Zen Peacemakers Inc. Blog

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Follow the actions and reflections of Zen Peacemakers around the world.

Despair and Empowerment in Our Watershed Moment

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Blog, Dharma Talks, News, Reflections | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Jan 12, 2017 in Blog, News | 1 comment

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

Posted by on Jan 12, 2017 in Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Health, Blog, News, Reflections, Zen Peacemaker Order, Zen Peacemakers | 3 comments

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

Posted by on Jan 11, 2017 in Bearing Witness, Bearing Witness Ministry, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Dec 23, 2016 in Blog, Homelessness, Hunger Ministry, Projects, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Street Ministry, Zen Peacemaker Order, Zen Peacemakers | 0 comments

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 chili are in massive pots on the gas stove, roasted sweet potatoes and green beans are steaming, homemade ranch dressing intrigues the dinner guests lining up to be served, fresh bread will soak up their soup, and towers of brownies made by our local sangha members delight almost everyone—from the 9-year-old girl who is too shy to request one, to the oldest man, teeth missing. During an unusually cold winter in 2005, 25 people died in Santa Fe from hypothermia and this birthed a local-led initiative for a winter emergency shelter. Those who come to Pete’s are only a fraction of Santa Fe’s homeless: In 2014 the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness estimated there is around 1,400 homeless in Santa Fe.  Pete’s is the only shelter in town that allows non-sober guests to spend the night. In one view, coming to Pete’s for one night and serving food feels miniscule. What about systemic oppression? What about systemic poverty? What about luck and circumstance, and how it seems some people are set up for homelessness?...

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“If Strain, No Gain”

Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 in Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Health, Blog, Reflections, Three Tenets of ZP, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemakers | 1 comment

“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!”

Posted by on Dec 18, 2016 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness, Blog, Native American, Reflections, Zen Peacemaker Order | 3 comments

“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 would continue for 21 years. During all that time I and many others have sensed a powerful presence in those death camps. I hear visitors to Auschwitz-Birkenau number almost 2 million a year, most of whom come to look around quickly, turn away and leave. But a small group of 100 comes every year to sit in a circle on those tracks, chant names of the dead and do ceremony. Time is a human construct; past, present, and future are only human parameters for organizing experience and information in a way that can be processed by our brains, nothing more. In that case, how can anyone gauge the impact of a diverse group of people bearing witness to millions killed in the name of sameness, uniformity, and racial purity? Or the work of one non-Jew who, week after week, year after year, puts out service books and prayer shawls at the beginning of the Sabbath in a half-destroyed synagogue and puts them away at the end? Why does he do that? What does he see?...

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

Posted by on Dec 12, 2016 in Blog, Native American, Non-Violence, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Zen Peacemaker Order | 1 comment

“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 the train to long term parking. A young woman came up muttering to herself, and looking a bit lost, and I said, “Do you need help?” She turned and looked at me, and just about broke into a run in the opposite direction, and I sighed and thought, “Home sweet home.” During our visit, we were generously welcomed and hosted in a camp of the Cheyenne River Lakota, headed by Chas Jewett, an energetic and bright young activist and community organizer, and a member of the Oceti Sakowin Women’s Council. In between meetings with various camp councils, and visiting VIPs, Chas spent time describing to us the complexities of maintaining a community as large and diverse as Oceti Sakowin. And it isn’t easy- there are many voices, perspectives, and needs in a camp of so many people. Not everyone agrees on what to do, or how to do it. Given these circumstances, and adding the aggressive efforts of the oil company and the police, not to mention the weather- it is really remarkable that the...

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