Tag Archives: Siddhartha Gautama

Narrator – points to the snow

The first snow fell early in autumn; the days were still not very short. In that dark morning the crackling of snow under my shoes sounded muted in the Prästgatan wherein the Golden House of hopes and dreams was situated on the island Gamla Stan in Stockholm.

Prästgatan in Juni[1]

The white snow and cold absorbed all colours; the Moon and the starry sky merged with the snow and the full colours of last summer were gone. In the course of the morning the snow was smeared by everyday life. That evening a vague glow appeared in the light of lanterns.

Prästgatan in December[2]

My beloved came home that night from a visit to his sick mother in America. His return was the beginning of a big change in our lives. He wanted to live closer to his mother, because due to her illness she only had less than a years to live. During his stay in America my beloved visited various Buddhist communities; he had decided to enter a convent near the house of his parents. The contact with his father was still stiff by their mutual incomprehension about his evasion of military service during the Viet Nam war. Unbeknownst to my beloved, I wrote a letter to his father in which I made a comparison between the general pardon of president Carter in 1977 for evasion of military service during the Viet Nam war and the parable of the lost son [3] in the New Testament: Your son was lost and he is found [4] by the general pardon. After the next visit to his parents my beloved returned joyfully; his father had welcomed him with open arms.

That winter my beloved toiled on a Buddhist question in which a teacher points to the snow and asks: “Is there any that can go beyond this colour?”. Another teacher said: “At this point I had have pushed it over for him”.  A third teacher said: “He only knows how to push down, he does not know how to help up”. [5]

This question is about passing the Empty Gate and the state of enlightenment. Snow, cold and white in which the Moon merges are metaphors for enlightenment. The first teacher asked for any beyond this colour where this colour stands for the road after passing the Empty Gate or after enlightenment. The other teacher immediately removes the illusion of enlightenment and a road after passing the Empty Gate by amongst others to refer to the colourless colour and to the Bodhisattva ideal from Mahâyâna Buddhism in which a human who is on the verge of enlightenment – or even a living Buddha –forgoes out of compassion until everything and everyone is able to enter enlightenment or the state of a Buddha. My beloved could comprehend the statements of the first two teachers, but that winter he toiled on the third statement.

Just as many people I struggled with the short days in northern countries. Our last common Christmas and New Year’s evening we celebrated exuberantly with many friends and acquaintances. Fortunately, in January and February the days got longer.

That winter my beloved sold the country house in the Stockholm archipelago and the Golden House in the old town of Stockholm. For a short time we moved to a rented wooden house on the island of Södermalm where we had a beautiful view on the inner city of Stockholm. Here we lived our last two months together. My beloved studied and I played percussion in several jazz ensembles.


At the beginning of the spring my beloved asked me what the meaning of “māyā” is in Sanskrit. I told him that in the distant antiquity “māyā” had the meaning of “art and wisdom” and later the meaning of “illusion”, “compassion, sympathy” and “one of the 24 small Buddhist sins” [7] were added. The name of the mother of Siddhartha Gautama was Māyādevī wherein “devī ” as feminine form of “deva” [8] means among others “feminine goddess”. I also said that my father has taught me that “māyā” takes shape in the form of the general or cosmic consciousness and thus is directly connected with the all-encompassing Īśa, and in addition in the form of the individual or human consciousness and thus often has the meaning of illusion [9]. Both forms stem from and are included in the one reality.

After this explanation my beloved beamed. By the warmth of the sun glow the blossom buttons opened again. With the blossoms of spring my beloved moved to America permanently.

Bloesem Stockholm[10]

That summer, his mother past quietly. Four years later I received a sad message that my beloved had died from the mysterious disease that plagued our friends and acquaintances. In our correspondence he has never mentioned it. And always when the blossom …

In the society where I from, community means everything – you are who you know [11]. In Stockholm I was the friend of my beloved at best. Now I no longer really knew anybody, I was a nobody in Stockholm. At the end of the spring I terminated the rent of our beautiful wooden house and I moved to Copenhagen.

[1] Photo of the Prästgatan on the island Gamla Stan in the beginning of June. Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan

[2] Photo of the Prästgatan on the Island Gamla Stan in the beginning of December. Source image: http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pr%C3%A4stgatan

[3] See the Gospel of Luke 15: 11-32 in the New Testament

[4] See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Prodigal_Son

[5] See also: http://zazen.rutgers.edu/talks/yangshanpointstosnow.html

[6] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_during_the_Age_of_Liberty

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

[8] The word Deva whereof Deus in Latin, Zeus in Greec and Dieu in French arose, is Sanskrit connected with the verb root “Div” meaning amongst others “to shinestralen, to play, to increase”.

[9] See also: Nikhilananda, Swami, The Upanishads – A new Translation, Volume I. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 2003, p. 57, 58

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kungstr%C3%A4dg%C3%A5rden

[11] See also: Reybrouck, David van, Congo – Een geschiedenis. Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2012, p. 58


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.