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.

The Gypsy Girl

Posted by on Dec 28, 2015 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness | 7 comments

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 to carry my chair. The truth is that I like to carrying it myself, I want to be part of this group of people carrying what they need to set up a circle that will bear witness to what happened here over 70 years ago, and to what still happens around the world. By 10:15 the circle is set up. The mist dissipates, frost no longer glitters between the grooves of the wooden slats, the sun is coming up, gray and ashen, and the place is ours. The big groups haven’t arrived yet in row after row of parked tour buses, the loud voices of guides speaking in clipped, assured English of something that is beyond words, the occasional flapping of blue-and-white Israeli flags. Those will come by noon, but for now, strange to say, we have Birkenau to ourselves. In the second period of sitting we’ll chant the names of those who died here, but this first period of meditation is silent, giving me a chance to ponder what I’m doing here once again,...

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Bernie’s Training: In the Beginning

Posted by on Dec 23, 2015 in Bernie Glassman, Reflections, Training, ZPO Newsletters | 6 comments

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 been doing meditation for long periods. By then many people knew about meditation, and they would do it on their own. And in many cases, perfectly OK, but many cases the people that were on their own had damaged themselves. Some in a physical way—their eye sight had gotten worse, some their breathing had gotten worse, many had so conditioned themselves to working on things like Mu, or different things that they had read about that it was hard to get them to work correctly—correctly in the way that we wanted to teach. So that just reinforced for me—if anybody in those days would say, “Can I study without a teacher?” I would say, “No. You’re opening yourself for problems.” All kinds of things can happen. There are many experiences that can arise out of meditation that can be traps. It’s like taking drugs and having an experience—it could be a problem. It may feel great. Wow! But it may cause problems. The main problem when it feels great is that you want to recreate it....

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

Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Dec 17, 2015 in Bearing Witness, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 action. This action, as practiced in the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers, rises from not-knowing and bearing witness.  As we witness Europe today and deliberated on the design, scope and purpose of the retreat, we realized that more listening and more bearing witness needs to take place, the action has not risen in the form of a Bearing Witness retreat yet. The Bearing Witness Retreats are a result and a continuation of a long process of relationship-building. Bernie and a dedicated group returned to Auschwitz over twenty times to result in the acclaimed retreat we hold there every year and have affected so many lives. Roshi Genro Gauntt’s Sixteen years of listening finally translated into a retreat in the Black Hills when the conditions were right. Our process in Bosnia, in collaboration with Center for Peacebuilding in Saski Most and headed by Vahidin Omanovic and Mevludin Rahmanovic, continues. In March 2016, we are planning on sending Jared Seide, director of Center for Council and head trainer of Council facilitators in ZPO Bearing Witness retreats, to train...

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Promote the ZPO Peace Work in 2016

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Head for Peace, News, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 donation form, that your donation is for the support of the Zen Peacemakers.  You can also give your credit card information, or send a check made payable to Zen Peacemakers, attn: Heads for Peace Promotion 2016 to Rami Efal, ZPO Coordinator and Assistant to Founder, PO Box 294, Montague, MA...

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Join the ZPO Programs in 2016

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Bernie Glassman, Dharma Talks, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 had a room where we could do it in a circle. But we really don’t, we’re sort of confined to these old houses here. So the Officiant goes up to offer powdered incense. And the first mudra comes shortly after that. So really the first mudra of The Gate is when the Officiant enters and bows in—the Mother Gassho. So at the very back of this handout you have an index of the mudras. So the Mother Gassho is the gassho that we’re all used to doing, which is . . . You can just do it with me. Place your hands together, your palms together. There’s no space in between. The tip of your nose is about in line with the tip of your fingers. Your elbows are a little out—not like this, which a lot of us love to do. Like that, but it’s really dignified, you know. It’s where we’re meeting, right? Buddhas and sentient beings are meeting—right in front of our eyes. And we bow, like that. So that’s the very...

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

Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 in Dharma Talks | 0 comments

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. One of his Shakyamuni’s disciples, Magdalena, came up to him and said, “Hey boss, [Because Shakyamuni Buddha is our boss] I had a dream, and in that dream I saw my mother hanging upside down in the lowest region of Hell—fires all around, and whatever. What can I do?” And Shakyamuni said, “Chant this.” And he gave him a chant. Now it wasn’t like this. It was much smaller. And if you want to get a little bit of a gist of what it was see D.T. Suzuki’s book Manual of Zen which has a version of this. And you’ll see it’s very short. I don’t know if we have any records of what it was that Shakyamuni gave Magdalena. When we did the translation, Maezumi Roshi said, you know, this starts off in the days of Shakyamuni, and in later days it was changed to include a lot of Tantric stuff. So Roshi said to me, “You can change it dramatically.” Because he had always been saying to me that “your goal is going...

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How Richard Gere and Bernie Glassman Offer Solutions for the Homeless

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

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 in the eye. And by doing so, we make the issue so much worse. Richard Gere in Time Out of Mind Every country has a homeless problem, but I cannot think of another developed country that scorns its homeless people more willfully, thus exacerbating their physical, emotional and mental health issues, sometimes beyond repair. Even the most heartless person would have to recognize that ignoring the issues means multiplying the human and financial cost not only for the individual, but for all of us. It seems to me that there really is no place for suffering in our society outside of the designated zones we have specifically marked for it: hospitals, hospices, homeless shelters. How we, as a society, deal with suffering tells us at least as much about ourselves as the myriad ways we promote to achieve success. Is it coincidence that America has the world’s highest documented incarceration rate? Or that in 2014 the city Fort Lauderdale passed a law that bans feeding the homeless in public? We live in a world where...

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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.

The Gypsy Girl

Posted by on Dec 28, 2015 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness | 7 comments

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 to carry my chair. The truth is that I like to carrying it myself, I want to be part of this group of people carrying what they need to set up a circle that will bear witness to what happened here over 70 years ago, and to what still happens around the world. By 10:15 the circle is set up. The mist dissipates, frost no longer glitters between the grooves of the wooden slats, the sun is coming up, gray and ashen, and the place is ours. The big groups haven’t arrived yet in row after row of parked tour buses, the loud voices of guides speaking in clipped, assured English of something that is beyond words, the occasional flapping of blue-and-white Israeli flags. Those will come by noon, but for now, strange to say, we have Birkenau to ourselves. In the second period of sitting we’ll chant the names of those who died here, but this first period of meditation is silent, giving me a chance to ponder what I’m doing here once again,...

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Bernie’s Training: In the Beginning

Posted by on Dec 23, 2015 in Bernie Glassman, Reflections, Training, ZPO Newsletters | 6 comments

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 been doing meditation for long periods. By then many people knew about meditation, and they would do it on their own. And in many cases, perfectly OK, but many cases the people that were on their own had damaged themselves. Some in a physical way—their eye sight had gotten worse, some their breathing had gotten worse, many had so conditioned themselves to working on things like Mu, or different things that they had read about that it was hard to get them to work correctly—correctly in the way that we wanted to teach. So that just reinforced for me—if anybody in those days would say, “Can I study without a teacher?” I would say, “No. You’re opening yourself for problems.” All kinds of things can happen. There are many experiences that can arise out of meditation that can be traps. It’s like taking drugs and having an experience—it could be a problem. It may feel great. Wow! But it may cause problems. The main problem when it feels great is that you want to recreate it....

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

Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreats, Bearing Witness | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Dec 17, 2015 in Bearing Witness, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 action. This action, as practiced in the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers, rises from not-knowing and bearing witness.  As we witness Europe today and deliberated on the design, scope and purpose of the retreat, we realized that more listening and more bearing witness needs to take place, the action has not risen in the form of a Bearing Witness retreat yet. The Bearing Witness Retreats are a result and a continuation of a long process of relationship-building. Bernie and a dedicated group returned to Auschwitz over twenty times to result in the acclaimed retreat we hold there every year and have affected so many lives. Roshi Genro Gauntt’s Sixteen years of listening finally translated into a retreat in the Black Hills when the conditions were right. Our process in Bosnia, in collaboration with Center for Peacebuilding in Saski Most and headed by Vahidin Omanovic and Mevludin Rahmanovic, continues. In March 2016, we are planning on sending Jared Seide, director of Center for Council and head trainer of Council facilitators in ZPO Bearing Witness retreats, to train...

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Promote the ZPO Peace Work in 2016

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Head for Peace, News, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 donation form, that your donation is for the support of the Zen Peacemakers.  You can also give your credit card information, or send a check made payable to Zen Peacemakers, attn: Heads for Peace Promotion 2016 to Rami Efal, ZPO Coordinator and Assistant to Founder, PO Box 294, Montague, MA...

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Join the ZPO Programs in 2016

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in News | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Dec 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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

Posted by on Oct 15, 2015 in Bernie Glassman, Dharma Talks, Zen Peacemaker Order | 0 comments

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 had a room where we could do it in a circle. But we really don’t, we’re sort of confined to these old houses here. So the Officiant goes up to offer powdered incense. And the first mudra comes shortly after that. So really the first mudra of The Gate is when the Officiant enters and bows in—the Mother Gassho. So at the very back of this handout you have an index of the mudras. So the Mother Gassho is the gassho that we’re all used to doing, which is . . . You can just do it with me. Place your hands together, your palms together. There’s no space in between. The tip of your nose is about in line with the tip of your fingers. Your elbows are a little out—not like this, which a lot of us love to do. Like that, but it’s really dignified, you know. It’s where we’re meeting, right? Buddhas and sentient beings are meeting—right in front of our eyes. And we bow, like that. So that’s the very...

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

Posted by on Oct 1, 2015 in Dharma Talks | 0 comments

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. One of his Shakyamuni’s disciples, Magdalena, came up to him and said, “Hey boss, [Because Shakyamuni Buddha is our boss] I had a dream, and in that dream I saw my mother hanging upside down in the lowest region of Hell—fires all around, and whatever. What can I do?” And Shakyamuni said, “Chant this.” And he gave him a chant. Now it wasn’t like this. It was much smaller. And if you want to get a little bit of a gist of what it was see D.T. Suzuki’s book Manual of Zen which has a version of this. And you’ll see it’s very short. I don’t know if we have any records of what it was that Shakyamuni gave Magdalena. When we did the translation, Maezumi Roshi said, you know, this starts off in the days of Shakyamuni, and in later days it was changed to include a lot of Tantric stuff. So Roshi said to me, “You can change it dramatically.” Because he had always been saying to me that “your goal is going...

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How Richard Gere and Bernie Glassman Offer Solutions for the Homeless

Posted by on Sep 21, 2015 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

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 in the eye. And by doing so, we make the issue so much worse. Richard Gere in Time Out of Mind Every country has a homeless problem, but I cannot think of another developed country that scorns its homeless people more willfully, thus exacerbating their physical, emotional and mental health issues, sometimes beyond repair. Even the most heartless person would have to recognize that ignoring the issues means multiplying the human and financial cost not only for the individual, but for all of us. It seems to me that there really is no place for suffering in our society outside of the designated zones we have specifically marked for it: hospitals, hospices, homeless shelters. How we, as a society, deal with suffering tells us at least as much about ourselves as the myriad ways we promote to achieve success. Is it coincidence that America has the world’s highest documented incarceration rate? Or that in 2014 the city Fort Lauderdale passed a law that bans feeding the homeless in public? We live in a world where...

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