Zen Peacemaker Order Blog

bernie-belgium-cartoonThis Blog compiles the latest news of the Zen Peacemaker Order involved in Meditation and Socially Engaged Spirituality.  It willl also keep you informed on Bernie’s activities which bring him to different parts of the world touched by war, poverty and genocide including relevant articles from the fields he is going to. Also included are Bernie’s teachings and opinions.  We warmly invite you to join the conversation. Leaders of the Zen Peacemaker Order are restructuring the Order and the news of this development will also be shared in this blog.

BEAR WITNESS TO THE BLACK HILLS IN 2016

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Zen Peacemaker Order, Zen Peacemakers | 5 comments

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 in time, we bear witness to how these different places reveal a universal human tendency – to divide in the cruelest of ways.  ​T​his tendency marks our home-planet in different coordinates, but they, too, are interconnected. By returning to these different locations we minister one deep wound. We reveal and affirm both the oneness, the shared, universal experiences across cultures, beyond borders and despite apparent differences, as well as the nuanced diversity of its local expressions. By returning to one wound, we minister all.​ Join us. For twenty years, the Zen Peacemakers, a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization led by Zen master and co-founder Bernie Glassman, created Bearing Witness Retreats in places of deep suffering around the world, such as in 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. “When we see the world as one body, it’s obvious that we heal everyone at the same time that we heal ourselves, for there are no ‘others.’ ” – Bernie...

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WHAT’S IN A PHOTO?

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Greyston, Reflections, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Teachers, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemaker Order | 9 comments

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 that I was, and thought to myself that I was witnessing something historic, a vision for Zen practice that I hadn’t seen in other American communities. Photos bring back people, some of who represented new answers to the question of what Zen practice will look like in America. Can a Jesuit priest like Fr. Bob Kennedy get dharma transmission? How about Nancy Mujo Baker, who has never ordained? Or transmission to a Sufi sheik (Lex Hixon), a Jewish rabbi (Don Singer)? Can a teacher be a writer or social activist rather than one who only teaches in a zendo (Peter Matthiessen often apologized for being a very poor student and teacher because he wrote fiction and nonfiction on behalf of the environment and Native American leaders like the imprisoned Leonard Peltier)? By now there’s a sense that a lot of Bernie’s responses have met wide acceptance (it’s hard to find a Zen center now that has no social action involvement of any kind), but years ago his open approach, and his desire to work with...

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Join Our Bearing Witness Programs in 2016

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness, Blog, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemaker Order, Zen Peacemakers | 1 comment

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, 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. From the retreat in 2015 several members-led actions came forth, including the delivery of hundreds of pounds of winter cloths and distribution in Pine Ridge reservation. A Lakota delegation accompanied the 2015 Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT 2016  To Learn more about how these retreats are planned, structured, financed and staffed, read a comprehensive overview...

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COMING HOME

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 in Bernie's Health, Blog, News, Teachers | 47 comments

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 that have made all the difference in the world. Among all those words, it’s hard for me now to find the words that capture how much we needed and appreciated the tsunami of positive energy and wishes you released on all our behalf. May it rebound back to you, and may it also ricochet everywhere to all the beings in need of succor, sustenance, and love. — Eve Marko...

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

Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Dharma Talks, Homelessness, Hunger, Street Ministry, Teachers, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 with the people.” And what they were doing was they were telling us their stories about what it’s like to be a Native American now. Some were historians. Some were talking about deep, deep spiritual connections, and things. But many were talking about what it’s like to be living on the poorest place on Earth. The Pine Ridge Reservation is the poorest county in the United States. The average income is less than $6,000 a year. Eighty-five percent or more of the people are unemployed. Since November to now there have been more than thirty teen suicides on the reservation. It’s desolate. It’s awful. It’s bad. Because the trauma that began 500 years ago is still reverberating really strongly. If anybody studied trauma, and historical trauma, you don’t have to experience trauma yourself—it’s carried in your genes after a while. It’s in your body. So many suffer from diabetes. That’s not from eating bad—which they do, because they’re still eating commodities—it’s from trauma. Heart disease—trauma. Same thing, so many things like that. Not to mention...

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Exploring the Bodhisattva Way, Free Adventures Every Day

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Homelessness, Hunger Ministry, Street Ministry, Zen Peacemaker Order | 2 comments

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 serve them—that’s everybody, including our self. So, he quickly started engaged practice there. Started a bakery employing formerly unemployed persons, people that were actually coming out of jails. And that model is now a major model being studied in business schools in the United States, around the world—a model called open hiring. Where when somebody comes to your company, and they want a job, you don’t say, “Well, where’s your résumé? What’s your history of work?” They say, “Sure. If we’ve got a position, you can work for us.”  That’s open hiring. It just means you can begin right now, if you’ve got the most minimal qualifications, like you’re physically able to do it. And they were taking people right out of jail, a lot of homeless people who had never had jobs before. Those are the people that are making the fudge in Ben and Jerry’s Fudge Brownies. They’re now making four million pounds a year, and increasing. And then in 1994, it was going to be his 55th birthday—something like that, and he...

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Bernie’s Health 2/3/2016

Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Bernie's Health | 6 comments

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: meetings of ZPO regional circles, the initiative to go to Greece in April to work with immigrants. There’s a street retreat in Albuquerque, council training in Paris, a new circle on Art and the Three Tenets, the odd couple of Rabbi Shir and Sensei Paco going to Arizona to talk about our bearing witness retreats, and most important, an initiative to do selfies while putting on a red nose. He’s happy and forlorn at the same time, shaking his head. “I’m not involved,” he says...

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

Posted by on Feb 3, 2016 in Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Health, Blog, Teachers, Zen Peacemaker Order | 6 comments

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: “I am the Buddhas and they are me,” meaning that I am everyone and everything, and they are me as well. “I don’t believe it,” I told Tetsugen Sensei, as he was known then, “so why should I chant the words?” “You don’t have to believe it,” he said. “Just keep on chanting.”   More on Bernie’s Recovery on CaringBridge.org More writings by Eve Marko on Eve’s Blog Photo by Peter Cunningham: 1980, Bernie Tetsugen Sensei and Taizan Maezumi Roshi, outside of Greyston Mansion in Riverdale, New...

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Bernie’s Trainings: Street Retreats

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Opinions, Homelessness, Hunger, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemakers | 1 comment

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 a few Jewish temples, asking them for food for our seder. He arrived with bottles of kosher grape juice and gefilte fish. Using the money the Franciscans had given us we bought more food and then, at nightfall, held a seder at Tompkins Park. We sat around two picnic tables in an enclosure behind the Park’s restrooms. This was usually locked by the guard during the evening, but this time he unlocked it specially for our use. We invited the park regulars to join us, including the King and Queen of Punk accompanied by their dog. Don passed around matzos, bitter herbs, and grape juice and we talked about leaving Egypt, the land of bondage, addictions, and delusions, and arriving in the Promised Land. We told the story of slavery and the story of freedom, we sang and danced, Don leading us around the tables. Finally we shared the food we’d gathered, and when the seder was over we left the tables, the guard locked the enclosure, and we walked over to St. Mark’s Church....

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“What Should I Sing To You?”

Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness, Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Opinions, Native American, Zen Peacemaker Order | 3 comments

“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, in a way I think it’s fear. You don’t want to know. So it’s fear, it’s guilt, but we don’t want to know. So we try to stay away. So, what I found for myself, maybe about 25 years ago actually, I was in a place that in my practice I needed to go to places where I didn’t want to know what was going on, where I felt I had to stay away, or where I was afraid of it. So those were the places I went. Now, in the old Buddhist traditions in India and Tibet they had what they call charnal practices where you would go to the cemeteries and sit with the spirits that are coming in, it’s] a very similar thing 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. So if...

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Zen Peacemaker Order Blog

bernie-belgium-cartoonThis Blog compiles the latest news of the Zen Peacemaker Order involved in Meditation and Socially Engaged Spirituality.  It willl also keep you informed on Bernie’s activities which bring him to different parts of the world touched by war, poverty and genocide including relevant articles from the fields he is going to. Also included are Bernie’s teachings and opinions.  We warmly invite you to join the conversation. Leaders of the Zen Peacemaker Order are restructuring the Order and the news of this development will also be shared in this blog.

BEAR WITNESS TO THE BLACK HILLS IN 2016

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Zen Peacemaker Order, Zen Peacemakers | 5 comments

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 in time, we bear witness to how these different places reveal a universal human tendency – to divide in the cruelest of ways.  ​T​his tendency marks our home-planet in different coordinates, but they, too, are interconnected. By returning to these different locations we minister one deep wound. We reveal and affirm both the oneness, the shared, universal experiences across cultures, beyond borders and despite apparent differences, as well as the nuanced diversity of its local expressions. By returning to one wound, we minister all.​ Join us. For twenty years, the Zen Peacemakers, a 501(c)3 non-for-profit organization led by Zen master and co-founder Bernie Glassman, created Bearing Witness Retreats in places of deep suffering around the world, such as in 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. “When we see the world as one body, it’s obvious that we heal everyone at the same time that we heal ourselves, for there are no ‘others.’ ” – Bernie...

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WHAT’S IN A PHOTO?

Posted by on Mar 10, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Greyston, Reflections, Socially Engaged Buddhism, Teachers, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemaker Order | 9 comments

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 that I was, and thought to myself that I was witnessing something historic, a vision for Zen practice that I hadn’t seen in other American communities. Photos bring back people, some of who represented new answers to the question of what Zen practice will look like in America. Can a Jesuit priest like Fr. Bob Kennedy get dharma transmission? How about Nancy Mujo Baker, who has never ordained? Or transmission to a Sufi sheik (Lex Hixon), a Jewish rabbi (Don Singer)? Can a teacher be a writer or social activist rather than one who only teaches in a zendo (Peter Matthiessen often apologized for being a very poor student and teacher because he wrote fiction and nonfiction on behalf of the environment and Native American leaders like the imprisoned Leonard Peltier)? By now there’s a sense that a lot of Bernie’s responses have met wide acceptance (it’s hard to find a Zen center now that has no social action involvement of any kind), but years ago his open approach, and his desire to work with...

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Join Our Bearing Witness Programs in 2016

Posted by on Mar 3, 2016 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness, Blog, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemaker Order, Zen Peacemakers | 1 comment

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, 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. From the retreat in 2015 several members-led actions came forth, including the delivery of hundreds of pounds of winter cloths and distribution in Pine Ridge reservation. A Lakota delegation accompanied the 2015 Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN BEARING WITNESS RETREAT 2016  To Learn more about how these retreats are planned, structured, financed and staffed, read a comprehensive overview...

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COMING HOME

Posted by on Feb 25, 2016 in Bernie's Health, Blog, News, Teachers | 47 comments

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 that have made all the difference in the world. Among all those words, it’s hard for me now to find the words that capture how much we needed and appreciated the tsunami of positive energy and wishes you released on all our behalf. May it rebound back to you, and may it also ricochet everywhere to all the beings in need of succor, sustenance, and love. — Eve Marko...

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

Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Dharma Talks, Homelessness, Hunger, Street Ministry, Teachers, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 with the people.” And what they were doing was they were telling us their stories about what it’s like to be a Native American now. Some were historians. Some were talking about deep, deep spiritual connections, and things. But many were talking about what it’s like to be living on the poorest place on Earth. The Pine Ridge Reservation is the poorest county in the United States. The average income is less than $6,000 a year. Eighty-five percent or more of the people are unemployed. Since November to now there have been more than thirty teen suicides on the reservation. It’s desolate. It’s awful. It’s bad. Because the trauma that began 500 years ago is still reverberating really strongly. If anybody studied trauma, and historical trauma, you don’t have to experience trauma yourself—it’s carried in your genes after a while. It’s in your body. So many suffer from diabetes. That’s not from eating bad—which they do, because they’re still eating commodities—it’s from trauma. Heart disease—trauma. Same thing, so many things like that. Not to mention...

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Exploring the Bodhisattva Way, Free Adventures Every Day

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Bearing Witness, Blog, Homelessness, Hunger Ministry, Street Ministry, Zen Peacemaker Order | 2 comments

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 serve them—that’s everybody, including our self. So, he quickly started engaged practice there. Started a bakery employing formerly unemployed persons, people that were actually coming out of jails. And that model is now a major model being studied in business schools in the United States, around the world—a model called open hiring. Where when somebody comes to your company, and they want a job, you don’t say, “Well, where’s your résumé? What’s your history of work?” They say, “Sure. If we’ve got a position, you can work for us.”  That’s open hiring. It just means you can begin right now, if you’ve got the most minimal qualifications, like you’re physically able to do it. And they were taking people right out of jail, a lot of homeless people who had never had jobs before. Those are the people that are making the fudge in Ben and Jerry’s Fudge Brownies. They’re now making four million pounds a year, and increasing. And then in 1994, it was going to be his 55th birthday—something like that, and he...

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Bernie’s Health 2/3/2016

Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Bernie's Health | 6 comments

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: meetings of ZPO regional circles, the initiative to go to Greece in April to work with immigrants. There’s a street retreat in Albuquerque, council training in Paris, a new circle on Art and the Three Tenets, the odd couple of Rabbi Shir and Sensei Paco going to Arizona to talk about our bearing witness retreats, and most important, an initiative to do selfies while putting on a red nose. He’s happy and forlorn at the same time, shaking his head. “I’m not involved,” he says...

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

Posted by on Feb 3, 2016 in Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Health, Blog, Teachers, Zen Peacemaker Order | 6 comments

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: “I am the Buddhas and they are me,” meaning that I am everyone and everything, and they are me as well. “I don’t believe it,” I told Tetsugen Sensei, as he was known then, “so why should I chant the words?” “You don’t have to believe it,” he said. “Just keep on chanting.”   More on Bernie’s Recovery on CaringBridge.org More writings by Eve Marko on Eve’s Blog Photo by Peter Cunningham: 1980, Bernie Tetsugen Sensei and Taizan Maezumi Roshi, outside of Greyston Mansion in Riverdale, New...

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Bernie’s Trainings: Street Retreats

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Opinions, Homelessness, Hunger, Zen Peacemaker Family, Zen Peacemakers | 1 comment

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 a few Jewish temples, asking them for food for our seder. He arrived with bottles of kosher grape juice and gefilte fish. Using the money the Franciscans had given us we bought more food and then, at nightfall, held a seder at Tompkins Park. We sat around two picnic tables in an enclosure behind the Park’s restrooms. This was usually locked by the guard during the evening, but this time he unlocked it specially for our use. We invited the park regulars to join us, including the King and Queen of Punk accompanied by their dog. Don passed around matzos, bitter herbs, and grape juice and we talked about leaving Egypt, the land of bondage, addictions, and delusions, and arriving in the Promised Land. We told the story of slavery and the story of freedom, we sang and danced, Don leading us around the tables. Finally we shared the food we’d gathered, and when the seder was over we left the tables, the guard locked the enclosure, and we walked over to St. Mark’s Church....

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“What Should I Sing To You?”

Posted by on Jan 20, 2016 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness, Bernie Glassman, Bernie's Opinions, Native American, Zen Peacemaker Order | 3 comments

“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, in a way I think it’s fear. You don’t want to know. So it’s fear, it’s guilt, but we don’t want to know. So we try to stay away. So, what I found for myself, maybe about 25 years ago actually, I was in a place that in my practice I needed to go to places where I didn’t want to know what was going on, where I felt I had to stay away, or where I was afraid of it. So those were the places I went. Now, in the old Buddhist traditions in India and Tibet they had what they call charnal practices where you would go to the cemeteries and sit with the spirits that are coming in, it’s] a very similar thing 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. So if...

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