Tag Archives: sacrifice

Man Leben – Dust of a journey

Wovon man nicht leben kann, darüber muss man schweigen [1]

Whereof one cannot live, thereof one must be silent.

You continue with the story of your life:

“Around 1990 after studying Oriental wisdom, I more or less lost my guilt and shame about my existence. Within a short period my aunt and my godmother died in 1993. Poland was easily accessible at that time. It was time to go to Auschwitz.

The name Auschwitz is derived from the Polish city name Oświęcim near the camp. Many Jews who lived in Oświęcim before the war, called this place Oshpitzin – the Yiddish word for guest – because this place was known for its hospitality before World War II [2].

In preparation for this visit, I have studies Shoah [3] made by Claude Lanzmann. On seeing this documentary I noticed how extensive and detailed the logistics must have been for the transportation and the accommodation of the many millions of people under difficult circumstances in time of war. These were targeted and far-reaching enterprises. Many people who were interviewed between 1974 and 1985, had repressed or altered their memories of the scale and scope – and their share in it. After questioning, these people did know the scope of the transports and the purpose of the camps often with embarrassment and shame. Their share was presented as fulfilling their orders as a minuscule wheel in a big scheme.


I have also looked at the statistics. Dachau was a concentration camp or a work camp where the prisoners were brought together to work. Most deaths in these camps were caused by heavy work, malnutrition, disease and abuse. Auschwitz II – also known as Auschwitz-Birkenau – was a death camp. Accurate data are no longer available, because these data have been destroyed near the end of the war. Most estimates indicate that approximately 1.3 million people are deported to the camps near Auschwitz. About 1.1 million people died. In Auschwitz II, more than 900,000 people have died according to estimates, of which 57 000 Dutch people – probably my father was one of them. After a journey of many days by train, a selection was made at arrival near the camp. Only the strongest people were selected for labour, the others went their death [5]. The number of deceased Jews in Auschwitz II is similar to all the inhabitants of Amsterdam including several nearby municipalities.


About three quarters of the Dutch Jews have not survived the war. The Jews have been easily selected by the accurate population registers. The deportees have been written out the population registers as “emigrated”. In total, approximately 110,000 Jews are deported from the Netherlands, of which about 5,000 have survived the concentration camps. The number of deceased Dutch Jews is similar to the full population of a city like Delft – including all the elderly and new-borns.

During the Second World War the other government caused the death of between 5,4 and 6 million Jews in Europe [7]. This is more than 700 times the number of soldiers buried on the war cemeteries in Omaha Beach near Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy or Henri Chapelle in Belgium: bottomless suffering.

The train journey to Oświęcim has lasted two days. In Oświęcim I have stepped into the footsteps of my aunt. I have never spoken about my visit to the camps at Auschwitz: I cannot do that and I do not want to. A week later I have returned to Amsterdam; empty inside and empty outside.

Several months later I have written three short poems:

Dust of a journey

Cannot be shaken away

Homely ashes


Volatile lives

Included in our marrow

Infinite time


All and all the world

Shapes in time’s rivers

Animated breath

In the camps near Dachau, I could not find reconciliation. The rooms for reconciliation in Dachau were not inviting for me to enter. On my journey to Dachau I had seen the study model for the continuum in Ulm. This study model included the entire universe in all Her simplicity and limitation. This room for reconciliation gave shelter and it included everything from the universe breathable in security and responsiveness.

After my visit to Auschwitz I have looked in each mirror for hope and consolation. In the mirrors I saw my sad, angry, guilty, acquiesced eyes. And also always the questions: “Who are you” and “How are you related to it and how are you separated from it”. On our Odyssey, we pose the same questions. In standing water I saw reflections of the world. With twigs and stones I have disrupted these images for a short time, but the images came back – bleak, cold, inhospitable.


The cracked glass of the Auschwitz Monument in Amsterdam reflects a part of my feelings after the visit to Auschwitz; personally, I would not crack the mirrors.


In the course of history, Auschwitz is not completely single out. If in a hunter/gatherers society a man wants to replace another man in the relation with a woman, than this struggle may cause the death of one of the men. Groups of people have fought with each other on the ownership of land: this often resulted in a casualty rate of 10% [10]. Since ancient times, the besiege and sacking of cities included customary rituals and rights: looting, killing men and leading women and children away as slaves was common practice. Since classical antiquity, warfare with professional armies is endemically anchored in our societies. With the arising of our current States, conscription is also introduced. By registration, the States did know exactly where the young men and the horses/vehicles were located for deployment during warfare. We know the consequences: on the way to Moscow, Napoleon caused more victims amongst his soldiers than during the horrors on the retreat [11]. The casualties among the soldiers during the German/French wars run into the millions. Battlefields have always been a Armageddon, but the extent and duration of the fighting increased vastly. In addition, the number of civilian victims increased dramatically and the massacres regularly include elements of genocide – think of systematic massacres in Africa and in Cambodia.

But Auschwitz II and the other death camps under the other government in Germany are exceptional. In 1942 and 1943 when the Germany’s conquests slowed down and the war effort were directly felt by the Germans, a scapegoat was easily found and stigmatised. It seems as though the other regime – that already had for 10 years a leader as a “person in the middle” for restoration of the disturbed trust – thought that the sacrifice of a scapegoat may reduce the problems. This sacrifice has been exceptional in size, effort and duration: “The sacrifice was performed with a scientific-systematic, technical nearly impeccable style. Without hurry, well designed, registered and regulated. The direct perpetrators: not rarely brutes and illiterates, but often well-educated and intellectuals with a ineradicable love for literature, arts and music; most of them have been caring house fathers” [12].

In the areas controlled by the other government, everything and everyone should have had a smaller or larger share in execution of this sacrifice. The subsequent efforts to hide this share speak for themselves [13]. In Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah [14] we see a reflection of these efforts to shielding. If I look in the mirror after my visit to Auschwitz, I still see a fraction of this effort for shielding – like my aunt I am not able to speak about this image in the mirror: I cannot and I do not want to.

Many years later, I read that a group of American Buddhists visited Auschwitz for consolation of everything and everyone [15]. From the long lists, they have recited the names of the deceased including the year of birth year and death year. Herewith the size became visible: the age of the deceased varies between a few months and more than 80 years.

My trip to Auschwitz took on breath, two weeks, more than 4500 years, from the beginning of the universe to the present, and from the day before yesterday to the day after tomorrow.

My everyday life In Amsterdam took its course again.

More about this in the following message”, you say.

The following post continues on your life after the journey to Auschwitz.

[1] Free rendering of the last sentence from: Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Amsterdam: Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennip, 1976 p. 152

[2] Source: Glassman, Bernie, Bearing Witness – A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace. New York: Bell Tower, 1998, p. 4

[3] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoah_(film)

[4] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Birkenau_gate.JPG

[5] Sources: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_(concentratiekamp)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp and http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust

[6] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_(concentratiekamp)

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

[8] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiegel_(optica)

[9] Source image: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bestand:Auschwitz_monument_amsterdam.JPG

[10] Source: Keegan, John, A History of Warfare. London: Pimlico – Random House, 2004

[11] Source: Zamoyski, Adam, 1812 – Napoleons fatale Veldtocht naar Moskou. Utrecht: Uitgeverij Balans, 2005

[12] Source: First paragraph of the Introduction from – Presser, Jacques, Ondergang. De vervolging en verdelging van het Nederlandse Jodendom 1940-1945 (twee delen), Den Haag: Staatsdrukkerij, 1985 – digitale version.

[13] Amongst others the publishing of “Presser, Jacques, Ondergang. De vervolging en verdelging van het Nederlandse Jodendom 1940-1945 (twee delen)” in 1965 caused discussion on the participation of the Netherlands in this “Sacrifice”.

[14] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoah_(film)

[15] See “Part I” of: Glassman, Bernie, Bearing Witness – A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace. New York: Bell Tower, 1998


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.


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].


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.


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.

“Who are you – Part 1” is available for download

All posts from February until September 2011 are available for download as Pdf-document.

On this page you will find two Pdf-documents – Small and Big – including all posts from February until September 2011 about the search for “Who are you – Part 1” comprising the chapters 1, 2 and 3.

The future two parts of “Who are you” will cover the chapters  5, 7 and 0.

The following improvements need to be made in this concept for Part 1:

  • Including an Index
  • Editing of the text
  • Reviewing all images on possible copyright
  • Including the Publisher
  • Including an ISBN number
  • Improving lay-out of front, side and back

The first file “Small” includes the images in low resolution and comprises 7 MB.

2011-09-18-Who are you-Part 1-Small

The second file “Big” includes the images in high resolution and comprises 63 MB.

2011-09-18-Who are you-Part 1-Big

These files may be downloaded and stored on a computer by right-clicking with the mouse. Choose “save as” to save the file on the hard disk of your computer under documents or downloads.

This document includes 247 pages: printing for own use or for education purposes is permitted.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Photos, images, renderings and quotations in the text may be copyrighted by third parties.

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – the Word

This post is a transition to the next stage “Five” on our Odyssey. In the next stage, we will look at five contemporary realities:

o Facts and logic
o Intensities and associations
o Void
o Change
o Inter-connectedness

In this post we start with the “Word ” as “object in the middle” in the transition from “Three – Dubio transcendit” to “Five – five contemporary realities”.

During the stage “Three” we have seen the role of rituals and sacrifices that are continually made ​​to establish and maintain the basic mutual trust – Credo (I believe) – between gods, priests, people and categories of individuals. The contemporary world is full of similar rituals and sacrifices within society, in private life and in religious beliefs: again and again the rituals and sacrifices will give trust and comfort. In a nutshell, you and I have met the “person in the middle, ” the “object in the middle” and the “spirit in the middle”.

When looking at the end of the movie “Offret” – or “The Sacrifice” – by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1986, we have seen the son – who looks at the crown of the tree coming to life – saying his first words in the film: “In the beginning was the Word [1]. Why Father?”. This question is absolutely right, because this son needs no words for his sacrifice, his life and his knowledge, and his actions precede all words.

Words indicate and include, and words exclude. In Psalm 119 from the Old Testament these two aspects of the word are shown: ” Your word is a lamp for my feet, I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.” [2] By following God’s word and light, the believer is in God’s grace. A little further: “You reject all those who stray from your statutes, for their deceit is vain. All the wicked of the earth, do ye away like foam.” By not following God’s word and light, exclusion will be the consequence. His actions are not optional for the believer alone, but it also has major consequences for others and the environment. The Word of God forms a hard separation between confidence and hospitality on one hand, and infidelity, rejection and exclusion on the other hand. The other metaphor for the mystery of life does basically not exclude; within Indra’s Net, everything is totally enclosed, and everything takes shape within mutual reflection. Later in our journey we will see more of Indra’s net.

In the film “Offret”, the father sticks to his word to God. After the salvation of the world – as promised – he sacrifices and gives up all his possessions and all that binds him to this life. Without any direct say, his family and relatives lose the father/friend, their house and possessions. Can a sacrifice be a real sacrifice when innocent people involved.[3]

The wife and son of Siddhartha Gautama – the future Buddha – are without husband and father after Siddhartha Gautama left his family to respond to the inner necessity to illuminate the world. A contemporary description of Buddha’s life has a whole chapter devoted to describing the loss and the grief of the wife of Siddhartha Gautama.

“You and I have left our family at the beginning of our Odyssey. They certainly bring a great sacrifice by our absence”, you say.

“Always I feel guilty about the decision to make this quest. Because I follow this inner vow, other people and perhaps the universe are affected accordingly”, I say.

“It amazes me that the lost son [4] in the New Testament receives much more joy than the son who continues his normal life. Maintaining day to day life is the foundation of everything. It deserves great joy and reward”, you say.

“In the New Testament, the lost son stands for the unbeliever who – after many years wandering – returns into the womb of faith. Of course, the lost son receives joy and happiness! The other son and all believers experience a constant joy of their faith in maintaining everyday life [5]“, I say.

“The name “Dubio transcendit” for this stage on our Odyssey begins to dawn on me. Believers overcome their doubts by maintaining the life of all days with a constant joy and certainty of their faith. It does not convince me completely, but the beginning of an understanding is there. Where did you get the name of this stage?”, you say.

“From the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharista of Pope John Paul II, which is a circular letter of the pope as supreme bridge builder [6] between heaven and earth. In this letter the role of the Eucharist in the church is exposed. This circular includes the passage: “Mysterium est magnum, quod nos procul dubio transcendit [7]” which means: “The mystery is great, that transcends us doubtless”. In the circular, this passage refers to the mystery of faith. I like this short passage, because the mystery of life – with all doubts and all divisions – transcends us by far. Even our faith and certainties, our disbelief and our doubts fit easily into the mystery of life, with and without faith. For this reason, I named this stage on our Odyssey “Dubio transcendit”. With and without faith, with and without a sacrifice, the mystery of life transcends our doubts and divisions”, I say.

“Have you received a final answer on the mystery of life during this stage?” you say.

“Therefor the mystery of life is too great.

Fremd bin ich eingezogen,

fremd zieh‘ ich wieder aus.

Der Mai war mir gewogen

mit manchen Blumenstrauß.

Ich kann zu meiner Reisen

Nicht wählen mit der Zeit:

Muß selbst den Weg mir weisen

In dieser Dunkelheit.

Es zieht ein Mondenschatten[8]

Als mein Gefährte mit[9].[10]“, I say and sing.

“Beautiful sung. I know four performances of Winterreise. Peter Schreier with Sviatoslav Richter on piano, Hans Hotter with Gerald Moore, Christa Ludwig with James Levine and Brigitte Fassbaender with Aribert Reimann”, you say.

“All these versions are beautiful in their own way. Time to go to the next stage”, I say

[1] See also: Opening of John’s Gospel from the New Testament.

[2] Source: Psalm 119:105-106 en 118-119

[3] Interpretation of the role of an offer is based upon: Fanu, Mark Le, The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky. London: BFI Publishing, 1987, pagina 125

[4] See: Gospel of Luke 15: 11-32 from the New Testament.

[5] See also “in dubio” in the post “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Lamb of God” of 3rd June 2011.

[6] See also: post “Introduction: Three – Person in the middle” of 1st of May 2011

[7] Source: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/special_features/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_20030417_ecclesia_eucharistia_lt.html:  IOANNIS PAULI PP. II SUMMI PONTIFICIS, LITTERAE ENCYCLICAE ECCLESIA DE EUCHARISTIA, Rome, 2003

[8] Literally: a moon shadow. For the moon symbol also footnote 11 to the post “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Lamb of Gods” of 3rd June 2011.

[9] Poem by Wilhelm Müller. First song from the song cycle “Winterreise” by Franz Schubert.

[10] Translation: “As a stranger I came, I leave again as stranger. The month of May was favourable to me with many bunches of flowers. I am not free to choose my time for the journey: I have to choose my own way in the darkness. A shadow in the moonlight travels as my companion.

Introduction: Three – Holy Spirit in the middle – The Dove

In the previous post we have looked at the painting the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck in Ghent. This painting shows the Lamb of God as an offering to take away the sin of the world. Jesus Christ, the only son of God the Father, is represented as Lamb of God [1]. Above the Lamb of God, a dove is depicted as bright shining sun who illuminates the world. This dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

The choir sings during the Mass in B – minor by Johann Sebastian Bach how Jesus Christ was born through the Holy Spirit out of Mary:

”Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria virgine et homo factus est”

Later in our Odyssey, you and I will dwell on “et incarnatus est”. During this post we consider the dove – the Holy Spirit – through whom Jesus as Son of God the Father is born out of Mary. For this we look one more time at the painting the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck in Ghent.


According to Christian theology God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are a Trinity [3]. In the painting, this trinity is depicted as a father – in the upper middle sitting on a throne as King-God – with thereunder a separate painting of the Holy Spirit as a shining sun that illuminates the world. Through the Holy Spirit the Lamb of God emerges as the only child of the Father. In this painting the Holy Spirit is painted as a dove.


How does this divine trinity relates to the invisible Jewish God who is considered present between the tops of the wings of angels on the Ark of the Covenant? [5]  Do we see different physical appearances of the same God – who cannot be encompassed – but who takes different manifestations for the faithful?

Is the invisible God who is considered present between the tops of the wings of the dove similar to the Jewish God who is considered present between the tops of the wings of angels on the Ark of the Covenant?

The son of God takes away the sin of the world as a sacrifice in the form of the Lamb of God. Is this a continuation of the sacrifices within the cattle cycle that have been made long ago in order to establish and consolidate the trust between Gods and mankind? [6]

Christian faith is spread through the Roman Empire. Within the world of the Romans, the father in the family has absolute power over his children. [7] The birth of a Roman only takes places when the father decides whether and how the newborn child is included in society. Until a child is fully mature and starts living on her/his own, the father has absolute power over his children [8]. In Western Europe the Catholic Church is a continuation of the Roman empire until now. Before 300 A. C. Jupiter is [9] the important Father God. The vestments in the church still show resemblance to the fashion of the Late Western Roman Empire [8] and the church provinces still follow the provinces of the former Roman Empire until now. Does “God the Father” show similarities with the father in the Roman Empire in respect to the powerful position over his children?

“It seems that within the Christian theology the mystery of the divine Trinity is needed to reunite various forms of mysteries from the past. Through this unification of the Trinity and through rituals (with the usual offerings), the mutual trust between mankind and God is maintained according to the Christian faith. Through this mutual trust and faith, a view of a resurrection is created for the believers”, you say.

“Your explanation sounds good, I leave a further investigation of this subject to church historians [11]. The divine trinity, the world and the universe also fit perfectly within another metaphor for the mystery of life. The three manifestations of God, including the world and the universe fit perfectly within Indra’s net. Within this metaphor all aspect (including the three manifestations of God) are glass beads, that are more or less radiate and reflective. By their mutual radiation and reflection they constitute each other and together they shape the net. Within this metaphor a church is a community – with or without a building – that constitutes one another by mutual reflection arisen from beliefs, so that the life course is followed, “I say.

“If we follow this way of thinking, the holy spirit may be the fleeting life course, light, wind, water, air, dust from which we are born and where we will return to. It also makes me think of the opening of the Ishvara upanishad which goes something like this: “That is the whole, this is the whole, from the whole, the whole becomes manifest; taking away the whole from the whole, the whole remains. Peace! Peace! Peace![10]“, you say.

“There remain two questions. According to the metaphor of Indra’s Net, no single particle can get lost. And the second question arises because I’ve read somewhere that the gods are bound by the law of cause and effect. Maybe more on this later on our Odyssey”, I say.

The following post is a transition to the next stage “Five” and is about the “Word “.

[1] See footnote at the post “Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Lamb Gods” of 3rd June 2011.

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

[3] The first start of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is given during the first Oecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 by the church leaders of the great Christian centres in Rome, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. This Council rejects the Arianism – in which the verb-root “arh” may be recognized meaning “be worthy or capable” in Sanskrit – and explains this view as heresy. Arius, the eponym of this Christian flow and priest in Alexandria, has proclaimed that Christ – although a superior man – has no divine nature but is created by God and therefore as “son of God” is subordinate to God the Father. In response to this view the Nicene Council determines that Christ is not a demigod but God and essentially one with God the father. In Nicaea is the doctrine of Trinity is not yet fully developed, because the Holy Spirit, the third Divine person, is not mentioned. This happens during the Oecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 where the Nicaean Creed is accepted as unchangeable with the main addition that the Holy Spirit as third divine person is equal to God the father and Christ  the son of God. The Holy Spirit, according to the text, is “derives from the father”. In Latin: “Qui ex patre procedit”. Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geloofsbelijdenis_van_Nicea-Constantinopel

[4] Source image: part of http://www.bertsgeschiedenissite.nl/middeleeuwen/eeuw15/jan_van_eyck.htm

[5] See post: Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Part 1 of 5th May 2011.

[6] See post: Introduction: Three – Dubio trancendit of 28th April 2011.

[7] Source: Histoire de la vie privée. Tome 1: De l’Empire romain à l’an mil.  Red. Ariès, Philippe & Duby, George.

[8] Source: Chapter 1 from Histoire de la vie privée. Tome 1: De l’Empire romain à l’an mil. 

[9] The word Jupiter consists of the words Deus (or Dieu in French) that via the verb root “div” means “Shine, appear, increase”, and “ptr” meaning father.

[10] See also: Major B.D. Basu ed., The Upanishads, Volume 1 and 23. New Delhi: Cosmo Publications, 2007

[11] See also: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geloofsbelijdenis_van_Nicea-Constantinopel. The doctrine of the Trinity – with the Holy Spirit as third Divine person – is not yet developed in the creed as established during the Council of Nicaea in 325 a.d.  At the Council of Constantinople in 381 a.d. an adapted creed is agreed upon, in which the Holy Spirit is acknowledged as third Divine person next to the Father and the Son where the Holy Spirit comes from the father or “qui ex patre procedit”. The creed of Nicaea-Constantinople is accepted by all Christians. In 589 a.d. during the third Council of Toledo, “filioque” or “and the son” is added in the Latin text: the Holy Spirit emerges from the father and the son according to the Latin text. Charlemagne has been successful in ensuring that this addition is accepted by the German churches in 794 a.d.. Pope Leo III has sent a letter to Charlemagne in 808 a.d. mentioning that it is inappropriate to add “filioque” to the creed. Charlemagne has held to his position; he has not asked Pope Leo III to crown his son to Emperor. The creed in in the Roman Catholic creed still includes “filioque”. The Greek and Eastern Orthodox churches have seen this addition as a heretical degradation of doctrine of the Trinity, because this addition says that the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son, and so is no equivalent God. In 1054 a.d.  this addition has caused a schism between the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. See also: Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas, Volume 2. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982, p. 213-216.

Studying this development two question arise. Why do Christians not accepted that the Trinity are three manifestations of one and the same where they arise together? Why do the father and the son not arise from the Holy Spirit if there is a need for a single origin?

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Lamb of God

In the previous post we have looked at the sacrifice as “object in the middle”. For this, you and I have looked at the movie “Offret” – or “The Sacrifice” by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1986. At the end of the film we have seen how the father has sacrificed everything he owns and binds him in this life, to God. He has made this sacrifice to save the world, in order that everything remains as it was before the threat of war and to be freed from that deadly, unbearable, animal fear. This sacrifice of the father is as well an unintentional sacrifice of his family and his relatives.

The son brings three sacrifices. He loses his father because his father sticks to his word and to God’s word. He is constantly giving water to the dead tree and therefore he brings the tree – the tree of life – back to life. By the third sacrifice he remains silent throughout the film.

The son asks to his father – and to God – why his father should keep his word. The son does not need any words for his sacrifice; his life, his actions and his knowledge precedes words.

Rightly the son asks at the end of the film: “In the beginning was the word. Why Father? ”

This question brings us to the first sentence in John’s Gospel in the New Testament [1]. Later in our Odyssey, we will try to give answers to this unavoidable question of the son.

In this post we will look further at the sacrifice as “object in the middle”. We look at the painting of the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck in Ghent. This painting depicts Jesus in the form of the Lamb of God. The Lamb of God is described in the first chapter of John’s Gospel in the New Testament: “The next day St. John sees Jesus approaching. St. John says: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”[2]


In me I hear the Agnus Dei from Mass in B – minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.

“Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, Miserere Nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, Miserere Nobis.

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, Dona Nobis Pacem. [4]

“It seems that the last weeks of our Odyssey we are travelling according parts of the liturgy of Holy Mass from the Catholic Church. A few weeks ago we started with the Kyrie: the word “church” probably originates from Kyrie[5]. Inside the churches, we continued with the Credo in the form of light and hope. The reflection and the sermon followed within two meditation rooms. And now we arrive at the sacrifice by watching the movie “Offret” and at the Agnus Dei [6] as the Lamb of God, “I say.


“I could never say the Credo – or I believe – with conviction. It is not possible for me to believe in the Christian theology”, you say.

“You’re not alone and I feel this doubt with you. Also Thomas one of the disciples of Jesus, cannot believe in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and the resurrection of Jesus as salvation and resurrection of all people or believers. Caravaggio’s painting shows that. This doubt of Thomas is not taken away by feeling the wound. Probably, faith and doubt go hand in hand for many Christians”, I say.


“I believe that every day the sun rises as resurrection and I believe in my next breath. But I cannot believe in the sacrifice of the Lamb of God as salvation of the universe”, you say.

“People have also questioned the next rising of the sun and the next breath. Hereof many rituals are known for establishing and perpetuating this confidence. People know a lot of uncertainties about the past, the present and the future. Christian theology tries to overcome these uncertainties (“in doubt” or “doubt” in Latin) by faith, rituals – including offerings – and hope. A deeply religious Christian once said: “The last thing I want to lose is my faith.” For me, this sentence includes even a trace of doubt. A rock-solid belief never fades. By rituals people try to establish and maintain trust and hope. The Christian faith says: “And they that know your name, will put their trust in you.” [9]  The painting of the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck nicely show this: the Father, the Son as the Lamb of God and the Holy Spirit as trinity”, I say.

“The Bible includes the Book of Job that is about a rock-solid faith [10]. I also think of the Japanese poet Rӯokan. Once at night everything was stolen from his simple hut:

“The thief leaves behind,

the ever changeful Moon

at the firmament.” [11]

The moon [12] points to the firm belief of Rӯokan”, you say.

“The faith of people in the past often seems more certain, because we see their past as well established. But maybe their rock-solid faith does also know uncertainties in their lives. If we look with their eyes, do we see a different world, other uncertainties, different expectations, a different religion? I do not know”, I say.

“Me neither. Shall we continue with the Dove as the Holy Spirit in the next post?”, you say.

[1] St. John 1:1 from the New Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

[2] St. John 1:29 and 1:36 from the New Testament.

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

[4] Translation: Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, you who take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

[5] The source of the word “Church” probably is Greek: “Kūrios” meaning “Lord, Master”. Source: Ayto, John, Word Origins, the hidden History of English Words from A to Z. London: A &C Black, 2008. Maybe the word Church originates via the German word “Kirche” from the compound of Indo-European words “kr” (karoti, kurute) meaning “make, do, perform”, and “ish” depending on the “sh” sound either “sacrifice” or “ruler”, or “ich – I ” in Sanskrit.

[6] “The Agnus Dei is part of the Mass in the Catholic church and seems to be introduced for the first time during a Mass by Pope Sergius I (687-701 AD).  Agnus Dei means Lamb of God and literally refers to Christ in his role as the perfect sacrifice that reconciles the sins of mankind in the Christian theology. The prayer dates from the time of the ancient Jewish sacramental sacrifices. The Agnus Dei is sung during Mass when the priest breaks the Holy Bread and unification takes place, the priest drops a piece of the wafer in the chalice – filled with wine and water as blood of Christ.
The sacrifice of a lamb and the blood of the lamb are often used metaphors in the religions of the Middle East. It refers to the ancient Jewish custom to liberate people from their sins by a sacrifice. In the Protestant churches in the Revelation the phrase “washed in the blood of the lamb” is used to designate the deliverance of the original sin supposed by the churches. On our Odyssey, we already have encountered the cattle-sacrifice in the myth and Trito cattle cycle.
In art, Agnus Dei, the figure of a lamb bearing a cross, symbolizing Jesus as the Lamb of God. This metaphor is often used in Christian art, where the Mystic Lamb by the brothers Van Eyck in Ghent is famous.
Source: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnus_Dei

[7] Source image: http://www.bertsgeschiedenissite.nl/middeleeuwen/eeuw15/jan_van_eyck.htm

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

[9] Source: Psalm 9:10: “God, the protector of the believers”.

[10] Also Job despairs when he and his wife feel the big setbacks directly in their bodies. Job asks God why he deserves these setbacks, his faith is unconditional. In a storm God replies: “Where were you when I separated the sky and the earth and created the universe!”. Hereafter Job recognizes his ignorance, he calls for teaching and confesses that he has directly God in his omnipotence. Job does penance in dust and ashes. After a cattle sacrifice, God’s wrath disappears and prosperity returns for Job.

When Job would have recognized all setbacks as part of himself, may Job have answered God that he is present in the separation of air and earth? May he have the courage to say that his appearance in the separation of air and earth is adapted to the circumstances?  That he always remains one during and after the separation of air and earth and during and after all the crackle that follows?

[11] Source: Stevens, John, Three Zen Masters, Ikkyū, Hakuin, Rӯokan. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1993. Page 131.

[12] Rӯokan is a Japanese Zen Buddhist. Zen Buddhism starts in China by a merger of Taoism and Buddhism. Taoism knows Tao as a keyword meaning “road or course of life”, but this word is probably derived from the ancient Chinese word for “Moon”. Source: Porter, Bill, Road to Heaven – Encounters with Chinese Hermits. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1993 Page: 35.

Introduction: Three – Object in the middle – Sacrifice

In the previous post, we have entered two meditation rooms. The first room is the Mark Rothko Chapel in Houston. The other meditation room is everywhere and always present.

Now you and I consider the sacrifice as “object in the middle”. For this we look at the last part of the movie “Offret” or “The Sacrifice” by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1986.


Before we start watching this part of the movie, we read first several introductions and reflections on this film. We start with “The sealed time” [2]: reflections on the cinema by Andrei Tarkovsky.

“The sealed time” is also a good name for the interior of the Mark Rothko Chapel”, you say.

In these reflections Andrei Tarkovsky writes: “The protagonist of the film” Offret ” is meant as a weak personality. No hero, but a thinker and an honest person who is able to sacrifice for a higher ideal. If the situation requires, he does not back and tries to leave the act of sacrifice to someone else. He faces not being understood by others and to be seen as destructive and desperate. He exceeds the permissible limit of normal behavior by which he is seen as insane, because he feels bound to the fate of all mankind. He only responds to the call of his heart. He is not master of fate, but only servant. His efforts remain unnoticed and misunderstood, but do contribute to the harmony of the world.[3]

“Do you recognize yourself in this description?” I ask.

“With shame. I often follow my own way and I have neglected other people unnecessarily”, you say.

“Who does not?” I say.

“Saints?”, you say

“We both aren’t,” I say.

In the afterword to these considerations Andrei Tarkovsky writes: “Throughout history ideologues and politicians have shown people “the only right way” that can save the world. To partake in this salvation the individual should – according to ideologues, politicians and/or society – give up all own ideas in order to channel all energy to the proposed rescue. For this progress, that has to safeguard the future of humanity, the individual sacrifices his inner life. His personality is lost in following this ideal. Because mankind thinks of the interests of all, it forgets its own personal interest as Christ preaches: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This means: “Love yourself so much that you respect the divine principle in yourself, the suprapersonal that prohibits selfishness and obliges you to give yourself to others unconditionally, loyalty to yourself from the I as a personal centre of life.” [4] [5]

“This requires a major balancing act between self-interest – in which the world is reflected – and sacrifices for others – whereby each sacrifice for another is a sacrifice to yourself”, you say.

“Somewhere I read that a beggar and a benefactor show compassion for each other by an offering. The beggar gives the benefactor the opportunity to demonstrate compassion and the benefactor shows compassion with another expression of his own life”, I say.

“To give offerings in an unconditional manner, we still have a long way to go. Andrei Tarkovsky describes a first step towards a Buddhist bodhisattva [6]. The ideal of salvation and the unconditional offerings to others is present. Only the efforts and the ways to achieve one’s own perfection before the bodhisattva encourages others to prepare for enlightenment, lacks”, you say.

“Within mahâyâna [7] Buddhism enlightenment is only possible for everyone at the same time. The metaphor of Indra’s Net shows this. First one’s own glass bead has to be prepares for enlightenment. Thereafter, all other glass beads have to be able to enter enlightenment. If one glass bead is illuminated, all other pearls are also lit: no jewel within Indra’s Net is left behind, because otherwise the dust on one non-enlightened jewel reflects on all”, I say.

“Absolutely. Because the protagonist is not clear in his mind, he cannot save the world. If he does so, he remains behind with his faults and is at least one small part of the world that is not saved. Hereby the protagonist is not a bodhisattva, but a tragic hero”, you say.

“He cannot be a classic tragic hero, because he believes in a God who may grant him salvation,” I say.

“Later on our Odyssey, we will encounter enlightenment again. You and I share the same shortcomings as the protagonist in the film. I hope we are able to see a glimpse of the enlightenment. Odysseus has been tied to the mast of his ship in the vicinity of the Sirens. The ears of his crew were filled with wax to prevent noticing the seductive sounds. This reasoning is not sound, anyway”, you say.

“Let us watch the movie”, I say.

The last film of Andrei Tarkovsky – finished shortly before his death – begins with the monologue by the father – Alexander – to his son who will not speak during the entire movie due to a throat disease: “A long ago, an old monk named Pamve was in an Orthodox monastery. He has planted a dead tree. His pupil – named Ivan Kolvo – may give water to the tree every day. Every morning he climbs with a full bucket of water uphill and gives water to the dead trunk. On one day after three years, the tree blooms with full blossom [8]. Every action has its consequence. If you perform undisturbed at the same time every day the same ritual, the world will change irrevocably. [9]

“My mother once put a dead stick on the ground outside to the wall. After several months, the stick has rooted”, you say.


During the film a threat of a war develops that will destroy everything and everyone. Under this pressure, the main character – Alexander – goes to his study. He kneels on the ground and does something he never has done before. He prays: “Lord, save us in this fearful hour. Do not let my children and friends die, my wife, everyone who loves and believes in you. And those who do not believe in you because they are blind and have not given thoughts to you because they have not really been unhappy. Anyone who will lose his hopes now, his future his life and the opportunity to be guided by your word. Those who are filled with fear and feel the end is nearing. Who do not fear for themselves but for their neighbours. For those who nobody else can save but you. Because this war is the last, a terrible war. After this there will be no victors and vanquished any more. No towns and villages, trees and grass. No water in the springs or birds in the sky. I give you everything I own. I leave my family that I love. I destroy my house and take away my son. I will remain silent and talk to nobody. I renounce all that binds me to this life. If you only ensure that everything is as it was. And I am freed from that deadly, unbearable, animal fear. Lord, help me. I will do what I promised.”

The next morning, the threat is disappeared. Alexander sticks to his word and lures all the residents to the seaside before putting the house on fire. All his possessions are on fire. He sacrifices his soul for his neighbours and the world. He is retrieved by an ambulance for admission to a mental institution.


“This sacrifice is not only a sacrifice of the protagonist. It is also a sacrifice made by his family and friends. Without any direct say, they lose Alexander, their house and possessions. Can a sacrifice be a real sacrifice when innocent people involved “[12], you ask.

While the ambulance passes, the son is ready to water the dead tree with full buckets of water. The Aria “Erbarme dich“ from St. Matthew Passion begins.

“Erbarme dich,
Mein Gott,
Um meiner want Zahren
Schaue here
Herz und Auge weint vor dir

The son looks at the crown of the tree and says his only words during the film: “In the beginning is the word [14]. Why Father? “.

At the appearance of the text mentioning that the film is dedicated to the son of Andrei Tarkovsky – with hope and consolation, the crown of the tree seems to bloom.

“The son makes three sacrifices. He loses his father because his father sticks to his word and to God’s word. He makes his second sacrifice by continuously giving water to the tree and bringing this tree back to life. By the third sacrifice he remain silent throughout the film. Fully justified the son asks his father – and God – why his father must keep his word”, you say.

“For me this is a film of hope, because the last film by Andrei Tarkovsky is dedicated to his son with hope and consolation. At the end of this film, the light gives bloom to the tree of life. The life of his father – now a dry tree, because he has stopped acting – becomes a tree of life for the son by means of water. The son does not need any words for his sacrifices; his life, his actions and his knowledge precedes all words”, I say.

“A great enhancement of my impressions. Tarkovsky transcends “the sealed time” with this end of his last film”, you say.


The next post is about the Lamb of God as sacrifice.

[1] Source image: front of DVD-cover of the Swedish version of the film “Offret”.

[2] Tarkovski, Andrei, Sculpting in Time – Reflections on the Cinema. 1989

[3] Tarkovski, Andrei, De verzegelde tijd – Beschouwingen over de filmkunst. Pagina 203.

[4] Tarkovski, Andrei, De verzegelde tijd – Beschouwingen over de filmkunst. Pagina 207 – 208.

[5] For consideration: Indra’s Net as metaphor; see also: “Indra’s net” in post “Introduction: One – Pantheism – Indra’s net” of 8th April 2011

[6] The word bodhisattva consists of two words “bodhi” and “sattva” meaning “perfect knowledge, wisdom” and “being, conscience, living being” in Sanskrit. The school of mahâyâna buddhism knows the bodhisattva ideal. According to this ideal a human who is on the verge of enlightenment – named bodhisattva, will refrain of entering until the complete universe and every particle is capable to enter enlightment. In the meantime a bodhisattva will prepare everyone and everything for enlightenment.

[7] Mahâyâna means “large vehicle”. All and everyone is enclosed in this large vehicle, no particle is excluded.

[8] See also the post of 2nd of April 2011 “Introduction One – Blossom.”

[9] See also the posts of 24th en 27th March 2011 on rituels.

[10] Source image: http://www.jaapnoordzij.nl/credo/2010/09/offret-het-offer.html

[11] Source image: http://www.discordance.fr/top-5-les-meilleurs-epilogues-du-cinema-27740/1_offret

[12] Source: Fanu, Mark Le, The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky. London: BFI Publishing, 1987, page 125

[13] Aria from the St. Matthew Passion by the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Translation: “Have mercy, my God, regarding my tears, look at me, heart and eyes weep for you bitterly.”

[14] See also: Opening of the Gospel of St. John from the New Testament.

[15] Source image: http://www.elitisti.net/artikkeli/2005/02/004308/offret_1986_uhri.html