Tag Archives: study model for the continuum

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


Man Leben – on the way 3

Geschichte, mit denen man leben muβ

History, with which one must live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inside and outside

Stilled and turned to stone

The Wind played Her song.

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

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

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

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


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





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


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

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

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

The following post is about your monastery years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man Leben – on the way 2

Wie kan man leben?

How can one live?

You continue the brief summary of your life with the journey on foot from the chapel “Notre Dame du Haut” in Ronchamp, France to Ronchamp, Germany:

“In the end of September 1983 I visited the chapel “Notre Dame du Haut” in Ronchamp. My way would lead to Dachau where my mother died and where she was buried in 1944. My godmother had recommended me this pilgrimage to embed the death of my immediate family and the others in my life. I have started this journey on foot to honour the wish of my aunt; she had asked me just after my 21st birthday to carry out the traditional Jewish remembrance of the dead for my parents, when I would be able to do so.

In 1983 I was 49 years old; my life was ready for a change. In the course of the first part of the hike I started to identify the wind [1] and the moon with the “He” and “his” in the Kaddish prayer [2]. From then on, I have said this prayer every day for a year for my father, mother, aunt and godfather. With the second part of the journey I also wished to perform the Catholic grave worship as is customary in South Limburg. During the 2nd of November – on All Soul’s Day – I hoped to honour the grave of my mother with a visit.

My sense of luxury increased. How bad the weather was and how tired I was, I still owned a lot more than the pilgrims in the past. My backpack included a set of clean and dry clothes, my bivouac sack was of waterproof and breathable material and the sleeping bag was warm. My health was excellent. In short, my existence was more luxurious than in my “Jaguar-years”.

Via Belfort I walked to Mulhouse in France. In his early years my father loved race-car races. Against the wishes of my grandparents he followed the reports in the newspapers and he read books on this subject. In his boyhood he wanted to be a racing driver. As ode to the boyhood of my father, I visited the Schlumpf automobile museum in Mulhouse [3]. The museum came forth from the collecting mania of the brothers Schlumpf, who mainly converted their capital from the wool factory to an exceptional collection of classic cars. The French State, confiscated this collection for 1 French franc – as “object in the Middle”. The collection of Bugatti’s made a deep impression. Vanity of vanities [4], but a vanity of great beauty.


Near Freiburg I crossed the Rhine and the border with Germany. Not much further I left behind the area where so many wars were fought for. The wars in this area already began in Roman times. How could this continuation of greed, honour, anger, horror and bottomless grief be prevented? Later in a book [6] of Robert Aitken – in the chapter “Not Stealing” – I read good proposal.

First he cited Unto Tähtinen:

“There are two ways of avoiding war: one is to satisfy everyone’s desire, the other, to content oneself with the good. The former is not possible due to the limitations of the world and therefore there remains this second alternative of contentment “ [7]

He subsequently cited Mahatma Gandhi:

“In India we have many millions of people who have to be satisfied with only one meal a day. This meal consists of a chapati containing no fat and a pinch of salt. You and I have no right to anything until these millions of better fed and clothed. You and I ought to know better and adjust our wants, and even undergo voluntarily starvation in order that they may be nursed, fed and clothed.” [8]

The German language has a beautiful expression for this attitude: “In der Beschränkung zeigt sich der Meister” – “In the restraint the master shows himself”.  I continued my trip through the Schwarzwald – Germany. I visited Ulm, Germany, because the Hochschule für Gestaltung [9] – University for Design – was located there from 1953 to 1968.


This University has brought forth a number of designs and designers who strove for simplicity and restraints. For example, the TC 100 tableware designed by Nick Roericht.


The study model for the continuum from the workshop of Tomas Maldonado includes the universe in simplicity and limitation. Inside and outside exchange continuously. At the same time the form gives shelter and includes the universe breathable. Shelter and openness together: a reflection of my experience of the journey.















On this tour the wind and the moon were my constant companions. My introduction to the wind, I have given in the previous post. As promised, now I show how I have got to know the moon.

The months of the year are important on the farm . The twelve months of a year may easily be counted with the thumb along the 12 phalanges of the four fingers. In the open air, at night, in a dimly illuminated environment I learned the new moon, the crescent moon, the full moon and the waning moon. On a clear night with full moon I could do almost everything, except reading outside: for reading there was just too little light. The moon also gave a beautiful image in the sky during the day.

By the “moon illusion”, the full moon near the horizon is awesome. This moon illusion I have also seen on my journey.


In a clear night with new moon lying outside in my sleeping bag, I seemed to be fully included in the universe. The distance between the universe and I faded: I was sucked into it.

The course of the moon – in addition to the rhythm of the sun – must  have been crucial and ungraspable for people living outdoors. Probably the word Tao – literally meaning “road or life” – came from the word moon [14]. In Sanskrit one of the words for moon is “candra”, where the “c” is pronounced like the word “chair” and the “a” as “America”.  “Candra” means in Sanskrit “moon, shining like gold, the number one/whole, pleasant or lovely phenomenon” [15].  The word is composed of “can” meaning “to delight in, to satisfy with” and “drâ” meaning “to run freely”. The consistent of “dra” and “va – for wind” or “drava” means “to run, flow, stream, essence”. The set of “Candra” may be understood as “the course of things, the course of the moon, the essence of the whole”.

In the Zen literature the moon occurs frequently. The word for Zen is derived from “dhyâna” [16] meaning in Sanskrit “meditation, thought, far-reaching and abstract meditation”. This word is composed of “dhî” meaning “wisdom, intelligence, intention, knowledge, meditation, prayer” and “yâna” [17] meaning “path, journey, going, moving and vessel”. Zen Buddhism originated in China by a merger of Mahâyâna Buddhism and Taoism.

By encountering the moon on my pilgrimage, I noticed how much the Chinese word “Chan” – or Zen in Japanese – matches in meaning and sound the “can” in “candra”. If this resemblance is not accidental, than Zen may also be seen as “the revolving Moon”. This thought gave me comfort and confidence on the road to Dachau”, you say.

The following post is about your visit to Dachau.

[1] See post “Man Leben – on teh way” from 14th Oktober 2011.

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

[3] See: http://citedelautomobile.com/en/home

[4] See: Book of Ecclesiastes

[5] See: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bugatti

[6] Source: Aitken, Robert, The Mind of Clover – Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. New York: North Point Press, 2000⁸. Pag. 31

[7] Source: Tähtinen, Unto, Non-Violence as an Ethical Principle. Turku, Turun Yliopisto, 1964. pag. 136.

[8] Cited in: Tähtinen, Unto, Non-Violence as an Ethical Principle. Turku, Turun Yliopisto, 1964. pag. 128.

[9] See also: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochschule_f%C3%BCr_Gestaltung_Ulm en de Engelse pagina: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_School_of_Design

[10] Source image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_School_of_Design

[11] From the TC 100 designed by Nick Roericht. Source image: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hochschule_f%C3%BCr_Gestaltung_Ulm

[12] Model for the continuous study of the workshop of Tomas Maldonado. Source image:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulm_School_of_Design

[13] Moon illusion above the Parthenon in Athens. Source image: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110320.html

[14] Source: Porter, Bill, Road to Heaven – Encounters with Chinese Hermits. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 1993, p. 35.

[15] Source: elektronische versie van het woordenboek Monier-Williams – MWDDS V1.5 Beta

[16] Source amongst others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen

[17] Remark: this word is also part of the consistent “Mahâyâna”.