The Awakened


foto: nienhuis

I put my Self
on the palm of my hand
and blow on it.
Pfft! - it's gone
like a lovers kiss.

The Buddha in my attic stands for my spiritual orientation, though I wouldn't dare to call myself a Buddhist.

This orientation (the little table stands at the East-side of my attic) is clarified in the essays The Awakened and An Indonesian Requiem, the latter depicting a ritual journey to the top of the Burubudur. Both essays can be found (in Dutch) in Het Componeren van de Hemel.
The Awakened (in English) is part of the booklet of the Aap -cd. It is reproduced here.

The Buddha-table in my attic is made of glass and agates. It is built over a ceramic model of the Cheops-pyramid, in which the secret code of the Requiem is forever closed away.

With a strong lamp inside (Enlightenment!) this table also serves as a samovar: to keep my tea at the right temperature.




The ancient Chinese saga Monkey Subdues the White-Bone Demon takes us on a journey. It is a journey through the imagination, through the infinitely vast space behind our closed eyes. The vehicle offered that imagination consists here of pictures, words and music.
The tale has itself travelled long and far, through centuries of the Chinese storytelling and art. It has thereby assumed a form in which nothing is superfluous: a perfect form. Apparently all that time it has touched on something essential: food for the soul. In the easy come, easy go culture in which we live today, it is necessary to retell this story from a modern-day perspective.
In nearly all nomadic cultures man is defined as he who wanders (Bruce Chatwin). Wandering contributes to a feeling of well-being, while sitting at home often leads to boredom and self-pity. But the following is also relevant:

He who leaves his house physically but not spiritually
and is still subject to desire must be considered a householder
even though he lives in the forest.
He who departs spiritually but not physically
and is free from ego must be considered a forest-ascetic
even if he resides at home.

These words are ascribed to Siddhartha Gautama, the 'householder' and lay person who some 2500 years ago abandoned house and hearth, withdrew to the woods and there, as 'forest-ascetic, strove to attain enlightenment; thereafter he spent the next 50 years teaching his doctrine (the Dharma). He was called the Buddha, 'the Awakened'.

Twenty years ago I spent two years working on the text and music for this story. Since then I, just as the main characters in the tale, have progressed. From where I now stand I see the essentially Buddhist character of this saga, this parable, much more clearly than I did then. One could call it a 'Buddhist Testament'. For that reason I feel that its lustre and depth have only increased.
In order to clarify my reasoning it is necessary for me to retell the story somewhat differently and to provide additional commentary. This commentary has been borrowed from the book The Lotus and the Rose by the eminent Dutch Buddhist Han F. de Wit (Kok Agora Kampen, 1998).

In Monkey Subdues the White-Bone Demon we meet a group of five persons who form as much an entity as the five fingers on one's hand - the spiritual hand that takes us along on an extraordinarily arduous and dangerous journey. The protagonists are introduced to us as the priest Hsuan-tsang and his disciples Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy, and the antagonist as the White-Bone Demon. The Demon attempts to subdue and control the others - the 'dramatic clutch' of this hand.
On the stage, each of these figures is a warm-blooded and very attractive person, but in keeping with the abstraction of a performance that a recording inherently is, and for the purpose of this retelling, I shall give the five characters other names.
The title, then, becomes SENSE SUBDUES GLAMOUR. Monkey is SENSE, Pigsy ZEST, Sandy CONSCIENCE and their master Hsuan-tsang is FAITH. The White-Bone Demon we shall call GLAMOUR. In the midst of the dramatic wrestling amongst these concepts in our imaginative space is our ego, our 'I', that tells us what we think about it all.
How does Buddhism view this 'I'?
De Wit writes:


Buddhism certainly does not assume redemption through divine mercy. It does, however, proclaim the possibility of self-redemption. By this it means that the human spirit can redeem itself from an egocentric perspective of existence. The person himself, not his ego, is capable of achieving this. That 'I' is, after all, a deceptive creation of the human spirit. That creation cannot recognize itself as an illusion, because it has no life of its own. It seems to lead its own life, like Punch and Judy appear to be living beings thanks to the energetic hand of the puppeteer who gives them life.

The hand of the puppeteer begins with a warning:


Be on your guard, brothers, I'm warning you,
There are demons near at hand!

We are well-advised to be perceptive, because perception is at the core of Buddhist meditation.

It is the sharpening and aligning of our potential for mental differentiation of what we will call here the total field of experience. This field contains all those things we can observe: visual experiences, sounds, scents, tastes, physical stimuli, thoughts, emotions, dreams, fantasies, whatever comes up in our awareness. In short, it includes both those phenomena that we usually consider to be 'external' and those we experience as 'internal'. During meditation this field is systematically observed in its totality. For that reason the form of awareness, of perception, with which insight meditation works is also referred to as 'panoramic awareness'. This form of awareness is active at the moments (or times) we are not inhibited by that which we experience.

SENSE intuitively perceives danger in the inhospitable region where they have found themselves. But he vows to kill the demons of illusion. Immediately - and just as intuitively - FAITH protests:


We're taught that cruelty's forbidden, you'll recall,
And killing, that worst of all!

And with that appeal to the True Doctrine, FAITH betrays himself immediately as a poor Buddhist.

Buddhism is, after all,directed at the blossoming of every living situation in its totality. Free from every form of ideology, ethics and religion, it manifests itself as spontaneous care, as devotion and astuteness.

FAITH will have none of that, he is simply afraid of life. ZEST is mostly hungry and begins to complain. SENSE promises to find food; CONSCIENCE remains silent. Before departing, SENSE protects the group by enclosing them within the magic circle of Reason.
That appears to work. When GLAMOUR makes her first attack on the group she is warded off by the circle. In order to lay claim to immortality, she desires to devour FAITH.

According to Buddhist traditions (...) the desire to believe in something, to cherish it and to place it above experience is a form of blindness, of self-deception: that which we believe can cause us to not see reality. That which we believe can arise from the need to build a safe spiritual haven, in order to avoid having to experience the gaping depths of reality, a reality which we perhaps surmise from time to time.

In those gaping depths, in the White-Bone Cave, GLAMOUR reigns over a host of other illusions, as dangerous as wild beasts. Defeated by SENSE, she takes refuge in her speciality:

I've mastered the art of quick transformation.

Illusion, in the Buddhist understanding, is the result of our tendency to perceive the contents of our thoughts as that thing which those thoughts concern. We confuse our concepts of, and ideas about, reality with reality itself. Then we live in a world of illusion.

GLAMOUR proceeds to take on a form the world knows and loves best: that of a young girl carrying a basket of warm rolls. Overcome with hunger, ZEST leaves the circle of reason, reassured by the girl's apparent piety

I swear to you that my parents and myself
Are firm believers in the Buddha.
To his temple I'm on my way.

Here the Buddha is thus presented as God, the God of the entire family. But

Buddhism is certainly not a religion in that sense; we could better call it a non-theistic faith, one that - in contrast with the four major religions of the world - does not maintain the existence of a God. (...) The Buddha is, then, neither considered nor revered within the tradition as a god, but rather as a genuine person. So much so that in the sutras it is told that the Indian gods came personally to Buddha for tuition! Even our western humanists have not managed to devise such a clear-cut definition of the spiritual centrality of man.

ZEST wants to follow the girl to the temple, but FAITH, overcome with fear, hesitates. Then CONSCIENCE speaks for the first time: he prefers to wait for SENSE's return and desires to know the girl's name. FAITH considers this untoward and decides to join her:

Of course, mistress, it would be a great honor;
We shall escort you.

At that moment SENSE intercedes, striking the girl squarely on the head with his stick. The illusion immediately goes up in smoke. FAITH, beside himself with panic, pleads to the wrong god:

FAITH: Oh, Buddha-lord, I beg you, help us!

ZEST eggs him on, determined to avenge his displeasure on SENSE, but once again CONSCIENCE steps in, defending SENSE's integrity:

CONSCIENSE: Monkey has an eye for crafty devils.
His honor and his faith is on the level.

He argues for common sense, not for ethics based on divine revelation.

In the Christian doctrine, ethical forming, as a means of cultivating humanity, boils down to the mobilization of our pure conscience against our egocentric desires. The problem with that, however, is - according to Christian moral theologists - that ever since the fall of Adam, human conscience is no longer pure. It must first be purified, clarified, cultivated. (...) But how do we purify our conscience? Generally speaking, the answer provided by religious tradition is: we must bind conscience to God's will. Once we have done that, then our conscience is pure. (...) The theistic traditions answer: God's will is made recognizable to us in the form of God's Word, found in the Holy Scriptures.

If our saga, by referring to the 'Holy Scriptures of the Far West' meant the Bible or the Koran, then FAITH would have indeed found what he, as all other priests, sought: the Will of God. But this tale concerns the Buddhist scriptures from India. When he (in a sequel) eventually finds them, they appear to be nothing but blank sheets of paper, as empty as the open strings on the violin upon which this opera's music is based.
After that beautiful illusion has gone up in smoke, FAITH remains sceptical, moved by the girl's singing.

But then again, her beauty and her piety,
The purity and splendor of her song...

Her song has awakened desires - indeed, music's most effective sphere of influence. Out of fear, this longing of FAITH's is translated into a desire for obedience and for being obeyed. His position, after all, requires this of him. But this too is very un-Buddhist because this lifestyle

is no longer inspired by pious or benign designs, but (...) by the desire that all people should be happy and free of suffering

Which is, of course, also a pious wish, but one of a different order. Because FAITH chooses for obedience, suffering carries on - and with it, the saga. GLAMOUR returns in the guise of an Old Woman, the mother of the beautiful girl, singing quasi-Buddhist gibberish:

Old Woman::
Oh! Bodhidharma,
When I descend to my death,
Deep in the spirals of my karma...

ZEST immediately recognizes the mother, which causes CONSCIENCE to burst into tears, because he cannot see through the illusion - he isn't SENSE. ZEST is blamed, and FAITH in turn immediately turns on SENSE - the first act of betrayal - and accuses him of murder.
'Twas Monkey, my pupil guilty of this crime.
Alas, I could not stop his blows in time

That presents GLAMOUR the chance to lure him to the temple.
Old Woman:
And in the temple
Buddha awaits my prayers.

The theologist should know better: Buddhism does not involve prayer but meditation.

Buddhists do not pray to Buddha to bestow upon them the mercy of enlightenment; rather, they call on the enlightened state that is the Buddha itself. They do not pray to a transcendental god, nor to a superhuman principle, but to the nature of the Buddha, that can also live in their own heart in its germinal form. Opening their heart entirely to it provides a place of experience in which the egocentric perspective, with all its harshness and blindness, is vaporised.

Once again SENSE intercedes forcefully:

Crafty kobold!
Feelings abused by motives cruel and shallow,
The human heart remorselessly bled hollow!

This illusion, as did its predecessor, goes up in a puff of smoke, whereby FAITH attempts to disarm SENSE:
I command you, disciple Monkey, come back!
And put that weapon down!

SENSE counters with his spiritual weapons, his arguments:
Where in such a wasteland lives are girl so meek and fragile?
And since when do old women climb such mountains?

Buddhism posits that being inhibited by our own mental constructions of reality - of ourselves, the world, God - is the cause of a great deal of suffering. Like the other major religions of the world, Buddhism urges its practitioners to search for a ways to lessen suffering. But unlike the other religions, Buddhism seeks the end to suffering not in obedience to God or the gods, but rather in seeing through our imagined reality and letting go of it. To that end it employs analytical methods, both in the form of logical analysis (Madhyamaka) and that of meditative analysis (Vipashyana).

ZEST, rather than opting for argument, reaches for a holy rosary, and FAITH calls on five dogmas incorrectly attributed to Buddha. If that does not succeed in preventing SENSE from fighting the illusion, then FAITH is prepared to use the ultimate weapon: the curse. In doing so he misuses a meditation mantra:


This drives SENSE to distraction, but it is not enough to thwart him completely. CONSCIENCE comes to his aid, with the argument:
If my courageous brother had not been prepared to fight
Or lay down his life to protect you,
You would have been devoured by demons long ago!

This tempers the fury of the curse somewhat, giving SENSE the opportunity to devise a trick. He vanishes.
GLAMOUR readies herself for her final attack, her Final Judgement, and the Dies irae is heard. She will appear as a patriarch, the head of the family: an Old Man. But SENSE sees through this ploy as well and lunges at her with his stick.
Shantideva, 7th century:

If I become angry at he who wields the stick
although in reality I am struck with the stick
I should rather -
because he with the stick is in turn wielded by hate -
become angry at that hate.

To halt the hostilities, FAITH suggests negotiations. He can then employ his 'conversion weapon':

Even if he were a demon, evil and hell-bent,
Through faith he can still attain enlightenment.

But SENSE points out to him the true nature of the demon:
His hunger for human flesh is what makes him a demon,
Your just a meal as far as he's concerned.
That's why it's futile or worse
To attempt to convert a demon to Buddha
And I'm obliged to kill him first!
You would do better to kill me then!

FAITH would, if necessary, allow himself to be crucified in order to make his point. But SENSE reminds him of another task before him: to find the holy scriptures. The struggle between the five emotions now reaches a furious climax; the air abounds with FAITH's curses, CONSCIENCE's pleas, ZEST's lamentations - a genuine Day of Judgement. At that moment, God's word descends from heaven like a silk shawl and becomes FAITH's deciding argument in the struggle between Fides et Ratio: a Deus ex Machina.
It says just what I told you, and more.

With this dogma in hand, FAITH offers the sacrificium intellectum and sends SENSE packing. SENSE retires to his kingdom, the tranquil paradise of the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. FAITH, ZEST and CONSCIENCE continue on their pilgrimage.
  A mood of dejection prevails. No one utters a word.

Those three aspects, that (...) characterize the religious face of Buddhism - no God, no faith, no ego - have a common root. We come upon that root when we pose the question that, incidentally, is also classic to Western philosophy: What is reality and what is illusion? (...) The essence of Buddhist spirituality revolves around the belief that the non-enlightened person lacks the spiritual discipline to keep the power of his own imagination under control: caught unawares of this power, the person sallies forth in self-made, egocentric illusions of reality.

Arriving in the forest, the three remaining pilgrims spy a golden temple. Once again ZEST thrusts the drama into action:

At last our sweet reward awaits us!
Here are the Sacred Scriptures, for here it's written:
"This is the temple of the Heavenly King"!

His permanent state of hunger makes him susceptible to propaganda. The three kneel before the statue of Buddha - the piety reaches its zenith. It is precisely at that moment that GLAMOUR can go in for the big kill.
Ha ha! Gullible monk!
Distinguishing between what's true and what is false,
you just don't seem to get it!

She now unleashes her First War, in which FAITH and CONSCIENCE are both captured. But ZEST manages to escape. His nose leads him to the Mountain of Flowers and Fruits. There, SENSE is worried about his Master, but he feigns boredom. He plays the faith game with ZEST:
The will of Buddha can't offend me, can it?
And there's no doubt that it was Buddha's will.
Theology is not my forte
But if it's not deceit then Buddha hasn't been too sporting.

But SENSE will not be used by ZEST to do his dirty work. Just the opposite, in fact, happens: SENSE sends ZEST back to the Master to carry out his plan. This way they are working together.

The notion that emotion and rationality are in one way or another mutually exclusive and therefore need not be reconciled with one another, is not an idea embraced by Buddhism. (...) One could consider Buddhism a form of rational spirituality. (...) Spirituality without dogmas and without beliefs.

The scene now changes to a ballroom, the White-Bone Hall, where, to the strains of a sparkling Viennese waltz, a banquet is being laid. FAITH and CONSCIENCE are about to be devoured as the Eucharist. That will serve to turn the mirage of Eternal Life into reality, and anchor it in reality forever.
ZEST has sniffed out this banquet and is immediately hauled in. Then, from within the murky recess appears the Mother of all Illusions: the Toad Demon. With the aid of this power, the entire family drama is analyzed like a psychoanalysis, trauma by trauma. ZEST and CONSCIENCE show regret and self-reproach, but also courage and loyalty. FAITH, on the other hand, once again betrays and accuses SENSE. Only once the entire mechanics of the deceit has been disclosed does he give in and begs for mercy.
In vain, because:

Toad Demon:
To ask a demon for charity is just what you'd expect
from one who falls for such tomfoolery!

Just before his death, FAITH sees reason and expresses his regret.
I fell for the tricks of that enchantress
and sent my trusted friend away.

But what if we have behaved in a negative fashion? Buddhism then offers an interesting approach: the negative residue can be lessened and sometimes even eliminated if we show regret immediately following the deed, rather than being satisfied with it. Because, it is said, a deed has only been completed at the moment of satisfaction over the deed itself. It is thus that feeling of satisfaction that plants the seed of repetition in our spirit, and if that feeling is disarmed by repentance a negative karma can be avoided.

SENSE has waited for this crucial moment of repentance. In a stroke of theatrical genius, he explodes the illusion of the Toad Demon. That marks the beginning of the Second War, which - in a musical repetition - is waged on two fronts, making use of the well-known Beethoven motif.
SENSE triumphs over all the illusions and frees his friends. Tranquillity returns and the group contemplates the events.

According to the Third Noble Truth ('The End of Suffering'), true happiness in life is not due to the realization of what we imagine as personal happiness, but rather to the state of being uninhibited by any kind of vision of reality, including our visions of happiness or unhappiness. That is the state of enlightenment. (...) Then our life is based on an unconditional devotion to existence, regardless of whether it fulfils our desires or not.

FAITH grasps the concept of insight and enlightenment, and asks for forgiveness. In doing so he shows his best side:

Forgive me, Monkey, for my grave misjudgment.
(One heard the present Pope issue a similar apology to Galileo - 350 years later - only to, in Fides et Ratio, lament the disastrous rift between faith and reason.) In our saga as well, FAITH remains the leader of the group, thanks to his repentance. Without FAITH, SENSE would be bored, which is the worst sin. They acknowledge one another, but will never truly reach each other. SENSE realizes that only through FAITH (in the future, in the unknown) can the drama be resumed, and he thus acknowledges him as his Master. He knows he will face difficulties and risks being betrayed, but he is unable to bring the drama into action himself: he is more a scientist than an artist. Because there is a yet deeper root:

According to the Buddhist vision, that deeper root (I barely dare to say this to rationalists) is a feeling, namely, the universal and transcultural desire, that exists in every person. The desire that a situation, one in which we find ourselves or in which we play a part, may blossom and that all suffering associated with it lessened.

And here we enter once again into the realm of music. Without music, this desire cannot be completely expressed. Music is essential.
In Mahayana Buddhism one also says:

May I, my whole life long, listen to the music of the Dharma.

The perfect inner logic of this story represents a challenge to every person who thinks in terms of music. It challenges the person with the task of giving life to a musical organism that consists of logically-interconnecting musical motives. Or, in other words, to design a bridge that spans the period of about an hour, via which the traveller/listener can reach the opposite bank of the murky river. A bridge that, due to the materials used and its solid construction, will not collapse when the listener is halfway across.

Regarding these exact techniques, I wrote an article on the occasion of the opera's premiere in 1980, to which I can now refer.
See chapter V of The Tone Clock.
Because as a composer I feel a kindred spirit with the character of Monkey, who always wants to explain himself and to discuss. Finally, this opera led me to chromatic tonality, to the dharma of the Tone Clock

The irresistible humour in this tale comes forth from the enlightened lifestyle that underlies it. Ecce homo is the message. This humour is not imposed, and as one can see from the drawings, it is not 'funny' simply for the sake of comedy. The unenlightened director who puts too much value on a laugh from the audience or whose goal is a handsome rating, directs Monkey the way Pigsy would have done. Hsuan-tsang would make a liturgy of it, the White-Bone Demon would produce experimental pandemonium, Sandy an agitprop performance and Monkey himself an abstraction. The enlightened director will have the good sense to avoid these pitfalls, with a great deal of feeling.

For two decades I have dreamt that this work would find the way back from West to East, to complete the transcultural circle and to observe how a highly athletic theatrical tradition rooted in Buddhism would represent this. That possibility comes yet closer with the production of the CD and this website.
It was made possible by the persistence and talent of the wonderful Dutch musicians and studio engineers who put the recording together. But the first aim is, of course, to reach the ear and the mind of the listener. The music, in the end, has to tell the story. May the listener, in the infinite space behind his closed eyes, enjoy his inner self immensely with the help of this work. Or, to cite a classic Buddhist liturgy:

May all creatures experience happiness
and the source of happiness;
be free from suffering
and the cause of suffering.
May they experience prosperity
and foster unprejudiced goodwill for all.

Amsterdam, autumn 1998
(translation: Jonathan Reeder)




EEN INDISCH REQUIEM, opus 41 (1993-1995)

Voor: tenor, koor en orkest
Tijdsduur: 25'

Een Indisch Requiem is gebaseerd op teksten van Tan Malaka, Jan Eijkelboom en Rudy Kousbroek. Het werk bestaat uit twee delen die een rondgang symboliseren om de Borobudur, het buddhistische heiligdom op Java - eerst van oost naar west, daarna in omgekeerde richting.


I. VOORVAL OP JAVA- Adagio molto

De Indonesische vrijheidsstrijder en nationalist Tan Malaka werd in 1897 geboren als zoon van het matriarchale volk van de Minangkabauwers op Sumatra. Twintig jaar lang, van 1922 tot aan de Japanse invasie in 1942, werd hij door het Nederlandse gouvernement uit zijn vaderland verbannen. In zijn verbanningsoorden (Maleisië, Thailand, China, de Filippijnen) schreef hij aan zijn medestrijders talloze, vaak gecodeerde brieven, politiektheoretische essays en pamfletten, die veelal verboden of vernietigd werden. De gecodeerde brieven heb ik bewerkt tot de "gecodeerde gedichten" van dit eerste deel. De letterlijke vertaling ervan blijft (ook voor Indonesiërs) een geheim dat alleen in de muziek tot uitdrukking komt (waarbij de code in de noten is verborgen). In de eerste strofe, Erim nehimim..., schrijft Malaka over de geboorte van het vrijheidsideaal ("merdeka") in zijn vaderland Indonesië, het tastende begin ervan en het verlangen ernaar. De drie volgende strofes beschrijven de paradijselijke natuur van de Minangkabau en de wereld van zijn jeugd, waaraan hij de blijvende inspiratie zou ontlenen voor de idealen die hij later in zijn hoofdwerk Madilog gestalte zou geven. De meer intieme vijfde strofe, Rudika dimaru..., verhaalt over zijn Nederlandse vrienden die hem in zijn ontwikkeling steunden en waar hij van hield.
Dan verplaatst de aandacht van de muziek zich naar het Javaanse oerwoud waar het Nederlandse leger op wacht ligt bij een waringin - een geestenboom. In Voorval op Java beschrijft Jan Eijkelboom een haast onverwoordbare ervaring die hem als soldaat tijdens de koloniale oorlog (pardon, "politionele acties") overkwam. Ook hier een visioen: de nachtmuziek van een traag hemelkoor.
Maar anders dan Tan Malaka kan de dichter het niet delen met zijn medestrijders, want je werd daar toen al gauw voor gek versleten. In de muziek doemt hier tussen de bomen het beeld op van de Borobudur. Wij komen "oog in oog met de ziel van het oude Indonesië" (Tranchini). De meer dan duizend jaar oude Borobudur werd duizend jaar na de geboorte van Buddha op Java gebouwd door de mythische architect Gunadharwa. Het is een van de grote wonderen van de planeet en verbeeldt "de plaats van de mens in het heelal" (Miksic). Het werd na de tweede restauratie in 1983 (de eerste was in 1907 klaar) voor het publiek heropend met de wens "opnieuw duizend jaar te leven". Het bouwwerk is niet bedoeld om goden te vereren maar als "een plaats waar men zelf bodhisattva kan worden". Het is "een zichtbaar hulpmiddel ter onderwijzing van een vredige levensbeschouwing" en vertelt ons dat wij "het vroegere Java als een van de meest humane samenlevingen in de geschiedenis" moeten beschouwen. Het is gebouwd als een driedimensionale Vajraddhatu Mandala ("Diamant-Wereld-Kring") in vijf terrassen. De cerememoniële tocht naar de top, die meer dan een dag duurt, dient ter initiatie in "een hoger nivo van bewustzijn". Het bouwwerk is gebaseerd op oude geschriften die het levensverhaal van de toekomstige Buddha vertellen. In duizenden reliëfs wordt hij afgebeeld als een man (een koning) die zijn lichaam aan een hongerige tijgerin geeft, het aanbiedt om een duif te redden, of het in stukken hakt om menseneters tevreden te stellen. Hij geeft zijn ogen aan een blinde, redt offerdieren en vogels en bidt als vis om regen. Als vegetarische, uitgehongerde kwartel, als een Gandhi, stopt hij zelfs een bosbrand. Ook komt hij twee keer voor als rover. De honderden figuren op de reliëfs zijn met hun zachte ronde vormen doordrenkt van erotiek en tederheid. (Maar nergens wordt de liefde bedreven). Naast zes hemelen staan ook acht grote warme hellen afgebeeld. De bovenste "stupa", met een doorsnee van twaalf meter, symboliseert de goddelijke "spijker" in de wereld, de "spil" waarom het universum draait: de liefde voor alles wat is en leeft. Het is een bouwwerk met een boodschap. In 1814 werd de Borobudur uit een eeuwenlange slaap gewekt door de genie-officier Cornelius en in 1907 voltooide luitenant Van Erp de eerste restauratie. Maar hun nazaten bij de waringin konden de boodschap niet horen. (Als er niet een dichter bij geweest was hadden we nooit iets vernomen...). Het moederland zelf kon pas een halve eeuw later toegeven dat het zich op de kracht van die vrijheidsmuziek had verkeken. Pas toen kon men de mannen op de top van de Borobudur luid en krijgshaftig het Duro varova rorubo... horen zingen. Om zich tenslotte de as van de koninklijke droefheid op Jakarta op het hoofd te strooien, in dit Grote Verzoenjaar, nu koningin Beatrix Indonesie bezoekt.

II. HET MEER DER HERINNERING - Lento, a tempo doeloe

De tweede rondgang om de Borobudur, van west naar oost, is een muzikale verbeelding van de blanke ervaring met het paradijs, de befaamde Tempo Doeloe. Het is gebaseerd op herinneringen die Rudy Kousbroek in een TV-documentaire vormgaf: het paradijs gezien door de ogen van een kind. Deze herinneringen worden doorbroken door een koraal, Jika dikehendaki Tuan semesta, dat gebaseerd is op een vers uit een oud Sumatraans volksdrama, Syair Puteri Hijau (de Groene Prinses). Wat verborgen is zal aan het licht komen - het televisielicht in onze huiskamers dat ons laat zien dat inderdaad het doodgaan na de bevrijding nog een tijd doorging. Nog steeds: Bosnië, Rwanda... De berg van verdriet die wij te verwerken hebben, de ontzetting over wat de mensen elkaar en deze wonderbaarlijke planeet blijven aandoen, zoekt een vorm, een uitweg, een requiem. Om duizend jaar te herdenken hoe het er in de binnenste kringen van de hel toegaat, hoe het is na de dood van de liefde, hoe dat voelt.
Maar tenslotte zal ook deze berg uitvloeien in de onafzienbare vlakte van de vrede, waar "steden verrijzen".
Zoals in de Vlakte van Kedu de Borobudur.

17 augustus 1995,
Onafhankelijkheidsdag Indonesia

© Peter Schat
© design