Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mosaics


Remember the mosaics I mentioned yesterday — the ones adorning the lobby of the erstwhile hospital and Nazi-era hotel where I’m staying? Well, here they are.



See what I mean about the naked Aryan lads? Nazi iconography was SO gay.

Things are going well so far. I’m settling into the routine of the retreat, having ironed out the basic necessities like where to find the showers and how to get (instant) coffee. The food is actually quite good — rice, lentils, bread, pasta, lots of vegetables and crisp, fresh salad greens. Yesterday the monks who do the cooking prepared a sort of stew with tofu, green olives and mushrooms, and I loved it. I can never have too many olives.

Yesterday was a procession of meditation sessions interspersed with a dharma talk about the practices of following the breath and walking mindfully, an outdoor relaxation exercise, and a “sharing” session to relate our observations so far. The focus of the retreat seems mostly to be on caring for ourselves and our own spiritual happiness, so we can then employ that happiness and calmness when we relate to students.


Oh, and just so you can see an alternative to Nazi-era mosaics, here are some cloth hearts that were sewn and put on display to represent the physically and mentally handicapped patients at the hospital that used to be here before World War II. Apparently many of them did not survive Nazi rule. The hearts are displayed near the mosaics to create a “dialogue” between them.

16 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

"I can never have too many olives". Isn't that what Popeye The Sailorman said?
And I hope the Buddhist meditation process helps you not to get so angry about loaning out chargers and retrieving overdue books in the future. Peace and love man!

robin andrea said...

Those Nazi era mosaics are so strange. The food there sounds delicious. That's just the kind of food I make at home. Yum om yum!

Linda Sue said...

What a heavy building! Maybe the meditation and gentle nature of your group will balance it's past. The boys in the mosaic are nice...nice firm buns- ahhh youth. The hearts broke mine, so sad, human history.

TJ Davis said...

"Nazi iconography was SO gay." At a time when that meant death. Anger is never without a cause. Evil is not intrinsic.

Sharon said...

What a strange set of mosaics, beautiful yet strange. Sounds like you have the routine of the place down.

ellen abbott said...

the mosaics are pretty fabulous but yeah, so gay in out day and time. not every culture shunned the human body throughout history. if these were to be created at this time period in the US, omg, the uproar would be instantaneous!

so, no, no explanation but I'm curious what prompted this retreat at the Buddhist center.

Catalyst said...

Hmmm.

jenny_o said...

Those mosiacs are rather astonishing, given how the Nazis viewed homosexuality.

Ms. Moon said...

What an incredibly strange place for a Buddhist community. No matter how many handmade hearts there are, the past has got to intrude.

e said...

If you know anything about history, those patients would not have survived because they were deemed defective by the Nazi regime and put to death. Infact, the Nazi's began there practice of putting undesirables to death using babies born with various disabilities. This allowed them to hone their methods of killing and gassing other groups. As for the Nazi iconography, it certainly glorified the Aryan male, the ideals for which underpinned Nazi eugenics. Frankly, they and the hearts creep me out. As Mary noted, this seems a strange place for a Buddhist retreat.

e said...

Sorry for the misspellings...typing too fast...

Steve Reed said...

Oh, it does. There’s always an awareness of what happened here. But I think working with that awareness and remembering it is part of the purpose of the Center — balancing the ignorance and hate of the Nazis with Buddhist compassion. To me it makes perfect sense.

Steve Reed said...

According to the information posted with the display, about 700 patients lived here when the Nazis acquired the building in 1939. They were moved to a Franciscan monastery about 70 KM away. For a while they were protected there by the monks, but eventually they were separated according to ability. About 320 who could work stayed there and most survived the war. The others were moved to hospitals or psychiatric Centers where they were killed. I think it’s OK that the hearts creep you out. On some level, they should.

Steve Reed said...

Well, I used to practice Buddhism in New York, so when the opportunity arose to do this retreat it interested me. I do sometimes have problems with minor frustration and anger at work (as you’ve read here on the blog!) and I thought looking into mindfulness and skills that help me step back from those visceral responses might be helpful.

Steve Reed said...

Absolutely! There was a lot of weird repression going on!

37paddington said...

So strange that a Buddhist retreat is in a place where Nazi era memorabilia are on display. How not to think about all that? Just read your response above about awareness. I guess. From all this distance away I feel a great sadness just looking at those hearts.