Standing People, Rooted People: Peacemaking Among the Indigenous Cultures of Southern Africa and Turtle Island

Drawing experiences from different corners of the world, two ZPO members, one from the United States, Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt and one from Finland, Mikko Ijäs, share their stories of being welcomed by #FirstNations and the #indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (Northern America) and Southern Africa and how their appreciation of #peacemaking was affected by encountering these rich wisdom cultures and the individuals that embodied them.

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Despair and Empowerment in Our Watershed Moment

“How are we going to end polarization while we ourselves are polarized? How do we unpolarize ourselves from the people we want to blame and hate for this electoral disaster? How do we disarm ourselves of our own attitudes and prejudices? How do we do the inner work of self-transformation and simultaneously extend ourselves outward to organize and resist, which we absolutely must do?” By Paula Green A talk given at Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, December 7, 2016, in Northampton, Massachusetts. She has 40 years’ experience as a psychologist, peace educator, consultant, and mentor in intergroup relations and conflict resolution.

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Zen Peacemakers is Hiring: Assistant to Executive Director

Zen Peacemakers are currently seeking a creative and motivated Assistant to Executive Director in support of ZP’s promotion of its founder’s legacy and vision, administration, programs, fundraising, marketing, global community outreach and coordination.

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One Year Since Bernie’s Stroke: A Letter of Gratitude

A year ago today, Roshi Bernie Glassman suffered a severe stroke. Zen Peacemakers is deeply grateful to all those who supported him in a remarkable recovery and in his further healing ahead. In the link below, read ZP’s letter of gratitude, as well as a reflection by Roshi Eve Marko on this one year journey.

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2017 ZPO EUROPE Bearing Witness Retreat in Bosnia-Herzegovina

in May 2017, Zen Peacemakers will commence the Bearing Witness Retreat in Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Sharing a Meal with Hungry Hearts

by Cassie Moore, Upaya Resident “Calling all you hungry hearts All the lost and left behind Gather ’round and share this meal Your joy and sorrow I make it mine.” —from The Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy Most nights, people line up outside of the Santa Fe homeless shelter, Pete’s Place, well before the glass doors stretch open for dinner at 6 p.m. For dozens of people, “Pete’s” (formerly the Pete’s Pets building on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, now the Interfaith Community Shelter) is a winter emergency shelter that offers nourishment and beds, as well as community and safety. To serve meals, the shelter relies on legions of volunteers, like us. A Upaya team of eight, we’ve come dressed not in our usual Zenblack, but in “normal” clothes. We unpack a Subaru full of prepped veggies, spices, oils, and kitchenware and lug it all into Pete’s kitchen. Debbie who works at the shelter greets us with boundless energy, and orients us on how to prepare dinner, how to serve, and when to sit to join the shelter guests for dinner. Over several days, we have been preparing for this dinner with the help of local sangha members. Our menu feels like a pre-Thanksgiving feast for the 105 people who will fill Pete’s dining hall tonight. As we unload the car in trips, walking back and forth through the parking lot, we pass a dozen people looking in through the still-locked glass doors, pacing outside, resting on the sidewalk, catching up, smoking. A sangha volunteer whispers to me, “This is where I get shy.” Internally, I feel an old shyness fog me, too. I feel intense waves of differentiation coming up, noticing the clients who appear to be on drugs, seeing a group of women yelling in the parking lot corner. A man in the lot catcalls me. I notice this feeling arise that says, These people are different than me. I feel self-doubt. I’m afraid I don’t know how to show up with these people, that our differences are too big for us to connect, that I won’t know the right thing to say or do. As we settle in, the kitchen begins smelling like holidays: it’s snowing out and our chicken soup and...

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“If Strain, No Gain”

“Bernie … realized… the similarities between the somatic arts like Feldenkrais and his own Peacemaker tenets…What if…not-knowing… also includes letting go of movement patterns that don’t work?” Read Ariel Setsudo Pliskin’s reflection on accompanying Bernie in his post-stroke physiotherapy exercises.

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“DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU IT DOESN’T MATTER!”

Gen. Wesley Clark Jr., middle, and other veterans kneel in front of Leonard Crow Dog during a forgiveness ceremony at the Four Prairie Knights Casino & Resort on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Photo by Josh Morgan, Huffington Post By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko, Zen Peacemaker Order   I met a friend of my brother’s the other day at a Jerusalem café. He told me that he had taken part in a convocation honoring Elie Wiesel at the Hebrew University, and that the Chief Rabbi of Rumania was there and told the following story: In my position I’ve visited many small Rumanian towns and villages which once had a large population of Jews but which are now empty of Jews after the Holocaust. In one such town I hear something strange. There is an old synagogue there, abandoned and unused since World War II. But every Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, the lights go on in the synagogue and they go off on Saturday night, at the end of the Sabbath. I decided to look into it, and discovered that a goy, a non-Jew, enters the abandoned synagogue every Friday evening and puts the Sabbath prayer books by every single empty seat. On the Sabbath morning he comes in again and puts prayer shawls by each seat. He comes back on Saturday night, returns the prayer shawls and prayer books, and turns off the lights. He has done that for many years. I told Elie Weisel about this long ago, and he told me to support this man as much as possible so that he could continue to do this work. When I heard this story I immediately remembered Bernie’s and my 1996 visit with Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement, to ask him for his blessing for the Zen Peacemakers’ retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Reb Zalman said that he was all for it, only the retreat had to be done for the sake of the souls there. I vividly remember driving back and pondering his answer: What souls? Weren’t the dead dead? Beside, as a Buddhist I didn’t believe in souls. We’d asked him for his blessing for a single retreat, not knowing that this retreat...

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“If You Ask For Help, You Get Help” – A Zen Peacemaker’s Report from Standing Rock

By Sensei Michel Engu Dobbs, Zen Peacemaker Order, About an hour after going into a ditch in a white-out blizzard as we headed out of Oceti Sakowin camp and back to Bismarck, I began to look over at my friend Grover and wonder what the best way to cook a Zen Roshi was. I had no internet, and wasn’t able to look up a recipe online, so I decided to get out and start digging. As I began to free the right front tire, I heard a voice calling over the howling wind, and saw a young Lakota man standing in the snow- he hooked us up and yanked us on out. I crawled back into the car after hugging him with all my might, and turned to Grover and said, “That’s a miracle, huh?” He smiled back at me with a look that said “Of course, what have I been telling you? What did you expect? Haven’t you noticed what’s going on here?” Just a couple of hours earlier, as we said our goodbyes back in camp, a wonderful woman who shared a large tent with us and about 12 veterans, grabbed me. Andy, aka- Unci (Lakota for grandma), told me, “I’ve been taking care of people all my life- I had two disabled siblings, my parents were sick, then as a wife, and a mother, and as a professional nurse. Five years ago, I realized that I needed help, and I began to learn how to ask for it, and in those years, what I’ve learned is that the universe is endlessly generous- if you ask for help, you get help.” This was the strongest message for me, during our visit. From the moment we arrived, as I stood and looked around in stunned silence at the massive camp, populated by about 7,000 people, I saw folks all around who were helping each other, taking care of each other. If anyone opened their mouth and asked for help, there were ten or fifteen people there to offer it. What a startling contrast to living back in NY. In fact, when I finally got back to NYC, looking and smelling a bit like a hobo, I stood on the train platform waiting for...

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Retracing the Path of Bullets

    Retracing the Path of Bullets   A Report from a Seventeen-day Pilgrimage in Sweden, Bearing Witness to the Effects of the Arms Industry on Communities, Veterans, Refugees and Caregivers. By Pake Hall, ZPO Member, Sweden (Top photo by Lennart Kjörling. All other photos by Pake Hall) During the summer of 2015, forty individuals undertook a pilgrimage from Gothenburg harbor to the industrial district of Bofors in Karlskoga, to bear witness to how war and arms exports are present right here in the midst of the idyllic Swedish summer. It was an interfaith group and people joined and left at different points along the way. So why did we do it? How can walking along open Swedish roads, listening to stories and meditating have importance in connection with this subject? In spring of 2014, I became ensnared in the net of endless discussions around refugees and Swedish arms exports on Facebook. That spring, the rise of the extreme right wing Sweden Democrats party and a new arms deal between Sweden and Saudi Arabia were the reason that these issues were being so hotly debated. The discussions soon became more like polarized monologs and in my opinion led lead nowhere. One thing that struck me was that many of those who were very critical of allowing refugees to come in to Sweden often wrote things like:” They are not real war refugees” and ”Those who really need to flee are not coming here. Those who come are just luxury refugees.” For my part, I was just as convinced that they were truly refugees and that they were fleeing from inhumane conditions and terrible suffering. The discussions became very strongly polarized, with people just talking past one another and separation grew with each exchange. When I looked at what others wrote and at my replies, it struck me that I had very little direct experience of war and of refugees in Sweden. In many ways, I live in an insulated world where I mostly just heard stories that reinforced my worldview. How would it be to actually listen to a Swedish soldier who had been in combat? Or to people that actually work in the Swedish arms trade? To refugees? To people working in the refugee camps…...

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2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz Retreat Summary

‘This [Auschwitz retreat] is an opportunity to love, and to give up fear.’ Bernie called, spirited yet tender, from the middle of the auditorium on his way to his quarters after delivering his opening remarks for the 2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat.   He was surrounded by eighty participants from seventeen countries who have traveled seas and land to participate. Forty-five of them, an unprecedented number, had come to Auschwitz for the first time with the Zen Peacemakers. In the following five days, through rain, snow and sunshine, we shared time at the camp, visiting the barracks of children, women and men in places where they spent their last nights and days, we dedicated ceremonies at the remains of the crematoriums and ash fields where they were killed and disposed of, and we sat silently at the selection site where this very decision of their fate was made by other fellow human beings. From the silence, we called their names and those of our own loved ones that died there. Above us, crows circled and swooped.   “I came quite “not knowing” and plunged into one the most meaningful experiences in my life. I felt cared for, safe and guided through this week with enough flexibility to find my own pace. I felt as part of a compassionate community and I am deeply thankful for all these moments of deep humanity. ” – Retreat Participant   Day by day, we further revealed the layout of the camp and the schedule was marked by extended time for self reflection, private practice and exploration. We bore witness to moments of grief of soft lullabies in German, Hebrew and French and moments of celebration of life by songs in Arabic, Dutch and many other tongues. We heard from Yaser and Rabia, two Palestinian siblings, refugees from present-day war-torn Syria of their moments of despair and inspiration, of caring for family and friends, and joined them in the Al-Fatiha – the most essential Muslim prayer – in closing our final silent circle, kneeling palms up by the alter at the selection site. Their presence at the retreat anchored our experience in the present suffering of their people and many others around the world.   One afternoon, Bernie, wheeled by chair and surrounded by the participants, visited...

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Zen Peacemakers Response to the US Elections

Zen Peacemakers Response to the US Elections The recent election in the United States has had a deep impact, not just on Americans but on many around the world. It has stoked shock, fear, upset, and anger in many, and relief, hope, and gladness in others. The big differences in how we feel reflect the diversity of people, their karmas, values and vision. That difference is no problem; honoring those differences while seeking common ground and taking action is the challenge facing us now. This is the best time to invoke the Three Tenets and bring forth the mind of not-knowing, bearing witness, and a response grounded in these Tenets. Rather than knowing what to fear and expect, which sows fires of confusion, outrage and victimhood, let’s cultivate not-knowing, letting go of preconceptions and certainties. Please use whatever practice grounds you in this space, be it meditation, mindfulness, ceremony, or prayer. Bear witness to what arises, both outside and inside, and then honor the response that naturally comes forth from this present moment. This is the best of times to practice these Three Tenets, grounding our perceptions and actions in our experience of the wholeness of life rather than in fear and bias. May we serve this Whole with strength, patience, humor, and determination. Roshi Bernie Glassman, Spiritual Director Roshi Eve Marko Sensei Grant Couch, Chairman Sensei Chris Panos, President Rami Efal, Executive Director...

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Bernie Off to Poland

(in photo, Bernie exercising with Ari Setsudo Pliskin)   By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko, ZPO   Bernie goes off to Poland on Friday. Back in June, when he barely walked and had only just mastered the stairs, he began to say how much he wanted to join the November retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Zen Peacemakers’ 21st annual retreat at the concentration camps. To be honest, I thought it was pretty crazy. When we filled out questionnaires for the Taub Clinic in Alabama, one of the questions asked what specific and practical outcomes Bernie hoped for from their intensive therapy, and he asked me to write that he wished to go to the retreat in Poland. Again I thought it was pretty crazy. On Friday he’s going. Without me. There will be people accompanying him on the planes between Boston and Krakow, and someone with him the entire time he’s in Poland, not to mention some 80 other folks who’ll be happy to see him and do everything they can for him. He’s been practicing his walking outside on uneven terrain, as he’s doing with Ari in the photo. At the camps themselves he’ll need to use his wheelchair, and momentarily I think of one of the exhibits at the Auschwitz Museum showing the various canes and prosthetics the people arriving on the trains used. They were the very ones who were quickly ushered to extinction while the mechanical aids, seen as more valuable than the humans, were given a longer life. I wonder what he’ll think when he sees that exhibit. If he sees it. The Museum is not wheelchair accessible and it’s a lot of walking. Bernie will have to pace himself, see what he can do, how far he can go, how far he can let himself be from a bathroom. The camps are meant to be arduous. No drinking or eating is allowed inside those fences, and Birkenau itself is huge. But over the 21 years quite a number of people with some disability have joined this retreat. Since I’ve heard of his wish to go back there I’ve thought of the old scenario of human approaching the officer in elegant uniform and told whether to go right or left. I...

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ZPO Members Complete NYC Street Retreat, Sep 15-18

In photo: Jiryu, Mukei, Kim, Rudie, and Bogai By A. Jesse Jiryu Davis, ZPO New York City, NY USA For four days and three nights, I led a small group who chose to be homeless. In preparation, we raised a few thousand dollars to donate to homeless services, then we left behind our wallets and phones and all possessions, and joined to live on the streets together. We slept in parks, ate at soup kitchens, and begged for change. We meditated and chanted twice a day. Street retreat is a practice of the Zen Peacemaker Order. It’s a way to raise some money for charity, to bear witness to the lives of homeless people, and to taste the renunciation of the first Buddhist monks. I’ve been on retreats before, but this is my first time leading one. As you might predict, I lived in the grip of anxiety for the weeks before the retreat, but once the retreat actually began it didn’t take long for me to relax into its flow. We had favorable weather, we had enough to eat, and we found safe places to sleep each night. Here’s a recap we wrote together. Thursday We met in Washington Square park, on a mild day. There were five of us: Mukei, Bogai, Rudie, Kim, and Jiryu. We introduced ourselves, meditated, and began a Day of Reflection. We walked to the Bowery Mission for an evangelical service and meal. In the chapel, a Baptist preacher shouted and growled a sermon about his salvation from crack addiction. The pews were filled with street people. Most slept or played with their cell phones. A few shouted “amen!” The preacher called for the congregation to come forward and be blessed. A handful of men walked to the front and the preacher commanded Satan to release them in the name of Jesus. Everyone in the room should’ve come to the front, according to the preacher, because all were sinners who needed the salvation of Jesus. Dinner was above-par: roast chicken, rice, a salad with sliced turkey, apple juice and styrofoam bowls of cheese and caramel popcorn. I’d noticed a truck unloading boxes of Whole Foods leftovers earlier, perhaps the chicken was from there. We walked in the twilight through...

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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Malgosia Roshi

   This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from 20 years of participants in the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats since 1996.     How to Distinguish Day from Night By Roshi Małgorzata Braunek (1947 – 2014) Photos courtesy of Roshi Andrzej Krajewski. Pictured above: Bernie, Jakusho Kwong Roshi, Małgorzata Roshi, Peter Matthiessen Roshi, Junyu Kuroda Roshi at Auschwitz-Birkenau   Bernie says that the places of pain and suffering are our greatest teachers. Therefore we went to Auschwitz – a symbol of the greatest evil that man has done to his like. Usually noticing the ubiquitous suffering around us does not mean that we are immersed in it. Rather, we train not to recognize it, because we are afraid that we can’t stand it. The first time I traveled to Auschwitz I just asked myself if I can face the fear, apart from that I did not know what would happen here. The most important was to understand that every thought to eliminate anything and anyone is the voice of the torturers slumbering in me. It turned out that I had such thinking as ‘eksterminujących’ (exterminate) in myself, and that there’s no end to it. For example, sweeping a container of liquid on ants, killing a mosquito or a fly. I think that is accompanied by: “Ugh, that’s awful! This must be eliminated! Dispose! Let them disappear!”; After all, this is the same way of thinking that was applied to the Jews, Gypsies, beggars, gay, to all those who were and are “different”; We see them as foreign, other, dirty (inside or outside), barbarians, worse than us – in a word, vermin disrupting our lives. They are useless, so they must be eliminated! The world would be better without them. The world knows this lesson very well … When I saw the executioner in myself for the first time, I kept crying a long while and could hardly stop again. The whole camp melted in my tears. When I sit on the ramp or in the barracks for hours, I touch suffering directly. Sure, we are sitting there in warm jackets, we know we’ll soon have something to eat… Sure I do not know about the cold back then, I don’t wear those thin striped uniforms. But this is not about historical reconstruction. It is important to listen to what...

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Large Sprite, Large Heart- In the Aftermath of a Street Retreat

During September 22-25 2016, six individuals have partaken in a Street Retreat in New York City, a homelessness plunge based on Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. Below is their email exchange in its aftermath concerning one individual they met on the streets. (September 28 2016) A vignette on our street retreat, As some of you know I went on a street retreat in NYC from Thursday to Sunday last week. In the course of being homeless we befriended a 47 year old woman who had been living on the street for 25 years now and is still alive. Fatima acted as our street coordinator; making sure we got our food at the Bowery Mission before others so we could get to the park for our closing ceremony on Sunday, got us coffee in the morning, showed us where to sleep in a big park in the village. She had amazing energy; you could see how alive she was from the way she laughed and cried to the way she offered herself to us; wanting to be seen and heard. She didn’t have teeth and admitted to taking crack and alcohol every day because she didn’t know how to cope with her life. We were sitting in our circle meditating and speaking from the heart and with a tear streaked face she looked into our eyes and said, “don’t forget me don’t forget Fatima”;. It reminded me of these parts of me that cry, are confused, feel messy and all our parts that cry “don’t forget me”. Marushka   (September 28 2016) Dear Friends, As you know we had a quick discussion & agreed we’d like to do something for Fatima for her upcoming birthday. I told her I would meet her for lunch again this Saturday at 12:30 at the meatloaf place; no guarantee she’ll be there but she did say she’s there every Saturday. I am going to bring a $100 Kmart gift card for her & say it’s from all of us; if however she doesn’t show I will just keep it for myself. Either way I will report what happens, & if she does show up I’ll give you all my address for any contribution you’d like to make. Gassho, Scott B.   (September 30 2016) Dear Street Sangha, Good day! Hard to believe that 7 days ago we...

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Taking Action: Building a Year-Round Greenhouse in South Dakota

Continuing the momentum of work by Zen Peacemakers on Turtle Island (USA), many of our members, past participants of the 2015 Native American Bearing Witness retreat and affiliated others have followed the three-tenets and have given rise to myriad organized actions, contributing to the Native American community and developing relationships across cultures. Below is a report of yet another such action.   By Mujin Sunim   During a Native American retreat with the Lakota in the Black Hills in 2015, we were won over by a very innovative project: to build a self-sufficient, year-round greenhouse. The builders, Kim and Frank, are Native Americans who live on a plot of land in the middle of beautiful rolling hills in Vermont. Kim with Jen Leonard (my hostess, fellow enthusiast and kind friend) and I met last year at the retreat and it was then that Kim told me of their dream to build the green greenhouse. It seemed a great idea to encourage people to grow their own food, even in very harsh conditions. And so we set the ball rolling and the 9.7 by 4.3 meters greenhouse took off. Most greenhouses prolong the growing season but can’t make it through freezing winter conditions and so the various heating systems envisaged by Frank are essential. In addition to wind and solar producing heat and electricity, there are rocket stoves, and in-house fertilization with irrigation from the water of large basins for breeding fish – which can be also eaten. As I realized that the greenhouse was near to Montreal (my birthplace), just a 1½ hour drive, it seemed sensible to go there and then visit Kim and Frank. – along with Jen and her daughters, Kaiya and Aiyana. We all followed the ups and the downs of building (bad cold weather, lack of help, supply of materials, ill health and so on) and worried that maybe it was too much for Kim and Frank: could they manage and would it ever be finished? But we had faith in Frank’s architectural talent. The visit was planned well in advance and so with the trusty help of Jen who drove and cooked and filled the car with efficient and comfortable camping gear (I had my own tent) and Kaiya and Aiyana who were continual supports, we...

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From War in Syria to Bearing Witness in Auschwitz

Story by Roshi Barbara Wegmüller, Switzerland, September 2016 My friend Rabia is an extremely courageous woman and I am happy to share my story of how we met. It was in 2006, only days before Beirut was bombed, and our friend Sami Awad from Bethlehem, Palestine, who is a Peacemaker, gave a talk against the planned war in Lebanon. He was invited to speak at a big peace demonstration in Bern the capital of Switzerland. The square was packed with people and I waited for him at the edge of the crowd. Small children with dark curly hair were playing right next to me, their mothers urging them to keep quiet. I was playing with the children and tried to have a conversation with the women. One of them spoke a little French and was desperately fumbling for words. She told me she had arrived in Berne the day before and I spontaneously handed her my business card saying that if she learnt to speak German we could communicate. Ten months later my phone rang and a female voice said, “this is Rabia speaking, I have learnt German and would like to speak with you.“ I immediately knew who it was and we arranged to meet for coffee and that’s how our friendship began. Rabia is from Palestine and her parents fled from there with small children. They travelled a long way through distant countries, from Yemen to Syria. The war in Syria made life for the extended family unbearable and with the help of Peacemaker Switzerland we could arrange to evacuate many members of the family and get them out of the war zone. We had the entire family stay with us for one week in our home. On the last evening Yazer told us his story. He had not eaten for 3 months, just some leaves to have something in his stomach. He had given his last ration of food to some hungry children. Yazer, the brother of Rabia, a young dentist arrived in Switzerland after a long ordeal and totally famished. What helped him to survive and safe his life was a film he had seen several years earlier by Steven Spielberg — “Schindler’s List“. In the film a few people had survived despite...

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Bernie Glassman to Join 2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat

Bernie Glassman, after eight months of post-stroke recovery, is determined to attend the upcoming retreat in Poland in October 2016. In two conversations, one at the video above and another at the written interview below, he explains his motivation.  Bernie: Since the stroke, I have been mainly focusing on getting my mind and body back in shape. Not too long ago, it struck me that as I am right now—in terms I can walk, I’m still with a cane—I’m ready not just focusing on getting myself better, I’m ready to look out. And of course during this whole time I’ve had a lot of meditation, and a lot of space in which I could peer at things. But somehow the idea of Auschwitz came up, and I want to be there. I want to be there for the next retreat. And what also came up is Marian. Everybody who goes to Auschwitz goes one night to see Marian’s work, and hear his story. And that’s been happening since pretty much the beginning. He died a few years ago. But people still get to see his work, and hear his story. But for me the importance of his story—and it is amazing, I loved the man, amazing person . . . But what struck me, I think from the first time I met him—which I believe was the second retreat that we met him—was that I noticed that he wasn’t showing anger, or hatred. And he said, “How can you hate anybody? I have not hatred for any of the Capos, or Nazis. I don’t have hate for anybody.” Now for most people—and you have to remember that that’s why I started the Auschwitz Retreat, to learn how we can live with others without hate, without anger. Here was a man living that way. I hadn’t met people doing that. Everybody has somebody that they hate, they dislike. And in my relationship with him, he never showed me that side. So it was very important for me. And then he died. And a couple of years have passed. And I went through my stroke to remember this path that he had started in Auschwitz started fifty years after he was released from Auschwitz. And it was started because...

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When An Elder Speaks : Impressions from Standing Rock

  This September 2016, Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders, abbott of  Sweetwater Zen Center, San Diego USA and member of the Zen Peacemaker Order, visited Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, Turtle Island (USA), the location of the ongoing historic stand taken by many nations of Native Americans in response to construction of pipeline on reservation land. This is her report.   “When An Elder Speaks: Impressions from Standing Rock” By Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders My friend and dharma sister Debra Shiin Coffey dropped everything to join me. Her husband is native (of the three affiliated tribes) and they live close to Standing Rock. We ended up talking past midnight. She shared about the suffering of her husband’s ancestors and about her own spiritual growth through native tradition. Her Mother-in-law and family were flooded out of their ancestral home because of a dam in 1951. To this day they are treated with racism and cruelty by the non-native people in North Dakota. On the other hand her life is so rich due to the deep spiritual tradition of her husband’s people. When we first arrived at the camp we were interviewed by a young non-native who had brought her camera equipment from Arizona to ask people why they were there. She was taken with Deb’s laugh and just had to interview us as elders. I said “I am here because I think this is the most important thing happening on the planet right now”. Deb talked about the beauty of the native way. “When a child is sick, Mom stays home from work to take care of the child. Mom is willing to put her job in jeopardy to care for her child because, for the natives, family is the first priority” After Debra left I was sitting with folks around the kitchen area. There were a group of young non-native activists sitting around the fire laughing etc and a native elder who was also sitting there started to talk. The others kept talking. From across the area comes a loud voice “when an elder speaks you listen. You will learn something.” The youngsters listened and afterwards were deeply grateful for the teaching. We had a beautiful and long prayer before the meal that was completely from the heart...

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Diversity Fundraiser, Auschwitz 2016

  Celebration of diversity has been a hallmark of the Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreats and in particular in Auschwitz-Birkenau, once a symbol of extreme intolerance towards others. Through the years the Zen Peacemakers hosted there countless nationalities, faith and ethnicities. In 2015, our large community collected donations to bring Lakota Native Americans, Croats, Bosniaks & Serbs, the indigenous of Australia and Palestine. Barbara and Roland Wegmueller of the Zen Peacemaker Order have been working with Syrian refugees for several years. Two of their friends, a brother and sister who had to flee Syria and are currently in asylum in Switzerland, would like to join the retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau this year. Their presence will connect the retreat and all its participants with the horrors of the present-day war in Syria and the excruciating difficulties encountered by those fleeing its shores. We are raising $5000 towards their retreat tuition, travel and lodging. Contribution in any amount will help us bring them there. Donation can be done online with Paypal or credit card at the link below, US checks can be sent to: Zen Peacemakers ATTN: Auschwitz Diversity Fundraiser 2016 POBOX 294 Montague MA. Zen Peacemakers, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization for your tax...

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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Greg

 This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from 20 years of participants in the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats since 1996.   By Greg Rice, USA   This last November I quit fishing early to attend the annual Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz, Poland. After an all-day flight, I arrived at the hotel in Kraków after dark, tired and unsure of what I was doing there. Within minutes I was invited to dinner with a group of other participants. I felt welcomed in as part of this retreat immediately, and my doubts vanished… In the big changing room of the “sauna” was a display of thousands of photos collected by the guards as they stripped the prisoners of their lives. Sitting in that room, we sang a simple song, the first line of which was “how could anyone ever tell you, you are anything less than beautiful”. We all sang, in this dreadful room, first looking each other in the eyes, then at the beautiful pictures of happy children, of lovers, of grandmothers. Pictures taken in a time in their lives when they were happy, a time in their lives like this time in ours. And then they experienced what no living being should ever experience. It broke my heart, walking slowly through these walls of photos, singing “how could anyone see you as anything less than beautiful.” How could they? One day, as we stood in a circle around the blown-up remains of Crematorium chamber IV, we all read the Kaddish in our native tongue. It was read in at least eight different languages. At the end, Reb Shir blew on the Shofar – the ram’s horn. It was the first time I had ever heard it. The sound brought tears to my eyes. It seemed a strong and ancient call to the world, to the ashes, to all that keeps us separate. It was a voice saying we are still here, we will always be here, all of us. It was the sound of perseverance and inclusiveness. To me, a secular guy, the sound of that Shofar was Holy. There is a teaching that says, if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha. What needs to be killed is the sense of truth, of knowing, the root of this separateness that keeps us apart. It...

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ENLARGING THE SCOPE, PART 2: DIG INTO COMPLEXITY

  Preface: As we are gearing towards the 21st Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat, Bernie requested to bring to view his questions, intentions and themes that were shaped by twenty years of co-leading these retreats in Poland, Rwanda and the Black Hills. The narrative of events that led to the first retreat is described in the article “Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness”. Part 1 of this interview is available here. Below is part 2 of this interview.   Rami: I heard you say once that you have a vision of what Bearing Witness retreats are and that while both the Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness retreats in Rwanda  2014 and in the Black Hills 2015 were successful in their own way, they both differed from that vision. Can you say more about that? Bernie: In Rwanda, we had mostly two sides, the Hutu and the Tutsis. We had some Europeans of course, but it was all about Rwanda. No Congo, no others… We did have this guy—you heard about the guy that was a paramilitary guy that came to a retreat. Twenty years before, when the genocide in Rwanda was happening, he was sent with a battalion (I think it was 600 Belgian) to rescue the local Rwandans that were surrounded in a coliseum by militia. He was sent with orders to stop what was going on. He commanded armed soldiers, they could have stopped what was happening. When their planes landed, he got a message from Belgium headquarters saying, “Forget it. Rescue whatever Europeans you can. Go there, get them out, and leave.” And that’s what he did. For the twenty years he hadn’t told that story to anyone. Not to his wife—his marriage was on the verge of breaking up. It was killing him. At our retreat, 20 year later, he broke that story. Now that’s a bearing witness kind of thing. I tried to get more people like that. We couldn’t. So if I had any remorse, it was that I wasn’t able to get enough different kinds. It was just a few people. We had a woman who’s arm was chopped off, and we had the guy who cut her arm off there. But it wasn’t broad enough for me. I wanted—because I know the Europeans have a heavy burden in what happened...

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ZPO Member Initiates a Self-led MN Native American Bearing Witness Retreat

PREFACE:The following invitation is to a ZPO members-led retreat organized in the spirit of the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets of Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. Zen Peacemakers, Inc. supports but does not administer the retreat. Please follow the instructions below to contact the organizers. This event is another expression of the building momentum between the Native American of Turtle Island and the Zen Peacemakers, following the 2015 Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness retreat in the Black Hills and 2016 ZPO Members-led plunge in Cheyenne River reservation this past July. The retreat’s page on Facebook  Clouds in Water Zen Center Registration page  Article by ZPO Member Laura Gentle Dragon Kennedy, Clouds in Water Zen Center, Minnesota This Bearing Witness retreat began over 15 years ago. As many processes in life what I thought would take place and what is actually unfolding are different. About 15 years ago I read Bernie Glassman Roshi’s book “Bearing Witness.” There was an immediate resonance with Roshi’s teachings. Practicing meditation for years and working with people who appeared on the edges of life, Bernie Roshi expressed engaged Buddhism for me. I have always felt a deep connection to Beings who intersect with suffering and resilience. Direct experience combined with training in spiritual practices and formal education supports having a chance to help. I understood genocide and resilience was everywhere. After reading, “Bearing Witness”, I decided to meet Fleet Maull, Bernie Roshi and coordinate a Bearing Witness retreat at Wounded Knee. This was not to happen until many years later. In 2012, I participated in a workshop with Fleet Maull at Upaya and asked him if he would come to Clouds in Water Zen Center and share his teachings with us. This was a direct bloom of my bodhisattva vow. In 2014, I went to Upaya again, this time to see Bernie Roshi. I explained my dream of a Bearing Witness retreat at Wounded Knee. Bernie Roshi said, Zen Peacemakers Inc. was already coordinating this retreat in August of 2015 and I could come at that time. I went to the Black Hills and it was clear — the retreat was to be where I lived. In Minnesota there was was a concentration camp for 1700 Grandmothers, mothers, children and elders in the winter of 1862 and 1863 at Fort Snelling. Minnesota’s legacy of genocide is embodied at Fort Snelling. As a non-native person,...

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ENLARGING THE SCOPE, PART 1: START WITH THE LIVING

  ENLARGING THE SCOPE, PART 1: START WITH THE LIVING Interview with Roshi Bernie Glassman, Conducted in Montague, MA USA in June 2016 Transcribed by Scott Harris Preface: As we are gearing towards the 21st Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat, Bernie requested to bring to view his questions, intentions and themes that were shaped by twenty years of co-leading these retreats in Poland, Rwanda and the Black Hills. The narrative of events that led to the first retreat is described in the article “Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness”. Below is part 1 of this interview. Part 2 will follow.   BERNIE:  So, I just want to talk and lay out the history of the retreat in Auschwitz. When I entered Birkenau the first time, I was overwhelmed by the sense of souls. And at that time I called it a remembrance of souls. In English it’s an interesting word—remembrance or re-membering, putting together of souls. Now, I did not fix a label on the souls. If you think of it—and I didn’t think of it at the time, at the time I just thought I was remembering souls. But there were so many souls there. Definitely it wasn’t just Jewish souls. There’s Poles, and Gypsies—so many different souls. So at this time, that’s a feeling I had, and I didn’t know what that meant, for remembrance of souls. At that time I didn’t go deeper into “what does this all mean?” I was just overwhelmed by remembrance of souls. And I decided I need to sit here until that becomes clear—perhaps as I’d done before. And I felt I had to do it here. I had to sit until I had that experience that cleared it up for me in some way. I had to go deeper. I don’t know when I decided that I would invite other people to join me in that. It was either then, or on the plane going home with Eve—I don’t remember now, things get a little mixed up. But by the time I got home I decided that I was going to invite people to join me, and that it would not be a Jewish retreat. That it would be a retreat honoring all those souls that had been desecrated. And so therefore I...

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The Woman Sitting Next to Me

  By Roshi Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, Spiegel, Switzerland Tala is three years old. A year ago she arrived out of the war in Syria to Switzerland. Her mother brought her to our women circle. The first time some weeks ago, Tala sat for two hours in the circle, holding the talking piece when it was her turn, looking in our faces, smiling. Tala loves it, as we all do, our sitting in the meditation room around the candle in deep listening of what our one heart wants to share and to the sharing of all the hearts in our circle of women. Yesterday evening she laid down on the black zabuton and slept during all the rounds of our sharing, but at the end she woke up to blow off the candle. It is a good way – to share in council – about the pain and the joy we hold in our hearts. We invoked the presence of family members who are gone in the war, we called their names and accepted the deep pain of the loss. I often hear in Switzerland people hope not to meet their parents too often because their relationships are not always easy. In the circle, we listen to the pain of loosing everything, home, work, culture, friends, brothers and sisters — and out of this, came to me the idea to write poems in Arabic and work together on translation, to share it in a book. Later when I expressed this idea, I saw light in the sad eyes of the woman sitting next to me. After the council we had tea and sweets together. Every time the Swiss women come to the circle, or to the meditation, they bring bags full of beautiful outfits and shawls for the others or for their friends or families. The field is filled with love and respect for our different lives as women, all with the wish to be happy and live a precious life. Later, I wrote to Jared Seide a dear peacemaker friend and director of the Center of Council, asking if he knew anyone who would have Council guidelines in Arabic language. The same day, I got it, with warm wishes from Jack Zimmerman, Leon Berg and Itaf Awad, founder and head teachers and editors of the book “The Way of Council.”...

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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Iris

(Iris, on right, during 2013 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat)  This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from 20 years of participants in the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats since 1996.   By Iris Katz, Israel It was in November 2010. It was my first time in the Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz. Three months before I have visited Bernie in Montague, USA. He had been telling me about the retreat, I told him that I had never been to Auschwitz. I used to have my own fears which prevented me to go there. They were connected to all that I have known about Auschwitz. Bernie convinced me to go. I went. I had “my” two tenets to follow: Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness. The first one was very important for me. Forgetting all I knew, all that had made me afraid and horrified of the Holocaust and its Jewish victims that for me was the main issue about Auschwitz till then. Not-Knowing helped me to go, to be there and to bear witness with some sort of empty mind. Many experiences and few transformations were the outcome of my first retreat in Auschwitz. But one of these experiences changed my life. This one was connected to Ihab, the Israeli-Palestinian from the city of Jaffa, Israel. Ihab, my husband Tani and I became close friends during the retreat. We felt like cousins (which we are, mythologically) or friends who grew up together since childhood, many years back. We speak the same language, share the same history, and have the same background and ideas. I mean, I felt close or oneness with many people in the group. I felt close to psychologists or therapists, for example. I felt close to the victims and I even could feel their guards who had been “sharing” their lives on that place. But with Ihab it was different. We had our jokes, our joint stories, our small idiosyncratic talks, our combined ideas. But … I was an Israeli, a Jewish Israeli, and Ihab was Israeli as well, but “Arab” Israeli, as we keep saying in my country, or Palestinian Israeli, as “they” keep saying in my country. “They,” that is the “Arabs” in Israel. It was a painful recognition to reflect on that in Auschwitz Ihab and myself were equals, close, just the same people, having different religions...

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Zen Peacemakers Complete Bearing Witness in Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, South Dakota USA

This week twenty-four Zen Peacemakers arrived at South Dakota to commence the Bearing Witness in Cheyenne River Reservation plunge, with participants from Turtle Island (USA), Poland, Belgium, Switzerland, Palestine and Myanmar. This plunge, as actions inspired by the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets are often called, was coordinated and organized by members of the ZPO, and led by Grover Genro Gauntt and Tiokasin Ghosthorse who was born in Cheyenne River Reservation, home of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation. This effort was initiated following the momentum of the Zen Peacemakers 2015 Native American Bearing Witness retreat in the Black Hills. Before setting out, they picnicked in Rapid City with Charmaine White Face, Tuffy Sierra, Alice Sierra, Chas Jewett and Grover Genro Gauntt, some of whom were among the leaders of the retreat last year. They welcomed the Zen Peacemakers back, reviewed the expressions of trauma and beauty they may expect to see on the reservation and Tiokasin Ghosthorse advised: “As you walk about the land, be silent, let the land get to know YOU.” During the next five days, the group visited Bridger village, refuge of survivors of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre, and met descendants Toni and Byron Buffalo to hear about the challenges of their community; They camped at and mingled with the volunteers and Indian visitors at Simply Smiles Inc. Community Center at La Plant; Dipped in and cleaned around the Missouri River (Tiokasin: “the Lakota word for water is Mni — ‘that which carries feelings between you and I'”); The group met with Julie Garreau, executive director of Cheyenne River Youth Project and heard about Graffiti Jams art events and community efforts to address teen suicides and teen empowerment; They met with Keren Sussman at the International Society for the Protection of Mustangs & Burros ISPMB, refuge of 550 wild mustangs, and learned about the animals’ intricate family dynamics and the challenges of contact with humans; They withstood a fierce hailstorm and bore witness to breathtaking ever-changing sky. The group joined Simply Smiles Inc. construction crew and helped raise two brand new houses on the grassy mounds of La Plant, South Dakota. Simply Smiles puts up two houses per summer for local reservation residents. The event concluded with paying respect and listening to Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe who welcomed them at his home....

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Gratitude to Bernie’s Caregivers

  Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko bade farewell to Mariola Wereszka and Godfried De Waele of Poland and Belgium, who arrived in Massachusetts in February to support them through Bernie’s stroke recovery. By assisting Bernie’s exercises, coordinating his therapists and doctors, providing simple house choirs and maintaining a constant availability of home-baked double chocolate fudge cakes, your attentiveness and kindness have been an invaluable source of encouragement and energy leading to a remarkable progress in Bernie’s health. Zen Peacemakers Inc. would like to express appreciation to you both. Thank...

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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Roshi Joan

 This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from 20 years of participants in the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats since 1996. By Roshi Joan Halifax, Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA Photos by Peter Cunningham   The suffering that we touched during our retreat at times led us into darkness and sometimes transformed into joy and healing as we sat and practiced together and heard one another. I remember Bernie’s old buddy Peter Matthiessen asking: How could one feel joy in such a place? Bearing witness is not only about bearing witness to one's own life but also to all of life. And it was here at Auschwitz that we bore witness to the suffering of others, to the suffering of ancestors, to our own suffering, and to the possibility of the transformation of suffering. Peter was astounded by the release he experienced at Auschwitz, and so were all of us. One of the ways that I have practiced bearing witness has been in the experience of Council, a practice where people sit in circle with each other and speak clearly and listen deeply. Council at Auschwitz was a way for us to communicate about the deepest issues of our lives, including suffering, death, and grief as well as meaning, healing and joy. Council was indeed one of the deepest ways that we taught each other during the retreat. Council is found in many cultures and traditions over the world. There is reference to it in Homer’s Iliad. One finds it in the tribal world of earth cherishing peoples. And, of course, it is a key strategy of communion and communication in the tradition of the Quakers, who so influenced the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, I and others brought what we had learned in the Civil Rights Movement and anti-war movement to our lives as teachers and people who were involved with social action and spiritual practice. Council, or the Circle of Truth, or whatever we called it then became a way for us to incorporate democratic and spiritual values into our collective and individual lives. In the mid-90’s, I introduced the Council process to Bernie and Jishu Holmes. It fit so well with their work as peacemakers, and they brought it to many places, including...

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Zen Peacemakers Complete Year-Long Winter Clothes Collection for Pine Ridge Reservation

As a group of Zen Peacemakers are returning to South Dakota’s Cheyenne’s Reservation later this month, following the path laid by the 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat, another initiative in South Dakota is coming to a close. Robin Panagakos, a Zen Peacemaker from Greenfield MA and member of the Green River Zen Center, agreed to send winter cloths for to Alice and Tuffy Sierra of Pine Ridge Reservation, who were among the Lakota leaders of the retreat. Reaching out to other Zen Peacemaker Order training groups, and with the use of social media and the ZPO Members Facebook page, other responded. Hundreds if not thousands of pounds of cloths were sent from Massachusetts, Vermont, New York City and other places around the United States. Members gathered the clothes, boxed and shipped them to the Sierras in South Dakota. Thank you to all the members for your organizing, donating, and contributing to this effort. Peg Reishin Murray, a Zen Peacemaker Order member from Boulder, Colorado USA, chose to drive her donation to the reservation herself. She writes: My community responded wholeheartedly, my VW van was filled to the rooftop in a few short weeks, and I drove the van to Pine Ridge staying just long enough to unload the donations, then turned around and drove home. Way boring, no? Then Alice sent a second request and in late January 2016 the scenario pretty much repeated itself—except this time I received a Tuffy Teaching and that is the story I’d like to relate. According to Google maps, the drive from Boulder Colorado to Pine Ridge takes a little over 5 hours. In reality, Google couldn’t be trusted here and on both occasions that I drove to the reservation following its directions (albeit different routes each visit), I entered a hell realm of GPS deceit that added about two hours to Google’s estimated drive time. (Tuffy told me that he has tried to inform Google that their directions are way off but apparently this is another instance of Native Peoples being ignored) But let me be perfectly honest here—the scenery between Boulder and Pine Ridge is one of the most spacious, uncluttered and majestic landscapes you will encounter and at some point in the journey, an unbidden bliss and the...

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THE WOMAN, THE MAN, AND THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

By Eve Marko  Photo by Jadina Lilien   Bernie’s going up the stairs, I pass him walking downstairs, and suddenly hear Phump!Instantly I turn around. “What happened?” “Nothing, I saw this gorgeous woman and I almost fell over.” My brother gave me a book in Hebrew, teachings by and anecdotes about Rabbi Menachem Fruman, who passed away a few years ago. There is much to relate about Rabbi Fruman, whom we met on a few occasions: a settler rabbi, a lover of the Holy Land who insisted it belonged to God rather than to Jews or Muslims, who cultivated friendships with Muslim religious and political leaders, including the heads of the PLO and Hamas. He also believed deeply in the importance of couples, of intimate relationships. For this reason, whenever he was interviewed by a newspaper photographers liked to photograph him together with his wife, Hadassa. Once he said to the photographer: “Here’s a major scoop for you. You can take a picture of God and bring it back to the paper! Just point the camera here,” and he pointed to the space between him and his wife. The Zohar, the basic text of Jewish Kabbalah, states that God isn’t to be found in the one person, but rather between two people. There’s myself, there’s my husband, and God is in the middle, in the emptiness between us, never in the one. No, not even in the Great Man. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve meditated, how many kenshos (enlightenment experiences) and dai-kenshos (great enlightenment experiences) you’ve had, or even what you’ve done for the world. That’s not where God resides. Often people ask me how my practice has helped me over these past six months since Bernie’s stroke. I think they’re asking the wrong question. The practice isn’t what I do early mornings when I go to my office, light a candle and sit. That’s the easiest, most comfy part of the day. The practice is when I then get up and return to the bedroom to ask Bernie how he’s doing, how he slept. To look again at what happened, his loss of weight, his unsteady but determined walk with cane, the splint on his right hand, the question in his...

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Returning to the Three Tenets

  FROM BERNIE: As I look at what’s happening everywhere, the violence in the United States, in Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Europe, I remember that the Three Tenets are not a theoretical thing. I enter a deep state of not-knowing, bearing witness to what’s going on with no judgments or biases, just bearing witness, and then take the action that arises. I invite you, everyone, and especially our members of the Zen Peacemaker Order, to do the same. Then please write comments on this post replying to this question: What actions came up for you going into that space of not knowing and bearing witness? Thank you – Bernie Glassman...

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Resonance is Everywhere

  By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Photo of Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance (left) by Peter Cunningham Originally appeared on Eve’s blog on 7/6/2016     The Facebook page for the Bearing Witness visit to Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota during the last week of this month has been closed, made accessible only to those people who have confirmed they’re participating. I’m not one of them, but I am very happy that a substantial group is going, and I just put a Comment on that page asking them to build a foundation for future visits and work so that I, too, can come next time. It’s our second time returning to South Dakota. These plunges, projects, visits, pilgrimages, however we refer to them—all call me. Auschwitz-Birkenau, Srebrenica in Bosnia, refugee camps in Piraeus, these places summon me. It is no accident that in Judaism, one of the names of God is Place. And She, He, the unknown, is most palpably present for me in these Places, maybe because we walk around there and shake our heads, muttering Inconceivable, inconceivable, all the time. Right now I feel most called to go to South Dakota. Why? Because I’m an American, and all my doubts (What is this? How could this happen? What’s still going on?) surface there. Where there’s doubt, there’s the unknown. In early May Mariola Wereszka and Godfried De Waele, who have so kindly and generously helped Bernie and me these past months, went back to Europe. Mariola joined a group of German women at the Ravensbruck concentration camp for women in Germany, while Godfried went to Greece to visit with refugees landing there day after day. When they returned they talked about how the two visits are connected, how to this very day Europeans make pilgrimages to places associated with World War II because they remind them of what people can do to each other out of fear and rage, which come up now, too, in connection with the refugees from Africa and Asia. We need to do that here in the US, go to our own places of trauma and reconnect with the things we as a nation have done. What eats at our foundation? What is the rotten piece that won’t...

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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Fr. Manfred

 This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from participants of the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats since 1996.   BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS Manfred Deselaers, Germany/Poland (In photo, first on left)   I live in Oświęcim since 1990, in the Catholic Community Mariae Himmelfahrt, and since 1995 I work as a minister for the Centre for Dialogue and Prayer (CDiM). From the beginning on I was aware of the [Zen] Peacemaker Retreats, from a big distance at first. In the nineties, I heard from priest Piotr Wrona, director of the CDiM at that time, that an American international Buddhist inter-religious group with Jewish roots (or something like that, I don’t remember exactly) was planning and conducting contemplative days in Auschwitz. I had no idea what that meant. Then coincidental meetings happened, conversations in between, invitations and then, eventually, at some point the request to take over the role of a Christian Spirit Holder. Later I often said that for me, the Peacemaker Retreats belong to the most important events in Auschwitz and Birkenau. Why? There are few groups, which listen so intensively to “the voice of this ground”. Sightseeing – yes, of course. Meetings with contemporary witnesses, too. But sitting in silence on the tracks, from time to time chanting the names of those who were murdered… feeling the space while meditating, becoming aware of the many different dimensions in different spots of the camp site… this is such an intense offering to take this place and its victims (and even its offenders) seriously that even former inmates came back to participate. I also learned a lot from the method of Silent Sharing. Mornings in small groups, evenings in bigger groups. It’s not the lectures that account for the atmosphere, it’s the respectful listening to the inner wealth everyone brings in. “Auschwitz” – that was the annihilation of others. Nearly none of all the groups coming to Auschwitz these days is bringing together different nations, biographies, faiths and religions so intentionally. The healing of broken identities and broken relationships belongs together, there is no other way, I’m convinced of that. New trust comes from honest listening to each other. For that, it needs a safe space, allowing for trust. That is what this retreat offers. I’m a Catholic priest, not a Jew, not a Buddhist. This means, I...

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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Damian

 This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from participants of the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats.   WORLDS OPENING, INSIDE AND OUTSIDE By Damian Dudkievich, Poland/ Great Britain (in photo, third from right)   […] I don’t remember exactly how often I participated, I think it might be over ten times. My first retreat happened in 1999, I was the youngest participant at that year, aged 18. I had not been to Auschwitz-Birkenau before. As a Polish person, I learned about it at school, I saw programs on TV, read in history books, but never went there. A few months before the Retreat I had watched a short film done by a Polish director, Andrzej Titkov, about that event, and something deep down in my soul was calling me to go there. It became one of the most significant experiences I had in my life. The entire experience of this Bearing Witness Retreat was a big plunge for me into the history and energy of that place … into the known, and into the unknown. […] Asking myself what this retreat brought into my life, I say: it connected me with worlds inside and outside. On the outside, I met lots of people from all over the planet, I experienced the oneness of differences … People from many countries, traditions, languages, cultures, sexual orientations, skin colors etc. in one place – that was a mind-opener for me. I started to learn English, and since 2008 I live in London. On the inside, the Retreat was a journey into my own sorrow, my own suffering, and I was able to connect with it. I met my own inner victim and also an oppressor, and it was possible to bring the lessons I learned into my daily life.   This excerpt from Damain’s reflection appears in full in the book “AschePerlen – Pearls of Ash & Awe. 20 Years of Bearing Witness in Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman & Zen Peacemakers” (2015) Edited by Kathleen Battke, Ginni Stern, and Andrzej Krajewski, in German and English. Printed copies or e-book available at: https://janando.de/steinrich/en   Register or Learn more about the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat in...

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“Now what?” Bernie Talks About the First Days After His Stroke

  “NOW WHAT?” Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko Talk About the First Days After His Stroke Conversation recorded in May 2016, Transcribed by Scott Harris Bernie: So, you remember four months ago [January 12th 2016], we were having an international conference call on the Internet . . . from Germany, from Israel, California, Colorado, all around. And all of a sudden, I was in my office with Rami—our office downstairs—and you were in your office, and all of the sudden, you came down to give me a note. Do you remember what that said? Eve: Yeah. I wrote you a note on the yellow pad of paper, and it said, “Bernie, don’t take over the meeting. Just listen.” Bernie: So, I got that note, I started to listen, and all of a sudden, I blacked out! And I have no memory—I don’t even know how many days I have no memory for. So maybe you can tell us a little about that initial period.   Eve: Yeah, you sure took that seriously, “Don’t take over the meeting,” because at that point you started sliding down your chair. And Rami called me again, and I came down. And he had caught you, and put you on the floor. So you were lying on the floor, on your back. I looked at your face. And you were talking at that point. I asked you to raise your leg, and you couldn’t raise your leg. And I asked you to raise your arm, and you couldn’t do that. And then I could tell that your speech was beginning to slur. And then it just stopped. And I asked you, and you just, like did this [shaking head left and right], or something like that—that you couldn’t speak anymore. Oh, and I said I wanted to call 911, and you said, “No.” And I must have asked you another one or two questions, and then I called 911. And they came, and they were great. They were ready, and they hooked you onto certain medication, put you in an ambulance, took you to a hospital in Greenfield [MA]. They turned right around then, and took you down to Springfield, also in the ambulance. And you went straight into...

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Orlando and The Call of Connection

    Hello, my name is Rami Efal. I have recently entered the role of executive director of the Zen Peacemakers, Inc., founded by Roshi Bernie Glassman and the container for his teachings, the ZP Bearing Witness retreats and the Zen Peacemaker Order — an international community of spiritual practitioners and social activists based on the ZP’s Three Tenets: Not-knowing, Bearing witness and Taking Action. This was intended to be a letter of introduction to me and the responsibilities of my role for those who are engaged with ZP and whom I haven’t had the privilege to meet. But as I bore witness to what was alive today I decided to address my own vision in light of the wave of mourning following the killing in Orlando FL USA, surrounding our LGBTQ ZPO members, their communities and anywhere around the globe. Right of the bat, I’d encourage anyone who knows an LGBTQ person — or a Muslim, a Porto-Rican, a Latino or Latina — to reach out and ask “how are you?” Following this tragedy there are nuances of pain that my caucasian, Jewish, male-cis-gendered conditioning cannot even imagine. If you are one yourself, my heart at best glimpses yours — and hurts. Know that the Zen Peacemakers stand in solidarity with the queer, trans, lesbian, gay and bi-sexual community. This week I was riding a taxi from Düsseldorf Airport. On the German Radio I recognized the words ‘Massacre’ and ‘Orlando.’ The driver said that everyone in Germany are shocked by the recent killing. I was surprised US news even made it across the ocean. I felt moved. When we drove into Essen, one of the most heavily bombarded and reconstructed German cities, we drove by the soccer field where the government-run Syrian refugees camp was. We passed the large white blocks, impenetrable to the eyes, and the driver pointed to tall steel cranes and said that just few days before, three bombs from World War Two were excavated in that construction site. A large perimeter was evacuated, including all unsuspecting refugees from this camp. He dropped me off at my hotel and I joined my sister, her fiancé and their three month old baby for their wedding ceremony. This is only a sliver of Life, of this flow of...

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Welcoming Zen Peacemakers’ New Executive Director

  The Board of Directors of Zen Peacemakers is extremely pleased to announce Rami Efal as the organization’s new Executive Director. Rami is a visionary leader who brings strong execution skills and a deep commitment to meditation, social action, and the arts to Zen Peacemakers. Bernie Glassman, Spiritual Director Grant Couch, Chairman Chris Panos, President   Rami Efal was born in Israel, lived in the US since 2002 and recently became a citizen of the United States. He has been a student of Zen Buddhism with the Mountains and Rivers Order since 2006, including 4 years of residential training at Zen Mountain Monastery and at the Zen Center of New York City. He began his training with the Zen Peacemakers at the 2013 Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat, where some of his family had perished. Before his hiring by ZP, Rami graduated from the School of Visual Arts in NY and has been a visual artist working in animation, film and graphic novels and presented art in NY galleries and Europe. He has contributed to hunger, community and hospice projects, participated in and worked for the Palestinian/Israeli Dialogue Project, translated Israeli soldiers’ testimonials for Breaking the Silence and was board member and field-director for the Inkwell Foundation, an non-profit organization of artists visiting children in hospitals. He is a graduate of School of International Training in Vermont where he studied Peacebuilding and Intercultural Conflict Transformation. Rami is also a graduate of the New York Center for Nonviolent Communication Integration Program and has facilitated numerous intensive NVC trainings. He presented on peace-building on NPR, at the Warsaw Museum of Modern Art and at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC. Since Joining ZP in March 2015, Rami has supported Bernie in his travels and has coordinated the planning, operations and staff of the Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness retreats and the Zen Peacemaker Order....

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My Chat with 8th Graders on Auschwitz

  MY CHAT WITH 8TH GRADERS ON AUSCHWITZ By Noemi Koji Santana For the past 15 years, I have been involved in one capacity or another with a small cluster of community-grown charter schools in the Bronx, New York. I served on their founding Board of Trustees and later, in my capacity as consultant, helped develop their business office, lead them in a strategic planning process that set the foundation for their network administration, as well as managing their rebranding. Through all of this, I have seen them grow from a Kindergarten to fifth grade school to three schools that will eventually all be K through 8th grade. The student body is comprised largely of inner-city Latino children, from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Mexico Honduras and other Central and South American countries. There is also a growing number of new African immigrants. The rigorous curriculum has increased the chances for success for many of these children, as they graduate and find themselves in some of the best high schools of the City of New York. Because the schools are small with only two classes per each grade and also due to low to no attrition, we get to follow these students from Kinder through graduation. Students many times refer to me as the picture lady since I am often called upon to record school life and events with my camera. I also get to dialogue with faculty in their professional development room or during lunch breaks. It was one such occasion that created a unique opportunity for me to be a guest speaker for an eighth grade class, recently. The Social Studies teacher, a young, warm, funny and vivacious first-generation Dominican who can often be found in the gym during recess playing basketball with his students, was talking to me about the unit on the Holocaust he was currently teaching and I mentioned the fact that I had been to Auschwitz four times. His eyes lit up and it didn’t take but a minute for him to extend an invitation for me to speak to one of his classes about my experience. Their letters reflect the chat better than anything I could say.   Noemi Koji Santana     Dear Mrs. Santana, Thank you for...

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Bearing Witness in South Dakota July 25 – 29, 2016

(The following invitation is to a members-led retreat organized by members of the Zen Peacemaker Order. Zen Peacemakers, Inc. supports but does not administer the retreat. Please follow the instructions below to contact the organizers.)   BEARING WITNESS IN SOUTH DAKOTA JULY 25-29, 2016 Ever since Zen Peacemakers canceled its retreat in the Black Hills, a number of people have said that they would like to return to South Dakota anyway this summer, reconnect with our Native American friends, and perhaps contribute in some way. Tiokasin Ghosthorse is offering to facilitate a group of people at Cheyenne River Reservation, north of Pine Ridge as of July 25. We think being able to visit other places of the Lakota would bring a broader perspective on how the people have creatively survived and adapted to the differences in a culture and a society, as opposed to the consequences of not adopting a Western thought process but evolving within the ‘adaptive’ cultural continuity of the Lakota Oyate. Tiokasin, who comes from Cheyenne River Reservation, will connect the group with various communities and give us opportunities to work hands-on in home construction, community gardens, and children and teen projects. We also hope to meet with elders and learn more about what Natives are doing to preserve their language and culture, and strengthen their connections with the land. Visits to Pine Ridge and Standing Rock Reservations are also possible. We hope that our coming together at Cheyenne River Reservation this summer will strengthen the energy and connections that began with the retreat last summer. We plan for the group to remain together for five days (even as they split up during the day to work in different areas), after which, depending on individual interests, people can continue to work on their own in various projects that interest them, return to the Black Hills or to Pine Ridge to renew friendships from last year, or go back home. This is not an organized retreat, so there is no retreat fee. Zen Peacemakers is not doing any organizing or logistics. Each participant is responsible for his/her own travel and accommodations (tents or motel). More details will follow, depending on your interest. You may place a comment to the organizer below, The...

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Bernie Glassman Recognizes Grant Couch as Dharma Successor

(photo by Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao)  On April 30th, 2016, after a ZPO International Governance Circle meeting, Bernie Glassman, who has been recovering from a stroke since January, performed a short ceremony to mark the recognition of Grant Couch as a dharma successor in his lineage. Grant Couch, sensei, worked for over 40 years in the financial services industry, with a focus on commercial and investment banking. Following his retirement as President and COO of Countrywide Capital Markets in 2008, Grant’s desire to contribute to other’s personal growth led him to take the position of CEO of Sounds True, a publisher of spiritual teachings where he served for two years. He was Chairman of Manhattan Bancorp and its subsidiary Bank of Manhattan from 2010 – 2015. His current focus is as the Co-Founder of the Conservative Caucus of Citizens Climate Lobby. In 1990 Grant began to explore various spiritual paths. After 4 years of religious and philosophical self-study he found a deep personal resonance in the Buddha’s teachings. Since then he has studied with many Tibetan, Zen and Vipassana teachers. And after attending a 2010 bearing witness retreat in Auschwitz he began working closely with Bernie Glassman and Zen Peacemakers’ three tenets. Grant graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from Lehigh University. In addition to serving as the Chairman of Zen Peacemakers; he is on the investment committee of Aravaipa Ventures, a Colorado-based, impact technology VC fund; and is a financial advisor to The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Now retired, Grant is focused full time on finding a conservative solution to the challenging nexus of energy and the environment – aka climate change. Grant is the Chairman and Secretary of Zen Peacemakers, Inc.non-profit 501(c)3...

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“What Shall I Sing to You?” Video Interview with Bernie Glassman and Krishna Das

Bernie Glassman and Krishna Das met soon after the 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills and shared about the practice of Bearing Witness and their personal experiences of the retreats in South Dakota USA and in Auschwitz/Birkenau Poland. Watch the video in full below or read the transcription of the interview here. Interview videotaped and edited by Rami Efal, video of Krishna Das performing in Auschwitz/Birkenau by Ohad...

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OAK TREE IN THE GARDEN

By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko posted originally on her blog on May 21st 2016 Today is Vesak, a Buddhist holiday commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. In his honor, people all over the world meditate, chant, walk, make prostrations and offerings, give charity, and vow to awaken. My husband, Bernie, has shared that during the first months after his stroke, while resting in bed, he has gone into a state of deep meditation that’s effortless, restful, and at the same time fully alert. He said that it has taken him into the most profound space of not-knowing that he has experienced so far, and that it felt so natural and organic that he thought nothing of it—didn’t think to himself Wow, this is something! or label it as special in any way—until someone asked him if he was bored lying in bed and staring out into space. It was only then, as he began to explain what was happening, that it occurred to him that perhaps something unusual was taking place. I was glad to hear this on his account, and also because it’s nice to know that when our body isn’t responding as it always has or when our energy level isn’t what it once was, this makes space for new things to happen. For myself, I’d always hoped that if and when I get older and weaker, I would have the alertness of mind to do prolonged meditation. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think of all the things that enable Bernie to experience the state he described. People prepare and serve him food, people have helped him walk wherever he needed to go (now he can walk mostly on his own with a cane), someone makes the bed, someone sets up the table adjoining his bed with the things he needs to have on hand, someone makes sure to adjust the blanket and pillows when he can’t do this. Generous friends all over the world have given us money towards his recovery and have prayed and meditated on his behalf. All these things enable him to not just recover, but also explore a deep meditative state. Hunger and thirst would be distractions. Discomfort and pain, with...

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Flowers of Wisdom on the Edges of Graves

The following are two of many testimonials of those who have attended the Auschwitz/Bikrenau Bearing Witness retreat. They appear in full in the book “AschePerlen – Pearls of Ash & Awe” (English & German language) at https://www.janando.de/steinrich/en       All of Life in This Moment By Roshi Cornelius Collande Five days of meditation in Auschwitz. I imagined it to be a place of horror, but what I found was a holy place. A place where grief and joy, despair and hope, hate and love, tears and laughter are intertwined in an incomprehensible way. A place that constantly questions your being, a place that doesn’t leave you out, that doesn’t allow you to return to your everyday agenda. In the afternoon, rituals are performed in the barracks of the labor camp, at the gas chambers and crematoria. Everybody can choose between Jewish, Christian and Buddhist ceremonies. I specifically remember a celebration by Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi. A beautiful clear autumn day, bright blue sky, old oaks with golden yellow leaves next to Gas Chamber III, birds twitter and some deer are grazing at a distance. We are beside a pond, where the ashes of the killed were dumped. The water reflects the trees. Kaddish, the Jewish Prayer for the Dead, is being read; in Hebrew, German, Arabic, in all the languages of those who are attending. May the Great Name whose Desire gave birth to the universe Resound through the Creation – Now! May this Great Presence rule your life and your day and all lives of our World …” Who can grasp all this, who can endure it? Then Jewish Songs of Grief; many tears flow while we sing. And now, a Wedding Song, a song that a well-known rabbi had requested to be sung at his funeral. The “Great Name,” the “Great Presence,” as life and death. A Wedding Song, very tender at first, then more dynamic, then dancing, wildness, joy, yes joy and laughter in the company of 1.5 million dead. Deeply shattering, incomprehensible, unbearable for the individual. Only love can endure this … JOIN THE ZENPEACEMAKERS IN AUSCHWITZ/BIRKENAU IN 2016 LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RETREAT AND REGISTER After all the Years of Looking By Roshi Barbara Salaam Wegmuller I remember one afternoon when our group of 100 people was sitting on the selection ramp in a big circle. In the center of the...

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UPDATE: 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat CANCELED

UPDATE: 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat CANCELED Dear members, friends and supporters, The Zen Peacemakers and our Lakota friends in South Dakota would like to thank all of you who supported the Native American Bearing Witness Retreat this year with your enthusiasm and patience. As it stands, we did not receive enough registrations to cover the costs of the retreat and arrived at a point on our planning timeline it was no longer possible to continue. Today the Zen Peacemakers board of directors, with full hearts, concluded that it is necessary to cancel the retreat. In our years of Bearing Witness we have learned to pay attention and respond to the unique needs of the moment. Last year that has resulted in the tremendously successful 2015 Native American Bearing Witness retreat. This year, the needs and fruition seem to have changed. We have also learned that things don’t end but change form and direction. This moment is such a moment, and we are excited and dedicated to see the form of the next unfolding in seventeen years of relationship with our Lakota allies, friends and elders. If you are one of the many who have fully registered to the retreat, you have received an email regarding your money refund options. If you have not received it yet, please check your inbox, write Suzanne Webber, our retreat’s registrar, at suzanne[at]brooksbendfarm.com, or me at rami[at]zenpeacemakers.org, 347.210.9556 We are glad that many relationships and actions rose from last year’s retreat. We hope you continue and share them with our community. Thank you. Rami Efal ZP Operations Coordinator and Assistant to...

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UPDATE to ZEN PEACEMAKER ORDER MEMBERS, SPRING 2016

  Dear Member of the Zen Peacemaker Order, On April 29-30 2016, the international ZPO governance circle gathered at Bernie and Eve’s house in Massachusetts USA with the circle’s members flying from California, Germany, Belgium, Colorado, Israel and driving up from New York City. All the ZPO regional governance circle stewards were in attendance. For information about the ZPO’s governance structure and the list of all stewards, click here. First and foremost, we listened and set an intention to address concerns and requests coming up from members through the local regional circles. Many of the topics, such as ZPO training paths, ZPO Bearing Witness Retreats, ZPO membership and ZPO training groups, were discussed in the context of what became the new ZPO transition group. Marushka Glissen, ZPO Steward on the New England Governance circle who attended the meeting as a witness, wrote: “It was clear to me that Bernie had come a long way from when he first had his stroke on January 12th 2016 especially in his ability to speak clearly. Some of his relationships with people in the International Circle spanned 45 years and the interconnection of all present was palpable. The most significant thing that got accomplished at this meeting was the installation of a transition group. They will help the ZPO move from a leader based organization to a vision based organization. The vision for many is how to create and expand a community based on meditation, social action, and peacemaking through the 3 tenants.” Zen Peacemakers Inc., the 501(c)3 nonprofit US organization has been established to support Bernie in his teachings and projects, which included Bearing Witness retreats as well as the ZPO. As the Order developed, the need to birth it from being a project into an actual legal entity that would support its growth, its vision and its members was evident. This group is mandated with proposing to the International governance circle and ZP Inc. board of directors how to seamlessly as possible facilitate that. It is my impression and conviction that the individuals in this circle are whole-heartedly dedicated to listening to our members’ needs as we weave the vision Bernie holds and to which I suspect many of us responded, and I hope this communication...

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Greyston’s Founder Wins Social Innovator Award

  Greyston’s Founder Wins Social Innovator Award As Organization Continues to Expand Impact (from Greyston press release, April 2016)   April 8, 2016. Yonkers, NY – On April 7, 2016, The Lewis Institute at Babson presented the Social Innovator Award to Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, for pioneering an organization dedicated to job creation and community empowerment. Bernie joins the ranks of past Social Innovator Award recipients, such as Dr. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl, Founders of Partners in Health. This award celebrates extraordinary global social innovators and informs the Babson community on what it takes to create real and lasting change in the world. Bernie created Greyston on the foundation of Open Hiring, which embraces an individual’s potential by providing employment opportunities regardless of background or work history while offering the support necessary to thrive in the workplace and in the community. Greyston continues to champion and expand Open Hiring 33 years since its founding. The event also marked the launch of an innovative partnership between Greyston and Babson. Babson will be the first school to participate in Greyston’s immersive social innovation learning program, which will change the way students learn and approach social change. Mike Brady, CEO and President of Greyston, says, “33-years ago Bernie had a vision for combining business and the values of non-judgement, transformation and loving action to change the lives of people most in need. His vision continues to inform innovative approaches to poverty alleviation three decades later. We are delighted to be launching the education program with Babson College to create a new generation of courageous leaders who will push Bernie’s vision forward. Businesses need to embrace solutions like Greyston’s Open Hiring if we are to break the cycle of poverty and the address the social injustices in the world today. ” “We are excited to co- create this innovative program. Social Innovation is best taught in context and there is no better context for our students to learn from than inside one of the most admired and sustainable social enterprises,” Cheryl Kiser, Executive Director, The Lewis Institute. About Greyston: Founded in 1982, Greyston is an integrated network of programs that provides jobs, workforce development, child care, after-school programs and community gardens, reaching more than 5,000 community members...

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Passover in Piraeus: A Zen Peacemaker’s Plunge with Refugees

  The following report is part 2 in a series of 6 reports, and was written during the Not-Knowing Pilgrimage in Greece. This plunge has been created and self-led by members of the ZPO in the spirit of the 3-tenets of the Zen Peacemakers: Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action.  PASSOVER IN PIRAEUS By Rami Efal “Eye-liners, mascara, make-up, bottle of wine.” That was on Petra’s grocery list on the way to the camp — items she’d promised folks at pier E1.5. I followed the tall bald Dutch woman through the busy late morning market by Piraeus’ pier strip. We passed several homeless people and she’d comment, that’s Roma, that’s local, that’s Bosnian, that’s Syrian. People stop us in the street for small talk, and I feel like the entourage of a rockstar. A young man shakes her hand and tells us he will leave to another camp soon. Petra fills me in that he is a refugee and I’m surprise to understand ‘they’, refugees, walk openly in Piraeus, which is a volunteer-led and police-monitored camp, compared to other military-managed camps where they can’t. In front of a large red church we pass a rally of middle-ages men, we ask and learn they are sea men demonstrating against 60% salary reduction. Homelessness, poverty, job security, I get some of Greece’s challenges even before we hit the refugee camps. We make it across to the port. Massive freighters and island shuttle dock and load. Port E2, a bustling tent camp last week, is now clear. We walk further and arrive at camp E1.5, situated between port E2 and E1. I spot the colored orbs I saw from the bus yesterday a hundred meters ahead and I feel angst-citment. A few steps further and we are deep with the camp. Tents of all sizes, tiny and medium size placed flap to flap, some joined by their opening towards one another and a blanket covers the patio between them. Children, dark skinned, some with bright blue grey eyes through orange skins at each-other, teenagers play card on the ground, a dozen sit in a circle around a power cord stretched to a generator, powering their phones. UNHCR containers with UN staff helping with immigration, NGO volunteers with neon yellow vest manage...

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THE SOUND OF ONE HAND

  THE SOUND OF ONE HAND By Roshi EVE MYONEN MARKO There’s a Zen koan made famous by the 18th century Japanese Zen master, Hakuin: What is the sound of one hand? Koans are questions or stories that sound quirky, but actually point to life as both clear and inexplicable. So we think we know the sound that two hands make when they come together, but what is the sound of one hand? Bernie’s right hand, part of the right side of his body that was affected by his stroke, is always in a splint so that his fingers remain open rather than clenched. His hand must also be elevated wherever he is, placed usually on a cushion. Bernie has not had an easy time with his right hand. It usually bends in the elbow and the fingers curve as the day progresses. At this point he is able to touch his second and third fingers with his thumb but no further, and lacks the strength to grab onto things and hold them. This is changing and improving all the time, but for now it means that he can only do things with his left hand (he has been right-handed all his life), unable to cut the food on his plate, remove his watch before a shower, or insert a charger into the phone. Since he invariably prefers to lie on the left side of the bed, his right hand is always between us. If I’m not careful I’ll bump into it. On occasion he’s forgotten all about his right hand, not even feeling it when he rammed it into a wall, or had no idea where it is (Where did I put my right hand? I can’t find it). It lies between us like some strange, floppy object, an incomprehensible barrier, which in some way is exactly what a Zen koan is. What is the sound of one hand? I’ve had a lot of meshugas (famous Japanese word) in connection with Bernie’s hand, at times making it a symbol of the stroke itself. What is the sound of my husband’s right hand? What is the feel, color, smell, even the taste of this one hand? It has attained vast proportions in my mind...

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Belonging to the Forest, Belonging to the Slum – A Zen Peacemaker’s visit to Brazil

Belonging to the Forest, Belonging to the Slum – A Zen Peacemaker’s visit to Brazil By Roshi Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, Peacemakergemeinschaft Schweiz (Switzerland), Brazil February 2016 Our connections with Brazil started at the Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz. In this place where millions of people where killed and tortured, a lot of friendships and heart connections have started in this retreat that Zen Peacemakers have been doing every year in November for over twenty years. Roland and I met Ovidio in Krakau in 2005, before the retreat. We had dinner together and he shared about his work in Porto Alegre as a psychiatrist, a family therapist and a mindfulness teacher, a field where Roland and I share a lot of common interest. Since then Ovidio has come to visit us in our home in Switzerland every year. He has brought us together with a Brazilian-Swiss couple living in Zürich, both Zen priests and senior students of Roshi Coen. Jorge Koho Mello and his wife Marge Oppliger Pinto have become precious friends in the Dharma. For many years these four friends have invited us to come to Brazil, and finally this year was the right moment to accept their invitation. We were invited to speak about the ZPO in various Zen sanghas as well as in a Tibetan monastery. We would meet these sanghas and learn about their practice and their social projects. And in the meantime, Roland and I would have the chance to spend some days together in the nature of the country. Green, green, vast green on both sides of the road as far as we could see; for two hours we were driving on this road which draws a thin line through the Atlantic rainforest. My breath got deep and it felt as if all the cells in my body smiled. The wild powerful rainforest is still there, it is still exists, grand, untouched, full of life! The Atlantic rainforest in the region of Santa Catharina is part of the cultural heritage of the UNESCO. It is the homeland for 20,000 different sorts of plants and 1,361 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and snakes. The hills and mountains on the horizon have a haze of dust. This gives it the name cloud forest. Now...

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“ONE HOOP, WIDE AS DAYLIGHT”

“ONE HOOP, BROAD AS DAYLIGHT” by CHAS JEWETT I had wondered aloud several times about what kind of crazy white folks were wanting to bear witness to our people’s genocide. The folks from the Wantabe nation are pretty clueless, well meaning maybe but clueless, this could be dangerous, I was skeptical. The genocide of my people, the Mnicoujou is ongoing:  the mascots, the boarding schools, the textbooks, the incarceration, the whiskey, the meth, the white flour, the white sugar, the treaties, the land. Genocide like ecocide are words to me that hold breath taking unspeakable meaning. I had gone to visit the rainbow tribe a month earlier, their coming was with much fanfare and some segments of our tribal community in the black hills mistrusted their intentions. I was unsure, so I went to investigate and on the road to the camp I saw a couple of kids from my UU fellowship running barefoot and fancy free, when I arrived they fed me pancakes and I sat for a while in their drum circle.  I left, not needing to linger, they were respectful to the land, they seemed genuinely happy, mostly self-interested I suppose, had I been ten years younger, I might have camped and become engaged, but I was chockful of engagement with white folks, there was nothing for me to learn besides, my dog Luta was geriatric, and I had been having to leave her more and more, I wanted to get back to her. Later on that summer, investigating again, I came in the first afternoon while most everyone but Tiokosin and Jadina were touring Pine Ridge, you folks had a bigger tent, a tipi and looked a little more ligit than the hippies, but I had no real way to know you folks weren’t going to be donning regalia and dancing around said tipi, so I came back the next day. I was still so curious to see what bearing witness looked like.    The first day, I learned some stuff and met some people, so the next morning, Luta secured at her second home, I came back with my tent and began my relationship with the Zen peacemakers.  I stayed all week, soaking in the good vibes and the honest,...

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COMING SOON: NEW WEBINAR SERIES with BERNIE GLASSMAN

As many of you may know, back in January 12th ​2016 Bernie has suffered a stroke. ​His recovery, according to his therapists, is nothing short of spectacular, other than the peculiar phenomenon that he sometimes, while speaking about his condition, forgets the word ‘stroke.’ He will pause, then recite an esoteric mantra revealed to him in the bardo of neuroscience blackout – ‘Bowling…? Strike..? Stroke.’ – and off he goes resuming his spiel. Watching him do that is like watching a dynamo engine winding itself up, only to release with great gusto. Once he returned home from rehabilitation, between therapies and espressos, Bernie began working on a new book and found great enthusiasm to share his post-stroke insights and current expression of Zen practice, which to him feels fresh and unconventional. “What else is new, right?” Bernie decided to share his process and study with all of us, for the first time, through periodic video internet calls (webinars). The webinar series will be open to all ZPO Member. If you are not a member yet this is the time to join this international community of spiritual practitioners and social activists and take part in this special opportunity to study with Bernie. >>CLICK HERE TO ENROLL AS A ZPO MEMBER<< >>If you are an enrolled ZPO Member, you may register to the webinar now and be notified once the dates become available. Click Here to Register<< Bernie is offering these teaching sessions free of charge. Any dana will appreciated and will support the Zen Peacemaker Order. No bowling experience or shoes...

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Join the Zen Peacemakers in Auschwitz/Birkenau, October 2016

  JOIN THE ZEN PEACEMAKERS FOR THE 21st RETURN TO THE CAMP OF AUSCHWITZ/BIRKENAU “What could Auschwitz— this place oceans-deep with death and the source of so much fear-turned-hate in the hearts of people I deeply love— possibly teach me about living a full, beautiful, wise, compassionate life?” – Kineret Yardena. Participant of 2015 retreat. REGISTER AND READ MORE ABOUT THE RETREAT Still Poem by Wisława Szymborska (Polish poet and recipient of Nobel Prize in literature) In sealed box cars travel names across the land, and how far they will travel so, and will they ever get out, don’t ask, I won’t say, I don’t know. The name Nathan strikes fist against wall, the name Isaac, demented, sings, the name Sarah calls out for water for the name Aaron that’s dying of thirst. Don’t jump while it’s moving, name David. You’re a name that dooms to defeat, given to no one, and homeless, too heavy to bear in this land. Let your son have a Slavic name, for here they count hairs on the head, for here they tell good from evil by names and by eyelids’ shape. Don’t jump while it’s moving. Your son will be Lech. Don’t jump while it’s moving. Not time yet. Don’t jump. The night echoes like laughter mocking clatter of wheels upon tracks. A cloud made of people moved over the land, a big cloud gives a small rain, one tear, a small rain-one tear, a dry season. Tracks lead off into black forest. Cor-rect, cor-rect clicks the wheel. Gladeless forest. Cor-rect, cor-rect. Through the forest a convoy of clamors. Cor-rect, cor-rect. Awakened in the night I hear cor-rect, cor-rect, crash of silence on silence. (translated by Magnus J....

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“How Simple the Answers Are” – Testimonials from Council in Bosnia/Herzegovina

Photo by Tamara Cvetković (left) “How Simple the Answers Are” Testimonials from Council in Bosnia/Herzegovina In March 15-18 2016, The Zen Peacemakers, together with the Center for Peacebuilding and led by Center for Council Director Jared Seide (Read Jared’s report of the training here), conducted a four-day Way of Council training for 22 Bosniak, Croats and Serb women and men. This training is another step in the peacebuilding effort to address the deep suffering in the balkans following the genocide of the ’90’s.   “When I think of Council… It is fascinating how many layers of prejudices and expectations you have to strip off yourself to enter into an honest heart-to-heart conversation. It is fascinating how even when you think you have reached that point, you get astonished realizing how far you have to go to get to the point of speaking and listening heart-to-heart. And it is fascinating how, when you think that nobody sitting there with you can surprise you anymore, you discover that you have not even started that conversation. It is fascinating to discover that everybody can go far beyond in sharing the pain we all have. But above all, it is fascinating how simple the answers are. All you have to do is to be there, to step in it and let yourself be… whoever you never had an idea you were.” (Nikica Lubura-Reljic) “Last week’s training in council was an amazing opportunity not only to familiarize ourselves with the methodology a bit better, and more thoroughly, but also to see it work in Bosnian circumstances. It might sound funny, but during our Auschwitz councils I had only one thing on my mind: this will never work in Bosnia. The fact that our mentality is pretty closed and that patriarchy, as such, dictates emotional distance, added to the fact that we haven’t had any formal nor systematically organized support on psychological post-war issues, pretty much determined my pessimism. Therefore, there is nobody happier than me to share impressions on our work and process! Firstly, I must commend Jozo’s and Jared’s patience, which was needed to overcome all the mechanisms Bosnians use when somebody tries to open them and provide safe space for sharing their deep fears and emotions. As I anticipated, it...

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Coming Back to Ourselves: Council Training in the Balkans

The following report on the ongoing Zen Peacemakers peace-building efforts in Bosnia/Herzegovina is a glimpse into the ongoing development of our Bearing Witness program that includes Auschwitz/Birkanu, Poland, The Black Hills in Turtle Island/South Dakota, USA and Bosnia/Herzegovina. These are funded by donations and income from previous retreats (learn more here). They are planned, staffed and participated by many of our Zen Peacemaker Order members, who are actively pursuing social action causes around the world in ecology, human rights, refugee relief, hunger, homelessness, hospice, veteran support and prison outreach and others. To join the Zen Peacemaker Order and participate in world-wide community of spiritual practitioners and social activists, follow this link.   “Coming Back to Ourselves: Notes on a Council Training Workshop in the Balkans” By Jared Seide, Center for Council, ZPO Three participants in last year’s Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreat to Auschwitz had come from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). They arrived in Poland with some trepidation about just what the plunge would be like. They left shaken and pretty raw. When Jozo and I met them this month in Sarajevo, they were eager and energized. “I’ve missed you guys so much,” Boris said, “and, seeing you here, I’m starting to realize what the trip to Auschwitz was really about and why I’ve been feeling so unsettled these past months.” Turning toward suffering can take many forms. As a practice, it can seem counterintuitive and, to be wholesome, it demands skillful means, deep fortitude and compassion. The suffering of the Bosnian people is deep and profound and the events of twenty years ago are still tender and uncomfortable. Even now, excruciating memories are triggered by certain sites, uncorked stories, even turns of phrase. Despite the notorious “Bosnian humor,” an off-color and surprising proclivity for diffusing tension with dark jokes, there seems to be a longing for a real encounter with our common experience of suffering. So much there has gone unaddressed, unrestored, unmet… and a deep and embodied experience of coming together to grieve, release, celebrate feels emergent. Or so we imagined, as we designed a 4-day Council Training with an assortment of peaceworkers engaged in the complex and challenging work of rebuilding. The Zen Peacemakers Order is deeply committed to building relationships and bearing...

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BLACK HILLS: GOING BACK–AGAIN AND AGAIN

GOING BACK–AGAIN AND AGAIN By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Photos by Peter Cunningham, at the 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat     Grandmother Beatrice Long Visitor Holy Dance died this past week. She is one of the  Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers representing native peoples all over the world, leading petitions and prayers for peace, human rights and the rights of our planet and its citizens. Grandmother Beatrice, an Oglala Lakota, came to the Zen Peacemakers’ retreat at the Black Hills last August along with her daughter, Loretta. She was already somewhat frail, but I was deeply moved to see her. How strong these Lakota women have had to be! They raise not just children but also nephews, nieces and grandchildren, and are often the most consistent breadwinners for their families. Grandmother Beatrice was no different, and in her younger years had to combat alcoholism like many other Lakota. But she became a leader and an inspiration to others, advocating finally not just on behalf of her native land and people but also for the entire globe. I often wonder about how people who’ve gone through trauma heal themselves. This question has accompanied me all my life. While other children grew up on Mother Goose rhymes, I grew up on my mother’s stories of the Holocaust. I couldn’t possibly understand the full extent of what she carried, but I did get just enough to wonder how one continues after such a childhood. How do you live with these memories and voices, these pictures in your mind? How do you not go crazy? And how do a few, like Grandmother Beatrice, use these kinds of early concussions as ballast to push off from and surge upwards, helping others rise, too? In July 2016 we return to the Black Hills to bear witness once more to this sacred place, promised by treaty to the Lakota and then sold down the river for gold. After gold, for other metals, the most recent one being uranium. It’s our old Western way of doing business, not just selling off the earth and its inhabitants as if they’re ours to sell, but also selling off our own word, our own honor. What I’m thinking of today is the slow step-by-step process of...

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“A Voice I Am Sending As I Walk” : An Invitation to the 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat

NOTE: THE 2016 NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT IS A COMPLEX AND COSTLY EVENT. TO GUARANTEE ITS EXECUTION WE MUST GATHER 50 ADDITIONAL FULLY PAID REGISTRATIONS BY MAY 15th​. PLEASE JOIN US IN THIS MILESTONE EVENT AND COMPLETE YOUR REGISTRATION TODAY​ OR AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE​. (THE RETREAT IS FREE OF CHARGE TO ENROLLED TRIBE MEMBERS)   AN INVITATION TO ATTEND THE 2016 NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT By Eve Marko, Grover Genro Gauntt, Rami Efal “With visible breath I am walking. A voice I am sending as I walk. In a sacred manner I am walking. With visible tracks I am walking. In a sacred manner I walk.”[1] Personal healing—experiencing all aspects of our psyche as whole, as one body—takes years. Family healing, a little longer. Healing among communities, nations, and cultures takes generations. And what about the healing among humans, plants, animals, and the earth? How long does that take? If it takes an age, don’t we have to start immediately, persevering step after step, action after action, every day and every year? This summer the Zen Peacemaker Order will hold its second bearing witness retreat in the sacred Black Hills at the heart of Turtle Island. The first took place last year, in August 2015, but in some way it began in 1999, when Grover Genro Gauntt first went up to the Pine Ridge Reservation, meeting with Birgil Killstraight and Tuffy Sierra, the first of many tender forays into this middlemost nucleus of history, treachery, trauma, and denial. Sixteen years of this culminated in the retreat in the Black Hills in 2015. Genro went back year after year. Showing up again and again is an important practice for all of us who care about what the Black Hills stand for, historically for us here in America, and worldwide. The Hills are sacred to many native peoples and were promised to the Lakota and Dakota Nation by the United States government according to treaty. The promise was broken for the sake of gold, an archetypal mode of behavior repeated time and time again around the world. Be it lumber, salmon, elephant tusks or metals like gold and uranium, we have plundered the earth and wiped out many of its inhabitants. Now we are paying...

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BEAR WITNESS TO THE BLACK HILLS IN 2016

BEAR WITNESS TO THE BLACK HILLS IN 2016 NOTE: THE 2016 NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT IS A COMPLEX AND COSTLY EVENT. TO GUARANTEE ITS EXECUTION WE MUST GATHER 50 ADDITIONAL FULLY PAID REGISTRATIONS BY MAY 15th​. PLEASE JOIN US IN THIS MILESTONE EVENT AND COMPLETE YOUR REGISTRATION TODAY​ OR AT YOUR EARLIEST CONVENIENCE​. THE RETREAT IS FREE OF CHARGE TO ENROLLED TRIBE MEMBERS In 2015, the Lakota Nation and Zen Peacemakers conducted the first Native American Bearing Witness retreat in South Dakota. It hosted over 180 people from over a dozen countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia who came to the Black Hills to bear witness to the land and to individuals from the Shawnee/Lenape, Tohono O’odham, Navajo, Mohawk, Lakota and Dakota nations about first-hand accounts of intergenerational trauma, present-day teen suicide epidemic, acute poverty, alcoholism and addictions, as well as presentations on historical bulls leading to the genocide and ecological justice issues. Together, each morning, we awoke to a ceremony appreciating the bounty of all that was around us – we bore witness to the majestic Black Hills – the running water streams, the tall grasses – referred to by the Lakota as Cante Wamakhognake – “The heart of everything that is.” We bore witness to our own lives and hearts – all that the hills gave rise to. Following the retreat in 2015 several members-led actions came forth, including the delivery of several thousand pounds of winter cloths and distribution in Pine Ridge reservation throughout the year. A Lakota delegation accompanied the 2015 Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat and shared their ceremonies alongside with Muslims, Christians, Buddhist and Jews. The Zen Peacemakers, together with the Lakota Nation, will return to the Black Hills this summer for the 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in South Dakota, to continue this ongoing and long-term process of restoration of trust. Why Return? In the Zen Peacemakers, we practice bearing witness to the oneness of life, and to all that which veils this from our experience. Auschwitz, Rwanda, the Black Hills, Bosnia/Herzegovina are not the same. Each place, at each moment, is subjected to its own climate and politics, bathed in its own lore, its own history, its own forms of kindness and its own forms of ruthlessness. Coming to the Black Hills is unlike coming to Auschwitz. Coming to the Black Hills is unlike returning to the Black Hills. While bearing witness to a specific place...

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WHAT’S IN A PHOTO?

  WHAT’S IN A PHOTO? By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Photo by Peter Cunningham Monkfish Publications, which is publishing a book on Lex Hixon and the radio interviews he did in New York City’s WBAI in the 1970s and 1980s, recently asked us for a photo of Bernie from years ago. I SOS’d Peter Cunningham, photographer extraordinaire, and we went back and forth with various old photos (“Wow, look at that one!” ”Who’s that guy?” “Remember her!” “When was this?”, and on and on), and somewhere in that process, it hit both Peter and me how historic some of photos are, and the broad, multi-weave tapestry we’ve not only witnessed over these decades but have been raveled into ourselves. One photo showed Bernie, Peter Matthiessen, and Lex at a table in the Greyston mansion in Riverdale. Bernie, bald and in his tattered brown samue jacket, is the essence of animation as he lays out one vision after another, Peter looks pensively (painfully?) down, probably wishing he was back home writing a book, and Lex shines like the sun, face radiant. I’m not there, it’s before my days, but I’ll bet a million dollars that this was a board meeting to discuss Bernie’s thoughts and plans for opening up businesses and not for profits as vehicles for Zen practice. Any old member of the Zen Community of New York will remember those endless meetings, the excitement, exhilaration, and the trepidation (How are we ever going to get the money!). It caused me to recall my own first experience, coming up with a friend to the Greyston mansion in 1985 for the evening sitting, only to bumble into the middle of a residents’ gathering in an immense dining room. Generously, we were invited to sit in the corner of the long table as they talked about plans to serve monthly meals at the Yonkers Sharing Community to homeless people, hiring those same folks at the Greyston Bakery (which was already in existence), following that up by building permanent apartments for homeless families (in a county that for years built no apartments of any kind, just private homes and Mcmansions), child care centers, and programs to help folks get off the welfare system. I sat there, novice...

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Join Our Bearing Witness Programs in 2016

JOIN OUR BEARING WITNESS PROGRAMS IN 2016 “In the old Buddhist traditions in India and Tibet they had what they called charnel practices where you would go to the cemeteries and sit with the spirits that are coming in. It’s a very similar thing [to Bearing Witness Retreats] and a way of dealing with our own insecurity, our own fears, our own wanting to be ignorant of certain things and not really grasping that that means that we are not connecting to all that which is us. We are all one, we are all interconnected.” – Roshi Bernie Glassman For twenty years, the Zen Peacemakers, founded by Zen Teacher Bernie Glassman, created Bearing Witness Retreats in places of deep suffering around the world, such as in the Black Hills, Rwanda and in Auschwitz, where this retreat has recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. These retreats are open and all-inclusive, crafted in intention to bear witness to suffering and to heal by bringing together as many, often estranged, constituencies as possible.   AUSCHWITZ/BIRKENAU BEARING WITNESS RETREAT OCT 31-NOV 4 2016 “I felt tormented…Bearing witness in Auschwitz, I am no longer alone with my ardent longing for peace.” – M.W. (Retreat Participant, Germany) This year, the Zen Peacemakers will return for the 21st year to the old site of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Oświęcim, Poland, for a Bearing Witness Retreat, a decades-long process of leaping into Not-Knowing where so much knowing is stored in suffering. Last year, the 20th Anniversary return to the camp was marked by 130 participants from over twenty nationalities, including Gaza, Palestine, the Lakota Nation of Turtle Island and Kalkadoon & Kiwai Nations of Papua New Guinea and Australia. Muslim, Jewish, Lakota, Buddhist and Christian spiritual ceremonies celebrated the diversity of faiths present. LEARN MORE ABOUT 2016 AUSCHWITZ RETREAT NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT, JUL 25-29 2016 “Individuals bearing witness […] can break a corrosive and demoralizing silence.” – C.H. (Retreat Participant, Lakota, Turtle Island) In 2015, the Lakota Nation and Zen Peacemakers conducted the first Native American Bearing Witness retreat in South Dakota. It hosted over 180 people from over a dozen countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia who came to the Black Hills to bear witness to the land and to individuals from the Shawnee/Lenape, Tohono O’odham, Navajo, Mohawk, Lakota and Dakota nations about first-hand accounts of intergenerational trauma,...

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COMING HOME

COMING HOME Update on Bernie’s Recovery by Eve Marko, 2/25/2016 We made it home. Two inches of snow and a tenth of an inch of ice spreading over New England were nothing in the face of all the good wishes and resolve that took us up from the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital in Springfield up to Montague, where a small Disorderly crowd gave us a loving and colorful welcome. Bernie’s Strong Women of Weldon—Tara, Janet, and Kelly—all came by not just to say goodbye, but to congratulate him on all that he has accomplished in the 5+ weeks that he was there. To say that Bernie talks is an understatement. He spiels, orates, schmoozes, and basically can’t shut up. He came home in a wheelchair, but is able to rise up to most occasions and his right leg is getting stronger every day. Walking without human assistance and stairs are next on the list. I can’t say enough about the staff of the Weldon Rehabilitation Hospital, comprising the Strong Women (and Men), therapists,nurses, aides, and doctors. They have been responsive, skillful, and unbelievably caring. A minute before Bernie arrived at the front door to get into the car, an ambulance stopped and two men took a man inside on a stretcher who seemed to have no awareness of where he was and what had happened. I pointed him out to Bernie and said, “This is how you came into Weldon.” I hope and pray that the man I saw will leave Weldon at least in the state that Bernie is leaving; certainly if the staff has any say about it, he will. The work doesn’t stop. In addition to home therapy and care that Bernie will get, he has his own Strong Men and Woman here in the form of Rami Efal, Godfried de Waele and Mariola Wereszka. The last two especially are here from Europe to support his rehabilitation, while Rami continues to connect us to the world, not to mention coordinating retreats and other events. While there were only five of us at the Welcome Home dinner this evening (along with Stanley the dog), I felt the presence of multitudes—all of you—who have sent us countless communications, words of encouragement, love and support...

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Exploring the Bodhisattva Way, Free Adventures Every Day, Part 2

EXPLORING THE BODHISATTVA WAY, FREE ADVENTURES EVERY DAY, Part 2 By Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt A talk given at Upaya Zen Center on September 28, 2015 Download audio recording, Continued from Part 1 Transcribed by Scott Harris, Photo above by Peter Cunningham GENRO: […] So we don’t have much more time. It’s like a few minutes before the dinner bell rings. So I want to be open to questions. Please say your name before your questions. Audience member: Nancy. Genro: Hi Nancy. Audience member: What was it like in the Black Hills? What were the interactions with . . .? Genro: That’s a big one. That’s a big question. It was really wonderful. We camped for five days. There were some people that stayed in lodges. So if you want to come do that with us, you don’t have to camp. But I highly recommend it, because the Lakota name for the Black Hills is Cante Wamakhognake. And the translation for that is “The heart of everything that is.” So I would not want to go to my lodge room, and take a shower. I want to be on the land. Because it’s holy land for sure. The natives that were there, they were really surprised. The question that I heard most often was, “How do you know so many nice people?” They can’t imagine two hundred people that are not bigoted—seriously—or don’t have awful opinions of them, and how they should be living their lives, and not being at the tit of the state. That’s what they run into all the time. So the normal way of native people around Wasichu, and that’s what they call the non-Indians — Wasichu’s an interesting word. It means “the one who takes the fat.” That’s what they call the non-Indians, who were the explorers and the colonizers. The fat eaters, Wasichu. But their normal attitude around white people mostly is distance and fear. You know, “What are they gonna ask me? What are they gonna call me? What kind of judgment are they gonna make of me?” But in the Black Hills [retreat], in this container that arose, the native people were saying, “I’m just so happy. I’m just so full of joy to be here, and to be...

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Exploring the Bodhisattva Way, Free Adventures Every Day

  EXPLORING THE BODHISATTVA WAY, FREE ADVENTURES EVERY DAY By Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt A talk given at Upaya Zen Center on September 28, 2015 (downloadaudio recording) Transcribed by Scott Harris, Photos by Jesse Jiryu Davis   Genro: Good evening everybody. It’s lovely to be here, lovely to be here with you. And this room, the energy during zazen—good work. It feels great. Joshin mentioned that I’m here because we’re doing a Bearing Witness retreat tomorrow in Albuquerque. And the whole idea of bearing witness came out of Bernie Tetsugen Glassman Roshi’s practice. Back when he was in college—he did his graduate work at UCLA, in Los Angeles, got a doctorate in mathematics. And when he was there, before he dreamed of Zen practice, he realized that he wanted to do three things. He wanted to start a monastery, somewhere. I’m not sure he knew what tradition he wanted to be in, but he wanted to start a monastery. And he wanted to be a clown. And he wanted to live on the streets as a homeless person. And he’s managed to do all of them. His early practice at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, which started in about 1967 with Maezumi Roshi . . . His doctorate at UCLA was in mathematics. And the Zen Center wasn’t up to full speed yet. It was still growing. And so he would work during the day. And during the day he was in charge of the manned mission to Mars project at McDonnell-Douglas. So they say you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to be a Zen person, but he was. When he left the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1980 or so, he came to New York, started a Zen community, and quickly sort of revolutionized Zen practice. Because it became clear to him rather quickly that Zen shouldn’t be practiced only in a meditation hall, only in the temple—that in order to really manifest it, we need to really manifest it in our daily lives, in service to all beings. If our practice is to realize the oneness and the wholeness of life, and that we’re really one with all beings, then we have to take care of them. We have to...

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Bernie’s Health 2/3/2016

By Eve Marko 2/3/2016   The other day it hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Springfield. I come in to visit Bernie holding his jacket and say, “Let’s go outside!” He gives me the same look he’s always given me each time I suggest exercise, so I’m careful not to use the “H” word (as in, fresh air is healthy for you!). The nurse agrees it’s a great idea, especially as Bernie hasn’t been out since January 12. She helps him into his winter jacket, which I zip up, and we’re off in the wheel chair, down the hallway, down the elevator, and out through the front door of Weldon. Ahead of us is the pathway to the big Mercy Hospital, built by the wonderful Sisters of Providence Order, whose youngest member, I’m told, is 75. “Isn’t this great?” I chirp. Silence from the wheelchair. A left hand climbs up surreptitiously and winds the collar tighter around his throat. We move towards the front entrance, nothing much to see other than the big parking lot on the left, but the air is amiable, the skies gray. “I want to go back,” he tells me. “Back! We haven’t even been out 3 minutes!” “I’m cold.” “How can you be cold?” He’s wearing the same old green jacket he wears at our retreats at Poland, along with a thick woolen hat, while half the folks around us are down to shorts and short-sleeve Tees, which is what happens in Massachusetts every time temperatures climb over 40. “Cold. Need my red beret.” I forgot that Bernie feels practically naked without his red beret. We enter the hospital and I take him down the elevator to the basement connecting the hospital with Weldon. We’re completely alone. “Race?” I suggest, he smiles, and I run pushing the wheelchair down the two long corridors. Back in his room I show him emails with songs from his Washington grandson Milo and photos of Ethan, Rebecca and Shai, his grandchildren in Jerusalem. We talk about plans for the Black Hills retreat in July. He reads certain emails, face moving left to right with the text because the corner of his right eye is still blurry from the stroke. He’s happy to read announcements:...

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STAND ON THE LEG YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HOLD YOU

STAND ON THE LEG YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HOLD YOU by Roshi Eve Myonen Marko February 2nd, 2016   I continue to watch closely as my husband, Bernie, does physical therapy to strengthen the right side of his body, afflicted by the stroke that sent blood coursing through the left side of his brain. He stands with some difficulty while holding on to a bar with his left hand, and begins to walk slowly while the therapist on the other side helps him step forward with his right leg. Like almost all of us, Bernie assumes that once he walks the legs will go by themselves, so he moves his chest forward thinking the legs are there, only the right one isn’t. He can’t assume that what worked before is working now. And without much feeling in the right leg, he has little awareness of where it actually is. I stand behind the two men, feeling how each small scene paints such broad strokes. I myself, who haven’t suffered a stroke, also tend to move forward with my upper body ahead of the legs that carry me, ahead of myself, mind working out some future plan or scenario while the body lags behind. I remember Bernie often telling me that Maezumi Roshi, his teacher, used to caution him: “Tetsugen, when you move fast, people stumble.” I’ve stumbled. And now Tetsugen, or Bernie as he’s presently known, moves very, very slowly. The therapist is also concerned that Bernie will favor the left leg, which he’s aware of, over the right: “Don’t stand on the leg you know can hold you,” he tells him. “Stand on the leg you don’t know can hold you.” Let go of what you know, the working limb that gives you confidence, and lean on the other side of the body, the side you don’t trust, that you can barely make out is there or not. “Don’t wait for the brain to figure it out, you do it first.” And I remember 1986 when I participated in my first public interview. In that highly ritualized, public ceremony, one student after another approaches the teacher and asks a question. I approached and quoted a verse from the “Gate of Sweet Nectar” liturgy:...

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Bernie’s Trainings: Street Retreats

Bernie’s Trainings: Street Retreats By Bernie Glassman I wish to talk about going on the streets during Holy Week, the week of Easter, the week of Passover, one of the saddest and most joyous times of the year. I go on the streets at other times of the year, too, and each occasion is special in its own way, but the streets feel different during Holy Week. The remembrance and caring that spring to life during that time are unmistakable and unforgettable To give you a feel for what I mean, let me describe the 1996 Holy Week street retreat. We spent our first night sleeping–or trying to sleep–in Central Park. It was so cold that at about 4 a.m. we gave up and began to walk downtown, stopping for breakfast at the Franciscan Mission on West 31st Street en route to our hangout at Tompkins Square Park. We were tired and it didn’t help when we heard that it was going to rain that night, the first night of Passover. Walking past St. Mark’s Church in the East Village, I ran into its rector, Lloyd Casson. Notwithstanding the smell of my clothes after a night in the park, Lloyd gave me a hug. I knew Lloyd from the time he’d served as rector of Trinity Church, and before that, as assistant dean at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. When he heard that we would be in the area, Lloyd suggested we come to the Tenebrae service at St. Mark’s after our Passover seder and then spend the night in the church. Rabbi Don [Singer] had flown in from California to join us for Passover on the streets, but he’d disappeared in the middle of our night in Central Park. For purposes of the seder, we begged for food in the Jewish restaurants on Second Avenue and in Spanish bodegas by Tompkins Square. One retreat participant, a Swiss woman, was given twenty dollars by the Franciscans when she attended their mass that morning before breakfast. Suddenly, as we began to give up hope, Don appeared. He explained that he’d been so cold during the night that he’d gone into the subway to keep warm. After riding the trains all night he’d visited...

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“What Should I Sing To You?”

“What Should I Sing To You?”   Conversation with Krishna Das and Bernie Glassman Transcribed from a recording at Bernie’s house in Montague, MA USA, 9/21/2015     BERNIE: So we all talk about the interconnectedness of life, the oneness of life, but if we look carefully at ourselves and see how many aspects of life we shy away from or won’t come in contact, and then try to figure why. I think the biggest reason is fear. So that’s how these Bearing Witness retreats… Well, I don’t know if they started because of that, but that’s where the large numbers started. KD: I had a lot of fear before my first retreat, “How am I going to deal with this?” Just the fear of going, being in that place where so much suffering happened and so much torture and so much inhumanity was manifest. So I just didn’t know what was going to happen to me, you know. So just to go and go through the process and the practice of being in the camp at that time was] very freeing from that fear that I had. Just not that simple. And then to be talking about fear, how much fear there must have been in the camp at the time of the war. The atmosphere was extraordinary. BERNIE: We were just together in South Dakota, in the Black Hills and we met with the Lakota folks. And the fear, the elders went to boarding schools ran by Church, Catholic Church, and the fear that must have existed there, because if they spoke any Lakota they were beaten up, if they wore any traditional clothes they were beaten up. In that school there is a track where people run around and underneath that there’s graves of children that died there. So they had a reason to be afraid, but that fear permeates everywhere. The other reason for these Bearing Witness retreats is our ignorance, which I think that is with most of the non-Native Indians that came, they] had no idea of what went on in their own country, of what we did. KD: And are still doing.     BERNIE: And are still doing. And why we have these ignorant things? Again,...

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BERNIE’S HEALTH: 1/17/2016

BERNIE’S HEALTH: 1/17/2016   By Rami Efal   “Oy vey” Bernie muttered over the mushroom soup at lunch. His speech is clearer when his energy is up, and along with talking about the state of work he is very concerned about the recent cigar order that’s been sitting in the post office. To stay fresh they need to go into a humidifier — STAT, which, our dedicated nurse explained, is faster than ASAP. Saturday, Bernie spoke with Marc his son on the phone, and Alisa, Eve and myself were all struck by the candidness and vulnerability in his voice. Later that evening Alisa left back to DC and will return to his side soon. This morning Sunday, He read Eve’s written updates and chuckled. We acknowledge this simple act being an unimaginable progress over the first few days after the stroke. He read some of the comments and emails he received and leaned back, seemed tired, and, we suspected, moved. The doctor prescribed him to exercise his right arm. Many of us have heard Bernie teach using his body — how Mary and Joe, his two arms, are part of Bernie, the whole – so they care for one another. Today he turned to Joe, warm but limp on his right, and called out ‘Hey! Tip’sha (Hebrew for silly)! Move!’ Eve and Bernie laughed. He dons Boobysttava’s clown voice and goes into a fascinating, and hilarious, dharma spiel. Eve, assuming a challenging tone and pointing at his arm, asked: ‘If you can’t feel it, is it still part of you?’ They exchanged a glance. Then Bernie raised his working left arm, reached over and lifted the other – pushing and pulling – doctor’s orders. We were getting ready to leave. A young RN pops into the room and gasshos to Bernie – “You did it to me yesterday coming out of the MRI, so I wanted to return the favor.” The old Cambodian man in the bed next to Bernie, we learned, was a Buddhist monk who had been living for years at the Peace Pagoda in Leveret MA. Each day, his grandson hitchhikes three hours back and forth to see him. We saw no other visitors. Several flower vases arrived for Bernie. They really lit the...

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BERNIE’S HEALTH / The Dude Says: “Lotta Ins, Lotta Outs, Lotta What-Have-You’s”

By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Jan 15th 2016 In the morning Bernie seems rested and not much changed from yesterday. Soon he, Alisa and I are greeted by Mark Keroack, President/CEO of Baystate Hospital, accompanied by senior staff, wanting to make sure Bernie’s getting the quality care he needs. We have no trouble assuring him that his staff and hospital are terrific. After that, terrific specialists examine Bernie’s body-mind, he gets that “too many people” look on his face again and says little. They’re satisfied with his progress, but we feel he may have slid back a little from yesterday. Afternoon: Nap, lunch, and picture time. Alisa shows him photos of his family of origin: parents, four older sisters, aunts and cousins.Bernie points at each and calls them by name: Edith, Bea, Selma, Sally, my mother (who died when he was 7), my father. He looks at a photo of him surrounded by four adoring sisters who came to part from him when he sailed to Israel in the early 1960s. “Where were you going?” we ask. “Ship,” he replies. He studies each photo carefully, telling tales of his Communist aunts of whom he’s very proud. We follow most of it. He asks Rami about who’s attending the planning meeting for the Black Hills summer retreat (he and Eve had to cancel). He begins to tease his nurse. She asks him: “Do you know your name?” “Yes,” he answers, and nothing more. She shakes her head. “Funny man!” Alisa says that soon we should ask you to offer prayers for the nursing staff taking care of Bernie as well as for Bernie. At some point he chats so much, lots of it quite coherent, that we wonder whether it’s really such a good idea for him to learn to talk again. Other times he subsides into a tired silence, or else the words are too slurred for our ears. The right side of his body is still fairly—well—still. Still no better antidote to expectations than reality. But when the staff takes him down for an MRI he thanks them with a half-gassho, which we explain is a gesture of respect and appreciation. “I thought he was trying to shake my hand,” the young aide says....

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Bernie’s Health

Dear Family and Friends, Bernie suffered a stroke on Tuesday 1/12/2016 around 1pm EST. He spent 36 hours in Intensive Care, was “downgraded” to Neurological Intensive, and as of this evening was “downgraded” again to a regular hospital room in Baystate Health Springfield Hospital. His condition is stable ​and the plan is for him to enter an acute rehab program, probably early next week, for a period of 2-4 weeks. The stroke, due to a hemorrhage, affected the left side of his brain, thus resulting in very little movement in the entire right side of his body and also undermining his speech, which is now so slurred that we can only understand around 20% of it (a substantial improvement over Tuesday). No change to his eyebrows. We are immensely grateful to Baystate Hospital and all its staff for superb care of Bernie and patient and honest interactions with us. The Montague town police and ambulances came some 10 minutes after we first called, and Bernie got “anti-stroke” medications within 30 minutes of the stroke itself, a great tribute to these first responders. This quality care continued in Franklin Medical, our local adjunct hospital, and then in the far larger Baystate in Springfield. Bernie has his struggles. His understanding of words, too, is diminished but doctors expect that to be fully remedied. When there are too many doctors around him he mumbles “too many people” and wants them to leave him alone. But nobody’s second-guessing the wonderful and loving care he’s getting here at Baystate. Yesterday, the day after his stroke, our alarm went off for the noon minute of silence for peace. He lay quietly, and then, with difficulty, raised his good hand in half-gassho. Right now the prognosis for recovery from neurologists and rehabilitation doctors is good to very good; healers and prophets are saying excellent. They expect some permanent deficits in his right arm and hand, a little less in his right leg, and they believe his speech will begin to improve within 2-4 weeks (we don’t know if that’s good or bad). They believe he will become independent and self-sufficient within several months, and cantankerous and bossy in 4 days. Alisa Glassman, Bernie’s daughter, flew in from Washington, D.C. and she...

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IT TAKES A VILLAGE

 IT TAKES A VILLAGE Written by Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Photo by Peter Cunningham, of Eve at the 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat Bernie and I went to the movies and saw “Spotlight” yesterday. It’s a terrific film about the group of Boston Globe journalists who reported on the extensive abuse of minors by many Catholic priests in Boston. I can’t recommend this movie highly enough. I particularly appreciated that it didn’t portray the journalists as pure, white-horse knights going out to seek the truth and slay deniers and perpetrators. It showed, in fact, that they had received several tips in prior years about what was going on, and they’d shut their eyes to it, like many others, or didn’t bother to put the dots together and present the full story till much later, after many more children had been abused. I thought of the abuse I’ve seen in dharma centers. It’s easy to say that it was nothing like the horrific scale of what went on in various Catholic dioceses across the world. It’s easy to point out that, at least in the West, children are almost never involved if only because most of our dharma centers don’t have family programs. But we’ve certainly had our share of abuse by teachers of students. This morning I’m thinking about the silence that supports these things. I’m thinking about the subtle moments that some of us experienced, when there’s a dissonance between what I hear and what I see, and I withdraw and remain silent rather than ask uncomfortable questions. This goes both ways. I’ve watched teachers hide behind authority, and I’ve also seen students let go of responsibility. I’ve watched many practitioners, including me, seek in a like-minded group a refuge from living responsibly in the world, learning how to deal with money and each other, and accepting the consequences of our decisions and our actions. A place where we won’t have to grow up. Who has lived or practiced for years in a dharma center without witnessing some of these patterns? A new consciousness seeks to change these ways. What has happened in Catholic dioceses is a flashing-red-sign warning to everyone of what can happen when an entire system not only permits abuse,...

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Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness

(Pictured above right to left: Michael O’keefe, Peter Matthiessen, Siddiq Powell, Bernie, Alisa and Mark Glassman,(Bernie’s children), Brendan Breen. Auschwitz/Birkenau 1996)   Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness By Bernie Glassman Photographs by Peter Cunningham   (Continued from Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement)  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 couldn’t sleep at night, you know. He’d 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 soon—maybe a year, I can’t remember the timing—he was going to join a bunch of Buddhist monks who chant the Lotus Sutra while marching and beat a drum, and chant— as they walk. Their practice is walking and social engagement. So somebody here was confused about Japanese maybe not being involved in social engagement—their leader, sort of a Gandhi kind of guy in Japan told them if they weren’t in jail half of the year, they weren’t 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 Hiroshima—through 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 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...

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Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement

Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement By Roshi Bernie Glassman Photo by Peter Cunningham of Bernie, Sandra Jishu Holmes and the Greyston Builders, local Yonkers construction crew  started by Bernie, at the first rehab project (2.8 million dollars) for homeless families (19 units of housing) and a child care center in Yonkers, NY USA. Greyston has built over 300 units of housing by 2015.  (Continued from Bernie’s Training: In The Beginning ) This is my second twenty years in Zen—sort of the second twenty. I will start around 1976. That’s about forty years ago. I had just received dharma transmission from my teacher. But more important in ’76, I had an experience which was very important in my life. It was an experience of feeling all of the hungry spirits, or ghosts in the universe—all suffering, as we all do. And they were suffering for different things. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough enlightenment. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough food. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough love. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough fame. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough housing. Some were suffering because they had bad teeth—like me, all kinds of sufferings. Out of that, in a car ride to work, a vision of all of these hungry spirits popped up. And immediately it also popped up, that these are all aspects of me. Just remember, my experience was that everything is me. All of these hungry aspects of myself popped up. And an action came out of that, which was a vow to serve, to feed—it 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 with all these hungry spirits. So that meant I had to change the venue, change the place I worked. And now it...

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The Gypsy Girl

    The Gypsy Girl   By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Drawing by Manfred Bockelmann   On the window ledge behind my altar is a charcoal drawing of a Gypsy girl who was killed at Auschwitz/Birkenau, done by the Austrian artist, Manfred Bockelmann. For the past ten years Bockelmann has done charcoal drawings of children and young people killed by the Nazis from photos taken by the SS (http://manfred-bockelmann.de/arbeiten/zeichnungen/zeichnen-gegen-das-vergessen/). The photo was given me by a participant at the Auschwitz retreat that took place in early November. The girl seems to be around 10, dark, fringed hair parted down the middle and waving down the sides almost to her chin. Short, dark, upraised eyebrows under a high forehead. Eyes slightly slanted, pupils high and penetrating, the corners of her small lips turned down. A blouse with a V-shape collar, and what looks like a beaded necklace from which something dangles below the bottom edge of the picture. I’ve looked at this drawing every day since coming home, at the round face and pale, defenseless skin below her neck, and mostly the eyes that seem to call out with some kind of plea: To be remembered? Understood? Loved? Are they asking me to bear witness to what happened to Gypsy girls like her, to the starvation and exposure, their terror and despair? Recently I read about Settela Steinbach, who was murdered along with her mother and 9 siblings at Auschwitz. Do I bear witness to the scale of such atrocities each time I look at the Gypsy girl’s face? Or does that face become a catch-all for my own confusions and fears, my own dread of being blown away one unexpected, disastrous day?    Learn more about and register to the 2016 Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat here.       Our last day at Birkenau is always Friday; having been there for four days, we arrive like old hands. Our routine, too, feels like a daily practice. I go through the familiar gate and down the tracks to the shed housing our equipment, pick up a chair, bench, cushion, or mat, and continue down the tracks to the site where they once did selections of who’d die right away and who’d die later. People offer...

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Bernie’s Training: In the Beginning

Essay By Bernie Glassman Picture by Peter Cunningham I was just doing zen meditation and one day I had an experience in which I felt I lost my mind—and 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 called Three Pillars of Zen, which many of you might know. And a man, Yasutani Roshi, who appears in that book, and some of you are from the Sanbo Kyodan club, and that, was started by Yasutani Roshi. He’s 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 book Three Pillars of Zen. And then I saw an advertisement saying Yasutani Roshi was going to give a talk in Los Angeles. That’s where I was living. And so I went to the talk. And at that talk I met the translator—Yasutani 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, “Do you have [It turns out I had met the translator about four years before] a group?” And he says, “I just opened up a place.” And I started to study with him—every day. If that hadn’t 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 teacher’s right hand person in our Zen Center in Los Angeles. And many students would come who had no teacher, and had...

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Book: “Pearls of Ash & Awe” & 21st Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat

20 Years of Bearing Witness in Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman & the Zen Peacemakers In 1996, Zen Master Bernie Glassman went to bear witness at Auschwitz-Birkenau for the first time – together with 150 other people from ten nations. Ever since, peacemakers from many cultures and religions all over the world have joined this retreat each year. In the infamous place where the mechanized murder of more than a million people took place, participants not only encountered the horrors of the past but also explored the limits of their own humanity, examining how they themselves deal with the “Other”. For many, it was an inter-faith “plunge” that pierced deeply and transformed their lives. This book compiles the testimonies of more than 70 participants over the two decade span of the retreat. Those who wish not just to comprehend the events of the Holocaust, but also to confront its challenges to spirit and heart, will find themselves moved and inspired by these honest stories. They encourage all of us to open up and expand our understanding of what humanity truly is and can be. Edited by Kathleen Battke (D). Inspired and co-edited by Ginni Stern (USA) and Andrzej Krajewski (PL) Bilingual Edition: English-German Hardcover, ca. 300 pages, ISBN 978-3-942085-47-2 Ebook (ePub) ISBN 978-3-942085-50-2 Order the book on : https://www.janando.de/steinrich/en In 2016, enter and listen at Auschwitz yourself in the 21st Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness rereat Oct 31-Nov 4 Learn more about the purpose, planning and staffing of the ZPO Bearing Witness Retreats...

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2016 Bosnia/Herzegovina Retreat Postponed, Process Continues

The Zen Peacemaker Order has decided to continue the peace work process in Bosnia while postponing the retreat to 2017. Please read ahead on some of our reasonings. We at the ZPO are grateful for all those who have contributed, participated and supported this process to date. We are particularly grateful and excited to keep our collaboration with our friends at Center for Peacebuilding in Bosnia as we develop and listen to the process of bearing witness, to take action, together. We say Never again. But the impulse towards having one way of life in a particular area, is a very familiar one right now. It’s the wish to look around us and see people who look like us and speak our language, whose children dress and behave like ours. It’s our resolve to preserve our heritage and way of life to the exclusion of others whenever we feel they’re threatened. Many of us deeply feel the reality of Europe these days. Thousands of thousands refugees flocking there seeking safety and met with kindness and hospitality from some and violence, fear discrimination from others. In Bosnia, Muslims have lived together with Christians since the 15th century. Sometimes one dominated, sometimes another. Walking along Ferhadija Street in Sarajevo is a tour of both space and time, bearing witness to different religious and cultural streams as they come together and split apart. The architecture, the places of worship, stores and restaurants all testify to that unmistakable quality of aliveness when different cultures come together in a spirit of mutual respect and appreciation. Not so the thousands of bullet holes in the walls of almost every building built before 1992. Not so Srebrenica. more than 100,00 Muslims Roman Catholics, and orthodox Christians were hurt and killed. The complexity that is Bosnia/Herzegovina requires more listening. Times of great change test us strongest. It’s easy to lower our voices and withdraw in the face of violence by extremes on both sides. It’s easy to say that we don’t know what to do. Already today innocent people are persecuted even as a great, silent, fearful majority waits to see what happens. On this day the drowned, washing ashore on Mediterranean beaches, amidst our indignation and shame silently call us to...

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Promote the ZPO Peace Work in 2016

The Zen Peacemaker Order is dedicated to a spiritual practice that is rooted in social engagement. The ZPO’s peace work consists of executing and planning peacebuilding Bearing Witness Retreats in Auschwitz/Birkenau, with the Lakota nation on Turtle Island (Northern US), in Bosnia/Herzegovina, Rwanda as well as through ministering refugees, veterans, the environment, race-awareness, homelessness, poverty and more. This work requires your ongoing support, and we’d like to offer a special way to do so. For any donation of $1,000 or more, You will receive a unique, hand-made ceramic art piece – a head created by Jeff Bridges – an award winning actor and director as well as long-time hunger relief activist and supporter of the Zen Peacemakers. Along with each statue, the you will receive @ A box and pillow for the Head @ A book honoring a generation of 18 [email protected] Head For Peace [email protected] signed photograph of the Head @ A What’s The Deal Here document @ A Why Zen Peacemakers document. Scroll below for a list of available heads. Read Jeff Bridges’ reflection on creating the statues and see the available heads. Donors also receive a hardcover copy of The top-10 New York Times Bestseller (2013) The Dude and the Zen Master signed by co-authors Jeff Bridges and Zen Master Bernie Glassman. For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and his buddhist teacher, renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman, have been close friends. Inspiring and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures their freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies with a charm and bonhomie that never fail to enlighten and entertain. In a recent interview in the New York Times, Actor and Director Ethan Hawke said “the best book about acting, indirectly at least, is “The Dude and the Zen Master,” by Jeff Bridges and his Zen teacher, Bernie Glassman.”  The full interview is available here. To make a donation and receive the book and the ceramic head, please donate in the button below $1000 or more. Your Price: $  If you’d still like to make a donation without getting the book and the ceramic head, you can provide below a Tax Deductible Donation of any amount for helping to continue the work of the Zen Peacemakers. Please specify in the comments block of the...

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Join the ZPO Programs in 2016

December is midway and many of us are now or will soon celebrate warmth, closeness and connection with our loved ones around the world. It has been a while since we sent out one of our newsletters, partailly due to our busy season last month around the 20th Anniversary Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz/Birknau. It was attended by 134 people from 20 different countries. We invite you to read more about our current programs and encourage you to join and share them with those you know. LAST TWO WEEKS for SPECIAL ZPO MEMBERS DISCOUNT for  21ST Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing WitnessRetreat in Poland. Discount ends 12/31/2015    Registration to 2016 Bosnia/Herzegovina Bearing Witness Retreat Continues   Registration to 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat Continues   Roshi Bernie will offer a two-day workshop on the ZPO Three Tenets, one day before and one day after each retreat together with Roshi Egyoku Nakao in the Black Hills, and with Roshi Eve Marko in Bosnia. In Auschwitz this workshop will be led by Roshi Genro Gauntt and Roshi Barbara Wegmüller. More information available on these workshop in each of the links above. If you’d like to learn more about Bearing Witness Retreats, What goes into planning and executing these Bearing Witness Retreats and who by whom they are led follow this link....

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ZPO Trainings at Events

Trainings in the Zen Peacemaker Order are given around the world at various ZPO Events. Link here to view upcoming trainings at ZPO Training Centers Link below to view trainings at various ZPO Bearing Witness Retreats. 3-Tenets Workshop Including Native American Bearing Witness Retreat 3-Tenets Workshop Including Auschwitz Bearing Witness...

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Gate of Sweet Nectar at ZCLA Part 2: Mudras

This talk was given  by Roshis Bernie Glassman and  Egyoku Nakao at their workshop on the Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy in April 2015 at ZCLA. It was transcribed by Scott Harris. All right, you have a handout with all the mudras. As Bernie mentioned, Michael O’Keefe has been doing these mudras for several decades, doing The Gate every day. On a recent trip to L.A., he and I (Egyoku) got together, and I had a tutorial from him. And then I asked Jitsujo, who many of you from Sweetwater know, to do the finger drawings. OK, so let’s get started. And while we’re at it, we’ll also do the mudras. Any questions you might have about how we do certain things—feel free to bring it up. Especially those of you from Sweetwater, who do this once a week, you may have a variation. I’ll try to remember to point out where there are actual changes in the text. So, our plan at ZCLA is after this workshop is over. Probably some time in June, we will sit down with our version of The Gate, and start to reimagine it, rethink it, and relook at it. And there’ll probably be some changes that will arise from that. At ZCLA we use the five Buddha families as our organizational mandala. And I think we may do that at Sweetwater. It’s something Bernie has always encouraged us to do. And so we have mudras for each of those families, but they’re not necessarily duplicated in The Gate. I want it to be much more integrated with our organization as well. All right, to begin, as Dharma Joy mentioned, it takes about eleven people to do this version. And the way we do things at ZCLA is when you appear, we ask you to do something. So it’s always a joyful celebration of our whatever is arising. We’re gonna make a meal with that. So we begin with what we call our “Usual Officiant Entry.” Ching ching, ching ching, ching ching, ching ching. I believe in the handout you had this morning you have the Officiant Entry, for those of you who might be interested in what that looks like. So the Officiant enters. And I wish we...

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Bernie’s Rap on the Gate of Sweet Nectar at ZCLA, Part 1

This talk was given at ZCLA at Roshi Bernie Glassman’s workshop on the Gate liturgy in April 2015. It was transcribed by Scott Harris.   We are chanting my translation (with Maezumi Roshi) and adaptation (with Maezumi’s encouragement) of the Japanese Soto Zen liturgy Kan Ro Mon; Ro actually, literally means dew. But in the Buddhist sense, it has the same feeling as “nectar.” Gate of Sweet Nectar—so it’s a special kind of “dew” that helps you to realize the oneness of life—that is to appreciate your spouse. And Mon just means a collection of words, or phrases, or verse. I trained here under my teacher, Maezumi Roshi from ’66 to ’80. And I trained with him about six blocks away from ’64 to ’66. There was a period where every evening we chanted the Kan Ro Mon in Japanese. So we didn’t know what it said. And somehow I fell in love with it. And I left here to start the Zen Community of New York. I chose New York to start the Zen Community of New York, because they sort of fit together, and also I’m from New York. So it was a logical thing. But before I went, I sat down with him. I had been doing a lot of translations with him over the years. I was his first student to do koan study, so we translated all the koans in sort of two systems, so about 600 koans. Because about the time I started, he didn’t like the translations that existed. And I would memorize them, come in, say. “What are you talking about?” Then he would say the Japanese, then translate it for me, and I would write it down. I did a lot of different translations with him. But we had never done the Kan Ro Mon translation. And as I say, I sort of fell in love with it, without knowing what it said. So I asked him to work with me to translate it. And he did. So we translated the Kan Ro Mon, and we used the phrase “Gate of Sweet Nectar” for the title. And then he also said to me that this particular liturgy dates back to the time of Shakyamuni Buddha....

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How Richard Gere and Bernie Glassman Offer Solutions for the Homeless

Written by Michaela Haas for Huffington Post, September 21, 2015. One winter day I got stuck with Richard Gere in Kathmandu, Nepal. He was traveling with friends of mine, and a snowstorm grounded their plane to Bhutan. We spent a delightful day in Kathmandu, exploring the local art shops. While he gracefully accepted the wishes of enthusiastic fans to give autographs, he talked about his hope that maybe Bhutan would be the one place on earth where he could travel incognito. Television was still a novelty in the tiny Himalayan kingdom, so he hoped the Bhutanese would not yet know him. When I met him again after the trip, I learned that he had had no such luck: Bhutan had videos, and just about every Bhutanese had seen Pretty Woman. Fifteen years later, though, Richard Gere did indeed stumble upon the secret how to be invisible, even in the midst of New York. In his new film Time Out of Mind (out this month), he plays an elderly alcoholic who ends up on the streets. Gere wanted to shoot the film documentary-style, and he was worried his A-list status would attract too much attention. No need to worry. Disappearing in plain sight is easy: instead of crossing the Himalayas, all Gere had to do was not to shave for a few days, don a dirty cloak, and ask people for spare change. Nobody recognized him, because nobody looked him in the face. “I could see how quickly we can all descend into territory when we’re totally cut loose from all of our connections to people,” Gere, a long-term supporter of the homeless, realized. Nobody recognized one of the best-known actors of our times, though he did not wear makeup or an elaborate costume. By simply blending in with the homeless, he became instantly invisible. “It wasn’t that folks didn’t notice me; they could see someone asking for change from two blocks away,” Richard Gere told Rolling Stone. “It was that they saw the embodiment of failure — and failure is something that people fear will suck them in.” This experience is universal: We prefer to shut out the forlorn and forsaken. We do not want to acknowledge suffering. We don’t want to look it...

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ZPO August 2015 Newsletter

This past August, the Lakota Nation has generously hosted the Zen Peacemaker Order and participants from Mexico, Asia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the US to Bear Witness at the Black Hills to the historical genocide of the Native American and its current expression that continue to this day.  The week included a sunrise ceremony each morning, council practice, presentations by men and women Native elders, as well as daily open-stage Bearing Witness sessions, in which participants were invited to share with the audience their experience of the retreat. It was concluded by a Pipe Ceremony into the night and a vigil was kept by participants by the Sacred fire throughout. Many of those who attended the retreat speak of the powerful and yet mixed experience – bearing witness to the poverty, historical trauma and suicides, the bond of families, the deep connection to nature, the generosity of Mother Earth and its majestic beauty, the pain in stories offered with gentleness and humility, the generational mistrust, as well as the process towards restoring that trust. We are glad to announce that the retreat will repeat next year. More on that will be communicated soon. Follow these link to photographs by Peter Cunnigham, Jadina Lilien and Darrell Justus http://www.stillriverbooks.com/bearingwitness_blackhills_2105/2/ http://www.stillriverbooks.com/bearingwitness_blackhills_2105/3/   The Zen Peacemaker Order is now gearing towards the 20th Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz/Birkenau. This retreat has been a sustained peace-building effort that has is entering its third decade. People from all over the world respond to the call to listen to the place and to contemplate on how we treat the others, in our societies and within ourselves. As ZPO is moving forward with the Bearing Witness retreat in Bosnia/Herzegovina and Black Hills in 2016, this year we will be joined in Auschwitz with participants from the Lakota Nation, Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, as well as from Palestine. Consider attending this landmark coming-together. This November will also mark the ending of the first cohort of the Bearing Witness Training Program 2014-15. Which included trainings in Auschwitz as well as examining the three tenets as they are expressed in Greyston Foundation in Yonkers NY, created by Bernie in 1982. There are still a few openings in the second cohort of the BWT, which will take placet his year in its entirety in Krakow,...

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The Zen Peacemaker Order Vision, Part 3

This is the third and last part of a conversation between Roshis Bernie Glassman, Wendy Egyoku Nakao and members of the Zen Center of Los Angeles that took place there on April 23rd 2015. The first part featured Roshi Bernie’s vision, the second part featured Roshi Egyoku’s vision of the Zen Peacemaker Order as expressed at ZCLA and this third part includes the Q&A they performed with the sangha. Transcription by Scott Harris. Bernie: Now we’re open to questions. I also like the co-witness term. Let’s say we’re co-witnesses. And as I said before, in the ZPO, I would want to bring the Three Tenets in. So I’m your co-witness. That means to me I have to drop any concepts that I have, and I have to bear witness to you. So here’s a practice of bearing witness to each other, and then see what arises. Roshi Egyoku: And see what arises. Bernie: And you have to forget Bernie such and such, and bear witness to what you’re really, and see what arises. So here’s another example of how bringing the Three Tenets to everything we’re doing can be a whole wonderful practice. And the idea of having co-witnesses . . . I mean I’m trying to think, imagine if I was a co-witness with Maezumi Roshi. I don’t know if he’d be ready to go there. But if I could go there, I think that a lot of different things would have arisen. I was very close with him. But as we said before, in Japanese it’s really a Lord/Vassal relationship. I mean there’s strict rules about even the language. It’s strict. But if I was able to do that, and if you’re able to do that, whether you’re in a position of having being a group, or being within a group—if you could do that, I think it would be a good practice. So it’s not in the structure of ZPO right now. But I’m sure Egyoku will propose it, and it’ll be in that. It’s got to go through this circle discussion. Any new proposals—even the things that you see on the webpages . . . We have core practices, and we have all these different things to discuss. All of that’s gonna be discussed by these circles. So...

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The Zen Peacemaker Order Vision, Part 2

This is the second of a three part conversation between Roshis Bernie Glassman, Wendy Egyoku Nakao and members of the Zen Center of Los Angeles that took place there on April 23rd 2015. This part includes Roshi Egyoku’s vision of the Zen Peacemaker Order as expressed at ZCLA. The first part featured Roshi Bernie’s vision, and the third part will include the Q&A they performed with the sangha. Transcription by Scott Harris. Roshi Egyoku: It’s wonderful that Bernie is putting out his vision. And it has challenged me to think about my vision. Although I’ve been involved with the ZPO practices since the, I don’t know, ’90s. And most of you who practice here know, we’ve been doing these practices, they’re deeply imbedded in ZCLA. So it’s just a natural direction for us to continue to explore. One of the things we’ve done here, which I hear manifesting in the ZPO is peer governance. For us we call it circles. You know, we do a lot of circular practice here. And coming out of a structure that was not circular, it’s a very radical and transformational kind of effort. And we’ve done it long enough here that I think we have a deep trust in the power of the circle. And the practice of the circle, and transformational depth and breath of the circle. And in discussing with Bernie about how the ZPO forms as we go forward, I realize that it’s a transition that the ZPO also has to make. Because we know it’s one thing to say we’ll be peer and circular, but none of us come out of an environment that’s peer and circular—which is fascinating. So one of the things that I hold dear, in terms of a vision—I’m realizing more, and more is that the ZPO move forward in a way that does not concern itself with empowerments. For example, in the tradition most of have come out of, you know at some point certain students are empowered to be Zen Teachers, or Preceptors, or Priests, or whatever the empowerment’s occurring, all of the empowerments are. And our model, as we know, has been historically one of apprenticeship. You know, long years of working with a teacher, and all of that. But as I’ve...

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The Zen Peacemaker Order Vision, Part 1 : Bernie’s Vision

This is the first of three parts of a conversation between Roshis Bernie Glassman, Wendy Egyoku Nakao and members of the Zen Center of Los Angeles that took place there on April 23rd 2015. This first part includes Bernie’s vision of the Zen Peacemaker Order. The second part will feature Roshi Egyoku’s vision for the ZPO and ZCLA, and the third part will include the Q&A they performed with the sangha. Transcription by Scott Harris. Bernie: I’d like to talk about my vision of the Zen Peacemaker Order. I’ll start off at the beginning. And the beginning took place about twenty-one years ago. Twenty-one years ago (1994) I had finished different phases of my Zen training. My first twenty years of Zen training was here (Zen Center of Los Angeles) in  a Japanese-style Zen center with a Japanese teacher (Maezumi Roshi.) But after about twenty years, I had an experience that made me want to work in a bigger venue than just in a Zen center. And the venue had something to do with Indra’s net. Most of you are familiar with that. It’s a metaphor used in Buddhism for all of life. And it closely relates to the modern physics idea of starting with the Big Bang, and energy flowing through the universe. So Indra’s net is this net that extends throughout all space and time, and has at each node a pearl. Constantly there are new pearls being generated. Every instant there’s a new pearl. So as I’m talking, I’m generating a new pearl. And each pearl contains every other pearl. And every pearl contains this pearl that I’m generating. So it’s all of life. And my feeling was that I had been practicing . . . For me, enlightenment means to experience the oneness of life. And that keeps getting deeper, that experience. And for me, what it means is at any moment I could look at what portion of the net am I connected with? I’m connected to a fairly large portion. And what portions aren’t I connected to, and why? And I came to think that one of the big reasons we’re not connected with certain portions of the net is we’re afraid. We’re afraid to get connected, to enter...

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Andrzej Getsugen Krajewski Received Inka on Aug 4, 2015

Andrzej Getsugen Krajewski, is the head teacher of the Polish Zen Peacemakers in Warsaw, Poland and co-organizer of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat. Born 1939 with strong wanderlust. Graduated Faculty of Philosophy at the Warsaw University to spend some lazy years on traveling foot. Active with the political opposition in Poland during the Marshal Law in 1980s. Writer and literary translator (from Swedish to Polish.) He began practicing Zen with Dae Soen Sa Nim in 1980 and in 1983 continued his Zen practice with Genpo Roshi. Since 1997 he has been training with Roshi Bernie Glassman. He received Inka from Bernie on August 4,...

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LAST TWO DAYS to REGISTER for the 2015 NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT in the BLACK HILLS.

LAST TWO DAYS to REGISTER for the 2015 NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT in the BLACK HILLS. “Bear witness to the Black Hills: colonized and exploited for 150 years, and still offering grasslands and canyons, lakes, streams and waterfalls, and summer wildflowers for those still seeking a vision. Our gathering there is becoming the place, the people, the moment. It’s having no idea or expectation, just the wish to be there with other people who want to do this. I invite you:Come to the Black Hills this summer.” – Roshi Eve Myonen Marko August 10-14, 2015 Native American Bearing Witness...

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Black Elk Still Speaks 

Image Courtesy of SHEPARD FAIREY/OBEYGIANT.COM AND AARON HUEY   Two Weeks Left to Register for 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat   From a talk given at the Green River Zen Center on June 16, 2015 by Eve Marko In the book Black Elk Speaks, Black Elk described how, at the age of nine, he had a powerful vision and was told by the great Thunder Beings to share this vision with his tribe. Afraid and unsure of himself, he was miserable for the next eight years: “A terrible time began for me then and I could not tell anybody—not even my father and mother. I was afraid to see a cloud coming up, and whenever one did, I could hear the thunder beings calling to me, “Behold your grandfathers, make haste.” I could understand the birds when they sang, and they were always saying, “It is time, it is time.” The crows in the day and the coyotes at night, all called and called to me, “It is time, it is time, it is time.” Time to do what? I did not know . . . Sometimes the crying of coyotes out in the cold made me so afraid that I would run out of one tepee into another, and I would do this until I was worn out and fell asleep. I wondered if maybe I was only crazy, and my father and mother worried a great deal about me. I could not tell them what was the matter for then they would only think I was queerer than ever. I was seventeen years old that winter. When the grasses were beginning to show their tender faces again, my father and mother asked an old medicine man by the name of Black Road to come over and see what he could do for me. Black Road was in a tepee all alone with me and he asked me to tell him if I had seen something that troubled me. By now I was so afraid of being afraid of everything that I told him about my vision. And when I was through, he looked long at me and said, “Ah,” meaning that he was much surprised. Then he said to me, “Nephew, I know...

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Dharma Talk: The Good, The Bad and the Different: It Ain’t What It Seems to Be.

Living a Life that Matters #3:  The Good, The Bad and the Different: It Ain’t What It Seems to Be. By Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko Given on March 7th, 2015 at Sivananda Yoga Retreat at Nassau, Bahamas Transcribed by Scott Harris. Photo by Rami Efal, of Muslim prayer rugs in Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque in Sarajevo, Bosnia/Herzegovina May 2015 during a planning visit for the Bosnia Bearing Witness retreat in Srebrenica.   Eve:  Good evening. This is our last evening. In our first talk,  I started off by asking the question—so we’re all trying to get to the top of the mountain, what happens at the top of the mountain? Maybe there are different things. But one of the things that happens is that we’re very much, pretty much the way we were. But the big difference is that I don’t think you have to be different. You don’t think I have to be different. I don’t think that my way is the right way. It’s a right way. And you are different, and that’s your way. And I don’t have a problem with that. I’m not judging it. I’m not judging it as you being better or worse—you know, of lesser value than myself, or what I say, or what I do. So, it’s funny, because in that sense we’re all different, and we’re all on top of the mountain. And you see, in our differences, we’re actually very equal. Now that’s true not just on top of the mountain. On top of the mountain we realize we’re all equal. So that’s kind of an interesting idea. Usually, it’s like when do we think of equality? You know, like I’m equal with Rukmini. Well, you know she’s a friend of mine. And you know, she’s not a Buddhist, but I admire her practice. I got to know her over the years. I like her. I have respect for her. You know, so at some point, in that context, I’ll think we’re equal. But equality of differences is something else. It’s that each of us, in our difference, is equal to everybody else. So in that non-differentiated world—in that world of the one where all these differences have equal value—no one is...

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Four Weeks to Black Hills

“What we would like you to do is to pray. Come and pray with the Lakota. Come and pray with us, for the Lakota, for ourselves, for us, and for this earth.” – Lakota Elder and Bearing Witness Retreat Spirit Holder In this rare event the Lakota Elders have invited all those who wish to come and bear witness at the sacred Black Hills to the present day expressions of the genocide and suffering of the Native Americans in the United States of America. We are entering the last month of preparation to the Zen Peacemaker Order Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills, South Dakota USA. August 10-14 2015 LISTEN to a radio interview Lakota Leader Tuffy Sierra and Zen Peacemaker Order Spirit Holder Roshi Genro Gauntt. READ Roshi Eve Myonen Marko reflection on the vision of the retreat. WATCH Aaron Huey’s TED talk on America’s Native Prisoners of War. REGISTER here and get detailed information about the retreat. For questions please call 347.210.9556 or...

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Be My Witnesses in Jerusalem: Bosnia, May 2015

By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko When I think of our time in Srebrenica, it’s not the gravestones I remember, rows and rows of white obelisks dotting long grassy mounds climbing halfway up the surrounding hills, nor the slanting walls of names that glittered even under gray skies. Nor is it the gorgeous forested mountains, the Dinaric Alps covered with beech and pine and reminding me of Switzerland, through which we drove to get down to the memorial commemorating a massacre of over 8,300 people. In fact, when Hasan Hasanović invited us to join him as he testified about what he and his family endured almost 20 years ago, among more than 50,000 who came for refuge in what was the United Nation’s first “Safe Area,” to be protected by “all necessary means, including the use of force,”[1] I thought that was it. What is more powerful than the testimony of a genocide survivor? We sat outdoors by the entrance to the gigantic cemetery on a large rug alongside Muslim visitors, as Hasan—black hair and eyes, and a profile sharpened by experience—recounted how, when Republika Srpska army units (VRS) overran Srebrenica, thousands of Bosniak men and boys decided to try to make it to Tusla, in safe territory, on their own. Joining them, he made his way through 55 kilometers of rugged, mountainous terrain in the summer heat, with little food or water, all while being shelled and ambushed by the VRS. Those taken prisoner were removed and executed though they were civilians, so that in all, only about one-third of those who began the trek to safety made it, haggard and emaciated, haunted for life. Those who stayed behind underwent selections. Most of the men, including young boys and the old, were taken away and never seen again. Register for the Bearing Witness Retreat in Bosnia/Herzegovina May 2016 A friendly, yellow sun appears to beam on some 8,300 obelisk-like gravestones marking the final resting place of those whose tortured bodies were finally found, identified through DNA, and interred here. July 2015 will mark 20 years since the Srebrenica massacre, and families are still searching for the remains of their loved ones. Not only were their boys and men murdered and buried in mass graves,...

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Everything and Nothing

Living a Life that Matters #2: Everything and Nothing By Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko Given on March 6th, 2015 at Sivananda Yoga Retreat at Nassau, Bahamas Transcribed by Scott Harris Bernie: A long time ago, in a far away place, there was nothing. And that nothing included everything. And all of a sudden, instantaneously, in no time, there was a BIG BANG! And that Big Bang spread, it started to spread that nothing (or that everything) throughout space and time, which didn’t exist. So it’s a fantastic phenomenon—especially if you’re an engineer, or a physicist, a mathematician. What could be better than that—this sense of everything or nothing spreading throughout space and time? And of course, since it was a Big Bang out of nothing (or everything), it was all connected. Right? That’s how we talk about interconnection as if it’s a big deal. But if you look at it, how it started, it was all connected to begin with. So, what’s the big deal? Somehow we lost that sense—but we’ll get there. I think—I mean, this is all my opinion, right? I can’t back it up with anything. So it starts spreading. And I like to think of it as energy that’s spreading—but it is all interconnected energy. And as it spreads, the notion of space and time develops. Because before the Big Bang, of course if there’s nothing there, and if that’s everything—I mean what’s the notion of space and time? There was nothing. But now it starts spreading, so this notion of space and time starts spreading. And that’s continued for a long, long time. I mean a very long time. So all of this energy is spreading, and the notion of space and time gets bigger, and bigger. They start measuring it first in seconds, and less than seconds, and then in seconds, and minutes, and hours, and years, and decades. And then this energy starts accumulating at places. And some say it accumulates due to the warpness of space that it’s in. Some say it’s gravity. There are different opinions for why these lumps start happening. Being a mathematician, I like this notion of warped space—curvatures in space—which makes the energy . . . You know, if...

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A Vision of Peace and a Bearing Witness Retreat in the Holy Land by Eve Marko

Fr. Bob Maat is an American Jesuit and trained physician’s assistant who went to Cambodia upon finishing seminary, thinking to serve there for 3 months and then return. He never left Cambodia. He learned the Khmer language and proceeded to make that country his home, working for years with refugees and survivors of landmines, living among impoverished villagers for whom violence and suffering had been a way of life as long as they could remember. Often he joined the pilgrimages of the Cambodian Buddhist saint, Mahaghosananda, who would walk with monks and lay people into the very heart of conflicts, at risk to their lives. Twenty years ago Bob Maat undertook a new project. He began to walk from village to village, educating Cambodians about peace. After being at war for generations, he said, men and women forgot what the word meant. It hadn’t disappeared from the language, it was just empty of relevant meaning, like the word unicorn, describing a creature that probably never existed. The people he talked to assumed that instability, violence, and fear were a regular way of life and couldn’t imagine anything else. Bob Maat realized that unless they rediscovered peace as pertinent, meaningful, and important, it would become a concept like the unicorn, a thing of myth rather than reality, and no one would do anything about it. Peace in the Holy Land is getting to be seen more and more like the unicorn. Honored in the sacred texts of all three Abrahamic religions, the word evokes distrust and cynicism in day-to-day life. If you use it in adult conversation you’re labeled either a leftist or a normalizer, or at least someone who’s not serious. Government leaders seem to use the word for the purpose of invalidating each other, e.g., there’s no partner for peace on the other side. And if you call yourself a peacemaker in Ben Gurion Airport they will look you up in their computer system to see if you’re a troublemaker. When things go unnamed or their names lose relevance, they become unseen. Peace still finds its way into song and poetry, but when the rest of us become self-conscious about using it, sooner or later the yearning behind it disappears, too. And when...

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ZPO Sangha Newsletter June 2015

The Green, greys, purples and terracotta of the Trebevic mountains greeted the ZPO planning group that visited Bosnia in preparation for the Bosnia Bearing Wintess Retreat (May 9-13, ‘16). These mountains overlook Sarajevo from where the group has gone on a trip to Srebrenica, Tusla and Sanski Most, and bore witness to graffiti-ornate remains of military posts, stories of loss and livelinesss and the complexity of “The Jerusalem of Europe”. We’ll share more as the retreat takes form. (Pictured above Sensei Frank De Waele, of Ghent Zen Sangha, in Sarajevo.) In less than two months, Zen Peacemakers will join with Lakota Elders at the Black Hills for the Native American Bearing Witness Retreat (Aug 10-14 ‘15). This event is but the first step in a process that seeks to bridge the divide created by centuries of fear and distrust. Read more about the vision of the retreat here. Registration is strong so reserve your participation soon. What would you like to read about in the ZPO newsletter? Please take a moment and share your thoughts and interest [email protected] Bernie’s Travels In May Bernie has met with the international sangha in Ghent, Belgium. Represented were more than a dozen different sanghas, including Tibetan, Vipassana, Theravadan and Zen practitioners. Bernie spoke of his vision for the Zen Peacemaker Order and together with Senseis Barbara Wegmuller and Frank De Waele discussed questions from the participants. Bernie’s talk in Ghent was the last in his Vision Tour and the Regional Circles in their respective areas will decide upon the following meetings. They will be announced in this newsletter and on the web. Peacemaker Methods Transform Food System  Want to know what you can do about growing hunger, ecological degradation and economic injustice?  Because our food system is reaching its breaking point, the community cafe moving is reaching its tipping point, and we are a part of it!  As the Executive Director of Unity Tables, Zen Peacemaker Order Minister Ari Setsudo Pliskin is supporting a burgeoning movement of alternative pay-what-you-can community cafes.  Want to learn how your community can join the movement?  Interested in to understanding how socially engaged Buddhist principles are being applied towards food innovation? READ MORE. Opening the Gate, by Doshin Woods, Sweetwater Zen Center San-Diego California In April I attended...

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Translating Kaddish by Peter Levitt

KADDISH (Recited at Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat in various languages.)   May the Great Name whose Desire gave birth to the universe Resound through the Creation Now. May this Great Presence rule your life and your day and all lives of our World. And say, Yes. Amen.   Throughout all Space, Bless, Bless this Great Name, Throughout all Time.   Though we bless, we praise, we beautify, we offer up your name, Name That Is Holy, Blessed One, still you remain beyond the reach of our praise, our song, beyond the reach of all consolation. Beyond! Beyond! And say, Yes. Amen.   Let God’s Name give birth to Great Peace and Life for us and all people. And say, Yes. Amen.   The One who has given a universe of Peace gives peace to us, to All that is Israel. And say, Yes. Amen.   A Midrash on Translating Kaddish In Jewish tradition, it is said that when a word is articulated, the inherent attributes and meaning carried by the word are released into the world. In Judaic-Christian teachings, the most well known example of this is found in Genesis, where we are told that when God said, “Let there be light!” there was light. As spoken by the Creator, the word gave birth to the fact and reality of what it held within. This teaching was very close to my heart when my dear friend Rabbi Don Singer and I sat down in my studio in Topanga California to make our translation of Kaddish, knowing that it would be used at the first Zen Peacemaker Order Auschwitz Retreat in November 1996, the very month and year my son would be born. After all, as a poet and translator, I too feel the yearning most writers experience in their effort to find some way for their word to become the thing itself in the hearts and minds of those who hear or read what they have written. I was comforted to know that Don was beside me. A true companion on such a mysterious journey is a good thing to have. What follows, then, are some notions that Don and I traded across the table as we sought to embed into our translation—almost like...

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Two Months to Black Hills

First nations around the world have lost their lands, languages, and ways of life at the hands of American and European colonialists pursuing an agenda of domination, genocide, theft, and the elimination of indigenous cultures and identities. Entire nations have vanished. This catastrophe is not just theirs; it belongs to all humans, and to the earth itself, for it has been succeeded by the calamitous loss of animals and plants, and the specter of global warming. What does it say about us and our separation from this earth? What does it say about our relationship not just to biodiversity, but to human diversity? What does it say about our cultural assumptions of superiority and how they continue to underlie our historical narratives? It is time to bear witness to our systems of thought and values, and to their actions and results that persist to this very day. While hundreds of Native American tribes have been eliminated, drastically reduced in number, exiled, and traumatized, the Lakota/Dakota people of the Western Plains have gained a prominent position in the world psyche as a major archetype of what has befallen America’s native people. The massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890, is viewed by many as a defining event in the genocide of the American Indians, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. What we are most blind to is the continuous institutional violence practiced on the Lakota Nation and other tribes, comprising treaty violations, Congressional acts that permit thievery of their land and resources, the building of dams and flooding of burial grounds hundreds of years old, and the constant encroachment of corporate interests looking to “develop” lands commercially and mine sacred sites for various metals, including uranium. The Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in August 2015 is but the first step in a process of coming together with Native Americans, many of whom continue to distrust the Wasichu, or white man, punning the name with wašin icu, which means he who takes the fat, someone who is greedy and dishonorable. This first step is bearing witness to the trauma, pain, and loss suffered by members of the Lakota Nation at the hands of the American government and corporations, supported by the...

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Twenty Years Ago, Long Long Ago: Reflections On How It (Auschwitz Retreat) All Started by Eve Marko

This article will appear in: AschePerlen. Zeugnisse aus 20 Jahren Friedenspraxis in Auschwitz mit Bernie Glassman und den ZenPeacemakers Pearls of Ash and Awe. Testimonies from 20 years of Bearing Witness in Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman and the ZenPeacemakers Lieferbar Oktober 2015 / available October 2015 I first accompanied Bernie Glassman to Auschwitz-Birkenau in the first days of December 1994, before anyone conceived of a bearing witness retreat at the site of the concentration camps. He was going there to do a Transmission of Precepts ceremony for Claude Thomas, a Vietnam veteran, at an interfaith convocation convened there by Buddhist activist Paula Green and the Nipponzan Myohoji Zen community. Claude was later joining a group that would walk from Poland all the way to Hiroshima, Japan. In my family, two aunts and an uncle died at Auschwitz. Another uncle barely survived the hard labor and lived the rest of his life like an extinguished candle. My grandfather died in 1944 and my mother and her other siblings hid in cellars before getting caught and sent to the Terezin camp near Prague, Czechoslovakia. They were close to death when the Russian army liberated the camp in 1945. Given all this history, I thought, what better way to go to a place like Auschwitz than with one’s own teacher? But as I sat alone on a bench along the Vistula River on the weekend before meeting Bernie, I wasn’t so sure. Years of Zen practice slipped off me like snakeskin, revealing underneath the Jewish woman whose forbears lived, prayed, starved, and finally left Poland for Czechoslovakia. “Don’t just go to see where they died,” my brother had told me on the phone, “also go to where they lived.” So I had indeed flown to Warsaw and taken the train south to Krakow, peering out the windows at dark, hushed houses and even darker twilights. Other Westerners in the compartment, en route to the convocation, talked eagerly and happily; they were not Jews. They didn’t listen to the clanging wheels or the shriek of brakes, they didn’t look out at bare, wintry farms and remember shtetl markets, they didn’t try to pierce through black beech and pine trees and wonder about unmarked graves in the forests. Only...

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Newsletter ZPO – maj 2015

Przez brązowe zimowe jeszcze liście stanu Massachusetts przebijają pierwsze fioletowe pąki krokusów, w pełni kwitną już jasnożółte narcyze. Zen Peacemakers jest w trakcie rozważania wizji własnych działań w świecie. Zapraszamy, zarówno kandydatów jak i członków, abyście czynnie uczestniczyli w rozwoju ZPO, zadając pytania, pisząc swoje uwagi, oraz aktywnie w naszym stowarzyszeniu uczestnicząc. Cykl spotkań Berniego dotyczących wizji ZPO Bernie Roshi rozpoczął trwający cały rok cykl spotkań na temat wizji ZPO. W kwietniu w Zen Center w Los Angeles w Kalifornii towarzyszyła mu Egyoku Roshi. Rozważania dotyczą również Trzech Zasad (nie-wiedzenia, dawania świadectwa, uzdrawiającego działania). Dyskusja dotyczy między innymi ZPO jako światowego ruchu organizującego akcje społeczne będące praktyką duchową, odosobnienia dawania świadectwa w miejscach traumy na całym świecie, różne formy praktyki, których celem jest indywidualne i grupowe oświecenie, a także takie, które uczą jak możemy żyć w pełni otwarci i doceniając nasze życie. Zachęcamy do wysłuchania jednej z mów Berniego, zadawania pytań, dzielenia się doświadczeniami, współtworzenia ZPO. Członkostwo Zastanawiamy się również nad rolą Mentora, który w chwili obecnej działa jako przewodnik na ścieżce, jako przyjaciel i osoba dająca wsparcie. Jeżeli zgłosiłeś się na kandydata ZPO, wkrótce zgłosi się do ciebie Mentor, jeśli już tego nie zrobił. Dzięki relacji z Mentorem, dowiesz się czego potrzebujesz, by wzmcnić swoją praktykę. Połącz się z większą wspólnotą ZPO Jako kandydat lub członek ZPO możesz korzystać ze zniżek na różne treningi i wydarzenia, ale także z propozycji innych grup ZPO. Pomyśl o swoim udziale w sesshin lub warsztacie organizowanym przez grupę ZPO z innego stanu lub kraju (tu znajdziesz link do centrów szkoleniowych ZPO), skontaktuj się z lokalną sanghą. Aktualnie rozwijamy Forum dla Kandydatów i Członków ZPO na Facebooku, będzie można także brać udział w seminariach online prowadzonych przez Roshi Berniego. Już wkrótce rozpoczniemy cykl wideokonferencji online, których celem jest połączenie wszystkich praktykujących z całego świata. Szczegóły niedługo. Praktykuj malę, żeby zapłacić za treningi Aktywiści ZPO wkładają dużo pracy w przygotowanie treningów. Pisząc to, myślę przede wszystkim o Odosobnieniach Dawania Świadectwa, tj. Auschwitz, Black Hills i Bośnia. Na przykład tegoroczne odosobnienie w rezerwacie Indian Lakota, które odbędzie się głównie dzięki pracy Roshi’ego Genro Gauntta, który przez ostatnie szesnaście lat wielokrotnie odwiedzał rezerwat Pine Ridge, budując zaufanie i trwałą relację z jego mieszkańcami. Odosobnienie to jest poprzedzone licznymi wyjazdami także innych...

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ZPO Newsletter May 2015

The fresh purple crocus buds and full-bloomed daffodils are sprouting from under the brown Massachusetts winter leaves. With them, the Zen Peacemaker Order continues to explore its global vision and we welcome you, who have joined as candidates and members, to take part in this unfolding with your questions, comments and participation. BERNIE’S VISION TOUR Roshi Bernie has begun a year-long Vision Tour that started in April at the Zen Center of Los Angeles, CA. He was joined by Roshi Egyoku, the local sangha, and members from other sanghas to discuss his current vision of the ZPO, including the Three Tenets of the Order (not-knowing, bearing witness and doing the actions coming out of not-knowing and bearing witness), the ZPO as a world-wide movement of social action as spiritual practice, bearing witness retreats at places of trauma around the world, forms of practice for individual and collective enlightenment, and how we can live our lives with openness and wonder. You are encouraged to attend one of Bernie’s talks (you can find the schedule here), ask questions, share your experience, and be part of the formation of this movement. MEMBERSHIP During this formation process, we are exploring the role of the Mentor, who now functions as a guide on this path but most importantly as a resource, a friend and support. If you have signed up as a ZPO Candidate, a ZPO Mentor will contact you soon, if one hasn’t already. Through your interactions with your Mentor, we will hear what you need to support your practice. CONNECT WITH THE LARGER ZPO COMMUNITY As ZPO Candidates and Members, you benefit from reduced prices on ZPO trainings and events, as well as on offerings by ZPO training groups. Consider attending a sesshin or workshop at a ZPO training group in another state or country (link to ZPO training centers) and connect with that local sangha. We are currently developing a ZPO Candidates/Members Facebook Forum in which you will be able to share, as well as webinars with Roshi Bernie that will be only open to ZPO Candidates and Members. Soon you will also be able to participate in a recurring online video conference call to stay connected with practitioners from all around the world. Details will be made public...

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“America’s Native Prisoners of War” by Aaron Huey

Aaron Huey’s effort to photograph poverty in America led him to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the struggle of the native Lakota people — appalling, and largely ignored — compelled him to refocus. Five years of work later, his haunting photos intertwine with a shocking history lesson in this bold, courageous talk. (Filmed at...

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Many Steps to Home

By Sensei Barbara Wegmüller, Spiegel Sangha, Bern, Switzerland A cold wind was fluttering the rainbow flags inscribed with “Peace- Pace”, carried by the protesters that had gathered to raise their voices for peace, only few days before the second war in Lebanon in 2006 was about to start. Sami Awad, a peacemaker activist from Bethlehem was a guest at our home in Bern, Switzerland. I was waiting for Sami who was giving an interview to a local radio station just before he was about to address the protestors. Next to me some young children were playing and made me laugh and talk to them. By that I got into a conversation with the mother of one of the young children. In a few French words she explained that she was a Syrian Palestinian who just got accepted Asylum in Switzerland. In an impulse I gave her my business card with my address by saying: “If you learn German we could communicate in German, that would be great.” After that I lost her and the children in the crowd of protestors that started to move on. Ten months later I got a call and a friendly but unknown voice at the other end of the receiver said: “Hi this is Rabia, I have learnt German and would like to talk to you.” I immediately realized who this was. It was a beginning of a friendship that grew over the years in which the confidence and trust in each other deepened. I am still astonished about the unyielding courage and humour of my friend who had to flee from Syria together with her husband and her two young children because the regime did not like what her journalist husband was writing. When the war in Syria started Rabia and her family were living in Bern, Switzerland but all the other members of the family were still living in Damascus, Syria. One by one the family members had to flee their homes in Yarmuk, the now hard-fought Palestinian refugee camp at the suburb of Damascus. Since Switzerland allows Syrian refugees to come to Switzerland if they have relatives already living here Rabia’s family members ended up in Switzerland. Living in various asylum centres in Switzerland the family had no...

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Centennial Memorial of the Armenian Genocide

Dear extended Zen PeaceMaker family, On Friday, April 24th, 2015 we mark the Official Centennial Memorial of The Armenian Genocide where 1,500,000 Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Syrians and Chaldeans perished on the command of the Ottoman Young Turk regime. We recognize the wound that has never been able to heal from the continual evasion of responsibility and denial of the contemporary Turkish government. We also see that denial as an expression of Turkish suffering around this history. We sit allowing ourselves to be fully present to these sufferings, Bearing Witness to the pain and resentment that racism and hatred has built over the last century and offer our open hearts and minds even to those temporarily caught in the grasps of that hatred. We witness in ourselves our own murmurs of violence in our everyday occurrences that are the seeds of Genocidal intent. We say prayers for those hundreds of thousands of victims so senselessly murdered and for the perpetrators lost in delusion of their separation and hatred. We recognize that the term “Genocide” was created by Raphael Lemkin in specific reference to the horrific mass killings of the Armenians and so is properly applied retroactively.  And we also recognize the overwhelming majority of international scholars also agree. So we pray for a resolution and political shift to allow a healing to finally begin for both. We have witnessed the huge Turkish outpouring of sympathy after the assassination of newspaper editor Hrant Dink and so we are perhaps seeing the beginnings of that possible shift already. And, in our lifetimes, we have seen the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of Apartheid, so we do not loose our steadfast resolve that this too could come to pass in our lifetimes. Eric...

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Lakota tribe struggles to stop surge in teen suicides

The people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation are no strangers to hardship or to the risk of lives being cut short. But a string of seven suicides by adolescents in recent months has shaken this impoverished community and sent school and tribal leaders on an urgent mission to stop the deaths. On Dec. 12, a 14-year-old boy hanged himself at his home on the reservation, a sprawling expanse of badlands on the South Dakota-Nebraska border. On Christmas Day, a 15-year-old girl was found dead, followed weeks later by a high school cheerleader. Two more young people took their lives in February and two more in March, along with several more attempts. The youngest to die was 12. Students in the reservation’s high school and middle school grades have been posting Facebook messages wondering who might be next, with some even seeming to encourage new attempts by hanging nooses near homes. Worried parents recently met at a community hall to discuss what’s happening. And the U.S. Public Health Service has dispatched teams of mental health counselors to talk to students. “The situation has turned into an epidemic,” said Thomas Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, whose 24-year-old niece was among two adults who also committed suicide this winter. “There are a lot of reasons behind it. The bullying at schools, the high unemployment rate. Parents need to discipline the children.” Somewhere between 16,000 and 40,000 members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe live on the reservation, which at over 2 million acres is among the nation’s largest. Famous as the site of the Wounded Knee massacre, in which the 7th Cavalry slaughtered about 300 tribe members in 1890, it includes the county with the highest poverty rate in the U.S., and some of the worst rates of alcoholism and drug abuse, violence and unemployment. Suicide has been a persistent problem, a fact that is hardly surprising considering the grim prospects for a better life on the remote grasslands, say tribal officials. Most people live in clusters of mobile homes, some so dilapidated that the insulation is visible from outside. At night, trailers are surrounded by seven or eight rusting cars, not because someone is hosting a party, but because 20 or 25...

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Holy Week in the Streets by Bernie Glassman

Since Holy Week 2015 has just happened, I wish to talk about going on the streets during Holy Week, the week of Easter, the week of Passover, one of the saddest and most joyous times of the year. I go on the streets at other times of the year, too, and each occasion is special in its own way, but the streets feel different during Holy Week. The re-membrance and caring that spring to life during that time are unmistakable and unforgettable To give you a feel for what I mean, let me describe the 1996 Holy Week street retreat. We spent our first night sleeping–or trying to sleep–in Central Park. It was so cold that at about 4 a.m. we gave up and began to walk downtown, stopping for breakfast at the Franciscan Mission on West 31st Street en route to our hangout at Tompkins Square Park. We were tired and it didn’t help when we heard that it was going to rain that night, the first night of Passover. Walking past St. Mark’s Church in the East Village, I ran into its rector, Lloyd Casson. Notwithstanding the smell of my clothes after a night in the park, Lloyd gave me a hug. I knew Lloyd from the time he’d served as rector of Trinity Church, and before that, as assistant dean at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. When he heard that we would be in the area, Lloyd suggested we come to the Tenebrae service at St. Mark’s after our Passover seder and then spend the night in the church. Rabbi Don [Singer] had flown in from California to join us for Passover on the streets, but he’d disappeared in the middle of our night in Central Park. For purposes of the seder, we begged for food in the Jewish restaurants on Second Avenue and in Spanish bodegas by Tompkins Square. One retreat participant, a Swiss woman, was given twenty dollars by the Franciscans when she attended their mass that morning before breakfast. Suddenly, as we began to give up hope, Don appeared. He explained that he’d been so cold during the night that he’d gone into the subway to keep warm. After riding the trains all night he’d visited a...

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Sharing The Mountain: Dharma Talk by Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko

Living a Life that Matters #1: Sharing the Mountain Top By Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko Given on March 5th, 2015 at Sivananda Yoga Retreat at Nassau, Bahamas Transcribed by Scott Harris, photos by David Hobbs and Rami Efal PDF Version Introduction: We would like to welcome all the new guests that arrived at the Ashram today. And we would like to welcome that came for the program on “Living a Life That Matters,” that will start tonight. And to those that are here to participate in the annual gathering of the Zen Peacemakers Order. So it’s a great honor to have our distinguished presenters. And we’ll introduce them shortly, and their group—like we mentioned last night. So tonight we’ll begin a four-day program called, “Living a Life That Matters.” And it will be presented by Roshi Bernie Glassman, and Roshi Eve Myonen Marko. And we’ve been holding this program for several years—in fact we just had it in December. And it’s always a great pleasure to welcome Roshi Bernie and Roshi Eve. They’re great masters in the Zen movement in the United States, and in fact all over the world. And they do wonderful things, very good things, for the world—great believers in social action, and turning social action into spiritual practice. But this time we have a special occasion, because we started talking about it two years ago—to actually hold the annual gathering of their organization, which is called the Zen Peacemakers, and to have it here at the Yoga retreat. So it’s really wonderful to hold this event here. And tonight we’ll have the opening lecture in this program. So I’d like to introduce the presenters. Roshi Bernie Glassman is a world-renowned pioneer in the Zen movement, and founder of Zen Peacemakers. He’s a spiritual leader, author, and businessman, and teaches at the Maezumi Institute and the Harvard Divinity School. A socially responsible entrepreneur for over thirty years, Bernie developed the Greyston Mandala to provide permanent housing, jobs, job-training, child-care, afterschool programs, and other support services to a large community of formerly homeless families in Yonkers, NY. Bernie is the coauthor with Jeff Bridges of The Dude and the Zen Master, and with Rick Fields of Instructions to the Cook:...

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Newsletter ZPO – kwiecień 2015

Newsletter ZPO – kwiecień 2015 Śnieg powoli topnieje tu, w Montague, w Massachusetts. Wróble i wiewiórki na zmianę zaglądają do karmnika za domem; dni stają się coraz jaśniejsze i dłuższe. Wraz ze zmianą pory roku zmienia się również Zen Peacemakers. Jest to znakomita okazja, by ponownie rozważyć naszą misję służenia wszystkim istotom oraz zastananowić się nad przyjętymi przez nas zasadami i strukturą organizacji. W związku z tym, że niedługo rozpoczną się odosobnienienia, warsztaty i treningi na całym świecie, właśnie teraz jest dobry moment, by odnowić nasze intencje i ślubowania praktykowania i służenia innym. Nazywam się Rami Efal. Niedawno dołączyłem do Zen Peacemakers jako koordynator i asystent Berniego. Jestem podekscytowany tym, że mogłem przyłączyć się do tej różnorodnej grupy osób. Jestem bardzo wdzięczny, że mogę dzielić się z Wami pasją autentycznej duchowej praktyki, tworzeniem głębokich relacji i uczestniczeniem w akcjach społecznych. Newsletter wysyłamy po raz pierwszy. Piszemy w nim o naszych planach i przedsięwzięciach. Kolejny zostanie wysłany tylko do kandydatów, zarejestrowanych członków oraz przyjaciół ZPO. Jeśli chcesz wiedzieć jak będzie wyglądał proces rekrutacji na członka ZPO, czytaj go dalej. Informujemy w nim także o wymaganiach i korzyściach płynących z przynależenia do ZPO, o nowej strukturze Zarządu, Kodeksie Etycznym oraz o innych sprawach. Od tego roku wprowadzamy zmiany w procesie rekrutacji na członka ZPO. Pierwszym krokiem, niezależnie od twoich poprzednich związków ze stowarzyszeniem, jest wypełnienie karty członkowskiej oraz opłacenie składki. Istnieją trzy podstawowe etapy rekrutacji: najpierw zostaje się kandydatem, później członkiem, następnie seniorem. Z ramienia ZPO zostaje wyznaczony mentor, który prowadzi kandydatów i członków przez cały proces przynależenia do Zen Peacemakers. Członkowstwo daje możliwość wyboru różnych treningów organizowanych przez stowarzyszenie. Nie jest ono jednak obowiązkiem, aby móc uczestniczyć w warsztatach i odosobnieniach. Należąc do ZPO należysz do międzynarodowej sieci ZPO, która oferuje różnorodne treningi i szkolenia w Europie i w USA. Kandydaci, członkowie i seniorzy otrzymują 10-procentową zniżkę na wszystkie wydarzenia organizowane przez ZPO, a także niższą cenę na warsztaty organizowane przez lokalne sanghi. Jeśli chcesz zostać członkiem ‘rodziny ZPO’, ale nie chcesz przyjmować buddyjskich wskazań, czy też podążasz inną duchową ścieżką, możesz zostać tzw. ‘przyjacielem ZPO’. Otrzymasz wówczas 5% zniżki na odosobnienia i warsztaty, będziesz też otrzymywał informacje i newsletter. http://zenpeacemakers.or/zpo-membership/ Warunkiem zostania członkiem ZPO jest udział w Odosobnieniach Dawania Świadectwa – Bearing Witness Retreats, w...

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ZPO Newsletter April 2015

The snow is slowly melting here in Montague, MA. The sparrows and squirrels take turns at the feeders behind the house and the days turn long and bright. With the turning of the season the Zen Peacemaker Order is turning, too. Our mission to serve all beings and its expression in the order’s structure and tenets are being reexamined. Together with the many ZPO retreats, workshops and trainings offered around the world, it’s exciting time to re-dedicate our intention and vows to practice and serve together. My name is Rami Efal and I have recently joined the Zen Peacemaker Order as the order’s coordinator and Bernie’s assistant. I feel excited to join this diverse crowd and grateful for our shared pursuit of authentic spiritual practice, deep relationships and social action. This is a new newsletter we send out with developments and activities in the Order. The next newsletters will go only to ZPO Candidates and all registered ZPO Members and ZPO Friends. Read ahead to learn more about what these mean, the new ZPO membership process, requirements and benefits, the new ZPO Governance structure, ZPO Ethical Guidelines and more. We are revamping the ZPO Membership process. It begins, regardless of your past affiliation with the Order, with filling out the ZPO Candidate application form & paying the membership fee. ZPO Membership has three main stages: Candidates, Members and Seniors. Candidates and Members will be assigned a ZPO Mentor who will guide them through the membership process. Membership opens different training pathways within the order, but is not neccesary in order to participate in individual workshops and retreats. The Zen Peacemaker Order Membership encourages all to extend their connection and training with the larger, international ZPO community. ZPO Candidates, Members and Seniors will receive 10% discount on all ZPO events, as well as a reduced rate matched to a local sangha member on workshops at participating training centers. If you wish to take part of the ZPO family while not taking on the ZPO buddhist precepts, or follow another spiritual path you can apply to be a ZPO friend. You will receive 5% discount on ZPO workshops and retreats and be included in communication and receive this newsletter. The requirements to become a ZPO Member include attending a ZPO Bearing Witness retreat, Trainings on the Three Tenets...

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Happy April Fools Day!

The Zen Peacemaker Order is happy to announce that the Order of Disorder (OD) is being reinvigorated by Mr. Yoowho (Moshe Cohen), Nocando (Michel Dobbs), KuKu Sama (Peter Cunningham) and BoobySattva (Bernie Glassman.) Also, ON THE OCCASION OF OUR NATIONAL HOLIDAY APRIL 1, 2015, THE HOLY DAY OF FOOLS, the Order of Disorder is Calling all clowns, fools, tricksters, and fun and funny-loving peoples to gather the weekend of October 23-25th at Village Zendo in New York City for the first OD Sesshin. Rejoice in ABSURDITY and celebrate THE CRACKS in our cracked lives. Remember laughter? Remember joy? Remember THE PASSWORD to all the websites you use? Now, more than ever, the world can use an injection of lightness and laughter. THE WEEKEND will be full of emptiness. It will include OD meditation led by NoCanDo, and humor training by YooWho. Please, don’t keep it secret. Speak up. Tell everyone. SCREAM IT in the streets! Write it on the walls! Invite your friends, your family, your enemies, and that fool that lives down the hall. And tell us too. (mark yes for attending the event on the application form below.) Since, on its’ first incarnation, no list of members was kept, we are asking you to fill out this application if you so desire to be on the OD official list. For those who prefer a little order: We are initiating an OD renewal movement. In it’s previous incarnation (http://www.orderofdisorder.com) OD took itself so seriously that it refused to write down the names of it’s members. We will now attempt to abandon this perhaps overly fundamentalist concept of disorder and request that those of you who think you are part of this group (or would like to be part of it) go to the effort of sending us your contact information. Include what you imagine as your OD name (remember that nobody remembers and that names are fluid, they change all the time.) Going forward we would like create ways to communicate ideas and to gather in person on occasional occasions. We are holding an Order of Disorder event at The Village Zendo October 23-25, 2015. This will be the first “organized” event in the history of OD. Yes it does seem like a...

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Mike Brady Named President & CEO of Greyston

Greyston’s Board of Directors Announced that Mike Brady, President of Greyston Bakery, has been named President and CEO of Greyston, expanding his leadership role to the entirety of Greyston. “We are pleased to have found a leader within our existing team who possesses both the passion for our mission, as well as a vision for what a successful organization should be in the 21st Century,” said Deborah Stewart, Chair of the Greyston Foundation Board of Directors. Mike was a Board Member of Greyston Foundation before being named President and CEO of Greyston Bakery in 2012, the for-profit arm of Greyston Foundation. Through his leadership, Mike developed the Bakery into a pre-eminent social enterprise, demonstrating that Greyston’s unique model of Open Hiring and PathMaking-Greyston’s mission in serving the people of Southwest Yonkers-is compatible with a profitable business model. Passionate about social entrepreneurship,Mike is a well-known thought leader on social enterprise management, mindfulness in business, and the development and success of Benefit Corporations. He is a regularly featured speaker on these and related topics, having presented at [email protected], CGI America, the Ashoka Future Forum, as well as at Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Brown. Mike remarked, “Greyston celebrated its 32nd Anniversary this year and I am honored to have the opportunity to build on our heritage as a pioneering social enterprise. The momentum behind socially-minded and sustainable business practices has never been stronger and this could not be happening at a more critical time as we search for answers to the challenges of joblessness and poverty, which are preventing good people from leading lives of self-sufficiency. I look forward to working with the outstanding team at Greyston to address these problems and to set an example for other like-minded organizations to follow.” “We congratulate Mike Brady as Greyston’s newest leader and visionary, who has the experience and passion to continue Greyston’s business model of expert community outreach and growth,” said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. “I look forward to continuing our collaboration with Greyston to assist those in need throughout Yonkers and beyond.” Under Mike’s leadership, Greyston Bakery has been marked by solid financial and mission-based achievements. During his tenure, the Bakery increased revenues by more than 50% and was recognized as New York State’s first Benefit Corporation. Brady’s strategic initiatives have also...

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Bearing Witness to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

Bus Trip Monday, August 10, 2015 The Native American Bearing Witness Retreat, which will take place at the Black Hills, goes hand in hand with the history and present circumstances of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota, eighth largest reservation in the country. Pine Ridge is the locus of several historic events in the history of the Lakota Nation, including the Badlands site where the last of the Ghost Dances was held, the ensuing massacre at Wounded Knee, the takeover of Badlands areas by the US government for bombing purposes in the 1940s, and occupation of Wounded Knee by members of the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. This is also an area of deep-seated poverty and hardship. On Monday, August 10, at 8:00 am, buses will pick up participants from designated locations near the Rapid City airport in South Dakota to bring them to the Reservation. Every hill and valley on the Reservation has stories that reveal the people and the place. Oglala guides will not only provide a comprehensive history of the Oglala Lakota, their banishment to the Reservation and the state of the tribe now, but will also share personal stories and perspectives regarding the people and families who live there now. This is an opportunity to hear personal narratives rarely available to non-Indians. The tour will include a drive through Badlands National Park on the northern portion of the Reservation and on to the town of Kyle in its center. The bus will then drive south through Porcupine and make a stop for reflection and prayer at the Wounded Knee memorial site, where 300 of Big Foot’s band were massacred by the US Calvary on December 29, 1890. The route will then go through the town of Pine Ridge in the southwestern corner of the Reservation before continuing west into the Black Hills and dropping participants off at the Retreat Site. The buses will be equipped with toilets. Bag lunches will be provided since there are no convenient restaurants or dining spots. Dinner will be served at the Retreat Site. This trip will highlight some of the results of the historical relationship among Indians, non-Natives, and the US government. For this reason it is an essential...

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Climate Takuhatsu

I’m writing this as a part of my “climate takuhatsu”. Soon after we moved to Boulder last year, I started this practice. I go door to door in our neighborhood, knock, wait, if someone shows up, I offer my business card that says “PhD, climate scientist”, express my worry, and offer to speak anything about climate and how it related to the lives of people in front of me. Now, I’m knocking on the door of White Plum sangha and Zen peacemakers. As a part of a large environmental organization, I hear about and work on many potential policy and technology centered “fixes” for our climate dilemma. These “fixes” are important but can be compartmentalized. When we think about fixes to reduce atmospheric carbon pollution, we end up forgetting about water or soil quality which directly affect food security for millions even today. While we might acknowledge the need for climate justice with respect to developing countries, we forget to face racism (or caste system) in our own backyards. “Bottom up” activists work hard, lose their balance, get discouraged and burnt down. “Top down” policy-makers can get sucked into the same corporate quarterly-profit oriented mindset that might fundamentally need to be changed given the socio-economic and ecological crises we have been facing. I feel that being far ahead of many other Zen lineages wrt engaged Buddhism, Zen peacemakers can really help advance the dialogue on our ongoing eco-crisis as well. We need all the tools we can muster to face the multi-faceted crisis that calls for both tremendous sense of urgency and limitless patience, both personal and collective action, adaptation to what will happen even if we stopped all emissions today and collective action to reduce emissions so that we don’t enter run-away climate change scenarios. I feel we need to work more systematically on development of communities such that they become a meeting place for top-down and bottom-up strategies, are well equipped to honor individual and collective stories and can transform the fears, denial and anger into collective courage and even delightful energy — which are all much needed for any kind of fundamental personal or institutional change. Zen peacemakers three tenets that are rooted in our inter-connectedness, need to embrace complexity and groudlessness, importance of sangha while we grieve...

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Between madness and truth: What our inner trickster can teach us

From HaAretz By Gabriel Bukobza Our socialization requires that we tame our impulses, but we pay a price for this suppression. That’s why cultures have created characters that live outside the conventions – for us to learn from. A fundamental stage in a child’s development is the ability to regulate bodily wastes. Understanding that the place for this is the toilet bowl and not the bed or elsewhere shows acceptance of the principles of reality. Being weaned from soiling and wetting symbolizes the onset of the internalization of the rules of culture – and particularly of the recognition of one of culture’s essential distinctions: between dirt and cleanliness. Anthropologist Mary Douglas noted in her book “Purity and Danger” that dirt is “matter out of place”: An egg on your plate is breakfast, but on your tie it is dirt. Shoes in the closet are fine, shoes on the table is chaos. Dirt is an anomaly, a byproduct of the creation of order – something there’s no place for after we’ve done organizing the world. The toilet-trained toddler accepts this principle and agrees to restrain himself in order to produce cleanliness in the place where he has been accustomed to let go and create dirt. He forgoes the pleasure of spontaneous excretion (and, by the same token, depending on his parents’ devoted cleaning services), exchanging it for the feelings of control and security afforded by adjustment to society’s demands. Henceforth, urinating in an inappropriate place will threaten convention and be considered subversive. Generally, the child will choose not to do that and will follow the laws of order and social frameworks: obeying so as to receive confirmation that he is a good boy, organizing himself in order to believe that there is logic and point in reality, conforming so as not to feel deviant. Subsequently, this ability will spread to new regions in the mind, and control of bodily functions will morph into a generalized ability to delay gratification. The child will learn how to sit quietly in a circle in  kindergarten, to listen in school, to obey teacher and parent, to respect laws, to identify with national songs, and to save money. Now, when he encounters the different, the strange, the abnormal, he will react in the same way he was taught how to feel about what he excretes: with disgust, rejection and anger. The eroticism-fraught action will be replaced by a sadistic reaction:...

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Greyston’s Mission and History

Greyston’s Mission Greyston is a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. We operate a profitable business, baking high quality products with a commitment to customer satisfaction. Grounded in a philosophy that we call PathMaking, we create jobs and provide integrated programs for individuals and their families to move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. Our History Greyston has a successful 30 year history that’s grounded in a philosophy to better our community and the lives within it. This philosophy permeates everything that we do and has helped to make Greyston the force of socially conscious purpose that it is today. In the 1980s, our founder, Roshi Bernie Glassman recognized that employment is the gateway out of poverty and towards self-sufficiency. In 1982, he opened Greyston Bakery, giving the hard-to-employ a new chance at life. His open-door policy offered employment opportunities regardless of education, work history or past social barriers, such as incarceration, homelessness or drug use. Out of this hiring policy a new and larger mission grew. Low-income apartments were built for the formerly homeless, providing housing for Bakery workers and their peers. Soon after, Greyston Child Care Center was founded to ensure that a lack of high-quality, low cost child care wouldn’t be a barrier to work. As the AIDS epidemic spread, Greyston responded by opening Issan House and the Maitri Center, providing housing and adult day health services for people living with HIV/AIDS. Growing awareness of health disparities for communities of color and growing concerns about the environment prompted the creation of the Community Gardens and Environmental Education program. Most recently, in response to the recession, which disproportionately impacted poor Yonkers residents, Greyston launched WD 2.0, a comprehensive workforce development program. What originally began as a modest bakery has grown into a broad array of results-oriented, evidence-based programs and services designed to respond to the changing needs of Yonkers residents. We are proud to say that today, Greyston serves over 2,200 community members...

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Myanmar revokes Rohingya voting rights after protests

Rohingya Muslims will not be able to vote in Myanmar’s referendum after the prime minister withdrew temporary voting rights following protests. Hundreds of Buddhists took to the streets following the passage of a law that would allow temporary residents who hold “white papers” to vote. More than one million Rohingya live in Myanmar, but they are not regarded as citizens by the government. In 2012, violence between Muslims and Buddhists left more than 200 dead. The clashes broke out in Rakhine province and sparked religious attacks across the country. The so-called white papers were introduced in 2010 by the former military junta to allow the Rohingya and other minorities to vote in a general election. Analysts suggested the law might have been passed under international pressure The move to annul the rights is seen as surprising given that it was Prime Minister Thein Sein who originally persuaded parliament to grant them. The announcement came just hours after demonstrations in Yangon. Those protesting resent what they see as the integration of non-citizens into the country. “White card holders are not citizens and those who are non-citizens don’t have the right to vote in other countries,” said Shin Thumana, a Buddhist monk who took part in the protest. “This is just a ploy by politicians to win votes.” However, Rohingya MP Shwe Maung, whose constituency is in Rakhine, argued that voting rights had only become an issue following the violence in 2012. Buddhist monks are at the forefront of protests against Muslims. One high profile leader is monk Ashin Wirathu, who recently used abusive language to describe the UN’s special envoy to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), Yanghee Lee. In December, the United Nations passed a resolution urging Myanmar to give access to citizenship for the Rohingya, many of whom are classed as...

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One Baker’s Mission to Embrace Change

Our journey sharing Full Circle stories continues. Today, we reveal Raymond’s story: a true testimony to our community of dreamers and achievers. Through him, we hope you will see the inspirational strength and love that defines Greyston Bakery. Raymond grew up in Yonkers smelling the delicious chocolate scent which signifies proximity to the bakery producing over 30,000 pounds of brownies daily. Raymond’s father left he and his mother at an early age and his hardworking mother had to work long hours. Raymond began selling drugs with some friends but after spending time in prison far away from his mother and the rest of his family, Raymond resolved to change his life and become a better person. Raymond faced huge challenges at this time. He wanted to let go of his past, forgive himself and find a meaningful job. However, it quickly became clear that many places of business would not hire him because of the person he used to be. He worked for some time at a hospital and at Snapple before signing his name on the Greyston Bakery hiring list. Raymond was determined to work at the bakery, a place he felt would truly accept him. When he received the call about an open position, he felt overjoyed at the prospect of a new beginning. He describes being “welcomed with open arms” on his first day. It has been a year since Raymond’s first day and he has grown to love the community. Sunitha, Account Manager for Ben & Jerry’s, inspires Raymond daily. “I get my energy from Suni. She stands out because she comes into work every day with a smile on her face. That is not an easy thing to do and I respect her for that.” Raymond finds that most of the staff know how to leave their troubles outside the door and share happiness and encouragement within the walls of the bakery. He feels he learns something new every day from all of his coworkers and is inspired to be amongst an incredible group of people who have overcome immense challenges. Each day, Raymond strives to make the people around him laugh. “Greyston has truly given me the opportunity to put my past behind me. I am surrounded by...

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Reflections by Eve Marko on Visit to the Black Hills and the Pine Ridge Reservation

Reflections by Eve Marko on Exploratory Visit to the Black Hills and the Pine Ridge Reservation Whiteclay, Nebraska Whiteclay, Nebraska Birgil Kills Straight Tuffy Sierra Tuffy Sierra Retreat Site Winter Retreat Site Retreat Site Retreat Site Map Retreat Site Retreat Site Tiokasin Ghosthorse Black Hills Black Hills Black Hills Black Hills Black Hills Black Hills Black Hills The slideshow is paused and the title is shown when your mouse hovers over the picture. Whiteclay, Nebraska, is not a town like others on the map. It consists of some half dozen very large, red sheds facing each other across the muddy road that winds down from the Pine Ridge Lakota Reservation a mile north. Pine Ridge, in the state of South Dakota, has been dry for over a century, but this town is just as wet as could be, and not just from the sickly clay that turns to sludge with each rainfall. “This is where they come to drink,” Bennett “Tuffy” Sierra tells us. We reach the end of the row of beer stores in a few seconds flat so he pulls onto the broken pavement. Instantly a gaunt, ageless woman appears at his window, wearing nothing over her thin gray sweatshirt though it’s almost freezing outside and a cold rain flattens the thin strands of hair on top of her head. He mouths no, shaking his ponytail for emphasis, wrinkles deepening in his dark brown face. “My father died from drink. My uncle was hit on the head right outside that store and made it to the side of that trailer there—see it?—where he went to sleep, only it snowed that night and he died of hypothermia.” A cousin sobered up for 20 years, then went back out. Police shot and killed him when they found him waving a gun outside a bar. Went back out. Not fell off the wagon, not started drinking or using again, but went back out. It usually starts with drinking at Whiteclay. A few, like Tuffy Sierra, once a champion bull rider in rodeos up and down the state of California and throughout the West, finally stopped coming down here. But of those who’ve stopped, many still go back out. Some are Tuffy’s relatives: The girl who went into...

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Living a Life That Matters by Roshis Bernie & Eve Marko

Talks given on Dec 15 –  18, 2015 at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Bahamas Retreat Center.  How do we live a meaningful life? In their own special and engaging way, Roshi Bernie Glassman and Roshi Eve Myonen Marko share their experiences of living the life of a homeless person during street retreats and other social activism projects, such as the Bearing Witness projects. Through spiritual teachings, personal stories, and a good dose of humor, these two distinguished and charismatic spiritual leaders inspire you to take action and make your life matter to you and to others. Dec 15 talk has just been added to the Zen Peacemakers Webcast...

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A trip to the Greyston bakery always ends up delivering a cookie and a smile, but at the bakery run by Mike Brady, the extra icing is its stated goal of also serving up a second chance. The recipe for the success of their enterprise includes a commitment to employing a range of chronically unemployed people, including former convicts and recovering addicts. Mike, the President and CEO at Greyston Bakery, is building on the Bakery’s thirty year heritage as a model for social enterprise using entrepreneurship to address the issues of generational poverty in low income communities. Their manufacturing facility in Yonkers, NY serves as a force for personal transformation and community economic renewal. Greyston is best known for a 24-year relationship baking the brownies that go into Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. Mike’s passion for social entrepreneurism and the use of business to solve social issues are fundamental to his work at Greyston Bakery. Mike is a business advisor to the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) helping to promote policies for a more sustainable economy. View the webcast about Greyston and one of it’s workers Dion...

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Panels at Greyston Bakery Created by Greyston Employees

GREYSTON’ MISSION STATEMENT Grounded in a whole-person approach, which we call PathMaking, Greyston Foundation, a pioneer in social enterprise, creates jobs and provides integrated programs for individuals and their families to move forward on their path to self-sufficiency. Greyston Mandala All of Greyston’s interconnected programs, services, all of its employees, tenants, and program- clients. PathMaking It is both a guiding philosophy and a program at Greyston. The PathMaking philosophy is our belief that individuals can be supported to achieve “wholeness” (self-sufficiency) that comes from having a well-balanced, satisfying and integrated personal, spiritual and professional life. The PathMaking program at Greyston provides direction, support and referrals, to all members of the Greyston Mandala- employees, clients, and the board, in the areas of personal and professional development and organizational success. Spirituality at Greyston We understand that we all are connected to one another, have responsibility for each other, and for ourselves; there are ways of being in the world that can help ourselves and others. Openness We believe that our openness is our authentic willingness to include and accept all others in a non-judgmental way, while holding ourselves and others accountable. We understand that we are all connected and have responsibility for respecting and acknowledging one another. We welcome innovation and accept the existence of endless possibilities. Loving-Action We believe in loving-action as a practical application, creating the conditions for others to become empowered, approaching all persons with compassion and all situations with integrity and commitment to do the right thing. Transformation We believe that our acceptance of others where they are, followed by right action, will lead to growth and positive change in the evolution of individuals, programs and communities. Not-knowing Is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation. Bearing Witness We bear witness to the joy and suffering that we encounter. Rather than observing the situation, we become the situation. We became intimate with whatever it is – disease, war, poverty, death. When you bear witness you’re simply there, you don’t run away. Loving Action Is an action that arises naturally when one enters a situation in the state of not-knowing and then bears witness to...

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Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

My wife, Roshi Eve Marko and I just returned from our annual teaching at the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island where, on the last day, we discussed Swami Vishnudevananda with Swami Swaroopananda. Below is a brief history of the wonderful Yoga Teacher and Peace Activist Swami Vishnudevananda. Swami Vishnudevananda A number of Zen Peacemakers will be gathering there in March. Also, Sivananda Peace Ambassadors will be joining all our Bearing Witness Retreats Vishnudevananda Saraswati (December 31, 1927 – November 9, 1993) was a disciple of Sivananda Saraswati, and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams. He established the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course, one of the first yoga teacher training programs in the West. His books The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (1959) and Meditation and Mantras (1978) established him as an authority onHatha and Raja yoga. Vishnudevananda was a tireless peace activist who rode in several “peace flights” over places of conflict, including the Berlin Wall prior to German reunification. In reaction to a vision of a world engulfed by flames and people running hither and thither, oblivious of borders, Vishnudevananda began his peace mission, calling it the True World Order, aimed at promoting world peace and understanding. The first act was to create the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course in 1969, as he felt the need to train future leaders and responsible citizens of the world in the yogic disciplines. Later he conducted peace flights over the world’s trouble spots, earning himself the name “The Flying Swami”. On August 30, 1971, Vishnudevananda flew from Boston to Northern Ireland in his Peace Plane, a twin-engine Piper Apache plane painted by artist Peter Max. His Vedantic message, “Man is free as a bird”, challenged all man-made borders and mentally constructed boundaries. Upon landing, he was joined by actorPeter Sellers and they walked through the streets of Belfast chanting a song called “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.” Later that same year, on October 6, he took off with his co-pilot over the war-ridden Suez Canal and was buzzed by Israeli jets. The same thing happened with the Egyptian Air Force on the other side of the Canal. He continued eastward, “bombing” Pakistan and India with flowers and peace leaflets. On September 15, 1983 Vishnudevananda flew over the Berlin Wall, from West to East Berlin, in a highly publicized and particularly dangerous mission to promote peace. In a press interview given several weeks beforehand, he said, “Symbolically we want to...

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Gathering of Zen Peacemakers Family in Paradise

March 5-8, 2015 Imagine this: Rolling waves, laughter, healthy food, yoga, relaxation, connection and friendship!  As well as evening Satsang (Indian term for dialogue between Teacher and Student) with Roshi Bernie And Roshi Eve. To those interested in learning more about the Zen Peacemakers Family and the Zen Peacemaker Order please join us in a wonderful setting to share, study, do yoga, relax and swim in the Caribbean. We are planning a Gathering at the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island (www.sivanandabahamas.org) on March 5-8, 2015. You and your family are invited. The 83-affiliate Zen Peacemakers Family includes communities started by successors of Bernie Glassman, communities started by their successors and also spiritual groups from other lineages and traditions who want to find affinity in their commitment to social action. Within the ZP Family, a Zen Peacemaker Order was envisioned by Bernie Glassman in 1994 and formed in 1995. There is a limit of 185 in housing although the higher end housing is limited and will go quickly. Please submit the Registration Form posted below in the toggle “Registration Form and Payment Methods.” See the various rate structures below in the toggle “Rates.”You may also register now thru the Zen Peacemaker office by calling Laurie Smith at 1-(413) 367-5278 or by email.  She will help you walk thru the various options. Link here to take a virtual tour of the Ashram. Description of Gathering Besides relaxing in the sun and swimming in the ocean, there will be a variety of offerings. Yoga is offered several times per day. There is an evening meditation, kirtan and satsung every day. Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko will be giving the satsung (discussions.) Every day there will be breakout groups to discuss the Zen Peacemaker Family and the Zen Peacemaker Order. These discussions will include ways to hook up with either the Family, the Order or both. Accommodations Beachfront Suite Double Room w/Private Bath & Air Conditioning Single Room Beachfront Double Room Garden View Double Room Dormitory Tent Hut Tent Space   Luxurious air-conditioned beachfront suites are furnished with two double beds. Includes a private bathroom with tub and shower, a kitchenette (no stove), and a large balcony with a breathtaking view of the ocean. These villas are...

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Gloves4Gloves-Ebola Relief

To date, thousands of individuals have lost their lives to Ebola and the World Health Organization projects many more.While cases are currently in several countries including the United States, the major threat still remains in West Africa. There are too few resources available in these highly affected countries to prevent and treat this disease. It is critical that we are able to identify the signs and symptoms of Ebola and can more effectively prevent its transmission. Everyone can do something to help. Nurses are at the forefront of care for Ebola victims and it is important that the efforts of those in this global profession are widely supported. As students at Columbia University School of Nursing, we are standing in solidarity with our nurse colleagues in West Africa. We have designed fluorescent winter gloves to raise Ebola awareness. The sale of each pair of winter gloves will fund the donation of 100 medical supply gloves for communities heavily affected by Ebola. Hence, the name of our inititiave – Gloves4Gloves. Because Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids, medical gloves are essential to prevent the transmission of the disease. Please help us create awareness about this deadly disease and minimize the lives...

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One month left for Early Bird Discounted Fees

For Native American Bearing Witness Retreat This retreat will focus on the American Indian genocide, oppression and neglect that began at the end of the fifteenth century and continues to this day.  A defining event of this era is the massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota on December 29, 1890. Although hundreds of Native American tribes have been either eliminated, drastically reduced, moved or vastly traumatized, for many reasons, the Lakota / Dakota people of the western plains have gained a prominent position in the world psyche as a major archetype of what has befallen America’s native people. The retreat will be multi-faith and multinational in character, based on the Zen Peacemaker Order’s Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Taking Action that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness. and Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers are returning for the 20th year to the old site of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Oświęcim, Poland, for a Bearing Witness Retreat in November 2015. Bernie Glassman began the annual Bearing Witness Retreats in 1996, with help from Eve Marko and Andrzej Krajewski. They have taken place annually every year since then. Much has been written about these annual retreats; at least half a dozen films have been made about them in various languages. They are multi-faith and multinational in character, with a strong focus on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Loving...

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The Wounding of the Native American Soul

In the early ’80s, a Lakota professor of social work named Maria Yellow Horse Brave Heart coined the phrase “historical trauma.” What she meant was “the cumulative emotional and psychological wounding over the lifespan and across generations.” Another phrase she used was “soul wound.” The wounding of the Native American soul, of course, went on for more than 500 years by way of massacres, land theft, displacement, enslavement, then—well into the twentieth century—the removal of Native American children from their families to what were known as Indian residential schools. These were grim, Dickensian places where some children died in tuberculosis epidemics and others were shackled to beds, beaten, and raped. Brave Heart did her most important research near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the home of Oglala Lakota and the site of some of the most notorious events in Native American martyrology. In 1890, the most famous of the Ghost Dances that swept the Great Plains took place in Pine Ridge. We might call the Ghost Dances a millenarian movement; its prophet claimed that, if the Indians danced, God would sweep away their present woes and unite the living and the dead. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, however, took the dances at Pine Ridge as acts of aggression and brought in troops who killed the chief, Sitting Bull, and chased the fleeing Lakota to the banks of Wounded Knee Creek, where they slaughtered hundreds and threw their bodies in mass graves. (Wounded Knee also gave its name to the protest of 1973 that brought national attention to the American Indian Movement.) Afterward, survivors couldn’t mourn their dead because the federal government had outlawed Indian religious ceremonies. The whites thought they were civilizing the savages. Today, the Pine Ridge Reservation is one of the poorest spots in the United States. According to census data, annual income per capita in the largest county on the reservation hovers around $9,000. Almost a quarter of all adults there who are classified as being in the labor force are unemployed. (Bureau of Indian Affairs figures are darker; they estimate that only 37 percent of all local Native American adults are employed.) According to a health data research center at the University of Washington, life expectancy for men...

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The Sand Creek Massacre by Ned Blackhawk

MANY people think of the Civil War and America’s Indian wars as distinct subjects, one following the other. But those who study the Sand Creek Massacre know different. On Nov. 29, 1864, as Union armies fought through Virginia and Georgia, Col. John Chivington led some 700 cavalry troops in an unprovoked attack on peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho villagers at Sand Creek in Colorado. They murdered nearly 200 women, children and older men. Sand Creek was one of many assaults on American Indians during the war, from Patrick Edward Connor’s massacre of Shoshone villagers along the Idaho-Utah border at Bear River on Jan. 29, 1863, to the forced removal and incarceration of thousands of Navajo people in 1864 known as the Long Walk. In terms of sheer horror, few events matched Sand Creek. Pregnant women were murdered and scalped, genitalia were paraded as trophies, and scores of wanton acts of violence characterize the accounts of the few Army officers who dared to report them. Among them was Capt. Silas Soule, who had been with Black Kettle and Cheyenne leaders at the September peace negotiations with Gov. John Evans of Colorado, the region’s superintendent of Indians affairs (as well as a founder of both the University of Denver and Northwestern University). Soule publicly exposed Chivington’s actions and, in retribution, was later murdered in Denver. After news of the massacre spread, Evans and Chivington were forced to resign from their appointments. But neither faced criminal charges, and the government refused to compensate the victims or their families in any way. Indeed, Sand Creek was just one part of a campaign to take the Cheyenne’s once vast land holdings across the region. A territory that had hardly any white communities in 1850 had, by 1870, lost many Indians, who were pushed violently off the Great Plains by white settlers and the federal government. These and other campaigns amounted to what is today called ethnic cleansing: an attempted eradication and dispossession of an entire indigenous population. Many scholars suggest that such violence conforms to other 20th-century categories of analysis, like settler colonial genocide and crimes against humanity. Sand Creek, Bear River and the Long Walk remain important parts of the Civil War and of American history. But in our popular narrative, the...

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Personal Reflections by Eve Marko on the Nov 2014 Retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Thursday night was our usual night at the barracks. On this evening before Friday, the last day of the retreat, it’s customary for us to return to Birkenau in the darkness and sit in one of the barracks by candle and flashlight. Years ago some of these vigils lasted till midnight and even all the way till morning. As we arrived at the main brick gate through which the train tracks tubed into the camp and directly to the sites of the crematoria, we went upstairs to the guard tower built above the gate. Here, looking out over their machine guns, SS guards enjoyed a bird’s-eye view of men, women, and children stumbling down from train cars that had been their prisons for days and even weeks, with no food or water, pushed and prodded by other guards with clubs and snarling dogs in the direction of the extermination sites. This has always been a chilling spot, inviting us to bear witness to guards with a panoramic view of the terror and suffering below, drinking coffee, laughing, complaining about the hard work and bad weather, gossiping, wishing the shift would end. Somewhere in that scene many of us could find ourselves, preoccupied by our own problems and our own lives, fitting with more or less ease into a system we may bemoan but won’t violate. We then walked single-file to the barrack, where Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi invited us to look closer at perpetrators and victims. He especially invited the German participants to talk about their lives and families, their parents and grandparents who went through the war. Stories were related about depression, guilt, silence, denial, and the quiet violence that goes along with keeping secrets. I was moved to hear them. But I felt frustration as well, not with the stories but with the heavy, mechanistic view that if we can understand the past we’ll be able to change the present and future. The Dalai Lama has said that karma is a subtle thing. In my understanding, it has dimensions that are so vast and numberless they are practically unknowable. We are given tours by well-trained guides who provide numbers, data, and facts, but can’t explain the effects of the Auschwitz genocide on the...

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Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Forgetting to Forget

Just Posted New Edition of Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Forgetting to Forget, Hear it at http://zenpeacemakers.wpengine.com/rocky-and-tootsie-live/

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Facing the Ultimate Challenge by Bernie Glassman

“We all form our own clubs,” says Roshi Bernie Glassman. If we’re black, we may exclude whites. If we’re white, we may exclude blacks. “If we’re liberal,” Glassman continues, “we never listen to conservatives or read books by them or invite them to tea, and if we’re conservative, vice versa. “The most common thing we do to people that don’t fit our club is we avoid them. We also imprison them. Sometimes we beat them up. In the South, we used to lynch them. Gays? We bash them.” Glassman was at one time an engineer and mathematician working in the aerospace industry. After receiving traditional Zen training from Maezumi Roshi, he realized that his calling was to take his practice out into the world. His first step was to establish Greyston Mandala, a collection of companies that both generated profits and benefited the homeless. Next, Glassman began holding his groundbreaking “bearing witness” retreats, in which participants enter an environment that’s so overwhelming that they drop their habitual thought patterns. For twenty years, Glassman has been leading bearing witness retreats at a place that represents the most terrible case of what we do to those outside our club: Auschwitz. Survivors, children of survivors, people from all over the world, of different religions, even children and grandchildren of SS members—they’ve all sat with Glassman on the camp’s infamous train tracks, alternating silence with chanting the names of Holocaust victims. Generally, the retreatants believe they’d always deal with others humanely. On retreat, however, they’re thrust into close contact with those outside their club, and “being as we’re human,” says  Glassman, “pretty soon what pops up is people get angry at how others are acting. Then we deal with that. “The theme of an Auschwitz retreat is not the Holocaust,” Glassman asserts. “It’s ‘How do we deal with each other?’” In 2014, Glassman spearheaded a retreat marking the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The retreatants were half international and half African. It included a Tutsi woman whose arm had been chopped off, and the Hutu man who did it. Like the Auschwitz retreats, it had a universal theme: forgiveness. For years, Rwandans had been working on reconciliation, but, according to Glassman, “what you see when you look...

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Reflections by Rabbi Shir Yaakov Feit on His Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat

I  checked into our hotel right near Rynek Główny, the ancient and vast Main Square of Kraków. I had about an hour to settle in, change some currency, then walk to Cafe Młynek in the old Jewish Quarter of Kazimierz where I led a short and sweet Kabbalat Shabbat with my new sister, Yiddish singer Marsha Gildin. Our training began Saturday. The Center for Council’s compassionate and wise Director Jared Seide guided us masterfully and gently into this deep and transformative practice, which has been developed by Joan Halifax, Jack Zimmerman and Gigi Coyle and others over the past two decades. Sunday we returned to Kazimeirz for a guided walking tour of old Jewish Kraków. I led some prayers in the synagogue of the Rema. We sang Shlomo Carlebach’s Kraków Niggun at the fragment of the wall of the ghetto; it was Reb Shlomo’s twentieth yahrtzeit. Schindler’s Factory Museum drives the story home. There is so much left in the little that remains. Buses took us to Oświęcim, the town formerly called Ushpitzin in Yiddish and Auschwitz in German, early on Monday morning. Following the first tenet of the Zen Peacemaker’s Order of Not-Knowing, I really went into there retreat having done no research, no homework. The first most surprising details: Auschwitz was much smaller that I’d imagined; Birkenau was exceedingly vast; and both sites are very busy with tour groups. I want to urge you to register for the 2015 Bearing Witness at Auschwitz-Birkenau retreat now. I will be there as the Rabbi for the Retreat. Dozens of other spirit-holders will be there, guiding a brilliantly crafted encounter with one of the most important places in modern human history. The place is a teacher and if you have even the smallest inkling to join, I unflinchingly encourage you to go. Going into the retreat without preconceived notions was an incredible gift. It makes me want to stop writing now, and to again encourage you to register. There are already 45 people signed-up for 2015 and the retreat will be capped at...

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Upcoming Zen Peacemaker Order Trainings

  Serving the One Training in Spiritually-Based Social Action The ZPO is sponsoring a training program in spiritually-based social action, led by its Founder, Roshi Bernie Glassman. For many years Bernie has modeled his practice on the words of the 8th century Founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo-daishi: You can tell the depths of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others.  Bernie founded the Greyston Mandala in Yonkers, NY in 1982 to provide structures and examples of a path of service to others that is, in and of itself, a powerful tool to awaken to the oneness of life. This program will clarify the spiritual foundations of such a path and how they can be applied to one’s life and work.   Bearing Witness Training Program-Second Cohort The Zen Peacemaker Order has opened the second cohort for the training program for those interested in training in Bearing Witness. The ZPO has 3 main tenets, Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Doing the Actions that Arise From Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness. This training will explore these three tenets and how they infuse our Bearing Witness Retreats. This training also includes workshops on The Way of Council and attendance at the 2015 Auschwitz Retreat.    ...

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Poem by Lilli Mösler read in the children‘s barracks by her at Nov 2014 Auschwitz Retreat

Können Blumen schlafen?Ist der Mond ein Mann?Bindet man im Hafen,auch das Wasser an?Kann man Liebe malen?Gibt es bunten Schnee?Wie erklärt man Zahlen?Tuen Schmerzen weh? Weist du kein Gedicht mehr? Werde ich bald groß? Brauch ich dich dann nicht mehr? Warum weinst du bloß? Can flowers sleep? Is the moon a man? Do you also tie the water in the harbour? Can you paint love? Is there coloured snow? How do you explain numbers? Does pain hurt? Don’t you know another poem? Am I gonna be grown up soon? Will I no longer need you then? Why, are you...

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June Ryushin Kaililani Tanoue Dharma Transmission by Roshi Robert Joshin Althouse

I am pleased to announce that I gave Dharma transmission to June Ryushin Kaililani Tanoue on October 11, 2014. She received full empowerment as a Zen Priest in a Denkai ceremony and full empowerment as a Zen teacher (Sensei) in Shisho ceremony. These were witnessed by Bernie Glassman Roshi, Eve Marko Roshi, Susan Anderson Roshi, Annie Markovich and Peter Cunningham. June has been practicing Zen for over 20 years. She is also my wife. In 1992, together, we founded the Zen Center of Hawaii. We eventually ended up in Chicago where, in 2010 we started the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago.  June is also an accomplished teacher of hula, a Kumu Hula, and runs Halau i Ka Pono – The Hula School of Chicago. She has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a BS in Biology from the University of Redlands. For most of her life she has directed and run food banks in Portland, Oregon and on Hawaii Island. Taizan Maezumi Roshi married us at the Zen Center of Los Angeles in 1988. In early 2001, June and I moved from Hawaii to work for the Zen Peacemakers. Two years later, we moved to Chicago where June took up work with Feeding America, the National Food Bank Network’s headquarters. In 2010 she left Feeding America to work full time helping to run the Zen Life & Meditation Center of Chicago and her hula school, Halau i Ka...

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Ton Lathouwers New Book: Zen Talks, More Than Anyone Can Do

I, Bernie Glassman, recently saw Ton Lathouwers in the Netherlands where he lives and teachers Zen. I previously met him 20 years ago at his home with ZPO Teacher Frank De Waele. He was Frank’s first teacher. What a wonderful man. He is now 81 years old. He gave me his latest book and I want to share it with you. Ton is one of the most liberal Zen Teachers in Europe. From 1968 until 1996 he was Professor of Slavic Literature. Shortly after receiving this appointment, he began his Zen way. He visited Japan, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia, among others. In Indonesia he dedicated himself to the study of Chinese Zen and received transmission from the Chan Master, Teh Cheng. He is the driving force behind Maha Karuna Chan, a lay movement in the Netherlands and Flemish Belgium. He writes: “Talking doesn’t work, for it immediately creates mental representations that are going to take on a life of their own. Remaining silent doesn’t work either. Sitting zazen doesn’t help. Koan-training doesn’t help. Studying doesn’t help. Nothing works. Maybe you recognize this experience yourself. It is in every respect also my own experience, and the story of my life. And yet at the same time, there is the other side: that there can be unlimited trust, that life itself is limitless faith, boundless openness. The Zen talks of Ton Lathouwers are always personal in tone. They are actually testimonies in which he weaves together his own experiences with references to his voraciously wide reading. He enjoys illustrating his insights with texts drawn from a variety of literary and spiritual traditions, both Eastern and Western — the intercultural dialogue is close to his heart. The Zen talks collected here date from 1999 and have gone through many reprints since their first publication. That is because Lathouwers speaks from heart to heart and truly knows how to convey the faith that everyone — without exception — is capable of finding his or her own personal answer to the great mystery of existence.” It is a great read and I highly recommend it. In June 2014 he became a member of the Zen Peacemaker Order....

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What’s Love Got to Do With It? by Roshi Eve Marko

Eve’s Remarks on Bernie’s 1st 20 Years of his 60 Year Journey in Zen: Zendo Practice So what we plan to do this afternoon is that I took some notes on Bernie’s talk, and I will try to kind of uncover from my experience some of the issues that he related to, and what you also brought up. OK? And you can also ask questions as you did for him. And then after the break, I’m going to ask Barbara Roland, and also Cornelius who’s here to do his retreat, but since he’s a teacher, maybe he also has questions that he wants to relate to from his years of practice. And again, you can always come in with your questions and clarifications. And what I’d like to do is then sit again at 5:30, because this is a lot of talk. And I also want to really take the opportunity to thank our translators, who really are working hard, and great, great appreciation to you for doing this. So, Tootsie asked Rocky this morning, “What about love Rocky?” And for those of you who don’t know, we sometimes get bored with each other, you know. Like, oh we’re not married so long, but we know each other—teacher/student for almost thirty years. So we created these two characters, because we both like Italians. We love New York Italians. So Bernie created this character. He used to be a fighter when he was growing up, and he was called Rocky. Did you know that? So he created this Italian fighter/gangster called Rocky. And I loved my Italian friends when I was growing up. We used to wear these fishnet stockings, and long sweaters. Of course we always wanted to catch a man right away. And that’s how Rocky and Tootsie happened. And it’s nice because Rocky and Tootsie are not Buddhists. So when they explore things, they have to find a different language—not to use Buddhist terms, but to find different words to ask the same questions everybody else asks, but to ask it in different ways. And sometimes they get along better than Bernie and Eve. And sometimes they don’t, you know. OK. Some of you know I just came back from Israel—actually Tuesday afternoon...

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Zen Peacemaker Order By Eve Marko

At a meeting of the Stewards of Green River Zen Center on Monday, September 22, I introduced the topic of GRZC becoming a member group of the Zen Peacemaker Order. The Zen Peacemaker Order was originally created in 1996 by Roshis Bernie Glassman and Sandra Jishu Holmes, along with a group of Founding Teachers. While Zen Peacemakers has always been a loose confederation of individual practitioners, teachers, Zen centers and circles, the Order was more structured, with training paths and commitments that individual members had to make, including a Rule (the Zen Peacemaker Precepts). USA Founding teachers included Roshis Joan Jiko Halifax (Upaya), Wendy Egyoku Nakao (Zen Center of Los Angeles), Pat Enkyo O’Hara (Village Zendo), Grover Genro Gauntt (Hudson River Peacemaker Institute), and myself. In 2002 a group gathered in Europe to study together and to develop ZPO in Europe. This group was called the Founding ZPO Teachers of Europe and consisted of Malgosia Braunek (Poland), Frank De Waele (Belgium), Michel DuBois (France), Amy Hollowell (France), Andrzej Krajewski (Poland), Roberto Mander (Italy), Catherine Pagès (France), Paul Shoju Schwerdt (Germany), Barbara Salaam Wegmüller (Switzerland) and Roland Yakushi Wegmüller (Switzerland). Heinz-Jürgen Metzger (Germany) joined this group shortly after.  Despite an auspicious beginning, the Order suffered a setback with the death of Jishu Holmes in 1998  and lay relatively dormant for a number of years despite active interest by its members. During this last year Roshis Bernie Glassman and Egyoku Nakao decided to revitalize it. This happened not just in response to inquiries by the Order’s existing members, but more important, in response to the challenges facing Zen practitioners in the West: What is this practice about for relatively prosperous Westerner? What does waking up mean in a world  that feels increasingly unstable and violent? They began to clarify guidelines for governance and membership, convened working groups to finalize vision/ mission statements and values (in which I participated), and laid a foundation for renewing the order. They provided for individual members (of which I am one) and for group members. The criteria for becoming a group member are simple and can be found on the Zen Peacemakers website. They basically call for groups to include the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets as a core practice and to encourage members to...

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Radical Descent: The Cultivation of an American Revolutionary by Linda Coleman

“A rare first-hand account by an active participant in the radical underground movements … distinguished by the courage and painful honesty so critical in a memoir of this kind.” – Peter Matthiessen In her debut memoir, Coleman reveals an intimate account of her choice to join a revolutionary underground guerrilla cell in the 1970’s. This turbulent time in America has lessons for all of us in an age of domestic terrorism headlining the news today. What begins with her youthful idealism and intent to amend the “sins” of her blueblood ancestors soon becomes a firestorm of events that includes the activities of a local police “death squad”, the vicious rape of a co-worker, an attack on a radical bookstore, Ku Klux Klan threats, friends found to be on the 10 MOST WANTED list, her choice to bear arms, donate large sums of money, and transport explosives for a cadre with increasingly questionable motives. The unrelenting series of events that unfold inextricably land her many years later as a witness in one of the longest sedition trials in US history. Terrorist or freedom fighter? That becomes the readers question to answer just as it becomes Coleman’s question as well. Review by Eve Myonen Marko Linda Coleman just published a terrific memoir about her time as a young woman taking part in armed insurrection against this government. It’s called Radical Descent. Coming from a white and privileged background, she decided to join an underground cell of American revolutionaries fighting against our own military-corporate-government established which they accused of perpetrating wars around the world, purveying arms, persecuting minorities, and actively promoting inequality through a corrupt capitalist system. She describes what led her to join this struggle, and what finally led her out. What I really appreciate is her sharing the emotional turmoil she experienced, and especially the burden of guilt she carried over coming from a white and wealthy background. Day by day I hear everywhere around me the same questions: What do I do to change this world? Does anyone pay attention to nonviolent resistance? Is being an armchair middle-class liberal enough? Is meditation enough? Is anything enough? Linda and her friend felt the urgency of this American reality and what it was fostering, and they weren’t...

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Roshi Malgosia Braunek’s Last Dharma Talk

Translated from Polish by Andrzej Krajewski Master Shizan answered a student, that not-knowing is most intimate. For over a year this most intimate practice has been with me during every moment. I don’t have to try to remember it, anymore. True, in the beginning there was struggle and sometimes a sincere rebellion when everything has been changing from moment to moment and subsequent plans have been falling through or when thoughts have been arising, that I must know! whatever, at least how and how long this will go on. One cannot live in such a way! But, nevertheless, I am not doing anything else – I continue living now. The total acceptance of „don’t know“, in spite of many years of practice, turns out not to be such a simple thing…but when it happens that I do accept, that I don’t know, I let go thoughts, images, expectations and so fears and mental frustrations disappear, and silence and peace arise. It turns out that we have in us this safe space and the key to it, all the time and it only depends on us whether we make use of it. DON’T KNOW gives us strenght and trust in everything, that appears, and is the true antidote for our expectations that things be different from what they are. May every day be limitless like today’s sky, which in its blue contains everything, as it knows nothing. I am with you and I am very grateful to you for everything that you are doing for me. I lack the words to express how much it all moves me. Hope to see you soon in the...

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Richard Gere Talks About Wandering New York Streets as a Homeless Man

NYFF Report: Richard Gere Talks About Wandering New York Streets as a Homeless Man for ‘Time Out of Mind’   The next time you pass a panhandler on the street that looks like Richard Gere, pause and take a closer look because it may actuallybe Richard Gere. Earlier this year, the 65-year-old actor spent several weeks on the New York streets shooting Time Out of Mind, in which he plays an elderly alcoholic who becomes part of the city’s homeless population. Wearing a black-knit winter hat and clutching an empty coffee cup, Gere approached actual passers-by and asked for spare change while director Oren Moverman (Rampart, The Messenger) filmed the interactions, often from a block away. And, amazingly enough, nobody recognized him. Well…almost nobody. “There were two or three times where someone talked to me on the street,” Gere remarked at a press conference following a New York Film Festival screening of Time Out of Mind on Thursday. “One was a French tourist, a woman, who totally thought I was a homeless guy and gave me some food. The other two times were African-Americans and they just passed me and went, ‘Hey Rich, how you doin’ man?’ No question about what I was doing there or ‘Have you fallen on hard times?’ and ‘What happened to your career?’ Just “Hey Rich, how you doin’ man,” and they just continued on.” For the most part, though, people barely looked at Gere, and that was precisely the non-reaction he needed to get into character. “I think we all have a yearning to be known and be seen,” he explains. “I come here and you want to hear what I want to say. But I’m the same guy that I was on the street and no one wanted to hear his story. I could see how quickly we can all descend into [scary] territory when we’re totally cut loose from all of our connections to people.” Here are five other things we learned about Time Out of Mind — which is currently without a distributor — from Gere and Moverman’s press conference. The movie has been almost 30 years in the making Gere remembers receiving the script for what became Time Out of Mind a decade ago, but it apparently had been kicking around Hollywood a long while...

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A Story of Karma

An Interview of  Bernie Glassman   By Batya Swift Yasgur  Every year, I do something strange. Some people might even consider it bizarre. I bring a group of people to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where we sit at the selection site to meditate, pray, recite the names of the dead, and hold counsel. We all come from vastly different backgrounds, walks of life, religions, ethnicities, cultures, and countries. We gather to bear witness to the enormity of suffering that took place there. We gather to confront our judgments and labels about what happened, about each other, and about life itself. We gather to bow to the unknown. We gather with trust that loving action will flow from our explorations. We gather to celebrate our oneness and our differences. We gather to honor the Interconnectedness of Life. This experience of Interconnectedness of Life is key to my understanding of Karma. Karma Is a Story But then, so is everything else. From my perspective as a Buddhist, I regard everything as Emptiness. A physicist might use different terminology and say that everything is Energy. Energy permeates everything that exists, energy is everything that exists, energy is the fabric from which everything is woven. This includes the things we think are “solid” and permanent. You and I are constructed from particles of the same Energy. Within that Emptiness, events come and go. Experiences arise and recede. They seem real, but they are nothing more than transient configurations of energy, with no substance. They may seem like facts, but they are stories. The Energy never changes. It doesn’t have a narrative. It doesn’t move forward or backward, it doesn’t grow or shrink. It has no birth, no conditioning, and no death. It has no beginning, end, or middle. It is outside time, inside time, and unaffected by time. Linear time is a perception, not a reality. So how do we translate those energetic waves into the experiences that form the building blocks of our stories? The brain has instrumentation, circuitry that takes the energy and makes something out of it, like a radio has an antenna that converts radio waves into sound. The television converts waves into a visual picture. Our brains convert energy into perception that we think is “real.”...

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The Nonviolent Life

A New Book by John Dear To Order, visit www.paceebene.org Or call: 510-268-8765. “How can we become people of nonviolence and help the world become more nonviolent? What does it mean to be a person of active nonviolence? How can we help build a global grassroots movement of nonviolence to disarm the world, relieve unjust human suffering, make a more just society and protect creation and all creatures? What is a nonviolent life?” These are the questions Nobel Peace Prize nominee John Dear poses in his ground-breaking new book. John Dear suggests that the life of nonviolence requires three simultaneous attributes: being nonviolent toward ourselves; being nonviolent to all people, all creatures, and all creation; and joining the global grassroots movement of nonviolence. After thirty years of preaching the Gospel of nonviolence, John Dear offers a simple, original yet profound way to capture the crucial elements of nonviolent living, and the possibility of creating a new nonviolent world. According to John, “Most people pick one or two of these dimensions, but few do all three. To become a fully rounded, three dimensional person of nonviolence, we need to do all three simultaneously.” Perhaps then he suggests, we can join the pantheon of peacemakers from Jesus and Francis to Dorothy Day and Mahatma Gandhi. In his new book, John Dear proposes a simple vision of nonviolence that everyone can aspire to. It will help everyone be healed of violence, and inspire us to transform our culture of violence into a new world of nonviolence! The Nonviolent Life is divided into three sections, and features questions for personal reflection and small group discussion. It’s perfect for personal reflection, church groups, peace groups and classrooms. Order copies today for yourself, your friends, your fellow activists, your pastor, and your church members, and spread the message of...

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Upcoming September trip to Rwanda

At the invitation of the Zen Peacemaker Order, Center for Council has been working with NGOs in Rwanda to develop their capacity to facilitate council circles at a number of villages in-country and, now, inspired by our work in California, inside several prisons, where perpetrators of violence during the Genocide Against the Tutsis are being held. Many of these prisoners are reaching the end of their incarceration and are being released into the communities where the violence occurred and the Rwandan Correctional Service and associated NGOs have asked Center for Council to partner in developing programs to ease that transition and to promote...

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On Clown, Zen and Spontaneity

As some of you know, 15 years ago, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Zen master, started studying clown with me.  Up to that point, all my students were performers. Bernie’s intent was not to become a clown, rather he wished to use “tools of tricksterdom and humor” to address out of balance situations in his Zen world. As a result, my approach to teaching shifted, and has continued to change ever since. The focus shifted from being clown to clowning. Suddenly my teaching perspective expanded from appying humor to performance to applying humor to life in general, to most any given situation. Indeed, what became clear over time, was that most everyone could develop their capacities to offer and share humor. After a number of years, Bernie and I started teaching “Clowning your Zen” workshops together, with Bernie integrating Zen wisdom with my clowning exercises. Along with many teachers from Bernie’s lineage, people from all walks of life came to participate. The results were dynamic.  Several years later, wishing to bring a sitting meditation practice into the mix, I began collaborating with Zen Master Heinz-Jürgen Metzger on a summer workshop at the Nell Breuning Haus in Herzogenrath, with alternating meditation and clowning sessions. We also took people out on the street to experience clowning in action. Over the years, I have mused on the parallels between Clown and Zen, and written about it in my blog, here. What struck me this summer, after our 9th summer Herzogenrath workshop, was how the stillness of meditation adds to the vitality of our spontaneity, and opens our capacity to improvise. Although these two qualities may seem like opposites, when one looks through the right lens, it makes total sense: -Being funny is a state of being guided by our intuitive mind -Intuitive mind is strengthened by meditation practice -Engaging in meditation practice strengthens our ability to share humor., our capacity for spontaneity…. As you probably know, meditation gets in the way of our thinking…whoops, I meant to say thinking gets in the way of meditation….let me try that one more time: meditation allows us to quiet the mind, to tell the thinking mind to take a holiday. Given enough time, enough practice, as Monsieur et Madame Think take a...

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Bernie’s 60 Years Jouney in Zen – The 2nd 20 Years: Social Action

So, this is my second twenty years in Zen—sort of the second twenty. I will start around 1976. That’s about forty years ago. I had just received dharma transmission from my teacher. I’m not sure exactly when that was—I should know, it might have been ‘75; it might have been ’76. 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 in—that 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 ’76—that Sesshin—so somewhere before that. But more important in ’76, 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 I’ve 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 universe—all suffering, as we all do, not just the Palestinians, everyone is suffering. And they were suffering for different things. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough enlightenment. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough food. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough love. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough fame. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough housing. Some were suffering because they had bad teeth—like me, all kinds of sufferings. And what came up immediately was a vow. So it’s another case of these Three Tenets, you know. I had been for a few weeks—a 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, “Can you talk...

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2015 Bearing Witness Retreat in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Registration is Now Open For September 1-5, 2015 Bearing Witness Retreat in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo. To read more and/or to register click here. The retreat will be multi-faith and multinational in character, based on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Loving...

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Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Take It To the Cleaners!

Just Posted New Edition of Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Take It To the Cleaners!, Hear it at http://zenpeacemakers.wpengine.com/rocky-and-tootsie-live/

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Plunging in Israel-Palestine

In January 1994—it was my 55th birthday—I did a retreat in Washington, DC, bearing witness to the question of what should I do to serve those rejected by society, those in poverty, and those with AIDS? As a result of bearing witness in that retreat—I had gone there with no ideas of what to do. I had completed work on a major project in Yonkers, NY called Greyston, but I had no idea what I should be doing. So I sat in a five-day retreat, and I sat with that question. I bore witness to that question. And out of that came the vision of a container for people wanting to do spiritually based social action. I discussed it with my wife at the time, Jishu, and we decided on developing the Zen Peacemaker Order. And that is now being revitalized. Now, in August 2014, I am faced with another question that has been burning a hole in my soul. For many years my wife Eve and I worked in the Middle East, in Palestine, in Israel, in Jordan. We had staff there. Eve was going there every two months. I was going every three or four months. We worked for many years. And then we stopped to build a big retreat center in Montague, NY. And recently—as most of you who are listening to this know—there’s been major battles going on between Israel and Gaza (Hamas and Gaza). Even before that happened, I had become so frustrated with what’s going on between Israel and Palestine that I took an easy way out, which many of us do. I boycotted. I decided I wouldn’t read anything about it, and I would stop going there—even though I had family there, even though my wife is Israeli, and all her family is there, and we had been going twice a year. I stopped going. And I stopped reading the Israeli newspapers, which I used to do on a daily basis. That is an easy way out called denial, boycotting, avoiding. And it’s not in my nature to do that—although it’s in the nature of all of us to do that with issues that are too frustrating to deal with. So recently, just within the past few...

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My 60 Years Jouney in Zen – First 20 Years

Today I’m 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 I’ll ask the same question tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the second twenty years—the last day, the third twenty years. At any rate, my first twenty years—and what’s interesting—to me, at least—is 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 you’ll 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, we’ve been working—a 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 week—all day long, each day—and came up with things to put on the web, and also we’ll 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 is—the first two stay the same, Not Knowing, and Bearing Witness—the third we change to “Actions That Arise from Not Knowing and Bearing Witness.” The problem with Loving Actions is that’s 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 is actions that arise out of not knowing and bearing witness. And then somebody else looks at them, and says, “Oh, that’s good.” Somebody else looks at them, and says, “Oh, that’s bad.” But that’s after the fact, and that’s...

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Hanuman-ji

Thirty-five years ago, Hanuman-ji flew onto this land and into our lives. Since that time, the number of devotees packed into the small shrine room grows year by year, and the need for a new temple becomes ever more clear. In the following video, Ram Dass remembers how the murti of Hanuman made his way to New Mexico. He talks about how Hanuman's arrival here represents the establishment of the spirit of love and service in America, and how Maharaji is manifesting his love in the West through the heart-felt service of his devotees. Please share this video with your friends and students and help us to hold the vision of Hanuman-ji in his beautiful new temple. We appreciate any support that you can give to make the new temple for Hanuman a reality. To explore the plans for the new temple and learn more visit http://www.nkbashram.org/newtemple/. Ram Dass Video Link:...

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It was a Life

Sami Awad is the Executive Director of Holy Land Trust (HLT), a Palestinian non-profit organization which he founded in 1998 in Bethlehem. HLT works with the Palestinian community at both the grassroots and leadership levels in developing nonviolent approaches that aim to end the Israeli occupation and build a future founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence. He has been to many Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats and is a close friend of Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko. Sami Awad, on Auschwitz, fear, and the meaning of nonviolence Sami Awad’s article “It was a Life.” Every killing of every human is a story and a life that was, that is and was to be. It was a heartbeat that stopped before its time. Itwas a dream that disappeared abruptly like a television set that suddenly lost its power. It was a young woman who ate her last meal; it was not her favorite dish, but she did not want to upset her mother for cooking it. “Next time make pizza mom,” she yelled… then she yelled her last cry. It was a wife who did not know that her husband’s last look into her eyes would be imprinted as her eternal memory of him. It was a child who was learning to ride a bicycle. He fell, scratched his knee and cried. It was the father who gently put his hand on the wound, kissed his son’s forehead, wiped the tears, and told him “I am here for you.” A second later they were both not there. It was a young teenager who finally found the courage to send a Facebook message to a girl he admired. It was the young girl who received the message and blushed and wondered what she should do. It was the mother who just finished praying for her son to find a job. It was the son who was running home excited to have found his first job in 5 years; now he was going to take care of his family, buy new clothes for his kids, and take his wife out to dinner… something he never did. It was the businessman who called his wife and told her that he had found the right...

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Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Give NO FEAR

Just Posted New Edition of Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Give NO FEAR, Hear it at http://zenpeacemakers.wpengine.com/rocky-and-tootsie-live/

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Bernie’s 60 Year Journey in Zen

On the streets, At Refugee Camp in Chiapas, Auschwitz Interfaith Ceremony, Riverdale NY 1982 Bernie and Eve just returned from leading a retreat at Felsentor, Switzerland where Bernie spoke on his 60 year journey in Zen. The talks have been posted here (href=”/?page_id=10055). Transcripts will be posted as they are...

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Victim Consciousness is a Consciousness of War

“So you are a Moroccan” told me the young Arabic woman in the mourners shade “go back to Morocco! You are not from here!”. We were a group of six people, Jewish, most of us Rabbis, all of us students of our late Rebbe Rabbi Zalman Schakter Shalomi who passed just some days ago. We met in the mourning Shiv’a ritual in Jerusalem that was held by Rabbi Ruth and Michael Kagan for all the students of Reb Zalman. Gabriel Meyer came with the idea to go visit the Abu Hadir family, that their son, Mohamad, was kidnaped last week by Jews from the street in his town Sho’afat, and was burned alive as a revenge for the kidnaping and murdering of the three Jewish kids two weeks before by Palestinians from Hebron. Lisa Naomi Beth Talesnick, who was playing a wedding melody on the harp for Reb Zalman’s Sacred Union with the Divine Light, arranged it through some connections she had with the family through her work place as a teacher in the Arabic high-school. Some of us decided to go. It felt like the right thing to do as a direct line from Reb Zalman’s Shiv’a: doing something we know he would have done if he could. We were escorted in by family members who met us in entrance to Sho’afat. They brought us to the big shade of mourners. A line of mourners was standing there and we went and shook the hand of each of them, expressing our sadness and condolences. The father of the boy stood in the middle. Tall, present man, red eyes, just came back from meeting with Abas in Rammalla. Then we were taken to the women mourners hut. The mother set there, surrounded by other women, family and friends. The noble woman in purple is the mother of Mohamad. “Why did they have to burn him alive?…” We were invited to sit. One of the women started to talk strongly to us in English: “who will protect us now? I am afraid for my own son now!” the fear was real. Just like the fear of parents in the Jewish side of town, yet here it was mixed with the fear from the Israeli police...

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Roshi Pia Gyger has Passed from this Sphere of Existence

In the years 1976–1999, Pia trained in Zen in Kamakura, Kanagawa/Japan with Hugo Makibi Enomiya-Lassalle and Yamada Kôun Roshi in Hawaii. She received Dharma transmission from Aitken Rōshi and in 1999 she was confirmed as Zen master by Zen Master Bernard Glassman.

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The Peace Activist’s Demons – Israeli Engaged Dharma Report, Summer 2014

A few years ago a group of us came to the Palestinian village of Jaloud. We came to support local farmers planting olive trees in one of their fields, which they couldn’t access due to attacks by Israeli settlers. Indeed, during the day, a pickup truck came in our direction from one of the settler outposts. An armed settler came out and demanded that the work stops. His manner was abusive but as there were dozens of us, we disregarded him. As he was waiting for the soldiers that he called in order to kick us out, he said threateningly to the Israeli participants: “Why are you meddling here? These farmers will pay the price for that”. It all ended well and we had all reason to be satisfied with the accomplishment of the day. But we were very worried by the armed settler’s threat. We took him to be serious and we knew that the village was subject to raids and violent attacks by settlers previously. What should we do? What could we do? Actually it was very clear to us what was called for. We should turn to the Jewish settlers in the area and find the ones who would share our concern and help us to prevent an attack. To many people, this idea could seem very naïve or very stupid: Settlers and Peace activists do not work together. “Fanatical right wing nationalists” and “extreme Left self hating Jews” as members of these two groups often tend to call each other, have nothing in common. Also, from a political perspective, turning to settlers for assistance would be recognizing the legitimacy of their presence in the Occupied Territories. Other options – such as turning to the police or army – were not practical: We knew that they would not do anything. Our conviction that turning to settlers was the right thing to do was three-fold: 1) We could not tackle this issue alone, we needed help. An ally who belonged to the same community as the potential attackers would be the most helpful. 2) We had the obligation to do all that we could to prevent the farmers from being attacked. No matter what we thought of settlers living in the Occupied...

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Lawless Holy Land Cycles of Revenge in Israel and Palestine by Roger Cohen

from New York Times, July 4, 2014: PARIS — “Israel is a state of law and everyone is obligated to act in accordance with the law,” the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said after the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager shot in an apparent revenge attack for the killing last month of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. He called the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem “abominable.” President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has denounced the murder of the three Israelis, one of them also an American citizen, in the strongest terms. What to make of this latest flare-up in the blood feud of Arab and Jew in the Holy Land, beyond revulsion at the senseless loss of four teenagers’ lives? What to make of the hand-wringing of the very leaders who have just chosen to toss nine months of American attempts at diplomatic mediation into the garbage and now reap the fruits of their fecklessness? Sometimes words, any words, appear unseemly because the perpetuators of the conflict relish the attention they receive — all the verbal contortions of would-be peacemakers who insist, in their quaint doggedness, that reason can win out over revenge and biblical revelation. Still, it must be said that Israel, a state of laws within the pre-1967 lines, is not a state of law beyond them in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli dominion over millions of Palestinians, now almost a half-century old, involves routine coercion, humiliation and abuse to which most Israelis have grown increasingly oblivious. What goes on beyond a long-forgotten Green Line tends only to impinge on Israeli consciousness when violence flares. Otherwise it is over the wall or barrier (choose the word that suits your politics) in places best not dwelled upon. But those places come back to haunt Israelis, as the vile killings of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar demonstrate. Netanyahu, without producing evidence, has blamed Hamas for the murders. The sweeping Israeli response in the West Bank has already seen at least six Palestinians killed, about 400 Palestinians arrested, and much of the territory placed in lockdown. Reprisals have extended to Gaza. Palestinian militants there have fired rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel in...

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MY REBBE IS GONE! by Bernie Glassman

Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi passed away peacefully on July 3. I’d planned to go to his 90th birthday celebration in Boulder, Colorado, in August, though I heard that he was weakening. And now he’s gone.

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A Statement of Loss on the Passing of Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi by Rabbi Michael Lerner

Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, and one of the most creative and impactful Jewish theologians of the last forty years, died today (July 3rd). I write with tears in my eyes and love in my heart for this incredible teacher, a source of inspiration for literally hundreds of thousands. I loved this man very very deeply for the past 51 years that I knew him. Zalman was born in Europe and barely escaped the Nazis when he was able to flee from France to the U.S. He became a Lubavitcher Hasid and Rabbi in Brooklyn, and was chosen by the rebbe along with his friend Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach to reach out to the generation of Jews coming of age on college campuses in the 1950 and 1960s. Zalman served as a campus Hillel rabbi, and there tapped into the emerging new consciousness that we subsequently called “the counter-culture.” His experience with LSD and other hallucinogens opened for him a deeper level of experience that fortified rather than undermined the spirituality that had always sung to his heart and which had been the inspiration for much of the Kabbalistic and Hasidic movements. Like his friend Shlomo Carlebach, Zalman’s teachings and his approach to prayer (davvening) excited young Jews whose experience in the established synagogues of mainstream American Judaism was fast alienating a whole generation from the spiritual deadness, materialism, and fearfulness (which often translated into a kind of idolatry of Israel as the only savior assimilated American Jews could believe in) that was at the time parading as “Judaism.” I was first introduced to Zalman by my mentor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and am forever grateful for the relationship that we developed after that. As a counselor at Camp Ramah, I invited Zalman to teach my campers some of the ways to pray the “Shma” prayer—and these 13 year olds were mesmerized by Zalman’s ability to translate deep spiritual truths into a language they could understand, and then to embody his teachings in the way he actually led the davvening. So it was no surprise to me that after Heschel died, Zalman became the de facto leader (or perhaps co-leader with Shlomo Carelebach) for all those...

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Greyston Community Gardens

Greyston’s Community Gardens and Environmental Education Program plays a critically important role in the community – providing comprehensive environmental education for hundreds of Yonkers youths and their families, fresh fruits and vegetables and safe open space for recreation and relaxation. The program has turned eight vacant city lots into thriving growing spaces as well as hands-on outdoor classrooms, teaching Yonkers youths and their families the importance of eating healthy. Our longtime Program Coordinator, Lucy, is a member of the community and works to cultivate a sense of ecological stewardship while simultaneously instilling an entrepreneurial work ethic through the growing and selling of fresh produce by program members. Greyston’s Community Gardens & Environmental Education program is comprised of four components: Gardens Greyston maintains community gardens in eight separate locations within Yonkers, serving a total of nearly 400 garden members. Garden members weed, water, harvest, and care for vegetable plots that produce hundreds of pounds of produce every year. During harvest season, members unite to create nutritious meals right in the garden using barbeques and fire pits, and enjoy communal dining in their urban oasis. School and Community-Based Environmental Education Each year, more than 600 students at local schools and libraries are introduced to environmental science concepts. Students are exposed to real-life examples of the many intersections between the natural environment and their daily lives. Additional interactive and dynamic workshops covering a wide variety of topics, including: recycling and other conservation measures; the local urban habitat; the roles of local plants, bugs, and animals on our ecosystem are provided throughout the year. The Enviro-Earth Club The Enviro-Earth Club is an after-school and summer program that cultivates local environmental leaders by educating and motivating urban youth about gardening and the environment, while promoting healthy eating and living among the participants and their families. Special Events Special events for members and the Yonkers community include the annual Enviro-Health Fair, garden barbeques, garden clean-ups, and “green” holiday celebrations. Unique, environmentally-themed programming is offered over the course of the year in conjunction with our community partners, including the Yonkers Riverfront Library, Yonkers Public Schools, Groundwork Yonkers, Sarah Lawrence College, and Concordia College. These special events serve a combined total of more than 1,000 Yonkers residents each...

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Trauma, Survival, and Making Peace Written by Eve Marko with Bernie Glassman

           Eve’s mother is 86 years old. In her long life she survived the destruction of most of the Jews in Bratislava, in what is present-day Slovakia, immigrated illegally to Israel with a 3 year-old nephew whose mother had been killed at Auschwitz, fought in Israel’s War of Independence a year later, raised children in Israel and the United States, and now lives independently in Jerusalem, mother to three children, grandmother to five, and great-grandmother to seven. Did you expect to live so long and see all these generations, Eve asks her on Skype, and she shakes her head: Never.             But the last time mother and daughter spoke, on June 16, the vigorous smile was gone. Her mother sat hunched, head bent, crumpled in depression.             “You know,” she answered when Eve asked her how she was. “The news here isn’t good.” Three Jewish teenagers, students at a West Bank yeshiva high school, had been abducted. Even now the Israeli army is searching all over for the kids, as she calls them.             The next day Eve called again. Her mother had gone out that day but her tone was still flat and lifeless. We know that she’s hooked to the radio and television news, and that if she leaves the house to go anywhere, the first question on her lips when she sees someone she knows is: Have they found them?             Israel is a small country and most young men serve in the army, so when any soldier is hurt or killed the grief seems to resonate everywhere. It’s something we’ve always respected. Strangers murmur among themselves or else shake their heads. Everyone worries about the family. And in this case they’re not soldiers but religious students. We wonder where they are now, we think about the boys’ families and about what it is to wait for the phone to ring.             But something else seems to happen to Eve’s mother. The old trauma gets reawakened, the expectation of inevitable catastrophe. At times she’ll say it out loud: This will never end. They’re always out there. They won’t let us live.             Eve remembers how years ago, when she was working in Israel and Palestine, the day...

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Reflections of Malgosia Braunek by Marzena Rey

As the message of Malgosia’s death reached me on Monday, June 23, I was returning home to Germany from San Diego, planning to go see Malgosia in a few days in Warsaw. I had just received Dharma Transmission from my teacher, Nicolee Jikyo Mc Mahon Roshi, in California on June 20, and I had been very sad not to be able to be with Malgosia in the hospital and also sad that she could not be present at my transmission. But she had written to me, “Too bad it is so far and yet so close. I love you.“ and no more words were needed.

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Reflections on Malgosia Braunek by Catherine Pagès

My Dharma sister, Malgosia Jiho Braunek, died in Poland the 23rd of June after a long illness. One week earlier, when I learned she was in palliative care, I flew to Warsaw to spend time with her and her family. ‎

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Reflections of Malgosia Braunek by Damian Dudkiewicz

Dear Malgosia, my dearest friend and Teacher.

You are my continuous inspiration . Thank you that you showed me how to combine spiritual practice with being an artist, open to every moment of creation, every person , every being.

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Glimpses of Malgosia Braunek by Eve Marko

I feel I had but glimpses of her. No experience of the movie actor (though I heard a lot about it), the daughter, the wife, the mother, the grandmother, or even for that matter the Zen teacher, though I sat with her in the Kanzeon zendo behind the family home in Warsaw. Yes, faint pictures of her bending over a pot of soup on the kitchen stove while we waited at the table, looking up with a brief, inquisitive smile as her daughter Orinka came in. There were a few meals at Krakow and Warsaw restaurants, and one memory of her at a hotel in Kazimierz Dolny wearing a long red dress and the hotel owner bent low over her outstretched hand as though she was royalty, which at times it felt she was.

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Małgorzata Braunek Leaves this Plane of Existence

Małgorzata Braunek (30 January 1947 – 23 June 2014) was a Polish film and stage actress. In 1969 she graduated at Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Warsaw.

She began the practice of Korean Zen with Master Dae San Sa Nim in 1979. Since 1983 has practiced with Genpo roshi, who since 1986, has been her main teacher.

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Announcing Webcasts

My wife, Eve Marko, and I just visited with Ram Dass in Maui (June 2014). Being old friends we spend a few days with him each year. This year he introduced me to webcasts. He has a wonderful Ram Dass Channel of webcasts and I decided to add webcasts to our Zen Peacemakers Site. I have also added various videos that show different aspects of our Zen Peacemaker Work Enjoy! Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers Trailer - Instructions to the Cook. A Zen Master's Recipe for Living a Life that Matters Rwanda Bearing Witness Retreat 2014 allowfullscreen> Greyston Mandala Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat (1996) Trailer: Michael O'Keefe Bernie and Mr. YooWho give Clown Dharma Talk at San Francisco Zen...

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Reflections on Rwanda (2): Bearing Witness by Russell Delman April 2014

It is the last day of the retreat; I am walking with Claudia (name changed for confidentiality), a new Rwandan friend. Earlier in the retreat, she asked for guidance in meditation to help with painful thoughts that won’t stop. I am grateful for the opportunity to offer some guidance. On this day she tells me about the killing of her parents and four of five siblings when she is about 6 years old. A Hutu man protects her. Later he is killed by other Hutu’s angered at his kindness. Luckily she meets her one remaining elder sister who can take care of her. Being with this tender young woman, bearing witness to her courage, pain, intelligence and life-forward intention my heart is deeply touched. Zen teacher Bernie Glassman has created forms for bring the practice of sitting meditation into social action. The “Bearing Witness Retreat”. For more than 20 years, the Zen Peacemaker Order (ZPO) has been conducting these retreats at Auschwitz and Birkenau, the concentration camps in Poland. About 6 years ago members of a Rwandan reconciliation group, Memos-Learning from History attended the retreat and asked for something similar in their country. This retreat grew from that request. ZPO has three main views or tenets: 1) Not-knowing (putting aside all opinions, conclusions, and certainties), 2) Bearing witness (being present with all the joy and sorrow within the situation you are in and 3) Loving actions (if some beneficial possibility arises to offer your care). At Auschwitz the practice is to invite healing by being present with the suffering of all beings: prisoners, guards, survivors, the dead and the land itself. Through meditation, chanting of names of the deceased, respectfully walking around the entire site, the history is recalled and experienced with tender, open and broken hearts. In the unique situation of Rwanda, where every person is carrying the trauma of the recent past (see previous writing), sitting with the intention of Bearing Witness is a huge challenge. Our group of about 56 was equally divided between Rwandans, plus two Congolese and westerners from seven different countries. We went every day to the Murambi Memorial Site, a place where 50,000 people were massacred. Each day we would start “council” sitting together around a candle...

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Reflections on Rwanda (3): Living with a Broken-Open Heart by Russell Delman

Recently I heard this story: A woman’s son is killed. The killer is convicted and sent to prison for a 10-25 year sentence. The distraught mother visits the man in prison trying to make sense of how he could do such a thing. After numerous visits, the woman’s heart softens to the man. She eventually adopts him. Upon release from prison, he lives with his new mother. As I reflect on the impact of my journey to Rwanda, a huge question emerges: how does a person live with an open, loving, heart that includes the rampant violence and suffering all around us? How does one live with a heart that has been broken open? Opening the newspaper this morning I see: 31 killed by a car bomb in Bagdad. Unlike in the past, before turning the page, I reflect that each of them was a father, mother, sister, brother, son, or daughter. Being in Rwanda creates this sense of intimacy, recognition that each of these victims are real people, like you and me. How did I filter that out before? How do I let that in now? 31people do not constitute genocide, but they are 31 individuals with pain and joy and dreams. Can one experience this and still turn the page? How can we live as empathetic people without turning away from this reality? This is a deep question living in me right now. When overwhelmed, humans have three stereotypical reactions: fighting, fleeing, or freezing. Our biology leans toward self-protection and protecting our identified social group. The impulse to fight, unless tempered by a sense of inter-connection will result in some kind of violence that perpetuates what we are fighting against. Fleeing or running away from the world by turning a blind eye to the violence around us creates an implicit sense of disconnectedness and isolation, a strategy with painful results. Freezing in shock hurts the frozen one and offers no beneficial action to the world. Sitting here with the morning newspaper I think, what is “right relationship” to all this? Or how does one open to the reality of 31 people dead and still enjoy the gift of the tulips sitting in front of me blossoming in the sunlight? Safety and Freedom...

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Peter Matthiessen’s Lifelong Quest for Peace

Peter Matthiessen died on April 5, 2014. His interview with Ron Rosenbaum was among his last before succumbing to leukemia at the age of 86.

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Creating a Compassionate World: The Power of One Conference

Sept. 12-14, 2014, at the Garrison Institute, New York Venerable Dr. Pannavati Bhikkhuni has long been known as an active advocate of “getting off the pillow”.  This has become known as engaged Buddhism and it is taking many forms and directions. On the weekend of September 12 through 14, 2014, Ven. Pannavati is gathering a few special colleagues to share their thoughts and experience with those drawn to this path. Through panel presentations and interactive small group sessions, we will receive the wisdom and experience of the following leaders in those fields: Roshi Bernie Glassman, Founder, Zen Peacemakers Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi, Founder, Buddhist Global Relief Father John Dear, Jesuit priest and peace advocate Venerable Ani Drubgyuma, Founder, SOCW, former missionar Venerables Pannavati and Pannadipa, Founders of MyPlace and My Gluten Free Bread Company, Co-Abbots of Embracing Simplicity Hermitage The conference will focus on eight areas of mindful social action: Ecologic Sustainability Peace and Reconciliation Education Restorative Justice Gender Equality Social Enterprise Human Trafficking Youth homelessness There will be an opportunity for participants to present information on their current or intended projects in any of these areas. Mini-grants will be awarded at the conclusion of the conference to further the work of those identified as having the greatest potential. The weekend is open to the public, and includes a Saturday-only attendance option. To attend the Power of One Conference, either as a weekend resident or a Saturday-only participant, contact the Garrison Institute, (845) 424-4800....

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Bearing Witness Day of Reflection at the Flight 93 Memorial

Please join Zen Peacemaker minister, Anthony Stultz, for a Bearing Witness Day of Reflection at the Flight 93 Memorial and Memorial Chapel, August 16, 2014. Tony was a chaplain to the victim families of Flight 93 and along with three other clergy, performed the burial at the national memorial in 2011 ( see ‘the One Heart of Flight 93′ – Buddhadharma Magazine)  for a reflection on the experience via the ZPO Three Tenets.) The day will begin at 10am with the Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy and the chanting of the names of all who died there on 9/11. We will then have meditation, Council, a shared meal together and reflection on the Zen Peacemaker Order Precept, “Recognizing that I am not separate from all that is. This is the precept of Non-Killing.” If you would like to participate, Please contact Tony at...

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Enrollment Opened for Second Cohort for Bearing Witness Training Program

We are happy to announce that the Zen Peacemaker Order has opened the second cohort for the training program for those interested in training in Bearing Witness. The program begins with a two-day workshop led by Jared Seide, the Director, Center for Council, on The Way of Council, on July 7-8, 2015  at Greyston in Yonkers, NY. On July 9-10, 2015 there will be a two-day workshop, led by Jared Seide, on Deepening the Practice of Council. This is followed by a two-day workshop (July 11-12, 2015) on the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order (ZPO), i.e., Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Loving Actions led by Bernie Glassman. In November 5-6, 2016, there will be the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz.  After the Retreat there will be a one-day workshop on Evaluation of the Retreat via the Three Tenets and how these Tenets can be integrated into our lives led by Bernie Glassman. Please visit the webpage describing the Auschwitz/Birkenau Retreat and read more about the details of that retreat. This training is required for those wishing to become staff at ZPO Bearing Witness Retreats and for those that wish to create a Bearing Witness Retreat under the auspices of the Zen Peacemaker...

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Serving the One: Training in Spiritually-Based Social Action

The Zen Peacemakers is sponsoring a new training program in spiritually-based social action, led by its Founder, Roshi Bernie Glassman. For many years Bernie has modeled his practice on the words of the 8th century Founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo-daishi: You can tell the depths of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others.  Bernie founded the Greyston Mandala in Yonkers, NY and the Zen Peacemakers to provide structures and examples of a path of service to others that is, in and of itself, a powerful tool to awaken to the oneness of life. This program will clarify the spiritual foundations of such a path and how they can be applied to one’s life and work. It will take place at Greyston, in Yonkers, NY, and Bernie will use the Greyston Mandala as his main case study. Bernie will discuss the practical and visible applications of the Greyston model and participants will be given the opportunity for hands-on internships at the Greyston Bakery. The program begins with a four-day workshop led by Bernie Glassman, from September 25-28, 2014. This workshop will include teachings and discussion on the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers, the Five Energies used to structure the Greyston Mandala (including most importantly their practical applications), and Greyston’s own Pathmaking Program, a philosophy and path providing individuals with a foundation on which to build their own life path. From Oct 2014 thru July 2015, participants will be divided into teams of 4 and each team will serve an internship at the Greyston Bakery for 3 weeks. These internships will be under the supervision of Greyston Bakery President and CEO, Mike Brady, Wharton business graduate and long time meditator. The purpose of the internships is to provide a hands on experience of working in a profitable company based on a spiritual practice. The program will conclude with another four-day workshop led by Bernie Glassman, from July 29-August 2, 2015. Participants will be asked to evaluate their internship experience, including the following reflections: To what extent did the Three Tenets manifest in Greyston’s structure and operations? To what extent did the Five Energies manifest? What worked and what didn’t? Suggestions for change. [Greyston staff will be on hand to listen to and address issues.] Interested...

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Ruanda, April 2014: Bericht über das ZEUGNIS ABLEGEN RETREAT von Eve Marko

zazen-grave wreath wreath-laying weomen step-sitting spiral skulls rain rain-walk photos morley,children morley-women mass-grave man landscape juliette,pauline hands flower flower-putting eve,bernie,congo dorms crowd candles bernie-bus art alice All Photos by Ola Kwiatkowska Montag 14. April. Wir sind im EPR, dem bekannten presbyterianischen Gästehaus in Kigali. Wir sitzen im Kreis. Im unteren Stock übt ein Kinderchor für die Osterfeier. Morgen werden sie auch während unserer Einführung singen. Wir sind 11 Kreisgesprächsleiter, 6 „Internationale“ und 5 Ruander. Eigentlich wären es 6 Ruander. Wo ist Albertine?   Albertine hat abgesagt. Warum?  Tod in der Familie. Nein, korrigiert Noella in langsam gesprochenem Englisch mit einer klaren sanften Stimme:  Der Ort wo getötete Familienmitglieder verschachert wurden, ist entdeckt worden, und nun bereitet sich die Familie auf die Übergabe der Überreste vor, um diese für das Begräbnis vorzubereiten. Werden auch  noch nach 20 Jahren Überreste gefunden?, frage ich unsere Gastgeber. Dora Urujeni erklärt, dass Gefangene auch heute noch Orte preisgeben, wo sie vor langer Zeit Menschen ermordet und verschachert haben. Jemand anderes nimmt Albertine’s Platz ein, so dass wir nun 6 und 6 sind. Die Vorbereitungen begannen letzten Januar, als Jared Seide, der Direktor des Center for Council, nach Ruanda flog und begann, eine Gruppe von jungen Ruandern zu Kreisgesprächsleitern auszubilden. Diese begannen, diese „Friedenskreise“, so wie sie sie nannten, anzuleiten. Aus dieser Gruppe wählte Jared 6 aus, die während dem Retreat als “Co-Facilitators” mithalfen. Doch Albertine’s Absenz liegt als Schatten über unserer kleinen Gruppe, sozusagen einer Mikroversion des grossen Schattens, der über Ruanda im April 2014 liegt: Die beinahe 1 Million getötete Tutsi Männer, Frauen und Kinder, die während hundert Tagen starben, während des Genozides im April 1994. In diesem Jahr,1994 fiel Ostern auf den 3. April im katholischen Ruanda. Fünf Tage nach der Trauerzeit von Christus’ Kreuzigung und drei Tage nach der Feier seiner Auferstehung begannen Ruander einander zu töten. Wo man auch hingeht und mit wem man auch spricht, so grün und würdig die Hügel sein mögen (Ruanda ist als  das Land der tausend Hügel bekannt) und wie schön der Regen auch sein mag, der Schmerz ist allgegenwärtig: im Klagen und Jammern der Frauen während der jährlichen Zeremonien, in den Berichten der Überlebenden, den Haufen von Schädeln und Knochen als Mahnmahl, in den Augen der Menschen. „Es war die...

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Reflections on Rwanda (1): Creating Us and Them by Russell Delman

I recently participated in a “Bearing Witness Retreat” sponsored by both the Zen Peacemaker Order, based in the U.S. and Memos- Learning from History, based in Rwanda in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda.  Having just returned, I am both deeply grateful for the inspiring human beings I have met and reeling as I process what I have experienced.  I come away both devastated and extremely hopeful for our potential as human beings. Brief history: in 1994, inflamed by their leaders, the largest group in Rwanda called Hutu’s, went on a 100 day rampage of collective insanity with the intention of eliminating the minority, yet socially dominant group, called Tutsi’s.  This genocidal campaign in which neighbor turned on neighbor with machete’s and clubs is perhaps the most violent short term instance of genocide in human history. (Note- there is, of course, much more to the story and many angles: how colonialism worked to divide people, aggressions by the Tutsi’s etc., I am only focusing on the specific genocide in the spring of 1994.)   “Genocide is not one million deaths, it is one death a million times” (quote seen in the Rwanda genocide museum)  We are in the genocide museum in Kigali the capital of Rwanda.  The history of these incomprehensible acts is presented through words and large panoramic pictures.  I see Allison (name changed for confidentiality), one of the Rwandan retreat participants lingering in front of one picture.  Although we do not share a common language we have exchanged deep, warm looks over the previous day.  As I stand next to Allison she leans into me.  I put my arm around her.  She points to the picture: the woman in the picture is missing much of her right arm as is Allison.  The woman in the picture has a large cut on the right side of her face as does Allison.  Suddenly I see- we are looking at Allison!  I discovered that it is impossible for me to process so many deaths.  My body freezes, a lump in my belly won’t move, stuck like an undigested mass. The feelings can not move.  When I sit with one person, someone with a name, perhaps their picture, then I can feel...

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Zen Peacemakers Order

On my 55th birthday in January, 1994 I (Bernie Glassman) did a retreat in Washington D.C. working on the question of what should I do to serve those rejected by society, to those in poverty and to those with AIDS. Upon returning home, I discussed my vision of a container for people wanting to do spiritual based social engagement with my wife, Jishu. We decided on developing a Zen Peacemaker Order with the theme of spiritually based social engagement. The ZPO is currently being re-envisioned by Roshis Grover Genro Gauntt, Joan Jiko Halifax, Eve Myonen Marko, Wendy Egyoku Nakao, Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Anne Seisen Saunders and Gerry Shishin Wick, and Senseis Frank De Waele, Heinz-Jürgen Metzger, Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, and Roland Yakushi Wegmüller. Bernie Glassman is the Founder and Elder. What is Happening Now The Zen Peacemaker Order (ZPO) is based on Three Tenets (Not-knowing, Bearing Witness and Loving Actions) and Peacemaker Precepts developed by a group of founding Teachers of the ZPO (Grover Genro Gauntt, Bernie Glassman, Joan Jiko Halifax, Sandra Jishu Holmes, Eve Myonen Marko, Wendy Egyoku Nakao and Pat Enkyo O’Hara.) Not-knowing, the first tenet of the ZPO is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation. It is the role of the Bodhisattva to bear witness. The Buddha can stay in the realm of not-knowing, the realm of blissful non-attachment. The Bodhisattva vows to save the world, and therefore to live in the world of attachment, for that is also the world of empathy, passion, and compassion. Ultimately, she accepts all the difficult feelings and experiences that arise as part of every-day life as nothing but ways of revelation, each pointing to the present moment as the moment of enlightenment. Bearing witness gives birth to a deep and powerful intelligence that does not depend on study or action, but on presence. We bear witness to the joy and suffering that we encounter. Rather than observing the situation, we become the situation. We became intimate with whatever it is – disease, war, poverty, death. When you bear witness you’re simply there, you don’t flee. Loving Actions are those actions that arise naturally when one enters...

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Possible Congo Bearing Witness Retreat

The Zen Peacemakers is considering hosting, with Congo partners, a Bearing Witness Retreat in the Congo. It would most likely occur in early 2016. If you would like to be notified if this retreat becomes a reality, please fill out the form below. In April, 2014, we held a Bearing Witness Retreat in Rwanda which included folks from the Congo. It was an amazing retreat and we discussed holding a similiar retreat in the Congo with the Congolese...

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Rwanda: April 2014, Report on Rwanda Bearing Witness Retreat by Eve Marko

zazen-grave wreath wreath-laying weomen step-sitting spiral skulls rain rain-walk photos morley,children morley-women mass-grave man landscape juliette,pauline hands flower flower-putting eve,bernie,congo dorms crowd candles bernie-bus art alice All Photos by Ola Kwiatkowska Monday, April 14. We’re at the EPR, the Presbyterian Church’s well-known guesthouse in Kigali, seated on chairs assembled in a circle. Downstairs a children’s choir practices for the Easter weekend services; they will sing for us tomorrow at our orientation. But right now we’re 11 Council facilitators, 6 “internationals” and 5 Rwandans. It’s supposed to be 6 Rwandans.  Where is Albertine? Albertine withdrew. Why? Death in family. No, Noella corrects, speaking in English very slowly in a clear, mellifluous voice: They discovered the whereabouts of the remains of her family members and the family is preparing to receive them and prepare them for burial. Are remains still being found even now, 20 years later, I ask our host, Dora Urujeni, and she explains that prison inmates are still revealing the whereabouts of those they killed so long ago. Someone else is assigned to take Albertine’s place so that now we’re what we should be, 6 and 6, and can continue the preparations begun last January when Jared Seide, Director of the Center for Council, flew to Rwanda and trained a group of young Rwandans to become council facilitators and lead, in their words, peace circles. Out of that group Jared chose 6 to co-facilitate during this retreat. But Albertine’s absence casts a shadow over our small group, a micro version of the vaster shadow hanging over Rwanda in April 2014: the almost 1 million Tutsi men, women and children who died over a period of 100 days starting April 1994. That year, Easter fell on April 3 in Catholic Rwanda. Five days after mourning Christ’s crucifixion and three after celebrating his resurrection, Rwandans started killing each other. And no matter where you go, whom you talk to, no matter how green and pastoral the hills (Rwanda is known as the Land of One Thousand Hills) and how bountiful the rains, the pain is there: in the keening and wailing of women during the annual ceremonies, in the testimonies of survivors, in the memorial piles of skulls and bones, in people’s eyes. “It was...

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See the ocean? And that’s only the top of it.

So, a fish is swimming in water, and you ask the fish, “Where’s the water?” And the fish says, “What water?” You say, “You are water.” You know, the water goes right through the fish. It’s flowing in and out. The fish doesn’t know that. The fish is attached to the notion that he or she is some kind of thing, and doesn’t even know there’s water. Like when we look at an ocean and we ask, “What is the ocean?” Do we say, “It’s water”? The ocean is a lot of things, right? There’s coral, there’s rocks, there’s mountains underneath—they became Hawaii. They’re all part of the ocean. The ocean is everything. There’s fish, there’s whales, mammals, there’s people swimming, snorkeling, non-snorkeling, deep-sea—all kinds of stuff! But we just call it an ocean. Some Jewish comedian is in a boat, looking down, and says, “See the ocean? And that’s only the top of it.” I mean there’s a lot to this thing, but somehow that evades us. So enlightenment is like that. Enlightenment is the realization and actualization that it’s all just one thing—that I’m not this little thing. I’m air. I’m you. I’m rocks. It’s all one thing. But that relationship is so intimate, that we don’t see it. So somehow we have to awaken to that intimacy. So intimacy is like fish and water....

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ZPO Bearing Witness Training Program

First Cohort Led by Bernie Glassman November 8, 2014 Program Full Join Waiting List by Linking Here   Second Cohort Begins November 7, 2015   I am often asked “How can I learn and experience Bearing Witness?” I am happy to announce that the Zen Peacemaker Order has initiated a training program, led by me, Bernie Glassman, for those interested in training in Bearing Witness. The program begins with a one-day workshop led by Jared Seide, Director, Center for Council on The Way of Council,  on November 8, 2014 in Krakow, Poland. That is followed by the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz. After the Retreat, on November 15, there is another one-day workshop, led by Jared Seide, evaluating the Effect of Council at the Retreat. On June 11-12, 2015, there will be a two-day workshop, led by Jared Seide, on Deepening the Practice of Council followed by a two-day workshop (June 13-14), led by Bernie Glassman, on the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemaker Order (ZPO), i.e., Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Loving Actions. On November 7-8, 2015, Bernie will lead a two-day workshop on applying the Three Tenets of the ZPO to the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz. This workshop is followed by the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz. After the Retreat there will be a one-day workshop, led by Bernie Glassman, on Evaluation of the Retreat via the Three Tenets and how these Tenets can be integrated into our lives. To read about the Zen Peacemaker Order, link...

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Bernie Schmoozes on Mr. Nobody, String Theory, Multi-Universes and Indra’s Net

Recently I watched the movie, Mr. Nobody, which is a science fiction film made in 2009. The film tells the life story of Nemo Nobody, a 118-year-old man, who is the last mortal on earth after the human race has achieved quasi-immortality. Nemo, his memory fading, refers to his three main loves, and to his parents divorce and subsequent hardships endured at three main moments in his life—at age nine, fifteen, and thirty-four. He reflects on himself as a young boy standing on a station platform. The train is about to leave. And he has to decide whether to go with his mother or stay with his father. They were splitting up. An infinity of possibilities would arise from this decision. And as long as he doesn’t choose, anything and everything is possible. Every day, every life deserves to be lived and is of equal value. The movie reminded me of a student of mine, Joel Scherk, who was one of the founders of String Theory. That’s a mathematical theory which predicts multiple lives. Joel studied with me in the late ’70s, and actually died very young—just thirty-four. He had diabetes, and after a conference he somehow was in his room, and he didn’t have insulin, and his landlord found him after three or four days, and he had died. But String Theory predicts—among other things—multiple universes. And from that time—from my time studying together with Joel—it has been my opinion that there are multiple universes. And that actually, at every moment of our life, as we bear witness to what’s happening, and our actions occur, those actions are the best actions that we could make at that time. They’re the actions based on our ingredients that we recognize and those that we do not recognize. And immediately after the actions, we tend to say, “Oh, I should have done different than that, I should have done this,” or “I should have done that,” or “That wasn’t the best thing to do,” or “That was a great thing to do.” So at each of those instances, there were other alternatives of what we might have done. And in my opinion, all of those create multiple universes in which those things were the ones that...

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Eve Marko Shares Thoughts on Peter Matthiessen

I want to share some thoughts and feelings I have about Peter Matthiessen, who passed away last Saturday.

Peter was in the hospital till Friday, and I was told that he talked very little to none at all in the last few days of his life. But Michel Engu Dobbs, his successor, said that on Wednesday evening, when he visited, he asked him if he wished to chant the Heart Sutra in Japanese, or the Shingyo, as they did in his Ocean Zendo. Peter said yes, and the sick, mostly silent man and Engu chanted the entire thing in Japanese without missing a beat.

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Roshi Peter Muryo Matthiessen

All photos by Peter Cunningham, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Roshi Peter Muryo Matthiessen was a master novelist, naturalist, and literary voice for nature—an acclaimed activist concerned with ecological issues, and the rights of indigenous peoples, social justice. He was a Zen teacher—a Zen Master, a Buddhist priest—Zen Buddhist priest, and founder of The Paris Review. He has written over thirty fiction and nonfiction books, and a plethora of powerful, deeply researched and artfully crafted articles. He was my first Dharma successor. And I gave him inka, that is, he became a Zen Master in January of ’97. I first met him in 1976 at the opening ceremony for Dai Bosatsu Zendo, in the Catskills of New York. He told me that he wanted to leave his studies with Eido Shimano Roshi, and was looking for a new teacher, and we talked. And he said he would like to come study with Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles. So we set that up, and he started to do that. He lived in New York at that time (and until he passed away just a few days ago, April 5th, 2014)—has lived in the same place in Long Island, in the Hamptons—Sagaponack. So he started to travel to Los Angeles, to come to Zen Center of Los Angeles to study with my teacher Maezumi Roshi. And since I was also teaching at the time, he was also studying with me. And he was one of the reasons that I moved back to New York—the state in which I was born—in December of ’79. There were a number of students asking me to move back to New York, and ready to start study, and he was one of them. And in fact [he] came on board of the Zen Community of New York in ’78, as we were starting to form how the Zen Community of New York would look. And from the beginning, he was one of the stronger students I had. He was studying all the time, coming to all the retreats, and in fact, he became my major student. And accompanied me in all of the Bearing Witness type events that I started to do. He was on the first three retreats. He was on our...

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Groking, Second Foundation, and Bearing Witness

I read a lot of science fiction when I was younger. I haven’t read that much recently, but there’s a few thoughts that have stuck with me all these years. One was “groking.” Grok was a word that was coined by Robert Heinlein, in a book he wrote in 1961—a science fiction novel called Stranger in a Strange Land. And in the book it’s defined as “grok,” meaning to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes part of the observed—to merge, blend, lose identity in group experience. It’s hard to really grasp it. It’s sort of like a blind man grasping color. But, it can be experienced. So I use “grok” a lot to explain what I mean by bearing witness. Of course then you’ve got to explain grok. So, in bearing witness I say that that’s a state in which the observer and the observed disappear, and it’s just the experience itself. That is, there’s no subject/object relationship. So bearing witness is to grok—to really become one with the situation. Koan study in Zen was developed to help us experience this bearing witness. That is, there are many koans that the only way to answer them is to become all of the entities in the koan, and show the teacher—or the one you are meeting in the koan study—that you have become that. If you give commentary on that, that doesn’t work. That’s a subject/object relationship. Even if the commentary sounds right, it doesn’t matter. The koan study is aiming for you to experience that situation when the observer and the observed are gone, and it’s just the thing itself. So that’s “grok.” Another book—actually a series of books—that I loved was Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation. That’s a series I think of five or six books. But in it, there’s a man, Hari Seldon, who comes to the conclusion that the universe—which was large, and many planets, different galaxies, and there was somebody overseeing the whole thing—but anyway, he came to the conclusion that it was going to end in chaos. And he worked out a way to predict—at least statistically—how things would flow. And he came up with a way to improve the probability that a stabile universe could occur sooner, if...

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Photo Essay of Bernie Glassman by Peter Cunningham

“The Thousand Armed Bodisahatvha”, or “Kannon” is a traditional Buddhist symbol. He/She symbolizes an enlightened being who chooses, rather than departing for Nirvana, to remain on Earth until all “sentient beings” are also enlightened. In statuary she is often depicted as a sensuous female with a thousand arms indicating the myriad ways in which she is attempting to serve all human beings. Assembling 33 years of photographs from my adventures with Bernie, I was struck with the incredible variety of skillful means this human from Brighton Beach has managed to embody, thus the title. Bernie sometimes works with people who feel discarded. The photograph on the cover of this book is scanned from a kodachrome slide I discovered under a leg of my desk where, covered with dust, it had molded for years. It was ruined, a piece of trash nearly tossed in the rubbish years ago. When assembling the pictures for this book, this old slide jumped to my attention and resurrected itself, and now, reimagined and repurposed, it’s become the cover of Bernie’s birthday book. To view the book and/or purchase it, link...

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NPR Interview of Bernie Glassman

Host: And now for a fuller picture of Zen Buddhism, we turn to the man known as the grandfather of socially engaged Buddhism, Bernie Glassman. He says Zen Buddhism is indeed focused on looking inward, but it’s also about helping the world around you. He’s been a practicing Zen Buddhist for nearly sixty years. And he’s the founder of a Buddhist peace activist group called Zen Peacemakers. His latest book is called The Dude and the Zen Master. Welcome back to the show Bernie. Bernie: Thank you. Host: Now as we just heard from our interview with Mark Oppenheimer, Zen became extremely popular in America in the 1960s, which is right around the time that you became interested in it. So, what appeal did Zen have for you, as someone raised in a Jewish home? Bernie: I read a book in 1958 called The Religions of Man by Huston Smith. And there was one page about Zen, and it struck home to me. And what it was talking about was realizing the interconnectedness of life and living in the moment. As Ram Dass has said, “be here, now.” Host: And that’s what grabbed you, “be here, now”? Bernie: Yep. Host: And what about other Americans? Why does Zen continue to be so appealing? Bernie: Well, Zen is an experiential religion. That is, it’s not a dogma. It’s not based on any scriptures or sutras. But it’s based on a direct experience of the interconnectedness of life. Its mode is very simple. So it’s appealing to those that are not drawn to iconography or beautiful figures, but are drawn to personal experiences of the oneness of life. Host: Would you call Zen Buddhism a religion? Or is it something else? Bernie: Well, if you say “Zen Buddhism,” sure, it’s a religion. But, Zen can be practiced by people in many religions. So, I’ve empowered forty different folks as teachers of Zen. And some of them are Rabbis, some are Sheikhs—Sufi Sheikhs, and some are Catholic Priests and Sisters in the Catholic Church. So Zen by itself can be practiced by anyone in any religion, or by secular folks. Host: And so when you say, “Zen can be practiced by people of these other faith traditions,”...

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Optimism, Pessimism, Hope and Expectations

I’d like to share with you some thoughts of mine—I should say “opinions”—about optimism, pessimism, hope, and expectations. And maybe we can throw in vow—no, I think that’s a whole other subject. So, I’m not very optimistic. And I’m not very pessimistic. I have a lot of hope, and hardly any expectations. Expectations pop up all the time. And I have to admit that even though I feel we shouldn’t have expectations, I have them all the time. And one of the signs of having expectations is that I get frustrated. I think expectations inevitably lead to frustration. I define hope as basically hoping that something will happen, therefore working as hard as I can to make that thing happen. And having goals—for example, when I started to work in Yonkers and homelessness, I said, “we’re gonna end homelessness.” That was my hope—in Yonkers, in Westchester. That was my hope. But I had no expectation—therefore, I wasn’t frustrated—although we did reduce homelessness by 75 percent over the years. But we worked as hard as we could, and what happened is what happened. It reminds of a time when we were working in the Middle East. And many groups were working in the Middle East. And there was a period around the year 2000 where everybody thought there would be peace. It was so close. Between the Israelis and the Palestinians—it was so close. And then, it all fell apart. And there were so many different groups working for peace—both on the Palestinian side and the Israeli side. And most of those groups fell apart. And they fell apart because of frustration. Their expectation was so high. And it didn’t happen. And the frustration became unbearable, and the groups fell apart. Those groups that continued, in my opinion, basically were working for peace because that’s what you should do. They didn’t have any expectations, even though it was so close. They had a lot of hope. And they worked very hard. But because there were no expectations, there were minimal frustrations. And they could continue working. So that leads me to optimism and pessimism. I tend to—in my opinion—I do fairly good at leading my life based on what is happening.  That is, I’m not...

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Are you listening?

You can also hear this schmoozing on listening by linking here. Hi. Are you listening? So, I’ve been thinking about listening. I just did a workshop in Seattle, Washington, at a synagogue called Bet Alef. It’s a meditative synagogue. And the workshop was on Saturday. But the evening before—Friday evening—I attended the services, and they asked me to lead them in meditation. And it was a beautiful service. And of course, we chanted the Shema. The Shema is a prayer that’s chanted many times a day by religious Jews. And some of the words of the Shema are placed in mezuzahs. Mezuzahs are the items that you see in Jewish households when you enter the doorway. And in that item that’s nailed to the doorpost are some words from the Shema. Shema means listen. And it reminded me that the beginning of all the Buddhist sutras is “listen” (“thus have I heard” actually). And we use that phrase, “thus have I heard” as a koan. Because that first phrase “thus have I heard,” in a sense we call that “listen.” In a way, that’s the essence of all of the sutras. That’s the essence of all of the teachings. And the rest of the sutras I would call commentary. The Bodhisattva of Compassion, the Icon of Compassion in Japanese is called Kannon, or Kanzeon. And Kan is to deeply listen, on—the sounds, ze—the earth. Kanzeon is to deeply listen to the sounds of the Earth—Shema in Hebrew. In Zen Peacemakers, one of the important practices that we do is the way of council. And one of the principals in the way of council is to listen from the heart. Not from the brain, from the heart. At the workshop in Seattle, I met Leah Green who is the founder of a beautiful not-for-profit called the Compassionate Listening Project. And whenever we do peace work at our bearing witness retreats, we do council and talk about listening from the heart. I studied for a year with Krishnamurti. It was quite a while ago. We would meet, for about a year, on weekends, a group of people, he’d talk with us. And he would try to bring us to a state of what he called “learning.”...

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Black Holes, The Big Bang and Not-Knowing

You can also listen to this by linking here. There is a new theory that’s floating around concerning black holes, the Big Bang, and how it relates to the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers, not knowing. I’ve talked before about the Big Bang and not knowing, and there are write-ups on our blog and the website page, Just My Opinion, Man. But here’s the new stuff that’s just come out, in which in my opinion, I have now adopted as my opinion—that is I agree with this new opinion—with this new theory. So, what are black holes? Black holes are regions of space; so incredibly dense that nothing—not even light—can escape from them. Most of these black holes are thought to form at the end of a big star’s life, when it’s internal pressure is insufficient to resist it’s own gravity, and the star collapses under it’s own weight. Most scientists believe (and it was also my opinion) that since there is nothing to stop this collapse, eventually a singularity will form. And if you have listened to my other Podcasts, you might know that in my opinion, that singularity corresponds to the state of not knowing. That is, that singularity is a region where infinite densities are reached, and general relativity ceases to be predictive—general relativity that Einstein came up with. But the singularity theory has flaws. Since the laws of physics no longer apply in a region of infinite density, no one knows what could possibly happen inside a black hole. That is, it’s a singularity. And you can’t know what the deal is there, man. And that’s the same in the state of not knowing. You can’t know, otherwise it wouldn’t be a state of not knowing. Stephen Hawking suggested in the early 1970s, that black holes can slowly evaporate and disappear. But in this case, what happens to the information that describes an object that falls into a black hole? So in our not knowing tenet, that question is, “What happened to all of the information?” Indra’s Net—this net that extends throughout all space and time—contains everything, all information. So at the singularity, there’s a total state of not knowing, where’s the information, man? What happened to it? In...

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Baring, bearing, and barking witness!

We just Posted a New Edition of Rocky and Tootsie – Live!, Baring, bearing, and barking witness! Listen to it by linking here. More to come. We will be posting new Editions every week! Hope you enjoy. We are certainly having fun doing it. Rocky and Tootsie (alias Bernie and Eve)

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A World of Podcasts!

We Now Offer A World of Podcasts! I hope you enjoy the various podcasts we have posted on the website. Schmoozing Podcasts, Rocky and Tootsie – Live, Dharma Talks, Interviews and...

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Big Bang, Karma, and Reincarnation

I want to give you my opinions on the Big Bang, karma, and reincarnation. I was trained as an engineer, and also as a mathematician. And so, in my opinion, I agree with those that feel that the universe was created by—or at least started with—the Big Bang many many many years ago. And in mathematical terms, Big Bang—the time of the Big Bang—is a singularity. That is, you can go back and back, and you get as close to when the Big Bang happened as you want, but you can’t get to it. It’s a singularity. For example, if you try to divide 1 by zero, that’s called a singularity. In the world of Zen, and the world of Zen Peacemakers, a singularity is that which cannot be known. It’s the first tenet—the state of the unknown—out of which everything can be created. So, at the time of the Big Bang—this singularity—the whole universe is created, and starts spreading out—expanding. And what is it that is making up the universe? It’s energy. So energy is expanding out. And out, and out, and out. And then eventually starts coalescing. And we start having things we call “stars” and “planets” and “galaxies” etc. And the energy is what interests me. This field of energy in Buddhist terms, we call Indra’s Net. This energy extends throughout all space and time. And it’s all interconnected. That is, if you perturb the energy anywhere, it affects the whole system of energy. So as these manifestations happen—planets, galaxies—everything, all of the energy’s effected. Nothing is by itself. It’s all interconnected. And nowadays, we have a modern day Indra’s Net. We call it the Internet. And again, it’s all interconnected. So to me, karma can be explained as if I perturb the energy anywhere—by anything, whether it be an actual movement by my body, or a thought, or a feeling—any kind of movement affects the whole energy field—the whole, not just universes, multi-universes, the whole energy field. So obviously, karma is for me (I shouldn’t say “obviously”), in my opinion, karma is the fact that anything we do, or think, or feel affects everything. And not just now (of course everything is just now), but right now is containing all...

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Transcriptions of Schmoozing Podcasts

The Schmoozing Podcasts I have posted via Sound Cloud can be heard by linking here. I have had a request to have these podcasts transcribed so those in the deafhood can read them. Scott Harris has volunteered to do the transcriptions and they will be posted here as he completes the transcription.

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Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara Just Released

For Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, intimacy is what Zen practice is all about: the realization of the essential lack of distinction between self and other that inevitably leads to wisdom and compassionate action. She approaches the practice of intimacy beginning at its most basic level–the intimacy with ourselves that is the essential first step. She then shows how to bring intimacy into our relationships with others, starting with those dearest to us and moving on to those who don’t seem dear at all. She then shows how to grow in intimacy so that we include everyone around us, all of society, the whole world and all the beings it contains. Each chapter is accompanied by practices she uses with her students at the Village Zendo for manifesting intimacy in our...

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Podcasts by Bernie Now Working

I sent an announcement a few weeks ago that there are Podcasts by Bernie on the Zen Peacemakers Website but unfortunately it was premature. Due to the efforts of our IT Maven, Timothy O’Connor Fraser, the podcasts are now working on our website. I will be adding podcasts almost daily. Hope you enjoy. ……link here to hear...

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Just Another Opinion on The Oneness of Life, Man

One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until (s)he had freed all sentient beings from samsara. Despite strenuous effort, (s)he realizes that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his/her head splits into pieces. Buddha, seeing her/his plight, gives him/her eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara attempts to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her/his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Buddha comes to his/her aid and invests her/him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes. In each arm is that which is needed at the moment, a hammer, a bible, a condum, a handkerchief, etc. etc. When we experience the oneness of life we manifest not only as many heads and arms but as all the phenomena of the universe and we contain all the phenomena of the universe. I’m Buddhist, but as you know, I’m also Jewish. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Many people know that word, but what they may not know is that the root of shalom is shalem, which means whole. To make something shalem, to make peace, is to make whole. In the Jewish mystical tradition it is said that at the time of the Creation, God’s light filled a cup, but that the light was so strong that it shattered the cup into fragments scattered throughout the universe. (sounds like Avalokiteśvara, eh?) And the role of the righteous person, the mensch, is to bring the fragments back and connect them together to restore the cup. That’s what I mean by peace. For me, peace means whole. The Hebrew Oseh Shalom is peacemaker, as in the verse “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth.” They shall work to restore the fragments into a whole. And in Zen, as you know, our practice is to experience that wholeness, the oneness and interconnectedness of life and, in my opinion, to serve all of our aspects. ……Read More...

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A quick look back over 2013 by Steven Brown, Greyston President & CEO

Greyston served more than 2,800 Yonkers residents through an array of results-driven programming designed to help individuals achieve self-sufficiency. A detailed study conducted last year revealed that our programs truly create a measurable, long term impact within the community: for example, Greyston Bakery – a world recognized social enterprise, paid nearly $1.2 million in salaries to our Open Hire employees while saving over $1 million in taxpayer funds through reduced recidivism. Greyston’s Workforce Development program trained over 120 individuals, with graduates achieving job placement in a variety of in-demand fields that included Culinary Arts, Building Maintenance, Security Guard, Home Health Aide and more. Our  fall 2013 WD graduation saw 59 clients obtain their certificates and was attended by local, county, and state officials who praised the program as a key economic and workforce development initiative within the city of Yonkers. Greyston’s NAEYC-accredited Child Care Center provided high-quality, affordable child care to more than 70 children, and our Community Gardens program served more than 2,000 through our six garden sites and our environmental education initiatives. In 2013, the program piloted a new initiative in which youths grow and sell produce, learning valuable entrepreneurial skills while gaining a green thumb. And, of course, we launched a great new website, www.greyston.org, that communicates Greyston’s story in an easy to navigate way that makes buying brownies and supporting Greyston easier than ever. And, 2014 looks even brighter! I am proud to say that Greyston was just awarded a grant from the New York State Department of Labor to expand our Workforce  Development program which now provides the nationally-recognized Work Readiness Credential and has also added Certified Nursing Aide and EKG/Phlebotomy Technician as new job training tracks. The Bakery has launched a new cookie product in Whole Foods that hasreceived rave reviews. As we work to ramp up production, our expectation is that we’ll be creating even more new...

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Just My Opinion on The Use of the Word Tradition, Man

Merriam Webster Definition: a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time. When I hear the word tradition used by Buddhist practioners, I believe they mean a practice that has been around for a long time as in the dictionary usage of the word. When I probe further, in my opinion, they are referring to a practice that was developed by their teacher or by their teacher’s teacher. In my case, my teacher, Maezumi Roshi, was considered very untraditional when I met him. His father was a well-established Japanese Soto Zen teacher and Maezumi Roshi spent his college years practicing Zen in a Dojo run by Koryu Roshi. Koryu Roshi was the head of the Shakyamuni Kai, a lay group of Zen teachers and students whose main study was koan study. Maezumi Roshi was also studying with Yasutani Roshi who founded the San Bo Kyo Dan a group of Zen teachers (both lay and ordained) that practices koan study, shikantaza and breathing practices. Maezumi Roshi created many new forms of practice and also taught us the forms he learnt from his teachers. He constantly told me to create new forms of study that would be relevant in this time and place (western countries.) I believe that I have done that and have been labeled as untraditional. In my opinion, I have followed a tradition that I inherited from my teacher and from my genes. Coming from a Jewish heritage and founding the Zen Peacemakers Order of DisOrder, I love the Jewish word mishegass which Leo Rosten defines as:  An absurd belief; nonsense; hallucinations A fixation I prefer to use mishegass instead of tradition when I hear folks talk about their Buddhist Tradition. After all, Shakyamuni Buddha is quoted as expressing the opinion that the only constant in life is that life is constantly changing. ……Read More...

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Note from Jared Seide after Rwanda Council Training

This journey has been amazing, emotional, powerful, heartbreaking, connected, overwhelming, impossible, beautiful. The training itself well surpassed our already high expectations and feels now to have been life changing for all involved, as well as a significant contribution to the healing field here, both internally, for the participants involved, and in introducing and embodying a new set of tools, ready to be carried by organizations and initiatives.  The journey to set aside all of the ego, psychological, cultural attachment to ways of thinking about identity and ideology – and “healing” — was surprisingly challenging and very fruitful.  The quality of the listening and  attunement was deeply moving and remarkable.  And the emergence already witnessed in this field has been striking. Already, a participant who has been silently grieving about the improper burial of her relatives killed in the genocide had her story witnessed by someone working on relocation of human remains to memorial sites and plans have now been made to address this issue and relocate the remains.  Another participant who had been carrying deep wounds around childhood experiences, and who had begun the training rather closed and leery, found courage to tell stories never spoken, found consolation and connection and expressed feeling a relief never experienced.  Yet another participant’s family, struggling with resentments and disconnection has begun a home-practice of council that has surprised and delighted everyone; the children have asked every evening: “Can we do council again tonight?”  And one group of colleagues held a council in which doors opened that had been slammed shut for months, with tears, honest naming of pain and sadness, requests for forgiveness, granting of forgiveness, heartfelt laughter, commitment to heal together, more tears, and prayers of thanks for this field of compassionate arising; important steps for this group were taken, witnessed, acknowledged and watered with abundant tears. May these seeds of healing and recognition grow inside us all, nourish cohesion and inclusiveness and generate more resources for the big work...

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Feedback by Rwanda Council Trainees

“This training has changed a lot of things in my life and I know it will change others who are in my life.  I think these changes will lead to greater peace.” “Council brings a great methodology that gives participants permission to be really there and bring up what is alive inside himself or herself naturally and without forcing emotions.” “Through studying Council these days, I have learned important things about conflict exploration, healing, working with trauma and so much more.” “This training has helped me find my own peace so that I can be better at helping my community find peace.” “If we can stay together, work together like this, our efforts will change our country and the world – but only if we stay connected!  This light that the trainers have lit will continue to light flames for many other through our work together.” “The foundation of peace is in our hearts and this training emphasized how to go more deeply to that place.” “I think Council is about caring for ourselves, helping us heal wounds of the heart and bringing parts of ourselves to share with our groups and our communities.” “This training helped me personally and has also shown me new ways to do my work with my community.  It has taught me to take care of myself, first, and understand where to start in restoring peace for my family, my country and the world.” “This Council training feels to me like visiting a doctor who really understands his patient and has a deep knowledge of how to help the patient heal.” “I have already transformed, the change is already in me.  And now I feel responsible to help other people to understand this process of council.  This training has helped me rebuild and restore trust in myself that I think I had lost.” “I feel this training has helped me know myself better, understand my heart and help me understand others better – and how change happens.  This training has left me with a capacity I can use to help others bring out their own deeper self.” “Council teaches ‘peace from the heart’ and points to a way that people can live together in a more unified and loving...

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Council Training in Kigali, Rwanda by Jared Seide

At the invitation of Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers, I travelled to Kigali to work with a group of peaceworkers committed to healing their country.  The lead NGO, Memos, had assembled a group of fourteen participants for an Introduction to Council training workshop, culled from 10 local NGOs.  These fourteen were to participate in the upcoming Bearing Witness Retreat, offered as part of Rwanda’s commemoration of The Genocide Against the Tutsis that took place 20 years ago, in 1994. The Rwanda government has been very active in promoting this commemoration, launching a variety of initiatives labeled with slogans like “Rwanda Proud” and “Never Again.”  Rwandans are deeply engaged in a healing process that impacts the entire population, including the generation born in the post-trauma period and very much touched by it; NGOs are profoundly aware of the challenges of reintegrating the perpetrators of genocide, many of whom have served twenty-year sentences and are approaching the end of their punishment, ready to return to the communities in which the crimes were committed.  Many communities are already addressing this reintegration issue, as “perpetrators” and “victims” have already returned to co-habitating in neighborhoods, as well as places of work, and communities are struggling to find deep healing.  It may be, in fact, that the focus on these labels has both helped frame the current commemoration preparations and reactivated an “us”/”them” sensitivity amongst Rwandans.  In any case, the modality of council – and its invitation to go beyond attachment to knowing who is who, beyond what one thinks about another member of the circle, and how it might be to set aside all we believe we know to be truly present with the emerging moment felt like an important and challenging practice.  I asked Siri Gunnarson, another Council Trainer certified by Center for Council, who had been working in Kenya, to join me in co-leading this training. Council practice will be part of the activities of this retreat and developing a core group of Rwanda NGO workers trained and ready to facilitate council circles was the primary goal of the workshop.  The NGOs invited to participate were eager to have staff trained in innovative tools and modalities for peacework and council represented an intriguing new technology.  The...

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I (Bernie) just received this: The Purpose Economy 100 is being released shortly and I am thrilled to share that you are on the list. In partnership with CSRWire, we conducted a three month search for the most inspiring pioneers of the new economy. We received hundreds of nominations and finally narrowed it down to the 100 who we felt best exemplified the spirit of the new economy, including you. The Purpose Economy 100 highlights disruptive innovators, policy-setters, taste-makers and researchers who are transforming our innate need for purpose into the organizing principle for innovation and growth in the American economy. I am honored to be included in a list with Ben & Jerry and 97 others. Following is their press release: NEW YORK, Jan. 28 /CSRwire/ – Imperative and CSRwire today unveiled The Purpose Economy 100 (PE100), a list of the top 100 pioneers shifting the economy to better serve people and the planet. Selected based on their innovative models, philosophies and inventions, these 100 catalysts span a wide array of industries and geographies, all united by a common purpose. The Purpose Economy 100 are the first to research, develop, and shape markets that foster community, personal development and impact. Inspired by the upcoming book The Purpose Economy, by Aaron Hurst, the PE100 highlights leading examples of a global economy where ‘purpose’ is supplanting ‘information’ as its primary driver. Based on his research, Hurst articulates personal growth, relationships and societal impact as the principal factors affecting the next economy. For Hurst, the PE100 pioneers are living proof of his research in action. “Just as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were crucial in bringing about the Information Economy, the PE100 will be catalysts of this new phase of the economy in the US and worldwide,” says Hurst, CEO of Imperative. “These pioneers have proven that new models driven by purpose are not just advantageous, they’re necessary.” The Purpose Economy 100 cohort spans every sector of the U.S. economy, from startups, corporations and academia to government and nonprofits. Covering nearly 20 industries and almost every state in the US, the list spans from people of great notoriety to emerging innovators. It includes social entrepreneurs such as Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard and Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield...

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Gratitude

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

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Report from Rwanda: Loving Action Arising

Report by Jared Seide, Director, Center for Council, on leaving Rwanda after training Rwandans to be Council Facilitators for the upcoming Rwandan Bearing Witness Retreat in April 2014. This journey has been amazing, emotional, powerful, heartbreaking, connected, overwhelming, impossible, beautiful. I will detail the events in a more comprehensive report; for now I want to let you know that the training itself well surpassed our already high expectations and feels now to have been life changing for all involved, as well as a significant contribution to the healing field here, both internally, for the participants involved, and in introducing and embodying a new set of tools, ready to be carried by organizations and initiatives.  The journey to set aside all of the ego, psychological, cultural attachment to ways of thinking about identity and ideology – and “healing” — was surprisingly challenging and very fruitful.  The quality of the listening and  attunement was deeply moving and remarkable.  And the emergence already witnessed in this field has been striking. Already, a participant who has been silently grieving about the improper burial of her relatives killed in the genocide had her story witnessed by someone working on relocation of human remains to memorial sites and plans have now been made to address this issue and relocate the remains.  Another participant who had been carrying deep wounds around childhood experiences, and who had begun the training rather closed and leery, found courage to tell stories never spoken, found consolation and connection and expressed feeling a relief never experienced.  Yet another participant’s family, struggling with resentments and disconnection has begun a home-practice of council that has surprised and delighted everyone; the children have asked every evening: “Can we do council again tonight?” Feeling so much gratitude for this opportunity, humbled by the work and by the courageous partners who have stepped up.  Feeling deeply grateful and energized. Palms Together,...

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Launching Elder Fund for Bernie Glassman

On the streets, At Refugee Camp in Chiapas, Auschwitz Interfaith Ceremony, Riverdale NY 1982 Donate to the Elder Fund In honor of Bernie’s 75th Birthday and the work he has done, Zen Peacemakers has established an Elder Fund to sustain Bernie and Eve when Bernie can no longer maintain his schedule of retreats and workshops and the related income ends. A leader among the first generation of American Zen teachers, Bernie Glassman served as abbot of various Zen centers, was the first President of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association of America, and has some 40 successors that teach in various countries around the world. But he is mostly known for his fierce advocacy of Buddhism and social action. Named by Business Week Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 1993, he founded the Greyston Mandala of for-profits and non-profits to benefit homeless and low-income families and served, along with Ram Dass, as Spiritual Director of the Social Ventures Network. He founded Zen Peacemakers, an international movement of Zen social activists working in many different areas of peacemaking, social and economic justice, end-of-life care and sustaining of the earth. As he approaches his 76th year he continues to do street retreats and lead multifaith, multinational bearing witness retreats at places of searing trauma like Auschwitz and Rwanda. Bernie doesn’t plan to retire. But he does tire.   Please contribute to this Elder Fund: If you would like to make a one-time contribution to this special fund, please enter your Donation amount below and click on the “Add to Cart” Button. Your Price: $  If you would like to make a monthly contribution of $25 to this special fund, please use the Subscription button below. Note to Bernie & Eve   Peter Cunningham is preparing a digital book of photos of Bernie. If you would like to add a message for Bernie at the back of this book, please link...

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In Memoriam: Bhante Suhita Dharma

From San Francisco Zen Center Blog As we will be chanting the Great Compassionate Mind Dharani in a memorial service next week acknowledging Venerable Bhante Suhita Dharma’s passing, we thought to offer this article written by Lee Lipp for the Windbell, a publication of San Francisco Zen Center. Here are some excerpts from the article in Windbell’s Summer 2001 edition that point to Venerable’s continuing generosity to SFZC as he engaged with our sangha’s Teachers in Residence Program, which had started that year. … Zen Center hopes to to promote diversity within our sangha and to be more inviting to the multicultural populace in the Bay area. Venerable Bhante Suhita Dharma, our first teacher to participate was in residence at City Center from February 9 through February 25, 2001, engaging with us in a variety of activities. Bhante was born in Texas, then moved with his family to San Francisco at the age of two weeks. He lived in the Bay Area for many years. Bhante has followed a spiritual path through monastic traditions of a variety of religions. A monk since the age of 15, he has lived as a Christian Trappist and has been ordained in the Tibetan Buddhist and Vietnamese Zen traditions. Presently he also affiliates with the Coptic Church. As an African American teacher he has engaged with a wide range of cultural and ethnic environments. He is remarkable in that he has delved deeply into the contemplative life as well as engaging in and bringing his practice to the social difficulties of the world. He has a degree in social work and has worked extensively with the homeless, people with AIDS, in the field of geriatrics and with people who are in prison. Ordained as a teacher by Dr. Thich Thien-An in 1974, he served as a vice abbot at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles in the 1980s with Ven. Karuna Dharma. He is also one of the initial members of the Zen Peacemakers Order and continues to work with that group and its founder, Bernie Tetsugen Glassman Roshi. Bhante’s schedule while in residence at Zen Center included dharma talks and informal teas for many groups, including the Hartford Street Zen Center, the Berkeley Zen Center,...

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Personal Relections on Bearing Witness in Rwanda by Roshi Eve Myonen Marko

People often don’t understand such a bearing witness trip. I have been asked why anyone would travel a long way to East Africa to listen to people describe a genocide perpetrated on them close to 20 years ago. Someone asked me candidly if I felt a peculiar attraction to terrible suffering. I can only speak of my experience. Of course, as a member of a family that suffered from the Jewish Holocaust, I have a special interest in how another ethnic group of humans fared after being designated cockroaches, or untermenschen. The two genocides share differences and similarities. But more generally, I went to Rwanda to witness how these survivors are struggling with the question of what it means to be human. In some way many of us would say that we struggle with the same question in our own lives. But the Rwandans can’t fake it. They’ve seen their families wiped out and must find some way to move on, face the killers, and plunge into the inquiry of what to do: Remember? Forget? Forgive? Hate? Take revenge? Remember God? Forget God? To me it doesn’t matter what the answer is; the question matters, the readiness—out of choice or lack of choice—to bear witness, to own completely one’s individual life and that of society. What loving action emerges may well differ from person to person, but what the people we talked to had in common was a readiness to fully engage with this most basic of human challenges. Yes, they each expressed sincere appreciation for our coming there to listen to them. It’s crucial to them that the world wants to listen, to join in their pain if only for a short time. But to me it’s clear that I brought home something immeasurably precious: various soft, clear, courageous voices articulating age-old experiences of suffering and the quest to relieve suffering. Each person did this in her own way, with a simplicity that had no patience for the trivial but that only spoke of what was done, and now what is to be done. Instead of running away, they had to face the killers. Instead of denying, they wished to walk down the streets of their village and meet the Other face to...

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Bernie’s Opinion on The Dude Abides

Hui-Neng, upon hearing a monk quoting from the Diamond Sutra, is said to have been enlightened. The quote he heard was: “Abiding nowhere, raise the Bodhi Mind.” In the end of the movie by the Coen brothers, the Big Lebowski, the Dude says: “The Dude Abides.” In my opinion, there is a wonderful similarity between these two statements. Abiding nowhere is another way of stating the first Tenet of the Zen Peacemakers, Not-Knowing. Abiding nowhere means not being attached to any of my concepts or opinions, being totally open to What is. Therefore, abiding nowhere also means abiding everywhere, not excluding anything by holding on to something. If we can do that, right there the Bodhi Mind is raised. When I say the Dude abides, I mean that he is open to everything. He abides everywhere without attachments. Things happen and he is affected. New things happen and he is affected. He’s not clinging to the old or to concepts formed by the...

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ZPO Bearing Witness Training Program

The Zen Peacemaker Order has initiated a training program at Auschwitz for those interested in training in Bearing Witness. The first cadre of trainees are long-term members of the ZPO and have been on staff at the Auschwitz Retreat for many years. If you are interested in becoming a trainee in this program, please sign up for both the 2014 Auschwitz Retreat and the Council Training held on the Saturday before the Retreat. To read about the Zen Peacemaker Order, link...

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Let All Eat Cafes

Jeff Bridges, who has been fighting hunger for decades, teamed up with the Zen Peacemakers to create “Let All Eat” Cafés to feed their communities in ways tailored to each location.  Bridges met Zen Peacemakers founder Bernie Glassman in Santa Barbara in 1999.  Over the years, their friendship and partnership have developed.  At Zen Peacemakers’ Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism, Jeff Bridges discussed his work to end hunger. “Let All Eat” Cafés are inspired by the Greyston Foundation in Yonkers, NY and the Stone Soup Café in Greenfield, MA. Accustomed to spending time on the streets, the Zen Peacemakers developed the Greyston Foundation as a set of social services and businesses that meet basic needs and affirm the dignity of all participants. This tradition of blurring the boundary between people being served and people serving continues with the Stone Soup Café, where a mixed income community gathers every Saturday to enjoy free food, activities and wellness offerings. Unlike many soup kitchens, the Café is a family-friendly environment.  The Stone Soup Café was started by the Zen Peacemakers in 2010 and continues as an independent entity today. The most important partners in establishing the Stone Soup Cafe are the Zen Peacemakers and the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.  The Zen Peacemakers tenet of Bearing Witness and the Unitarian principle of affirming and promoting the worth and dignity of each individual shape the Café’s unique approach.  While these influences are important, the Café welcomes people off all backgrounds without being tied to any specific tradition. If you are interested in putting this model of Soup Kitchen in your area, please read this, and/or contact Ari...

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Mandala Energies

The following is excerpted from Instructions to the Cook by Bernie Glassman and Rick Fields, Bell Tower, 1996. This book is a primer on how to work with the mandala energies. A Mandala consists of five main “courses” or aspects of life. The first course involves spirituality or vision; the second course is composed of training; the third course deals with our resources; the fourth course is made out of action, and the last course consists of integration. All of these main courses are an essential part of our life. Just as we all need certain kinds of food to make a complete meal that will sustain and nourish us, we need all five of these courses to live a full life. It’s not enough to simply include all these courses in our meal. We have to prepare the five courses at the right time and in the right order. The first course, the course of spirituality/vision, helps us to realize the oneness of life, and provides a still point at the center of all our activities. This course consists of spiritual practices. This practice could be prayer or listening to music or dance or taking walks or spending time alone—anything that helps us realize or reminds us of the oneness of life. The second course is training. Study provides sharpness and intelligence. People usually study before they begin something, but I like to do it the other way around. I like to study my life or social action along with the other things I’m doing and not in the abstract. For this reason, the course of study always goes with the courses of spirituality, resources, integration and action. Once we have established the clarity that comes from stillness and study, we can begin to see how to prepare the third course which is resources. This is the course which sustains us in the physical world. It is the course of work and business—the meat and potatoes. Taking care of ourselves and making a living in the world is necessary and important for all of us, not matter how “spiritual” we may think we are. At this point we also become aware of all the resources we have, e.g., money, elders, facilities, people. The...

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Interconnectedness: The Rug That Ties the Room Together

It is the opinion of many scientists (including me) that about 15 billion years ago a tremendous explosion started the expansion of the universe. This explosion is known as the Big Bang. At the point of this event all of the matter and energy of space was contained at one point. What existed prior to this event is completely unknown and is a matter of pure speculation. This occurrence was not a conventional explosion but rather an event filling all of space with all of the particles of the embryonic universe rushing away from each other. The Big Bang actually consisted of an explosion of space within itself unlike an explosion of a bomb were fragments are thrown outward. The galaxies were not all clumped together, but rather the Big Bang laid the foundations for the universe. Where’s the beginning in the big bang? You can’t know what’s there before the big bang, right? You can go down pretty damn close i mean they’re going down in nanoseconds and seeing what happens in there. And they’re going forward and stuff like that. But in the very beginning, that’s what’s called a singularity. You can’t know. Now you may notice that in the Peacemakers, our first tenet is Not Knowing. It’s a state of not knowing, so what we say is if you’re going do something first approach it from that state of not knowing, that is get back to that initial singular point – to that point before the big bang. So if i can get back to that point of Not Knowing right now, and be there, then something happens and that’s the big bang. Now it starts unfolding. And it can unfold in a very creative way because it’s starting from this point of not knowing, this singular point. It’s starting from the beginning. Whatever you believe in it was created out of that big bang. Before that there was nothing. Our job in Zen is to experience that beginning, that place before there’s anything. That’s what’s meant by the koan “what’s the sound of one hand” It’s before any phenomena, what’s that state? It’s not so easy to experience. But it can be done, and it has been done, and it’s...

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Homeless and At-Risk Youth Gluten Free Bakery

Please support Ven. Pannavati by linking here and donating to her project. Through culinary pre-apprenticeship training and social entrepreneurship, MyPlace has forged a proven path to independence for homeless youth in rural America.

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Peter Matthiessen to Publish New Novel

Peter Matthiessen, a National Book Award winner, Zen teacher, in the Zen Peacemakers tradition, and a founder of The Paris Review, has written a new novel, his publisher said on Tuesday. Roshi Matthiessen, a renowned writer of fiction and nonfiction, said in a statement that “at age 86, it may be my last word.” The book, “In Paradise,” is the story of a group that comes together “for a weeklong meditation retreat at the site of a World War II concentration camp, and the grief, rage, bewildering transports and upsetting revelations that surface during their time together,” the publisher, Riverhead Books, said in a statement. Riverhead will release it in spring 2014. The novel will be Matthiessen’s first since “Shadow Country,” a compilation of three previous novels. “Shadow Country” won the National Book Award in 2008. Matthiessen, who has participated in three Zen retreats at Auschwitz, said he has long wanted to write about the Holocaust, but that because he is not Jewish, he did not feel qualified. “But approaching it as fiction — as a novelist, an artist — I eventually decided that I did,” he said. “Only fiction would allow me to probe from a variety of viewpoints the great strangeness of what I had felt.”  ...

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Street Retreat in Tel Aviv by Uri Ayalon

Uri Ayalon Reports on Street Retreat in Tel Aviv From the blog of Uri Ayalon translated by Ruth Bar-Eden   My father thinks I’m crazy.  That’s nothing new.  Only a crazy person could claim that capitalism is not a directive from heaven; that giving and sharing are man’s basic instincts; and that a life of self-examination, study, and change are better than a life of habit and comfort. On Yom Kippur I went on a journey in the southern part of Tel-Aviv with no money, no mobile, and no sleeping bag, and with a group of twenty other crazy people (led by Rabbi Ohad Ezrachi and Zen teacher Bernie Glassman, may they each live long years for the magic they bring to this world with courage and humility), who gathered for three days of homelessness–by–choice.  What a strange choice: Those with a home, food and money are playing a game of poverty and begging?   Les miserables de-shmates. Yes, how important it is to let go of privilege once in a while.  How important to let go in general, to reveal the abundance that lies just beyond the mountains of fear.  I already knew that the detritus from our culture of excess feeds different lifestyles, but what I learned about in this journey is the texture of the garbage, walking in it barefoot, being touched by it to the very core.  Smelling it, drinking it, and not running away. On the first evening I went to get French fries in the restaurants of the Central Bus Station.  There I met Sharon: born in Georgia, formerly of the USSR, studied medicine, and found herself on the streets due to a combination of schizophrenia, drug and alcohol addiction, and a love story that turned into a war.  Her daughter was taken from her by child protective services at the age of four.  Now she’s pregnant again, carrying the child of a Sudanese.  She accompanied us throughout the days with captivating humor and intelligence, taught us the location of the fountain with the best water and where we would find cartons to use as mattresses. Yasser from Sudan joined us, completely drunk. Shachar is an Ethiopian who hates all whites and therefore feels at home only in Lewinski...

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Yom Kippur in the Streets of Tel-Aviv 2013 by Lilach Shamir

This Yom Kippur I won’t be in synagogue. The day before the holiday a group of people, invited by Rabbi Ohad Ezrachi, a friend and teacher, and the Zen teacher Roshi Bernie Glassman, gathered in the streets of south Tel-Aviv, in Lewinski Park. We stayed there without phones, money, identification papers or possessions save the clothes we wore. People dear to me asked if I was crazy: What are you doing this for? Be careful not to catch polio. Are you normal? It’s dangerous out there … I asked myself the same questions, and more. It was called a retreat, a time for practice. What do you practice in the streets? Thirty years ago, Bernie Glassman decided that teaching Zen in a monastery was not enough. He went out with several of his students to the streets of New York to meet the homeless and bear witness to their lives. Later they developed a project, including a bakery that employed homeless persons and homes where they could live. The project was a big success. Bernie teaches his students three principles: 1.     Not Knowing: the willingness to leave behind all the ideas you had about a situation and approaching it as an empty vessel. 2.     Bearing Witness: being in the moment, place, or situation as a witness who experiences, feels and absorbs as much as possible on all levels: What is happening in me and around me, what is happening in the interactive space between my surroundings and myself? At some point the question comes up: Is there a difference between me and the other, and who is the other inside me, the parts which I push aside, ignore, refuse to see or relate to, etc. 3.     Loving action, or right action, which arises naturally from bearing witness, from experiencing, feeling and understanding in depth that which is happening. And maybe it does not arise. Ohad timed this retreat for Yom Kippur because the situation in south Tel-Aviv reminds him of the ritual scapegoat used in this holiday. On this day in the distant past, all the sins of the people of Israel were thrust upon a single goat that would then be sent into the desert, where it would die. That is how our...

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Bernie’s Reflections on Issan Dorsey

In my experience, many people come to Zen practice because they love the stories of Zen masters of long ago. They love reading about outrageous teachers who said strange things and acted in even stranger ways, seeming like children, fools, and even madmen to the rest of society. It has also been my experience that while we love these characters that lived hundreds of years ago, we don’t love them so much while they’re still living. We don’t always love our present day madmen and eccentrics, for these are the people who manifest our shadow. They live in the cracks – nor just of our society but of our psyche. They put in our faces those qualities in ourselves that we’d prefer not to see – a refusal to conform, a refusal to “grow up,” a human being who ignores conventions and acceptable standards of behavior and makes up his life as he goes along. I think of Issan Dorsey as the shadow in many people’s lives. He was a drug addict, he was gay, he appeared in drag, and he died of AIDS. For many years he lived right on the edge, befriending junkies, drag queens and alkies who lived precariously like him, on the fringes of society. When he died, a Zen teacher and priest, he was still befriending and caring for those whom our society rejected then and continues to reject now, people ill with the AIDS virus. Like the old Zen masters of old, Issan Dorsey was outrageous; he manifested the shadow in our lives. And he was loved not just after his death but also during his life. For Issan had exuberance for all of life, and that included death, too. I first met Issan Dorsey in 1980, just after he began the Maitri group on Hartford Street. I happened to be visiting San Francisco Zen Center and was in the zendo when Roshi Richard Baker, Abbot of the Center, announced that a satellite group of gay Zen practitioners was forming in the middle of San Francisco’s Castro District, under the leadership of Issan Dorsey. Baker Roshi strongly supported Issan’s work, as he would continue to do for years to come. That was my first meeting with Issan. By...

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Zen Peacemakers: The Beginning

1994-2000: Zen Peacemakers: The Beginning I have written about my beginnings in zen and my formative years in zen training. This post starts at the conception of a Zen Peacmaker Family serving as a container for people wanting to do spiritual based social engagement. On my 55th birthday in January, 1994 I did a retreat in Washington D.C. working on the question of what should I do to serve those rejected by society, to those in poverty and to those with AIDS. Upon returning home, I discussed my vision of a container for people wanting to do spiritual based social engagement with my wife, Jishu.  We decided on developing a Zen Peacemaker Order and on developing Peacemaker Villages with the theme of spiritually based social engagement. The Zen Peacemaker order was to be based on Three Tenets (Not-knowing, Bearing Witness and Loving Actions) and Peacemaker Precepts developed by a group of founding Teachers of the ZPO (Grover Genro Gauntt, Bernie Glassman, Joan Jiko Halifax, Sandra Jishu Holmes, Eve Myonen Marko, Wendy Egyoku Nakao and Pat Enkyo O’Hara.) Not-knowing, the first tenet of the ZPO is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation. It is the role of the Bodhisattva to bear witness. The Buddha can stay in the realm of not-knowing, the realm of blissful non-attachment. The Bodhisattva vows to save the world, and therefore to live in the world of attachment, for that is also the world of empathy, passion, and compassion. Ultimately, she accepts all the difficult feelings and experiences that arise as part of every-day life as nothing but ways of revelation, each pointing to the present moment as the moment of enlightenment. Bearing witness gives birth to a deep and powerful intelligence that does not depend on study or action, but on presence. We bear witness to the joy and suffering that we encounter. Rather than observing the situation, we become the situation. We became intimate with whatever it is – disease, war, poverty, death. When you bear witness you’re simply there, you don’t flee. Loving Actions are those actions that arise naturally when one enters a situation in the state of not-knowing...

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Formative Years of Zen Practice

Last week I wrote about the various streams of study and practice that have gone into the White Plum lineage through its founder, Taizan Hakuyu Maezumi Roshi, adding up to an unusually rich mix of teachings. At the end of that posting I said that each of us in the family of teachers has added his/her own practices and methodologies as well. Below I want to talk a little more about the ingredients in my own Zen practice, what brought me to study with Maezumi Roshi, what caused me to finally separate from Soto Sect, in short: how the personal koans of my own life affected the teachings I wished to transmit to future generations.   1966-1975: Formative Years of Zen Practice In my early days of Zen practice with Maezumi Roshi, we were meeting regularly and talking about meditation, Zen texts, and appreciating our life as the Dharma. That’s what I wanted. I didn’t know anything about Japanese Zen, most of my readings were of the Chinese masters and hermits, not of Japanese temple priests. I was most interested in a communal life and in experiencing the interconnectedness of life, not in a religious institution. In the years since, I have learnt much about institutions, including the Japanese Soto Zen School. In the early days there weren’t very many people at the Zen Center of Los Angeles (ZCLA). I’d go to sit every morning and often it would just be Maezumi Sensei, myself, and maybe a few other people. But in the 1970’s the number of practitioners began to grow. Maezumi Sensei already had Dharma Transmission in the Soto lineage via his father (that was done at a very early age, before he came to the US), which is common in Japan. Until he finished koan study with Koryu Roshi and Yasutani Roshi, he would not do koan study with people;  instead he would talk about meditation, Zen texts and life. When I started to study with him in 1966, he was not introducing any of the Soto liturgies. What we now take for granted as Soto Zen liturgy was introduced to us during my ango (three month training period), which was in 1973. That was the first time we heard about oryoki...

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Bernie’s Training in Zen: The Early Years

The first time I encountered Zen was in 1958. I was attending the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn studying to be an Aeronautical Engineer. In an English class, we read The World’s Religions, at that time it was called Religions of Man, by Huston Smith (it had just come out). There was a page about Zen and it just struck me, I felt I had come home reading it. So I started to study Zen at that time (basically by reading). There wasn’t that much in English–Alan Watts, Christmas Humphreys, D.T. Suzuki, and I got quite interested in it. And then, around 1961 or 1962, I actually started meditation on my own. None of the books that I had read talked much about meditation. In 1963 I went to the Japanese Soto Zen temple, Zenshu-ji, in Los Angeles, in Little Tokyo, and met for the first time the person who was going to become my root Zen teacher, Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi. He was a very young monk and he was assisting in that temple. But I meditated at home and did my own sesshins (retreats), and got into a regular meditation practice (and kept reading, of course). I had been dabbling in many religions from maybe the age of 12 or 13, but I started to concentrate on Zen at age 18. In 1966 I ran into Maezumi again. At that time he was still not a teacher; he was translating for Yasutani Roshi, who had become somewhat famous in the Zen world because of the book, Three Pillars of Zen, edited by Philip Kapleau and Koun Yamada. I was at a workshop where Maezumi was translating for Yasutani and I saw that his English was really good, so I went up to him and asked if he had his own place, which he did. I started to sit with him on a daily basis. What follows is my understanding of the lineage and Zen traditions that run through Maezumi Roshi and a description of how they affected our early years in ZCLA: Maezumi Roshi received ShiHo (Dharma Transmission) (1955) from his father, Hakujun Baian Kuroda Roshi, with a Lineage Chart from the Japanese Soto Sect. He also studied and received Inka (Seal of Approval)...

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Bernie’s Opinion on Zen Priests and Dharma Teachers

Keizan Zenji, the mother of the Japanese Soto Sect, helped spread Zen to the masses by nurturing the construction of Temples, by developing prayers for health, wealth and good being and by developing a priestly class to conduct these services. In time, the Soto Sect developed a unique plan for enlightened ancestors. At the time of one’s passing, the Priest gives the deceased a new name and the Soto precepts to start them on the path to becoming an enlightened ancestor. After a 49 year journey, if accompanied by appropriate services along the way, the deceased becomes an enlightened ancestor. If the services are not done, the deceased winds up in Hell. Thus, the Soto Zen Priest has a very important function in helping the deceased reach enlightened ancestorship. My teacher, Maezumi Roshi, did not appraise me of this priestly role. I learned about it from Nara Sensei (previous head of the Soto Sect University, Komazawa) who has published a paper on this system (he claims it is unique among the Buddhist countries.) In Japan this has basically become the only function of the Temple Priest, funerals and memorial services. Priests are not trained in individual or family counseling. In the Japanese Soto School, you have to be a Priest to become a Zen Teacher. That is, you have to have the ceremony of Denkai (Full Priest) before having the ceremony of Denbo or Shiho (Dharma Transmission.) ……Read More of My...

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Plunging at Greyston

To “plunge” is to assume the responsibilities and daily challenges of a line-staffer by doing their job for a full day or shift. The objective is to come as close to experiencing an actual work day in the life of an employee. Working side by side and interacting with employees in another department, brings about appreciation and respect for the employees who permanently fill those roles and inspires team spirit throughout the Mandala. Plunging is a chance to bear witness to the hard work of individual employees who contribute to fulfilling Greyston’s mission in their own unique way. All plungers are encouraged to share feedback on their experience within a day or two of their plunge. Plunges have been designed for each service-area of Greyston. Any employee or board member can sign up to have this experience through the PathMaking department...

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Update from Aviv and the Israel engaged Dharma group

Dear Friends, It’s been a while since we sent our last report in English. We have several exciting and positive (!) developments to share but have not been able to make the time to properly write them down. Hopefully we will do that soon. Untill then through this video we would like to share with you one of our recent actiivities. In the past yeat we have conducted several “Dharma Tours” to the occupied Palestinian Territories. On these tours particiapnts get exposed to different aspects of how Israeli millitary control affects many aspects of life of Palestinians. There are several groups and organisations offering such tours. What characterises our tours is that we aim to conduct them as an integral part of Dharma practice: Coming in touch with a very painful reality of injustice triggers a host of responses. As Israelis, facing the pain and anger of Palestinains who condem Israel for what it does is not a simple task. Seeing the extent of the power difference between the forces which spread hostility to those who try to build peace, one easily can fall into despair. It is a challenge to stay open, compassionate and non reactive in these situations. So on our tours we take care to remind particiapnts to be aware of their inner attitudes while they see and hear unsettling information. We make sure that the language we use does not promote ill-will and encourages people to sray with an open heart. And we devote a significant part of the day so that people can reflect, share and find support. 6 weeks ago we led a tour to the area of Wadi Qana, half way between Tel Aviv and Nablus. Nearly 50 people joined us, many of them Dharma practitioners for whom it was the first time to engage in such a “political” tour. A reporter from the “Social TV” (an independent web-site that reports on various social issues) came with us and made a nice video of the day. He didn’t include our references to the inner world nor the time we devoted for reflection. Still, we are very happy with the video. As the Social TV made the extra effort to include English subtitles we are able to share...

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New Zen Peacemakers Sangha Affiliate: Zen Peacemakers Sangha, Würzburg Germany, led by Zen Lehrer Cornelius von Collande

The Zen Peacemakers Sangha in Würzburg Germany is led by Zen Lehrer Cornelius von Collande. They are studying the Zen Peacemakers Precepts and doing Social Action in Refugee camps. Dr. Cornelius v. Collande, was born in 1952, and has one adult daughter. His studies were in Philosophy, Psychology and Educational Theory in Freiburg (Germany), as well as Geology in Wurzburg (Germany) and Zaragoza (Spain). He has been involved in twenty years of international IT projects. Since 2000 he has worked in Psychotherapy (Gestalt), Mindfulness and Zen-training. He has a European Certificate of Psychotherapy (EAP) and is a teacher for „Mindfulness Bases Stress Reduction“ (MBSR). He is a Taiji teacher of “Taiji Chan school”. He has been a Zen student since 1981 with Sekkei Harada Roshi. Since 1984 he has been doing Koan study with Willigis Jäger Kyoun Roshi. Since 2002 he did further Koan studies with “Sambo Kyodan” sect under Yamada Ryoun Roshi. He was appointed as Assistant Zen Teacher by Yamada Ryoun Roshi in 2006 and appointed as Zen teacher (Sensei) of the Zen school “Empty Cloud” by Willigis Jäger Kyoun Roshi in 2009. His first personal contacts with Zen Master Bernie Glassman were in the Auschwitz-Retreat 2011 and he is now attending the Auschwitz Bearing Witness retreats as a Spirit Holder. He lives and works in the “Centre for Spiritual Ways –...

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New Zen Peacemakers Sangha Affiliate: David Loy Stories

Sensei David Loy is a professor, writer, and Zen teacher in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition of Japanese Zen Buddhism. He is a prolific author, whose essays and books have been translated into many languages. His articles appear regularly in the pages of major journals such as Tikkun and Buddhist magazines including Tricycle, Turning Wheel, Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma, as well as in a variety of scholarly journals. Many of his writings, as well as audio and video talks and interviews, are available on the web. He is on the editorial or advisory boards of the journals Cultural Dynamics, Worldviews, Contemporary Buddhism, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, and World Fellowship of Buddhists Review. He is also on the advisory boards of Buddhist Global Relief, the Clear View Project, Zen Peacemakers, and the Ernest Becker Foundation. David lectures nationally and internationally on various topics, focusing primarily on the encounter between Buddhism and modernity: what each can learn from the other. He is especially concerned about social and ecological issues. A popular recent lecture is “Healing Ecology: A Buddhist Perspective on the Eco-crisis”, which argues that there is an important parallel between what Buddhism says about our personal predicament and our collective predicament today in relation to the rest of the biosphere. Presently he is offering workshops on “Transforming Self, Transforming Society” and on his most recent book, The World Is Made of Stories. He also leads meditation retreats. (To find out about forthcoming lectures, workshops and retreats, please see the Schedule page.) Loy is a professor of Buddhist and comparative philosophy. His BA is from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and he studied analytic philosophy at King’s College, University of London. His MA is from the University of Hawaii in Honolulu and his PhD is from the National University of Singapore. His dissertation was published by Yale University Press as Nonduality: A Study in Comparative Philosophy. He was senior tutor in the Philosophy Department of Singapore University (later the National University of Singapore) from 1978 to 1984. From 1990 until 2005 he was professor in the Faculty of International Studies, Bunkyo University, Chigasaki, Japan. In January 2006 he became the Besl Family Chair Professor of Ethics/Religion and Society with Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, a visiting position...

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New Zen Peacemakers Sangha Affiliate Maria Kannon Zen Center of Dallas Texas led by Roshi Ruben Habito

The Maria Kannon Zen Center is a non-profit corporation which offers a setting for people of various backgrounds and faith traditions to practice Zen. The members are bound together by a common commitment to cultivate wisdom and compassion in their daily lives and in their relationships in society and the whole world. Members practice Zen in the lay Zen tradition of the Sanbo Kyodan lineage, also referred to as the Harada-Yasutani lineage. Sanbo Kyodan Zen is based on the combined teaching and practice of Harada Daiun (Great Cloud), Yasutani Hakuun (White Cloud), and Yamada Koun (Cultivating Cloud). The lineage brings together elements of the Soto and Rinzai Zen traditions. Its home practice place is San-un Zendo, (Zen Hall of the Three Clouds), located in Kamakura, Japan, and now has affiliate Zen centers and communities in different parts of the world. Roshi Ruben Habito is the founding Teacher of the Maria Kannon Zen Center. Roshi Ruben L.F. Habito (born c. 1947) was born in the Philippines and is a former Jesuit priest turned master practicing in the Sanbo Kyodan lineage of Zen. In his early youth he was sent to Japan on missionary work where he began Zen practice under Yamada Koun-roshi, a Zen master who taught many Christians students, which was unusual for the time. In 1988, Ruben received Dharma transmission from Yamada Koun. Ruben left the Jesuit order in 1989, and in 1991 founded the lay organization Maria Kannon Zen Center in Dallas, Texas. He has taught at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University since 1989 where he continues to be a faculty member. He is married and has two...

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Eve Marko Reports on Trip to Israel: Africa in Tel Aviv, & West Bank

BALADY I’m in a taxi going to Checkpoint 300 in order to enter Bethlehem and visit with Sami Awad, head of Holy Land Trust. The checkpoint is gone, replaced by the big Separation Wall, which is yellow-gray on the Israeli side and awash with graffiti demanding an end to the occupation on the other side. But before we get there the taxi driver, a tanned, heavy-set man in his 50s, becomes nostalgic. “Do you remember what this was before the Wall? Remember all the fruit and vegetable stands, the stalls with fresh meat? Believe me, everybody came there, at least everybody who knew anything about good food. What didn’t they sell? Balady tomatoes, balady eggplant, balady watermelon.” “What is balady?” “Balady is Arab,” he says. “Those tomatoes are not like what they sell now in the stores, those tomatoes had meat and so much juice it just spilled out of your lips.  All Jerusalem went there to buy their vegetables and fruit—remember the grapes? Remember the olives? Now look at it,” he said, depressed. I remind him that now there are almost no suicide bombers on account of the Wall, but it seems to be small comfort to him. “There was a place for olives on the left there, nothing like it. Just a hole in the wall, but who didn’t know about it? All along here, on the road to Bethlehem, I stopped every day for lunch as well as to bring food home. You go in there?” he asks. We both know it’s illegal for Israelis to cross into the West Bank. “So tell me, what’s on the other side? Do they have any stores on the road on the other side?” No, I tell him, it’s as barren as on this side, only with lots more taxis and young boys selling postcards and gum. The stands and stores have been shut up a long time, lots of dust on the street. He shakes his head even as I put 40 Shekels in his palm. Only when I get home I look up the word Balady, and find that it doesn’t mean Arab, it means native. And that resonates eerily the next morning, when I meet my friend, Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi, in...

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New Zen Peacemakers Sangha Affiliate: End Hunger Network, Jeff Bridges

Founded by actor Jeff Bridges and other entertainment industry leaders in 1984, the End Hunger Network has a long record of innovative and impactful initiatives aimed at encouraging, stimulating and supporting action to end childhood hunger, including: ► Los Angeles World Hunger Event ► End Hunger Televent ► Live Aid ► U.S. Presidential End Hunger Awards ► Primetime to End Hunger ► Fast Forward to End Hunger ► Hunger in America film The End Hunger Network is currently participating with Share Our Strength in its No Kid Hungry national campaign to end childhood hunger in America by 2015. Our nation has the food and programs in place to end childhood hunger, but consider what we are up against – the stigmas and embarrassment that surround hunger, the challenges presented by acess to healthy food, and the struggle to connect children with the resources they need to thrive. It’s going to take lots of us to solve childhood hunger. We need to create an army of supporters who are committed to stamping out hunger once and for all. By adding your name to the No Kid Hungry Pledge, you can join a movement of people united to put an end to childhood hunger. For more than 25 years, the End Hunger Network has been confronting hunger head-on to make it a national proiroty. Together, with your support, we can put an end to childhood...

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Who Are the Zen Peacemakers?

Like many Dharmic traditions, Zen Buddhism stresses the importance of lineage based on the one-on-one relationship and direct transmission and succession from teacher to student.  Successors of one teacher share commonalities and form  a community.  Bernie and the other successors of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, or Bernie’s “Dharma brothers and sisters” formed the White Plum Asanga, an Affinity Group of Zen Teachers within the Maezumi Roshi Lineage. The 73-affiliate Zen Peacemakers Sangha includes communities started by successors of Bernie Glassman and also spiritual groups from other lineages and traditions who wanted  to find affinity in their commitment to social action. The following list of affiliates has been sorted first by Country, then by State, then by City, then by ZPS Affiliate name.There are ZPS Affiliates in 5 Continents and 12 Countries. There are 21 categories in the list of Affiliates by Socially Engaged Theme. …….Read...

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The Dude and the Zen Master receives Award

Guys Choice gives out Awards in various categories at their Annual Event in Los Angeles. This year the Outstanding Literary Achievement Award went to The Dude and the Zen Master. In their words, “We blazed through these books and we think you will too. But was it the Dude or Willie who dropped more ounces of enlightenment through their Outstanding Literary Achievement?” see:...

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New Zen Peacemakers Sangha Affiliate Upaya Sangha of Tucson led by Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak

Sensei Al Genkai Kaszniak serves as spiritual director of Upaya Sangha of Tucson, an affiliate sangha of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. He received both Jukai and dharma transmission from Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D., and he presently also serves as President of the Board of Directors of Upaya Zen Center. The Upaya Sangha of Tucson (AZ) is a lay Zen Buddhist practice group and is an affiliate sangha of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM. In addition to teaching and guiding practice in this sangha, Al teaches periodically at Upaya Zen Center (e.g., in the recurring Zen Brain retreats, the annual Being with Dying training for end-of-life care clinicians, and Rohatsu Sesshin).Al’s work that is most closely allied with the mission of Zen Peacemakers includes teaching and writing about the intersection of spiritual and clinical issues in geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care (example references below), and work with the Mind and Life Institute, aimed at helping bridge science and contemplative practices toward the goal of reducing suffering and enhancing flourishing for as many as possible. He is a member of the Lay Zen Teachers Association and the White Plum Asanga. Al received his Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Illinois in 1976, and completed an internship and postdoctoral training in clinical neuropsychology at Rush Medical Center in Chicago. He currently serves as Director of the Arizona Alzheimer’s Consortium Education Core, Director of the Neuropsychology, Emotion, and Meditation Laboratory, Faculty and Advisory Board member of the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute, and a professor in the departments of Psychology, Neurology, and Psychiatry at The University of Arizona (UA). He formerly served as Head of the Psychology Department, and as Director of the UA Center for Consciousness Studies, and Chaired the Steering Committee for the inaugural International Symposia for Contemplative Studies (April, 2012, Denver, CO). He also previously served as Chief Academic Officer and interim CEO for the Mind and Life Institute, an organization dedicated to dialog and collaboration between science and contemplative traditions. He is the co-author or editor of seven books, including the three-volume Toward a Science of Consciousness (MIT Press), and Emotions, Qualia, and Consciousness (World Scientific). His research, published in over 155 journal articles and...

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Ven. Dr. Pannavati, co-Abbot of Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage

Ven. Dr. Pannavati, a former Christian pastor, is co-founder and co-Abbot of Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage in Hendersonville NC. An African-American, female Buddhist monk ordained in the Theravada and Mahayana traditions and with Vajrayana empowerments and transmission from Roshi Bernie Glassman of Zen Peacemakers, she is both contemplative and empowered for compassionate service. Embracing-Simplicity Hermitage is an affiliate of the Zen Peacemakers. An international teacher, she advocates on behalf of disempowered women and youth globally, and insists on equality and respect in Buddhist life for both female monastics and lay sangha. She was a 2008 recipient of the Outstanding Buddhist Women’s Award.  In 2009, she received a special commendation from the Princess of Thailand for Humanitarian Acts and she ordained Thai Bhikkhunis, on Thai soil with Thai monks as witnesses.  In May 2010 she convened a platform of Bhikkhunis to ordain the first 10 Cambodian Samaneris in a Cambodian temple, witnessed by Cambodian abbots including Maha Thera Ven. Dhammathero Sao Khon, President of the Community of Khmer Buddhist Monks of the US.  Ven. Pannavati continues to visit Thailand each year, offering support for the nuns and their projects.  In 2013, Ven. is arranging for 500 books to be sent to an elementary and secondary buddhist school for girls.  She is also raising funds to improve security at the compounds as this is an utmost concern in some areas of Thailand. Venerable is a founding circle director of Sisters of Compassionate Wisdom, a 21st century trans-lineage Buddhist Order and Sisterhood.   In 2011, Venerable adopted 10 “untouchable” villages in India, vowing to help them establish an egalitarian community based on Buddhist principles of conduct and livelihood, providing wells, books, teachers and micro-loans for women.  Approximately 30,000 people live in these villages.  Ven. Pannavati founded My Place, Inc., that’s served more than 75 homeless youth between the ages of 17 and 23 over the past 3 years and that effort has evolved into a separate 501(c)(3), MyPlace, Inc. which has its own accredited high school, jobs training program, residential program and social enterprise, My Gluten Free Bread...

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Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders voted in as the new President of the White Plum Asanga

Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders has been voted in as the President of the White Plum Asanga during its annual meeting in May 2013. She replaces Roshi Gerry Shishin Wick, the 3rd President, who served in that role for 6 years. Roshi Anne Seisen Saunders is the founder and head teacher of Sweetwater Zen Center. She has been practicing and teaching Zen Buddhism for over 30 years. Seisen was a student of the late Taizan Maezumi Roshi and is a Dharma successor of Roshi Bernie Glassman from whom she also received Inka (Roshi status.) The White Plum Asanga is an affinity organization of peers in the lineage of Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi, Roshi. The Asanga provides opportunities for amicable association and for sharing common experiences, and a forum through which members can support each other. The Asanga is not a sanctioning or disciplinary organization. Asanga membership is open to all Dharma Successors in the direct lineage of Maezumi Roshi who are approved by 2/3 of the existing members at the meeting where the proposal for membership is presented. Membership can be revoked upon a vote of a similar percentage of the members as provided in the bylaws. The White Plum Asanga is a not-for-profit entity organized under the laws of the State of New York. The White Plum Asanga affirms integrity, honesty, and humility as central to the practice of our Dharma teaching. We affirm non-harming in our relations with all those whom we encounter. We collectively vow to maintain our lineage as a vital branch of the Dharma tree, and to keep it as clear as possible from harmful actions.We also recognize that, from the very root of our lineage, we have experienced misconduct in the areas of sex and alcohol. And, there have been occasions of abuse of power, sex and money in succeeding generations. We express our sincere apology to all those who have been harmed in any way by these actions. We resolve to act affirmatively to transform our collective karma by censure, healing and...

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Koans on the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers

Roshi Eve Myonen Marko and I (Bernie Glassman) have started a Koan System based on  the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers.  We will probably wind up with two different sets of koans (hers and his) and I have posted my initial thoughts on this koan system. The Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers  Entering the stream of Socially Engaged Spirituality, I vow to live a life of: Not-knowing, thereby giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe Bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world Loving actions towards ourselves and others The Three Tenets serve as the foundation for the Zen Peacemakers’ work and practice. Using the Three Tenets as an orientation transforms service into spiritual practice. Specifically, these practices suspend separation and hierarchy, and open direct encounter between equals as the spirit and style of the services offered through Zen Houses. Not-knowing drops our conceptual framework from very personal biases and assumptions to such concepts as “in and out” “good and bad” “name and form,” “coming and going.” Not-knowing is a state of open presence without separation. In this state we can Bear Witness, the second Tenet, merging or joining with an individual, situation or environment, deeply imbibing their essence. From this intimate “knowing,” we can then choose an appropriate response to the person or situation, described as “taking loving actions,” our third Tenet. This gives rise to the holistic, integrated, wrap-around style of service projects inspired by Bernie’s vision. In speaking about the Three Tenets as separate practices and phases of consciousness, we are making deference to the discriminating mind. They are actually a continual flow, each containing and giving rise to the others. …….Read More about the Koan...

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What are Bearing Witness Retreats? – Bernie Glassman

In the days of Shakyamini Buddha, during the rainy season, Buddha would stop his meandering and spend time with his monks and nuns in one locale. In Japanese this period is called Ango, a period in space and time of peace. In English we use the word retreat to often mean “getting away from the issues of the world.” A Bearing Witness Retreat is becoming one with the “issues of the world.” A Zen Meditation Retreat is to bear witness to the wholeness of life. I use the word “plunge” for my Bearing Witness Retreats. To plunge into the unknown, i.e., to plunge into that which my rational mind can’t fathom. These plunges or Bearing Witness Retreats have helped folks let go of their attachments to their ideas or concepts and experience things as they are. Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat Nov 4-8, 2013 READ MORE/REGISTER  Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers are returning for the 18th year to the old site of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Oświęcim, Poland, for a Bearing Witness Retreat in November 2013. Rwanda Bearing Witness Retreat April 14-19, 2014 READ MORE/REGISTER In April 2014, Zen Masters Bernie Glassman and Grover Genro Gauntt will go to Rwanda to bear witness to the Rwanda genocide. You are invited to join them for this Bearing Witness Retreat.  Dora Urujeni and Issa Higiro, representing Memos, will be our hosts in Rwanda.The retreat will be multi-faith and multinational in character, based on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Loving...

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What is Enlightenment?-Bernie Glassman

The word Buddha means the Awakened One. Awaken to what? My opinion is that we awaken to the Oneness of Life, the One Body. That is my opinion of enlightenment. This awakening keeps deepening and deepening. What do I mean by deepening? Most of us are enlightened to the Oneness of our own body. I think that my arms, my legs, my face, etc. are all part of One Body. In fact I generally act according to that opinion without thinking about it. It is very natural to do so and, in fact, if I didn’t act that way, people might say I am deluded. Kōbō-Daishi (774–835, founder of Shingon Sect) said that we can tell the depth of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others. If they are focused on themselves, they have awakened to the Oneness of themselves. If they are focused on their family, they have awakened to the Oneness of their family. If they are focused on their nation, they have awakened to the Oneness of their nation, etc., etc.  In my opinion, the Dalai Lama has awakened to the Oneness of the Universe. The bottom line for me is that the person has realized and is living the realization of the interconnectedness of life (the oneness of life). For me, that’s the awakening. For me, the enlightenment experience is awakening to the interconnectedness of life, that oneness of life; independent of what institution you belong to you can have that realization and you can function that way, and you could be within the Buddhist institutions and not be functioning that way. So that’s my standard for making somebody a teacher. I don’t even like the word empowering or transmitting. I like the word recognizing. I recognize somebody as a teacher in my family, the Zen Peacemakers, if I feel that they are living a life that shows they are an exemplar of someone who has awakened to the interconnectedness of life. …….Read More of Bernie’s...

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The Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers

Not-knowing is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation. It is the role of the Bodhisattva to bear witness. The Buddha can stay in the realm of not-knowing, the realm of blissful non-attachment. The Bodhisattva vows to save the world, and therefore to live in the world of attachment, for that is also the world of empathy, passion, and compassion. Ultimately, she accepts all the difficult feelings and experiences that arise as part of every-day life as nothing but ways of revelation, each pointing to the present moment as the moment of enlightenment. Bearing witness gives birth to a deep and powerful intelligence that does not depend on study or action, but on presence. We bear witness to the joy and suffering that we encounter. Rather than observing the situation, we become the situation. We became intimate with whatever it is – disease, war, poverty, death. When you bear witness you’re simply there, you don’t flee. Loving Actions are those actions that arise naturally when one enters a situation in the state of not-knowing and then bears witness to that situation. It has nothing to do with the one’s opinions or other’s opinions as to whether it is loving actions or...

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A Place at the Table

A Place at the Table is produced by Participant Media, which has a history of making slickly-produced documentaries that take on large issues, and this film is no different as it touches on multiple topics like subsidies for industrial farms, the social stigma of accepting food donations, the effects hunger has on early childhood development, school meal programs and the pathetic amount the government allots per child per meal, and a lot more, featuring interviews with people like food activist Marion Nestle, Top Chef‘s Tom Colicchio, Witness to Hunger’s Mariana Chilton, and actor Jeff Bridges, who’s the founder of the End Hunger Network. As was true with other Participant documentaries like Food, Inc. and Countdown to Zero, A Place at the Table is meant to give you a general overview of a complex, multi-faceted issue. A lot of topics get touched on, many of which could probably be the subject of their own film, so if you’re looking for a lot of detail or in-depth investigative work, you won’t necessarily find it here. But what you will get, which I think a lot of people (including myself) need, is a general overview of how bad the hunger and nutrition problem is in America and why our system is so screwed up. The film also raises questions that must be asked and answered. For instance, why does the U.S. government give more in subsidies to giant industrial farms that feed the processed food industry than it does to small farms that grow fruits and vegetables? Why does the richest country in the world allow so many of its citizens, particularly children, to go hungry? Why do we allow republicans to paint programs like food stamps and school meals as government handouts to the lazy when they’re actually an investment, since America’s future and economy will only succeed if we’re able to produce healthy, attentive kids who will become the educated workforce modern industries require? As is often the case, even with a challenge as big as hunger, awareness and legislation are the key, and A Place at the Table is a great way to spread awareness about food insecurity and to start the discussion on ending hunger in America. After all, if we accept the...

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Report From Journey to Sri Lanka

Sarvodaya, Sri Lanka’s biggest charity, is dedicated to making a positive difference to the lives of rural Sri Lankans. Their grassroots movement reaches 15,000 villages in 34 districts with 1,500 staff throughout Sri Lanka. The Founder, A. T. Ariyaratne and Bernie have been friends and have shared ideas for 30 years. In January, 2012, Bernie, Grant Couch, Sensei Francisco Paco Lugoviña, Iris Katz and Tani Katz visited Sarvodaya in Sri Lanka. They met with various leaders of Sarvodaya to discuss banking, educational and general finance issues. Bernie continues to keep busy…I just got back from joining him in Sri Lanka meeting with Dr AT Ariyaratne “Ari”, the founder of Sarvodaya which is a social movement established over 50 yrs ago and is based on “Awakening of All”.  It is a very inspiring model of empowering villagers to come together to solve their own needs – at the grassroots level with self sufficiency.  Ari met Bernie around 30 years ago when he visited Greyston in Yonkers to study Bernie’s success using “social enterprise” for solving a communities needs.  It was a real privilege to spend time with these two leaders of local level, social transformation.  (I also felt blessed to be able to make a contribution by sharing my experiences/challenges in dealing with central banks – Sarvodaya just received approval to come under Sri Lanka’s Central Bank supervision.)—-Grant Couch About Sri Lanka Sarvodaya is Sri Lanka’s largest people’s organisation. Over the last 50 years we have become a network of over 15,000 villages. Today we are engaged in relief efforts in the war-torn north as well as ongoing development projects. Sarvodaya’s organization includes 345 divisional units, 34 district offices; 10 specialist Development Education Institutes; over 100,000 youth mobilised for peace building under Shantisena; the country’s largest micro-credit organization with a cumulative loan portfolio of over US$1million (through SEEDS, Sarvodaya Economic Enterprise Development Services); a major welfare service organisation serving over 1,000 orphaned and destitute children, underage mothers and elders (Sarvodaya Suwa Setha); and 4,335 pre-schools serving over 98,000 children. Sarvodaya’s total budget exceeds USD 5 million with 1,500 full-time employees. When combined with numerous volunteer workers, this yields a full time equivalent of approximately 200,000, which places Sarvodaya on a par with the entire plantation...

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Receive the Dude and the Zen Master

I met the Dude on DVD sometime in the late 1990s. A few years later I met Jeff Bridges in Santa Barbara and we started hanging, as he likes to put it, often while smoking cigars. Jeff has done movies from an early age; less known, but almost as long-standing, is his commitment to ending world hunger. I was an aeronautical engineer and mathematician in my early years, but mostly I’ve taught Zen Buddhism, and that’s where we both met. Not just in meditation, which is what most people think of when they hear Zen, but the Zen of action, of living freely in the world without causing harm, of relieving our own suffering and the suffering of others. We soon discovered that we would often be joined by another shadowy figure, somebody called the Dude. We both liked his way of putting things and it’s fun to learn from someone you can’t see. Only his words were so pithy they needed more expounding; hence, this book. Donate (tax deductible, proceeds go to supporting the work of the Zen Peacemakers) to receive Signed Book by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. $100 or more. Looks like you have entered a product ID (64) in the shortcode that doesn't exist. Please check your product ID and the shortcode again! Purchase (unsigned) to support work of Zen Peacemakers and to Enjoy! $28 The Paperback version is now available.    Table of Contents JUST THROW THE FU**ING BALL, MAN! 1. Sometimes You Eat the Bear, and Sometimes, Well, He Eats You 2. It’s Down There Somewhere, Let Me Take Another Look 3. Dude, You’re Being Very UnDude THE DUDE ABIDES AND THE DUDE IS NOT IN 4. Yeah, Well, Ya Know, That’s Just Like, uh, Your Opinion, Man 5. Phone’s Ringin’, Dude 6. New Sh** Has Come to Light THAT RUG REALLY TIED THE ROOM TOGETHER, DID IT NOT? 7. You Know, Dude, I Myself Dabbled in Pacifism at One Point. Not in ’Nam, Of Course. 8. You Mean Coitus? 9. What Makes a Man, Mr. Lebowski? 10. What Do You Do, Mr. Lebowski? 11. Nothing’s Fu**ed, Dude ENJOYIN’ MY COFFEE 12. Sorry, I Wasn’t Listening 13. Strikes and Gutters, Ups and Downs 14. Some Burgers, Some Beers,...

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Israeli Engaged Dharma

In the past 6 months our group was intensively involved in two campaigns of big concern for our Palestinian partners and friends: In Deir Istiya, farmers received notices ordering to uproot 2,000 olive trees planted on their private land. The reason given for this order was that the area was declared by Israel as a natural reserve 30 years ago and so planting of new trees was illegal. In Al- Walaja, where the separation barrier is being built by Israel on village land, it was we who discovered that the Jerusalem municipality was about to declare 1,000 dunams (247 acres) of the village’s land as a national park “for the benefit of the Jerusalem populace”. Both cases are being disputed in court right now and in both we have been giving support to the people, gathering important information and bringing the story to the media. These campaigns, the dilemmas they raised for us as well as the ways in which Dharma was manifested through them, were to be the focus of the current report. But instead, a profoundly touching meeting that took place in Al-Walaja in several weeks ago seems to be the right thing to share this time. The Israeli Engaged Dharma is a group of Dharma (Buddhist way) practitioners who aim to transform Conflict Mindset into one of Reconciliation. We work in solidarity with Palestinians and aim to raise the awareness of the Jewish population to the realities of life under occupation Our connection with the Al-Walaja begun more than 2 years ago, shortly after Israel started constructing the separation barrier around the village. The story of the fence and wall being built around Al-Walaja, deserves a separate account. As is common in other villages where the barrier has been built, we joined nonviolent demonstrations. We also contributed information for the court appeal by the village to set an alternative route for the barrier which would be less disruptive and we found ways to raise the awareness of the Israeli public to the issue. We are also involved in the campaign to stop the above mentioned national park plan. But as we learned more of the challenges facing the community and people in Al-Walaja, and as the demonstrations died down without achieving...

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Dec 2012 Journey to Israel and Palestine

by Eve Myonen Marko—– We go to the West Bank on December 21. December 21 is Bernie’s and my anniversary. It’s also the winter solstice, and this year it marks the end of the Mayan calendar and the beginning of something new. I don’t think there’s an end without a beginning. Our friends, Iris and Tani Katz, drive us from Jerusalem to meet up with Sami Awad, the head of Holy Land Trust and a nonviolence trainer and activist. Sami asked us not to go to his office in Bethlehem, but instead get to the Tent of Nations near the Palestinian village of Nahalin. He is serving as a Fire Guardian, building a fire at dawn of December 21 and keeping it going the entire day while holding ceremonies, chanting and praying on behalf of the earth and peace among people. As is almost always the case, the journey is as interesting as the destination. We simply can’t find the Tent of Nations, located on top of a hill among many hills in the West Bank. I’ve never been there, though have heard much about it. It has belonged to a Palestinian family for generations, but falls victim to continuous forays by Jewish settlers who wish to take the land. The family has fought this in the Israeli courts, showing ownership papers that date back to the Ottoman Empire, but this doesn’t prevent ongoing violations. The Tent of Nations is always in danger. To get there, we travel along the complicated road system found on the West Bank, including the Tunnel Road closed to Palestinians in this section, till we get off onto smaller arteries used almost exclusively by Palestinians. In the town of Husam we’re locked in a sea of cars outside a mosque calling out its Friday services. The young boys waiting outside enjoy the fact that our large SUV can’t move, but are not averse to helping us get unstuck, guiding us through very close spots. “Shukran, ya habib,” Tani says again and again. On this rainy, windy, cold day we also lose cell phone signal with Sami. Often we stop passers-by and they stand in the torrential rain speaking to him in Arabic on the phone, Tani rushing out with...

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The Dude and the Zen Master Has Arrived

The book is on the New York Times hardcover and nonfiction Best Sellers List. It is #9 on the combined hardcover and paperback nonfiction Best Sellers List. Donate (tax deductible, proceeds go to supporting the work of the Zen Peacemakers) to receive Signed Book by Jeff Bridges and Bernie GlassmanPrice: $Looks like you have entered a product ID in the shortcode that doesn't exist. Please check your product ID and the shortcode again! Purchase to support work of Zen Peacemakers and to Enjoy! The Dude and the Zen Master [Hardcover] Jeff Bridges and Bernie GlassmanPrice: $28:00 All my life I’ve been interested in expressing my truth in ways that almost anyone can understand. A famous Japanese Zen master, Hakuun Yasutani Roshi, said that unless you can explain Zen in words that a fisherman will comprehend, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Some fifty years ago a UCLA professor told me the same thing about applied mathematics. We like to hide from the truth behind foreign sounding words or mathematical lingo. There’s a saying: The truth is always encountered but rarely perceived. If we don’t perceive it, we can’t help ourselves and we can’t much help anyone else. I met the Dude on DVD sometime in the late 1990s. A few years later I met Jeff Bridges in Santa Barbara and we started hanging, as he likes to put it, often while smoking cigars. Jeff has done movies from an early age; less known, but almost as long-standing, is his commitment to ending world hunger. I was an aeronautical engineer and mathematician in my early years, but mostly I’ve taught Zen Buddhism, and that’s where we both met. Not just in meditation, which is what most people think of when they hear Zen, but the Zen of action, of living freely in the world without causing harm, of relieving our own suffering and the suffering of others. We soon discovered that we would often be joined by another shadowy figure, somebody called the Dude. We both liked his way of putting things and it’s fun to learn from someone you can’t see. Only his words were so pithy they needed more expounding; hence, this book. May it meet with his approval, and may it...

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It’s Not Just About Fear, Bibi, It’s About Hopelessness

by Nomika Zion, with an introduction by Avishai Margalit The following statement was written during the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip in late November by Nomika Zion, a member of Migvan, an urban kibbutz in Sderot, the Israeli city about a mile from the Gaza Strip border that has been a primary target of rockets launched from Gaza since the second intifada started in 2000. In 2008, fifty rockets a day hit Sderot, and in late December 2008 Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, leading to three weeks of armed conflict in Gaza. The Migvan urban kibbutz was founded in 1987 by a relatively small group, most of whose members had been raised in the agricultural kibbutz movement. The first wave of residents of Sderot, which now has more than 24,000 people, came in the 1950s and was largely made up of Moroccans. A second wave came in the 1990s from the Soviet Union and from Ethiopia. The members of the urban kibbutz in Sderot lead a communal life, handing over their incomes to a common pool that is divided equally between the families, whatever their contribution. They run a successful business providing high-tech services; according to the members, they do this and other work because it is personally fulfilling, and financial profit is not a priority. Nomika Zion, who was raised in a rural kibbutz, is the granddaughter of Ya’akov Hazan, a leader of Mapam, the United Workers Party. A well-known figure in the history of Israel’s labor movement, he was committed to the idea of the kibbutz as a rural way of life. Nomika Zion is one of the founders of Migvan and a member of Other Voice (2008), a grassroots organization of citizens from Sderot and the region who call for a nonviolent solution to the ongoing conflict. Her letter to Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu translated here was first posted on the Web. —Avishai Margalit Sderot, November 22, 2012 This wasn’t my war, Bibi, and neither was the previous cursed war: not in my name, and not in the cause of my security. Neither were the boastful, theatrical assassinations of Hamas military chief Ahmed al-Jabari in November, and Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in 2004, and Hamas founder Sheikh Yassin, and Al-Kaysi,...

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Bernie Glassman’s Boots-On-The-Ground-Secular Buddhism

“Who says you need robes and a bald head?” he asked. I was driving the much-beloved RoshiBernie Glassman from the airport, my Path-of-Service assignment as a resident at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, truck wheels hurling us through that impossibly blue horizon. We were heading north to a workshop he was teaching with a roster of neuroscientists and scholars in the exquisitely lush high desert of New Mexico. Who could forget such a moment? Or not love the swirling, warm, sage-scented air through windows rolled down to soothe the skin, baked so easily in the southwestern heat? The mahogany-hued earth profile of the Sangre de Cristo mountains shifted with the miles in the hour-long drive as Bernie talked about Buddhism, how its cultural forms adapt through each new cultural meme and topography. Arroyos, those deep clefts between rock and soil in low plains, cut curious angles to the left and right of us on the long road. The conversation cut just as deep an impression in me of something true. I felt my private fortune — time with this man, a deeply wise exemplar of what some of us called “boots on the ground Buddhism.” Bernie Glassman has soft, observant eyes. His suspenders might just be surgically attached, supporting as they do his playfulness where others lead with a sober reserve. One feels steady in Bernie’s presence and attunes quickly to his many years of wisdom using great imagination as skillful means in service to our better angels. Especially the ones found on gritty streets and prisons, the disenfranchised who fall too easily through clefts in the rock. Bernie leads people to places like Rawanda and Auschwitz, what he calls “bearing witness” retreats, to anchor practice in the full spectrum of who we are as human beings. A 35-year student of Hakuyu Taizan Maezum, Roshi, Bernie took seriously his teacher’s analogy of the egg. Namely, that dharma teachings are the yoke, the whites are the context in which one lives. He encouraged his students to develop appropriate Western forms of practice. Like my Catholic childhood heroes, Bernie teaches through re-enchantment! A clown’s nose is always within reach. Like him, the Berrigan brother priests dared to provoke the comfortable; Sister Corita Kent, the...

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Bernie’s Journey to Yonkers La Perla (Cigar Store)

  Video of Making a cigar: IMG_1232  

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Just My Opinion on Clubs-Bernie

Based on our experience of the oneness of life, we form clubs. So in politics there is a liberal club, a conservative club, a neoconservative club. There are all kinds of clubs. For our clubs we build fences to protect us. We invite certain people in and we ridicule others. We can look at that liberal group. They know they’ve got the answers. They know who doesn’t have the answers. So they know who to invite, exclude, and to stay away from. And there is the conservative club. They know the answers; they know who to invite to their parties. We all have these clubs in different spheres of life, and there are many, many spheres that we create. These are the clubs in which we want to play, or dance, or we want to practice. And that has been going on for a long, long time. In the world of spirituality or religion we have the Christian club, the Jewish club, Buddhist, Islam and Native American clubs. There are lots of clubs. Even within a particular club like Christianity we have Catholic and Protestant clubs. These clubs can get very violent. Such violence is happening even now in all the religions. All of us create clubs of people we feel comfortable with and we deal in different ways with those we don’t feel comfortable with. The most common way is to deny them. We never invite them to our parties or our house, in fact if we see them on the streets we look or walk away. Another way to deal with people we don’t like is to put them into prisons, or we beat them up or we lynch them as we used to do in America with black people. Hitler came up with the ultimate idea: Kill everybody that you think is different or other. Many Buddhist centers were created as clubs that excluded the poor. How many people can leave their spouse and kids and go to a Zen center to do a retreat? In the early days of Buddhism in the United States, many left their homes and jobs. Many families broke up because of the demands of the monastic model. When my children were young, I was meditating...

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An Evening with Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: I Will Be Moderating “An Evening with Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman” for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ [ALOUD] Series This January I’m very excited to tell you all that I will be moderating an upcoming event with Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, True Grit, Tron) and Zen master Bernie Glassman the Library Foundation of Los Angeles’ [ALOUD] series this coming January 10th, 2013!! I’m delighted and shocked that this opportunity has come my way, and am very much looking forward to it. Tickets for “An Evening with Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman” are on sale now. Reserve yours today! Proceeds will benefit the Library Foundation of Los Angeles (which is a great cause to support). Don’t miss The Dude and the Zen Master — the book that Bernie and Jeff will be promoting — by the way. You can pre-order a copy at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or your local book...

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Bernie Glassman joins Penguin Speakers Bureau

Zen Master Bernie Glassman is Available for Speaking Engagements and Workshops thru the Penguin Speaker’s Bureau. Please Contact: Tiffany Tomlin at [email protected] 212.366.2518

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The Dude and the Zen Master

Arriving Jan 8 Pre-Order Now! Amazon, Barnes & Noble or at your local Book Seller  The Dude and the Zen Master By Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and world-renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman have been close friends. In The Dude and the Zen Master, they offer an intimate glimpse into the conversations between a student and his teacher, a shared philosophy of life and spirituality, and the everyday wisdom of Buddhism. Inspiring, insightful, and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures a freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies, from two men whose charm and bonhomie never fail to enlighten and entertain—and their remarkable humanism reminds us of the importance of doing good in a difficult world. Pre-Order Now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or at your local Book Seller. PR Schedule Thursday, December 27     10 am ET BY PHONE                 DuJour.com – feature interview with Bernie only 30 minutes               Writer: Ms. Daryl Chen, 646-532-5002, [email protected] *online culture and arts magazine. http://www.dujour.com/. Will run 1/7.     First Week of January Time date/time BY PHONE                 USA TODAY – Life Section 20 minutes               Writer: Craig Wilson, feaures Tuesday, January 8 – New York City *Happy Publication Day! LIVE 5-7 min segment Xx arrival                  NBC/ “Today” 8:00am hour            30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC Interviewer: tk *Jeff & Bernie interviewed together LIVE                            NPR/”On Point” 10:50 am arrival      location: 160 Varick St, WNYC Studios 11:00 am start         Jeff and Bernie interviewed together Noon finish               Host: Tom Ashbrook LIVE 12:30 pm start         WNYC/”Leonard Lopate” with guest host Julie Burstein 1:00 pm finish          Jeff & Bernie interviewed together  TAPED 2:30 pm arrival        NPR/”Bullseye with Jesse Thorn” 2:40 pm start           11 W. 42nd St (19th floor) btwn 5th/6th Aves 3:30 pm finish          *Jeff & Bernie interviewed together 4:30pm tape             NBC/ “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” 5:30 pm finish          30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC *Jeff only interviewed          *Airs tonight   7:00pm start                        Barnes & Noble Union Square 9:00 pm finish          33 East 17th Street, NYC *Jeff & Bernie interviewed together Moderator: James Shaheen, EIC of Tricycle 7:05 pm – introduction by B&N manager 7:10 pm –moderated discussion for 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes of Q&A with audience...

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A message to Israel’s leaders: Don’t defend me – not like this.

As she listens to the rockets mortar bombs raining in her yard, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza asks the government to rethink its operation on the Gaza Strip. By Michal Vasser The first thing I want to say is: Please don’t defend me. Not like this. I am sitting in my safe room in Kibbutz Kfar Aza and listening to the bombardment of the all-out war outside. I am no longer able to distinguish between “our” bombardments and “theirs.” The truth is that the kibbutz children do this better than I do, their “musical ear” having been developed since they were very young, and they are able to differentiate between an artillery shell and a missile fired from a helicopter and between a mortar bomb and a Qassam. Good for them. Is this what “defending the home” looks like? I don’t understand – did all our leaders sleep through their history classes? Or maybe they studied the Mapai school curriculum or that of Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar (to my regret, the difference is not all that great) – and have wrongly interpreted the word “defense”? Does defending the well being of citizens mean a war of armageddon every few years? Hasn’t any politician ever heard of the expression “long-term planning?” If you want to defend me – then please: Don’t send the Israel Defense Forces for us in order to “win.” Start thinking about the long term and not just about the next election. Try to negotiate until white smoke comes up through the chimney. Hold out a hand to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Stop with the “pinpoint assassinations” and look into the civilians’ eyes on the other side as well. I know that most of the public will accuse me of being a “bleeding heart.” But I am the one who is sitting here now as mortar bombs fall in my yard, not Sa’ar, not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and not Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich or Yesh Atid party head Yair Lapid, either. I am the one who has chosen to raise her children here even though I had and still have other options. It is possible to accuse me of a lack of Zionism, it is possible to accuse me of...

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BEARING WITNESS IN RWANDA

BEARING WITNESS IN RWANDA by Eve Myonen Marko Bernie, Roshi Eve Myonen Marko and Sensei Francisco “Paco” Lugoviña were hosted by Dora Urujeni and Issa Higiro. Eve wrote the following report of the journey.     BEARING WITNESS IN RWANDA By Eve Marko Kigali at noon in mid-September has blue, hot skies draped by rain clouds, which at times dissolve and at others turn into thundering rain, as they did just an hour after we arrived. We’re met by Dora Urujeni and Issa Higiro, co-founders of Memos-Learning From History, our hosting peace organization. There are three of us on this trip: Bernie Glassman, Paco Lugoviña, and me. Sitting on the small porch of our guesthouse, I recall our meeting with Dora and Issa at our home and their passionate invitation to visit Rwanda and bear witness to the effects of the Rwanda genocide, in which over one million men, women, and children were brutally murdered in a period of one hundred days beginning on April 6, 1994. That averages over 10,000 people a day, a rate of mass killings that could only be the result of a pre-planned and well-organized campaign. Through the efforts of Ginni Stern, Both Issa and Dora have been at the Zen Peacemakers’ Auschwitz retreats. The two, along with Ginni, Fleet Maull, Genro Gauntt, Mike and Cassidy –, and others, began to make plans for a similar retreat in Rwanda. The persecution of Tutsis began in the late 1950s and continued throughout the decades before the genocide. As a result, many Tutsis escaped to neighboring countries. Issa’s family fled to Uganda; Dora’s family to Congo. While they’re completely Rwandan, they also feel strong connections to the countries of their birth and are at home with multiple cultures. Dora returned right after the end of the genocide looking for the remnants of her family and found almost no one alive. We go downtown briefly, just long enough to notice the incredibly clean streets and the large traffic circles filled with cars, motorcycles, and bikes. Foreign investments are visible in shopping malls and big banks, and Wi-Fi is more widespread than in our Pioneer Valley back home. Mobile phones, of course, are everywhere. The country seems to be prospering and change is...

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Greyston Real Estate

In above photo from left to right: Maezumi Roshi, Hon. Al Del Bello, Sandra Jishu Holmes, Bernie Glassman, Ellen Burstyn, Alan Ginsberg, Kuroda Sensei, Junyu Kuroda Roshi, Tamiko Kuroda at the opening of the first Greyston housing for previously homeless folks. Beginnings: After creating jobs for the unemployed  in the community through the Greyston Bakery in the 1980’s, Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, decided to address another great need in South West Yonkers, affordable housing. What began on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers spread all the way to Irvington and Pleasantville, NY. Today, Greyston currently has affordable and low income housing at 8 different locations. In those buildings Greyston meets the housing needs of formerly homeless persons, senior citizens, artists and musicians and persons living with AIDS/HIV, as well as the housing needs of those seeking affordable housing. Meeting community needs: Aside from Greyston’s programs and offices that are located at some of its housing sites, Greyston has other important community services and business that occupy commercial space in its buildings. For example, the Irvington Public Library is housed in one of our buildings in Irvington; the Pleasantville Senior Center is located on the first floor of our 24 unit building for seniors, and a lavish ballroom for catered events is located in Getty Square at its 2-8 Hudson Street buildings along with a fabulous new Pakistani/Indian restaurant. PathMaking in its Program: In keeping with its PathMaking philosophy to provide support to individuals as they seek self sufficiency, Greyston not only provides employment but also housing for a number of its employees. Many of those employees have been long term tenants, and one in particular was an original tenant in the Warburton Avenue apartments when they were built in the 80’s! She says, “It has been a great experience living and working in the same community. Working at Greyston, I get to see the children who attended our Childcare center go on to public school, and I’m able to relate to their parents as involved and concerned residents of this community.” In the forefront, Shelley Weintraub, our VP of Real Estate  Development, continues to seek out and diligently work on other development opportunities for Greyston. Behind the scenes, Greyston employs a hardworking team of porters and...

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Journey to the Field: Brazil

I just returned from Sao Paolo and Porto Alegre in Brazil. I visited various developments in slum areas and a wonderful birthing center. I will give reports on my journey to Brazil in upcoming blogs and at Reports From Journeys to Brazil. Interview of Bernie by Alessandra Kormann journalist of Folha de S.Paulo Alessandra: I read in your website that you found your way into Zen practice after reading the book World’s Religions, when you were studying to be an Aeronautical Engineer. But how was your life before that? Did you always want to change the world (or at least try to make it better)?  Bernie: I was born into a Jewish Socialist environment and so social action was in my bones since childhood. At the age of 12 years, I began an intensive search in World Literature regarding the existence of God. I have never felt I want to change the world. I am attracted to situations that I don’t understand or that give me fear. I respond to the ingredients I see before me and make the best meal I can out of them. Alessandra: What was your family like? Have your upbringing influenced your social engagement in any way?  Bernie: I was born into a Jewish Socialist environment and so social action was in my bones since childhood. My mother died when I was 7 years old. My father was not involved in social engagement, but all my aunts and uncles on both sides were heavily engaged and thus I feel I was definitely influenced in social engagement by them.  Alessandra: How did the idea of creating a bakery to employ Yonkers’ homeless came to you? Did you have any previous experience with bakery or cooking before? Why to make cakes instead of bolts, bricks or clothes?  Bernie: I wanted to create a livelihood training space for zen students, I call it work-practice. I wanted a livelihood that didn’t require experience, a place where we could train people from scratch. I also wanted our zen center to have a livelihood and not only depend on donations. I made a list of criteria that the livelihood should have. The list included: can accept workers with no experience, has the potential to support...

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Jeff Bridges to Address Childhood Hunger at Political Conventions

Jeff says he hopes to get both Republicans and Democrats working to help kids battling poverty and hunger. Jeff Bridges isn’t about to let political partisanship get in the way of his crusade against childhood hunger. “Well, I don’t dig party lines, so I’m heading to both the Republican National Convention AND the Democratic National Convention to get people talking about an issue in our country that knows no party — childhood hunger. I’ll be at both conventions, meeting with leaders, appearing on behalf of No Kid Hungry, and telling officials of both parties that America’s future depends on their supporting America’s kids today.” The Academy Award winning actor has been actively involved in fighting hunger for nearly 30 years; founding the End Hunger Network back in 1983 and later partnering in 2010 with the children’s charity Share Our Strength. Through the No Kid Hungry campaign, Bridges has expressed optimism that with the right focus, childhood hunger in the U.S. can be solved by 2015. Jeff is also a major supporter of the Zen Peacemakers’ Let All Eat Cafés. “Ending hunger is not a mystery,” he says. “By building on successful federal programs like the school breakfast program, our nation’s hungry children can get the food they need to perform well in school and stay healthy. Childhood hunger in America is a hidden epidemic that robs children of the opportunity to grow up healthy and learn well in school, but we see an end in sight. This is a problem we can solve.” Bridges will make an appearance at the IMPACT Film Festival in Tampa during the RNC festivities to screen “Hunger Hits Home,” a film he narrated that “takes a first-hand look at child hunger through the eyes of those affected by and engaged in the fight against child...

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In Norway, a New Model for Justice

An example of Bearing Witness: By TORIL MOI and DAVID L. PALETZ, Published: August 23, 2012, IHT Global Opinion ON Friday a Norwegian court will hand down its verdict on Anders Behring Breivik, who, on July 22, 2011, detonated a bomb in central Oslo, killing eight people and wounding hundreds more, then drove to Utoya Island, where he shot and killed 69 participants in the Norwegian Labor Party’s youth camp. The world’s attention is focused on whether the court will find Mr. Breivik guilty or criminally insane, and there has already been much debate about how the court handled the question of his sanity. But there is far more to it. Because it gave space to the story of each individual victim, allowed their families to express their loss and listened to the voices of the wounded, the Breivik trial provides a new model for justice in cases of terrorism and civilian mass murder. It is true that, on one level, the trial is not just about the state of Mr. Breivik’s mind but forensic psychiatry itself. The trial featured two psychiatric reports, the first concluding that at the time of the crime Mr. Breivik was psychotic and delusional, the other that he was rational. The spectacle of two teams of psychiatrists brandishing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and its Norwegian equivalent, only to draw radically opposed conclusions, undermined many Norwegians’ faith in forensic psychiatry. Less attention, however, has been paid to the court’s concern for the victims and their families. Before the trial began, the court named 174 lawyers, paid by the state, to protect the interests of the victims and their families during the criminal investigation and the trial. The court heard 77 autopsy reports. Listening to the technical details of the bullet wounds and other causes of death of 77 human beings could be soul-numbing. Not in this case. After each report, the audience watched a photo of the victim, most often a teenager, and listened to a one-minute-long biography voicing his or her unfulfilled ambitions and dreams. The court also allotted time to testimony from survivors, some with horrific injuries. We attended the trial during their testimonies, and to listen to the story of their pain and...

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Myanmar to examine Muslim-Buddhist violence

Rohingya are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities [Reuters] Myanmar’s government has formed a commission to investigate the causes of recent sectarian violence between Muslim Rohingya and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, in which at least 78 people were killed. President Thein Sein’s website announced the commission on Friday, more than two months after the June clashes that also displaced tens of thousands of people. The nation’s authorities have faced heavy criticism from rights groups after the deadly unrest in western Rakhine state raised international concerns about the Rohingya’s fate inside Myanmar The 27-member commission, which includes religious leaders, artists and former dissidents, will “expose the real cause of the incident” and suggest ways ahead, state mouthpiece New Light of Myanmar said. The newspaper said the commission will aim to establish the causes of the June violence, the number of casualties on both sides and recommend measures to ease tensions and find “ways for peaceful coexistence”. The commission is expected to call witnesses and be granted access to the areas rocked by the violence, which saw villages razed and has left an estimated 70,000 people – from both communities – in government-run camps and shelters. ‘Sensitive issue’ Sein, who has introduced political reforms to Myanmar since taking over as president last year following decades of repressive military rule, has rejected calls from the United Nations and human rights groups for independent investigators, saying the unrest is an internal affair. “As an independent commission was formed inside the country… it is a right decision which showed that we can create our own fate of the country,” Aye Maung, the chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, told the AFP news agency. The commission will be headed by a retired Religious Affairs Ministry official and include former student activists, a former UN officer and representatives from political parties and Islamic and other religious organisations. They include several government critics who served jail time as political prisoners, including the widely respected activist and comedian Zarganar, and Ko Ko Gyi, who helped lead a failed student uprising against the former junta in 1988. “The president wants to show the international community that he is trying his best to deal with this extraordinarily sensitive issue,” said Hkun Htun Oo,...

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Lambs to the Settlers’ Slaughter

Few people understand that “the Occupation” by Israel of the Palestinian people translates into regular violent assaults by jewish settlers on Palestinian civilians. This story from Ha’aretz by widely respected journalist Amira Hass gives us part of the picture. Lambs to the settlers’ slaughter, screaming and unheard. There were more than 50 reports of Israelis assaulting Palestinians in the West Bank last month. In the start of a regular series, Haaretz (Israeli newspaper) details one particularly violent attack. By Amira Hass     | Aug.05, 2012 More reports from Israel and Palestine can be found at “Reports from Journeys to Israel and Palestine.“ There is still a bruise under Ibrahim Bani Jaber’s left eye. The blows his brother Jawdat received to his right ear didn’t leave any marks, but they still make his head feel heavy. During our meeting at their home in the West Bank village of Akraba last week, they did not spend much  time describing the fear and pain they felt when they were attacked. Instead, they spoke about the family’s sheep, that they had rushed to try and save that day, July 7, when they heard that settlers were attacking them. The violent confrontation – between settlers from Itamar and Giva 777, and Palestinian residents of Akraba – was the worst such incident last month. But it was, nevertheless, merely part of the daily routine of assaults, attacks and incursions. It is only on rare occasions that these incidents become news. In most cases, if there is an investigation there is no indictment. The map presented here shows the various assaults from last month alone, but it is not complete because it does not include Jerusalem. It is based on reports that have been cross-checked, and eyewitness testimonies from the Ta’ayush Arab Jewish partnership, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories. Haaretz will continue to follow events on a regular basis and the way they are handled by the authorities. On Saturday July 7, when the Bani Jaber brothers were working in a wheat field, their brother Jihad – who was tending the sheep – telephoned them in a panic. “Settlers have arrived at...

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All you need is a little faith

The West Bank’s Rabbi Menachem Froman has the solution to the conflict ‘All you need is a little faith,’ says the Tekoa leader, who isn’t averse to quoting Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. More reports from Israel and Palestine can be found at “Reports from Journeys to Israel and Palestine.“ How do you feel today? First of all, I want to apologize. I am tired and not very lucid or focused. The morning hours are hard for me, after prayer. I also had a bad night. So my wife Hadassah is with us. You will hear things from her, too. I can see this is not easy for you. I’m sorry. I will try not to impose on you. Let’s talk about your activity for peace, about the meetings you have been holding for years with leaders and clerics from the Arab world. For almost 40 years I have maintained that it is impossible to forge peace here without taking into account the religious element, which is very powerful in the Arab public and also stronger than what some readers of Haaretz would like to believe in the Jewish public. [Sheikh] Ahmed Yassin once told me: You and I could make peace in hamsa dakika − five minutes. How so? Because we are both believers. In recent years I mentioned this to everyone who was ready to listen, and it was considered bizarre and crazy. Suddenly, the situation is slowly beginning to change. A senior Israel Defense Forces officer who was in charge of collecting intelligence once told me: There is no one who understands Hamas like you, who meets with them and talks to them like that. But to make peace with Hamas? That is crazy. And then Hamas came to power. But most people hold the opposite view. For them, religion, which you regard as a common denominator, is the cause of war. That is true. And I say: Not only in Israel, but the whole Middle East will go the same path. I was in Egypt and Jordan and met with the most extreme clerics. Before bin Laden’s assassination, I used to say that the rumor that he is in our house, in the attic, is untrue. Now, with [Mohammed] Morsi’s election [as...

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At Play in the Fields of the Pure Land

If you’re totally Bearing Witness, and also in the state of Not Knowing – that’s this word play. So play is both of those together. Then you’re acting in this free way in which you are totally immersed in the situation. You’re not attached to any kind of conditions. So you’re just playing. Where? In the fields of the pure land, where you are. Playing where you are. That’s sometimes drawn as the tenth oxherding picture that’s got Hotei – the fat guy with a bag of everything. Ryokan is another such character. He was a drunken poet in Japan and a monk, deeply in love with a nun named Teishin. They wrote many love poems to each other. Ryokan loved to play with the kids. There’s a famous story where he was hiding. They were playing hide and go seek and he hid in a barrel and after two days: “Wow they still haven’t found me!” That’s the kind of person he was. The word fields is also very important to me. At play in the fields of the pure land. I have a science background, so although I see everything as one interdependent thing, I look at it as a field. And things don’t coalesce until you have some instrument that perceives it. “The dharma is always encountered but rarely perceived.” And we say “Reality is boundless, I vow to perceive it.” How do you perceive anything? As a human we use our senses to perceive. We can perceive things via the brain – thinking or via touching or hearing or seeing or smelling or tasting. It’s through these various senses. And it’s generally a combination thereof. Not usually all of them. I don’t know whether you can perceive without the brain getting involved. Take a brain that you’ve totally lobotomized, or somebody’s brain dead. Can you perceive then? We certainly know we can make perceptions without one of the others. You could be blind, you could be deaf. My daughter Alisa studied special education at B.U. and she was specializing in deaf folks, but you know you’ve got to study it all. But she got a job working with kids that were epileptic, they were deaf, they were blind. They were...

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August Kowalczyk, he last surviving member of a group of prisoners that escaped from the German Nazi concentration camp Birkenau, died Sunday at a hospice he helped found in the town of Oświęcim in southern Poland where the former camp is located. He was 90 years old. Kowalczyk was brought to Auschwitz in December 1940. In June 1942 he was among 50 Polish inmates who tried to flee the camp while working in the fields. Most were killed in the attempt and only nine escaped. Kowalczyk was the last known survivor. Kowalczyk became a popular actor and spent his lifetime telling his story to younger generations. August attended the Zen Peacemakers 2nd Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat (15 years ago)  and at the end of the retreat, he joined the Zen Peacemakers. He attended almost all of the annual retreats since then talking to many retreat participants about his experiences in the camp. He was the head of the Polish Auschwitz Survivers Group for many years and at one point spoke to Bernie Glassman and Andzej Krajewski about developing a tribute for the survivers. They decided on a hospice to be built in Oświęcim. This is where he...

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The 1st Bethlehem Walk

Quiet Walking Listening Circles  Women Leading Change  5 October 2012 Manger Square, Bethlehem People of all nationalities and faiths are invited to join us in an event of solidarity for peace in the Holy Land. We are calling for a shift in consciousness, based on a deep commitment to nonviolence, a firm resolve to overcome barriers of separation, and faith that peace is possible. We plan to converge on Manger Square, in the center of Bethlehem, walking mindfully in columns and circles. Mindful walking is quiet, slow, and dignified. It expresses with our being, rather than with slogans and flags, our intention to live in harmony together. The experience helps us to develop calm, steadiness and confidence in the face of challenge. This event is for everybody. As a symbol of the possibility of change women will be at the forefront as facilitators of listening circles in which we will share our visions for the change we wish to see. We share a love of the land that we live in side by side. We all suffer from the continued occupation and injustice and lack of security. We all want to live in peace and harmony. We recognize that we all have the same basic needs for equal rights and deserve the same respect and dignity. We take responsibility for sowing the seeds of change, moving forward one step at a time.   Organized by a group of heartful Palestinians and Israelis For more information, please contact Iris Dotan...

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Transformation in Zen and Hasidism

Torah and Dharma Part II: The Technology of Transformation in Zen and Hasidism Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Roshi Bernie Glassman in Dialogue. Edited by Netanel Miles-Yepez ZALMAN SCHACHTER-SHALOMI, better known as Reb Zalman, was born in Zholkiew, Poland, in 1924. His family fled the Nazi oppression in 1938 and finally landed in New York City in 1941. He was ordained by the Lubavitcher Hasidim in 1947. For fifty years, he has been considered one of the world’s foremost teachers of Hasidism and Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), holding posts as professor of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology of Religion at Temple University, and most recently as the World Wisdom Chair holder at Naropa University. He is the father of the Jewish Renewal movement, the founder of the Spiritual Eldering Institute, and an active participant in ecumenical dialogues, including the widely influential dialogue with the Dalai Lama documented in the book The Jew in the Lotus. He is the author of Paradigm Shift, Spiritual Intimacy, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, and Wrapped in a Holy Flame. Reb Zalman currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. BERNIE GLASSMAN is a Roshi of the Soto Zen Buddhist lineage, a student of Maezumi Roshi, and is widely known for his influential books Bearing Witness and Instructions to the Cook. He is the founder (with Roshi Jishu Holmes) of the Zen Peacemaker Order (1996), which bases itself on three principles: plunging into the unknown, bearing witness to the pain and joy of the world, and a commitment to heal oneself and the world. He is a close associate of Reb Zalman.               What follows is an edited excerpt from a dialogue that took place at Elat Chayyim, the Jewish renewal retreat center in Accord, New York in the Summer of 1997 called “Torah and Dharma.”             Part one of this dialogue dealt with the ecumenical relationship between Judaism and Buddhism, the modern phenomenon of “hyphenated spirituality” and “Jew-Boos.” Part two looks at Hasidic Jewish and Zen Buddhist tools of transformation. REB ZALMAN  One day, Reb Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of the Habad movement,1 makes his way home from out of town. As his carriage comes in, all the hasidim are standing and waiting to receive the Rebbe and welcome him. But, one hasid, Reb...

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Socially Engaged Dharma in Israel & Palestine

Recently I returned from a Journey to Israel, the West Bank and Palestine. I met with many wonderful people doing projects and volunteer work in Social Engagement. Aviv Tatarsky of the Israel Engaged Dharma Group gave me the following article he wrote on compassion. Rabbi Bob Carroll who works in the Interfaith Encounter Association, an Israeli NGO, dedicated to promoting peace in the Middle East through interfaith dialogue and cross-cultural study sent me his comments on Aviv’s article. Aviv then responded to Bob’s comments. I am posting the article and comments here hoping they will serve to start a dialog on the Israeli/Palestine issues. Please post your comments. Thanking you in advance, Bernie. Aviv’s Article Engaged Dharma in Israel – 2011 (2nd half) activity and learning report During the 2nd half 0f 2011 our group initiated a variety of actions and projects as part of our ongoing peace work. These included campaigns, solidarity actions with Palestinian partners, uncovering information about the realities of the occupation, petitioning authorities regarding violations of human rights, and laying the ground for educational work within the Israeli-Jewish society. Rather than giving a full report of our activities during this period, we will highlight here the meaningful lessons learnt during these months: Sangha as an invaluable resource for supporting activism and peace work, the power of compassion and openness for turning confrontation into dialogue, and the deep relevance that our spiritual insights have when facing the challenges of peace work. Most of the examples we will bring concern our relationship with the village of Deir Istiya which has been developing over the last two years. Sangha as a vital Resource One of our main missions is to raise awareness within the Dharma community to the meaning of living under occupation, and to create opportunities for Sangha members to get involved in peace and human rights work. A good starting point is what can be considered “soft” humanitarian action. Recently, for example, we organized for Sangha members to collectively buy a significant amount of olive oil from a few poor families in the village of Deir Istiya. It is important to note that even this simple action (an action very significant for the farmers) could not have happened had we not...

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Torah hyphen Dharma

Torah and Dharma  Part I: Torah hyphen Dharma Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and Roshi Bernie Glassman in Dialogue. Edited by Netanel Miles-Yepez ZALMAN SCHACHTER-SHALOMI, better known as Reb Zalman, was born in Zholkiew, Poland, in 1924. His family fled the Nazi oppression in 1938 and finally landed in New York City in 1941. He was ordained by the Lubavitcher Hasidim in 1947. For fifty years, he has been considered one of the world’s foremost teachers of Hasidism and Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), holding posts as professor of Jewish Mysticism and Psychology of Religion at Temple University, and most recently as the World Wisdom Chair holder at Naropa University. He is the father of the Jewish Renewal movement, the founder of the Spiritual Eldering Institute, and an active participant in ecumenical dialogues, including the widely influential dialogue with the Dalai Lama documented in the book The Jew in the Lotus. He is the author of Paradigm Shift, Spiritual Intimacy, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, and Wrapped in a Holy Flame. Reb Zalman currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. BERNIE GLASSMAN is a Roshi of the Soto Zen Buddhist lineage, a student of Maezumi Roshi, and is widely known for his influential books Bearing Witness and Instructions to the Cook. He is the founder (with Roshi Jishu Holmes) of the Zen Peacemaker Order (1996), which bases itself on three principles: plunging into the unknown, bearing witness to the pain and joy of the world, and a commitment to heal oneself and the world. He is a close associate of Reb Zalman.               What follows is an edited excerpt from a dialogue that took place at Elat Chayyim, the Jewish renewal retreat center in Accord, New York in the Summer of 1997 called “Torah and Dharma.”             Part one of this dialogue deals with the ecumenical relationship between Judaism and Buddhism, the modern phenomenon of “hyphenated spirituality” and “Jew-Boos.” Part two will look at Hasidic Jewish and Zen Buddhist tools of transformation.    REB ZALMAN  From time to time, people come to me and say, “I would like to have a connection with Judaism,” or “I’d like to convert to Judaism. But, I don’t want to give up ‘citizenship’ in the non-Jewish tradition I belong to now. After all, it was through...

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NEW YORK CITY PEACE WALK

The first large US silent Peace Walk is planned for New York City’s Central Park on Sunday October 7th, 2012. Following an opening gathering in the morning, the walk will circumnavigate continuously Central Park allowing participants to join along the way. The walk is intended to be slow, beautiful and dignified, without flags or signage, an expression of the goodwill and friendliness of people who live together. It empowers us all to be peacemakers. Instead of shouting in the name of peace, peace will be embodied by our quiet presence. ‘There is no way to peace, peace is the way’. With over 8 million people living in New York City, it is one of the most densely populated and ethnically and religiously diverse cities in the world. Home to over 100 ethnic groups, including several million Muslims and Jews, the walk is intended to demonstrate that people of all faiths and origins can live peacefully side by side. The peace we long for in the Middle East and Worldwide is actually possible. We call for the urgent cessation of violence in the Middle East and a serious and committed movement towards a sustainable and peaceful coexistence. The walk will be led by Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America, Dr. Stephen Fulder, founder of Middleway, an Israeli-Palestinian group applying mindfulness and spiritual insights to peacemaking, and Professor Sami Zaidalkilani, Palestinian peace negotiator. Large silent peace walks have become famous in Israel and Palestine, for 10 years and Dr. Fulder has been a central teacher and visionary for these walks. All will be welcome and encouraged to join the walk. Public invitations will be extensive with outreach to many communities, including well-known religious, cultural, public and political figures. Further details will continue to be available at...

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Engaged Dharma in Israel

During the 2nd half 0f 2011 the Engaged Dharma in Israel group initiated a variety of actions and projects as part of their ongoing peace work. These included campaigns, solidarity actions with Palestinian partners, uncovering information about the occupation, petitioning authorities regarding violations of human rights, and laying the ground for educational work within the Israeli-Jewish society. Aviv Tatarsky of the Engaged Dharma in Israel group highlights here some of the lessons learnt during these months: Sangha as an invaluable resource for supporting activism ano peace work, the power of compassion and openness for turning confrontation into dialogue, and the deep relevance that our spiritual insights have when facing the challenges of peace work. Most of the examples concern their relationship with the village of Deir Istiya. Sangha as a vital Resource  One of their main missions is to raise awareness within the Dharma community to the meaning of living under occupation, and to create opportunities for Sangha members to get involved in peace and human rights work. A good starting point is what can be considered “soft” humanitarian action. Recently, for example, they organized for Sangha members to collectively buy a significant amount of olive oil from a few poor families in the village of Deir Istiya. It is important to note that even this simple action (an action very significant for the farmers) could not have happened had they not had the support of a large “non-activist” Sangha. From this soft starting point there are many ways to go deeper: They used this opportunity in order to inform the Sangha how Israeli policies and economic interests create a situation where Palestinian farmers find it increasingly more difficult to sell their oil. Olive agriculture being such a major part of Palestinian economy and culture, the implications of this situation can be very dramatic. Now they are working together with Deir Istiya farmers to create a channel for exporting their olive oil to both Israeli and foreign markets. This entails connecting potential customers on the one hand and assisting the village to develop quality assurance and other mechanisms that are needed. All this requires knowledge and expertise and here again the Sangha offers indispensible resources in the form of practitioners who are professionals in...

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Getting to Not-Know You: The Tortoise Drags His Tail

Several years ago, I started to work on a book I tentatively called “The Dharma according to Groucho.” The first section is called Getting to Not-Know You. My opinion of Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation. The tortoise dragging its tail is a famous image in the orient. Once while in northern Costa Rico I went to the beach at night when tortoises had come to lay their eggs. They’re really gigantic. Peter Mathiessen wrote a beautiful  book – Far Tortuga. It’s in the dialect of the people in Tortuga. A little north of Costa Rica. But if you see a tortoise walking on the beach, their tail wipes away the tracks. But of course there are new tracks. The tail itself creates a new track. One of the ways we know ourselves is by all of our criticisms of ourselves. And all of the things that we think we’re doing wrong. And we spend a lot of time trying to apologize or wipe away or being sorry, “I’m sorry I did this, I did that, I’m sorry.” And that’s the tortoise moving the tail and wiping away the tracks. So we do things and then we sort of look back, and “Oh, I did that wrong”. So we’ve left all of these tracks of the things that we didn’t do right in our mind. And now we spend a lot of time trying to get rid of all of those tracks. And that very process of doing that is creating new tracks. Then we look back and say “Oh I didn’t do that right, I didn’t get rid of that right”. When you get to the state of Not Knowing You, you aren’t busy wiping away the tracks  because you don’t have the tracks. At any moment you have the ingredients that are there and you do the best thing you can (make the best meal) with those ingredients, and you offer your creation. And then you look again and see what ingredients you now have and make the best meal you can and offer it again. It’s never about “Oh that meal was too sour”...

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Getting to Not-Know You: Intimacy is Like Fish and Water

Several years ago, I started to work on a book I tentatively called “The Dharma according to Groucho.” The first section is called Getting to Not-Know You. My opinion of Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation. In zen and in many buddhist groups we relate to a boss whose name was Shakyamuni Buddha. Some groups go back to different buddhas, like Vairocana Buddha, but zen and many groups go back to the founder Shakyamuni Buddha, from about 500 BC. Although he didn’t know that there was a B.C. at the time. And when he had his enlightenment experience, in our tradition at least we say that. he said “How wonderful! How wonderful! Everyone – everything is enlightened!” Except the problem is that most of us are attached to our notions and ideas that we’re not enlightened. Or we’re attached to some kind of notions and ideas. And so we can’t see that state of enlightenment. He said “Everything as it is is enlightened, so what we can’t see or we can’t accept is that everything as it is, is enlightened. So it’s a bit like the fish in the water. So a fish is swimming in water, and you ask the fish, – “Where’s the water?” and the fish says “What water?”.You say: “You are water!” You know the water goes right through the fish. It’s flowing in and out. The fish doesn’t know that. The fish is attached to this notion that he or she’s some kind of… thing. And doesn’t even know there’s water. Like when we look at an ocean and we ask –What is the ocean? Do we say it’s water? The ocean is a lot of things, right? There’s coral, there’s rocks, there’s mountains underneath – they became Hawaii! They’re all part of the ocean. The ocean is everything. There’s fish, there’s whales, mammals, there’s people swimming, snorkeling, non-snorkeling, deep-sea all kinds of stuff. But we just call it an ocean. And some Jewish comedian is in a boat looking down and says “See the ocean? ….and that’s only the top of it” I mean there’s a lot to this thing. But...

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Bernie’s Opinion on: What is Enlightenment?

The word Buddha means the Awakened One. Awaken to what? My opinion is that we awaken to the Oneness of Life, the One Body. That is my opinion of enlightenment. This awakening keeps deepening and deepening. What do I mean by deepening? Most of us are enlightened to the Oneness of our own body. I think that my arms, my legs, my face, etc. are all part of One Body. In fact I generally act according to that opinion without thinking about it. It is very natural to do so and, in fact, if I didn’t act that way, people might say I am deluded. Kōbō-Daishi (774–835, founder of Shingon Sect) said that we can tell the depth of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others. If they are focused on themselves, they have awakened to the Oneness of themselves. If they are focused on their family, they have awakened to the Oneness of their family. If they are focused on their nation, they have awakened to the Oneness of their nation, etc., etc. In my opinion, the Dalai Lama has awakened to the Oneness of the Universe. …………………………………………………………………………….. From Deb Pond: I have a lot of questions about what it means to be clear-minded. -What does it mean to be “already” awake, if we do not seem to be experiencing it now?,,, Believing we are already awake, when we do not know we are experiencing it – is this just a concept? -I have heard about the “great functioning” as a being in tune with the environment and relating to it harmoniously – but not necessarily realizing one is doing so. Please clarify the great functioning. -Please clarify delusion and how it is different from awakening. -What sort of wakefulness exists in a coma? In the sleep state? My opinion: As you can see from my opinion on “What is Enlightenment”, we are “already” awake to the level that we are awake. There are many levels of enlightenment. This is not a concept, although I am confident there are many concepts out there about enlightenment and my opinion is just my opinion. For me, the great functioning is the functioning due to our level of awakening and it should be ovious to...

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Getting to Not-Know You: The Big Bang

Several years ago, I started to work on a book I tentatively called “The Dharma according to Groucho.” The first section is called Getting to Not-Know You. Not-knowing is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. My opinion of Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation. It is the opinion of many scientists (including me) that about 15 billion years ago a tremendous explosion started the expansion of the universe. This explosion is known as the Big Bang. At the point of this event all of the matter and energy of space was contained at one point. What existed prior to this event is completely unknown and is a matter of pure speculation. This occurrence was not a conventional explosion but rather an event filling all of space with all of the particles of the embryonic universe rushing away from each other. The Big Bang actually consisted of an explosion of space within itself unlike an explosion of a bomb were fragments are thrown outward. The galaxies were not all clumped together, but rather the Big Bang laid the foundations for the universe. Where’s the beginning in the big bang? You can’t know what’s there before the big bang, right? You can go down pretty damn close i mean they’re going down in nanoseconds and seeing what happens in there. And they’re going forward and stuff like that. But in the very beginning, that’s what’s called a singularity. You can’t know. Now you may notice that in the Peacemakers, our first tenet is Not Knowing. It’s a state of not knowing, so what we say is if you’re going do something first approach it from that state of not knowing, that is get back to that initial singular point – to that point before the big bang. So if i can get back to that point of Not Knowing right now, and be there, then something happens and that’s the big bang. Now it starts unfolding. And it can unfold in a very creative way because it’s starting from this point of not knowing, this singular point. It’s starting from the beginning. Whatever you believe...

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Bernie’s Opinion on “What is Enlightenment”

The word Buddha means the Awakened One. Awaken to what? My opinion is that we awaken to the Oneness of Life, the One Body. That is my opinion of enlightenment. This awakening keeps deepening and deepening. What do I mean by deepening? Most of us are enlightened to the Oneness of our own body. I think that my arms, my legs, my face, etc. are all part of One Body. In fact I generally act according to that opinion without thinking about it. It is very natural to do so and, in fact, if I didn’t act that way, people might say I am deluded. Kōbō-Daishi (774–835, founder of Shingon Sect) said that we can tell the depth of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others. If they are focused on themselves, they have awakened to the Oneness of themselves. If they are focused on their family, they have awakened to the Oneness of their family. If they are focused on their nation, they have awakened to the Oneness of their nation, etc., etc.  In my opinion, the Dalai Lama has awakened to the Oneness of the Universe. …………………………………………………………………………….. From Deb Pond: I have a lot of questions about what it means to be clear-minded. -What does it mean to be “already” awake, if we do not seem to be experiencing it now?,,, Believing we are already awake, when we do not know we are experiencing it –  is this just a concept? -I have heard about the “great functioning” as a being in tune with the environment and relating to it harmoniously – but not necessarily realizing one is doing so. Please clarify the great functioning. -Please clarify delusion and how it is different from awakening. -What sort of wakefulness exists in a coma? In the sleep state? My opinion: As you can see from my opinion on “What is Enlightenment”, we are “already” awake to the level that we are awake. There are many levels of enlightenment. This is not a concept, although I am confident there are many concepts out there about enlightenment and my opinion is just my opinion. For me, the great functioning is the functioning due to our level of awakening and it should be ovious to...

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Bernie’s Reflections on Issan Dorsey

In my experience, many people come to Zen practice because they love the stories of Zen masters of long ago. They love reading about outrageous teachers who said strange things and acted in even stranger ways, seeming like children, fools, and even madmen to the rest of society. It has also been my experience that while we love these characters that lived hundreds of years ago, we don’t love them so much while they’re still living. We don’t always love our present day madmen and eccentrics, for these are the people who manifest our shadow. They live in the cracks – nor just of our society but of our psyche. They put in our faces those qualities in ourselves that we’d prefer not to see – a refusal to conform, a refusal to “grow up,” a human being who ignores conventions and acceptable standards of behavior and makes up his life as he goes along. I think of Issan Dorsey as the shadow in many people’s lives. He was a drug addict, he was gay, he appeared in drag, and he died of AIDS. For many years he lived right on the edge, befriending junkies, drag queens and alkies who lived precariously like him, on the fringes of society. When he died, a Zen teacher and priest, he was still befriending and caring for those whom our society rejected then and continues to reject now, people ill with the AIDS virus. Like the old Zen masters of old, Issan Dorsey was outrageous; he manifested the shadow in our lives. And he was loved not just after his death but also during his life. For Issan had exuberance for all of life, and that included death, too. I first met Issan Dorsey in 1980, just after he began the Maitri group on Hartford Street. I happened to be visiting San Francisco Zen Center and was in the zendo when Roshi Richard Baker, Abbot of the Center, announced that a satellite group of gay Zen practitioners was forming in the middle of San Francisco’s Castro District, under the leadership of Issan Dorsey. Baker Roshi strongly supported Issan’s work, as he would continue to do for years to come. That was my first meeting with Issan. By...

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Just my opinion, man! A new feature with Bernie’s answers to common questions

Question: How can I study with you? Bernie’s opinion: I am frequently on the road and you can join me there. It is possible that I will be giving a Workshop near you. A diverse multi-faith group gathers every year, in November, to bear witness at Auschwitz. Another kind of Bearing Witness Retreat will be taking place, with me in April 2012, on theStreets of New York. I invite you to become a “Friend of Bernie.” There are various categories of membership starting at $9 per month. All Friends of Bernie are invited to join me on my Street Retreats (this requires a registration fee and “raising a mala”.) A question and discussion platform is being devised to have more frequent contact. I am also planning a study format based on my books: Instructions to the Cook, Bearing Witness and Infinite Circle. In addition to the above, Partners (starting at $108 per month) are invited to join me and other Partners in a Bi-annual Webinar where we will have studies and discussions between all of us. The webinars will be limited in attendance so that we will have intimacy. I will schedule enough webinars to insure that all Partners that wish to join can do so. In addition to the above, Sustainers  (starting at $10,800 per year) are invited to join me and other Sustainers on a Quarterly Webinar. Sustainers are also invited to join me on myJourneys to the Field to serve in various areas of the globe (including Sri Lanka, Israel, Palestine, New York, Rwanda, Brazil.) Sustainers receive a Head for Peace made by Jeff Bridges and are invited to Head for Peacegatherings. Read more questions. Become a Friend of Bernie. Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers are frequently on the road working to bear witness, wage peace and inspire hope in the corners of the globe touched by war, poverty and genocide.  ...

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Arising to the Interconnectedness of Life? A Buddhist Perspective on the Occupy Movement

Indra’s Net and the Internet: Arising to the Interconnectedness of Life Buddha means the “awakened one.” Awakened to what? The definition of Enlightenment in Buddhism is awakening to the interconnectedness of life. This is illustrated through the story of Indra’s Net from the Avatamsaka Sutra. A long time ago, in a far away place, there lived a king. His name was Indra. Indra was a great king. In fact, he was king of all the Gods. One day, he called his architect, Johnny. “Johnny! I am such a wonderful king that I’d like you to make a monument of me for all people to see.” After thinking for a while, Johnny exclaimed, “I’ve got it! Let’s go to the royal treasurer, Sally, because this will be expensive.” They went to Sally and Johnny said, “I want to build a monument for our king, Indra. I want it to be a net that extends throughout all space and time and I want to place a bright pearl at each node of the net. Do we have enough resources to build this net?” “You’re in luck!” said Sally. “I happen to have an infinite amount of thread spun by spiders and an infinite amount of pearls.” Johnny proceeded to construct the net of pearls so big that it extended throughout all space and time. Each pearl contains the reflection of every other pearl. Each pearl is contained within every other pearl. If you touch the net anywhere, it is felt everywhere. Every phenomenon is a pearl in the net. Each of us at a given instant is a phenomenon. Everything at each moment is a phenomenon. Everyone and everything is contained in me. I am contained in everyone and everything. Many years later, somebody came along and turned Indra’s Net into the Internet. Instead of pearls, they put computers at each node. They created a physical system of interconnectedness around the world. Then, we started to see languages for communicating across the net. We call them Facebook and Twitter. Soon, we started to see what I call arisings or awakenings around the world. For me, the first big one was the “Arab Spring.” The second big one was the “Israeli Summer.” Arab Arising I’ve worked in...

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