Tag Archives: Ruth Cecily Katz

Emptiness: to the end of the night


Night. A clear sky at new moon. Narrator drives the borrowed Skoda Superb [1] Combi from Amsterdam via the Noordoostpolder [2] to the marina at Lauwersoog near the departure of the ferry to Schiermonnikoog. Both headlights shine on the empty highway through the dark void land that over 50 years ago still was bottom of the Zuiderzee (Southernsea). Carla dozes in the back seat. Man sits as a passenger next Narrator; in the dim light of the dashboard they look to the exit at Emmeloord that in the far distance is lit by lantern light.

Skoda Superb Combi[3]

“Within the emptiness the headlights – with the lantern light in the distance – conjure a dark magic landscape wherein everything we now see emerges and immediately disappears like phantoms who are called to live in a flare in order to slip at once into the dark emptiness again.

As boy in South Limburg I have loved the dark nights with the infinite universe wherein I – included – was one with all the stars and galaxies in the firmament. Now I feel myself floating within a faint white glow on an infinite journey through the universe and thereby perfectly at home in this vessel. Tonight – before we were getting ready to depart – I have looked up a definition of Buddhist enlightenment [4] in a book: “Enlightenment is realising the oneness of life”[5].

I looked for this definition yesterday afternoon we have ended our survey of intensities and associations with the question: “One – what is that?”, that had been asked by a Buddhist sage to a wise woman. She was unable to answer this question. I wonder whether the inability – or the emptiness – of the wise woman to answer fits better with the question: “One – what is that?” than this definition of Buddhist enlightenment.

We now begin the survey of emptiness during our quest to “Who are you”. In Sanskrit the word for emptiness in the Heart Sutra is ” śūnyatā”. Do you know the meaning of this word in Sanskrit?”, asks Man.

The car is nearing the exit at Emmeloord. Narrator slows down and takes the exit to Lemmer; hereby Carla has awakened and she asks: “Where are we?”. “Near Emmeloord in the Noordoostpolder, now we are heading to Friesland. I have asked Narrator for the meaning of the word “śūnyatā””, says Man.

“The word ” śūnyatā” is usually translated with “emptiness” or “empty of self” [6], but this translation only reflects the core of the word just like within the core of the tropical cyclone there is usually a clear sky and no wind; the centre of the cyclone is sunny and “free” of wind.

Kern van een cycloon[7]

The word “śūnyatā” consists of the verb cores:
• “śvi” – with the weak form “śū” – meaning “swell”, “grow” and “increase”;
• “ya” meaning “mover” and “incentive”. My father was of the opinion that “ya” is closely related to “yaj” in the sense of “sacrifice”, “offering for a higher – Godlike/heavenly– purpose” (perhaps “God’s gift” in reciprocity”and,
• “tā” meaning “impassableness”, “inaccessibleness”, and also “unviolability” and “sacred” [8].

A contemporary Japanese Zen master in America had written in his explanation of “śūnyatā” that this word is not a negation of the concept of existence, but the word indicates that our entire existence in all its forms is completely dependent on the principle of cause and effect; we have read earlier that even the Gods are bound by the principle of cause and effect [9]. As the factors of cause and effect are changing constantly, there is no static – fixed – existence possible. The word “śūnyatā” categorically denies the possibility of the existence of static – fixed – manifestations. All appearances are relative and interdependent according to this contemporary Japanese Zen master.

In addition, he writes that “śūnyatā” also means “zero”, a concept that became known rather late in Europe, but has been in use for much longer in India. Zero has no numerical value in itself, but it represents the absence of numerical values and thus symbolises at the same time the possibility of all numerical values. Similarly “śūnyatā” – through the concept of “zero” or “no” – represents the possibility of the existence of all manifestations and it is also included in all forms, that themselves only exist in relation to their non-existence and by their interconnectedness [10]”, says Narrator.

vorm en leegte[11]

“The definition of zero is too limited: but I will not go into it now. If I understand it correctly, “śūnyatā” refers to “emptiness from” and “emptiness to” just as – in my opinion – Erich Fromm is referring to “freedom from” and “freedom to” in mutual dependency with the concept of “freedom” [12 ]. Here I am reminded of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty who has argued that manifestations are caused by a creative process of giving meaning and taking meaning at once[13]. The Zen master adds to this argument the void – or space – for allowing the creation of manifestations”, says Carla.

“Quite interesting that you refer to a creative process for the creation of manifestations. The Japanese Zen master indicates that an intuitive and immediate understanding of ” śūnyatā” is the basis for all understanding. But before he states this, he first mentiones the ” śūnyatā” of the ego and then the “śūnyatā” of dharma [14] – the world order and duty [15] – and of the subjective and the objective. After this he concludes that everything – every manifestation and every being – only exists through the principle of interdependence bound by the law of impermanence. The intuitive and immediate understanding leads to knowledge and understanding of the four great truths to know: impermanence, interconnectedness, manifestations and essence; maybe it’s good to come back on these four values later. The Zen master goes further in his statement on the importance of impermanence – emptiness or vanity – and interconnectedness than Maurice Merleau-Ponty in the arising or creation of all manifestations and of every being

I have this explanation of “śūnyatā” from the introduction by this Zen master in his book on the Buddhistische Heart Sūtra.

This description of the Zen master has stayed with me because it fits so well my perception of the ghosts in the night. As a child soldier in Africa with our militia we had put the forest around a village on fire at the end of the night. We had shot everything and everyone that had come out of the forest and we had been happy [16]. I still carry the ghosts of these villagers with me; their breath – in emptiness and vanity – has become my breath. At night they are as real to me as people I meet during the day; these spirits are connected with me in interdependence within the law of impermanence: during daytime they have disappeared”, says Narrator.

“Are these spirits really present for you here and now in this car?”, asks Man.

“No, driving the car I have my attention on the road, but if I do not focus my attention any longer, the ghost come to life from the emptiness of darkness just as real as a dream during sleep. Or to cite a quote often incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain: “I am an old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened” [17]”, says Narrator.

“Fortunately, because otherwise I should have asked you to look for a parking place and we might continue our journey tomorrow during daylight. I have several versions of the Heart Sutra to study in my luggage. Would you like to help me with the interpretation of Sanskrit?”, asks Man.

“That is fine. I have a copy with the explanation by the Japanese Zen master with me. Do you have a waterproof compartment for books on your boat?”, asks Narrator.

“Your book easily fits within the waterproof ton. When we will lay dry at low tide, we will have time to read”, says Man.

“The definition of enlightenment that you have just mentioned, gives one aspect of enlightenment – in line with the interconnectedness within the metaphor of Indra’s Net – quite clearly. It is only one side of the coin, the other side is “śūnyatā”. In Buddhism, the term “nirvana” – literally absence of forest (or barriers) or the open plain [18] – is often used for enlightenment. In Hinduism one often addresses enlightenment with “moksha” [19] that comes from the verb core “muc” meaning amongst others “to loosen, or to liberate”. With both interpretations, I am not happy because in my opinion “śūnyatā” together with the metaphor of Indra’s Net gives a better interpretation of the term enlightenment. I think it is a good idea that we do not only survey emptiness in the sense of “empty from” at this part of our quest, but also in relation to the four great truths of Buddhism and in relation to Indra’s Net”, says Narrator.

“Good idea. When I had lain awake during my travels under the dark starry sky, I had felt myself fully included in space or in the infinite void. The boundaries between the space and myself had dissolved and I had become one with everything around me. In a book on Zen Buddhism I had read two poems mentioning an empty mirror as metaphor for life; in the second poem also the illusion of the empty mirror was removed just like during this journey by car through the dark polder the sight on the landscape is non-existing. Do you know the text of these poems?”, asks Carla.

“The two poems had been written during the appointment – or better the Dharma transmission – of Huineng [20] as the sixth Zen patriarch. In my own words: the fifth patriarch sensed that the obvious candidate was fit for the position. He asked each monk who would like to be candidate, to write a short poem on the core of Zen and to affix it on the monastery wall. Only obvious candidate anonymously published the following poem:

The body is a Bodhi tree;
The mind like an empty mirror stand.
Time and again brush it clean
And let no dust alight [21]

Bodhi – with a sound (and a meaning via “et incarnatus est” [22]) akin to the English word body – meaning in Sanskrit “a tree of wisdom, or a tree where under a human becomes a Buddha” [23].

The next morning a second poem was affixed alongside the first poem with the following text:

Originally bodhi has no tree;
The empty mirror has no stand.
Originally there is not a thing.
Where can dust alight?

In Sanskrit Bodhi has a second meaning: “perfect enlightenment” [24]. The Fifth Patriarch knew a humble firewood-gatherer – without any formal training as a monk – had written this second poem and he foresaw an uprising of the monastery to the appointment of this uneducated layman as Dharma heir. The following night, the Dharma transmission took place and at dawn the sixth Zen patriarch had to flee from the monastery. The monks have haunted him for a long time. Eventually after a long flight he had been fully accepted is as Dharma heir; every Zen master is in direct line associated with this sixth patriarch. And reciting the poem I also reflect him in the emptiness of this night”, says Man.

“Splendid explanation. Shall we continue tomorrow? I would like to continue dozing”, says Carla.
“Then I will also take a nap. Tomorrow we have to get up early”, says Man.

Narrator drives the car with Carla and Man sleeping via Friesland and Groningen to the parking place at Lauwersoog near the ferry departure to Schiermonnikoog. He parks the car facing east to see the dawn over a few hours. Upon seeing the first twilight he awakes Carla and Man.

“On this bright morning we have to see the sunrise before so we will start rigging the sailboat at the marina”, says Narrator.

“Upon seeing the emergence of the first sunrays trough this windshield, I think of the poem “The Windows” by Guido Gezelle, wherein he as a Catholic priest at the end of the nineteenth century has marginally repeated the iconoclasm:

THE WINDOWS

The windows are full of saints, mitred and staved,
martyrised, virgin crowned, duked and knighted;
that the burning from the oven fire glassed has in the shard,
that, glittering, speaks all the tongues from the heaven bows paints. [25]

Thou scare is again enkindled in the east the violence
Of sun flame, and does she touches the saints, so melted
The mitre from the mantle collar, the gold ware from the crone,
and all, even white now, shines and lightens even clean.

Disappeared art thou, dukes and counts then, so soft;
disappeared, virgins, martyrs and bishops: forever
no palms, staves, stolen anymore, ‘t is all gone, to
one clarity molten, in one sunlight – in God. [26]

– Guido Gezelle [27]

Kerkramen Noordzijde Keulen[28]

In my opinion Guido Gezelle advocates with this poem – despite the beauty of church windows as windows on the world – an empty mirror without stand in God’s face”, says Man.

 

[1] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Superb
[2] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noordoostpolder
[3] Source image: http://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%A0koda_Superb
[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhi
[5] Source: Bridges, Jeff & Glassman, Bernie, The Dude and the Zen Master. New York: Plume, 2014, p. 95
[6] Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunyata, see also the English Wikipedia-page on this subject
[7] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropische_cycloon
[8] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[9] See: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 85 and 122
[10] Source: Deshimaru, Taisen, Mushotoku Mind – The Heart of the Heart Sutra. Chino Valley: Hohm Press, p. 28, 29
[11] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81
[12] Source: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence – part 2.1 – Facts and Logic. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2014, p. 97
[13] See also for the “creative act of giving meaning to and taking meaning from”: Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, Phenomenology of Perception 1945
[14] Dharma means literally “placing of the self/Self continuously”.
[15] 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 on Dharma.
[16] See the last part of book 1 of the Mahābhārata where at the fire in the Khandava forest, Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa shoot arrows with joy to all that leaves the forest. Sources: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and further; Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84
[17] See: http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/10/04/never-happened/
[18] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[19] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moksha
[20] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huineng
[21] Source: The Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. Burlingame: Buddhist text translation society, 2002, p. 67
[22] Literal translation from Latin: he/she/is becomes flesh
[23] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[24] Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.
[25] “mitred and staved”: with signals of authority; “all the tongues from the heaven bows paints”: showing all the paintings on the ceilings of the churches.
[26] Free translation of this poem. Original: http://cf.hum.uva.nl/dsp/ljc/gezelle/rijmsnoer/ramen.htm This poem is date by Guido Gezelle on 14th of April 1895.
[27] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guido_Gezelle
[28] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stained_glass

Five common realities – facts en logic 14


Carla, Man and Narrator are sitting on the little square at the entrance of the Basilica of San Lorenzo before they will visit the Palace of the Medici.

“The mind of the warrior shows a number of contradictions. The parable of Mŗtyu – death in the form of a woman – gives a glimpse into the contradictions, when Arjuna’s oldest brother – as crown pretender of the five Pāṇḍavaḥ brothers – is inconsolable about the loss of the many killed on the battlefield including family members, teachers and students, and loved ones. As a result of the battle – between on the one hand the world order and duty, and on the other hand human action – over their legitimate kingdom, at the same time death and destruction occurs on an extensive scale among the loved ones. Another example is “fight for peace”. We do not only recognise the mind-set of the warrior – with these contradictions – on the battlefield, but also in science, religion, philosophy, government and, of course, within ourselves”, says Carla.

Feiten en logica 14a[1]

“The parable of Śīla [2] – freely interpreted as “All-encompassing Oneness” – from the Mahābhārata shows the mind of the warrior within ourselves. Through a consistent use of all (human) qualities – or Śīla – a wise king in ancient India had achieved peace and coherence within his kingdom and eventually within himself. This gave him also the immense power of goodness. Through the wealth of goodness he obtained the three worlds including the world of the gods. On a good day Indra – in a manifestation of medicine – appeared before the King, and Indra asked the King to learn what goodness really is. The King said that administration of the three worlds took all his attention: he had no time to show goodness to Indra. Indra in the form of medicine remained at the Court and served the King so superbly that the King said: “Ask for whatever you wish and it shall be giving“. In response Indra said: “You have already given me so much, but you would make me blissfully happy with your Śīla“. The King gave Śīla to Indra and the “medicine” left immediately. After the “medicine” was gone the King felt an inner unrest without knowing why. A column of light in human form came from his body. The King asked: “Who are you?”. The column of light answered, “I am Śīla. Until now we were inseparable. But you have given me away, and I am leaving you“. Soon a second column of light emerged from his body and again the King asked: “Who are you?”. The second column of light said: “I am Dharma – the world order – and I am leaving you, because I live where Śīla lives“. Right away three columns of light emerged from his body, and Truth, Goodness and Solidity left, because they live where Śīla lives. At last there appeared a column of light in the form of a woman, and the woman answered to the question “Who are you?”: “I am Śri – interconnectedness –, I am all that is desirable in a human life; I live where Śīla lives“. Paralyzed with fear the king asked to Brahman who that medicine was and what had happened. Brahman answered: “The medicine is Indra’s Net. Through Śīla, you had become who you are, and with Śīla you have given away yourself to Indra’s Net[3], says Narrator.

“This parable beautifully shows some of the contradictions within the mind-set of the warrior. An imperator obtains a kingdom by his actions and then the imperator cannot maintain the empire: several laws of nature prevent this. In addition, there may be recognised contradictions within the mind-set of the warrior during a successful conquest or defence of a desired object: at the moment of success the warrior feels the volatile euphoria of an “All-encompassing Oneness”. This euphoria sets his temporary self-image that immediately starts to erode with the vanish of Śīla. We have seen this volatile euphoria during a victory in the self-image of rowers in the two students’ boat crews who compete for victory during the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on the Thames [4]”, says Carla.

Feiten en logica 14b[5]

“The same euphoria of temporary uniqueness showed Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa when they shot arrows with joy at everything that tried to escape from the fire in the Khandava forest [6]. With shame I must now confess that I had known this kind of euphoria when I – as a young warrior with a militia in Central Africa – shot at everyone who tried to escape from a burning village [7]. Śīla had already left me at my desire to experience the adventures of my ancestors upon my urge for comfort, money, fame and power. That night – when shooting at the villagers who wanted to escape the burning village – I lost the last remnants of my innocence. I still bear this contradiction between euphoria of a temporary oneness during violent conquests, and directly emerging decay, with me in the form of the breath of the villagers. Although the villagers have the identity “death” in the human world, I keep them alive with my breath”, says Narrator.

feiten en logica 14c.[8]

“Shall we look at the inner unrest in the palace of the Medici?”, says Man.


[1] Image of Pallas Athene – goddess of wisdom, courage, justice and correct warfare. She is also the companion of shrewd heroes. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior

[2] Śīla means amongst others “natural way of living or of behaviour” in Sanskrit. In Buddhism Śīla means amongst “moral conduct or precept”. Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C4%ABla

[3] The parable of Śīla is a free rendering of the parable of Prahlāda from: Badrinath, Chaturvedi, The Mahābhārata – An Inquiry in the human Condition. New Delhi: Orient Longman Private Limited, 2006, p. 101 – 102

[4] See the post “Amateurs” in: Origo, Jan van, Who are you – a survey into our existence –part 1. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2012 p. 190 – 194

[5] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boat_Race

[6] See also: http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/maha/index.htm boek 1 Section CCXXVII and: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990, p. 71 – 84

[7] See:  Leben, Man, Narrator – One Way. Amsterdam: Omnia – Amsterdam Publisher, 2013, p. 22

[8] Image of Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa who shoot with joy arrows at all that tried to escape from the fire in the Khandava forest. Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khandava_Forest

Narrator – back to the civilised world 2


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

768px-Gol_Stave_Church[2]

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

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

800px-Norskfolkemuseum_1[4]

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

Vigelandpark[7]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stockholm-autumn[11]


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

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

[3] Our white Citroën DS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narrator – mask of an idol


In the inverted world of Amsterdam I had received the appearance of an idol. Suddenly I was more than welcome everywhere; I was asked at performances and for parties. Everyone wanted to be seen with me or in my neighbourhood. For other people I seemed to carry a divine aureole. In my vicinity strangers felt to be included in a heavenly glow. They all dreamt that I owned the gateway to Heaven [1].

[2]

New lovers imagined themselves in an space travel with me, connected with the universe or included in dream-world more beautiful than life. I was for them the connection to an everlasting paradise.

[3]

In my wealth a Goddess appeared  – again a white [4] Citroën DS – wherein I accomplished the glory humming on the road [7], just like the charioteer Kṛṣṇa [5] in the Bhagavad Gita [6]. As Idol and centre I encouraged, I steered and I shaped the world around me; I was the eye of a cyclone – even empty, temporary and stilled inside.

Idolatry

 Transitory in one sigh

Seen in the Sunlight

Beauty is a terrible and awful thing! It is terrible because it has not been fathomed, for God sets us nothing but riddles. Here the boundaries meet and all contradictions exist side by side. [8]  This citation from The Brothers Karamazov by Dostojewski described my volatile position as idol within the inverted world in Amsterdam. This quote was also the motto of Confessions of a Mask by Yukio Mishima from which I derived to some extent an interpretation of my role as icon in the world where men love of men; for my lovers, I was not only their beloved, but I was also their competitor in their love for other men in the polygamous homosexual world in Amsterdam at that time.

[9]

In addition to an interpretation of my idle position in the inverted world in Holland, I was looking for insight in the development of my life. After reading the tetralogy Sea of Fertility [10] by Yukio Mishima, the fourfold reincarnation of the second main person gave some overview of my situation.

[11]

In line with this way of thinking, the first reincarnation in my life – under the name Kṛṣṇa – covered the period from my early childhood to my departure from Kenya. Now – as a temporary idol – I was at the height of my second incarnation in my life. I foresaw that my life as icon would soon implode; I decided to leave the inverted world of Holland for some time. After my share in a serious war crime during my first reincarnation in Kenya, I wished to guide the continuation of my life in a correct manner. It was also time for penance for this war crime.


[1] See the book Genesis 28:10-19 in the Old Testament for Jacob’s dream wherein Jacob takes a ladder with descending and ascending angels for the gate to Heaven. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob’s_Ladder

[2] Painting: Jacob’s dream of a ladder of angels, c. 1690, by Michael Willmann. Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream

[3] The Dream by Henri Rousseau, 1910. Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droom

[4] The name Arjuna means amongst others “wit, clear, silver”; one may recognise also “arh” in the name meaning “worthy, capable of”. Arjuna is one of the main characters in the Mahābhārata. He is one of the five brothers who live together with one wife Draupadi – the most beautiful and influential wife of her time – in polyandry. The five brother fight for their rightful share of the kingdom, for the honour of Draupadi and for maintenance of the world order

[5] In Sanskrit Kṛṣṇa means amongst others “black”, “blue black”, “the dark period of the moon-cycle” Source: electronic version of the dictionary Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[6] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_gita

[7] See also: Katz, Ruth Cecily, Arjuna in the Mahābhārata: Where Krishna is, there is victory. Delhi: Molital Banarsidass Publishers, 1990

[8] Source: Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Karamazov Brothers. Ware: Wordsworth Edition Limited, 2007, p. 114

[9] Source image: Frontside of the cover of Mishima, Yukio. Confessions of a Mask. New York: A New Directions Book, 1958 (Eleventh printing)

[10] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sea_of_Fertility

[11] Source image: Hatsuhana doing penance under the Tonosawa waterfall van Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). This image is used as cover for the French edition of the Sea of Fertility by Yukio Mishima.

Narrator – from heaven to hell


In my youth I lived in heaven. At that time I had five obstacles in my life: my clothes got dirty, my body changed, my armpits sweated , my body smelled and life was sometimes uncomfortable [1]. My mother took care that my clothes, my armpits and my body were washed when we had enough water in the dry land. This was a feast. Changes of our body belong to human life; when the changes are over and the pains are forgotten, the situation is back to normal. And a sober, simple life does not always include comfort.

[2]

During my school time I sometimes adorned as warrior, more for fun and vanity than to prepare for battle. As student I was not interested in fighting.

[3]

At the end of my school time I moved from my motherland. I craved for the adventures as told in the stories of my ancestors and I felt an urge for comfort, money, fame and power. Or in the language of my ancestors: I wished to change from Nara [4] to Rājan [5].

While everyone was asleep, I left my mother; I left a note behind with the message that everything would be all right and that she could be proud of me.

After a few days wandering, I encountered a militia. I jointed them. I received an uniform with a weapon and I was trained to military just as the heroes from the Kṣhatriya [6] or warriors/rulers caste in the Mahābhārata.

[7]

I was not a strong soldier, but I was smart and fast and I immediately saw what was needed. The leaders of the militia saw this too: I was driver of the leader of the militia. Like Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad Gita [8] I was charioteer and advisor.

Similar to a charioteer on the chariot I was cook, I gave advise in battle, I encouraged, I offered protection in emergency, I rescued from difficult situations and afterwards I told the heroics of the fighters.

By the transition to the militia, I left heaven and I entered the world of hungry ghosts and the extremely painful world of hell. My life went from peace to war, from love and care to violence.

At the end of one night we set the forest surrounding a village on fire. The God of fire and the wind spread the flames. Our militia shot with joy at everyone and everything that came out of the forest and we were happy [9].

In daylight the disillusionment followed. We saw that we had killed everything and everyone from new-born to the elderly. Hereafter I left the world of hungry ghosts and hell.


[1] From: Cleary Thomas, The Undying Lamp of Zen – The testament of Zen Master Torei. Boston: Shambhala, 2010. Voetnoot 3 op p. 23

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

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

[4] In Sanskrit “nara” literally means “someone who does not rejoice”. This word is used for an ordinary man.

[5] “Rājan” means in Sanskrit “rejoice in birth/origin”. This word is used for someone from royal or military caste. Source: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta.

[6] For the caste system in India see amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India

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

[8] For an introduction of the Bhagavad Gita that is a small part of the Mahābhārata: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita. A good introduction for a translation Sanskrit – English: Sargeant, Winthrop, The Bhagavad Gȋtâ. Albany: State New York University Press, 1994. An introduction of a religious – yoga – background: Yogananda, Paramahansa, The Bhagavad Gȋtâ. Los Angelas: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001

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