we encounter people we can’t directly define. At the first glance they appear
thus and so, at another glance they appear thus and that. In the end all the
impressions that we had were right but the main impression stays a kind of
instance, when me and my girlfriend went to the city. We went there by bus
around 11 am. At the bus stop we encountered a man who was lying in the bus shelter,
fast asleep. The impression he had on me, while he was lying there, was that of
a drunk. My girlfriend on the other hand was compelled by her compassion and
thought of him as a vagabond or tramp. She asked me to offer him our sandwich
because maybe he had no food. I did not entirely disagree because the
possibility of him being a tramp didn’t cut out the fact that he was drunk. However
I said I rather wouldn’t offer him our sandwiches, because this could offend
him. He wouldn’t be the first drunken tramp we encounter, offended by the
gesture of offering a sandwich. Still I thought that this particular man just
became drunk the night before and now, on his way home, landed in the bus stop.
He woke up,
probably, due to our presence. After approximate five minutes of confusion and
disillusion, he stood up and sat down again. Finally he stood up and came on to
my girlfriend as a typical drunk. He tried to convince us, but for what I
believe, more himself, that the bus didn’t drive today. As he was telling this,
the bus, same line but other direction, came by. We said that he must have been
sleeping, jet he kept on insisting that the bus didn’t drive. He did not sleep
and if so the bus would have woken him. The idea of him being wrong only
agitated him and it seemed impossible to convince him so we left the subject
for what it was.
kept the conversation alive. After explaining his philosophy about rules,
encouraged by the speeding cars on the road, he continued by telling his life
story. He told us various things about his life and how content he was leading
such a life. He told about his son, where he himself lived, how he enjoyed the
previous evening but didn’t quiet remember it, the women he met, etc., etc. Striking
for us was how he thought that steeling is a very common and even wise thing to
do. The most impressing point he made was the pilgrimage he would intent to do
if he had the resources. This Pilgrimage would start at a very decadent luxury
club in New York with at his side five women. From there he would travel to
Europe ending in, for him, the most sacred country. He didn’t dream of power,
kingdoms or leading a religious life. Actually he didn’t pretend to be
anything, he wasn’t important; he was more or less non-existing. What was
important was his son. And still, deep down, beneath his cherished life,
characterized by his (drunken) escapades, he longed for a pilgrimage. A
pilgrimage starting with ultimate decadence and ending in sacredness where he
would abide, fulfilled.
So, at the first appearance the man looked like
a drunk that just came from a party. A second look on him gave the impression
of him being a tramp a vagabond. And yes, he was drunk, he came from a party and
in a way he was also a vagabond. There is nothing indefinable about this. We
know more people that, ‘somehow’, like to drink till they pass out and
afterwards wander on their way home. What this man made indefinable was his
principle by which he lived. The principle that exposes itself in exactly that
‘somehow’. A principle emerged from a deep sense of existence, an inborn
The set of convictions
(believes) that determine our actions seem to characterize us. On the other hand
we do feel we get influenced by certain actions or situations we encounter.
What does that say about our character? If character is made by our actions,
how can actions made by others effect our character? Do those actions emerge
from a same principle? If the principle and our conviction, on which our actions
are based, characterize us, how can character and principle be different?
Eastern regions of the world there is a popular story about this very noble and
compassionate monk. He is asked to do a procession for a deceased man in a
village. The deceased man had die recently leaving behind a gorgeous young
wife. The monk, immense respected, led the procession for the deceased very
beautifully. The widow, whirled by emotions and compelled to do something in
return for the monk, falls as a matter of disaster also in love with the monk.
The monk, very disciplined, renounced all luxuries and had decided to stay the
night in a cave near the village.
finds out the monks whereabouts and comes up to the cave to pay respect. She
tells the monk how impressed she was by the procession and by matter of thanks
she offers her body to the monk. The monk thanks the widow and explains her
that he, as a monk, is not allowed to have sexual intercourse. Sparing her the fact
that he even doesn’t has such desire for her. Disappointed the widow returned
to the village. The next day she again pays the monk a visit, now she brings a
goat. She says to the monk; ‘as you couldn’t have intercourse with me, let us
butcher this goat and eat it together.’ Again the monk thanks the widow for her
offer but again he has to refuse her. ‘Unfortunately’, he says,’ I can’t accept
your offer. Being a monk I took the vow not to kill any living being. Even if
you should kill the animal for me than still I can’t eat it, knowing this
animal died for me.’ Touched be the monks answer and afflicted by the thoughts
of her ignorant actions, the widow returns to the village.
As in many
stories the third times count. So for the third time the widow goes to the monk,
now bringing beer from a famous Dutch branch. This beer is known to break the
ice, so the widow is expecting some result. Offering the beer to the monk, the
monk thinks; ’as a monk I have taken the vow not to drink alcohol, but this
awfully disturbed woman is so compelled to do something for me that another
rejection would be disastrous for her. Drinking a bit of alcohol would be less
harmful, he concludes.’ So finally he accepts the offer. After one beer his
thirst increases, another beer is accepted, now the ambience of the scene and
the company is becoming more and more appealing to him. He drowns in it. The
morning after, he finds himself in bed with the woman seeing in the cave the leftovers
of what used to be a goat, next to a pile of empty beer bottles.
liberty Hall. We can think a lot of things of the story. And that’s precisely
its intention. However, we can’t set a deal on principle and character.
Nonetheless the story tells us a lot about principle and character. Not only of
the characters in the story but more about our personal interpretation on these
characters and thus of our selves. Therefore we can know that the difference
between principle and character is not tainted by action but rather by our
interpretation of what we perceive. Do
stories affect people’s principles and character? It is what you believe.
there can be a space between conviction and one’s principle and conviction as
well as principles can have their particular actions. Character is exactly that
space between conviction and principle, which is not space nor an expression
but rather an impression.
defer from belief and principle, however it is dependent on them. I am likely
to say that, the more you are convinced about character the stronger your
principles and the less convinced about character the stricter your belief
(conviction). If I must strive for character or a sort of characterless-ness,
depends, in this reasoning, on my concern on belief or principle. But this is
just apparently so.
have written here a third story. The fairytale about the Princess and the frog,
narrowed in our western civilization. I assumed, I was convinced, that everyone
(in the west) was familiar with this particular tale. When I spoke about it
with a good friend (I was best man on his wedding), it appeared he didn’t know
the tale. Also his wife didn’t and later it became clear that even my own
girlfriend wasn’t totally familiar on the story. Yeah, they knew about this
frog transformed into a prince after a kiss of the princes, but the storyline
and the clue of the tale where kind of blurry. Extraordinary, cause, taken from
a certain perspective, the tale deals with an actuality within our culture. The
actuality I am exploring in this essay; principles.
I am raised
in a strong roman-catholic environment. There is nothing wrong with that,
although not everybody shares this conviction. My cultural in heritage is,
cause of this, strongly connected to a strong sense of hierarchy. This belief,
in hierarchy, which is also colored by religion, and encourage in education, has
put my view on the world in a same perspective. I see a ranking in my family,
where the parents, traditionally the father, are head of the family. I see a
ranking in the structure of companies, institutes and corporations, where the
chief executive, or board of members, are called the head of the organization.
Within politics, I see the president as head of the departments. In the
Monarchy, the king, by birthright, is considered the head of a country.
However; a feeling of hierarchy is strict personal. It emerges out of
conviction. That I think there is a certain ranking is a conviction, when I
think there ‘should’ be a ranking that is a principle.
middle East we find the following story about Moses and his servant Joshua Ben
Moses said to his servant Joshua:’ I will not
cease from my wanderings until I have reached the place where the two seas
meet, even though I journey or eighty years.’
But when he had reached the place where the two sees meet, they forgot their
fish. And the fish took its through a stream tot the sea.
And when they had journeyed past this place, Moses said to his servant:’ bring
us our breakfast, for we are weary from this journey.’
But the other replied: ‘see what has befallen me! When we were resting there by
the rock, I forgot the fish. Only Satan could have put it out of my mind, and
in wondrous fashion it took its way into the sea.’
Then Moses said:’ that is the place we seek.’ And they went back the way they
had come. And they found one of Our servants, whom We had endowed with Our
grace and Our wisdom. Mses said to him:’ Shall I follow you, that you may teach
me for my guidance some of the wisdom you have learnt?’
But he answered:’ You will not bear with me, for how should you bear patiently
with things you cannot comprehend?’
Moses said:’ if God wills, you shall find me patient; I shall not in anything
He said:’ If you are bent on following me, you must ask no question about
anything till I myself speak to you concerning it.’
The two set forth, but as soon as they embarked, Moses’ companion bored a hole
in the bottom of the ship.
‘A strange thing you have done!’ exclaimed Moses. ‘Is it to drown her
passengers that you have bored a hole in her?’
‘Did I not tell you,’ he replied,’ that you would not bear with me?’
‘Pardon my forgetfulness’, said Moses. ‘ Do not be angry with me on this account.’
They Journeyed on until they ell in with a certain youth. Moses’ companion slew
him, and Moses said: ‘You have killed an innocent man who has done no harm.
Surely you have commited a wicked crime.’
‘Did I not tell you,’ he replied,’ that you would not bear with me?’
Moses said:’ If ever I question you again, abandon m; or then I should deserve
They travelled on until they came to a certain city. They asked the people for
some food, but the people declined to receive them as their guests. There they
found a wall on the point of falling down. The other raised it up and Moses
said:’ Had you wished, you could have demanded payment for your labors.’
‘Now the time has arrived when we must part,’ said the other. ‘ But first I
will explain to you those acts of mine which you could not bear with in
‘Know that the ship belonged to some poor fishermen. I damaged it because in
the rear there was a king who was taking every ship by force.’
‘As for the youth, his parents are true believers, and we feared lest he should
plague them with his wickedness and unbelief. It was our wish that their Lord
should grant them another in his place, a son more righteous and more filial.’
‘As for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city whose father was
an honest man. Beneath it their treasure is buried. Your Lord decreed in His
mercy that they should dig out their treasure whe they grew to manhood. What I
did was not done by caprice. That is the meaning of the things you could not
bear with in patience’.
such a story with us? Does it shake us with excitement, do we resent it? Does
it confuses us, don’t we know what to do with it? Doesn’t it really appeal to
us or do we instantly see ‘the light’ (delight) and we come into action. Many
things are possible but one thing is certain, it is being judged.
Where does a
personal judgment finds his base? I don’t know. And exactly this answer
conceals an opening. This opening we even can consider the principle of the
answer. The finite verb, I. It sounds easy to comprehend, that without I there
is neither knowing nor not-knowing. Without I there is neither judgment nor no
I committed myself to explore and expose the teachings of the Dharma in
contrast to teach or explore ‘the’ Dharma. Freely translated Dharma would be
the name of a sort of Law which comprehends and consists in Nature. It is the
nature of everything and the dependent connection of this whole-less whole.
Many people where convinced that the teaching of the (Gautama) Buddha about the
dharma were his teachings. But this is not entirely true. If the Buddha had a
teaching, than the Buddha should have a personality, a separate individuality
or an independent existing I. But the Buddha is called, the Buddha, because he
is not attached to any kind of ego, personality, entity nor separate
mind is often depicted by a monkey. The monkey jumps from one thing to another
just like our mind. The monkey is drawn towards all kind of objects, just like
our minds. Often we identify ourselves with mind. In Buddhism they give four
other aggregates beside mind where people identify themselves with. People try
to find their I in body, feeling, cognition, and something what the Buddhist
would describe as mental events, such as attention and intention. In none of
them Buddhist claim there is found an I. This does not mean there is no I,
there is certainly an I but it doesn’t arise by its own force. It emerges, like
the Buddha, from different and ever changing factors.
Would I be
very fond of my personality this is of course great. There is an I, a self. But
the point is that this self is not existing by its own means. It exist depended,
there is no absolute existing I. This is no newly arisen wisdom. Since ages
religious systems and, more recently with its arising, science take a sort of
selflessness as a principle. Also in modern business economy the strictly
personal is out of the question. An example how we strive for selflessness is,
our widely accepted diversion of ego, super ego and subconscious, which
contains also our animal instincts and desires. By doing this we try to make
the self less absolute. Tactful, cause, not many people tent to see being
selfish as a positive behavior, nowadays.
could be a lesson and Buddhist scholars could call this lesson Dharma. ‘Could’;
because this is just a personal vision. A vision developing itself trough my
commitment to, explore and expose, the teachings of the Dharma. The question;
where is a personal judgment based on? I answered, I don’t know. This is for me
an opening, the point where I actually engage. This opening is for me,
personally, also a point of deliverance.
The word ‘Principle’
is derived from the Latin word principia. Principia used to mark a beginning. Principia
mark, the ‘first’. Likewise is the Prince the first to follow the king. The
word of God the pope is the first to receive. The Pope declines from his duty
and a new one is elected. We welcome the new principle of Christianity. Also
H.H. the Dalai Lama has declared to go into retirement. Some years ago he
already released himself of his political duties and his religious duties are
being succeeded. When his body will die (in approximate 40 years) the principle
will be reborn. The Tibetans as well as the Buddhist scholars and friends are
curious about the Character of the successor. Likewise the Christians will be
curious about the character of the new Pope. In Holland were the Queen
abdicates and the Prince transforms to King, people are curious about the
characteristics of this new born King.
What do I
know of the world? I live in a world where the pope and the Dalai Lama seem to
exist at the same time, where kings rule next to presidents, where some people
believe everything and others nothing. All these things coexist whether they are
in agreement or not. Principles rise everyday and disappear in time and
distance. The same we can say about convictions, judgments and also characters.
It seems the same path as a human life. Change seems our connection with
everything and every day we are confronted with change. The vagabond changes
with a story, the character by judgment. But how does change connect with the
one that veils the judgments, beholds a conviction and states the principles?
How does change connect me to the world and how does change continues through
me? How does change continues through, my actions, my character, my principles
and my Judgment?
What do I
know of the world?..... What do I know about myself !?
Engage, explore, deliver.