enlightened? “, I ask.

“Everything is enlightened. Nothing, not even the tiniest particle is excluded. Everything in all its natural forms is perfectly enlightened”, you say.

“Also all greed, all crimes, all murders, all illusions, all nonsense and vanity?”, I ask.

“Enlightenment is as natural as inhaling and exhaling whereby inhaling and exhaling are manifestations of enlightenment. We have experienced a glimpse of the complete enlightenment on our Odyssey when we have arrived on the peninsula at the end of the afternoon at the stage “Two – night at the beginning of the spring” [1] after a long day walking. The following morning at six o’clock we have seen the sunrise in the East at the beginning of spring. That afternoon we have washed ourselves in the water at the peninsula, we dried ourselves and put on clean clothes and then we have gathered wood for a small fire in an old tin. This is free rendering of the summary of the Diamond Sutra that directly reflects enlightenment [2]. The real summary is “evam” [3] – the first word of this sutra in Sanskrit – or in English “thus”. Every action, every word and every breath is completely enlightenment. The photo of the sunflowers in the header of this weblog “Who are you” is quite  appropriate. Every sunflower seed on this picture includes the entire universe perfectly and completely”, you say.

“Where do arise all crimes, all murders, all delusions, all greed, all nonsense and vanity?”, I ask.

“In stage One in the post on pantheism, we have encountered “Indra’s net” [4] as metaphor for the entire universe. Indra’s net [5] is in the Huayan school of Buddhism [6] a metaphor for everything, for enlightenment and also for illusions and delusions. If a glass pearl in the net represents an illusion or a delusion, this illusion or delusion is reflected by all other glass pearls in the net. If a glass pearl is enlightened, the enlightenment is reflected in all other pearls. Or if we translate this metaphor to our daily lives, if greed and crime are in our lives, then this affects everything and everyone; and if a person or thing is enlightened, then this enlightenment reflects on everything and everyone in the universe. Or practical, if we stick to possession, or sin against the ten commandments, then these actions affect the entire universe; and if we carefully share possession and perform appropriate action and non-action, then this is reflected in everything and everyone. Hence the Buddhist encouragement – work hard and show compassion with everything and everyone; exclude nothing and nobody”, you say.

[7]

“I can follow the reasoning. I will reconsider this metaphor. On our Odyssey we will encounter sufficient challenges. Many books on Buddhism describe the experience of enlightenment. Have you personally experienced enlightenment?”, I ask.

“You mean the experience to be included in everything and everyone in all its manifestations. I don’t know how, but if I look back then this has always been my basic attitude, also if I was blinded by love, anger or sadness. I can describe it clearer since I have read in a book that for an enlightened mind there is no difference between the finger pointing at the Moon and the Moon. In the same way there is no difference between the waves and the ocean [8]. Before, I have often mentioned as example in meditation meetings that the finger pointing to the moon may not be confused with the moon. After I have read this passage, it is suddenly clear that the manifestations “the finger”, “the Moon” and “the thoughts about these” are mutual perfectly connected. Everything and everyone are natural manifestations of this”, you say.

“For me, your description of “the fate of humans determines that we may sit between changing fires and ashes” and “the blossom growing from dust to dust” is pretty distressing and painful. Maybe the description of my life will clarify this beauty and distress. Do you try to live as a Buddha or as a Bodhisattva as described in the Avatamsaka sutra [9]“, I ask.

[10]

“I am not a Saint. I look forward to the description of your life and of Narrator and then the continuation of our Odyssey”, you say.

“May I bundle the posts about your life together with an introduction and a conclusion in a biography?”, I ask.

“If it will be published after my death”, you say.

In the following post I tell about the beginning of my life


[1] See post: “Two – Night at the beginning of spring” of 25 April 2011

[2] See: Red Pine (Bill Porter), The Diamond Sutra. New York: Counterpoint, 2001 p. 39.

[3] See: Lopez – The Heart Sutra explained. 1990 p 34; “The commentary Vajrapâņi has high praise for the word Evam (thus), the word with which sūtras begin. Those four letters are the source of the 84.000 doctrines taught by the Buddha and are the basis of all marvels.”

See Red Pine (Bill Porter) – The Diamond Sutra. 2001 p 41-42; “Commentaries have written volumes on the profundity of evam (thus). Does it mean “like so”, or does it mean “just so”? And what is the difference? Is this sutra the finger that points to the moon, or is it the moon itself?”

See: Holstein, Alexander- Pointing at the Moon. 1993 p 49; in the enlightened mind of a Zen master, probably, there is no distinction what the ordinary mind calls “to point at” and “the moon”. To the enlightened mind, the relation between the two is similar to the relation of an ocean to its waves.

[4] See post: “One – Pantheism – Indra’s net” of 8 April 2011

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

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

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

[8] Source: Holstein, Alexander. Pointing at the Moon. Rutland: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1993, p. 49

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

[10] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhi