Wednesday, June 19, 2019

In Germany With No WiFi

OK, I’m writing this blog post on my phone, which is something I never imagined I would do. But WiFi is apparently not to be had here at the European Center for Applied Buddhism, so I’m scrambling!

I got here yesterday after a full day of travel — three trains via Brussels, Cologne and Hennef, and then a bus to the town of Waldbrol. (There’s an umlaut in that name but I have no idea how to do that on a phone.) The train trips went smoothly, although European passport control from St. Pancras station in London was a nightmare. One of the passport officers was laughing at texts and videos on his phone while screening passengers. I couldn’t believe it.

It’s probably not very Buddhist of me to point that out, is it?

I’m staying in a former hospital that was appropriated by the Nazis for use as a hotel. It has big tile mosaics in the lobby of naked Aryan lads cavorting with horses. I have pictures, but of course they’re on my computer so you may not get to see them until I get back to London.

There IS something poetic about a grim Nazi edifice being turned into a Buddhist retreat with all its emphasis on peace and loving kindness.

This morning I was up at 5 a.m. and soon afterwards we were meditating. Then we adjourned to the car park in front of the hotel for exercises using bamboo poles. Qui Gong, I think? Or is that something else? Anyway, as you can see in the photo above, the light was dramatic and it was actually a nice, refreshing start to the day.

Here’s a view from yesterday out the train window — or actually a reflection of the view. Can you see the dog at far left?

Aside from meditating and mindfulness we haven’t done much yet. And as I write that line I realise how ridiculous it is, because meditation and mindfulness are both a little and a lot! I’m plunged back into the feelings and experiences I was having on Zen retreats in New York a decade ago — appreciating the silence and the stillness, feeling frustration at not being able to move or talk or find good coffee or get WiFi! We cling to so much, don’t we? (Like blogging.)

And now, here are some trucks, because I can: 🚚 πŸš› 🚜 πŸš’


  1. I'm old enough to remember when life was not so stressful. Shops closed on Wednesday afternoons and certainly no shops open on Sundays. Sunday was a very quiet day when folks chilled out ready for the week ahead. I was not allowed out to play on a Sunday.
    Wouldn't it be great if we could return to this, it would allow us all to recharge.
    Enjoy your retreat Steve.

  2. This is an ironic post given your circumstances and the reason for the retreat. I hope you enjoy the deeper meditation involved.

  3. Ooh boy. You're there! And meditating! And doing things with bamboo sticks!
    How's the food? (Of course this is what I want to know.)
    Take pictures with your phone and then they're easy to post. I really want to see those mosaics.
    Wish it worked so that you could meditate for me and I could attain some sort of peace without having to work for it. How's that for lazy?
    Be well, Steve.

  4. I attended an art residency at a Buddhist retreat, a beautiful serene place and building years ago. I missed your previous post which I guess explains the visit.

  5. I love the juxtaposition of a Buddhist retreat in an old Nazi hotel. Yes, you will be changing the vibe of that place with every mindful breath you take. I'm looking forward to see what you see there.

  6. I'm impressed that you could actually do a blog post from your phone. I just looked at my phone to see if I could do that and I don't think I could figure it out. For one thing, Safari quit recognizing my blogger ID about 6 months ago. I have no idea why but, I've had to put Google chrome on my computer at home so that I can post and comment. Anyway, glad you made it to your destination. Enjoy your meditations.

  7. Keep on truckin', Steve. Ommmmmmmmmmmmm.

  8. Nice trucks. So you have arrived in the sticks of way beyond. Enjoy it.

    Here's the Umlaut for you: ΓΆ

  9. I picture a Buddhist retreat as being a place where iPhones and computers are expressly forbidden! lol

    I didn't see the dog until you pointed it out. Are you missing Olga?


  10. Many of us would be much better off if we cleared the clutter from our minds.

  11. Every generation has its own things to cling to

  12. Buddhism is clearly magical because I can see you on the bench on the platform in your navy blue baseball hat even though you are on the train. It's an out-of-body event.

  13. Sounds like a great experience - and even better if your school is paying for it!

  14. I truly do want to see those mosaics!

  15. Oh, wow. I've had to catch up here! You're on a Buddhist retreat! It sounds interesting, and I look forward to reading the rest of the posts.