ecoTrain Question of the week - What was one of the most profound spiritual moments of your life?steemCreated with Sketch.

in ecotrain •  9 months ago

In this text I try to slowly work my way to one of my first spiritual experiences. I am not even sure if one can call it a spiritual experience, so bear with me.

As a German kid there comes the time, when you will be exposed to the horrors of the Holocaust in school, it´s kind of mandatory, so it will happen, one way or the other.
It will happen in the later years of school, so kids will have the capability to sort of grasp what the teacher is talking about, not that anybody can really grasp that, but at least one can try.
I got introduced to the topic by our social studies teacher, who used some kind of shock and awe approach. Since words can not really describe what happened there, he had a book called „Faschismus“ (facism) with lots of photographs. Remember, this was the early 80s, no internet, no youtube. We would look at what we would call the mountain pictures, mountains of dead bodies, mountains of glasses, of shoes, of clothes, of tooth gold, of human hair, mountains of all sorts of stuff the Nazis deemed valuable.
So there we had it, there we saw it, there was no way denying it, we belonged to the most horrible people on earth. In typical German perfectionism the Germans had tried their hand at total annihilation, killing 6 million Jews.

One day, they even took my best friend out of our classroom, brought him to another room and did the Milgram experiment with him. The miracle was, when he got told by the "scientist" to give "electro shocks" to the test person behind the screen, he simply refused! When we learned about the real purpose of this, admittedly cruel, experiment and all its implications and we got to know that he was, in the history of this experiment, among a tiny minority of people who did not electro shock the test person when told, he became quite a hero at our school.
I was very happy that they did not choose me, because I thought, with my authoritarian upbringing and state of development at that time, I would have pressed the button till the bitter end.

When my girl friend, who is 20 years younger than me, for reasons I don´t know, I guess love needs no reasons, had her compulsory Holocaust education in school, they were watching „Schindler´s List“, she refused to go on a guilt-trip, told the teacher that Schindler wasn´t such a good guy after all if he profited from forced labor, doubted everything the teacher told her, was therefore called a Nazi by him and the whole class, so she told him he was a Nazi himself, using authoritarian methods of indoctrination. So this gives me hope that young Germans nowadays are better equipped to stand up to authority.

So thanks to my teacher, I worked up quite some guilt complex about the Holocaust, deeply saddened by the fact that my people had committed such a horrible crime. When you are young, you´re quite perceptive for any kind of input, so the good news was, that those pictures made me a livelong opponent of anything Nazi, even leading to violent clashes with neo-Nazis later on in my youth, the bad news was, that, in the beginning, it really made me feel bad about myself just for being a German.

So in 1983, after graduating from school, the last two countries I would want to visit were South Africa and Israel. South Africa because I thought that just because of my skin color I would be on the wrong side and Israel of course because of the Holocaust.

So, I don´t know why, but in summer of ´83, Israel was where I went. I think it was my thirst for adventure and Israel was not your usual German tourist fun destination, but still Western enough to be somehow familiar, I thought. So I hitchhiked to Athens and caught a cheap flight to Tel Aviv.

In retrospect, it was a pretty good time to visit Israel. They had just given back the Sinai to Egypt (ever heard about any other country voluntarily giving back conquered territory?), the first Intifada had not started yet, so a pretty peaceful time by Israel´s standards.

I had a very adventurous time in Israel.
Never before had I seen that many guns in public. Whereas in Germany in those days, they kept the army pretty much in their barracks and the only people with guns in public were policemen with their small pistols, in Israel there were soldiers everywhere carrying their machine guns. In the buses, you could tell immediately when a soldier wanted to get off the bus. He would put the magazine back into the gun before he would even get up, leading to many uncomfortable situations for me, with a loaded machine gun pointed at me, the muzzle just a few centimeters away from my face. Muzzle tov!

I got scolded at the Haifa GPO for leaving my styrofoam covered, 5 liter water canteen unattended at some counter and finally understood their concern when I heard a bomb go off inside the old city of Jerusalem, while walking along outside of it along the city walls, almost getting run down by a policeman on horseback who was rushing towards one of the city gates.
I got stuck at Massada, the Jewish Alamo, during Sabbat, scavenging the bins for something to eat.
I was stupid enough to want to sleep at the Mediterranean beach in Gaza. Luckily a friendly jogger warned me that the IDF patrols at night would shoot first, ask questions later, so I withdrew into a field behind the beach and sure enough I was woken up later that night by the sound of army jeeps on the beach and the gleaming beam of their search light, but they didn´t see me.
The next morning I was cornered by a bunch of angry Palestinians who wanted to know what I was doing in their grape field. When I told them I had hidden there from the Israeli night patrols, they smiled and stuffed me with grapes till I couldn´t say Allahu-akhbar anymore.

I spent a weekend at the Kibbuz in Rosh HaNikra, close to the Libanese border, without having Katyushas raining down on me, but having a blast swimming in the surf in front of the grottoes.
I even got a bed there in the kibbutz and lots to eat, so much in fact that I got stomach ache.

I got wasted by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, courtesy of an Israeli family who filled me up with raki till I couldn´t say Mazeltov anymore.
All the time I slept mostly somewhere outside, in the parks of cities or somewhere in nature, roughing it was the name of the game.

But then one day, the dreaded thing did happen.
I was sitting in front of a fallafel shop, doing my muesli routine. I had brought a big plastic bag full of muesli from Germany, a mix of oat flakes, hazelnuts, raisins and milk powder and was putting it dry into my mouth in hopes of finding a friendly fallafel donor and sure enough, out of a group of middle-aged men, one man came forward, bought me some fallafel with bread and salad and invited me to sit and eat at their table.
All was fine until they asked that dreaded question „Where are you from?“.
Now I didn´t want to lie, so I answered uneasily “Germany“.
They immediately understood my concern, smiled and said
“No problem, you have nothing to do with this, you´re too young!“
Wow, there it was, my first absolution by members of the people my people had murdered by the millions. They didn´t even mention the Holocaust, they just referred to it as “this“. A few years later, I encountered much more hatred on holiday in France from old French people who I guess were prepared to hate us Germans till they died, but it didn´t bother me much, maybe because I had gotten my absolution before in Israel.

That day in Israel I felt some big relief that those Israelis were able to see me for what I was, innocent like any child or young person who wasn´t even born when this happpened.

But even nowadays, after having been acquainted with the idea of karma many years ago, I still sometimes ask myself:
What kind of karma must we Germans, as a people, have, that it was us, the people of poets and thinkers, as we like to call ourselves, that had to give the world this? Why were we chosen to kill the chosen people? Why, in a continent with centuries of anti-semitism, of progroms, of an unforgiving Christian church who never forgave the Jews for sentencing Jesus to death, not understanding that their very religion was based on Jesus´death on the cross, and if there really existed this omnipotent God they believed in, the Jews were just his instrument, why it had to be the Germans to excel in genocide? Because we are so efficient? Because nobody can imagine an Italian or a Frenchman planning the Holocaust? Why not? Because their lunchbreaks are too long?
Was Eichmann the only one who could have done it?
In her book „Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil“ , Hannah Arendt describes him as a normal guy, no monster. That got her a lot of flak. I guess people wanted to see him as a monster, meaning instant absolution for them, because they are no monster and only a monster could have planned the Holocaust. Apparently not. Arendt called him an administrative mass murderer, not a monster, but your typical German, who was exceptionally good in what Germans are very good in anyway, following orders, without questioning them.

Now I have never been to Auschwitz and I don´t intend to go, but in 1983 when I was in Israel and after I got my absolution at the fallafel shop I felt brave enough to visit Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

It was an experience out of this world.
There I was, a member of the Tätervolk, “people of perpetrators“ standing under a dome-shaped roof with a few hundred pictures of the murdered on its ceiling, looking down on me.
Looking up to them, I first felt an immense sadness rising up in me, tears filling my eyes. Then shame and guilt, the mountain pictures from school reappearing.
Then the strangest thing happened.
I suddenly felt very peaceful in there, as if the dead from the ceiling were forgiving me, like the guys at the fallafel shop had given me absolution, so those two things did come together under the dome, the experience of a real life event with real people and the experience of being forgiven by the dead, if real or only imagined, who knows.

It is said, it is in our generation, of the children of those people, who were children in WW II, were the work of healing has to be done on a psychological and energetic level, because our parents could only be concerned with the physical level.
As my aunt once put it “We had no time for therapy, we were busy with surviving.“
Science coined the expression “transgenerational trauma“, meaning, though my generation never had to sit in bomb shelters, hearing the bombs falling, never knowing if you would see another day, losing everything, except the clothes on your body in the phosphor fires, never seen the dead bodies of those who didn´t make it to the shelters in the streets, never gone hungry a single day, that all the horrors our parents experienced as children in the war, which they perceived as victims, like any child with bombs falling down on it will, all the trauma will be somehow passed on to their children, still effecting their life on an energetic and psychological level.
And I think, at this day in Yad Vashem, some of this healing took place.

Luckily, nobody asked me in there where I was from, because people don´t talk in there, I guess. I perceived it as a place of silent mourning for some, or of dignified commemoration for others.
You don´t go in there to ask why, you acknowledge the facts and pay your respects, that´s it. There is no room for questions and no room for answers, you just are in there. I didn´t even really know, why I went there, I guess to find some answers, or some kind of redemption, and maybe without even knowing it, Yad Vashem was the whole real purpose of and reason for my trip to Israel, some kind of energetic pull, some karmic washing machine I had to go through.

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Wow, that really makes you think of all the trauma and stored energy each country has for history and what has gone on before.

I had goose bumps when reading of your feelings of peace in the Yad Vashem, which feels like confirmation that you drawn there to let go of the trauma that you had been carrying. It sounds like you were very affected by the school teachings of the holocaust.

It is so sad that whole countries can carry on a grievance against a new generation who weren't born and had nothing to do with past behaviour. I had similar feelings of shock and disbelief when I watched the film "Gandhi" and found out what the British had done to India and then also finding out what 'Independence Day' is all about in America, being free of British rule! Like wow the British weren't so nice either and we weren't taught that in history at all!

I've done energy work on Auschwitz, and there is much stored trauma there. I've not really worked on whole nations still feeling guilt, blame or victims of history, so I will work on some of that. Makes you think if we cleared all stored trauma from history, how much kinder would the world be?

Thanks for sharing your experiences, really enlightening on issues that probably affect us all in some passed down way.

Wow fantastically written story. This answered questions I have always had about how children growing up in post WWII in Germany feel. We went through similar teachings in school pretty early, but I imagine less ...well just less intense. Certainly without the same feelings you held.

I have had many german friends but we just never talked about it. I never entered my mind to think of the people of Germany now as ... any different than anyone else. In fact in the US I see Germany as a very peaceful and tolerant country now. I was proud to see so many refugees taken in when the exodus from Syria began. But I honestly did not think of it from a perspective of the holocaust. Ive never been so I really dont know much about current Germany accept what I see in the media or hear from friends.

I just wanted to say great story that answered many questions. I think I may have felt very much the same had I been born there in the same time period. We all hold some collective guilt for the sins of our countries. For me, the genocide on the the American indians, slavery, Japanese internment camps etc. etc. etc.
Human beings can be the most loving and kind creatures but when filled with fear many become capable of horrendous things. I don't think what country it is makes too much difference in that regard. While I never could quite grasp how the holocaust got so far. I don't blame germans living now. I believe this could have happened in the US with the right conditions. Peace

Wow im lost for words. A deeply profound and incredible writng. Ill have to let that all sink in a bit. Amazing likedeeler

Very Nice Post , With Some In-Dept Info Of Your Life. !!! Up Voted You. From My Experience, For You To Get Over, You Need To Do Some Quality Self-Development. I Am Not Talking About More Smiling And Those Stuff , But Ask Yourself Questions. All Of Them , And Try To Find Answers. Listen And Watch What You Have In Mind. For Example, If You Are Doing Some Thing , And From No Were Comes Idea Of Guilt. Ask Yourself From Were Does It Comes From. Find Answers , If You Have No Answer Go Find Literature About The Question You Have. When You Have Answer Go Deeper, Why Even I Have Those Thoughts, Maybe There Is A Brain Algorithm Witch Is Giving Me Those Thoughts. And Explore Your Mind. Eventually When You Will Start Understand How Your Brain Is Working You Can Rearrange Your Thinking Patterns. by Doing So You Can Resolve Your Problem. At Start It Will Be Hard , But Eventually It Will Be Much Easier. And The Reward Is Worth It :)

That was an incredible story. I haven't heard many German reflections on world war 2, I have a rather light, drunken fun kind of relationship with the two or three German friends I've made, so this is a topic we've never talked about. They don't seem to mind about my background so I never really tried to pry. Maybe I should. You have nothing to feel guilty about, you are already doing much to reverse the pain of the past. Keep it up.

Thinking about showing this story to my father.

Your girlfriend sounds totally awesome too.


Thank you for your feedback, @whatamidoing .
It´s good that you have a nice relationship with some German friends and depending on their age it might also cause some awkwardness if you brought up the topic. The kids nowadays are so far removed from the topic, for them the Holocaust is ancient history. Which is good in one way, good for them on a personal level, so they are not affected by it like I was, but maybe not good in another way, because forgetting includes the danger of repeating.


Apparently remembering doesnt illuminate the possibility of repeating though :-/ We've got to build something new and different from what we've had I think.


So true.
The new and different for me can only mean , that people need to understand that it is morally wrong that people rule over people since it is the state, the government, the people in power which profit from wars and atrocities and in the course of history have lead "normal" people to commit bigger crimes in the name of God and country than they would have dared to commit on their own.

This is the best story (and the best analysis) I've read in quite a while, thank you!

@likedeeler Intriguing put up - many thanks . Have to be terrifying to own this issue..

Dear Likedeeler, what a profound story. It's always the funniest ones who are really deep thinkers. In this comment here I want to focus on what you said about victims, that both sides felt like victims. How could a kid who experienced bombs falling down on his town not feel like a victim, right? Anyway, the closest thing I ever had to anjob I really felt trained for was one that included writing essays on conflict. The quote here is from one I wrote on the concept of Victimhood.
In Volkan's work on the formation of group identities, he argues that identity groups have "chosen traumas" and "chosen glories."[7] Identifying these traumas is crucial because in most cases, groups have never properly mourned their losses or healed from their experiences. It has been found that a sense of victimization actually gets passed down from generation to generation, regardless of whether a person has physically experienced any trauma themselves. So, whether or not members of a group have suffered personally from specific instances of victimhood, certain traumas nonetheless become the "chosen traumas" of the group. These mental representations serve to connect the group while simultaneously creating hatred toward the aggressor. In order to move beyond conflict to peacebuilding, the group needs to properly mourn these past crimes and learn to see themselves in a new light and in a new relationship with the other.

The link to the rest of the article is here in case you want to look.

My most recent visit to Israel Imfinally made it to the new Yad VeShem museum. I had been avoiding going there myself. For similar reasons. I didn't want to be overwhelmed and even more brainwashed about how horrible the world is and that Jews are always in danger because you never know where it will come from next. Besides the fact that for me, as a Jewish Israeli, the cognitive dissonance regarding our horrendous treatment of Palestinians eats me up from the inside in a regular basis. (But that topic is for another day).
The point is I resisted. But finally had the opportunity. The architecture was mind blowing. Actually my photos do deserve another showing at some point. Psychologically I thought I would be immune. I was past all this and would never let it define me again. My ancestors had been quiet for a while now. I did not feel judged by them all the time for not being a good enough Jew, human or Israeli. But in the end what happened was an involuntary physical reaction as I walked back in forth in the long tunnel of a gallery. At one point my legs almost gave out. From under me. What is going on? I asked myself. I couldn't even point to one specific display or new bit of information that was particularly overwhelming. The only quote that still haunts me is that "A country is not just what it does - It is also what it tolerates." Kurt Tucholsky a Jewish essayist of German origin.
Not sure what this comment adds up to but I'm hungry and need my coffee!


What an epic answer, really an article in its own right. Thanks.


I kind of lost track of what I was writing. Sorry about that.


"Never apologize, it´s a sign of weakness" Gibbs 😘
No, honestly, I loved every bit of your comment and also followed the link to the full article.
Very insightful and enlightening article.
And Tucholsky rocks!

Kemet History Is My Answer.

That is a beautiful, powerful and moving story. Thanks for sharing it. Trans generation trauma is very real and has a lot to do with the situation in Israel today. You made a lot of very interesting points worth deep discussion. Right now I'm in a felafel shop so I don't have time to go into them, but hopefully one day you'll be back in Israel - we can talk about it all then. It sounds as if your whole trip was a profound spiritual experience. The way you describe it is extraordinary. You are a master story teller. Muzzle Tov!


Thank you for your kind words, Gideon. Much appreciated!
First, I was not sure, if I should write this kind of story, because a German talking about the Holocaust can be a slippery slope. I thought about writing about some meditation experience in India instead, much less likely for me to err there. But then I thought, after all, this is a challenge, so why not challenge myself to something more difficult.

@likedeeler Intriguing put up - many thanks . Have to be terrifying to own this issue..

@likedeeler Thanks for sharing :-)I am following
Best of Luck !.

nice poste !
Followed you Hope you'll do the same !! :D

i woke up after 9.11 .

i found myself in such a rage of impotence at the injustice in the world.

endless wars on endless false pretences on endless lies.

but then i found the light, that we have forgotten a important truth.

we are all one. we are all worthy.

then it was obvious, focus on the wanted, let drop all unwanted things.

for me that meant dropping my crusade against bill gates. boy was that a tough one, for that man has destroyed so much that i love. and the pain of working on his systems, gawd, that man lives to support his crap. he literally makes money when shit doesn't work. are you fucking kidding me? that ain't suppose to be how... yeah, see ain't quite there yet, but hey probably the best rant i've ever had on the subject.

peace, namaste


Why the Most Profound Spiritual Experiences Are Often the Most Ordinary . great post, upvoted. check my post and upvote