Buddhism at Millennium's Edge - Lecture 1

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Copyright 1998 by Peter Matthiessen - Unedited Preview Cassette - duplicate

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good evening everybody
my name is norman fischer a habit of the san francisco sensor
that's a great pleasure to welcome all you tonight to the third lecture
of our year-long series of buddhism and millenniums it
we thought out for our first two speakers professor robert from and and gary snyder poet gary snyder that it's not at all clear on what millennia were in
or whatever millennium were in whether or not we're standing at its edge
but anyway this year that we are most of us are calling nineteen ninety eight seems like a good time to pause for reflection
on where we have been for the last thousand years or so and on where we might be going
we all know that there will be many uncertainties and difficulties ahead
it is my hope that
the spaciousness and tolerance for difference
that buddhism can foster will be a help for us all and in the time ahead so as with this spirit that we are glad to be able to bring you this year and number of really remarkable speakers
all of them in different ways buddhist teachers
each one with a unique translation for our time and place of this ancient and noble to tradition tonight's sneaker zen teacher writer and naturalists peter matheson whom i'll introduce in a moment has been for nearly half of our century one of the world's
strongest and clearest and most passionate spokesman on behalf of those nonhuman creatures who cannot speak for themselves but who share equally with us the fate of this planet next week we'll hear from dr jon kabat-zinn
arthur road full catastrophe living in the innovative meditation teacher and following john will be hosting joanna macy natalie goldberg sharon salzberg joseph goldstein tension anderson david wide paemen children and and ed brown it's speaker will offer a public talk here in the
church on a friday night followed by an all day saturday workshop so that you will have a good chance to explore digest the important messages that they will be bringing us to haven't already signed up for more these events check out the table if you haven't already before you leave here in the church and also
so at these zendo and green gulch where the workshops are held there is limited space and the events are selling on so
sign up quickly
before i introduce peter medicine i just want to say again a word about the sense that are so that you have some sense of the organization that is the recipient of your generosity tonight and also of the generosity and incredible kindness of all of our speakers
have used suzuki roshi a japanese and priest and author of zen mind beginner's mind came to america in nineteen fifty nine
and again doings and meditations as in by itself in so coaches and temple in japantown
little by little some americans
care to join him
and not that simple daily sitting practice which we still continue to this day and suzuki roshi is quiet steady spirit zen center group
today we have three practice locations we have a temple here at san francisco at page and laguna streets a temple and conference center with a working farm and garden at green golf form
you're near your beach in marine
in tassajara zen mountain monastery which is us are hot springs in the los padres national forest where we conduct a to a monastic zen training periods in fear and are open for guests season and in the summer from may through labor day
from the beginning of zen center
our tradition has been to be open to the public for meditation and teaching
and over the years we've developed a wide variety of residential and non-residential programs for students at all levels of experience and interest
our effort following suzuki roshi is wide way
has been to retain a strong connection to the ancient tradition of buddhist practice while being open to innovation and experimentation
every saturday morning and the city centre
in every sunday morning out a green gulch year-round you can come and learn meditation and here electrons in there is no charge and no reservation is necessary
and in all of our programs we are committed to developing in ourselves and encouraging in others what we call the body sought a spirit the spirit of kindness and realistic helpfulness because we feel that this spirit understood
in its widest possible sense is what we all need to cultivate for the time ahead of us
in your dollars tonight and for the remainder of this series will go toward the construction of the much needed staff housing and are gringotts for temple
if my words denied on your first introduction to zen center and you have never come and visited our one of our three temples please do come and join us for practice some time
now i'm really
very very pleased to be able to introduce to you a man whom i admire a great deal
i've been lately living at tassajara on retreat and when i was down there in my study listening to the sound of the rain
and thinking about peter in preparation for introducing him tonight i really kind of how to stop for a long time and marvel
what his life has been all that he's done at the depths of his career in the power of the message to which he has devoted his life
now all of this really moved me a great deal
in his early thirties
a self taught amateur naturalists he decided that he would visit all of the next nature preserves in the united states and out of that came the book wildlife in america which is still over forty years later the classic study
the development on wildlife
his fifteen nonfiction books eight novels and innumerable articles have taken him to the disappearing places all over the globe where animal's habitat and ways of human life hang on nobly against the effects of global economics and human over poppy
peters writing is full of passionate advocacy high integrity in an enormous literary reach
his books are thorough dense serious and beautiful
just reading the titles and a few of them give you an idea of the range of his work and as concerns
well i just read a few titles and baikal sacred see of siberia
blue meridian search for the great white shark
the cloud forest a chronicle of the south american wilderness
east of loma time in the kingdom of mustang
woman mark the expedition to the musk island in the bering sea
nine headed dragon the river as then pilgrimage to japan
indian country which was a very strongly partisan book about a famous shootout and nineteen seventy five between the fbi and members of the american indian movement near wounded name
the snow leopard
which is a wonderful book about seeking the unattainable
and about grief
which is set high in the himalayas one the national book award and nineteen seventy nine
his works of fiction
those are all non fiction books half of his career nazarene on
his works of fiction are are really among the most important in american novels of the last fifty years and the most notable among them far to the
which is incredibly written entirely in caribbean catwalk
and at play in the fields that the lord
and now that he has reached an age where he should be taking it easy
or if not taking it easy at the very least repeating itself
he is
actually doing his best and most ambitious work and fiction
having just this year last year published a novel last man's river which is the second volume in a trilogy
dealing with human and natural history of the florida everglades
peters great theme
the grandeur of the disappearing natural world
is unfortunately all too tightly
and i don't think anyone
has expressed it more effectively
his writing makes us feel the presence of wild places
and a wild animals like lately the tiger and crane he's been concerned with whose endangered existence only makes them the more awesome
i feel that the secret power of peter's work is that he has always understood true to the zen practice that he has been devoted to for over thirty years
that the immense outer world that surrounds us
and the endless inner world of our heart and mind
a profoundly identical
tonight peters not going to talk about ideas
his title as you've seen from the brochure is called bearing witness reflections on a zen retreat in auschwitz
so i hope that you will join me in offering a warm welcome to
a wonderful person
and a wonderful writer peter matheson

thank you norman for a very generous introduction in need and thank you all for coming it's an offer good cause i've been sort of in and out of san francisco zen center for great many years and
and owe them a great deal in terms of support for my own practice and for practice all around the country i was even lucky enough to meet and here to vicky roshi and his last year wife i was staying at tassajara
i heard some laughter out here i couldn't quite hear it not going to say i wasn't at my expense
this evening i like to talk in general about this sort of program of street retreats and bearing witness retreats that we've undertaken in new york zen center
under peskin bassman o'shea was extraordinary innovator and then world and this began we had a food kitchen and we had were trying to organize housing for homeless people and then especially
lee for homeless people with age because seem to me and seem to designate the time usually folks really needed help the most and lot of our inspiration came from isa dorsey and some of you will have known here in san francisco and of a for aids patients
and he himself died of aids vader on and who was an entirely st me to and i think tuscan a lot of inspiration from aesop
and so we had street retreats that the first when we went on there is about six or eight years ago and we just we lived in the shelters or we didn't actually them the shoulders because people want of those room for we have been caught sleep on the sidewalk again but we it was an april or early april is very very cold and rainy but this
same time it was thrilling and changes ideas about the reality of this our basic theory was that
if we were to have these food kitchens and whole and housing and so forth we should at least have a taste of what this life with like
it seems hypocritical but can we knew and didn't so we only when you know for a few days it was not like that life at all furthermore these people knew at once that we were ringers
hey you know they have their ways of telling and some are quite interesting for for example i know this for a fact
you get dirt in your pores and you can't get it out with ordinary bath you need why because i'm going to get it out and i know that from this trip i'd cook and the himalaya we didn't have a lead a bachelor's life for about four months and took me a believed five showers to get that grey rain out of my skin and so
these guys would pick that up at once but they still were very very glad we were there it's not a cliche when people say to you on the sheet if you just look us in the face that means much more to us than a dollar in the lama right away the dollar probably looks better but in the long run and i think it's too
true and i remember one woman explaining to it she said you don't you people have no idea where we are or who we are you said you know we haven't done everything up to and including killing
we betrayed each other we sold our bodies we have stolen we've done everything because that's what we have to do to get by she said we're like a piece of phoenix that somebody is blown their nose in and then thrown down on the sidewalk in the rain who who's going to
pick us up
and she said you people still think stand up my goodwill and is two hundred and i'll go get a bath and get yourself a job and everything that's going to be fine she said it doesn't work that way were too far down the ladder and even if we weren't so hard to organize because the food is available here at in the morning and over there
at noon we have to walk and may have to turn an arch and cans or aluminum or whatever at the whole system militates against any kind of organized job seeking even if we were up for you know so some of that was was was pretty rough and yet we you know
we don't see them we give the dollar or the quarter and we don't look you in the face we don't say here's my fellow human being you know well maybe we all should go on the street little bit and get a taste of that because we have we had a taste but the man especially i mean finding a toilet some
when open the metro his breath
so yeah we just redid the ladies' room have posted a guard outside you know and that kind of thing and you have that feeling of real rejection we were kind of dirty we will coach didn't shave and wash our hair for a week and stuff like that so we kind of we look pretty crummy i mean that the the whole
most people could tell we were phone is that the restaurant people were the real thing and a menace to society
i remember when i was working a lot with indian people american indian people and you had to get very used to coming into a society in which you were not like you just plain were not like or trust them for an excellent reason and you know we're very used to making friends it was all my name is peter we would your name or
yes i knew somebody that you know if we go through all this fantastica around a first name basis immediately or try should be indian people don't work like that they don't want to make friends with the tool i know your your your friend you know and i've gone into a house and wounded knee i remember one time and i went in with an indian friend who was very well
light and very much respected that household they were very glad to see him and nobody even looked at me let alone said low and we sat down at this table and the women brought these guys coffee no coffee for me and it wasn't for about a better half an hour later somebody cracked a joke and i i doubled up your
very funny and i really did laugh and they saw i was laughing and and next moment a cup of coffee appeared at my elbow
the guy can be entirely back you know who but
so that the latest extension that test again hit upon for these retreats bearing witness retreat bearing witness you know this is a way it goes way way back shakyamuni buddha the buddha people who were sick and old and dying and poor and so forth and furthermore he was the first person who really
the kind of establish women's rights he had women nuns and so forth nobody else did for that and most of not since including in japanese as and today is very very few women who get anywhere and they're not approve them
basically a goes against the grain for them so this is an old tradition and this doesn't mean that all than students are then people will have to do this or social action course the pet second is now so involved with but because it's a very big place for traditions and practice meditation so for one doesn't exclude the other
the social action also has a very strong meditation component but the traditional way it's also terrific we don't discriminate one over the other i personally have been involved in social action almost all my life so for me it's a wonderful thing that's happening and american
zen buddhist practice that we are going this path but i remember when i had rinzai pictures and i try this and one of iran's i japanese masters said
you know unless you're enlightened try certainly was not that time nor now
he said as the blind leading the blind how dare you pretend do need people are show people so i didn't agree and i felt that for americans especially to sit on our black cushion and meditation with so much suffering and poverty outside the door was simple
a not bearable
least i couldn't do it so i'm delighted that pets again roshi came around to this eventually and i'm that we are so anyway he hit upon a retreat at auschwitz because i think we have most of us would agree that auschwitz the sort of a symbol of
all the evil of the century is even one of the evil is things and if ever happen it's an evil
place but curiously we found that it was not an evil place and i'll tell you i'll tell you about that and still mysterious to me i've been taking notes on this
for fifteen months and i've been asked to write articles and i can't do it because i haven't penetrated deeply enough this is too serious to be superficial about either something happen there which was so extraordinary and so mysterious to me that i simply have not got a handle on and perhaps
one of you will see what i'm groping for and helped me after i need this help i tried this tried talking about this at a buddhist american american buddhist conference boston a year ago and it all came out so blooming and the people thought that i was saying terrible things about the human race and
and but actually because i hadn't arrived in the good part i kind of forgot the good part so i left me suicidal i walked away
don't let me do that if you think if you think having to me but at the end of this felt remind me that i haven't gotten to listen to the good news okay
so i will up
auschwitz as you know i had to i have i was teaching in hawaii and then in the los angeles' and then i had to go to krakow in poland and i really did not want to go and if to my teacher is usually very very good at me there's something i don't want to do he doesn't force it and he never would force it
but now and again i know he really wants me to do it and so in that case i feel i have no choice so i knew i had to go from waikiki to krakow
i haven't been called many tourists a usually you think it was to be the latest trendy new route
like a key krakow circuit of grandeur
krakow's you know that very very beautiful and ancient town very much a jewish town it was a stronghold for jewish culture forever it has been and it was not damage during the war the way worse so it was almost obliterated but krakow was almost entirely and
attacked and still has virtually all of its old cashmere section and all of the old
the temples and churches and museums nil square for a beautiful place but i got there having traveled it seemed to me for days or and new sleep of absolutely obliterated very nice pair of young poles they took me around and showed me the great sites this for the the castle and the museum with there's actually leonardo
beautifully and auto which i had forgotten in krakow
and then they drove me out to oswiecim which the germans called our ships oswiecim means actually in the and tomato the sacred or the spiritual place and it to was more land for jewish town about two thirds of the people there were jewish
but it's other feature which attracted the job that nazis not the germans and nazis was that it was a a railroad hub all the railroads that part of your come into our switch in which we just north of the czech slovak and water just east you know of germany and had it
started out as kind of a migrant farmworker town and then it was about polish army bags and that had various things so these buildings that made up auschwitz one had been there for some time the cap was begun their nineteen forty eight has begun for polish people entirely and dissident
it's a various kinds intellectuals i was not a jewish operation at all it was they really wanted to wipe out anybody who might give them trouble in poland and this is called auschwitz one and they moved all of the townspeople out of there and ship them off to the ghettos and krakow warsaw and then they system
matic he began widening it out but today is your kind of a turn because you come down main street and marriage auschwitz right in the city with still with the german gate with the brought a black iron saying mock i'll fire
no i was all like mock all by to buck fi which means work will set you free an incredibly
thing over the gate when they were told people were told us through they went in there is no way out of the except through the smoke stacks
i talked to these young polish people who had driven me i was curious about their reaction to this
and i said
how do you feel hear how do you feel about coming here
and i was asking myself to the late sunday afternoon and we'd crossed all of these railroad tracks coming into the place was very dark it was rainy dark pine woods it was just the atmosphere was overpowering like most of us i'm always get rather gloomy on sunday afternoon anyway
childhood school days and
and these kids kind of laughed nervously they didn't know how to ask me and they say it was too long ago we cannot imagine it
we don't know how to think about something so long ago and so incredible
no they didn't say so terrible this incredible
and i wondered if that response which was you fear of suggested they didn't quite believe and you know we have a new ball in this country who denied the holocaust ever happened
there and this is despite the fact that nearly a half million poles died in this cap half million that's a lot of people imagine of a half million americans died anywhere they'd they'd know quite a lot about it and it must be said for the polish people they're the ones who kept this can
camp they kept it intact they left the buildings up they've done a museum it's extremely well done and well preserved it's a lesson for everybody to go to and a great number of tourists to go but they go for a half day and then they take the bus back to krakow the hotel
i had to go for a half days like being thrown into cold water or something is just as i said such a terrible shock that i don't think you can take the place in it's almost impossible to take that much horror in such an atmosphere of humiliation and an agony and murder there
everywhere you look barbed wire and shooting walls and torture how to death walk some
the vast vast size you know you've got an absent credible so anyway on this rainy sunday afternoon i got there my spirits were not high and one reason i didn't want to go in america dwell on this but i just so happened to that and the previous year i lost four or five very very close friend and my
best friend and also my grandson who was killed by a car and my spirits were really really low and and seeing this place with that
bring them up very much my room looked right into the camp we have these little sell like rooms in the old is actually old warehouse with the nazis took a loot to go the possessions away from people i stored them in ship marked for point and it a try to up against the fence at auschwitz was called auschwitz one

i'll get back them for much to korea
excuse me a little bit as i always do and i ever learn i'm am careful fastidious notes and then i spent this afternoon scrolling them up for i can hardly
i developed wherever we we got there by that time it was dark and raining and i said although i thought i knew a few people are like touch again and and then we woke up and a very dark morning it was snowing and everything was kind of no black and white and grainy i don't know how you all were but when i was a kid
we have something called the march of time ever these news documentaries they would show and always showed the kremlin you know how about places like that or nazi germany and i always took me a very long time to understand those patients were always black and white dogs were great i mean it seemed impossible to imagine this on ever shown and
patrik well this is the way central europe books not i've been there i lived in paris for three years students and it's dank and cold and dark and rainy and that terrible a low-quality fuel they use that lignite coal
there's thick indeed
and we had a morning meeting and people got up and told some of those stories we had about one hundred and sixty people from ten countries and four different religious faith we have really an ecumenical group and that was exciting and furthermore these people meant business they weren't there to chat they weren't there to
smooth the you you sat down at a table and ban the talk started you've had the hardly have time to tell anybody your name they just wanted to get to the bottom when everything was going on out what people were thinking about and they were bright and muslim and made some sacrifice to get there so there's i say they meant business and that was thrilling i found that very exciting
right from the to start that was terrific
and so for people with various experiences stood up and talk now we had quite a lot of germans about a third of them were buddhists and about to photos were really cut all religion was really and among be germans they were more or less evenly split among people who had found
lee who died at auschwitz or another camp and german shoes
families had been among the pressures usually they did not know about it lacks the war and often the parents had lied to them and they didn't find out about it until after the war was over you know it seems odd to say but it was very hard to say which group with suffering more the guilt or the grief
these these young germans were really there is so full of shame and so full of pain and they like that refrain kept coming up over and over again but i i love my father he was a wonderful father and then we finally within the ss group and i don't know what to think of them they don't you know they just know and a german
parents obviously realty they just too often denied what they've done in their participation so forth so these stories were immensely moving and then they showed a seventeen minute film of the death camps
well absolutely horrifying and that's and then we had a tour about auschwitz one all these buildings you for read about
had heard about and so forth the death blocks swallow crematorium the small crematorium they had an experimental one that auschwitz one and yet they that explored experimental one they killed seventy thousand people
beginning with criminals and prostitutes homosexuals
hello shade army officers people who might give him trouble
and in the museum the usual thing as you would expect the terrible bins a broken eyeglasses a worn out shoes faults feet and legs and arms and piles and piles of human hair which was used to we sweaters and stuff and old is pathetic old suitcases
i said retread uneasy here are footsteps our footsteps on the bare floors loud and was done the silence with our shame faced like voyeurs scarcely able to look at anyone else already we sense we are deeply implicated in what we see here that in some
sense we do not understand there's yet we are both victim and oppressor
now this wasn't because it's all coming out now we know that our own country and all of europe european countries went along with this the facts of what were happening in europe and the death camps or well known the vatican knew about it the present pope lived in krakow he came from krakow
it was a young students there when one of their own people that one of their own clerics was well the early people killed in auschwitz and the vatican was going back and forth about it we knew about it and the we were still turning away ships for the jewish people and as we've been reading recently of course the swiss were making money hand over fist off it but not own
only the swiss also the swedish the portuguese the whole world kind of sat on their hands while this actress
taking place
so this is getting towards my point where all in this shoot a little bit
i shouldn't read my novel to like my knowledge a lot of funny stuff with it but anyway
bear with me it is gonna it is kind of a serious stuff but
well the advantage of going the way we did we went for a week six days seven days and you become immersed in cars on the first day you can the whole tour of auschwitz and then the museum and then these crematoria and
the place where the commandant de haas was hung
afterwards if you read william styron sophie's choice you know about that household and
people were really in shock they were just weeping the you just with such a beating and i really hated to think of the folks that came there on a tourist bus and then after a morning like that get back on the bus and go back what can they
i think it's not don't ever do that you must not do that if you go plan to spend a night of to patched oswiecim auschwitz and walk around walk around each can't just walk and law can take it and you'll feel this extraordinary a power there and this is leading me toward
this various miraculous i think phenomenon that took place there there's a hotel drop in oswiecim i just happen to notice that coming through in the car i've never heard of a hotel glad i don't think there's
the big as mary out or anything like that but there were there
i'm going to read something now
yeah this is a nineteen forty auschwitz was open and this man host was the one that heinrich himmler told open it and he was a he was a standard issue not see bureaucrat military function i know better no worse than anybody he was hung because he was a common dot but all people who ever
new him found him a very normal and sensible man just like eichmann the banality of evil
what a true that was when the final solution was undertaken
and then they realized they didn't have enough room here a radiators working room and they moved out two miles and in the countryside to brush inca and they cleared like all a jewish families have been cleared out there already in their house was given to people who are lakanal object and they cleared the farms out
there and this enormous area was made into them
beer canal the birches and big now is roughly auschwitz to that auschwitz three was a factory just a few miles east of there and that through the people went from a selection platform if they are considered to be work were the they were not kill
killed and they were they went to work at auschwitz three
in the afternoon we walk across the fields on a farm road about three kilometers to auschwitz to or birkenau which means the birch trees this is the same road used by the prisoners who used to walk to out to the factory and auschwitz three but this long dog
while and thick winter figures plodding along the routes a half century later is warmly dressed and fed not starve and frozen and painful wooden clogs and blue striped uniforms like course pajamas with no protection for wet winter weather all we have in common with the victims if our humanity our for
failte and i asked myself perhaps we all ask ourselves could i have bought it could i have endured
primo levy some of you may read primo levy the great italian poet who survived auschwitz and then took a job back went back to work and then finally destroyed himself he never did really recovered he kill himself he is a poem you who lives saved in your warm houses you will find returning
in the evening hot food and friendly faces consider that this is a man who worked from the mud does not know peace who fights for a scrap of read who died because of a yes or no consider this is a woman without hair and without name with no more strength to remember her eyes empty
the and are womb cold like frog in winter

you entered the ear canal through huge arched gate which is kind of a bar for the people who are gods and so forth there and the railroad tracks come through that arch from all over europe and these trains often came in and just sat at the siding wiley
people got up and have their breakfast and checked in and whatever they did and they get to the tracks a silent railroad cars as for terrified people on there from them dead wondering what was going to happen while they were all pushed out and pushes you know and
and the ones who were saved so called nobody would say they were registered in a very beautiful bureaucratic fashioned names and address take him down age and so forth and all this is filed and when they died and then for the other people had no name they were just shuddered
they went directly into the crematorium
and there's a huge operation we speak about moss ashley three of the factory but the real factory was the death factory and manufacturing

the stillness of the dead cat of the death cat the screams of violence i recall reading a statement by an astrophysicist that due to the incomprehensibly minute nature of particles all refs ever taken by humanity are omnipresent in the air of earth that every breath we take contains the scream of jesus on the cross
the moon for those of auschwitz and perhaps that is why when thinks one hears and is mute wasteland the silence screaming
when the debt when the camp was occupied by crowded thousands it was only mud or dust between the bags the people were starving and the grass was he a child wrote are no butterflies bidding here
because the original meadows of the this between the vistula and the solar rivers were at because of the solar the meadows were low lying and swampy and because the grass it might have held the earth has gone to sea of mud rose with the floods and entered the prisoners backs
where the tracks part by the reflection platforms but we did all day we walk out too big now every morning and we'd be there nine or so and we had sitting cushions and we at a huge circle right across the tracks on tracks on the platform
because a big circle more or less the length of his hall i guess the whole thing
and we did sitting meditation and then during the walking period we would go and offer incense and chanting a christian and hebrew and buddhist and fifty muslim
at the crematoria i was up to the various priests who there and then we would join all the other group to we didn't stick with their own punch i like i didn't go to a buddhist one of the whole time was the i wanted to check out the others and they were wonderful wonderful people in charge them and then we had we
got a hold of these lists with all these names and we would chat chat these lists and as mode with so moving in the snow coming down you're sitting there to stay in silence know and all those fences barbed wire and guard towers whole thing is there and so huge
goes forever it seems to go but with the snow coming down we would chat from these lists this name if we were just oh and then we would offer these lists and we had a fire and we offer incense and pay homage to these people because of course rest were are nameless but it was immensely
the moving
i just found that i had not been able to really grieve and i was grieving and first was kind of of general grieving for everybody you know who is there but i found that for me it it was almost immediately immensely healing
my son is blind he has a congenital eye disease and he's been blind now for about twenty years and even enormously courageous fellow he never complains he's now an addiction counts when and he takes care of people and runs a clinic but it was his son who was killed and i thought this was quite
lot to have on this plate and i never could when that happened i can never determined who i was grieving for where there was for lucre for the christopher and i couldn't sort it out i was kind of tangled up about it will hear it all all that feeling came up you know like a like a hydrometer you put in a car battery you know to check
with battery acid of systems for feeling started to come up and everything clarified so that i could grieve for both of them and of course for looks why my daughter are too because for her equally terrible but because it's my own loan boy and because he was blind is particularly painful and
now i really knew what i was reading for and it was wonderful from out all clarified and was separated out and that snow coming down channing the names and the identity with this vast humanity who had suffered hear all of us felt that have the power of those people who died there there was an inch
ormus powder and at first the truck of as black a very black power because of the sheer mass of evil that has been perpetrated their you know
but then the strange very strange things i want to talk about happened that night
they want to get ahead of myself out of line here collect he moving on is terrible lungs
oh yeah that evening we gathered in the auditorium again now we had early morning meetings to all the people like myself at all who were for clergy more if we would meet with people who could not talk and public meeting and from
people were so upset they couldn't do that so we we all met and my case was my bedroom and we had six or eight people in their and and we have you extraordinary conversations but again anyway on that first day we had this meeting in the auditorium and people again got up and totally is absolutely strike nine stories
i wish i had time to tell you some of them
it was so they and they were so brave he thinks people said and really because of that and way i feel so i'm not i'm not normally a very you know i keep hammer private sort of person i wouldn't tell you about my little family tragedy there but it was so in the spirit of this thing
you feel that you kind of had to there wasn't time for anything else you had to be blunt you had to come up with it and i remember this this young german weeping because will happen to his uncle the first of all to my a jewish girl i'm going there was castrated have and then it's own family turned on
the to you for my family would speak to him at all he was out and he hadn't done anything so on a this jewish girl
that was his only crime you know he told us to horrifying story and
another one when absolutely kind of berserk with rage because he saw this is a truly horrifying thing about auschwitz and i'm sure all of the camps auschwitz was are incredible operation if you wanted to get i mean the c o there could be hired anywhere you couldn't believe the
efficiency how it was done how everything was designed to be
and i remember one young germans standing up and saying i hate i hate us auschwitz is soft
china he shouted us out as the sheer know rage and agony against his own people and against his own country and after while you know people trusted one another they didn't hold anything back they really they really spat it out and i remember gama she was a swift none of the order of center
catalina and she got up and she looks exactly like that the woman in the leonardo from krakow is absolutely area woman with earth and male female reproduction and the an artist beautiful none with a cow and this young woman looks exactly like her and she said
she she sank the jewish pilgrims who come to this retreat for coming and chanting with the catholics when they when offered that a g at the crematorium and she said i'm very grateful to you she said because gratitude is the only way we can express our great sorrow
a that this dreadful thing was done by christians and a christian country
now so
and i remember one of our people who is a jewish guy from new york ah
and he was really resisting the idea you know which has been very popular here that the the holocaust was strictly in europe you know if you recall that some of you will stare and gotten very hot water with eli we sell and people like that because his book
indicated that a number of people besides jewish people were killed you know at these places and we felt felt there was such a small minority compared to er they didn't read numbers of jews were killed that they shouldn't be emphasize and so forth but this was a jewish guy from new york who is quite a bashed by some jewish people who
they didn't want to eat with the german you know a think of it was supposed to be healing ecumenical things that may we felt this was not the the healthy attitude but he started to think he and he said
mean you said after all or know anti semitism in america do none of you not you've never had an average minute thought or only the germans guilty this is a jew talk
he said if only the germans have been guilty they would not have been a holocaust and i think he's absolutely right
and this is what was becoming more and more clear so much though i wasn't going to speak at hotels because i didn't want to speak i'm not jewish i thought i had less these connection to it emotionally of anybody they are probably and there were so many painful tail was that should have been told i had to be told that i said i'm not speaking but one night
and this happened despite the fact that everybody their new how horrible the germans the germans who they felt they knew because even though they were polite and they were discreet this great mass of evidence against the you know the nazis of course but still behind that the german
nation that had happened at the good germans who didn't look looked away you know this mass of evidence against the germans who got and they got very uncomfortable for i thought i'd just so spontaneously jumped up and i i so i went up on the stage and i said yes it's true the
germans are world class
killers and are essentially they've certainly and perpetrated the worst thing we know about in this century but who among our ten nations and found that their government has not committed genocide what government on earth has got done so we have right now we have fifty two genocidal war is going on earth people have
always slaughtered each other this is what we have to deal with in this century for cultural reasons things that happened german culture it made it all the circumstances were right and as i say the world turned its back we can't talk about good germans the world turned its back on what happened even the vatican may
the most especially the vatican so i said that and that kind of i think it is some of the the pressure on that but it was so uncomfortable
yeah this night after all the talk and this is the first day do the museum the first taste with the whole thing was a whole scale everything kind of overwhelming every everybody and so pets again suggested that rabbi down singer with those los angeles' and
rabbi singer is sort of a feel-good guy is always going up very happy and eyes sparkling and you know and and he asked dieting is a wonderful singer use a canter so he asked don to lead us realization along and he noted and a chat and just feel so i want to do that just eleven the atmosphere here
well singer cannot sing without holding hands we heal hell halves the people on the stage and they held have people beyond them and then he did what he always does he saw it this way
we started this way and the next thing we know this circle started going around the auditorium
and people started to smile
now i will but don't have to tell you that there was a p c element on the group that were all dancing at auschwitz my god you know they
hey rushed back to their rooms you know how to be in horror well you know and all of us knew about that we all felt it was grotesque what we were doing and yet this enormous elation started doing the hall and this is the mystery i want to talk to you about the
cause it was so
well first we all have a tamil go and we were looking at how should we be doing this you know kind of thing but we all are almost all felt like doing it
after it was over we had a clergy meeting and there were two women from israel there and they were very good friends with a very well known guy who wrote a book about auschwitz and they had already decided to boycott the whole thing and go home because there was a filmmaker there
they thought you should not bring filmmakers here and actually pet's skin wasn't going to and i'd rather fly that he did but nonetheless filmmakers there and they were going home for that reason but we invited them to come to our clergy meeting and they sat in on it and to the zen monks said i think that was terrible able to get a up dancing and that's the well i noticed you are
as you do
you should rush to europe and been a real pc if you didn't like it you know and and there's a rush to and then
then this woman's head she said a really wonderful thing she teaches at berkeley professor at berkley and she lives in israel half year and she said and they said well it it just it was these guys that is this is grotesque with it we showed them that she said no she said when
grief so deep and the crime is so unspeakable she said in our tradition we dan
because there's nothing to be said what can we say
so we sing read that
there's another saying that the way to god is through melody through music that's the way that is a the channel and they is two women stayed i think because of the dancing and almost is so queer well needless to say this all started a lot of talk we discussing among ourselves and so forth what was happening
and and it kept coming up the spirits kept rising and rising and you know at first i thought how does how is this possible
and i thought well it must be that they're very good people here it must be that we think that god my electrical
oh i just could read this passage issues about the snow that snow was just extraordinary always figure sitting there on a black cushion is turning white you know and chanting and you know and they look it was the hoods and stuff course not we're all
wearing gore-tex you know or whatever but compared to the poor guys over there in the camp their clothes are the most horrifying things about it but they had they were but still you couldn't tell out and this or wintry dog afternoon and the snow coming down and he have figures when they all walked up the selection platforms and
enter the crematorium which of course has been blown up so that these grotesque piles of concrete dome they were the nazis blew 'em up before they left try to cover up the mess their sins a little bit but
snow and church snow another church bells the church bells coming and it also distant trains always reverberations of the past and rumbling of change as we sit in meditation in lights snow on the selection platform
the gentle litany of name is falling as lightly as the snow and mud in a and the dead silence stretched every one to tears and filled our hearts with sorrow
at one of the rabbis their said in our tradition as it said the only whole heart is broken heart
holy holy broken
who's great silence opening our hearts do a day after day and finally we set out again we hope upon our path of greater compassion and the world to heal ourselves
i wanted one person next to me said
he was chatting the names and he looked up and he said i keep feeling that the owners of these names on the way to death had paused a moment on these tracks as full of breath and life as you and i at bastion
sadiq it was one of the dead skin roche's students and he is a sufi
he's a black guy but he's a sufi
chic and he led to service and i was over his service when they were chanting we're right next to this little pond which he found out later was the ash pit where they would take the ashes from a crematorium and and dump them and then again when they are blowing up the crematoria they they put they pushed lot of earth
into this ash pet and that have subsided now it's a little pond and we were standing there and i and i had my left side to a piece of the crematorium on one wing of the building the building has collapsed but you see the form of it because the brick foundation part of it as there and i really felt
this extraordinary kind of burning and cold on his left side i thought my whole left side was burning man and i didn't at this time is the first day i didn't quite know the lay out of crematorium i felt something really evil happened in that way and sure enough later i went back to the
the hello chart there the whole building when it looked like before that was the the chamber house where people were showed them at the door slam they were killed with what with what was a cyclone be so funny the whole thing was just done that way and can in contempt it was roach power supply be they poured
with the gas chambers was what they use for insects that's the way they were thinking
that's where they were called