The sensational origin of Zensational
Coincidence. Is chance that which falls to you because it is due?
Strictly speaking, it is about a planned encounter. But then it turned into an unplanned encounter. An encounter that would change my life forever. And which benefits you today. Because it led me to Zensational. Coincidentally? Let's go back many many years. Prof. Heinrich Landgrebe was a well-known artist. He was a landscape painter. He was a local custodian for the municipality and an art teacher at the Camerloher Music School in the traditional cathedral town of Freising. Freising, today still an archbishopric together with Munich, with unbroken pride in the episcopal seat it had held since the early Middle Ages. Freising, the town where the oldest beer brewery in the world is located, Weihenstephan, and where I grew up. Everything all right with Heinrich Landgrebe? Not by a long shot. Heinrich Landgrebe was considered notorious by most Freisingers. As a dangerous nutcase with whom it was better not to have anything to do. Because he often held spiritualist sessions at night, which is why he was sometimes put into healing sleep for several weeks when he could no longer cope with certain encounters with his contacts from the beyond. He also practised yoga daily - something sectarian in arch-Catholic Freising in those years.
And the worst thing of all: he was passionately interested in Indian religions and Asian philosophy. For the church and the Freising Catholics of that time, this was a pact with the devil... In the studio for the first timeI sat in his studio and waited for Heinrich Landgrebe. Scattered everywhere were painter's pallets, picture frames, canvases, rolls of paper and hundreds of brushes, most of them stuck in tins.
The air of the bright, spacious room was filled with a mixture of oil paints, glue, the somewhat stuffy wax crayons, and the corrosive turpentine in the cans for the brushes...
The floor-to-ceiling windows looked out into the garden with its mighty old trees. I unpacked my pad, my pens, my own brushes, sat down at the sprawling wooden table right next to the easel and was ready for my first painting lesson. For me it was clear: now the future begins. Because I had a plan. A super plan. At that time, when I was 16, it was really exciting. The plan:After finishing school, I would immediately enrol at the Munich Art Academy and study painting, graphics and design, and then, as a freelance artist, lead a brilliant, funky, hippie life with Marcel Proust books, Pink Floyd music and cool girlfriends. The acceptance testthe academy was notoriously difficult, but I was super prepared! At least, I thought I did. Namely, the one-year arranged painting and preparatory lessons with Heinrich Landgrebe - private, original and completely tailored to my greedy art needs. The door openedand my future teacher entered the studio. Heinrich Landgrebe was an imposing figure.
Tall, broad-shouldered, a little over 60,
his bass was loud and penetrating, his gestures powerful.
And everything he did and said had force. But what was about to happen - I would never have bet a single penny on that. Life can get crazy really fastHe sat down on a stool opposite me and we roughly discussed the strategy and the price for the one-year course. This part was still calm and conventional. It was the last conventional thing I experienced with him. For then he suddenly rose abruptly from his stool and walked with a firm step to the corner of the room where long-playing records were stacked upon long-playing records. He fished out a Mozart symphony, placed it sweepingly on the black rubber platter of the dual record player standing next to it, switched on the device, lifted the sapphire needle onto it, turned up the volume of the speakers full blast and began to bounce with Mozart's music. He bounced up and down almost like a rubber ball. He even began to gyrate uncoordinatedly through the studio, barely scraped past the easel, almost knocked over some clay pots and finally threw himself to the floor. There he twitched and bobbed, rolled around.
For a long, long time and in all directions. He also began to hum wayward, strange tones and melodies to Mozart's sounds. He only interrupted this humming to laugh again and again, booming and at the top of his lungs, as if he were listening to the best jokes of his life. I didn't know whether to look at him or look away, but I mostly held my breath, as flabbergasted as I was at the moment, and as much as it went beyond my ideas of painting lessons. At some point he stood up, shook himself briefly, brushed some paint pigments off his clothes and switched the record player off again. He said to me: my first painting lesson, which had lasted barely 20 minutes, was over. As he escorted me out of the garden gate, he said amusedly as I left:
“That was spontaneous. Painting, like life, is all about spontaneity.” Lesson 2 At the beginning of the second lesson, I unpacked everything I had brought with me. Block, pens, brushes. I sat down again at the wooden table right next to the easel and was ready for the 2nd lesson. Now the crazy events of the first hour will be cleared up... When Heinrich Landgrebe came, he did not sit down with me, but headed straight for a narrow bookshelf that stood opposite the door and near the stacks of records, and pulled out a thin booklet of about 80 pages. With a sweeping gesture, he placed it on my drawing pad and then dropped noisily onto his stool. He looked at me expectantly and waited until I had deciphered the title. TAO TE KING ... and LAO... TSE... was written on the black book cover - all foreign syllables, not even words.
"As clear as Japanese police radio," I thought to myself. "You must get the book from the Barth publishing house immediately, today," he said. "Preferably right now". With that, the second hour was over. At the garden gate he was suddenly intoxicated, his eyes sparkling, his voice quivered and he was completely thrilled: "In the booklet you will find a sentence! An unbelievable sentence. A sentence you will never forget!!! A sentence that changes your fate immediately. A sentence that will determine all your important decisions from now on, if you understand it.” It follows: >What is not in tune, does not sound< “Live with it! Go to sleep with it! Wake up with it!” >What is not in tune, does not sound<" He paused for a long time. Then he continued: "You'll be dealing with that all year now. And the rest of your life." Hour 3The following week it was raining cats and dogs as I made my way to class. Start: 5 pm. The storm had been whistling all day and I fought my way, thickly wrapped, against wind and weather to his house up on the "Lankes-Berg" for my next painting lesson. Finally arriving in the warm, sheltered studio, Heinrich Landgrebe gave me to understand that today we would go out into the garden. An umbrella?
No, that's not necessary. Painting materials and also the ominous booklet by Lao Tse, which I had with me for the first time, remained there. In the midst of the storm and pelting rain, he calmly and serenely showed me outside in the garden the beauty of the grass and their mobility when the fierce wind almost pushed them to the ground.
Then we watched the raindrops:
raindrops as they hung on branches. Raindrops as they hit the ground and shattered there. Raindrops as they hit us and drenched us. Raindrops as they ran down the windowpanes. When we returned to the studio soaking wet, he turned on the dual record player again, this time playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Conductor: Herbert von Karajan. He sat down close to me and, freezing, learned to hear the sweep of the wind in the melodies of the classic. And we began, forgetting God and the world, to discuss how to experience the fresh, the wild, the natural, the earthy, the light and the untamed, in music. But also, for this he fetched several heavy illustrated books and threw them on the wide table, as I can now quickly see the unexpected in pictures by Monet, van Gogh, Paul Klee and Picasso. Speed was important to him here. When I was back home late and finally in dry clothes, I made my beloved spaghetti "Miracoli" with the classic "Pamesello" cheese to go with it, I then spent half a night listening to songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, songs by Elvis, Leonard Cohen and Cat Stevens and 2 long-playing records by Pink Floyd - and suddenly I noticed the looseness of falling raindrops everywhere ... The world was changed. The coming hours with Heinrich Landgrebe became more and more extreme, more and more consciousness-expanding - even though no painting was ever done in all those weeks and months. Or rather: precisely because no painting was ever done in all that time.
But then again, one could not seriously say that.
Because it was painted after all. Somehow. But on other levels... I understood, Why Heinrich Landgrebe was an intellectual threat to the conservative Freisingers in our traditional cathedral city. Why the "La", as he was called, was even considered by some to be completely bonkers. In between I had to get the book by Otto Graf von Dürkheim "Japan and the Culture of Silence".
To get to know the difference between subsided noise, night's rest and real silence. One day Landgrebe again took a booklet from the shelf in his studio and gave it to me.
Eugen Herrigel: "Zen in the Art of Archery". A classic of Zen, as it turned out. And from then on, things took off in a completely new dimension... A paradox that presented me with madness and caused enormous mental cramps in the beginning. And that was just the beginning of much crazier spiritual lunacy. I got into partly dizzying inner states, through the porousness of the realities
I had been used to until then. My teacher remained cool: "It'll save you LSD trippin'!" I beg your pardon? "Well, the other dimensions have to be opened. One way or another. Before or after death. But what you experience is better that way than liberated by LSD, cocaine or other drugs. It's natural." Slowly I understood,that all those hours were about one way!!! A super-incredible way of inner rebellion. About the path from the "I" to the "It". About the Zen Way. Ich begriff: I understood: It is not "I" who creates the event when the sun rises. Or an idea comes to me. "It" happens. I checked: The Zen path has the direction from delusions of grandeur of having to "do it all yourself" - to amazement at the universe. I learnt, that it belongs together: The relaxed "letting it happen". And the grandiosity of "doing it yourself". But then it was different again at the same time. I learned that many things that belong together do not belong together. And vice versa: that what does not belong together is deeply interconnected.... It dawned on me more and more that the dimensions from which Zen comes are paradoxical! And I understood what a revolution and how much taboo-busting it triggered in me to deal intensively with the Zen sentences that Landgrebe had made me confront. Sentences that still accompany me today. Like a good wine, they become more and more mysterious and continue to frighten me anew in their depth: - "What is not in tune does not sound." - "Becoming intentionless with intention:" - "Shoot without shooting!" - "Winning without a fight" - "When all is lost, take your heart in your hands". - "Achieving in doing nothing what you cannot achieve by wanting to achieve". Time jump For almost a year, week after week, I went to the painting lessons with the drawing pad, the pencils, the brushes and in addition, at that point 3 books, where there was no painting. The amazing thing was: all of a sudden I realised that I felt so much more carefree about so many things! That I behaved much more carefree. And actually, became much more spontaneous. That I even felt faster, less reactive, but also emptier. And in a good way: I was weightless on the inside. But it did not stop there.I became inconceivable to myself. Where am I? Who am I? Is there an end? Was there ever a beginning? Nothing was more immediately tangible for me. The world around me also seemed completely different now: more permeable, more malleable than before. A peculiar non-reality, but precisely because it is non-reality. I was closer to the distance and at the same time the distant distance was getting closer and closer to me - although I couldn't for the life of me explain what wanted to happen here. But a greater will became a constant companion at the same time. "Better than LSD Trips" - kept going through my head. The bomb realisation "At last! Finally! I have understood something about painting!!! I finally get it!" I blurted out as soon as I was greeted. I could hardly stop myself: "I see now: Me! I am the blank, white sheet. I am - the empty blank canvas! The nothingness - it is in me! Right in the middle of me it is totally empty and seemingly white..." "What does that mean for you now?" Prof. Heinrich Landgrebe had rarely been so interested in a statement from me as he was at this point. I immediately sputtered on: "Deep inside me, I am the page of my painting pad on which nothing has ever been scribbled. That has never been painted on. Even if you brush on it all the time." "Say more about that," my Zen teacher, as I saw him then, prompted. I felt inside myself for a few moments to answer. "No matter what's going on. No matter how I feel at the moment. I have found something in me that is constantly untouched. It feels transparent. Immaculate. It could even be light. And what strikes me: this is exactly where all the images and splashes of colour and melodies of life come from. Snow and rain. Coca-Cola and Hollywood. The Rolling Stones and Leonard Cohen. The source of genius. The source of the banal. Simply the source of life. And everything falls back to it, too. Like houses that collapse but don't disappear. They fall into a source that is empty. A source that neither swells nor does not swell. Which is blatantly open and therefore remains completely closed in all directions. A madness!" Crash!!! Boom! Shock!! That was the end of my lessons. Suddenly. Forever. Just like that. And not only because of that, because, in terms of time, the agreed year was about over. No, there were other reasons too! I felt that very clearly at that moment! And I felt a strange happiness, a liberated happiness, mixed with the unedniable shock of the abrupt termination. At the last handshake at the garden fence, Heinrich Landgrebe said goodbye with a very mischievous wink:
“If I had taught you a method of painting, I would have cheated you."