A Sixty Year Journey, 2014 Dharma Talk by Bernie Glassman
Today Iâm going to talk about my first twenty years in Zen. How many in the room have been involved in Zen more than twenty years? One . . . in Zen? More than twenty years? Oh no, you were a Sufi. [Audience laughs] One, two, OK, three, four . . . wow! So Iâll ask the same question tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the second twenty yearsâthe last day, the third twenty years.
At any rate, my first twenty yearsâand whatâs interestingâto me, at leastâis each twenty years, the main activities which dictated my experiences that I had during those years. And when I look at it in terms of my terminology of the last twenty years, it came essentially out of the Three Tenets. So these are actions that arose out of bearing witness. And youâll see, I mean the not knowing was obvious. And in each case they were bearing witness, and things arose, which then affected my life quite a bit.
And by the way, weâve been workingâa small group has been working on updating the Zen Peacemaker Order, and revitalizing it. And the Abbot of Zen Center Los Angeles, where I initially trained, she and I spent a weekâall day long, each dayâand came up with things to put on the web, and also weâll be setting up regional circles to discuss these things. And one of the things we all looked at, that initial group, and Egyoku and I, was the wording of the Three Tenets, and of the Precepts. All together, the Three Tenets, and the Precepts, and we have Four Commitments. But the change we made in the Three Tenets isâthe first two stay the same, Not Knowing, and Bearing Witnessâthe third we change to âActions That Arise from Not Knowing and Bearing Witness.â
The problem withÂ LovingÂ Actions is thatâs already a judgment. And it made people feel good to think that they were going to be doing loving actions, but what we are talking about isÂ actions that arise out of not knowing and bearing witness. And then somebody else looks at them, and says, âOh, thatâs good.â Somebody else looks at them, and says, âOh, thatâs bad.â But thatâs after the fact, and thatâs commentary. The third tenet is taking actionâthe way we explicitly said itâtaking action that arises out of not knowing and bearing witness.
So, the taking is very important. That is,Â doÂ something. Donât just sit on your cushion, and say, âOh, I had a great experience, and thatâs that.â No, do something with it. OK.
So, the first experience that I wanted to talk aboutâit just came up to me as I was sitting with you this last periodâsitting is Bearing Witness. Many things come up, arise out of Zazen. Zazen is Bearing Witness. And if youâre doing Zazen in a good wayâin my opinion, a good wayâyouâre bearing witness to the wholeness of life. Now we do, in the Zen worlds, we do have you work on certain things like breathing, or Koan study. So there youâre concentrating on something, and those are techniques we use in certain teachings. But eventually, you do whatâs called Shikantazaâjust sitting. And thatâs bearing witness to the wholeness of life.
At any rate, I was just sitting. And what came up to me is an experience, which I want to share. Itâs one of my first Zen experiencesâitâs before I had a teacher. I had already been to a Japanese Zen temple to do some meditation, but nobody spoke English, and I decided to just do meditation on my ownâdo Zazen on my own. So, of course I was very young, and I didnât haveâoh, I was about twentyâand I didnât have much information or knowledge. But I sat, and I madeâactually I had a garage, and I draped it with black curtains, and I did Sesshin retreats. I did a lot of sitting. But I didnât have a teacher, and I didnât really know what I was doing.
And one day I had an experience in which I felt I lost my mindâand it terrified me. And out of that experience, what came up was I quit Zazen. I quit for a year. I was so terrified by what had happened. That night I had to keep the lights on in the house. I had no idea what was going on. And so I stayed away, and it could have been forever. That experience could have led me to stop doing Zazen forever.
But, I had read a book calledÂ Three Pillars of Zen, which many of you might know. And a man, Yasutani Roshi, who appears in that book, and some of you areÂ from the Sanbo Kyodan club, and that, was started by Yasutani Roshi. Heâs my grandfather in the Dharma. My teacher studied under Yasutani. My teacher studied under three teachers, one of whom was Yasutani. So, Yasutani is one of my grandfathers. And I also studied under Yasutani, but that was later.
What happened is I had been terrified. I had read many things about Zen. And then I saw, and I read the bookÂ Three Pillars of Zen. And then I saw an advertisement saying Yasutani Roshi was going to give a talk in Los Angeles. Thatâs where I was living. And so I went to the talk. And at that talk I met the translatorâYasutani Roshi did not speak English. His translator was a man name Maezumi, who then becomes my teacher.
I went up to the translator, and I said, âDo you have [It turns out I had met the translator about four years before] a group?â And he says, âI just opened up a place.â And I started to study with himâevery day.
If that hadnât happened, I probably would have never gone back to Zen, because of that experience. I had nobody to talk to about it. So, the result of that experience for me was the importance of having a teacher, which then got reinforced when I became my teacherâs right hand person in our Zen Center in Los Angeles. And many students would come who had no teacher, and had been doing meditation for long periods. By then many people knew about meditation, and they would do it on their own. And in many cases, perfectly OK, but many cases the people that were on their own had damaged themselves. Some in a physical wayâtheir eye sight had gotten worse, some their breathing had gotten worse, many had so conditioned themselves to working on things likeÂ Mu, or different things that they had read about that it was hard to get them to work correctlyâcorrectly in the way that we wanted to teach.
So that just reinforced for meâif anybody in those days would say, âCan I study without a teacher?â I would say, âNo. Youâre opening yourself for problems.â All kinds of things can happen. There are many experiences that can arise out of meditation that can be traps. Itâs like taking drugs and having an experienceâit could be a problem. It may feel great. Wow! But it may cause problems. The main problem when it feels great is that you want to recreate it. âI want to do that again!â You know? And if you try to do it through meditation, you try to get your meditation to do thatâto recreate the experience that you had. And thatâs bad news, man. Itâs bad news.
At any rate, that was the first experience that came out of bearing witness, out of sitting, and the fear that I had lost my mind. And so the action that had come out of that, which was dropping Zen, you could label it however you wanted to. But at that point in my life, that was the action that came out of not knowing and bearing witness. And most people will say, âWell, who wants that kind of action?â Well, I mean, who are you to choose? And you would say, âThatâs bad.â So then we can have as our third TenetÂ badÂ actions, you know. At any rate, it was an action that happened.
So I was practicing with my teacher. At that time, my teacher, he was in the Japanese Soto club. And when he went to Buddhist University, he lived at a dojo at a training place of a wonderful man named Koryu Roshi, a lay Rinzai teacher. He lived there, and thatâs where he started his koan study. And because of that, when he came to the States, he continued. He came as a young man to help in a Japanese temple. Maezumi Roshi was also studying koan study with Yasutani Roshiâthere are two different systems of koans.
In 1969 Yasutani Roshi decidedâhe had been coming to the United States every year, helping a friend of his, I donât want to give you all these names, but the friend was Soen Nakagawa Roshi, it gets confusing. But he was helping a friend, so he came every year to run sesshins. And Maezumi wound up being a translator on the west coast for Yasutani, and decided to start studying with himâalthough he had been studying with this other man, Koryu Roshi. And he also was part of this Soto tradition.
So I was practicing with my teacher Maezumi Roshi, and it was a time that he was not doing koan study. So in â69, when Yasutani Roshi told him that âIâm not going back anymore to Americaâthe United Statesâcome with me to Japan, and finish your training with me.â And Maezumi said, âOK.â And then he said, âBernie [he called me Tetsugen in those days] Tetsugen, you run the Zen Center here in Los Angeles.â So, I was justÂ thirty years old, right, and I was put in charge of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, which meant giving talks and interviews, conducting the Zazen.
And also that year, Koryu Roshiâthe man that Maezumi Roshi started to do his work with when he was in Universityâdecided to come to the United States, to Los Angeles, so that Maezumi could finish the koan study with him. So he came. And Â Maezumi Roshi had been gone for a year, and then he came back for a month, then he went back to Japan. But when he came back for the month, Koryu came. And I decided Maezumi Roshi was my teacherâmy root teacherâbut I decided to do sesshin with Koryu Roshi (and Maezumi Roshi was translating).
And I joined that sesshin. I passed the koanÂ Mu, in a way that Koryu Roshi and Maezumi Roshi thought was very unusual. SoÂ MuÂ is a koan, usually the first koan in koan systems. A koan is something you contemplate on until you can present the meaningâbut not intellectual meaningâyou can present it via expression, that youâve experienced what it is. And working on a koanÂ Mu, is exactly like working onÂ what is not knowing? âThe first tenet of our Three Tenets.So to pass the koanÂ Mu, you are supposed to experience the state of not knowing. OK. So the Three Tenets actually come out of my Zen training. And they come out ofâas youâll seeâa lot from the koan study.
But at any rate, so I wasâin the terminology we use nowâI was bearing witness to not knowing. Didnât know it was not knowing, so it was in the form of this wordÂ Muuuuu!Â I was bearing witness to that. And an experience came out in which I felt the unity of life. And they saidâI mean they do testing and whateverâbut they thought it was very, very deep. In fact Koryu Roshi went back to Japan, and told everybody about what had happened with this guy, this American. So I actually went to Japan shortly after and did more study with him. And everybody that saw me said, âWow, youâre Tetsugen, huh?â They all had known about it. That experience dictated my next almost twenty yearsâno, ten years. Ten years had passed, fifteenâbut at any rate, it was a major thing during those first twenty years.
So the two big experiences during those first twenty years was 1) feeling I had gone crazy, and out of which came the feeling I have to have a teacher; and 2) the experience of the unity of life in such a way that I felt that I could help people have that experience, and that it was extremely important. It was the most important thing in my life.
So I quit my job. That became my whole profession. And I was very tough; in I felt I had done it through a tough kind of experience. And it was very tough, in that you know, my teachers were Japanese, so they trained in almost a Samurai kind of way. It was a very tough kind of situation. We would never allow anybody to come in late. We would never allow anybody to move once we were sitting. We would never allow anybody to whisper. We would, you know [claps] help them [claps] to try to realize things. And I felt that was very important, because the experience I had experienced, for me was so important, I wanted people to experience that.
So for that first twenty years, the practice in a way that I was involved in was all about me. And I was trying to have other people have the same experiences that I had had. And those experiences would then be all about them. Itâs an interesting twenty years of practice, in which I haveâI feelâthat maybe eighty percent of the Zen groups around the world, thatâs what theyâre doing. And it was extremely important for me, but in my opinion itâs not the only way to practice. And in my opinion I would notâI have stopped doing that kind of practice for a long time now.
And the question that I haveâdo you have to go through that phase? Does everybody need to do that, or can you bypass that phase? And I think you can bypass that phaseâpersonally, thatâs my opinion. But as I always say, everything I say is my opinion. I have no truthsânothing I can say that would be other than my opinion about things.
Let me stop a little there and ask for questions, and Iâll get your sense of what Iâve been saying.
Audience member 1:Â Bernie, Iâd like to ask something. Peter Matthiessen, who passed away in April, I remember a number of times said to you that he thought that what made your next stages so strong was precisely because you had this first stage.Â Â I remember him telling you that.
Bernie:Â I remember too.
Audience member 1:Â You know, that he said thatâs what changed everything, in terms of two and three, the rest of your life. Â So, he had a different opinion from yours.
Audience member 1:Â And I wonder if you want to address what he saidâthat if you donât have that, you canât do the other thing.
Bernie:Â Yeah, I donât know. He said that to me many times. Tomorrow Iâm going to talk about the second phase of my life, which was serving people, which came out of an experience. So the question is, could that experience have happened without the first twenty years of my life? Thatâs basically what heâs saying. The work I did during that second phase didÂ notÂ come out of that first twenty years. It was triggered by this experience, which was so deep for me. And so the questionâwhich I have no ideaâthe question is can you have that kind of experience without those twenty years?
Audience member 2:Â You say that people can bypass that first period, but what is it exactly that you can bypass? Is it the experience you had, or is it the way you were trained?
Bernie:Â Yeah, so thatâs a good point. What Iâve learned, and whatâs been a constant through the sixty years is meditationâso Iâm not talking about bypassing meditation. Meditation has been part of my daily practice for those sixty years. And by the way, itâs not quite sixty, because Iâm only seventy-five. So that would make fifteenâitâs actually fifty-six years, so I rounded it off.
So, when I say to bypass, itâs the toughnessâthat austerity. And we know that there are all kinds of Zen Centers. Thich Nhat Hanh has a Zen Centerâhe doesnât have that kind of austerity. We, you and I, and many people here practice Zen in a Japanese model. And that model is a very austere model. It really comes out of the Kamakura period, which is the Samurai period in Japan.Â Shakyamuni Buddha did not practice that way. So, itâs not from that era. And one of the things that drew me to Zen was all of the stories of Chinese monks that were living in the mountains. And that was not their style.
So, when I say you can bypass the austerity . . . Iâll give you a sense of the austerity, itâs crazy, in my mind. Iâll give you two examples. Thereâs a man, his name was Ban Roshi. He was a student of Harada Roshi. Harada Roshi was a teacher of Yasutani Roshi. So Ban Roshi was a brother of Yasutani Roshi in the Dharma, and a wonderful teacher, an amazing guy. And I went to his Zendo. When you go in to the hall leading to the Zendo, on the wall is all these broken keisakus. A keisaku is a stick in which we walk around and will hit people to help them deepen their practice [claps]. You know, itâs interesting, when I talk about our first precept, not knowing, the state of non-rationalizing, different Zen teachers throughout the ages have used different techniques to help us have that state. So Iâve concentrated on what we call plunges, or going to the places where the brain canât fathom whatâs happening. But thereâs all kinds of . . . RinzaiÂ Shreeeeee!Â In that screamâitâs hard for the mind to rationalize. It brings you right to that place. Tokusan, a Chinese guy, hippie Buddhist, whatever you said, he would hit you with a stick sixty times. If you didnât say anything he would hit you with a stick. So he was using that stick to get you out of your thinkingâout of ideas, and experience a state of non-thinking.
So the keisaku, theoretically, it has a few purposes. They say it helps if you get drowsy sitting; it gets rid of the drowsiness. For some, it puts them to sleep, or makes them unconscious if you hit hard enough. And, if you hit hard enough . . . In the thirties in Japan, in the Soto sect there are two major monasteries Eihei-ji and Shoji-ji. In Shoji-jiâI think it was in the thirtiesâduring Zazen a monk was killed with the keisaku. Japan being Japan, the parents came to the monastery and thanked the Abbot for allowing their son to die in such an honorable way.
So the culture, the hitting is good. So itâs not just to wake you up. I said that because not only could you fall asleep, you could fall dead with the hitting. And we, in the Zen Peacemakers have a whole bunch of different kinds of practices that help you experience this not knowing. And if youâre involved in koan study, thatâs what thatâs about. A lot of Zen practices are about trying to get you to do that. And bearing witnessâZazen, is a major way of doing bearing witness.
But weâll also bring you into places where you wouldnât normally go, and it enlarges the sense of bearing witness. And I think in my third talk, Iâll talk about how that happens.
Audience member 3:Â Can you talk aboutâa little bit about your revelations aroundÂ Mu?
Bernie:Â The revelation aroundÂ MuÂ was experiencing the oneness of life. Pretty simple. No separations. Thatâs a basic experience. The word Buddha (I was going to say itâs a basic experience in Buddhism) the word Buddha means to awakenâan awakened one. And that awakening is called in different languages different terms. In English itâs called enlightenment. In Japanese itâs calledÂ kensho, which translates into English as âseeing the nature.â
So, I always say, âawakened to what?âÂ Awakened to the unity of life. Awakened to the oneness of life. Awakened to the interconnectedness of life. So thatâs what Buddhism is about. Thatâs what Buddhism is about. And there are just different techniques. SoÂ MuÂ is one technique to help people do that, the way itâs used.
You know, in Shingon thereâs a lot of mystical stuff.Â In Tendai they try to do it through philosophical stuff. Thereâs techniques through visualizations, through chanting, all kinds of ways. And the Zen Peacemakers, our major way besides meditation, is through social actionâvia the Three Tenets. Not just any kind of social action, itâs got to be based on those Three Tenets.
So if youâre a Buddhist group, or a Buddhist teacher, that is your lifeâs workâwhat are the ways to help people experience the oneness of life? And people come up with different things. It is not just to make us feel better. Now during those first twenty years, in todayâs talk, the first twenty years, a lot of it is really about feeling better. And one of the ways you can feel better is to say, âOh, Iâve been enlightened,â without knowing what that means. For many people, to be enlightened means to be nice, to be happy. Thatâs that first twenty years. You get involved, and you feel good, you sit, and itâs a good feeling. It feels good. And then maybe things come up, and it feels even better. But itâs all about your self, and how you feel. And maybe youâre more . . . itâs not a bad thing.
But for example, I think mindfulness is in that game. Mindfulness is about how do I do things more concentrated, do it better? Itâs a game about me. Itâs not in the game of how do I serve others? Thatâs a different game that weâll talk about tomorrowâat least in my opinion.
But that doesnât mean the first stuff is . . . And some people will argue that you canât serve others unless youâve taken care of yourself. And I donâtâthatâs not my opinion. So, tomorrow weâll talk about that. But I get that all the time. Even I got that in a dialogue with the Dalai Lama. And I gave him my opinion. That in my opinion you can take careâyou can work on the experience of the oneness of lifeÂ viaÂ social engagement. You donât have to do one first, before you do the other. Thatâs a very common conceptâI think even Thay, Thich Nhat Hanhâs way of thinking, whatever.
So, you know, just different opinionsâyou donât have to take my opinion. And of course, what I am most interested in is people experiencing things, not taking my opinion about anything.
Audience member 4:Â I have a question. How you felt, because you had a lot of students in these twenty years, did you never have doubts that one upayaâsuch a tough upayaâwould be for all of them? Did not many people [go] away? And what did you think then?
Bernie:Â I thought they went away. Yes. Many People went away, because my way of doing. There was a person who came up to me later on, that I met, and she said she dropped out of Zen because of meâbecause her impression of Zen was what I was doing. You know, I mean it seemed sort of natural for me. Many people think that they run into as a teacher, thatâs what itâs all about. Anyway, she felt that Zen was all about my style of doing things. And she couldnât stand it. And she told me that she dropped completely out of Zen.
Audience member 4:Â And you, yourself, you didnât have doubts aboutâyou never asked yourself maybe itâs not for everybody?
Bernie:Â No, I knew it wasnât for everybody. I wasnât interested in it being for everybody. I was interested in working with those who wanted to work this way. Being interested in working with everyone moves into serving others. I wasnât there yet. I knew that this was good for you, and the way I was doing it, man, would really help you.
You know, later on, in later years, what struck meâbecause I became an organic gardenerâand what struck me was that I was using chemical methods to produce flowers. And I thought that that was the way to do it, that was very important. And later on I learned that there are organic ways of doing this. You donât have to use chemicals, which can hurt the soil. It can hurt. You can produce beautiful flowers, but also can hurt the soil. But at that time I wasnât thinking about that. I was concentrating on work. I had enough to do, you know, we had a lot of students in the Zen Center Los Angeles. By the time I left, we had two hundred people living on the block. Weâd split people up among my teacher and myself. I had over a hundred people that I was responsible for. It was too much. I was not worried about those that didnât like this way.Â There were other places to goâother things people could do. That wasnât my concern.
Audience member 5:Â You said that to be able to take care of others, you donât have to get first to the stage of taking care of yourself. Is Buddhism originally about taking care of others?
Bernie:Â You know, when you say, âIsÂ Buddhism originally,â I donât know what that means. Are you talking about Shakyamuni Buddha, because thatâs the origin of Buddhism? Now, if I step away from the question I just posed, Buddhism (I just defined the word Buddha), Buddhism is those people, or those clubs that are helping people to experience the unity of life. Now, if youâre going to experience the unity of life, can it be just about your self? So if you ask me, originallyâYes, originally Buddhism is about the worldâabout the unity of life. And so it has to be involved with everybody. It cannot be just your self. That limits you, in my opinion.
In others opinions, they say, âYouâve got to first take care of this body, before . . .â And I never know what that means, because what theyâre saying to me is that you should first become enlightened before you do anything else. Well,Â enlightenedÂ to me is youâve experienced the unity of life, of all of life. I donât know anybody whoâs done that. And Iâll talk about that . . . well, since it came up, Iâll talk about it now.
Kobo Daishi is the founder of the Shingon sect in Japanâthe tantric sect in Japan. Heâs considered by the Japanese to be the number one spiritual philosopher, or spiritual person of all time. And a man named Dogen is considered number two. And Kobo Daishi lived in late 500 A.D. And he said, âThe way you can tell the depth of a personâs enlightenment is how they serve others.â So thereâs two things there; one is that enlightenment comes in stages. And when Shakyamuni Buddha says, âWeâre all enlightened as we are,â that includes the fact that most of us think of our one body as one body. Bernieâs arm generally doesnât think itâs separate from Bernie. And if everything Iâm doing is about Bernie, then Kobo Daishi would say, Bernieâs enlightenment, the depth of Bernieâs enlightenment (since heâs only serving himself), itâs himself. Thatâs how deep it is.
One can experience the unity of life in so many stages. And thereâs no way of not serving, once your experience is bigger. The actions will arise automatically to serve those, and that goes on, and on.
So your question brings in two things. What is Buddhism? And what is it originally? And my feelingâso I have this metaphor, which saysÂ do not conduct your life via the things you donât have. Take the things you have, and make the best meal possible, and serve itâand offer it. So, many of us conduct a lot of our life by things we donât have. That is, somebody says, âWould you get involved in this project?â Then, âOh, I donât have enough time. I canât do it. I donât have enough money. I canât do it.â In Buddhaâs world, what was said, âYou donât have enlightenment, you canât do it.â
So, for me, wherever you are now, look at the ingredients you have, and make the best meal possible. And serve it.
Audience Member 6:Â I wanted to ask how would you describe serving? What is serving? And who . . .
Bernie:Â Right. So, whatâs interesting for me isâI donât know Kobo Daishiâs words in Japanese. He was Japanese. I know the translation. So Iâm curious what word wasÂ serving. I should look that up. I need to look that up. It doesnât matter too much. Because servingâmany times in English the wordÂ servingÂ implies another, right? So, if we say weâre just serving ourselves, what does that mean? Now my feeling is that we always will be taking care of ourselves. We donât necessarily take care of others. So maybeÂ taking careÂ would be better thanÂ serving.
For example, you know I use the example of the armâitâll probably come up in these days. But if the arm is gashed, this arm will do something. It doesnât think about, âShould I take care of it, or not?â You wouldnât call itÂ serving. It just automatically takes care. And in my opinion, whatever is in our headâwhich many times we call our egoâwhatever we think we are, we automatically serve that. We donât think about, âShould I?â You know, if Iâm hungry, I look for food. We donât say, âWell, thereâs other things to do. Maybe I shouldnât do that.â Or if I need to breathe, âEh, thereâs other things to do. Why waste time breathing?â I donât do that, you know, I take care. So I think thatâs a better word thanÂ serve, becauseÂ serveÂ implies a dualistic thing. And Kobo Daishi is saying look at who theyâre taking care of. If Iâm only taking care of myself, then thatâs my state of enlightenment. Thatâs not bad.
But since, in my opinion, we all are one, if weâre not taking care of the majority of that one, there will be problems. And vice-versa, if weâre taking careâif we could see the Palestinians and the Israelis as nothing but meâitâs hard not to take care. But as long as I can see them as others, I can blame one or the other, get angry about this, about that, and I donât have to do anything. I can just sit there, âAhhh, theyâre all screwed up, manâespecially those Israelis, especially those Hamas people.â
Eve Marko:Â [In Tootsie voice] But Rocky, that would seem to imply that you really need an enlightenment experience to know that everybodyâs oneâin order to be like that.
Bernie:Â [In Rocky voice] Yeah Tootsie, I think you do.
Eve:Â So therefore, your enlightenment experiences were very important.
Bernie:Â Â I think they were,Â andÂ you keep having them. And as you keep having them, your ego, or the Dharma, or Indraâs netâthe portion of Indraâs net that youâre working with. The energy field of life that youâre working withâthat keeps growing.
Eve:Â So how important is it to really sit, and sit, and sit, and have an enlightenment experience, so that you can see everything as one, and then take care of everything?
Bernie:Â To me itâs very importantâthatâs âcause I grew up as a boxer. I donât think itâs so important to most people. Thatâs why the worldâs a mess.
Eve:Â But you described that in your first phase you didnât do anythingâI mean, I know you had a family and everythingâbut you didnât take care of the rest of the world. You sat, and you sat, and you did sesshins, and you sat, and you sat, and you sat, and you did koans, till you had a big enlightenment experience, which showed that you are one with everything. And out of that, you can serve everything, or you can take care of everything. So is that what you think everybody else should do? Take the first twenty years, and sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, till they have a big experience, and then they can take care of everybody.
Bernie:Â In my opinion, Tootsie, the sitting is great, is important. And, what Iâve learned in my life, if you get involved in social engagement via these Buddhist Peacemakers, it speeds the whole thing up. It speeds the whole thing up. And that came to me on my first Street Retreat. But thatâs for tomorrow, thatâs not during these first twenty years, see. In these first twenty years it was all about sitting on the cushion, and in the Zendo, and the formal way I had trained. Later, different upayas, or different expedient means were used. And the process of that awakening to the unity of life seems to be much, much more sped upâto me. So thatâs why I do it that way. To others, no, so they do it a different way.
Audience member 7:Â A couple of questionsâfirst of all, what is the experience of unity of life? What is it?
Audience member 7:Â So, secondâthere are many people taking care of others in the world, without maybe having the same experience of the twenty years. Does it mean they do without having the experience of the unity of life, or have they caught the unity of life experience another way?
Bernie:Â Well, I would have to know the people. So I say that serving others, or taking care of others, or social engagement via the Three Tenets can have a huge effect on the experiencing the oneness of life. It doesnât have to be done through the Three Tenets. It could be doneâIâm doing it because I like it. It could be done for very selfish reasons. And I donât think that leads to that experience. I think it can make you feel good. I was on my first Street Retreat; there were many people that were taking care of us. And you could feel love in their eyes, and they certainly felt good. But we that were being given things, we could experience them feeling superior to us. They were helping us, and it made them feel superiorâbetter than us. We were lower. And thatâs not about the unity of life. And I think that can happen many timesâthat weâre doing things not through these Three Tenets, or not through a selfless way, but in a way to make us feel betterâfeel more . . . yeah, I got to use the two hands again.
So, hereâs Bernie. And this hand doesnât consider itself part of Bernie. This hand feels separate from Bernie, and calls itself Mary. And this hand feels separate from Bernie, and calls itself Charlie. So thereâs Charlie, and Mary, and Bernie. And Charlie and Mary are social activists. And they read, theyâve gone to retreats, and workshops, and they read books, which said theyâre all interconnected. But they havenât experienced it. So thereâs still a separation.
And now Bernie gets hungry. Mary sees thereâs a bunch of foodâthereâs food here. So Mary reaches for food to give to Bernie. But Charlie says, âNo, I want to give the food to Bernie, âcause Iâm a social activist, and I want the merit of giving the food to Bernie!â And Mary says, âNo, no,Â IâmÂ a social activist. I want to get the merit of giving the food!â So they fight. Whoâs gonna give the food? In the meantime, Bernie starves to death, and Mary dies, and Charlie dies.
So thatâs a case of doing social action not from the standpoint of the Three Tenets. And thatâs a very common thing, and itâs great. We all acknowledge, you know, wonderful things. But I also think thereâs another way.
Audience member 8:Â What does Bernie do when he feels the suffering of the Palestinians?
Bernie:Â The question is âWhat does Bernie do when he feels suffering?â Everybody is suffering, right? But, what does Bernie do when he feels the suffering of Israelis, or Palestinians, or Africans, Nigerians? What do you do when you feel the suffering, because thereâs suffering everywhere? What do I do when I feel the suffering of Francisca, because she is suffering, because Palestinians are suffering? It goes on, and on. What did Shakyamuni Buddha do? He said, âEveryoneÂ is suffering.â He said thereâs nothing in life but change, and also suffering. So what did he do? What do you do? What doÂ IÂ do?
I try to approach the situation from the standpoint of not knowing. So Iâm not approaching from the standpoint of the Palestinians, from the Israelisâfrom I donât know. Iâm coming from not knowing. Then, I bear witness. And then I see what arises out of that bearing witness. It has made my life so simple. I do everything out of the Three Tenetsâeverything out of the Three Tenets.
And itâs all I know. I mean, thatâs all I can do. In fact, I was telling Eve, Iâve been very frustrated about the Middle East, because weâve done a lot of work there. I have family there. All of her familyâs there. Sheâs Israeli. She used to go every two months. We had staff in three differentâIsrael, Palestine, and Jordan. I go every four months. Now weâve stopped that work, but she goes twice a year to visit family. But I, about a year ago (maybe even twoâI donât know) I came to the decision of boycotting. So what was I doing about suffering? I was boycotting. I didnât go.
When I talk about the fact that weâre all in clubs, and when we look at our clubâthatâs who weâll deal with, thatâs who weâll visit, thatâs who weâll invite in. And I say what do we do with people not in our club? The majority of us avoid it. You know, if thereâs a homeless person in the street, we donât look at him, or her. Weâd cross the street. We donât invite people that we donât like politically to our house. We donât watch their TV shows, read their booksâwe avoid.
So there I was, I was frustrated. And what did I do? I avoided, by boycotting. Thatâs denial, man. Thatâs avoidance. And I would say, philosophically, I donât like that. But thatâs what I did. That was my immediate reaction. Bearing witness to what was going on there, the action that came up wasÂ boycott. So thatâs what Iâve been doing.
Iâve been doing a lot more not knowing and bearing witness, and another action that arose a couple of months ago (I think, maybe a month, I donât know) is I gotta do something. I have no idea what to do. But that came up out of the Three Tenets. I gotta do something. This morningâeither last night, or this morningâbecause Iâve been spending a lot of time bearing witness onwhat do I do?Â I already last week told Eve that I need to go back to Israel, because I need to bear witness. And I want to do something. I canât justÂ planÂ what to do. I need to bear witness, and see what comes up.
Today (or last night, I canât remember) something came up, because Iâve been spending so much time bearing witness to this question. And what came up is I need to go there, and do a Bearing Witness Retreat (not a big Bearing Witness Retreat). I need to sit there with a group of people that I know, that are activists both in Israel and Palestine, and maybe some others. I donât know yet who to invite. It could be just me. Iâve got to sit, and I donât know where. It could be in the desert. It could be West Bank. I donât know where. Iâve got to sit, and ask myself the questionÂ what do I do?Â And just use that as a koan, and bear witness. Because thatâon my third day Iâm going to talk about thisâthatâs how the Zen Peacemaker Order arose. I did exactly that. I sat on the steps of Washing D.C. in the snow, and asked myself the questionÂ what do I do, in terms of people that are rejected. And out of that cameÂ create the Zen Peacemaker Order.
So, at any rate, thatâs what I do with everything. I do not have any preset ideas about how to take care of any issues that you might have, or anybody else might have, or how to reduce the suffering of the world. I mean, in my opinion, the world will continue to suffer âcause thatâs what Shakyamuni said we all are doing. Almost the question about how do you reduce the suffering of the Palestinians or anybody, to me would be how do I reduce the suffering of youâof any person. I donât know. Youâll join fields. I become a Zen teacher, and try to help people realize the oneness of life. Others become doctors, physicians, psychiatrists. Everybodyâs trying to help everybody end suffering, man, but itâs no simple task.
Audience member 9:Â So, what importance is a Zen sesshin? Do you need it any more?
Bernie:Â So, in terms of myself, if I just look, I havenât signed up for a sesshin in years. I mean I signed up for Bearing Witness Retreatsâthatâs very different. But what youâre calling sesshin, do you remember me signing up for one?
Eve:Â Sure, when we had the place in Montague, we did sesshin. We lead sesshin with Peter once, if you remember. We didânot too many though.
Bernie:Â Yeah, enough to where I canât remember. When was that?
Eve:Â About . . . not more recent than seven years ago.
Bernie:Â In terms of my own life, so if somebody came up to me and said, âHow important is sesshin?â I would askÂ them, you know. Is it something you want to do? Then do it, you know. Itâs different than sitting. I think sitting is extremely important. And I personally like Bearing Witness Retreats much more than sesshin, or the Street Retreats in different places. You know the idea of sesshin is not that old. I mean Shakyamuni Buddha didnât do sesshin. It actually arose becauseâI think it arose maybe two hundred years agoâand it arose mainly because the people that decided to do it felt that individuals didnât have enoughÂ oomphÂ on their own.Â You know, they were too busy with whereâs the warm weather for swimming, and you know, other issues. And they decided they needed a concentrated thing.
And for me, during those first twenty years, man, I did hundreds of sesshins, and it was great. What was amazing, when I did the first Street Retreat, we had about twenty of us, and some of us, like myself, had been involved in Buddhism for so many years, done so many sesshins. Some, there was around four among those twenty, had never meditated. We all had a very similar experience about the identity ofâabout the oneness of life. So it brought up the question to me, you know. I had done hundreds, and hundreds of sesshins, and here one Street Retreat, and it had such an effect, because it brought us [claps] right into it, what sesshin [claps] hopefully does.
So it was not my main vehicle ever since then, although I did a lot of sesshins still. When we moved to New Yorkâwell, this was already New YorkâI did a lot of sesshins still, until I canât remember, I think ten years, maybe twenty years. Thatâs why I wanted to make it clear on the first night that this was not a sesshin. You know, if thatâs what you wanted, fine. But we donât do that.
Audience member 10:Â It seems a bit to me that the social engagement is like a new methodology. Coming from the point that if you look at Christianity, itâs at the end of theÂ Way of the Cross, where you findÂ love your neighbor. If you go to Buddhism, it seems at the end where you understand the lesson of love. And it seems on the surface, if you start with the tenth ox picture. So the confusion might come from first enlightenment, then you feel it in your heart that you can serve.
Bernie:Â Yeah, I donât share your opinion.
Audience member 10:Â No, I donât have an opinion.
Bernie:Â Oh, but you said that Buddhism . . .
Audience member 10:Â I have question.
Audience member 10:Â My question is because the social engagement seems like the essence of all the other different methodologies, all the other different ways. And so I was asking if starting with the social engagement way, if this is like an old methodology?
Bernie:Â Like an old?
Audience member 10:Â Like an old, like an old [translator clarifies] like aÂ new, like a new methodology? A different approachâstart with open heart, and then look at whatâs coming up in an experienced way.
Bernie:Â In my opinion, no. In my opinion, if I look at all the differentâIâve done a lot of interfaith work, and study in different traditions. And in most of them, youâll find that they divide into clubs, which specialize in certain ways. So in Christianity, youâve got the Franciscans that are specializing in social engagement. And youâve got the Cistercians that are specializing in contemplative work. You have divisions like that. So also in Buddhism, for example, if you go to Japan the biggest Buddhist group in Japan is called Rissho-Kosei-Kaiâthe largest groupâthey only do social engagement. There are no priests, theyâre ministers and they work in third world countries. Thatâs based on theÂ Lotus Sutra.
So, the same here, when Buddhism first came to the West, what people specialized in is the contemplative orders. And then that became the only way. But I think itâs very natural within any religion, or type of work that different clubs will arise that focus on different things. Thatâs my opinion. And each one would probably say, âYouâve got to start with this, then that will come up,â and whatever. Those are arguments to talk about the height of the clubâI think, I donât know.Â Thatâs my opinion.
I donât know, were Franciscans looked at as weird when they arose, doing social engagement? Or were there always groups in Christianity that focused on social engagement? I donât know the answer to that. And certainly you know, you find this, in Christianity you have groups like the Franciscans, all kinds of groups that are all about social engagement, as the way of Godâyou know, as the way of doing things.
Audience member 11:Â So, in an abstract way . . .
Bernie:Â Whoops! I just picked three people, and guess whatâweâve run out of time.
Eve:Â But the bell hasnât rung.
Bernie:Â But the bell hasnât rung.
Eve:Â Thatâs a koan.
Bernie:Â Thatâs a koan. So the koan is why are we stopping if the bell hasnât rung?
Audience member 11:Â So, in an abstract way, do we help the situation in the Middle East if we all take care of each other?
Bernie:Â Huh? Do what?
Audience member 11:Â In an abstract way, do we help the situation in the Middle East if we all take care of each other? Thatâs what you just said. If we all take care of each other . . .
Bernie:Â So, in my opinion, itâs not abstract. If we all take care of each otherâitâs very rare to see that happenâbut in my opinion, if we all took care of each other, thereâd be no problems. So thereâs that wonderful example whereâI donât know if itâs Godâsomebody takes this person up to visit Hell. Right, youâve probably heard that. And all these people are at a table eating, and they each have chopsticks. So this is probably a Japanese Hell. They each have chopsticks, and the chopsticks are about two meters long, and theyâre having a lot of trouble eating. And then the person says, âWell, can I see Heaven?â So God takes him down to see Heaven. In Heaven, that same banquet table, all those people, same chopsticks, but each person is taking their chopsticks and feeding somebody else.
So thatâs one example of saying yes, if we take care of each other, thereâs no problem. And if we just take care of ourselves, there will be problems. Thatâs an opinionâmy opinion.
Audience member 12:Â When you ask about Christianity, traditional Christianity, I think Christ himself was an activist, as I understand his teachings.
Bernie:Â Yeah. I think so too. But then lots of clubs form after thatâdifferent styles that teach. Theoreticallyâitâs sort of interestingâdifferent clubs arise to probably, they say, to teach brotherly love. But maybe not, maybe they say they arise so that there can be more Christiansâto procreate the numbers of Christians. And thatâs happened in Buddhism. A lot of the Buddhist groups grew, and then the theme becomes how many people can have Jukai, and how many people can, you know, to grow the numbers. The original reasons of actualizing the oneness of life get forgotten.
I see the bell is ringing. But letsâ have one more at the sound of the bell.
Audience member 13:Â Itâs OK.
Bernie:Â OK. He wants to serve the body. Get some food, man.
OK, so for me tomorrow is the next twenty years. And this afternoon . . .
Eve:Â Before that . . .
Bernie:Â Yeah, before that, what?
Eve:Â Weâll see.
Bernie:Â But certainly, in a way this will continue, Eve will make comments on it, and you will have thought it through as you chew your food. Chew what weâve talked about.
Â Eve:Â Rocky, I have one last question.
Bernie:Â Ah ha Tootsie! By the way, if you donât know, we have a radio show,Â Rocky and Tootsie. And usually we tweet or something, and did I tell you at St. Virgil, one of the guys in my group, in the workshop, is a cartoonist, a Buddhist cartoonist. And heâs now into making animation. And in September, heâs going to make an animatedÂ Rocky and Tootsieâtake one of our shows, and there will be a film, an animated film ofÂ Rocky and Tootsie.
Eve:Â So Rocky, what I want to know is . . .
Bernie:Â Yeah Tootsie?
Eve:Â Did anybody ever say the wordÂ loveÂ in all those first twenty years of your life?
Eve:Â Why?! How come they didnât say love?
Bernie:Â Thatâs an interesting point. That first twenty years was not about love. Now I consider love to be the rug that ties the room together.
Eve:Â Whatâs that?
Bernie:Â They now have theÂ DudeÂ book in German.
Eve:Â How could you be without love?
Bernie:Â Because that wasnât . . . Itâs interesting. Well, we had Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, you know Kannon, Avalokitesvara. But, during those first twenty years, my trainingâI almost divorced. My training, most of the people that lived at the Zen Center of Los Angeles divorced, or the children became really screwed upâbecause it was a monastic model. And love was not part of the model. And family was not part of the model. So our scheduleâmy scheduleâmade it such I never saw my kids when they woke up, because I was in the zendo. I never saw my kids when they went to sleep, because I was in the zendo. I never saw my kids on the weekends, because we always had weekend activities. So, Iâm very, very luckyâI thinkâthat my kids are in very good shape, and we love each other. And I think theyâre really, really great kids. But they had such a wonderful chance of being totally screwed up by the way they grew up. And I was told by my teacher that family doesnât count. TheÂ DharmaÂ counts. Family is like a one lifetime thing. The Dharma is forever. Itâs a whole different way of thinking, and I bought into it. In those twenty years, for me, the whole thing was that scene.
Eve:Â Man, Iâm glad that I didnât know you then.
Bernie:Â Yeah, and Iâm sorry that I knew me then!
OK, letâs go eat.
Audience member 14:Â How about taking care of your own body in that time? Loveâtaking care of your own body.
Bernie:Â I didnât do any of those things. Anything that you can think of that sort of seems sentimental, or helpfulâno. No, that wasnât my lifeâin those twenty yearsâit was before. But that experience that I had of the unity of life, within the environment I was inâthat experience put me on a track, which I donât find good or healthy at this point in my lifeâbut then I did. And that was a twenty-year path.
OK JosĂ©. Letâs go eat.
It would have been a better pathâI thinkâfor monastics. So somebody like Dogen, yeah, no problem.
So, this is my second twenty years in Zenâsort of the second twenty. I will start around 1976. Thatâs about forty years ago. I had just received dharma transmission from my teacher. Iâm not sure exactly when that wasâI should know, it might have been â75; it might have been â76. Sometimes I waste a little time trying to figure out years. But 1976 was the opening of a monastery in New York, Dai Bosatsu Monastery that Eido Shimano Roshi was in charge of. And he started inâthat celebration started with a one week Sesshin, which he invited people from different Zen centers across the country. And I was invited to represent our Zen Center of Los Angeles. And I already had had dharma transmission. So that was July â76âthat Sesshinâso somewhere before that.
But more important in â76, was this experience I had in which . . . So until all of that, I was in the mode of, you know, your samurai Zen teacher. And then in 1976 on my way to work, I was in a car with four people, driving to work. I had about an hour trip to go to work. And I had an experience, which Iâve talked a lot about, because it was so important in my life. It was an experience of feeling all of the hungry spirits, or ghosts in the universeâall suffering, as we all do, not just the Palestinians, everyone is suffering.
And they were suffering for different things. Some were suffering because they didnât have enough enlightenment. Some were suffering because they didnât have enough food. Some were suffering because they didnât have enough love. Some were suffering because they didnât have enough fame. Some were suffering because they didnât have enough housing. Some were suffering because they had bad teethâlike me, all kinds of sufferings.
And what came up immediately was a vow. So itâs another case of these Three Tenets, you know. I had been for a few weeksâa little context; a few weeks before, I had had this question about reincarnation, which I might talk about in my third phase. But I had this question about reincarnation. And I went to Maezumi Roshi, and I said, âCan you talk with me about reincarnation?â And he said, âGo read the letters of . . .â I canât remember her name. InÂ The Three Pillars of Zen, the young woman who was dying. And Harada Roshi visited her, and there were letters back and forth between them. She had an experience, an enlightenment experience. He thought it was very deep. They had letters going back . . .
Eve:Â Is that Ken Wilburâs wife?
Bernie:Â No.Â Three Pillars of Zen, it was edited by Phillip Kapleau. Itâs a Zen book. I canât remember her name exactly, but itâs something like Iayda. So anyway, I had read them. Theyâre not very long. And I was sort of bearing witness to those letters, because somewhere, somehow they had something to do with reincarnation, because thatâs what my teacher said I should read.
But at any rate, so out of that, in this car ride to work, pops up this vision of all of these hungry spirits. And immediately it also popped up, those are all aspects of me. Just remember, my experience was that everything is me. So whatever pops up, thatâs me. And all of these hungry aspects of myself popped up. And an action came out of that, which was a vow to serve, to feedâit was really more to feed all of these hungry spirits.
So until then, I had decided that my work was going to be in the meditation hall, and in a temple. I had quit for the fourth and last time my job at McDonnell Douglas. And I was now a full time Zen teacher. And I was going to work only in the meditation hall, and work only with people who came to our Zendo, and wanted to be trained.
But now I made this vow to work withÂ allÂ these hungry spirits. So that meant I had to change the venue, change the place I worked. And now it was still to work in the meditation hall, but also to work in all of life, all of society.
And then the big question arose to me; what would be useful to help people in these different spheres of lifeâlike business people, and entertainment people, and social action people, and all these people? What would be good, what we call upayas, expedient means, or ways of helping people to experience the oneness of life in those spheres? All of my training had been in the meditation hall. I was trained in how to run Sesshins, how to use the kyosaku properly, how to wear my robes properly. I had been trained in koan systems. I had done two different koan systems. So that was a lot of koansâaround six/seven hundred koans. I was trained in how to teach people to do meditation, in different waysâwith breathing, with Shikantaza, different styles. And I also had been interested in interfaith work, so I had been trained in Christian meditation, in Jewish meditation. Those are my trainings. But I didnât think that would work in the business world.
So this was my new kind of studyâwhat would be the method? Also, I have to say that this may have been influenced by the fact that for a number of years before â76âwell, for a long timeâin our Zen Center of Los Angeles, we had morning liturgy, afternoon liturgy, and evening liturgy. And itâs sort of prescribed what that liturgy is in the Soto sect. Thereâs some choices, some variety, but the evening service that we did was calledÂ Kan Ro Mon. And we did it all in Japanese (itâs really Chineseâbut Japanese pronunciations). And somehow, that service really affected me. And I knew nothing about what it was about, because I was just chanting these Japanese words. It turns out that that serviceâand I sort of start finding this out after the experience of the hungry spiritsâthat service is about feeding the hungry spirits, in the five Buddha fields.
So, I then worked with my teacher to translate that into English. And itâs all about the mandala, and the different entities that live in the mandala. The mandala is divided into five Buddha fields, five types of energies. And those energies . . . Thatâs a modelâIâm a mathematician, so we work with models, so thatâs one model. But that model is a way of dividing life. The mandala is a circle, so thatâs a whole life. And then itâs dividing it into five kinds of energiesâa spiritual energy, a social action energy, a business energy, a study energy, and a relationship energy. Weâve talked a lot about relationship energy, so thatâs one wholeâthereâs a Sanskrit term,Â padmaÂ is relationship energy.
And my book,Â Instructions to the CookÂ describes the Buddhist principles I used to develop this project called Greyston, in terms of these five Buddha fields.Â And in the book, it calls it five different types of foods. You know, but itâs the five energies.
Anyway, so that was quite surprising to me, that hereâs a serviceâwe had many different liturgies that we chantedâbut hereâs one that somehow really attracted me, without my knowing any of the words. And then I had this experience, and it turns out that itâs dealing with the same thing, in a senseâwell, in a big sense. In a big sense.
Now, in Japan that service was used particularly for all of the spirits in those five Buddha families that were being neglected, for various reasons. So it could be that somebody died in a war. And in those days, a long time ago, it might take thirty years before news came back that somebody had died. So that service was for all of those that had died and nobody knew about itâthat they had died. It was for, like in our case in New York, for the homeless that nobodyâs taking care of. Itâs for all of those that are not being taken care of. And in a sense, for all of the parts of our selves that arenât being taken care of, which leads to all of these hungry spirits. You know, I need more fame. Whoâs going to take care of that? Whoâs going to give me more fame? Or I need more money, or I need more love. So that particular service is about that.
Now we madeâbecause itâs such an important service for meâthat has become, for a long time now, the main service of the Zen Peacemaker Order. And there are many places, many centers that will chant that, and recite that on somewhat of a regular basis. And I alsoâbecause it was so important to meâI divided it, line by line, into koans. I created a new koan system based on that. And only a few people reallyâa number of people studied those koans with me, but only a few finished. Eve is one of those. So she wound up doing workshops on how to perform the liturgy, in terms of the gongs, and the booms, and thereâs a lot ofâthereâs horns blowing [makes a horn noise], thereâs all kinds of stuff there. And of course thereâs the meaning. And sheâs done that workshop in Europe a few times.
OK, so I had that experience in â76, and by â79 I was planning to leave the Zen Center of Los Angeles and move back to my original home, which was New York. And I started to meet with people in the New York area to create a board, and to plan where we would start, and how it would be. And I talked to them about the factâwhen I came back to New YorkâI wanted to build a society, an actual society in the city. A little bit like the old cathedrals were, where they were a whole city. And the community we built, I wanted to build it via the five Buddha families. And that meant that we were going to be involved in social action, and business, and all these different things.
And most of the people just laughed at me, and said, âYouâre crazy, Bernie. What we want is for you to come here, and set up a Zendo. And thatâs why youâre coming here. We want to sit with you, and study koans, and do that.â I said, âWell, that may be what you want, but Iâm coming here to do that.â And they said, âAaach, youâre not. We still want you to come, and we donât believe you.â You know, âthis wonât happen.â Thatâs what they said to me, these people before I came. I have the minutes of those meetings.
So anyway, we moved to New York, and I started to build this mandala. First I built a spiritual base, and then the study base, and then the business base to give us resources, and then the social action base. And all along, I was looking how does this work in terms of relationship? How do we keep it so it stays a full mandala? At that time, I think I was the only one involved in that thinking. Everybody else was pretty much it was a regular Zendo, but just for a while. And then, they start shifting, and many people left. People would leave because I wasnât doing what they wanted. It was a little bit crazy. But we were doing a real life plan.
So, for me what was happening while we were doing our meditations, and koan study, and different Zen studies, and teaching people that, at the same time we were trying to develop a work practice. What do you do, in terms of work, that would help the people who are working experience the unity of life? That was my question. So my question, as we started to work in these different fields was not just how do we do a good job? Or in social action, how do we help? My question was how do we do it in a way that helps the people that are doing the work, and the people that are being servedâhow do we do it in a way that helps both of them experience the oneness of life? That was always my question. And that question has never stopped. And itâs at the forefront of what I do.
So Iâm not doing things just becauseâI mean thereâs so much that needs to be done. And the worldâs full of a lot of people. My particular study and practice was how do you do that in a way that helps the people that are doing it, and the people that are being served experience the oneness of life?
Whatâs interesting to meâone of the things thatâs interesting to meâis that in my early years (in the first twenty years), whenever I gave a talk (I was always giving talks. Iâm a terrible writer. I canât write, but I can talk. And many times people have to figure out how to shut me up. Once I start talking . . . ), so in those first twenty years, whenever I gave a talk, always there would be some people that would say, âHow do we bring this into our life? I understand about how you sit now, but how do I bring it into my life?â Always I had that question. And you probably heard that question yourself once or twiceâbut, always.
In the second twenty years, never, never heard that question. Because when people saw me talking, what they saw was somebody who was bringing it into his life. Thatâs my feelingâwhy that question never arose again, after the first twenty years. So thatâs an important little piece of information, because in those first twenty years, always we said that the practice has to be in your life. I mean thatâs what my teacher said, and my teacherâs teacher. You know, I studied with Yasutani Roshi, with Koryu Roshi, Maezumi Roshi. They always said that, and people like werenât seeing it. Because if they saw it, they wouldnât have asked the question. But they kept asking the question, âHow do we bring it into our life?â So thatâs important to look at, I think.
So, we got into business. We built a bakery. But it was all in a plan. My plan, as I said, was first to build the spiritual base. We had a very good sitting schedule, and Sesshin every month, a lot of Sesshins. We had liturgy, and people learning. Eve is fantastic at liturgyâsheâs not a priest, but she knows all of the liturgy, how to hit the bells, and all of that kind of stuff. So she can teach people that. But we did liturgy, we did all of that. And we had a lot of study. And of course we studied the five Buddha families. And we did studies of all of the various texts, and all that kind of stuff.
And we had some small business, but I wanted to create a big business. And we started something. We spent about six months to figure out what we would do, because I wanted something that could be used as a work practice. Now most of you probably know, if you go back into China, and even Japan, a lot of the monks in temples, they were supported by the monks working. They were farmers. They had rice crops, different things. And in fact, the man (he was Chinese), the man who wrote the first ruleâin Zen Peacemakers Order we have a rule, thatâs what makes it anÂ order. There was a rule; the first rule for Zen made Zen anÂ order. The first rule was written by a guy whoâsâthe Japanese pronunciation isÂ Hyakujo, everybody knows Hyakujo, who studied Zen. And heâs the guy who said âA day of no work is a day of no food.â And when he got olderânow I think he got really old, he got to maybe seventy-five [audience laughs]âand they took away his tools (the gardening tools, and whatever), because he was too old. He was getting dizzy, or fainting, or whatever. They said, âNo more work for you, man.â And so he said, âOK. No more work, no more food.â And he stopped eating. Now eventually they tried to convince him, âYou gotta eat.â âNo. If Iâm not working, Iâm not gonna eat.â So they had to give him back his tools.
Audience member:Â Meshugenah.
Audience member:Â Him.
Bernie:Â âHe was a meshugenah,â she says. [Audience laughs]
He wrote the first rule, which is a very interesting rule, if you read it. Because he said that you canât have any images in a Zendo, or in a Zen Center. Because, he said, if you put images in, then before you know it people are going to start asking you to make prayers for the Lords to win their battles, and for rain to come, and they take you away from the practiceâwhich for him was the sitting.
So Iâm switching back and bringing new idols into the Zendo. And those idols are serving all the hungry spirits. And I had one member, when I introduced and talked about this service . . .Â Kan Ro Mon in English translates asÂ The Gate of Sweet Nectar. And itâs not a direct translation, pretty direct, but I included some pieces from some other traditions. So one of my members got really mad. She said she wouldnât chant it because she had enough troubles of her own, and did not want to bring all of these hungry spirits into the space. And in that chant, weâre inviting all of the hungry spirits to come into our space, so that we could suffer with them, and take care. And she says, âLeave me alone already! Iâve got enough suffering!â
So, we started the business, and we built this Greystonâfirst a bakery, to make money. And as soon as we were OK financially, we started to expand what we were doing. And what I did isâI didnât have a plan as to what we would do. Iâd listen to what was going on. We built our bakery in a very poor part of town. And Iâd listen to what was going on in that poor part of town. And it seemed like the biggest issue was homelessness, and single parent homelessness. There were crack vials everywhere on the streets, so drugs was also big.
So out of bearing witness to what was happening where we were, we started to do things. First, to feed people in the local soup kitchens, but then we started to build housing, permanent housing for people. But you couldnât give somebody an apartment that didnât have a job. They would lose the apartment. So at the same time, we were creating jobs. And if youâre a single parent, you canât work in that area either. You couldnât get childcare. We didnât have the social system you have here. So, we had to build childcare. And there were drugs everywhere. So we had to get involved in drugs.
So we looked at the whole picture, essentially again bearing witness to what was going on. And out of that, came this Greyston model. And this Greyston model was built on the Buddhist principles. What we did came out of the Three Tenets. And the structure is intimately involved with these five Buddha families.
And Iâm going to present a program on how all that happened, and what those details are in New York. And I found out that Barbara wanted to attend that. And now Cornelius is going to attend that. So weâll have various folks that have studied that whole way of doing things, and that model. I find it, of course, very interesting, because thatâs what I did.
But what comes out of that is itâs not the Zendo anymore. What comes out of that, when you work with all five energies of that mandalaâyouâre working in all of society. And we donât have all these techniques developed in those five spheres of how to help folks experience the oneness of life. Remember, thatâs what Buddhism means. So itÂ hasÂ to be based on that. So it means we still have work. We developed a bunch of upayas. And some very importantâthat Iâm going to talk on the third twenty years. But at this time we were still exploring how do you serve, how do you take care in a Buddhist way?
I did not introduce any Buddhist notions to our staff. Most of the staff are people that either had been homeless, drug addicts, convicts. We hired them right off of the street. We do no checking of their backgrounds. They have to work well. If they donât, their buddies fire them. We do not preach any Buddhist values. But the whole structure, the whole environment theyâre working in was informed, in my opinion, by our Buddhist values.
So, itâs fascinating, this started thirty-two years ago. Itâs still growing very nicely. Itâs done so many wonderful things. The staff is about 180 people. Most people came off the streets. We have a program, calledÂ Pathmaker Program, which works with a person on their life, in terms of the five Buddha energies. What do they want their life to be, in terms of spirituality, in terms of work, in terms of study, in terms of relationship, and in terms of social action?
And about a year agoâwe had a person in charge of that programâabout a year ago, she worked with the staff on the vision, and mission, things like that that most companies do. And she first asked the people to think about what do they think is the spirituality of Greyston. Now, remember these are folks that never heard of Buddhism. They knew there was this guy Bernie, that was the founder. I came back, about a couple years ago, this work, the mission work was started before I came back. But they knew that this was all started by this Zen monk. So at least that was the myth about me. There was this guy Bernie who started it. But they didnât know anything about Buddhism. There is a Zendo in that building. And there is a teacher that lives in New York. But none of the staff were going to that. Some other people went to the Zendo. But they knew that there was such a thing as meditation. They saw people going.
At any rate, they worked, and they came up with three principles of spirituality of Greyston. The first principleâthis is what they came up withâthe first principle was that we should listen to what other people have to say. The second principle that they came up with is that we should get to know what their lives are about. And the third principle they came up with; we should serve the community.
These are folks that when they first came into Greyston, they didnât care about anybody but themselvesâwhere to get a hit (Is that the language you use? Whatâs the German word forÂ a hit? To get drugs, how to get some drugs.). They didnât care about their wives, their families. So after a certain amount of time, one of their principles was how to serve the community.
So, I have an opinion that this was a way of teaching folks about the oneness of life. We had some other little tricks that had to do with the work, and whatever. But people were really getting that. Now theyâre asking for meditation.Â TheyâreÂ asking for meditationâto come into our meditation. I now come down once a week, but they want to bring mindfulness throughout the whole company. And weâre talking about bringing council throughout the whole company.
But if you come and visit, Iâm sure you will feel that thereâs something unusual about Greyston. Itâs many buildingsâmany, many, buildings. Itâs quite large. You know, itâs not just in one town. Itâs a few different towns. It works with seniors, and youths, and with AIDS, and with all kinds of things. But if you come, youâll feel something different. And because of that, itâs being studied. The model is being studied in many of our colleges. But when they study it in our colleges, they leave out the spiritual component. And I think, therefore they will miss the point. Thatâs my opinion.
And so we developed a little course too, to show them. So besides Barbara and Cornelius that are going to attend that, thereâll be many different business people that want to bring that model into their companiesâboth in U.S. and in Europe. Thatâs gonna happen.
So after a while, we had built this Greyston, it was going along. Eve had a few different jobs at Greyston. She worked in sales, selling cakes and stuff.
Eve:Â I hated it.
Bernie:Â I didnât know that. She worked in fundraising. And sheâs a great writer, and she wrote a proposal. We started an AIDS facility for both a health clinic, and housing. And our governor put out a proposalâthey were going to give a million/two million, do you remember?
Eve:Â I think ours was a million and a half.
Bernie:Â A million and a half dollars for what they thought was the best AIDS program in the country. And she wrote the proposal, and we won that. So we had a lot of little, and big, or different kinds of things that happened. One of the things that I thought is fantastic isâIn the United States, New York is considered to make the best cheesecakes in the country. They donât count Europe. So, in the United States, New York is the best area for cheesecakes. And there was a newspaper (it doesnât do it any more), it used to do an annual award for the best Cheesecake in New York. And we won that award. And for me, what was so fantastic is that the best cheesecake in New York, which means the best in the country, was made by people that our country considered garbageâthat threw away those people, didnât consider they could do anything. So all of the products that were made at Greyston were superb. And they are all being made by former homeless, former prisoners/convicts, former drug people. I just love that. That was quite wonderful.
So after a number of years, I felt it was time for me to move on. Iâm a very unstable person. And when things become . . . well, at any rate, I donât want to get sidetracked. It became time to move on, for me. And there were people who I felt could do a great jobâmaybe better. Iâm good at the initial vision. Iâm not such a great administrator. So when things go into that phase where it has to be more operational, Iâm not necessarily the best. I like to keep creating new things.
So at any rate, I decided I wanted to do something else. And because of the work at Greyston, and also my Zen work, I had traveled a lot, and met wonderful groups all around the world doing all kinds of beautiful things. So I decided to do something else, but I didnât know what.Â ButÂ I had the Three Tenets. So, what did I do? I had no plan of what to do. This was 1994, so itâs still during that second twenty years. And I decided to bear witness to that question of what should I do?
And the way I did it is I chose a place to go sit, and do meditation, and to bear witness on the question. And I raised the question for myself, I said, âWhat should I do next to work with people that are being rejected by society, in particular AIDS, homeless, poverty? What should I do?â It was my fifty-fifth birthday. And since it was my birthday, I invited people to join me in the sitting, with that theme. To bear witness to thatâitâs like a koan. Thatâs what you do when you do koans. You bear witness to the koan. So hereâs a koan, letâs bear witness to it. And about twenty people cameâor I donât remember, something like that.
And I decided I always like to do things on a very special spot. So I chose that we would do this, we would sit on the steps of the Capitol of the United States, in Washington, DC. And we went there. My birthday is January 18th, so itâs very cold there. And it turned out to be the coldest week in fifty years in Washington, DC, so we were covered with snow. And we have pictures of that.
And something arose out of that bearing witness. And what arose was the Zen Peacemaker Order. What arose, to me, was that we should build a container for people who are interested in meditation and social engagement. And I went home, and discussed it with my wife. Her name is Jishu, and she passed away in â98âMarch, â98. So I went homeâthis was â94âwent home, discussed it with her. And she said it was a great idea. And she said, âLetâs base it on preceptsâon a rule, on the Three Tenets, and on precepts.â And we decided to spend a yearâI donât know if we decided to spend a year, but we wound up spending a yearâworking on that rule with a bunch of wonderful teachers. Eve was one of those. Joan Halifax (some of you know) was one of those. A woman Egyoku, sheâs now the Abbot in Los Angeles was one of those. Genro Gaunt, if youâve been to Auschwitz, you know himâbut he comes here to Switzerland a lotâso he was one of those. Pat Enkyo OâHara was one of those. And we sat, and we talked about precepts for about a year. And those are now called the Zen Peacemaker Order Precepts. And we have a Zen Peacemaker Order Rule, which consists of the Three Treasures (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha), the Three Tenets, those Ten Precepts, and Four Commitments, which were proposed and developed during the World Congress of Religions (we adapted). So that was the beginning of Zen Peacemaker Order.
Iâm gonna stop there. When did we go to Auschwitz?
Bernie:Â â96. So tomorrow, we start in â96. So that brings us up to â95, around the same time, maybe a little later than â95. I forget, but Iâm gonna close that middle twenty years that way. And tomorrow we start in the next twenty years. So letâs open it to dialogue. We only have ten minutes, so you gotta ask quick. We got eight minutes, because Eve wants two minutes.
Audience member 1:Â My question Bernie, yesterday you looked back on the first twenty years in Zen. I wonder what continued from your first twenty years in the second twenty years?
Bernie:Â It continued all the timeâtill now. I mean, youâre here. It continues all the time, but it expanded. What I consider Zen training expanded. And Iâll talk about that tomorrow. This is Indraâs net, so we could say that the first twenty years, it was a portion of the net. The net is all of life, and we were working with one portion. And the second twenty, there was a bigger portion, but this is still a part.
Audience member 2:Â I hear you talking about your path, and Iâm wondering is it me just beginning to come over to understand, what is your path. And your path, what you want to bring for us to recognizeâor to bring us, to share your path for us, where you want to give a gift to us to continue, or for now where you want to pass on to us to continue on your journey, or one we can put in. So really, really like to ask for Buddha path Master here, now, present also reflection our Master in everyone. So for me, right now, I would like to ask one question. You are talking about your path, what you want to bring for us in the moment, and for us to bring in to the future? Thank you.
Bernie:Â I think, in my opinion, what youâre saying sounds true to me. It sounds like the reason Iâve been doing workshops, and things of this nature is to offer this path that Iâve done, and for those who like it, to jump into it.
Itâs not always been what Iâve been wanting to do. Iâve been very active in building Greyston, and doing these different things that Iâve done. And what happenedâIâll tell you the explicit thing that happened that changed me into doing this, to including thisâis I was invited to do a dialogue with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, in Frankfurt, five years ago. And it was His Holiness, myself, and a Catholic Priest and Abbot (Iâm forgetting his name, he has a beard, very involved in social engagement, who, I believe he is in Frankfurt). So he was the third, three of us, and it was in this big soccer stadium, about 15,000 peopleâthe Frankfurt soccer/football stadium. And at the time, I asked him (the man who was organizing, a wonderful newscaster, like a Charlie Rose of Germany, Iâm forgetting his name) . . . And he asked if I would come, and I said, âWhy me? Iâm an American.â And this was in Frankfurt, and it should be a German Buddhist person doing social action. And he said, âWe donât have any.â That was shocking to me. So, I actually GoogledÂ German Buddhist social activist, and I came up withÂ Bernie Glassman. [Audience laughs]
So I went. And Willigis Jager was there, with his assistant at the time. And Willigis Jager was Corneliusâ teacher. And he studied with Yamada Roshi in the Sanbo Kyodan. And he has stayed at our place in New York, when he was on his way back from Japan. He did Zen studies in Japan. So we talked then, but I hadnât seen him since then. That was like â81. So we spent some time talking. And his assistant said to me, âCould you start giving talks here in Germany, because social action is a very important thing, and nobodyâs talking about it? No Buddhists are talking about it.â So I thought about it, and I started to do it. I hadnât been doing these kind of workshops before thatâmostly. It was mostly just in projects. And thatâs what started me doing it.
So, yes, the direct answer is thatâs why I was doing it. I did it, trying to hook people up to do projects themselves, to get Buddhists to know that itâs not bad (a lot of Buddhists felt it was bad to doâsocial engaged work).
Eve:Â Weâre running out of time. So, this is not just an answer for you, but for everyone, for the rest of today.
So this today was taking Zen out of the Zendoânot leaving the Zendo, but taking out to the world. And tomorrow itâs taking Zen to the streets. So, I think when you asked, âWhat is it that weâre getting from the story?â Itâs the question for everybody here (including us) continually is how do we take this practice into every area of our life? Every area of your life, and my life.
So Bernie gave his answer. It was social action, it was business, but he also said, âThere are many sectors where practices have not been developed yet.â Because Buddhism was monastic, so a huge area where it has not been developed is the homeâfamily, children. Itâs one of the biggest concerns people have. What do I do with this practice that was monastic for 2,000 years, and now weâre bringing it to the West, and making it available everywhere? But, what do I do? What do I do with my children? What do I do with the person I live with? What do I do?
And in all these areas, I think everybody has to startâif youâre interested in what heâs presenting, so yes that includes social action, and everything, but includes every area. And I think it would be a really nice thing if for the rest of the day, everybody works on what are the practices that Iâm trying to develop in the different areas ofÂ my life? That, as he said, will bring people to see and experience the oneness.
Bernie:Â And donât answer the question by saying, âmeditation.â We know, meditation, we know thatâs it. What else?
Bernie:Â At first there was no Indraâs Net. So thatâs like when Indra says to Heinz, âBuild me a monument.â There was no idea what to build. And thenÂ boom, an action arose. So, in science, they say the Big Bang arose, and energy starts expanding. It expanded to a certain distance, but it kept expanding, it never stopped. It kept expanding, still expanding. And they called the universeâall of thatâenergy. And I call that also, thatâs all energy. And I also call itÂ Indraâs Net.
Now somewhere along the line, things started to happen, and other actions arose. And those actions got called names. Just like when we have an action, we then name itâbecause we canât stand not naming things. Itâs very hard. We gotta name it. âOh, thatâs good. Thatâs bad. Thatâs suffering. Thatâs pleasure.â We gotta name it, man. We canât deal just with the thing. Thatâs too much somehowâor too little. So we give it names.
So as this stuff expanded, they start giving it names. They gave the whole thing the name,Â Universe. And thenÂ boop, these other actions happened, and they called themÂ galaxies. And then they called other thingsÂ suns, and other thingsÂ planets, and other thingsÂ people, and other thingsÂ cockroaches. They gave names to everything that aroseâall the stuff that arose.
Basically, itâs all energy. Thatâs my opinion. See, what Iâm giving you . . . Donât take it like itâs the . . . Well, I donât believe in truth. I was going to say âthe truth, according to Bernie.â But I donât believe in truth. So, itâsÂ Bernieâs opinion.
All this energy, and all these things are arising, thatâs the Indraâs Net. And each thing that we gave a name, like a cockroachâthatâs a pearl. Or we think of a unicorn, and we think âunicorn.â Thatâs a pearl. So all these things that arose are pearls thatÂ everythingÂ is contained in them. Thatâs why Shakyamuni Buddha, bless his heart, said 2,500 years ago (a little bit more than 2,500 now, huh?), he said, âEverything as it is, is.â The enlightened wayâitâs all one. Heâs talking about that whole Indraâs Net, or that whole energy field, or an individual. So within that individual, thatâs one net, one pearl. Everything is contained.
But because (and hereâs the rub), because of our deluded thinking (I donât know if he used the wordÂ deluded,Â maybe we can just sayÂ thinking.), the brain works dualistically. And so the brain is naming everything, and causing separations. Because of that, we only see a certain portion of the net. Or we onlyÂ grokÂ a portion of the net. Itâs not that we see it necessarily, but all of the things that come up is in this sub-portion of the net. As we deepen (This, again is my explanation of enlightenment) our sense of the interconnectedness of life, we are experiencing more, and more of this energy fieldâor more, and more of Indraâs Net, which now includes more, and more things.
So if I could extend/deepen my interconnectedness of life to theÂ wholeÂ energy field, or the whole Indraâs Net, you see what that means? What that means is that you now understand Jungâs âCosmic Consciousness.â Because thatâs what Jung said, there is a cosmic consciousness. And itâs all of that. And we are part of that.
And so, when I now see something, I say, âOh, thatâs my reincarnation.â That means Iâve extended my experience of interconnectedness to include that part of the energy field thatâs my reincarnationâor your reincarnation.
OK, I wanted to set that all straight before I go into this, my next twenty years. It all makes sense, right?
And of course, itâs just an opinion. But it satisfies me. Now that opinion took me sixty years to develop. And itâs not that I developed it. It just came out of something. The elementsâIâve been talking about Indraâs Net for probably fifty-five years. Iâve been talking about the Big Bang in this way for probably about twenty years. Putting it all together all happened because . . . And Iâve been thinking about reincarnation for a long, long time. Because if you remember, yesterday I said that experience I had of all the hungry spirits came by my bearing witness to reincarnation. So thatâs what had happened. Recently, in the last six months, somebody asked meâtheyâre writing a book about reincarnation, and they asked if they could do a chapter on me. And they asked me about reincarnation. And this is what came up. I hadnât thought of this before. So, in my head, this is an opinion that arose six months ago. But this fits in very well with the experience I had, what is it, forty years ago? Iâm losing track of timeâwhen I experienced the hungry spirits. That came out of bearing witness to reincarnationâstarting with no idea of what it was. I had read all kinds of things, you know, as you have Iâm sure. Thereâs so many different theories. The Jewish mystics have a theory. Of course the Tibetan Buddhists have a theory. Thereâs a lot of theories around reincarnation. Iâve read, Iâve studied all that stuff. But it was out of bearing witness that the opinions that I share come from. I very rarely share what I read. So I wanted to put that in context.
So now weâre starting the next twenty years. You have a sense by now, probably why for me; the Three Tenets is such an important way of practice. Because in my life, it just lead to such amazing changes, and opinions. Every opinion of course, youâve got to get rid of, or at least explore deeper, and deeper. And certainly, donât think that youâve experienced some kind of truth. Itâs an opinion. But theyâve been wonderful for me.
Eve:Â So Bernie, all these opinions are also pearls.
Bernie:Â Yes, exactly. Everything is a pearl. Every thought is a pearl. When somebody says, âThis is the right thing.â Thatâs a pearl. So all that stuff is contained in us too. And thatâs why it is not easy to let go of all thoseÂ facts, that are pearls that are shining in us. They have their own power. And if that power is strong enough, that leads to our knowing certain things for sure. What I think is fascinating is when we know things for sure, then we can blame, right? When we donât know things for sure, we canât blame. Everybodyâs to blame. I mean if itâs all this energy field, man, how do you blame anybody? Itâs all interconnected, but once we know for sure things, then we can blame and say all kinds of stuff.
Iâm at the beginning of this next phase, so Iâll give the history. And since Eve was involved, she will give her version, when my version doesnât correspond with her versionâwhich most likely will happen.
So I had a student that many of you probably know, named Claude AnShin Thomas. And when I met him he had already been pretty heavily involved with Thich Nhat Hanh. He had been in the Vietnam War. He had had a mental breakdown. He was a very confused person. He couldnât sleep at night, you know. Heâd be kept up by the bombs, and all kinds of things. He had been a tailgate gunner on a helicopter, shooting people. And then he had a nervous breakdown. At any rate, he came to me wanting to know if he could ordain with me, and be my student. And for many different reasons I agreed. And it turned out that he was soon going to be involved in a walk. He did a lot of walking. His practice was walking. He walked across Europe. He walked all over. And very soonâmaybe a year, I canât remember the timingâhe was going to join a bunch of Buddhist monks who chant theÂ Lotus SutraÂ (demonstrates chanting), and they march and beat a drum, and chantâand they walk. Their practice is walking and social engagement. So somebody here was confused about Japanese maybe not being involved in social engagementâtheir leader, sort of a Gandhi kind of guy in Japan told them if they werenât in jail half of the year, they werenât being a good monk. They had to do resistance. That was part of their practice, and walking.
So they were planning a walk from Auschwitz to Hiroshimaâthrough all of the war-torn countries. And AnShin had decided to join them. So I said that I would go with him to Auschwitz, and give him lay whatâs calledÂ Jukai. Jukai means taking the Precepts, as a layperson. And I would do that at Auschwitz. And then I would join to the last month of that walk, and ordain him as a Priest at the helicopter site where he was stationed in Vietnam.
And it turned out there was an interfaith conference being held at Auschwitz, in regards to this walk. And so different people were invited for this interfaith conference. And the group that was going to walk was sitting in Birkenau during the conference. And we were all wishing them well. Then they started their walk. So I decided to go to the interfaith conference. It was my first time to Auschwitz.
And Eve was on her way to Israel to visit her family, so she said sheâll stop off with me. And that was also her first time physically to Auschwitz. Her mother was a Holocaust survivor, so the Holocaust was part of her daily growing up. But this was the first physical time to Auschwitz. So we went.
And then there was a tour; I mean there was all this conference stuff. For those of you that have been to Auschwitz, thatâs where I met Ginny. She was at that conference. Iâm not sure if there was anybody else at that conference whoâs been a part of our retreats. There was a Lakota man there. The Lakota elders have come to Auschwitz, and weâll have a Bearing Witness retreat with Native Americans one day. But at any rate, we went, and part of that workshop is they give a tour. And so in the tour we entered Birkenau. And I was struck againâlike before when I was struck by all the hungry spirits suffering, and wanting to be fed, wanting their suffering to be relievedâso now I was struck by the feeling of souls. In my head it was like millions of souls wanting to be remembered.
And so again, this came out of my bearing witness to that placeâthis action of these souls arising, wanting to be remembered. And that sent me on a path of designing a retreat that would work with that theme. It took about a year and a half to design the retreat. And whatâs fascinating to me is this will be the eighteenth year, or nineteenth year, I donât know . . .
Eve:Â I think itâs twenty.
Bernie:Â This is the twentieth year? It might be the twentieth year. Eve is a very good historian. I have a very bad time with that kind of thing.
At any rate, so itâs a long time. And at each of these retreatsâI havenât been to all of them, maybe three or four that I didnât goâand in all of these retreats, when Iâm there, I always talk about for me, what the retreat is aboutâwhich has to do with remembering. See, these souls, whatâs fascinating to me is that most people who come pick a few souls. Maybe the Jewish soulsâthe Poles in the first retreat picked the Jewish and the Germans. They said, âItâs all about you guys. Itâs got nothing to do with us.â Everybody in that is saying, âThis is what itâs about.â
Iâm saying itâs aboutÂ all. Itâs how we treat the other. I mean thatâs where the handicap were killed. Thatâs where gays were killed. Thatâs where the gypsies were killed. Thatâs where the Polish intellectuals were killed. Thatâs where the Catholics were killed. Thatâs where the Jews were killed. Thatâs a lot of people, man.
So for all those years I was saying that. And other people were writing âOh no, itâs about the German/Jewish thing.â Thatâs too narrow. Nothing is that narrow. Thatâs our way of thinkingânarrow. Itâs like thinking the Israel/Palestine thing is about the Israelis or the Palestinians. Itâs not about either one. Itâs not even about the Middle East. Itâs about the gestalt of this Indraâs Net, and why we are constantly picking on each other, or doing things. Whatâs the deal here? Once we narrow it to one group, âoh itâs what the Germans doâ, and then they feel guilty or, âoh itâs about this.â We lose the picture, man. I think, in my opinion, if you donât see the whole net, you go astray. And youâll cause more problems. Thatâs my opinion.
So I tried to devise such a retreat, and we called it a Bearing Witness Retreat, and in my head a Bearing Witness Retreat would come out of two thingsâa place, Iâve always been interested in the place. So Zen Peacemaker Order, that retreat a few of us chose the place, the Capital, Washington, and out of that came something. This time the place for me was Birkenau. And the theme wasÂ how we treat others. But because I chose Birkenau, for most people the theme is the Holocaust. Thatâs never been my theme, and Iâve said that each time. I keep repeating it, because it still amazes me.
And I just received something thatâs going to be a book thatâs going to be published thatâs gonna talk about the transformations that different people had. And in the introduction it talks about this whole retreat was to commemorate or to deal with the Holocaust. And I donât know how many times Iâve said that thatâs not what itâs about, the retreat. But at any rate, youâll see I have hot spots too that get pushed. But also whatâs interesting to me is how hard it is to look at the whole picture. You know, to look at the bigger picture of whatâs going on.
So at any rate, out of that experience we spent a year and a half, and Eve was instrumental. In my opinion there were three cofounders of that retreatâmyself, Eve, and a Polish man, AndrĂ© Kudelski. Some of you know AndrĂ©, and some donât. We couldnât have done it without any of thoseâall three of those had essential roles to make that work. And all three have been involved over all these years. But we havenât necessarily gone to every one. One of the times that I didnât goâand in that retreat we have Spirit Holders . . . And the role of the Spirit Holder is to stay tuned to the gestalt of the retreat. And if itâs getting away from the intention, to change the schedule, to tweak the schedule. You know, weâve modified the schedule many, mnay, many, many times. Itâs pretty good, but still it needs to be tweaked each year. And hopefully those Spirit Holders can do that.
Now as I got closer to feeling that Iâm not around that much, and whatever, I started some training programs for those Spirit Holders. So that we could discussâfor the Spirit Holders, and also for the next generation of Bearing Witness Retreat leadersâso that we can grok more what role does the Three Tenets have to play in these Bearing Witness Retreats. So when the Spirit Holder says, âWe should tweak it,â they should be tweaking it because itâs getting away from the Three Tenets.
And of course one big way that it gets away we ran into the second time that we wanted to do it. I was very concerned because people that attended the first retreat were telling people that were thinking of coming about how wonderful it was, and how they were going to be transformed into loving people, and all this healing. And I didnât want people to be telling people what it was about, because that was breaking the first Tenet. They were not coming in a state of not knowing. They were coming expecting to be transformed, and this is going to be a lovely experience. For me that was very harmful to what that retreat was supposed to be about. And I put a lot of energy into the first one to help plunge into that not knowing state.
Now that still continues, and still the beginning helps you do that, but thereâs been a lot of talk, and a lot of other stuff. So we have to work with that. And the Spirit Holders have to look, and it continues through the retreat due to what goes on in the Plenary experience, you know, different things go on there. Itâs still a wonderful retreat, and in my opinion it does work with the other. And thatâs really, really important.
You know, I like to repeat this one particular story. Two years ago this woman came who lives in a village outside of Munich. And her grandfather ran a camp. And she was in my Council group. And the first day we introduced ourselves, and she said that she had been wanting to come to this retreat for fifteen years, but was afraid to. She was full of fear. And what she was afraid of was that she would meet a Jewish person, or a Polish person. And then there was a man in my group who lives in Krakau. And he said he had been thinking of coming for ten years, but he was afraid. He was full of fear. He was afraid he would meet a German person.
So could you imagine this woman for fifteen years full of fear that she would meet a Polish or a Jewish person? They were all over, Poles and Jews. You know, what was her life like? And he, in Krakau, thereâs Germans all over the place. And he was afraid to meet a German person.
So, they met. And four days later theyâre hugging, and that fifteen years of fear was gone to them. They didnât have to talk about German Holocaust, or any things of that nature. They felt each other. And they felt their differences, and their samenesses, and just being in contact with each other.
Thatâs why I wanted all these different people. And it doesnât always help. There was a Jewish guy that came from Los Angeles. And that year we had an Imam, a beautiful guy named Ihab, who lives in Yaffa. Thatâs a city right south of Tel Aviv. Heâs, I donât know, six generations Yaffa, maybe more. I mean his familyâs been there forever. And we had a Plenary, and I asked him to talk. And after that evening, this Jewish man came up to me and said, âHowÂ dareÂ you allow a Palestinian to talk here?â Now this is after I had talked about how we treat the other, and what the retreats about. âHowÂ dareÂ you allow a Palestinian to come here?â And through the retreat, at the end of the retreat he said he had a very powerful retreat,Â andÂ he still feels I should not allow Palestinians to come here. Whoâs suffering more, the Imam or this L.A. Jew?
So in one of the years where I didnât attend, one of the Spirit HoldersâCornelius is now the German Spirit Holder. Before Cornelius, a man named Heinz, I wonder if it was the same Heinz that was the author . . .
I never asked the architects last name. This one is Heinz-Jurgen Metzger. But at any rate, Heinz was our Spirit Holder. And as I said, Eve and I both werenât there that year, and he introduced the thought of remembering the Capos, the guards and the S.S. that worked there. And what I was told was about half of the retreatants were gonna leave. They were very, very upset at that notion.
And so the next year, I made that the theme, and we did a lot of work on that. And there was a woman who had been very active with us, an Israeli who is a teacher of nonviolent communication, had been a teacher for years, and years, and was doing beautiful work in Palestine and Israel. She had worked directly with Marsha Rosenberg. And she was now involved with us a long time. And she came up to me one of the evenings when we were dealing with the subject of allowing Capos, and Gestapo, and what Heinz had introduced. She came up to me, and she was serious, she said, âBernie, youâve got to separate us, because I will kill him.â So this was our experience. N.V.C. trainer, whoâs buttons somehow was very well pushed enough to where she seriously (and before being in N.V.C., she was in the police force), and she really wanted to kill him.
Audience member 1:Â And Heinz said he felt so in danger that he wanted to leave the retreat.
Bernie:Â Yeah. Well, Heinz was scared, because she meant it. She wanted to kill him.
At any rate, one of the things that was so important for me personallyâwhich again, I didnât realize until yesterday, and I donât know if it was yesterday, because I have such a bad sense of time, but it was recentlyâwhat struck me is that when I went in to Berkinau that first time, and could feel all these souls wanting to be remembered, those souls included the Capos and Gestapo. But it took us ten years before we started to include a process, which we now have for the last eight years or somethingâa process on working on the aggressor within us.
So when I reflect on that experience of the souls wanting to be remembered . . . You know when some people here me talk, they think, âOh he felt all the Jewish people.â But in my consciousness, at that time, it included all the groups that I mentioned. Because I knew thatâs where the Gypsiesâso we had the Queen of the Gypsies at our first retreat. And we had the S.S. house at Auschwitz 1, thatâs where were housed all the gays that came. And we almost always had handicapped, weâve always had survivors, and X survivors, and children of Gestapo, you know, that big variety.
But it took Heinz to bring that up, and for us almost to lose all of our retreatantsâthe notion that they should be remembered too. Because if youâre talking about suffering, was it just the Jews that suffered then? It doesnât work that way. Just like now, you go to Israel and every Israeli is suffering. And if you step over to the West Bank, every Palestinian is suffering. If you went into Gaza, everyone is suffering. And the soldiers, like her nephews that go in there and see whatâs happeningâtheyâre suffering. And they will continue suffering after itâs all over. After itâs all over, all these people are suffering. So, whatâs the deal? What ends the suffering? If you choose one piece of this Indraâs Net, is that gonna do it?
At any rate, the power of that Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz lead me to make Bearing witness Retreats a major part of the work I do. And Street Retreats is one form of Bearing Witness Retreat. And by now we have many within the Zen Peacemakers. So thereâs a Zen Peacemaker family, which is rather large. And weâre now revitalizing the Zen Peacemaker Order to only be those people that are engaged in social action. But if I now look at all of the people that are now leaders of different Bearing Witness Retreats, theyâre all part of Z.P.O. And weâre requiring anybody who joins Z.P.O. to go to at least one Bearing Witness Retreat every three years. Genjo probably leads Street Retreats about five times a year. A couple people here are from Frank Waeleâs sangha. Theyâre involved in Street Retreats annually, but he then does other Bearing Witness Retreats.
So thatâs become a very important part of our work. And in my head, for something to be a Bearing Witness Retreat, it has to come out of the Three Tenets. And thatâs why Iâm doing a training now of what it means to organize a Bearing Witness Retreat, because the name catches on, and people call all kinds of things Bearing Witness Retreats. I donât mind that. But itâs important that if people want to be part of what weâre doing, that they grasp the Three Tenets, and how these Retreats should be, and not cause more problems by creating a Bearing Witness Retreat that they think is going to deal with an issue, and give people all the answers to what that issue is about.
You know, thatâs so common among us. When we first started council, and even now when we do council, the hardest people to learn how to do council are teachers, and ministers, because they want to preach. They donât want to listen. They donât want to be open to everything. They know the answers. Man, theyâve been in this business a long time, and they want to preach to us, and tell us whatâs the right way of doing things, you know. So councilâs very difficult for them,Â andÂ itâs very important for them, I think. Thatâs my opinion.
And so this last twenty years, itâs been about preaching the gospel of council, and of bearing witness work. And I think thatâs what I wanted to say.
But I just want to add that I think you can see how these Bearing Witness Retreats increase our experience of Indraâs Net, or this energy field. Because a lot of what weâre bearing witness to are parts of that energy field, or parts of that Indraâs Net that we donât want to be in touch with, or we havenât wanted to be in touch with. So for this woman, look at her energy netâthis woman from near Munichâshe kept all Jews and Poles out of the energy field. She tried to, you know, youÂ canâtÂ keep them out, because itâs an energy field, itâs Indraâs Net. But her brain was trying to keep it all out. And what does that create? It creates fear. It creates suffering. So in my opinion, the suffering that any of us our going through has got to be because there are portions of this net that weâre keeping out. If we experienced the whole thing, thereâd be no suffering, in my mind. How could there be? Itâs all; weâre all just all these things happening.
Eve:Â What? You mean all this pain is gonna make us happy?
Bernie:Â No, but happiness and pain will be just two pieces of the net. I mean it wonât be that weâll make a problem out of it.
Eve:Â Rocky, come on! I mean come on; you want me to go to Rwanda. You want me to go to Congo. You know what goes on there? The rape, and the mutilation, and the children, they take them to the army. And you think if I stay away from that,Â thatâsÂ what makes me sad?
Eve:Â Oh Rocky, come on. That makes no sense at all.
Bernie:Â I never said I make sense. I just share my opinions. Thatâs my opinion.
Eve:Â But how can that . . . If you give me a choice between going to the Congo and seeing all these things, and watching a comedy on TV, which is going to make me happier?
Bernie:Â Going to the Congo. Itâs going to open up yourâin my opinion, Tootsieâif you do that, then more of that netâs going to be there. Now they may give you things to do. Probably stuff is gonna happen, and youâre gonna want to do certain things. But I think you wonât be as fearful, or as nervous as if you did do it. To me, the smaller the net that you are dealing with, the worse it is. Youâre confined, and yet inside you do have some sense of everything going on. But youâve got like all these walls; so all that stuff just causes problems. Just like that woman, in her mind, âPoles are haters, so I gotta be afraid of meeting a Pole.â Extend the net, now sheâs with a Pole, whereâs the hate? âHow come you donât hate me?â It changes. So for me the experience, and thatâs what Buddhism is about, itâs experience, experiencing these things, and as Shakyamuni Buddha said, âItâs experiencing the interconnectedness of life, the oneness of life.â
So what are the tools to help us do that? Zazen is one. But for me, what Iâve seen in my experience is this bearing witness stuff has done that much broader. And whatâs interestingâthis is just a thought that just came upâI havenât seen people that do Bearing Witness Retreats become arrogant. I have seen many Zen teachers become arrogant, like they know what the deal is. I think when you do Bearing Witness Retreats, because theyâre based on the Three Tenets, you get to know that you donât know what the deal is, and youâre experiencing more, and more of the net. But theyâre not carrying with it the notion that you know it all. And many Buddhist teachers that Iâve met seem to know it all. And it always sort of amazes me how they could feel that way. I just throw that out because it just came up, just an opinion.
So, any questions? We have fifteen minutes.
Audience member 2:Â I have a question in three parts. The first is more about the second part . . .
Bernie:Â The second twenty years? Isnât that great we can talk about twenty year periods? Of course theyâre all now here, right? Itâs all part of this net. So in my case, and now in your case, you can experience that net, at least the part of that net thatâs sort of Bernie for sixty yearsâor some parts of that, you know?
Audience member 2:Â I was asking myself . . . You told us yesterday about the new wineskin was needed. I was asking myself how do the practitioners of the old wineskin look at your new wineskin? And in your opinion, should the old wineskinners better be turned on to the new wineskin? Thatâs the second question. And out of that, the third question; should it maybe be an idea to integrate these Zen Peacemakers concept in existing organizations that donât have anything to do with Buddhism, or Zen Buddhism in particular?
Bernie:Â OK. So the first part, you gotta ask them. How can I talk for other people? Itâs hard enough for me to talk for myself.
Eve:Â Itâs not that hard.
Bernie:Â I can just share my opinions, but I certainly wonât talk about anybody else. Thatâs just part of my practice. This came up in a discussion I had with Barbara. I would not for example recommend anybody go any other place, including myself. I mean people have to make their own decisions. And I have no idea what other people have to say. The only way I would have some ideaâthis is again not knowing, bearing witnessâso if I wanted to know . . . So heâs [Cornelius] a Zen teacher, if I want to know what he thinks of the old skins and whatever, I canât tell you what he thinks of it. I would have to come to him without any prejudgment, bear witness to Cornelius, and then see what comes up. And what comes us might be a question. âHey Cornelius, what do you think about the old one?â But then, which old one? The second part of the first questionâwhat part? And whatâs the changes?
What struck me today was that during our sitting, in the morning sitting, Iâm sitting, and this woman next to me, her nose starts to drip, and she starts reaching for her handkerchief. I guess it was a handkerchief, she was reaching for something, I could tell. And I could also tell she wasnât finding it. In my old trainingâthe training during the first twenty yearsâwhen somebody did that, my response was âLet it drip!Â DonâtÂ move!â That was what I did in those twenty years. AndÂ now, I was sitting, I experienced this dripping and some movement, and what came up was I reached into my pocket for a tissue and gave it to her. Thatâs a change. It may not sound like a big change, but believe me when I trained you couldnât do that, what I did. I mean I was the guy who would yell at you for doing that.
But at any rate, so there are so many different wineskins. Now, one of the wineskins that I learned back then was how to do Zazen. I havenât changed that at all. Well, my body is now bad, so I do most of the sitting in a bathtub, because I have such bad knees and stuff like that. But I mean many of the forms I learnedâI learned a lot of forms in those first twenty yearsâand I have kept many of them, most of them. But I let go of a lot. I dropped the kyusoku, for example, probably more than twenty years ago.
What was the second question?
Audience member 2:Â Should the old wineskins be turned over to the new wineskins?
Bernie:Â You know, what I learned . . . So, one of my advantages in ZenâI think, one of my advantages in Zenâis that I trained under three different Zen teachers, all very different. My direct teacher was Maezumi Roshi, but I started my Zen training with a man called Yasutani Roshi. I did the passing ofÂ Mu, and my first 100 to 150 koans with Koryo Roshi. So I trained under three different teachers, all of whom their styles were very, very different. And what Yasutani Roshi would say, one of the things that he said that effected me a lot, he said, itâs like in Japan, Japanese people love noodles. And there are all kinds of noodlesâdozens, and dozens of different types of noodles. And so you have all these different noodle shops. And he said, âIâll serve whatever noodle is right for the person who comes.â Well, that was not what some other places were doing where you had to do it this way. They served one type of noodle, and if you didnât like that noodleâbye bye.
So from an early age I was working with all kinds of folks, including Catholic Priests, and Jewish Rabbis, and Muslim Sheiks, and Priests and laypeople. I learned to work with many, many . . . This is in the early twenty years, and continues. But I learned to work with many, many different forms, and which wineskin to use depended on the relationship. If I said that this is a wineskin that had to be used, thatâs violating my first Tenet of not knowing. How do I know whatâs appropriate unless we work together, and study together? And even then itâll change depending on the time, the place, and whatever.
So thatâs how I do things. I donât have time to go into my little skit about the carpenter, about usingÂ aÂ way.
Audience Member 2:Â Would it be a good idea to integrate the Zen Peacemakers concept into existing organization who donât have anything to do with Buddhism or Zen?
Bernie:Â Greyston, for example, is such a case. Greyston is a huge organization. Itâs not a Buddhist organization. Itâs being listed as past of the Zen Peacemakers Order. It came out of the Zen Peacemakers, but itâs not a Buddhist thing. And the head of the bakery, a wonderful guy, and myself are preparing a training program for organizations that want to use the model of Greyston, which is basically the Three Tenets, and the five Buddha fields. So, yes, and thatâs happened even by itself. People have come to us and trained, but not Buddhists. And these Three Tenets, as you hear, have no Buddhist terminology in it. And youâll see those Three Tenets now all over the place. Itâs sort of interesting, fascinating to me, how itâs arisen in different places.
Audience Member 2:Â Where did you find the Three Tenets? Where did you get them from?
Bernie:Â In my experience in Zen.
Audience Member 2:Â Itâs your invention?
Bernie:Â I invented them. But Iâm quick to say that the first Tenet of not knowing is the experience of the source ofÂ Mu. If youâve done koan study, in koan study weâre trying to get you to experience that state of no knowing. But I put it into an easy way of talking. What I think I brought is an easy way, where I can take these Three Tenets and talk with any businessperson, or anybody. And the bearing witness is what I define asÂ Shikantaza. But also, when I looked at koan study, for me, I wanted that student to become that koan, to bear witness to every aspect of what was going on. So that was bearing witnessâand the actions that arise out of that.
Eve:Â So, when you say you âinvented them . . . â
Bernie:Â I didnâtÂ inventÂ . . .
Eve:Â But theyâre all pearls. So itâs like they were always there. So it doesnât matter even when you say, âI created this. I created this book, this poem, this movie.â It was always there.â
Eve:Â And youâre just either seeing it . . .
Bernie:Â Expressing it in a different way, maybe.
So, I expressed it as the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers. Yeah, Iâm not sure, or Iâm bringing attention to them. Iâm bringing more light onto that portion of the thing. I mean the not knowingâtake any religion, right. In Judaism, God is that which canât be known. In Islam, God is that which canât be known. In Christianity, the cloud of unknowing.
Eve:Â I guess my question is everybody here creates something. You create a song. You create a picture. You create a story. But if those are pearls, then really youâre not creating anything, because those pearls are there. So what is it that happens when we create something, you know, and at the same time itâs always there? So what is that? You know what Iâm saying?
Eve:Â How do you unveil it? How do you unveil that pearl thatâs always been there?
Bernie:Â Yeah. Itâs an interesting question. So letâs go to the beginning. Whatâs the beginning? The beginning is before the Big Bang. Itâs all there. Everything is thereâall past, present, and futureâbefore the Big Bang. But it canât be perceived. And thatâs what most religions callÂ Godâthat which canât be perceived. It canât be known, right? And thatâs what I call not knowing. And in Zen practice, thatâs the source of Mu, if youâve done work on koans. So every mystical tradition is trying to get you to experience that state before perception. Thatâs also the koan,Â What was your face before your mother was born, before your parents were born?Â Thatâs a koan. And thatâs pointing to before the Big Bang. So itâs all there, but you canât perceive it.
OK, now the Big Bang happens. And now itâs all moving out. And youâre saying that all the sudden Iâm shining light on this portion thatâs got to do with the Three Tenets. Iâm just making this up as I go along. You know, Iâm just thinking. And somehow, that other things that are perceiving it get excited by it, and join in.
So now we come to Jonah Salk. So we just did a retreat at Rwanda. A Bearing Witness Retreat in Rwanda, and Eve said to me . . . And a lot of things came up out of that. We did a retreat, and now thereâs a lot of connections. Thereâs a wonderful woman thatâs doing work with trauma. And sheâs created over a hundred circles in doing this work. And now she and Barbara are connected. And she wants to become a Z.P.O. Steward. And all of her circles will be members of Z.P. And thereâs a guy who wants to put light on all the Z.P.O. work thatâs happening in Rwanda. A lot happened out of that. And Eve said, âYou know, you donât need to go again.â But next one, you go, you be the seed. You go, and things will arise, or they wonât arise. And stuff will continue.
So it reminded me of something that happened in Los Angeles, so itâs during the first twenty years. A man that in the United States is credited with developing the Polio vaccine, Jonah SalkâI donât know if heâs known in Europeâhe was a member of Zen Center Los Angeles. He sat with us. And one day he said to me, in his opinion, where thereâs an unhealthy systemâusually he was dealing with the body, we were dealing with society, the worldâwhat he thinks you have to do is get a healthy cell, put it in the body, and if that cell is really healthy, it will multiply and eventually that body will become healthy. And he said he thought Zen was like that.
But thatâs because he was a new Zen student, and new students always think what they just found is so fantastic. But I think that thatâs whatâs happening with Z.P.O. The Zen Peacemakers seed, thereâs about 140 affiliates around the world now. And the amount of people that have heard about the Three Tenets is huge. Theyâre not all doing things. So now we want to encourage people to do things. And if they do, thereâll be new seeds all over the place. And that will shed more light, I think. And I think thatâs what weâre doing, sort of more light is happening. And if itâs healthy, then it grows. If itâs not healthy, itâll die. So just because you do something based on the Three Tenets, if itâs not healthy, itâs gonna die. If itâs helpful, I think it will live, and grow. And I know it wonât be just in Zen places. Itâs already happening that all this stuff weâre doing is effecting all kinds of . . .
I was just visiting a wonderful group in Los Angeles that works with street gangs. Itâs calledÂ Homeboys. And itâs a Catholic priest thatâs in charge. And I was just talking with him; itâs a Catholic Priest that thinks heâs a Buddhist. Heâll come to Greyston soon. Heâs ill; heâs got cancerânot in good shape. But heâs been working for a very long time, and saved so many people. And heâs built a huge thing calledÂ Homeboy Industry, andÂ Homegirl Industry. And heâll talk with peopleâthese are all street people, these are gang people that are killing each other. Youâve heard of the killings that go on among those kinds of gangs. Thatâs who he works with. And itâs grown tremendously. And itâs very much on the same principles that we do. When we talk, we can talk like, âYeah, so he comes first, we come first,â it donât matter. Itâs the same principles. And what heâs doing is fantastic.
Eve:Â The lunch bell has rung.
Bernie:Â The lunch bell has rung, Iâm sorry. So we will go to lunch, and weâll continue with . . . I donât know, what are we continuing with?
Eve:Â Weâll see.
Bernie:Â Weâll see.
June 19, 2019
Everything Is Always With Oneself at Any Time: a Letter from Maezumi Roshi to Bernie, with Reflection by Roshi Marko
May 31, 2019