Marcus Aurelius and Zen Center Regensburg

The Zen Center Regensburg has a profoundly historic connection with Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was “the philosopher emperor” who practiced Stoicism: “According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to eudaimonia (happiness, or blessedness) is found in accepting the moment as it presents itself, by not allowing oneself to be controlled by the desire for pleasure or by the fear of pain, by using one’s mind to understand the world and to do one’s part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly”. (Wikipedia) (A teaching so very much like Zen that Stoicism is sometimes given the shorthand descriptive “Greek Zen”.)

Marcus Aurelius is known throughout history as the author of the text, “The Meditations”.

The Roman emperor author of “The Meditations”. And the Zen Center Regensburg?

  1. The extent of the Roman Empire in 117 C.E., under the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The northern border extends to Ratisbona (today’s Regensburg). Marcus Aurelius stations a garrison at a fort that he constructs there, naming it “Castra Regina”:

2. The Roman Empire’s base, Castra Regina, sits on the edge of the Danube, the Regensburg, and the Naab Rivers — facing off against the Germanic tribes, the “Bavarii”:

3. This is an aerial view of how Castra Regina would have appeared:

4. Another aerial view of Castra Regina. Note the large central command building (the Praetorium). This was the headquarters for the base, and thus the command center for Marcus Aurelius’s campaign against the Germanic tribes. Marcus Aurelius’s orders were issued through this building — whether in person or through epistolary decree is not certain. But Marcus was active in these regions of present-day Germany during the campaigns, and is said to have written much of his “Meditations” while active here in this area.

5. The outline of the “Castra Regina” garrison on top of a photo of today’s Regensburg Altstadt (“Old Town”).

6. The outline of the Castra Regina foundations overlayed on top of a map of today’s streets in the Regensburg Altstadt (“Old Town”). Notice the location of the “Praetorium” and the “Legat” buildings — the two headquarter buildings for Marcus Aurelius. The HQ buildings are located at the corner of today’s Weißbräuhausgasse and Luzen Gasse, directly in the center of the diagram:

6. The Zen Center Regensburg is located at Weißbräuhausgasse 2 (red block). The Zen Center Regensburg’s entire architectural footprint lies within the footprint of the Legat and the Praetorium buildings (yellow outline). The ZCR kitchen lies primarily in the Legat building’s architectural footprint; the Dharma Room — where we do Zen meditation — lies entirely within the footprint of the Praetorium — the headquarters building for Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the author of “The Meditations”.

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