German Reunification and Zen [ video ]

Yes, there is a connection.

This is a talk I gave yesterday — on the Tag der Deutschen Einheit, or German Unity Day, the national holiday commemorating German reunification in 1990 — during Morning Practice at Zen Center Regensburg e.V.

My mother came from Ireland: a land divided into north and south. My father is descended from Germans, which was divided into east and west for the formative years of childhood into adulthood. And my Teacher, Zen Master Seung Sahn, came from Korea, which is still divided into North and South.

When I decided, way back in about 2003, that I would return to the West after Zen Master Seung Sahn passed, I wished to return to Europe. In order to begin fundraising efforts, we needed a name for the as-yet unborn temple. So, in a visceral recognition of the divided roots from which I had been born — physically and spiritually, through my parents’ lineages and my Teacher’s — I named the Zen community that would be founded “불이선원” — “not-two Zen center”. This would express an essential core view of the meditative experience — in fact, a core view of the simple nature of reality itself: there is not “two.” Dualism and binary opposites of every single kind come entirely from thinking alone. And through attachment to these binary opposites, because in our delusion we believe them to be true, and somehow ontologically substantial, we make all sorts of suffering. The very first words of the Bible itself are absolutely shot through with this fatal error, and therefore has inspired and even encouraged such inestimable suffering. Every religion has it. Every politics. Every philosophy. Only the wordless reflection on our nature before thinking arises can bring us into the view of reality as it truly is: without separate being, without identity or “otherness” of any kind, without concept, without even time or space or coming or going, without appearance or disappearance, becoming or extinction.

Here is how the great meditation master, Bodhidharma, put it:

This is the talk given on the German Day of Unity. Having volume on loud — at the beginning and the end, especially — will enhance your experience. Please be sure to remain with the video until the last possible moment. You will not regret this.