I took my zen to Dachau.
When I was in Germany earlier this year.
Of course, my zen goes with me wherever I go.
That's the beauty of it.
Dachau is a little town north of Munich.
Where the Nazis built the first German concentration camp.
The Germans weren’t the first people to build concentration camps.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that.
The British were.
In South Africa.
But that’s another story.
Or rather say another part of the same story.
Anyway, about Dachau.
It is famous for its welcoming sign.
As you enter it reads.
“Work will make you free.”
Those fucking Nazis!
What a sense of humor!
We took the train from Munich to Dachau.
Then caught the bus to the camp.
It is free to enter.
It was free in 1933 too.
Iron clouds floated by and dropped a light, icy rain.
We passed through the notorious gate.
And entered the old Administration building.
As many thousands did between 1933 and 1945.
This is where the prisoners were admitted and documented.
Although they had already been beaten and robbed by their Nazi captors.
Even before they were admitted.
That’s Nazi efficiency!
On the wall is stenciled another funny sign.
Oh! Those fun-loving Nazis!
As if anyone had anything to smoke!
Outside again in the rain I looked about me for clues.
To this monstrosity.
But I found none.
The camp was bigger than I expected.
Yet the prisoner’s quarters.
For they have restored and preserved.
One of the scores of barracks that once stood here.
The prisoner’s quarters were very cramped.
And depressed me so that I cried.
The whole place was strong with zen.
You could feel it all around you.
Especially at the gas chamber.
In a separate building at the back.
Out of sight.
It was the first gas chamber ever built.
As a test gas chamber.
So that other, bigger gas chambers could be built.
With all the bugs ironed out.
More Nazi efficiency.
Here too the Nazi sense of humor displayed itself in witty signage.
They’d even mounted fake shower heads in the ceiling.
To reduce the chance of panic.
Among the men, women and children.
That were going to be murdered within.
It saddened me further to learn.
That tourists have stolen all of these.
Fake shower heads.
Which now must be guarded.
Sometimes I almost doubt my zen.
Especially when I consider all the places on this planet.
Past and present.
Where men have fallen to the state of Nazis.
I want to cry and never stop.
But then I realize.
The world is man’s domain.
And men can be wolves to each other.
That’s why we need zen.
All the zen we can get.
But don’t worry.
There is an endless supply of zen in the universe.
Take all you need.
And if I may ask a favor?
Try a little kindness.
Toward yourself and others.
As you journey through life.