Saturday, January 18, 2014
Many of you have called, emailed, written, Facebooked, and Skyped to wish me a happy birthday. I am grateful for your words and friendship.
As many of you know, I was born to a Jewish Brooklyn family, so as I turn 75 I’m reminded of the Jewish blessing: Blessed be the One that has brought us to this day. Since all of us are this One, I am thinking today of the many people who have brought me to this day through their work, energy, devotion, and love. I think of my parents, one of whom died just seven years after she gave me this life, and the sisters who helped raise me in her absence. I think of my teachers who continue to teach me long after they left this realm of existence. I think of my students, their devotion to the dharma, and their openness and willingness to work with me even as my understanding and teaching evolved and changed over many years.
I am so grateful to the folks at Greyston who continue even now, almost 35 years after our shaky start, to bring spiritual, social, and economic change to the people and community of southwest Yonkers, New York. I appreciate all of us in our wonderful diversity—the political leaders, business people, artists, social workers, householders, priests and monks, Americans, Europeans, Africans, and Asians of all religions—who responded to a vision of spirit and social action that guides the Zen Peacemakers. And my heart continues to crack wide open remembering the street people who accompanied and cared for us on the streets, and the souls of Auschwitz. Every one of you has deeply enriched this world and life.
The future seems so bright when I think of my dharma successors and their students and successors opening up new paths of practice. I owe a debt of gratitude to the board of Zen Peacemakers that has aided me in my transition to elder with patience and dedication. And I am deeply moved by my own children and the wonderful human beings they’ve become—real mensches—in the face of my own shortcomings as a father, and the happy, healthy families they’re raising. Finally, there are no words to express my feelings for the three women who shared my life and for everything that I learned from them.
My heart is full with all that you have given me.