Here I am in a Starbucks in Berlin using their free WiFi while the muzak plays a jazzy arrangement of “Every Little Breeze Seems to Whisper Louise.” I am not by the wall. I am not five feet ten inches tall. There is no doubonet on ice. But honey, it is paradise. There are two girls across the way speaking Japanese. They have no idea I can understand them.
I talked to a beautiful girl from Stüttgart on the train from Hannover where I had to change trains in order to make it here from Frankfurt. That was nice.
She recommended I go see the Topographies des Terror museum. Which is what I did this afternoon. It is built on the former site of the headquarters of the SS, the Nazi secret police. The exhibits show how the SS gradually took over Germany. Very intense stuff. Whenever I hear people talking about how Barrak Obama or George W. Bush or whoever else is a “Nazi,” I have to wonder if they’ve ever done the least bit of research into what the actual Nazis were like. The actual Nazis were kind of bad. I mean like, really, really horrible.
Look at the cute Nazis smooching in the sand! That’s one of the photos at the museum. Plus photos of Hitler feeding deer in a park. Aw! (I’m being sarcastic. You knew that, though.)
Nazi-ism is the antithesis of Buddhism in a lot of ways. One of the least obvious, though probably the most important is that Nazi-ism was completely goal oriented. The Nazis weren’t evil in the way we like to think of evil people being evil. They weren’t rubbing their hands and cackling, “Ve shall rule ze vorld in ze name of eeeeeeeeeevil!!! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
No. They wanted a better world, a world unified and at peace.
The Nazis set their sites on a goal. And they were willing to do all sorts of nasty things to make that goal happen. The goal was important. What needed to be done to achieve it was secondary. But goals are problematic. They never really turn out the way you imagine them.
Ironically many of the goals the Nazis were trying to accomplish have come to pass, though not in the ways they would have envisioned or liked. Europe is unified. There is a single currency throughout most of the continent. There is even a common language spoken by people all over Europe. That the language is English and not German, the currency is the Euro and not the Deutsche Mark and the union is presided over from Brussels rather than Berlin might have made them cringe. But many of their major goals have been achieved. That the Nazis themselves had to be destroyed in order that their goals could be achieved probably didn’t fit Hitler’s master plan. But that’s how goal-oriented practice works.
In Zen we have no goals. We may have a general aim for our practice. But we understand that things won’t come out the way we imagine them. The Nazis had to be utterly destroyed for a unified Europe to be born. Likewise, our sense that our self is a real thing and the core of our being, that sense of self which creates our goals, has to be demolished before we can be unified.
Oh Jesus! What a metaphor.
Please. Just forget I said any of that.
These are the remaining dates of my European Tour!
Nov. 14 (Wed) Dharma Buchladen Berlin, Germany
Nov. 16 and 17 (Fri-Sat) Merchant City Yoga Glasgow, Scotland
Nov. 23-25 (Fri-Sun) Weekend Sesshin at Fawcett Mill Fields, Penrith, Lake District UK Sponsored by Yoga Manchester
Nov. 25 (Sun) Manchester, England Sponsored by Yoga Manchester
Nov. 27-28 (Tues-Wed) Hebden Bridge, UK
Dec. 2 (Sun) London, England, The Vibast Community Centre, 163 Old Street, EC1V 9NH, for info firstname.lastname@example.org
And, of course, as always, this tour is being financed largely by your donations. Yeah, I’m getting paid at most (not all) of the places I’m speaking. But it’s not enough to pay all my bills back home. So every donation helps! Thanks!!