Turning Towards Turners Falls: Local Collaboration Serves Underserved Families in Massachusetts USA

Massachusetts USA Zen Peacemakers joined the Montague Catholic Social Ministries group to provide relief for underprivileged families in the Turners Falls area.

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Yet the Ground Holds Firm: Highlights from the 2017 Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreat in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bearing Witness Retreats reveal how, even though each place of tragedy reflects a unique circumstance, they all share in common universal human experiences – even the tendency to violence can be seen as a source and expression of commonality and connection. Several years ago, Zen Peacemakers began collaborating with Bosnian peace-builders at the Center for Peacebuilding, to plan a bearing witness retreat following the genocide there in 1992-1995. These planning efforts were passed to local European Zen Peacemakers leaders, who brought it all to fruition this past May. In this post Zen Peacemakers thanks the organizers and features the stories of four European Zen Peacemakers who attended the retreat.

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Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat 2017

Bernie Glassman and The Zen Peacemakers are returning for the 22nd year to the old site of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland, for a Bearing Witness Retreat. Bernie Glassman began the annual Bearing Witness Retreats in 1996, with help from Eve Marko and Andrzej Krajewski. They have taken place annually every year since then. Much has been written about these annual retreats; at least half a dozen films have been made about them in various languages. They are multi-faith and multinational in character, with a strong focus on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Taking Action.

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This Food of Seventy Two Labors, an Invitation to a Bearing Witness Retreat to Food, Land and Racism in the USA

Rev. Ariel Pliskin​, ZPO Minister and founder of Unity Tables​ and community-based Stone Soup Café Greenfield MA​ has participated in several Bearing Witness Retreats on the streets, at Auschwitz, and the Black Hills. He now brings this rich experience to examine the interplay of food, land and race in the USA, in a new retreat he is organizing together with Sensei Francisco Lugovina​ from Hudson River Peacemaker Center-House of One People​, and Leah Penniman from Soul Fire Farm​. Read what led Ariel to co-develop this retreat, and join him in September 2017 on Soul Fire Farm.

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For the Sake of Children: Pilgrimage to Manzanar, Bearing Witness to Fear, Bonds, and Love

“Bearing witness and experiencing the Three Tenets at Manzanar helped me, and gave me the courage, to touch deeper parts of myself. Whatever I saw at Manzanar: family love, family bonding, silence, community, and fear, was about me. It reflected me.” Last month on April 29, 2017, Zen Peacemaker Order member Nem Bajra joined 2,000 others and traveled to Manzanar, one of ten concentration camps that interned Japanese Americans during WWII, to participate in the 48th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage. The following piece details his personal experience of the pilgrimage.

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Rags to Rakusus: Irene

A prayer flag, a childhood friend’s pajamas, her teacher’s denim, a t-shirt collected on a street retreat – The Zen Peacemaker Rakusu is a garment that those who take the Buddhist vows sew from discarded materials or of meaningful origins. In this first post of the series “Rags to Rakusus,” Irene Ji Un Edelmann of New York reflects on her experience of creating hers. “[It] is symbolic of the tapestry of life and the little pieces that form a whole.”

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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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Bernie’s Recovery Fund

We are gathering funds for a $14,000 treatment developed by world-renowned neuroscientist Edward Taub at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Taub Therapy Clinic. Bernie has undergone one such treatment in October 2016 concentrating on his right leg. This treatment was instrumental in helping him travel and participate in the 2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat. This next 2-week treatment will concentrate on his right arm, and this amount will cover the treatment, his travel and compensation for an accompanying caregiver. We thank all those who have contributed in the past and encourage all those who can contribute towards this next phase to do so again.

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Native American Summer Programs 2017

Mitakuye Oyasin — all my relations — is an essential Lakota understanding. Zen Peacemakers is honored to continue the deepening of relations with the Lakota following our 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat, the 2016 Cheyenne River Plunge, and the Zen Peacemaker presence at Standing Rock in fall and winter 2016. Although the 2017 service trip and bearing witness plunge are new offerings, they are the fruit of an 18-year relationship between the Lakota and Zen Peacemakers’ members, some of which is shared in our blog.

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Support Zen Peacemakers in 2017

Zen Peacemakers, inc., as founded by Bernie Glassman, is the home of engaged Buddhism based on the Three Tenets – Not Knowing, Bearing witness and Taking Action. With these three simple principles, Zen Peacemakers has borne witness and engaged today’s most challenging social issues. 2017 promises new global social, ecological and ultimately spiritual challenges. Zen Peacemakers is committed to engage them and we invite you to help.

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The Path of Solidarity

“By letting go of who we imagine ourselves to be and cultivating a non-clinging heart, we can learn to accompany each other in an embodied way and live in community—and in dignity—with those with whom we suffer.” In the Path of Solidarity, Doshin Nathan Woods considers what it means to stand arm in arm as part of our Buddhist practice.

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Pursuing Peace: Israeli Zen Peacemaker Reflects on Bridging Divides in Israel-Palestine

At the beginning of March, Zen Peacemaker Order member Iris Katz presented at a full day workshop in Washington, DC as part of Save Israel-Stop the Occupation (SISO). In this post, Iris gives personal testimony about her role as an Israeli Jew in social movements to alleviate the suffering caused by the Israeli occupation. She discusses the complexities of patriotism, activism, community, and justice in an Israel Palestine context, and highlights the way of responsible Judaism as the vital work of bridging the deeply entrenched divides created by “us and them” frameworks.

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Rain, Thunder And Lightning Were All Present – Report from the Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in Fort Snelling MN USA, November 2016

Read this report from ZPO Member Laura Gentle Dragon Kennedy who co-organized a bearing witness retreat with the Native American Dakota in MN, bearing witness to the history of genocide there and its present day expression in the community and land.

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Street Retreats

Street Retreats are a unique offering rising from the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets, and are now available in many locations around the world. Trained leaders support you and others in living on the streets for one, two or more days and nights, experiencing first hand interdependence through practicing Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. While having nothing you will witness the bounty that is available and the unexpected ways it appears. Always with your group, you will mediate together, share in council, go on begging rounds, walk across town, checking in at a local soup kitchen etc.

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