Tag Archives: Religion

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity


A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity
A History of Religious Ideas 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second volume of “A History of Religious Idea – From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity” by Mircea Eliade covers the vast religious area between:

  • The ancient religions in China (Taoism and Confucianism),
  • Brahmanism and Hinduism,
  • Buddhism,
  • Roman religions,
  • Celts and Germans,
  • Judaism,
  • The Hindu Synthesis: The Mahabharata including the Bhagavad Gita,
  • Iranian Synthesis,
  • Paganism,
  • The Birth of Christianity and
  • Christianity as official Religion of the Roman Empire.

This vast area of religious ideas is described in a considerable depth, although experts will certainly notice significant omissions at once; e.g. the Upanishads and the Mahabharata deserve more attention.

This volume ends with “Deus Sol Invictus”; a religious idea taken by the Roman Emperor Aurelius (270 – 275 AC) from Egypt as uniting monotheistic Sun-God principle in the Roman Empire, before his successor Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity a preferred religion within the Roman Empire. The name Sunday – the day of God – originates from “Deus Sol Invictus” or Sun-God in the Roman Empire.

Highly recommended!

View all my reviews

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Five common realities – facts en logic 11


Carla and Narrator are waiting for Man outside their guest house in Florence.

“This afternoon I forgot to say that objects, symbols, rituals, words, slogans, music, literature, philosophy and religion can direct – and take over – the behaviour and consiousness of people. Two extreme examples in negative sense are:

  • a political leader and followers influence each other in words and rituals so far-reaching that a part of society proceeds to genocide,
  • a religion sect degenerates by rituals, slogans, words and behavior in religious madness.

feiten en logica 111[1]

In a positive sense, behaviour and consciousness of people are influenced – as exercises for the soul – by music, literature, religion (for basic trust), architecture, art, science. Via symbols and rituals, people feel security and belonging. An outspoken example is the hostia (sacramental bread) which – according to the Catholic Church – changes into the body of Christ after the epiklesis and the consecration during the Eucharist [2]. I think we should not delve into this further, because we use lightness and quickness as two guidelines during our Odyssey”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 112[3]

“Within the conceptional framework of Indra’s Net, every particle, every object and every living being reflects the body of Christ – as a historical person and as a Godlike being”, says Narrator.

“There is a small difference: Catholics believe that the hostia only after the epiklesis (or convocation of the Holy Spirit) and the consecration during a Catholic Eucharist changes in the body of Christ. The metaphor of Indra’s Net reflects the Catholic faith and at the same time, the disbelief in the hostia as a body of Christ in all its manifestations”, says Carla.

“You are right, we don’t have time to fully investigate the influences of symbols and slogans on the human behaviour next to our Odyssey to who are you. There is Man”, says Narrator.

“Do you like a real dinner tonight or shall we buy a simple supper in the supermarket and eat it in the park of the Piazza Massimo D’Azeglio, just like Dutch people?”, asks Man.

“Right then, just as people from Holland”, says Carla.

“I haven’t done otherwise for years, for me it’s all right”, says Narrator.

After a visit to the supermarket, they sit in the park and have the following conversation.

“Narrator, your last name Nārāyana is similar to the title of one of the older Upanishads that probably is created at the end of the Vedic period in India [4]. I refer to the following brief passage from the Nārāyana Upanishad [5] as stepping stone to my introduction to Kṛṣṇa as God in a human shape:

Nārāyana is the Supreme Reality designated as Brahman.

Nārāyana is the highest (Self).

Nārāyana is the supreme Light. Narayana is the infinite Self.

The supreme person Nārāyana willed to create beings.

Everything in this world is pervaded by Nārāyana within and without [6].

Did you know this similarity in name with your last name?”, asks Man to Narrator.

“My father had told me this in one of his stories when I was a young man. Later on in my life – during my incarnation as Bhikṣu – I have read the Nārāyana Upanishad via de University Library in Heidelberg.  In Sanskrit, Nārāyana means amongst others “son of the original Man”[7], whereby “Man” in Sanskrit means “to think, believe and perceive”. The book with Buddhistic questions that I had received from my American beloved, includes the question “True Man” about the meaning of “Man”. This beginning of this question is:

“There is a True Man with no ranks going out and in through the portals of Your face [8].

Beginners who have not witnessed it, Look, Look”

And the verse in this koan starts as follows:

“Delusion and (Buddhistic) enlightenment are opposite,

Subtly communicated, with simplicity;

Spring opens the hundred flowers [9], in one puff. [10]

Delusion and (Buddhistic) enlightenment also include symbols, rituals, words, slogans, literature, philosophy and religion that direct and even take over the behaviour and consiousness of humans in a positive and negative way. The “son of the original Man” in my last name Nārāyana is not only the human man, but also indicates the “True Man” in this Buddhistic question”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 113[11]

“The difference between delusion and reality, crime and goodness are often paper thin and as a rule dependent on the framework wherein it is perceived. Your explanation about “thinking, believing and perceiving” show this. “Sein und Zeit[12] – the magnum opus by Martin Heidegger – also shows a glimp of this. Martin Heidegger has made a distinction between the “Improper Man” – or Delusion – and the “Own Self”. I am not sure if Martin Heidegger would equate the “Own Self” to the “True Man” in the Buddhistic question”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 114[13]

“I am deeply impressed by your introduction to Nārāyana and the “True Man”; you can express this far better than I can. Would you like to tell us who Kṛṣṇa is?”, says Man.

“May I do that tomorrow, let us first have our supper on this beautiful late summer evening in the park. Shall I break the bread and pour the wine?”, says Narrator.

“That is good”, say Carla and Man.

feiten en logica 115[14]


[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg

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

[3] Images of a traditional and modern monstrance. The monstrance is a holder in which the hostia (or sacramental bread) – that after the epiklesis (or the invocation of the Holy Spirit) and the consecration during the Eucharist, according to the Catholic Church changes into the body of Christ – is shown. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstrance and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacramental_bread.  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstrance

[4] The Mahānārāyana Upanishad is, as chapter 10 of the Taittiriya Aranyaka, part of the dark – or inconceivable – Yajurveda (or Veda during sacrifices). See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taittiriya_Aranyaka#Taittiriya_Aranyaka

[5] The tekst in Sanskrit is available under the title “mahAnArAyaNa” at: http://sanskritdocuments.org/doc_upanishhat/

[6] Source: XIII-4 and XIII-5 from the English translation of the Mahānārāyana Upanishad via: http://www.indiadivine.org/audarya/hinduism-forum/230825-maha-narayana-upanishad-translation-english.html

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

[8] Next to human face, “Your face” also refers to the “face of the world” and the “face of Indra’s Net”.

[9] See for an interpretation of flowers also “One – Blossom” in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – A survey into our existence – 1. Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 50 – 53

[10] Abridged version of the Zen Koan “Linji’s True Man” from: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 167 – 170

[11] One of the unendless many manifestations of the “True Man”. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann

[12] Heidegger, Martin, Sein und Zeit. Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2006. See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sein_und_Zeit#Verfallenheit_und_Eigentlichkeit:_Das_Man

[13] Image of a tool to understand the main concepts in Heidegger’s “Sein und Zeit” – (Being and Time). Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sein_und_Zeit#Verfallenheit_und_Eigentlichkeit:_Das_Man

[14] Piazza Massimo D’Azeglio. Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_d’Azeglio

Five common realities – facts and logic 7


Carla, Man and Narrator have visited the inside of the Baptisterium San Giovanni and they are now standing outside for the closed Eastern door of the Baptisterium.

“This is according to Michelangelo the “Porta del Paradiso” or the gateway to paradise. On the top panel in the left door, “Adam and Eve in paradise”, “the fall” and “the expulsion from paradise” are shown. Paradise and the fall are beautiful metaphors for the human illusion of the paradisiacal possibility to an all-encompassing knowledge of the organised chaos. After Gödel had eaten from the apple of wisdom with the proof of the two incompleteness theorems – whereafter the illusion of omniscience of “facts and logic” was basically unreachable forever – the scientific world knew that humanity has forever no access to the paradise of omniscience.

feiten en logica 71[1]

It is absolutely right that the “Porta del Paradiso” is closed and there is a fence before this gate”, says Carla.

feiten en logica 72[2]

“I have read in my city guide that both doors are copies of the original doors that were severely damaged by the ravages of time and the flood of the river Arno [3] on November 6, 1966. Because of this flood, several panels were torn from the Porta del Paradiso [4]. I think the flood of the river Arno was also a manifestation of organized chaos”, says Man.

feiten en logica 73[5]

“Certainly. The river has exceeded the banks to a nearly equal height in 1333 and in 1557 AD. Perhaps this is the reason that the living quarters in the Florentine palaces are located on the first floor.

[6]

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[7]

This flood is an outstanding example of the organised chaos. Within reasonable certainty it can be stated, that once every few hundred years a similar flood can occur in Florence, like – within certain limits – all other water levels in the river can manifest themselves at any given time with a certain probability – this is the ordered nature of the organised chaos. But no one can predict on which day in the future a similar flood as in 1333, 1557 and 1966 AD will happen – this is the chaotic nature of the organised chaos”, says Carla.

“Good example. Yesterday I was looking for more information about Gödel. I read Gödel’s ontological proof of God. I have a copy of this proof for you”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 76[8]

“I can rarely accept a first definition without questioning. During my study at Delft University of Technology I had always asked my teachers where the first definition was based on. Initially teachers could give a limited answer to my question, but by asking further questions the answer always came down to the platitude: “We must start somewhere“. This answer remained unsatisfactory for me, I was actually always asking for an answer to “Why” while at best teachers could give an answer to “How – within a certain context”. Looking back, my change from my study of Applied Physics to the subject Humanities can be traced to the fact that Applied Physics has no answers available to why facts and logic manifest itself in a certain manner to us. Coming back to the first definition in Gödel’s ontological argument: why has God-like only positive properties and no negative characteristics or imaginary properties – as imaginary numbers in electrical engineering [9]? Based on the lack of an answer to my last question and based on Gödel’s first incompleteness theorem, Gödel’s ontological proof cannot contain a complete system – or a complete description of God-like. In the case Gödel’s ontological proof would contain an all-encompassing system – which is not the case in my opinion  – the consistency of the axioms cannot be proven from within its own system according to Gödel’s second incompleteness theorem. For completeness, I must say that my statements are based on scientific logic – and not on religious principles [10]. I think Gödel’s ontological proof is only a first exercise of Gödel in the field of religion and no more”, says Carla.

“I think you’re right”, says Narrator.

“Sounds convincing. During lunch I would like to hear your opinion about facts and logic of the look on God as described by Abraham Joshua Heschel in “God in Search of Man” [11] and the two aspects of “One” in the “Commentary on the Awakening of Faith” by Fa-Tsang [12], says Man.

“This fits nicely with Gödel’s ontological proof. My introduction to the mind of the warrior can wait for a while. Shall we look for a place for our lunch? ”, says Carla.

“I know a nice place in the Piazza di Santa Croche”, says Narrator.


[1] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Baptistery

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptisterium_(Florence)

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966_Flood_of_the_Arno_River and http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alluvione_di_Firenze_del_4_novembre_1966

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptisterium_(Florence)

[5] Source image:http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alluvione_di_Firenze_del_4_novembre_1966

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%9Cberschwemmung_in_Florenz_1966

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966_Flood_of_the_Arno_River

[8] Source image/text: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del’s_ontological_proof

[9] Calculations of electronic circuits are considerably simplified by use of imaginary numbers with a real value equal to zero. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imaginary_number

[10] See also the statement made by Prof. Dr. W. Luijpen on the scope of science in relation to religion referred to in the post “Five common realities – facts and logic 6”

[11] See also: Heschel, Abraham Joshua, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976 (Reprint – original published in 1955).

[12] See also: Vorenkamp, Dirck, An English Translation of Fa-Tsang’s Commentary on the Awakening of Faith. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press. 2004

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

Narrator – back to the civilised world


From the empty gate to the North Cape we travelled in the eternal light. No night, no darkness, no visions of murdered villagers who wanted to escape from the nightly fire in the forest, no vigils for the breath of the deceased, only the constant day where the sun did not set. This peaceful world without nightly phantoms was new to me. Finally I could sleep quietly.

My beloved was in euphoria about passing the Empty Gate – his here and now was boundlessly connected with the universe. At the North Cape he did not need any sleep; he rested peacefully sitting on the ground while I slept.

Noordkaap[1]

The outward journey to the empty gate in the north was straightforward. The return to the civilised world included many detours along the winding coast of the fjords in Norway. From the North Cape my lover studied the endlessly intertwined worlds described in the Avatamsaka Sūtra [2].

My beloved was deeply moved by the abundance of descriptions of these intertwined worlds. Dumbfounded he read that there had existed many Buddhas in the past and in the future unmentionable Buddhas would follow according to this sūtra. Until that moment my lover with his American Protestant Christian background knew but one god. After he had studied Buddhism, that one god was replaced by Buddha.

The road to the empty gate led to a unity including the comprehensive Buddhist universe, but now this sūtra proclaimed the existence of infinitely intertwined universes in which many, many Buddhas were involved. His dismay was complete, just as complete as my amazement about the eternal days and about the infinitely intertwining separation of mountain landscape and sea along the coasts of the Norwegian fjords.

Geirangerfjord[3]

During our return along the Norwegian coast, the nights with my dark phantoms came back almost unnoticed. I kept the vigil while my beloved slept. In the northern ports and places I was an attraction – not many people arrived with a blue-dark complexion. Fortunately we were in transit; my mask of an idol evaporated on leaving the place.

After a few weeks of study in the Avatamsaka Sūtra, my lover was used to the intertwining of the universes, but he also read that the universes are mirrored in each other and thereby affect each other. He could understand this intellectually when he looked at the water and the air in the fjords, but these thoughts were inconsistent with his cultural background. His euphoria and happiness after passing the empty gate was shocked upon reading this sūtra.

Sonnefjord_Norway2[3a]

The descriptions of Indra’s Net [4] brought some clarification in the confusion that had arisen after studying the abundance of intertwined worlds, but he experienced this model as artificial. The euphoria and liberation of the Northern Cape changed in care and doubt about an infinite winding road that my lover could never finish during his life. A parable of my father – about an endless life with many rebirths in which living beings in many manifestations (from microbe to enlightened people and gods via individual universes) followed the road to a blissful existence – gave no rest. My beloved uttered gloomy comments upon the description of the 32 abodes “from hells, titans, hungry ghosts, animals, people, gods in 22 categories to five spheres of infinite space, consciousness and emptiness” [5] in the long discourses of Buddha.

From the Sognefjord we decided to travel to Oslo via a direct route along stave churches. First we visited the stave church in Kaupanger and then the oldest stave church in Urnes with a crucifix whereof part of the original paint came from Afghanistan according to the guide. The dark night was inside the Church with glimmer from above – outside there was the excess of the summer light.

Stave_church_Urnes,_panorama[6]

My beloved and I made a day trip on the plateau of Hardangervidda [7]. To the North the clouds and the landscape appeared to go on endlessly. My lover compared the repeating clouds with the intertwined universes from the Avatamsaka Sūtra. He wondered how we can achieve the enlightenment of all the intertwined universes. I indicated that the clouds and the worlds can take care for themselves; the wind is the same everywhere – ultimately there are no two kinds of wind [8]. After my remark my beloved started to beam again; his concerns and confusion were gone. My nightly phantoms remained.

800px-Hardangerviddaflora[9]

The joy of my beloved remained in my life until the following spring he returned to his parents ‘ house.


[1] Source image: http://nn.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordkapp

[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avatamsaka_Sutra. De full name of this sūtra is: “ Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra ( महावैपुल्यबुद्धावतंसकसूत्र)” or “The extensive marvellously decorated garland of flower-buds sūtra”, wherein “Avatamsaka” means amongst others “marvellously shining garland” and “sūtra” stands for “transference of the good”.

[3] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Geirangerfjord.jpg

[3a] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sognefjord

[4] See also: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence, part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012, p. 65 – 67

[5] The Long Discourses of the Buddha. Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications, 1995 p. 38-39

[6] Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stabkirche_Urnes

[7] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardangervidda

[8] See: Cleary, Thomas, Book of Serenity – One Hundred Zen Dialogues. Bosten: Shambhala, 1998 p. 110.

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardangervidda