Tag Archives: ritual

Review: A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries


A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries
A History of Religious Ideas 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries by Mircea Eliade
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In volume I of “A History of Religious Ideas”, Mircea Eliade opens on page 5 with explanation of a ritual of “mystical solidarity” from the Stone Age, that I have not read anywhere else.
In this ritual hunter-gatherers see the blood of the prey as similar in every respect to their blood; and by killing the prey they identify themselves with their prey for two reasons. They seek redemption for the sin of killing their prey, and they identify with their prey to maintain their unique system of survival for both hunter and prey. This ritual – altered, revalorised and camouflaged – is still within our modern society.

This paragraph shed a different light on the many kinds of charity that captains of industry perform in the later part of their life.

This first volume continues with an abundance of religious developments of mankind in the Indo-European society until the Dionysiac festivals.

A must read to get an overview of the religious ideas with one remark: ideas unknown to me are covered in depth, but religious ideas that I have studied before, are described more superficial; but this remark says more about me as a reader than about the content of the book.

Highly recommended.

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Man Leben – Convent years


Im Kloster entdeckt man Leben in vielfältiger Form

In the monastery one discovers life in various forms

You continues the story of your life:

“After my visit to the camps at Dachau and the grave of mother on All Souls ‘ Day in 1983, I moved on. My continued presence in Dachau was not appreciated: wanderers are not welcome. For one week I could sleep in the open air, but I became to visible. Early November I returned to the North. I had a vague plan to visit the grave of my father in Auschwitz. But quickly I understood the impossibility of this plan. The winter is a very bad time of year for wandering and Germany was still divided in two. I couldn’t walk through Eastern Germany to Poland.

I became ill. It started with a cold, and afterwards the fever came. A relatively small monastery gave me hospitality and within four weeks I was fully recovered.

In a very short time the monasteries changed considerably. At the beginning of 1960, there were many young men who entered the monastery for study, contemplation, focus on God and His works, and for disseminating faith and His works in other parts of the world. The monasteries were still in full bloom. Ten years later, no young men entered the convent and many monks had left the monastery for ordinary life with or without a partner. Again ten years later, only the older monks and the Abbot remained. In 1983 the buildings were very inward oriented.

[1]

The monastery where I recovered, was not very large. In 1983 the intrusion of emptiness was not depressing in the buildings. The last 15 years only one new brother entered the convent and the resident monks were 15 years older. If the monastery wished to survive, then a change was needed.

I also needed a change. It was still winter and moving without purpose was not on my way. During my recovery I was getting used to the rhythm of the monastery. After my recovery I could stay until spring came. I helped with necessary maintenance and I did jobs for my meals and indwelling.

In the beginning of the spring I had a farewell meeting with the Abbot. This conversation was a new beginning. The Abbot expressed his concerns about the future of the monastery; the convent had to a change in line with the tradition and focus on the future.

Any time, any act, each prayer and singing, every day, every year, everyone’s life, the life within the monastery and the faith in the monastery were focussed on God. The world outside the monastery changed constantly over the centuries. In the past the changes have had effects on the monastic life. In the Middle Ages, monasteries were centres of almost all scientific knowledge and skills in the Western world. Many monasteries acquired richness that were not in line with the tradition of the monasteries. By the end of the Middle Ages – around 1550 [2] – many monasteries were violently stripped of their richness: a number of monasteries decayed.

The last 15 years, the world outside the monastery changed very fast. This rapid change had a significant effect on the monastery, because the average age of the monks increased very rapidly. Stillness, contemplation and focus on God belonged to the monastery; on the other hand inflexibility and clinging to the past was not in line with the tradition.

The Abbot asked if I could contribute to the orientation for the monastery. My architectural background and my introduction to different religions could give good points of view. In addition to the usual tasks for a lay monk, I would dedicate myself to advice for and contributing to this orientation.

The monastery building was in good condition. It was excellent for monastery. With a declining number of permanent residents, parts of the building could also be used for activities in line with the objectives of the monastery.

[3]

The orientation on the outside world showed that outside the monastery and the Christian Church, there was a need for reflection and contemplation. This need was often expressed in other manifestations.

[4]

This orientation resulted in a monastery open for reflection and education of outsiders: individually and in groups. A number of monks in the convent studied religions from Asia to enrich the monastic life with the motto “explore the new and preserves the good”. Also knowledge and skill was acquired for guidance of groups in religious activities and meditation. Lay monks entered the monastery for  guidance of contemplation and education. Often they stayed temporarily or permanently in the monastery.

Approximately 5 years I have worked and lived in the monastery accompanying groups. At the end of this period, the monastic vows oppressed me. The vows of simplicity/poverty was no problem; I had a luxurious life with good health, sufficient simple meals and a useful contribution to the monastery and the world. The vow of chastity was slightly trickier. Since my student days there were always women in my life. During my stay in the monastery, there were no women in my life; the temptation was not great. The vow of obedience was the major problem: I’ve always been independent and my motto was: “nobody’s boss, nobody’s servant”.

My wish to start studying Eastern religions did not go along with the request of the convent to accompany other monasteries with their changes. I remained involved in the drafting of future plans for other monasteries, but the implementation of these plans was carried out by others. Occasionally I have given advice given during the progress. From resident of the monastery, I became a periodic visitor.

Around my 55th year of life, a new phase of my life began. I began with my study of Eastern religions”, you say.

The next post covers your study of Eastern religions.


[1] Example of a monastery. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benedictijnen

[2] In England by King Henry VIII – see also:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissolution_of_the_Monasteries; In Europa during the reformation whereby in the Netherlands the iconoclastic and the Eighty Years’ War did harm the monastic orders.

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Trappist_praying_2007-08-20_dti.jpg

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Meditating_in_Madison_Square_Park.jpg

Man Leben – on the way 3


Geschichte, mit denen man leben muβ

History, with which one must live.

You continue the brief report of your life with the arrival in Dachau after a pilgrimage of two months:

“In September 1983 I left the farm of my godmother in South Limburg. She had recommended me this pilgrimage in order to honour the wish of my aunt who had asked me after my 21st birthday to carry out the traditional Jewish remembrance of the dead for my parents, when I would be able to do so. My mother died in 1944 and was buried in Dachau. During All Souls’ Day on November 2, I hoped to visit the grave of my mother according to the Catholic habit in South Limburg.

On my journey by foot I got to know the wind [1] and the moon [2] and I started to identify the wind and the moon with the “He” and “his” in the Kaddish prayer [3]. Hereby I could say this prayer every day – for a full year – for my father, mother, aunt and Godfather.

As wanderer, but a luxurious wanderer, I arrived in Dachau at the end of October 1983; my health was still excellent and my equipment comfortably. Also with the early nightfall at the end of the afternoon I learned to life by making a small fire in a small used tin.

A day later – on a stormy day – I visited the camp. The images and impressions of these camps are well known. Sources report that the administration in the camps at Dachau recorded the intake of 206.000 prisoners and 31,951 deaths mainly caused by malnutrition, exhaustion and diseases [4]. In comparison, on the war cemeteries in Omaha Beach in Normandy, France  and in Henri Chapelle in the Ardennes, Belgium, 7000 and 8000 soldiers were buried: bottomless grief.

During my visit to the camp I noticed what my aunt could not mention and wished not to mention. I also understood why she added to her wish so explicitly: “When you are able to do so”. Later, much later, I could put into words my feeling during the visit.

Inside and outside

Stilled and turned to stone

The Wind played Her song.

At the fall of dusk I left the camp. Outside I sang the aria from Cantata 82 “Ich habe genug” composed by Johann Sebastian Bach:

Schlummert ein, ihr matten Augen,
Fallet sanft und selig zu!
Welt, ich bleibe nicht mehr hier,
Hab ich doch kein Teil an dir,
Das der Seele könnte taugen.
Hier muss ich das Elend bauen,
Aber dort, dort werd ich schauen
Süßen Friede, stille Ruh.

This Cantata was written by Johann Sebastian Bach for February 2nd or “Purificatio Mariae” [5] – the purification of Maria – 40 days after Christmas. Appropriate: I sang the cleaning of and for my mother, her memory be a blessing to our world and for the hereafter [6]. For me, these two worlds of Her have always been one and the same.

The next day I came back to see if my mother’s grave was well taken care for. I had a round pebble with me: this pebble I put on her grave.

[7]

Then I walked along the Catholic Chapel, the Christian Church of Reconciliation and the Jewish Memorial. For me, none of these rooms were inviting to enter.

[8]

[9]

[10]

[11]

In Ulm, I had seen the study model for the continuum that includes the entire universe in all its simplicity and limitation. Inside and outside change continuously. At the same time this reconciliation room gives shelter, and breathable includes everything from the universe in security and responsiveness. My mother, her memory be a blessing for here and for there.

[12]

On November 2 – All Souls Day – in the afternoon I visited my mother’s grave. The stone was gone. I could understand this, otherwise there might arise a mountain of stones. At her grave, I have said the prayer of Kaddish.

Near the fall of darkness I moved on. My feelings during this departure I read many years later in the Zen koan: “Each of you have Your own light. If you want to see, then it is not possible. The darkness is dark, dark. Now, what is your/Your light? …… The answer is: the room of the universe, the road.” [13]

Country walkers are not welcome in Dachau. I moved on. Winter began. It took 10 years before I visited the grave of my father in 1993. First I lived in monasteries for several years”, you say.

The following post is about your monastery years.


[1] See post “Man Leben – op weg” van 14 oktober 2011.

[2] See post “Man Leben – op weg 2” van 17 oktober 2011.

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

[4] Sources give different numbers. The numbers in this post come from: http://www.dachau.nl/het_kamp/historisch/index.html and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dachau_concentration_camp

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

[6] See also: Wieseltier, Leon, Kaddisj. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1999, p. 11

[7] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dachau-015.jpg

[8] Source image: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KZ_Dachau_Todesangst-Christi-Kapelle.jpg

[9] Source image: Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:16JUN2005_Munich_054.jpg

[10] Source image: http://hu.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=F%C3%A1jl:2500_-_KZ_Dachau_-_Protestant_Monument.JPG&filetimestamp=20071012014216

[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:16JUN2005_Munich_064.jpg

[12] Model for the continuous design by Ulrich Burandt as study during the workshop of Tomas Maldonado at the Ulm School of Design. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_School_of_Design

[13] Free rendering of Yunmen’s light – case 86 from the Hekiganroku. See also: Aitken, Robert, The Mind of Clover – Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. New York: North Point Press, 2000⁸. pag. 62. Remark: According to the sources the answer to this koan is: “Storeroom/kitchenstorage, gate/gateway”. In this post “Storeroom” is rendered as “the room of the Universe” referring to “Deine Seele ist die ganze Welt” or “Your soul is the whole world” – see also: Hesse Herman, Siddhartha. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag: 1989 p. 10. In Sanskrit “Gate” means amongst others “going, and the locativus for the verb to go”.

Man Leben – back to Limburg


Treibend auf die Wellen kann man leben –

Flooting on the waves one can live

You continue with your return to Limburg:

“My godfather had died. The farm in South Limburg urgently needed help. I was ready for a change; my “Jaguar – Saab years” were finally over. At the age of 48 years I became a farmer for a year and a half.

My godfather and godmother could not have had children. I have always felt it, but it was told over adult. During the war until the end of my primary school, they took care for me. I was more than welcome; living with them I had the most beautiful time of my life. Now my godfather suddenly died and the farm wished to resume the rhythm of spring.

The funeral of my godfather went according to use in Limburg. A heavy bell let the village know the sad news that there was a dead,  a mass, walking to the cemetery, a meal with the usual good food. The legacy had not yet to be divided. On her own my godmother had to take for the farm, the cows, the fields, the vegetable garden and orchard. The transition to work on the farm was on my way. Again I moved to South Limburg.

I settled myself to the rhythm of the day, month, season and year on the farm. I could remember much from the past, but a lot had changed. My godmother still followed all the rituals of the Catholic Church, but the secularization was also advancing in Limburg. The farm used to be almost fully self-sufficient. The surplus of the farm was sold and part of the money was used to purchase tools and for maintenance, another part was set aside for savings, and the last part went to church and help for others. The mechanization had already begun – there was a tractor and a number of machines were available. But a further increase in scale was needed in a few years: the choices were not easy and the necessary investments would be considerable. Was the farm large enough to be taken over by family or heirs? My godfather and godmother had been thinking about this question for several years; soon a decision had to be taken. Now she had to make this decision on her own. My godmother noticed that for me a change was more than welcome that year. After a few weeks my godmother and I agreed that I would continue at least until the farm was ready for the next winter.

[1]

For her, this was not an easy time: loss of her husband, help from me – an inexperienced farmer, how to continue with the farm and the changes in everyday life. In Limburg the secularization started and the television showed all the changes of the world in the kitchen. She fulfilled her duties for her late husband and I went along to each mass. This rhythm and the rhythm of the farm gave form to my life again.

[2]

In the autumn – just after the 6 months mass for my godfather – my aunt said that my help on the farm was welcome, but I was not a farmer; I did not belong on a farm. I belonged somewhere else, just as at the age of 12 I belonged somewhere else. On that evening we decided to live another season on the farm and within that year take for the transfer of the farm.

A college friend visited me for a weekend at that time. We have always kept in touch. Now he was a successful architect. Together, we considered the possibilities for a holiday farm. The location was good, the buildings were in a good condition and they offered sufficient opportunities. In consultation with my godmother we developed the plans further during winter and spring. At the end of spring my godmother – after consultation with the family – bid the farm and land for sale. In summer she bought herself a nice apartment in the village. We finished the summer season on the farm. The cows were taken over by villagers and the land was leased. So, we finished our farmers’  rhythm.

In that year we also talked about my future plans. I would save myself: my godmother believed me, but in her opinion this was not my destination on earth. We also discussed the wish of my aunt. She fully understood the wish of my aunt to honour my family with the traditional remembrance of the dead according to the Jewish tradition. My inability to do this, my godmother did not well understand. One may take the position of “no one’s boss, nobody’s servant”, but there existed a natural order with a God who created heaven and earth; He had to be honoured. For my godmother her faith and her way of life has always been clear: one knew what to do – like it or not – you had to do it. Gently she proposed a pilgrimage to me; a pilgrimage in the autumn to Dachau. That would be a preparation for honouring my family.

Looking back on my life in Limburg and the hike/pilgrimage, I remember a text that I have once read: “Disease and medicine help each other. The medicine is the universe. Who are you?”. [3]

At the end of the summer of 1983, I packed my backpack with two sets of clothes, a bivouac sack and a small stove. I said goodbye to my godmother and to the village and I hit the road”, you say.

The next post is about your trek to Ronchamp.

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Examples of farms in Zuid Limburg. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Houtemstgerlach.jpg

[2] Example of landscape in Zuid Limburg: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nationaal_Landschap_Zuid-Limburg

[3] Free rendering of Case 87 from the Hekiganroku. See also: Yamada Kôun Roshi, Hekiganroku, Die Niederschrift vom blauen Fels – Band 2. München: Kösel-Verlag, 2002 p. 321.

Man Leben – Everyday life


Wie soll man leben – How to live

Now you continue with your contribution to society and your everyday life in Amsterdam:

“I have completed my general education at a Catholic primary school in South Limburg and a Christian grammar school in Rotterdam. In my grammar school time my aunt promoted the regular study of the Jewish scriptures. At that time these were complete different worlds. Looking back, I mainly see the similarities.

Open-minded I started my study Architecture in Delft without formal obligations. On my 21st birthday the disillusionment followed. My aunt explained to me how she had handled the legacy of my parents and family. She had done well, but the time was not well-disposed to her. Hereinafter I finished my studies in four years with a reasonable to good study in the field of utility-building.

Everyday life took me on. A short period I worked at an architectural firm on utility projects. Through this firm, I ended up in the trade of building materials. In the early sixties more money came in society and there was also more money available for building materials. I lifted on this tide.

[1]

Through my work on the architectural firm I met my wife and mother of our three children. In grammar school and the first two years of my study, I have been in love several times, but there was always a distance. Now I saw her and she appeared in a white glow; not as bad as when in primary school I fell in love for the first time. Then lightning struck me and everything was completely white, now it was gentler and only she stood in a white glow. Fortunately I could utter a few meaningful words. The second time I had the courage to ask her out. So it went on. We are quickly engaged and we married in 1959. A short time we have lived in an apartment and when the children came, we moved to a house near Amsterdam.

The trade in building materials was very successful. For me my “Jaguar year” started.

[2]

I will keep the description of these “Jaguar years” brief, because Lucy Irvine [3] in her book on the stay on a deserted island in the Pacific could not stand it when her companion “G” began about his “Jaguar days”. Our success increased and we moved to a detached house on the outskirts of Amsterdam; we went with vacations further and further. The children went to primary school and everything seemed quiet and fine.

With the increased wealth at the end of the 1960s, there was a underneath sense of uneasiness in society that also got a place in our family. Structures and ways of living changed, values and ways of behaviour changed and we felt a great increase of freedom [4]  and possibilities. The imagination seemed to come to power. The routine of a fixed family with fixed ways of living together changed in a free family with free manners. Our marriage changed in an open marriage with room for other relationships. The Jaguar was exchanged for a Renault 4 as family car – a delicious moving car, which flowed like everything else in that time –, because we felt we were still young and alternative; we enjoyed life.

[5]

The trade prospered and required another car – a Saab 99. Looking back the joy of this freedom and entering into other relationships was fleeting and shallow; the latent discontent remained.

[6]

The second-wave feminism rolled into our family. After our wedding my wife stopped working, she took care of everything in and around our house, and for the children; I took care of the income, for all official business and for the management of our possessions. We made plans for the future and considered together important decisions. Everything was nicely divided as usual in that area. We started with a normal marriage like everyone else in that time. The hippie time made everything loose and more jolly; clothing was alternative and the relationships as well. In the early 1970s my wife wished to develop and orient herself on her place in society.

My wife started to develop herself; she began a study languages at the University of Amsterdam. Her social life changed – her new friend came in our life and not much later they moved on with the children: she was my ex-wife and a visit arrangement with the children followed. My social life changed: there were several female friends in my life and my circle of friends changed because our separation also resulted in a separation in the family and friends – “partir est mourir un peux”. My inner discomfort and dissatisfaction remained.

With these changes also the view on other religions came in my life: Catholicism, Christian and Jewish faith had already found a place in my life – the last 25 years more or less dormant. With the alternative movement also Eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism came into view. Later these religions played an important role in my life.

At the end of the 70 ‘s I was – additional to my work in the trade – a few years part time teacher for modular construction elements at the Delft University of Technology. I had transferred part of my job to younger colleagues. In that time I followed the lectures in philosophy by professor W. Luijpen. His view on society had a major influence on me.

In 1980 my aunt died after a short period of illness. I have organized her funeral and the additional matters. At that time she was again my closest member in the family. I visited her grave annually in the Catholic fashion around 1 November. I still could not fulfil her wish to honour her with traditional remembrance of the dead [7] according to the Jewish tradition. I still was not ready for it.

In the spring of 1982 my godfather in South Limburg suddenly died. My life was ready for a change. I decided to help my godmother on the farm: I moved to South Limburg and I was temporarily farmer. Before I left, I handled my business in Amsterdam, sold our house and for the children I have – like my grandparents had done for my parents in 1923 – a small capital base in deposit. My family has not appreciated this change. When I look back, I shouldn’t have taken these steps so bold, but in that period of my life I felt that this change was on my way”, you say.

“I remember that confusing time. In Limburg these changes happened later, but at the end of my grammar school time everyone had long hair and colourful clothes. During my study in Delft I felt resistance against men because I had the opinion that women had an unjust place in society”, I say.

“When we married, the society was organised differently. The changes came later. On my return in South Limburg, I went back in time. In Limburg the relation between men and women were not so much changed”, you say.

[8]

The following post is about your return to Limburg and how you started to drift.

 

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Piping01.JPG

[2] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jaguar.3point4.750pix.jpg

[3] See: Irvine, Lucy, Castaway. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1984

[4] The verb root “Vraj” means in Sanskrit “go, walk”. Source: Egenes, Thomas, Introduction to Sanskrit – Part Two. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2005 p. 395. According to the electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta, “Vraj” also has the meaning “to go to (a woman)” and “have sexual intercourse with”.

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Renault_4_R_1123_1968.jpg

[6]  Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saab_99_EMS_1974_(UK_Spec).jpg

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

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Ford5000.jpg

Man Leben – your study time


Traume soll man leben

You continue with your years of study in Delft:

“After receiving my grammar school diploma, I hiked with two friends for four weeks in the Netherlands, Belgium and France. My aunt encouraged me to study and to life on rooms in Delft; she liked to see me following the footsteps of my father. Due to the rebuilding after the war, I got interested in architecture and as a consequence I started studying architecture in Delft. I settled in a small room in a house at the “Oude Delft”. I enjoyed my student life, my student association, two year rowing as oarsman, jazz, trips to Amsterdam, Paris, and of course architecture. The shock of the new: “Amsterdamse School”, Frank Lloyd Wright, “De Nieuwe Zakelijkheid” or “New Objectivity”, Glasshouse.

[1]

[2]

[3]

[4]

Just after my 21st birthday a disillusion followed. My aunt explained to me how she had managed the legacy of my father and mother. She had done well, but the time was not well-disposed to her.

She explained how the small base capital – that my grandparents had deposited around 1923 in Amsterdam – was used by my parents in 1933 to make a new start in Netherlands. With part of this capital they bought a house in Amsterdam; the rest was used as reserve capital for trade. The trade was rather successful until the other regime from Germany installed barriers of trade for my parents. During their deportation to Germany, all our movable property was seized or has disappeared. Their house was confiscated for housing of others.

The first letters that my aunt in 1945 received on her return in Netherlands, were tax bills from the Dutch Government for recovering taxes not paid by my family during their absence due to their deportation to Germany. My aunt understood that after the war the Dutch Government had to rebuild everything from the ground, like everything and everyone. As heir and guardian, my aunt had to look after the obligations of the deceased relatives and for me. All possessions were gone or not accessible. My parent’s house was inhabited by other people. Many bills for maintenance were not settled or were paid by others. The ownership of the house was also disputed. By transferring the property of the house officially to new owners, all debts and tax bills could be settled.

Luckily my aunt got a post at a Trade Office with which she could start a new life. From this base she could get access to the other base capital my grandparents had deposited in Switzerland. With this base capital my aunt was able to cover my the costs for me and for my study. She wished that I had a good time in Delft and that I enjoyed myself without a worry during the first two years of my study.

One wish of my aunt I could only fulfil much later, when I was in my 50’s. She requested me to honour my father and mother not only with my life as I had done before my maturity, but also to honour my parents with the traditional remembrance of the dead. First I thought of “Dies Irae” [5] – or “Day of Wrath” – as a commemoration of the days of doom and horror that befell on my father and mother during the war. The request of my aunt went further: she asked me – when I ready to do so – to honour my parents according to the Jewish remembrance – named Kaddish [6] – with the opening lyrics: “You are praised, and holy is your name in the world – created according to your will”. This text is very similar to the Christian equivalent “Thine Be the Glory” [7]. Many years later I finally reached the maturity and humbleness to say these texts for one year and thus to fulfil the wish of my aunt. I could only start this task after a monk in a monastery saw that I had trouble with bowing down. “Do you know for whom you bow down?”, he asked. I replied that I had trouble to honour God in this humble way. Thereupon the monk said: “These bows are bows for yourself”. The meaning of this answer dawned upon me years later.

After this disillusion following up on my cheerful first two years of study, I received my engineering degree at the University of Technology four years later. My final thesis involved utility-building: a reasonable good job, but outside the level of the best architects”, you said.

[8]

“I do not have this maturity and humbleness. I am still full of rebellion “, I say.

“It took me a lot of trouble to get it”, you say.

The following post is about your fruitful years in the society.

 

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Surce image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Scheepvaarthuis5.jpg

[2] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Michel_de_Klerk_Spaarndammerplantsoen_Amsterdam.jpg

[3] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Wrightfallingwater.jpg

[4] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glasshouse-philip-johnson.jpg

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

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

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

[8] “Ketelhuis” near the “Rotterdamseweg” in Delft. This “ketelhuis” is an example of the “New Objectivity”. The design is made by the architecture-office van den Broek en Bakema – see also: http://www.broekbakema.nl/. Source image: Screen-print from Google maps.

You: Man Leben – the first years


Wie kann man leben, wenn man nicht sterben will [1]

In the previous post you have told in a nutshell the history of your foreparents and parents – until the moment you came in their lives. No existing person has been model for one of the main characters. Their names could have been Allman and Everyman. Now you will continue with your first years of life:

“On the evening in March 1933 when I came into the life of my parents, they decided to leave Frankfurt am Main. They moved to Amsterdam with abandonment of many of their possessions. They have never told me, but I think I am conceived during that night within a cocoon of love, hope and consolation.

First a sketch of the time and area wherein I came to life. After the defeat in “A war like no other, a war as everyone”, Germany fell into a deep economic crisis with high unemployment. In 1923 due to the reparations, the hyperinflation of money – the confidence inspiring “object in the middle” – was so enormous that the salary earned at the end of the morning had to be converted in one bread, because in the course of the afternoon that money became worth only a few slices. At that time my grandparents have based a small capital in sound currency in Switzerland and the Netherlands.

[2]

My foreparents and parents have always been outliers in every society – also in Germany – with all consequences thereof. In the second half of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s Germany created an overwhelming dynamism, hope and wrath – icy wrath [3].  Motorways were built, industry flourished, an huge urge to life came into existence and the soldier’s boots were prepared for a mars forward. “Everything on the puff; who is going to pay”, said the grandmother of Hermann Simon in Heimat – Eine deutsche Chronik [4] after visiting her family in the Ruhr area. The future price was still unimaginable [5].

  [6]

In order to establish this mutual trust in the German society, a “person in the middle”, “objects in the middle”, “myths” and “rituals” [7] were necessary. Also a scapegoat in society was quickly found; my grandparents, parents with other descendants of my ancestors were identified as collective bearers of evil. By the sacrifice and removal of the scapegoat from the society, the German people thought to remove all evil from society. It started with destruction and small harassments and it continued with smoke offerings wherein Synagogues and books were burned in the Kristallnacht in 1938.

  [8]

When in March 1933 the other government in Germany had obtained all powers, my parents decided to leave: they didn’t want to be sacrificed. My grandparents remained.

I was born in Amsterdam in early January 1934. Also Amsterdam was in a financial crisis. With the small base capital deposited by my grandparents in the 1920’s, my parents could start anew in an district similar to the Rivierenbuurt [9]. My father went into trade. I grew up as a Dutch boy in Amsterdam.

In May 1940, the other government from Germany also engulfed the Netherlands. Some acquaintances of my parents committed suicide in despair, because they did not know another way out. My parents continued their lives. In September 1940 I went to elementary school. Except the “J with yellow star” on my clothes, life continued as usual until the end of 1941. On a night before I went to a sleepover at my aunt, my parents told me that I would stay away for a long time, but that eventually everything would be fine.

I stayed at my aunt for one night. Via several intermediate stops and a new first and family name I ended up on a farm in South – Limburg (The Netherlands). From that time my official name is Hermanus [10] Maria Jacobus [11] Leben; I was baptised Catholic. They called me Man – a name that against the wind carries far over the fields “, you say.

“I originate from South – Limburg. I recognized your first name “Man” right away. In South Limburg there are so many names that carry far over the fields. Mat of Matthew, Wiel of Wilhelmus, Sjraar of Gerard,  Sjang or Sjeng of John, Joep of Joseph, Pie of Peter, Nant of Ferdinand, Sjier, Sjoef. In all these names have faces for me”, I say.

“I also carry these names and faces with me”, you say.

“And your parents?”, I ask.

“I always carry my parents with me. In 1942 – nearly a year later, a sister was born named Carla [12]. That is the only thing I know about her. Still always if I see women of her age with some similarity in appearance with my family, I look if it is her. Once I read: “If there is even a hair’s breadth of difference, heaven and earth are clearly separated” [13]. There was also written: “The Supreme way is not difficult, it simply dislikes choosing”. Later more”, you say.

The next post is about your school time in South – Limburg.

– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”


[1] Translation: How can one live, when one doesn’t want to die.

[3] See also: ”Wrath, icy wrath that brought countless horrors” in the post of 31st of Augustus 2011: A war like no other – the leading players

[4] Source: Reitz, Edgar, Heimat – Eine deutsche Chronik. 1984 See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heimat_(Edgar_Reitz)

[5] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ List_of_wars_and_anthropogenic_disasters_by_death_toll and for the toll of the Spanish flu at the end of the Great War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic

[7] See former posts with the same titles.

[8] Photo of the fire in the Synagogue in the Börnestraße in Frankfurt am Main during the Kristallnacht on 9th of  November 1938. Source of image: http://www.frankfurt.frblog.de/ostend-industrieviertel-mit-juedischen-wurzeln

[9] Description of the history of refugees from Germany in Amsterdam during the Second World War: http://www.zuidelijkewandelweg.nl/tijdtijn/razzia%27s.htm

[10] The name Hermanus consists of “Herr” and “Man”. Possible the German word “Herr” is connected to the verb root “√hṛ” meaning “to offer, sacrifice” and “take, take away” in Sanskrit. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta. See also the first Chorus in the Cantate 131 of Johann Sebastian Bach: ”Aus der Tiefe rufe ich, Herr, zu dir. Herr, höre meine Stimme, lass deine Ohren merken auf die Stimme meines Flehens!“. Translation: “From the deep, Lord [3], I cry to you. Lord, hear my voice, let your ears hear the voice of my doubt!”.  “Man” “man” means “think/consider/observe”.

[11] Probably this name is closely linked to the verb root “√śak” meaning “be able/capable” in Sanskrit.

[12] The name Carla is composed of “car” meaning “to move, to wander” in Sanskrit and “la” meaning “undertake or give”.

[13] Bron: Wick, Gerry Shishin, The Book of Equanimity – Illuminating Classic Zen Koans. Somerville MA: Wisdom Publications, 2005 – case 17, p. 54.