Bernie Q7: How Do You Train Students To Enter The Center Of Suffering?

Questions by Christa Spannbaur
Recorded at Rowe Conference Center by Ari Pliskin
Zen Master Bernie Glassman Biography

7) How do you train your students to be able to go right into the centre of the suffering of the world without loosing their spiritual trust in life and their inner balance?

Hotei has the right things in the bag.   You fill the bag with as many tools as you can.  Then you approach each situation, unbiased, unconditioned and totally open.  There are tools or upayas that will help us realize the three tenets.  For me, meditation was a great helping in getting to not-knowing.  I know many people who have reached not-knowing without meditation.  What has been more important is what I call ‘plunges.’  A plunge is to take you into a situation in which your rational mind has no way of dealing with it.  Normally, we don’t go there.  A common plunge that many of us go through is the death of a loved one.  Others are the Auscwitz retreats or street retreats. Planning the first Auscwitz retreat took 1.5 years.  The idea of the first day is to overwhelm people’s senses.  Bearing witness is to stay there-be in that situation, feel it.

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