the moment no new enties)
19 2003 No mans land
January 7 2004 love
January 19 Hold
out a little longer
January 25 The sky
January 30 In the
February 1 Intelligent
February 11 My
The Wall/the Fence
The brain and the gangsters
March 29 Jesus
April 1 The
June 11 The
Genius sings the blues
A bird on Schiphol airport
January 16 2005:
April 2 2005:
the moribund pope
3 Hurry! Slow down!
the moribund pope John Paul II
I explain to my cousin my attitude towards the dying pope
In World War II a Jewish father and mother in the ghetto of Lodz managed
to deliver their baby in the safe hands of a childless Polish couple,
who were more then willing to take care of the child. The Jewish parents
gave the Polish couple an address of family in the U.S with the request
to send the little boy to his American family in case they, the Jewish
parents, were not to survive the war, this all to ensure the boy would
get a sound Jewish education.
The child was raised by the Polish couple in their small village and
the Jewish parents were murdered in the Shoah. After the war the Polish
man and woman wanted to keep the child and went to their parish priest
to talk about baptizing the boy to make him subject to the blessings
of Christendom. When the priest heard about the request of the Jewish
parents he refused and urged the Polish couple to send the boy to
This they eventually did. The name of the priest was Karol Wojtila,
the later pope John Paul II.
I heard this story lately, I was touched and realized that John Paul
II is an honourable man with the heart on the right place, as the
All things considered, as far as my thoughts towards John Paul, they
are ambivalent, though..
Dutchmen in general have their reservations towards pope John Paul
only the protestant, also many Roman Catholics were cool to John Paul
II, even to the degree of disrespect, when he paid a visit to Holland
during the eighties.
Partly this had to do with the great sympathy of a majority of the
Catholics for pope John XXIII and his sweeping reformations during
the second Vatican Council of the sixties in the direction of more
liberal attitudes on many subjects, more humanistic trends, a less
dogmatic stance. In Holland enthusiasm about this development was
great and surpassed that in other countries. Many inspired discussion
groups flourished, many new religious and spiritual initiatives of
all kind came in the wake of the new spirit of change.
In this respect John Paul II reversed this development in a more conservative
and orthodox direction. Many Catholics don't go with him, especially
not in the field of contraception (the ban on condoms), the role of
women, the strict liturgy, the celibacy of priests etc.
I sympathize with the urge many Dutch Catholics feel for a greater
centrality of the human element and less rigidity in the belief system
I don't feel any sympathy for the hierarchic and rigid system of the
Roman Catholic Church of which the Pope is the top (with his untransparant
group of cardinals). Nowhere we find such a rigid system , not in
the various Protestant churches, not in Islam, not in Judaism.
During the last years I returned to Judaism as the belief which suits
(read my thoughts about Jesus as Saviour and Messiah)
My attitude towards Roman Catholicism is strongly influenced by the
notion of its dubious, even reprehensible role versus the Jews during
all ages, World War II included (read the book by the R. Catholic
priest James Carroll, ‘Constantines Sword').
Pope John XXIII made a beginning in reflecting critically on this
role and it must be said that John Paul II continued this self searching
to the point of acknowledging much of the dark sides of the church
in its fateful relations to the Jews. He almost propagated equality
Christendom and Judaism.
As a matter of fact John Paul's best efforts have been done in the
field of reconciliation of differences between the religions, especially
Judaism and Islam.
The self research of the R.C. Church is by no means finished, many
dark spots remain to be cleared (f.e. the politics of the Church and
pope Pius XII during World War II).
course, from a purely human viewpoint the process of the pope's dying
is always impressive to be witness to the deathbed of person of stature,
especially when the media brings it so close by. It brings the aspect
of suffering, dying and death in focus for all beholders. His being
the pope transcends his human fate from an individual, private level
to a general level..
But I don't experience a personal connection to Pope John Paul II;
he is not my role model or identification figure. As I have tried
to make clear above the past politics and the character of this powerful
institution, the Roman Catholic Church, looms large over the person
of the moribund pope and my attitude towards him.
respect though his commitment towards politic and democratic reform
in Eastern Europe (though not in his own Church) and his honest endeavours
to better relations with Judaism.
I respect his courageous stance in the suffering of his last years
May he when his hour comes rest in peace.
But also this must be envisaged: the pope made
amends for " the behavior of those who in the course of history
have caused these children of yours (the Jews) to suffer
and, asking your forgiveness", a hugh step forward and we appreciate
this by all means; but he did not ask for forgiveness fot the
Institution of the Roman Catholic Church as such which would open
the gate for real and lasting reconciliation.
A comment giver on Dutch TV said he couldn't do that, because
in his eyes the Holy Church can't do anything wrong per definition,
only some adherents. In my opininion it is regrettable it seems not
possible to do this last step, as it is regrettable that this pope
made steps for the canonisation of pope Pius XII, under whose Vatican
windows so to say the Jews were rounded up by the Germans without
Don't misunderstand me. I admire the pope's indispensable contribution
in the liberation of Eastern Europe, his struggle against poverty
and for justice. I admire his stamina and perseverance in doing this
and supporting the leaders in their just aims. And in bearing the
sufferings and ailings of his old age in all openness and with dignity.
"It is the Jewish tradition that in remembering the dead, we talk
honestly and not just say the good things" Rabbi Michael Lerner
said recently in his comment on the pope's death.
Amidst all eulogies which are flooding our screens it must be possible
also to point out to negative aspects as I experience them: his conservative
stance on the role of women in the church, contraception, abortion
and the centralistic politics in the Church itself (f.e. in Holland
he appointed very right wing conservative bishops).
Today there was on a Dutch TV discussion program a debate between
two ex-generals and the ex-foreign secretary Hand van den Broek about
continuation of the Dutch commitment in Irak, i.e. the presence of
Dutch troops in the province of Al Mutanna.
Soon the debate slackened in a general atmosphere of a disconcerted
notion: in Irak things will only be for the worse.
Also in America public opinion grows: time to retreat. Even Colin
Powell has recently alluded to retiring from Irak. The shadow of a
Vietnam scenario looms ever larger.
failure of the Bush and Rumsfeld policy stares us ever more openly
in the face. The cloths of emperor Bush become evermore transparent.
Let me put things in a clear perspective for a change, even if for
myself; of course I am not the first to do this, but what were the
reasons for the Irak invasion?
1. There was a massive amount of weapons of mass destruction. For
years Irak has been searched by one searching committee after another.
We may remember the ludicrous demonstration by Colin Powell at the
UN (possibly he will recall it in shame) . Eventually also official
American committees acknowledge: no trace of those mass destruction
2. Irak had ties with Al Qaida. This too has been demonstrated to
be false. In the meantime this ghost has been materialized by the
Bush policy itself. The American intervention has created its own
cause: NOW these ties between Irac and Al Qaida have established themselves
as a response to the Americans, the chaos and the power vacuum and
recently I read in the newspapers: the center of the organisation
of Al Qaida activities has moved from from Afghanistan to Irak
3. Saddam Hussein was a gruesome dictator in an autocracy that suppressed
and even exterminated minorities. True. But provides this – given
the invalidity of the above two reasons – for sufficient justification
of a military invasion?
And is this argument empowered by the consideration, that now the
Iraqi people may experience the blessing of democracy?
This reasoning implies in the first place that America on its own
as the police officer of the world may decide where intervention is
needed en secondly that it is competent and able to impose its ideal
of democracy by means of violence.
This calls on all kinds of objections in the field of global politics
and international ethics.
Apart of that there is my amazement about this: the lack of any wisdom,
of any strategic and philosophical insight, but also the lack of any
well based historic, cultural, social psychological and political
information about this part of the Middle East.
In the wake of the deep dismay, intense anger and traumatised nationalism
one may understand that radical steps were considered. But that afterwards,
after due lapse of time, not more reflection and realistic appraisal
has taken place in the minds of the polical leaders is unforgivable.
Should the world have let Saddam alone, then?
Of course not. But there would have been so many other ways of taking
measures against Saddam's regimen apart from this unilateral and radical
mililary invasion. There are still so many other ways of confronting
so many other cruel dictatorships prevailing still now.
I believe democracy cannot be imposed with violent means.
It is contrary to its own ideology. I 'm sure that for the development
of democracy there must be groups inside the population harbouring
an intense desire for democracy and a preparedness to fight for it.
Democracy – is my conviction – is the best remedy against suppression,
domination of one group over another, extremism etc., but this ideal
must be shared by important parts of the population and some major
opinion leaders. In some parts of the world this process of democratisation
needs time and wise policy and strategic insight from the democratic
countries to further this process.
can't expulse this odour from my nose:
Always the missionary fervour of the Bush camp about democracy is
mixed with commercial business, affairs of money and capital, American
business men visiting Baghdad and managing contracts; in brief it
smells like concrete and oil.
misunderstanding: I refer to the Bush camp, not to the Americans in
general, not to all those who are doubtful and wrestling with the
question, not to the opponents of the Bush policy, and certainly not
to the soldiers who are doing their professional or national duty
over there in circumstances of great danger and too often at the price
of their life. I am also not referring to all those helpers and workers
of all countries doing their best in Irak to repair the so much needed
infrastructure, roads, hospitals etc.
refer to the camp of Bush; to my regret the United States don't have
the Dutch kind of democracy: in Holland the parliament may disapprove
of and reject at any time the policy of the prime minister and send
him and his administration away; so the prime minister and political
leader may be dismissed in the midst of his term and new elections
In the American situation we have to accept, that Bush – one of these
days to be sworn in for his second term with a many million dollar
festival – and his comrades have solidly established themselves in
the Oval Office.
16 jan. 2005 Rob C.
bird on Schiphol airport
Sunday I brought friend M. to Schiphol airport.
After a ride from Nymegen in dense fog, after an early
rising at four o'clock,
we arrived at Hollands main airport, source of pride and conflict.
Square kilometers of office buildings, departure halls, arrival halls,like
giant glass houses brightly illuminated in the then still reigning
dark of the winter morning, the control tower rearing up in the hazy
sky like a cathedral tower of secular ingenuity, the whole complex
surrounded by a labyrinth of supply roads and
parking lots; contemporary airports, controlled giant junctions
of human mobility, halls bustling with travellers intent on their
important hidden destinations, moving with focussed speed or sitting
in resignated waiting, old and young, persons of all colours, all
walks of life, beautiful and plain, often with excited or whining
children at their side and among those crowds M.
and me were advancing from the parking lot to the check in desks,
passing through endless halls full of commercial seductions, glistening
with luxury articles, and then, eventually, after she had checked
in and had gotten her boarding pass we sat down and drank coffee.
a sparrow landed on the iron bar beside us, for the coffee café
was on a kind of balcony overlooking a part of the spacious hall near
the check in desks. He was the only sparrow, the only living bird
around in these surroundings. That gave him such an air of extreme
The tiny animal with his intent little brown head and his alert beady
eyes was standing for a second frozen in his humble beauty, his little
red claws standing out against the green bar.
For him Schiphol was an unfathomable universe in which his fortuitous
quest had brought him and we were hugh mountains of potential danger
though easy to avoid.
He inspected quickly and efficiently if some crumbs were to be found
on our table - no, nothing - , and then he proceeded with a whimsical
flight to a tall artificial christmas tree, that stood further down
under our balcony, one of many installed by the Schiphol interior
- Lately I read the sparrows in our cities are becoming extinguished,
- yes, Minke said, I know, where should this one live and build his
- apparently in the christmas trees.
Only days later I thought again of this little sparrow when I read
these lines of Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, almost zen-like lines:
"When I see such a thing, always the certainty leaves me
that what is important
is more important than what is unimportant"
And I decided to capture my little visitor in a few words.
To conclude my report:Two hours
after having arrived at Schiphol at about a quarter past seven, I
wove goodbye and M. dissappeared behind the customs to boarding on
her flight to Johannesburg.
From which perspective are we all sparrows in an erratic universe?
quote from (Dutch): 'Een titel hoeft niet'('Title not necessary')
Wislawa Szymborska: Einde en begin, Gedichten 1957-1997, Meulenhoff,
Internetpagina's over Wislawa
19 2003 No mans land
I settled in my chair to watch the video I had to returm tomorrow,
the movie "No Mans Land" by Danis Tanovic, very well made
and concisely capturing the madness of all parties involved in the
Bosnian conflict, the Serbs, the Bosnians and last but not least the
many-headed UN forces and also the eager international press.
Yesterday I wrote a reflection about the messianic era. This movie
brings me from an utopian eschatolgical macroscopic birds view to
the microscopic entanglements of the here and now, in the dirty trenches
of today's fronts of strife and misery.
Somewhere there must be a link. In the movie it may be found in the
character of sergeant Marchand who in the turmoil of the situation
makes the humane best of it. See this movie if you can!
7 2004 Love
remarkable, that such fundamental
words in the spiritual scope as "Love" and "God"
at the same time are the most vague notions conceivable.
They denote the most supreme and the most trivial.
They help us express everyday preferences and irritations and also
the most profound experiences.
Take my personal experience, for example.
I still can't fathom this concept to the full,
to its essence, apart from the so easily used trite connotations.
In my youth I was confused deeply about what it meant. My parents
reproached me for not loving them as a child should.
And later I doubted myself about my capacity to love my neighbours,
in particular my friends and my partners.
Though I suffered deeply, when a relationship came to an end.
When a good foundation in early childhood is not laid, love becomes
later easily associated with danger, pain, loss and being abandoned;
it becomes a risky affair.
And it takes a lot of time to sort out what 's the matter and to distill
all the confusing emotions to what really love is and to understand
it on a level above personal preferences,dislike and sympathy.
To accept I have a heart and to accept the pain and the joy of it
without shying back in my safe isolation. To discover eventually that
fundamentally I cannot be hurt, when I trust myself to that other
so often misused concept: God.
19 2004 Hold out a little longer
"Hold out a little longer", suddenly I knew, this sentence
has been said to me as a toddler by my mother many times, hold out
a little longer, Robbie.
the counsel session the image of my mother passed by and all of a
sudden this little sentence clung to her image and compassion and
grief filled my chest, while surprise still dominated in my head.
Before that moment in the session I had felt myself in a kind of despondent
grey area of resignation, an endless resigning in being handled and
"schlepped" from this to that, after which I sunk in a still
emptiness of having no influence whatsoever on my surroundings, but
with a vaguely incisive notion to have abandoned something immensely
Then a strong giant hand that pressed slowly and unavoidably on my
neck, bending thus my head, resistance unthinkable.
And then came the sentence:
out a little longer, those words must have been spoken almost sixty
years ago by my mother many times, to me and - loudly or in thought
- to herself during her slave labor in the vegetable garden, toiling
pails of (literal) Japanese shit or heavy bags, enduring molestations
during nightwatch in the endless corridors in the convent that the
Japanese had destined as a concentration camp, during the hours long
roll calls in the tropical sun, during the cruel reprisals the Japanese
out a little longer, Robbie" during the endless journey's by
train in full and hot carriages, in jolting trucks, in periods of
hunger and deseases like malaria and dysentery. We had so much to
hold out a little longer; a profound feeling of together-with-mummy
passes through me, a feeling I apparently didn't want to feel any
longer in those bygone post war days after the reunion with my father
and the birth of my brother and sister,a feeling I decided to cut
out a little longer became something like my second nature, life as
holding out a little longer and then ... I don't want to hold out
a little longer anymore.
this column to all contemporary people dragged about from camp to
camp, living in miserable circumstances with hunger and deseases as
a result of the power politics of political and religious fanatics.
25 2004 The sky over Auschwitz
this column a sober report of my attending the remembrance ceremony
held every year in January in Amsterdam near the Auschwitz monument,
designed by the known Dutch sculptor-author Jan Wolkers. It consist
mainly of a large glass slab with cracks, reflecting a cracked sky.
clear and sunny sky spreads over Amsterdam and over the procession
of a few hundred people walking from the town hall, the so called
"Stopera", to the Wertheim Park nearby.
The Park actually is not more than a rather big public garden, some
lawns, trees and a gravel path around the Auschwitz monument, created
by known Dutch sculptor-author Jan Wolkers.
A gate with two sfinxes left and right, flanking the incoming procession.
Here and there some police officers. Near the gate a municipal ambulance.
for one of the many aged persons, I thought, for one of the very old,
for whom this happening would be too much.
But it was of course in case of ... yes in case of what .....in case
of some fool intending some terrorist thing? In case of a bunch of
antisemites planning some riot?
of the mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, short, strong; racial discrimination
unavoidably leads to suppression, persecution, murder, nevermore Auschwitz.
trio at the side, on a little stage under a party tent, plays a sad
Because in Auschwitz were also Sinti and Roma.
And homosexuals and political criminals.
A Jewish prayer for the peace of the souls of the murdered is spoken
first in Dutch, then sung in Hebrew by Rabbi Sonny Herman. He has
a dark bass, very attuned to the incisive Hebrew words, among which
could be heard suddenly: Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen, Dachau, Majdanek,
Mauthausen, Sobibor, Theresienstadt, Treblinka.
Jatom, joined in by some mumbling it, "we imru amen".
The sun shines.
A bird lands in the tangle of bare branches of a tree nearby.
Amsterdam holds its breath and the one klaxon here and jingle there
seem not to observe the agreement.
After a few minutes people begin to talk in a low voice, like a breeze
rising the murmur slowly swells.
We begin to move and walk past the glass slab of the monument.
the words of Jan Wolkers on a plate near the monument. On it he explains
his motive for choosing the reflecting cracked glass: his being bewildered
about the sky spreading over Auschwitz, unmoved by the suffering and
the slaughter; the cracks in his glass reflect the sky over Auschwitz
as it should have looked like.
as well, when I look up, the sky is unmoved and our group do seem
an anachronism on this brisk, clear, sunny winter day.
I meet rabbi Yehuda Aschkenasy and we talk with each other for a while.
A Jewish life in the twentieth century. Born in the pre-war Jewish
Eastern Europe in a traditional rabbinic family. Been in Auschwitz.
Moved to the Netherlands where he founded an institute for Jewish
"lernen". Respected for his wisdom by Jew and Christian.
Now old and retired. But "lernen" never stops.
What memories in that head!
Amstel Station I learned that trains to Nijmegen are cancelled for
the time being. Hooligans of Football Club Ajax Amsterdam are rioting
on one of the stations on the route to Utrecht.
I have to move to Amsterdam Central Station. Then we 'll see.
Central Station everywhere posters with text: "I you are liberated
by Jesus, Son of God, you are really free".
gives a glowing final chord this afternoon: When after an hour delay
I cross the Rhine at Arnhem the afternoon sun blazes up for a moment
with a fierce orange glow from behind a cloud. Thousand colours seem
to float through the atmosphere. The river reflects the sky in opal
30 in the gym
the corners of my eyes I had already spotted Paul, his light blue
sport shorts and white T-shirt. He greets me with a jerky arm gesture,
as usual there 's much tension in his body.
He comes to my stool, where I had tried my biceps with two halters.
How he's doing.
Good. Shortly the wellfare pay will stop, but he will manage, he is
getting more and more clients.
Paul is in the course of starting up a practice as a tax consultant.
I am one of his clients.
He used to have an appartment in the same building where I live and
that is the context of our next subject: which old acquaintances still
Anita. Anita he has met lately in the hospital, where she is a assistant
nurse in the childrens department.
Because his little daughter was there.
Suddenly the real life descends in our conversation.
Paul has below his full greying hair - he is already fifty - a lined
face and emotion passes over it.
The little girl, hardly a year old, had fallen from the stairs, got
unconscious. To the intensive care. She was in coma. Scans. But she
recovered consciousness and visibly she returned to normal. Now all
is well again.
Great is the relief in Pauls words, but the anxiety experienced has
not yet gone from his face. His moments of crisis he has laid down
with me and I fix it these lines, I freeze it in this chronicle.
Paul goes back to his legliftmachine.
See you Paul.
Which means: soon, because it 's the time for filling up the tax forms.
I 'm into my concluding stretch exercises I see Ronald busy with his
We know each other from a kind of New Age center.
When I 'm done I go to him and I 'm standing in front of him. He is
involved in a kind of bend over Muslim prayer posture and I joke:
fun to be worshipped for a change.
He looks up, but doesn't laugh. His face looks sorrowful and sad.
And like that unfolds our conversation.
He 's already more than a year out of work. Applications galore, result
zero. Next month he will be fifty. Too old, age discrimination.
He intends to conceal his being an academic pedagogue in his appliance
letters, no doubt he is thought to be too expensive for an employer.
Now he visits the gym more frequent than ever, getting more and more
vital, and more eager for work than ever.
More energy, but to what purpose?
In his big blue eyers glimmers desperation.
To experience a meaning in life a man must have a job, is the unspoken
moral between us.
dressing room a thought I had during a past workout pops up again.
I laboured on my steps device, amidst a regiment of co-labourers on
steps devices, fitness bikes, running belts. And suddenly my ear was
directed solely to the buzzing roar of all those devices around me.
How much labour was performed here! How much energy wasted! If you
could harness all this energy to a useful end. For example apply to
a dynamo. So the stored energy could serve a nice social purpose,
for example the lighting of the gym or the burning of a street lamp
in front of the building.
Outside the snow had melted almost. A brisk breeze swept my cheeks.
I feel fit again. In search of meaning.
1 Intelligent design
night I had two dreams.
In the first it was somehow my task to introduce "my cow"
into a room before an small audience of acquaintances. Literally a
cow! A real Dutch cow was waiting in the passage and I was nervous
over my ability to control the beast. Should it do what was demanded?
I ushered the cow inside the room and the huge animal slowly stepped
before the audience; the animal neighed its head in the way of a salute
and then let itself be guided by me outside again.
I woke up and mused about the dream. A vague notion, a dim insight,
the cow was my body, the dream hinted to a better relation to physical
existence. The Zen parable of the Oxes passed through my mind. Must
look up I mumbled to myself and fell asleep again.
Next dream. With two colleagues I am rehearsing a play, a kind of
musical revue. We 're under pressure, apparently the premiere is near.
My two companions are already well versed in the play, but I am new.
I don't know the piece well.
I ask for playing what we call in Dutch a "doorloop", playing
the play as a whole without audience in order to get the feel of the
whole and to trace the weak spots in performance.
I want to grasp the whole of the play, what's it all about, what 's
my role, now I have big gaps to fill in.
But my two colleagues won't listen, they are planning otherwise and
I am panic stricken, in a few hours we have to perform the premiere
and I 'm completely at a loss about what to do.
I plead what I can, but they ignore me. I wake up with a feeling of
confusion with twinges of fear and a shadow of rage about being thus
I taste these feeling and search for a meaning. Still trying to fathom
what 's life about, what is the meaning of my life, the feeling to
participate in a script I don't know, to being pushed to adapt to
scenario, which is almost intentionally not disclosed, let alone explained
hours later the winner of the science Spinoza award, a Dutch microbiologist,
is interviewed and asked - on television - if he believes chance determines
evolution or not.
He says to believe the universe and evolution reflects the effect
of Intelligent Design.
I agree, it fits together so precisely finetuned, from the big bang
to the upward moved apes or down fallen angels we are. There must
be some huge moving to a goal, immensurably far beyond our human horizon.
But what is my goal, my minute almost imperceptible contribution under
the sun; it is easier to feel a tinge of the mysterious ultimate goal
then to get the feel of my concrete destiny (apart from becoming ashes
or being eaten by the worms and thus contributing to the fertility
of the fields). The gigantic revue and the little player searching
for his part.
before typing this column, I looked up the famous parable of the Oxes,
in 'Zen flesh, zen bones' by Paul Reps. Ten poems and pictures about
the path to enlightenment. Searching, catching, taming, transcending
the ox. I do myself a favour, I diagnose myself as having reached
the possibility of taming the ox, picture 5.
see, on the inside of the cover of this booklet, not touched in years,
there is a Polaroid picture pasted of me!
An unshaven pate gazes at me, almost half my age. On the backside
is written, on the pasting strip, a word: WANTED.
can't remember how this picture got there.
Maybe it was put there by my partner of that period, may she rest
Is it chance or design, that I stumble upon it just now.
picture I found in 'Zen flesh, zen bones'
11 My new bike
I collected the new bike I bought last week.
It 's a hybrid, an interbreed between a mountain bike and a sports
She is a real cute one, mat silver coloured (I suppose a bike is a
she, because bike comes from bicycletta, two-wheel, feminine gender)
and she 's got sturdy black tyres.
How long ago I sat on a bike, I pondered, from the shop in the city
centre biking back home.
Largest part of my life I biked all the shorter distances, trips to
the city etc., but then, eight years ago, the car entered my life
and gained more and more ground in my transportation pattern.
Past years the car established a genuine monopoly.
Biking back through the fine Dutch drizzle
I noticed some remarkable things in my behaviour.
At crossings I waited decently and respectably till the red light
turned green. Although some crossing are free of traffic for ages.
Of course! In Holland as in most western countries it is almost a
capital crime to ignore the red light and pass through it.
Yes, for cars.
But for bikes there are in Holland other unwritten rules or rather
tacit dispensations. You may slip through the red light if you take
care and are not bothering others. You take it easy and cars are accustomed
to let the bikers have their way.
So I still was caught in the motor-car behaviour system!
When I wanted to check the traffic behind me I glanced in the rear
view mirror I expected beside me.
But there wasn't one of course.
How ingrained are habits in our body and in our nervous system. They
are configurations of automatic switches, patterns of reflexes, deeply
engraved in the soft grey matter of our brains.
I thought of the small paths goats or deer wear out going to their
drinking pools, paths sometimes age old, though the pools may have
vanished long ago.
No easy thing to change a habit.
To leave your familiar path and venture in the unknown
But on my biking trip there was no such difficulty. I had only to
reawaken my old bicycle behaviour system I was used to follow for
so long and switch to it again.
And after a few hundred meters this was done.
Though more than once I still felt a pull to my head to look in my
rear view mirror.
11 The choir
In all respects it is an exceptional choir I joined recently.
The location for rehearsal to begin with is the so called Roman Tavern
in the open air Bible Museum in Nymegen, Holland.
The Museum - originated from a Roman Catholic mission project - is
a kind of replica of places in the Holy Land in the era of Jesus.
And the Roman Tavern is a kind of replica of a Roman tavern, of course.
The Roman tavern is also a real pub/restaurant, run bij an Israeli
called Simon. And Simon and his wife both sing in the choir, see.
The participants are birds of many feathers.
First there are the Jews, to be distinguished in: non religiously
practicing participants, members of the Nijmegen orthodox Jewish congregation
(of late unexpectedly prospering), members of the Reform Jewish movement
(so far I am the only one); the Jewish division of the choir counts
two or three men of Israeli stock.
there are "the others", the non-Jewish Nijmegen choir members,
some of them Roman Catholic.
choir arose from the cradle of the Nijmegen Jewish Congregation.
( Was my first impression. But now I am better informed: it is half
the truth. The choir is the result of a kind of fusion between the
plan of Karin, the partner of Simon the Tavern holder, and het sister
Dorothee for a choir with a Jewish repertoir and members of the Nymegen
synagogue who also had similar plans.
A story worth telling at another occasion.)
The repertoir consists of Jewish songs, Hebrew liturgic songs, Jiddish
and Ladino songs.
Proficient singers mix with relative newcomers in the singing bizz.
A wonderful and exceptional mix.
This oecumenical rarity is an often clamorous bunch, in between rehearsing
the songs in no time involved in sociable "shmoozing".
It is proficiently bridled, though, by Joop, a veteran choir director,
often showing us his comical desperation about our achievements.
But tonight he emanates an unusual satisfaction,
because a few days ago we performed reasonably in our important presentation
in the Nymegen shul. Especially in our top pieces Oseh Shalom and
Dos Kelbl with their rather intricate arrangements we made it without
too much lapses and the men stayed in tune unexpectedly well.
The audience in the packed shul was moved and enthusiastic.
So tonight the rehearsal didn't take long and the remainder of the
time we celebrated the succes and the anniversary of the choir: one
And we ate pie and shmoozed loudly and saw a bright future before
23 The Wall/the Fence
then ever the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the forefront of
the world news.
For this moment the Dutch city of The Hague is the place were the
clamour of both parties and their supporters is heard.
The question of the legitimacy of the Wall or the Fence is put before
an International Court.
Demonstrations of all kind take place.
The wreck of a bus, blown up by a suicide bomber in January, has been
transported to a place before the so called Peace Palace, a picturesque
It decries the relentless and desperate cruelty of the radical Palestinian
Amidst the Palestinian demonstrators I saw some black frocked and
black hatted Jewish ultra-orthodox men; they side with the Palestinians
and are proponents of disbanding the state of Israel.
A kind of surprise tickles me.
One may conceive of any stance in this matter and you will find proponents
among the Jews.
From the ultra nationalist to the most ardent opponents to the state
of Israel, from the most belligerent adversaries of the Palestinians
to fervent peaceniks, you will find them among the Jews, Israeli included.
On the Palestinian side you will not find such an extreme variance
in opinion and approach.
A feeling of - I don't quite know how to label it - a mix of wonder
and pride rises in me.
That Jewry is able to harbour so many different-feathered birds, most
of the time pecking fiercely to each other but in some way tolerating
each other as well, not killing each other anyway, with the exception
of that most deplorable murder of Yitzhak Rabin, may it stay an exception.
what is my stance in this matter, my stance in this so tranquil and
peaceful Nymegen, so far from the front.
help having a notion of the profound pain both parties cause to each
other, of the afflictions, which both parties administer.
It 's a pain, which leave deep, deep impressions in the souls, a pain
almost beyond the imagination power of outsiders to the conflict.
Such a pain the afflicted can only tolerate by feeling anger, adding
to the determination not to yield in any respect to the other party,
on the contrary: it adds to the determination to afflict the other
party with a similar pain.
parties get imprisoned in a system of revenge and reprisals.
There is no room to transcend ones situation to an overview, which
could bring in sight the possibility of a solution. Pain, anger, fear,
desperation is to big. Each new deed of cruelty, be it from Palestinian
side or Israeli side, triggers an immediate response to react in a
similar way. Reason, a feeling for mutual interest, let alone compassion,
is beyond the horizon.
It embodies in itself a reasonable insight that coexistence for the
time being is only feasible when both parties are separated physically.
But it is deplorable the fence is planned on Palestinian territories
and encompasses some bigger Israeli settlements on the West Bank,
settlements which in the long run can be thought of subject to evacuation
in the framework of a two separate states solution.
And Palestinians are induced to suspect the Israeli having a hidden
agenda of annexing parts of the West Bank.
an almost inhuman action of transcending the factual misery of the
situation to reach a break through.
It demands an overwhelming exertion of insight, one might say a miracle,
to break away from the system of mutual imprisonment.
It would ask from both parties an extreme control and constraint not
to react to the atavistic outbursts of violence perpetrated by the
extreme factions on both sides.
accuse me of sentimentality but each time I have a vision of The Israeli
looking in the eye of The Palestinian and the other way around and
each catching a glimpse of the pain and desperation of the other behind
that that glimpse would create a tear of mutual compassion and a small
opening of light,
a gap in the prison of revenge, obduracy and hardness.
So eventually business can be done.
Cautiously and prudently speaking through an opening in the wall.
March 20: The brain and the gangsters
thought about remembering and forgetting
trains are white" ; experience indicates this is nonsense, most
of them are yellow.
"Dutch trains are sour"; this is linguistic nonsense.
Experiments at the Nymegen university reveal that - contrary to prior
hypothesis - these different kind of judgments are made in the same
cervical area, the prefrontal cortex.
Reading this brought me to an experience of my own: an experience
which enables me to guess something about the location of a linguistic
During my whole life I kept an interest in language and languages,
how they are structured, how words have developed phonologically and
in semiotic respect. I have never become a specialist or an expert
in this matter but in a corner of my brain I am often busy thinking
about words and their history. So I was struck by the following experience.
I know a tiny little bit of Russian and an bit of Hebrew, languages
I came upon later in life.
Often I am as it were rehearsing my word knowledge in these two languages.
And often when - in this linguistic brain corner, subdivision dictionary
- I am looking for a Russian word, there pops up a Hebrew word and
the other way around. For example looking for "red" in Russian,
there pops up "adom", which is red in Hebrew. Or the reverse,
looking for "red" in Hebrew, there pops up "krasny",
red in Russian.
Secondary reaction in the linguistic division: this is wrong, and
the wrong is repaired almost immediately.
But - now the linguistic theory subdivision in my linguistic brain
corner starts functioning and concludes: the brain location of my
knowledge of the Russian language is
right next to the location of the Hebrew language, maybe they overlap
There is interference between them, no doubt a cervical measurement
would demonstrate electric currents crossing over between the Russian
and the Hebrew area; the two languages use so to say the same area,
as if my brain has only so much room available.
phenomenon, which sometimes keeps me busy is the learning of forgetting.
My standard example is based on the phenomenon that some rare event
from long ago is sometimes easier remembered then a more frequent
and well known fact, that is stored somewhere in the memory. And that
seemingly so well known fact doesn't want to take root in memory but
eludes retrieving time and again.
This is what happens to me.
Another rehearsal which I sometimes practice is remembering actor
I was trying to rehearse a list of well known American movie actors.
And I couldn't remember this actor so and so, I saw his face clearly
before me, and his name belongs to the class of ready knowledge.
But I suddenly remembered one of his most well known movies, a film
I saw ages ago and which I never gave a thought again: Bugsy.
Of course you say immediately: Warren Beatty.
But now the curious thing.
Of course I looked up in my Movie Guide: Bugsy, Warren Beatty.
But at my the next rehearsal, maybe some days later, I had forgotten
again, not the name of the film, Bugsy, but this Warren Beatty.
And this repeated again and again, despite the utilizing of mnemonic
It became a kind of sports, almost the learning of forgetting this
name (I also have some other names I have become used to forget).
Even during the writing of this column I have difficulty in remembering.
I suppose this points to a human peculiarity: when we make a fault,
or when we are confronted with a lack in our skills or knowledge,
we have the tendency to remember the confrontation, the event of not
knowing, rather than remembering the not known, yet learned word or
This transcends a mere fear of failure; in my example I had nothing
to prove to anybody (or maybe to some ideal of omniscience?). The
forgetting became a more prominent event than the content of the remembering.
But the question remains: why Warren Beatty and not let's say James
Stewart or Robert De Niro, Johnny Depp or Tom Hanks? Why some names
and not other names I sometimes forget but after repair again remember?
Warren Beatty plays in Bugsy the Jewish gangster Benjamin
"Bugsy" Siegel, great friend of other Jewish
Lansky. Maybe it's the repressed criminal side of my Jewish
soul, isn't it, mr. Freud? Or is it a selective aging process, mr.
29: Jesus, an absurd twist of fate
and Pesach are coming soon.
what demonic warp has inculcated for ages upon the minds of that part
of mankind, that is denominated Christian. What fiendish crack runs
through twenty centuries of Christianity. When one comes to think
of it, what absurdity, what strange twist the Christian power politics
and religious zeal has given to Jesus and his compatriots, the Jews
of the Jews on a religious and spiritual level to mankind are many.
Not the least is the notion of a divinity, that is not embodied in
a host of idols, but which is characterized by a universal oneness,
emanating the qualities of justice, love, compassion and demanding
of his people to pursue likewise and to deal with each other in a
All this recorded in the Torah, the Prophets, etc.
Jesus was in this tradition a man with unequalled qualities as an
original master and a teacher with a renovating message.
He may be considered a second gift, a teacher whose Jewish message
had the quality of appealing beyond the scope of the Jewish audience.
a cruel fate befell to him in the midst of religious and political
turbulences of its time. Most probably he was the victim of the ayatollah's
of that time, the Sadducee priest caste, whose bastion was the temple
in Jerusalem. They were tolerated by the Romans at the price of keeping
the populace subdued. Of course they felt menaced by the forceful
message of Jesus and no doubt they had the Romans on their side, the
Romans who didn't want to run any risk at political unrest.
Probably the Sadducee priest succeeded in mobilizing a mob roaming
along the Jerusalem alley's.
equally probably the greater part of the inhabitants of Judea and
Galilee formed an inquisitive, if not sympathetic audience to Jesus,
many of them consoled by his practical though not soft teaching of
honesty and compassion and many longing for freedom from the Roman
suppression and harbouring expectations of Jesus being a liberator
of the Roman yoke.
The whole process found its logical culmination during Pesach, the
holiday of freedom, in which the Jews commemorate their liberation
from the Egyptian suppressors of the past.
Fear for riots and uprising played an decisive role in the minds of
the Romans and their Sadducee allies.
Maybe Jesus was sweeped up in a process beyond his reckoning, maybe
he consciously used the process to explain with his life that spiritual
power far surpasses the worldly power of the rulers of the moment
and that the kingdom of God is not to be built on suppression and
politics of violence.
an event like the crucifixion of Jesus, incisive, sorrowful and distressing
as it may have been, is an event to be found in all times and in all
nations.( Examples can be found all throughout history, examples in
which in many cases the Christian Church is the perpetrator.) And
the heroic, noble, dignified way Jesus endured his fate is to be deeply
respected, but it is not unique.
- after the crucifixion - the process took a momentum not foreseen
or intended by Jesus. Disciples like Paul and John made him the Messiah,
the Son of God and in the course of time in the eyes and opinion of
the brand new Church - given a fateful boost by the emperor Constantine
- all these unthankful Jews became the murderers of the Son of God,
though by murdering him they were instrumental in making it possible
for this newly forged Christ to take upon his shoulders the sins of
especially the non Jews.
is a paradoxical, and unintentional third gift of the Jews to mankind:
the drama of a (super)human scapegoat, making it possible for many
humans to relief the depths of their heart of a profound feeling of
For this poignant and sorrowful gift the Jews had to pay dearly.
of the crucifixion has been simplified, deformed, warped to a kind
of myth, apparently satisfying a profound need for redemption of a
guilt deeply seated in the (unconscious part of the) soul. For dealing
with this guilt a new myth was needed and - alas for the Jews - found
in the myth in which Jesus figured as the redeeming holy victim.
The myth also required demonical perpetrators on whose back the botttled
up guilt could be projected: the Jews.
So far for the spiritual-psychological side of the matter; the previous
paragraph is a book in a nutshell.
I leave aside the political Church interests of detaching the Christian
belief from its Jewish roots which have played a paramount role.
All this is superbly unravelled in the book "The sword of Constantine"
by James Carroll
denominator of Easter and Pesach is the renewal of nature and freeing
of the soul of old burdens, the liberation from slavery, be it from
factual or existential guilt or social suppression.
So I wish you, reader, a refreshing renewal of the soul, may you be
freed of oppressive feelings and patterns without needing fellow men
meantime in the magazine "Tikkun" appeared an instructive
article by Rabbi Michael Lerner "Jesus
with much the same import
1: The Robe
The Cinemascope movie about the Roman crucifier of Jesus revisited
Suddenly it occurred to me: in 1953 I saw the movie "The Robe".
It was about the Roman officer who commanded at the crucifying of
Jesus and by gambling won the robe of the latter.
I remembered almost nothing of the movie but at the time it must have
been a tremendous happening for me.
For my family going to the movies was a very special happening anyway.
And this was the first Cinemascope movie!
An incredible broad screen was now the playing field of the heroic
feats of Richard Burton and Jean Simmons, those names surged up immediately.
I dimly recollect to have been accompanied by my granddad, this sweet
old gentleman, who dutifully had gone along with the christianisation
of his children. The movie must have been in the famed The Hague cinema
"Asta" at the Spui (in the city center, or was it in the
cinema "Passage" nearby at the Hofweg?)
How did The Robe come into my mind?
While reading "Constantines Sword" by James Carroll. In
this voluminous book Carroll describes his inquiries into the sources
of 2000 years of Christian anti-Semitism. A short chapter he dedicates
to the seamless undergarment, for which according to the gospel of
John the soldiers executing the crucifixion had thrown dice.
To my astonishment the garment is still purported to exist. According
to legend - so I read - in the fourth century A.D. the mother of the
emperor Constantine, Helena, had discovered the garment in Jerusalem
in her search for relics, a hype coming up in that period. She had
the robe transferred to Trier in Germany, where it has been kept since
in the cathedral and where it is shown to the public at exceptional
thanksgiving occasions, one of the last being in 1933.....
Anyway, Lloyd C. Douglas has made his own story and Henry Koster has
made a movie of it.
And I have hired the movie from the videoshop and saw it again.
And yes, there it passed before my eyes again, the adventures of the
Roman officer Marcellus, who had won the robe with gambling and increasingly
vexed by this possession embarks on a search for Jesus' followers.
His slave Demetrius had already joined them.
Of course also Marcellus is converted in due course.
The beautiful fiancee Diana (by the way, is this a common Roman name
for women, I don't think so) doesn't let him down at all this.
When sentenced to death by the mean Caligula, Marcellus/Richard walks
under the swelling tones of an angelic hallelujah with Diana/Jean
to their mortal fate.
me how outdated the film is.
The story with its characters is an accumulation of cliché's.
The acting is stiff and superficial.
The camera style strikes me as static, many long total shots, few
medium shots and some scarce close ups, a passive camera. What nowadays
often is too much - quick succession of shots, intimate detailed close
ups - is here too little. Amazing is the large number of painted sets.
All together one gets the impression of a filmed theatrical performance.
interested me most was: what ideas about Christianity and Judaism
are implied in the movie?
Something between recollection and expectation was confirmed, the
movie is a true reflection of the experiential world of the middle
class white Christian American in the fifties of the past century
(and maybe in the beginning of this century too).
Admittedly, an occasional antisemitically cast Jew figures in the
film, like the wine merchant who tries to sell to Marcellus a quantity
of inferior wine, a greedy, shrewd swindler. But anti-Semitic tones
don't dominate the movie.
The jewishness of Jesus and his world just lies outside the awareness
of the makers, so it isn't touched upon.
which dominates the film is the contrast between the sweet, peaceful
Christians vs. the brutal Romans.
Marcellus in his quest comes across a community of very first Christians
in Galilee. Those Christians, Jewish inhabitants of the village of
Kana, don't have any Jewish features. They are Americans dressed in
oriental garments, living in a tranquil euphoria. They are Christians
with a Christendom, such as middle class Americans would very much
like their children to understand it.
It is actually a youth for Christ movie.
When Marcellus donates one of his donkey's to the son of one of the
community members, this boy immediately gives the animal to a handicapped
peer. It's an idealistic bunch, beyond any egoism, unconditionally
caring for the other in a supreme cheerful mood.
contrasting are the brutal Romans, embodied in the coarse cruelty
of the aide of Marcellus and in its perverse form in the villainous
of Jesus remains undefined. Actually he is a kind of magic wand, which
transforms the black soul into a white one, though Marcellus experiences
some curious fits in the process.
The vexation of Marcellus is especially that he has assisted in the
death of so good a man as Jesus.
is depicted with much restraint.
The accent is not put on the suffering of Jesus for the sins of the
Jesus is the son of God and wills a world without slavery, without
cruelty, but of justice and charity, says in the final trial Marcellus
with Shakespearian diction to the deaf ears of the Romans and the
crooked, snakelike Caligula.
and charity, how can we disagree. The simplicity of the black and
white numbs us though for the impact of these words.
It is a naïve spectacle movie with a simple ethical flavour.
twelve year old I will have enjoyed it tremendously, for I loved the
Romans with their shining helmets and cuirasses and Jean Simmons I
thought so sweet and beautiful.
impression of the eternal city
the beginning of april.
A smooth rain is falling on the streets and the majestic facades of
Now and then a scarce sun ray peeps through but more then once the
drizzle gives away to a genuine shower. Our visit to the Eternal City
gradually transformed in a survival trip.
Donned with rain jacks we roam the always crowded streets, manoeuvring
between the endless flow of cars, busses and scooters to cross over.
More than once we had to press ourselves around peak hours into overcrowded
busses and subway cars, where we had to stand half choking between
silent Romans from work on their way home and used to this kind of
there were the refuges of the churches and the museums.
Churches on almost every street corner cover Rome.
Spacious centres of silence, almost all sumptuously decorated with
sculptures, paintings, elaborate wainscots and gilded ornaments.
Innumerable Mary's have looked at us or to heaven or to the pale naked
body of Christ hung on the cross or stretched out on her lap.
Churches, papal palaces, paintings, sculptures often of immense beauty
witness the still omnipresent power of the Roman Catholic church.
On the rich marble steps, though, there were some dark contrasts,
beggars sitting or lying down and all begging in the same tone and
with the same words to spare a few coins for something to eat.
Everywhere the city is specked with remnants of a more ancient and
pagan past. Suddenly amidst a quarter or in a park a piece of an aqueduct
emerges, standing on itself or integrated in other structures.
The Roman past culminates in the remnants of the forums, an area of
largely a miserable collection of stones and pillars, more appealing
to the lover of romantic gardens than giving an impression of former
Only the colosseum still rises high as an eternal memorial of unlimited
Also unlimited is the richness of the Church as displayed in the Vatican
In the large entrance hall the ever in pouring masses are managed
effectively and then a journey begins through the abundantly decorated
corridors and rooms of the museum. Kilometres of an immense quantity
of treasures of antiquity and later we pass. Innumerable specimens
of utmost artistic and artisan skill are laid out for the endless
stream of visitors of which we are a part.
We knew the Church was rich but seeing these treasures in such luxurious
surroundings gives a probing materialization of this notion.
Finally, the Sistine chapel!
In the narrow winding entrance passage way a loudspeaker voice summoned
us not to take pictures, not to film and to be silent, in Italian,
English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and one or two other languages.
Then we stood in the chapel.
Every square meter was occupied. The crowd covered every inch of the
floor, of course a large part gazing at the colourful paintings by
Botticelli and Perugino of episodes in the history of the Jews and
in the life of Jesus and above all gazing up to the masterful paintings
by Michelangelo at the vault.
atmosphere hung in the room.
The whispering and the covered babble of the spectators was like the
murmur of a nearby brook and when the murmur increased to almost talking
level a shrill metallic loudspeaker voice again summoned us to be
silent in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish, Russian and one
or two other languages. A uniformed museum official walked among us
and severely ordered persons who were sitting down on a step to rise.
A kind of surreal dimmed light hung in the room and made us part
of the huge Last Judgment happening on the wall.
Still the Eternal One was floating above us and in a supreme act of
will creating the heavenly bodies and reaching his life giving finger
to a yearning Adam, but mightier an emperor-like Jesus looked judgingly
down on us, who seemed more on the level of the passengers of Charon
then predestined for a jubilant rising to heaven.
Nevermore we were permitted to leave this room. A little while and
the hour of truth would come. Patiently murmuring we awaited our mortal
Genius sings the blues
already forty years in my possession is "The genius sings the
blues" of Ray Charles.
After ages I put it on again.
Ray Charles has passed away yesterday, at the age of 73.
An icon of my youth,
And this record, maybe the oldest in my collection, I have once pinched.
I may have been twenty two, twenty three, when I walked in the record
department of the Bijenkorf ("Bee hive") department store
in The Hague and suddenly the record was in my bag. That 's what I
remember, the details have vanished in the mist.
And now the cover is beside me.
It's become dingy, the white has faded into smudgy yellow, the rim
at the orher side of the opening is slowly splitting open. Here and
the is a stain, a blur. Picture of Ray Charles in profile, young dude,
of course with sun glasses. Here and there the transparant plastic
over the cardboard cover has got wrinkles, as it befits the aged.
Unbelievable, already for forty years this record has travelled with
me, has survived innumerable movings, has in my twenties not been
pinched from me.
It was and still is mono, Atlantic records. And look! The price tag
is still glued on the cover! Seventeen guilders..., which I have never
payed, but now compensate with these lines.
now "The Midnight hour", my favorite.
This number and the others on this record, how much better they are
than his top hits like Georgia on my mind, I can't stop loving you,
Hit the road Jack, Unchain my heart, all not too bad either, but this
LP, "The Genius sings the blues", dates from still before
his giant commercial flight to world fame. It 's still pure rhytm
and blues, in his unique Ray Charles style.
Take for example a passage (from "I believe to my soul"):
were dreaming and I heard you say (threatening, then a simple
riff of copper and reed)
. (sung by a singer from the backing choir,
probably already the "The Raylets").
(then Ray indignant and hurt:) when you know my name is Ray.
only Ray Charles can do. And who sings so heartrending and gives such
a believable performance of (from "Nobody cares"):
nobody loves me,
nobody seem to care,
Well, nobody loves me,
nobody seem to care,
Well, ever since my mother passed away
nothing but misery everywhere
I ain't got no money, baby,
my best friend put me down,
Well, I ain't got no money, baby,
my best friend put me down,
well, of all my good time buddies
ain't no one around.
Ray Charles has passed away from what in the media is called a liver
Of course Ray has been, like most musicians of his scene, into dope.
He has been condemned for possession of heroine; he has kicked the
habit and has been out of the running for a year in those sixties.
The liver condition no doubt he has got from the needle, so it must
have been hepatitis.
. Further and further away, like an island becoming
smaller and smaller, as viewed from the boat of the now, which transporting
us and holds us inevitably captive, further and further away those
sixties are disappearing to behind the horizon.
Blues for Ray Charles, and blues because of the passing of people
and things and youth.
Dutch writer Remco Campert wrote in his column in the "Volkskrant"
about hurry. Now that he is a man in his seventies he feels the pressure
of time and the urge to hurry en he wondered about his youth, when
he was never in a hurry, feeling he had "seas of time".
Indeed it seems like an insoluble problem.
Either you feel pressed, chased by the hourglass, time is running
out. Something is gnawing at your intestines. You want to leave something
behind. The Lord is frowning on your performance. Or a real passion
is chasing you.
Of course the big gaping trap is to give way to the omnipresent urge
to perform, to outdo your collegue, to satisfy the demands of your
boss and the deadlines or your own neurotic superego standards. The
moloch of this crazy late capitalism devouring its children. Hurry,
the clock is ticking.
Or you feel relaxed, doing everything at your own pace, not getting
disturbed by the crazy drive to perform and compete around you, which
in itself is quite a feat, demanding a stout awareness. Here the big
trap is laziness, sitting on a fence and letting the days go by without
seeking the joy of work that is aligned with your own essence. Slow
down, death does not exist.
Isn't there a fusion possible, doing your thing with quiet energy,
with a calm passion,
attuned to the occasion and without hurry?
A friend of mine has met the Buddhist teacher Thich Nat Han and he
reports, how this man is ever travelling the world from seminar to
teaching to lecture and he seemed always calm and present in the moment.
I suppose the same goes for men like the Dalai Lama and other great