No Pretension, Much Humor: Bernie’s Visit to Vassar College, April 2017

“Not once in his speech did Roshi Glassman use words like ‘consciousness,’ ‘freedom,’ or even ‘enlightenment,’…What he spoke repeatedly of was ‘taking action'” — Rick Jarow​, Professor of Religion/Asian Studies and Chairman of the Carolyn Grant Endowment Committee at Vassar College, hosted Bernie Glassman​ and reflects on his visit on campus.

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Making Peace: the World as One Body, a 2012 Dharma Talk by Roshi Bernie Glassman

Roshi Bernie Glassman gave this series of dharma talks during a workshop at the Upaya Zen Center in August 2012 on non-duality, emptiness, and the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers.

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Roshi Eve Marko’s Remarks on Bernie’s Sixty Year Journey

Roshi Eve Marko reflects on Bernie’s Sixty Year Journey during a dharma talk given in Felsentor, Switzerland in July 2014.

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A Sixty Year Journey, 2014 Dharma Talk by Bernie Glassman

Dharma talk by Bernie Glassman given in July 2014 in Felsentor, Switzerland on Bernie’s Six Decades of Zen Teaching/Practice (with occasional cameos by Rocky and Tootsie).

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Living a Life that Matters: Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko Dharma Talk at Sivananda Ashram, Bahamas, 2015

In February 2015, Roshis Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko gave a joint dharma talk in the Bahamas at Sivananda Ashram about stories, diversity, peace-building, and indigeneity. They have been teaching on and off at Sivananda Ashram for 19 years.

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In Remembrance of Roshi Sandra Jishu Angyo Holmes, Co-founder of the Zen Peacemaker Order

Today is the 19th anniversary of the passing of Sandra Jishu Angyo Holmes, sensei, the co-founder of the Zen Peacemaker Order and Zen priest of the White Plum Asanga. Her contribution to the Zen Peacemaker vision still reverberates today as we honor her life and service.

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Despair and Empowerment in Our Watershed Moment

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

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Resonance is Everywhere

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

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

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

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Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness

(Pictured above right to left: Michael O’keefe, Peter Matthiessen, Siddiq Powell, Bernie, Alisa and Mark Glassman,(Bernie’s children), Brendan Breen. Auschwitz/Birkenau 1996)   Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness By Bernie Glassman Photographs by Peter Cunningham   (Continued from Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement)  I had a student that many of you probably know, named Claude AnShin Thomas. And when I met him he had already been pretty heavily involved with Thich Nhat Hanh. He had been in the Vietnam War. He had had a mental breakdown. He was a very confused person. He couldn’t sleep at night, you know. He’d be kept up by the bombs, and all kinds of things. He had been a tailgate gunner on a helicopter, shooting people. And then he had a nervous breakdown. At any rate, he came to me wanting to know if he could ordain with me, and be my student. And for many different reasons I agreed. And it turned out that he was soon going to be involved in a walk. He did a lot of walking. His practice was walking. He walked across Europe. He walked all over. And very soon—maybe a year, I can’t remember the timing—he was going to join a bunch of Buddhist monks who chant the Lotus Sutra while marching and beat a drum, and chant— as they walk. Their practice is walking and social engagement. So somebody here was confused about Japanese maybe not being involved in social engagement—their leader, sort of a Gandhi kind of guy in Japan told them if they weren’t in jail half of the year, they weren’t being a good monk. They had to do resistance. That was part of their practice, and walking. So they were planning a walk from Auschwitz to Hiroshima—through all of the war-torn countries. And AnShin had decided to join them. So I said that I would go with him to Auschwitz, and give him Precepts, as a layperson. And I would do that at Auschwitz. And then I would join to the last month of that walk, and ordain him as a Priest at the helicopter site where he was stationed in Vietnam. And it turned out there was an interfaith conference being held at Auschwitz, in regards to this walk. And so...

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Gate of Sweet Nectar at ZCLA Part 2: Mudras

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

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

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

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The Zen Peacemaker Order Vision, Part 2

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

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

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

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Black Elk Still Speaks 

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

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

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

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Everything and Nothing

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

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

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

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