Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Roland

At the site of gruesome human medical experiments, Sensei Dr. Roland Yakushi Wegmüller has been serving and ministering the participants of the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat for the past 14 years. In this personal essay, Roland reflects on his role as the retreat’s doctor, the healing and kindness in the old camp, and the rich experiences and connections he’s had with his patients there. Deutsch nach Englisch.

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Gloves4Gloves-Ebola Relief

To date, thousands of individuals have lost their lives to Ebola and the World Health Organization projects many more.While cases are currently in several countries including the United States, the major threat still remains in West Africa. There are too few resources available in these highly affected countries to prevent and treat this disease. It is critical that we are able to identify the signs and symptoms of Ebola and can more effectively prevent its transmission. Everyone can do something to help. Nurses are at the forefront of care for Ebola victims and it is important that the efforts of those in this global profession are widely supported. As students at Columbia University School of Nursing, we are standing in solidarity with our nurse colleagues in West Africa. We have designed fluorescent winter gloves to raise Ebola awareness. The sale of each pair of winter gloves will fund the donation of 100 medical supply gloves for communities heavily affected by Ebola. Hence, the name of our inititiave – Gloves4Gloves. Because Ebola is spread through contact with bodily fluids, medical gloves are essential to prevent the transmission of the disease. Please help us create awareness about this deadly disease and minimize the lives...

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Bernie’s Reflections on Issan Dorsey

In my experience, many people come to Zen practice because they love the stories of Zen masters of long ago. They love reading about outrageous teachers who said strange things and acted in even stranger ways, seeming like children, fools, and even madmen to the rest of society. It has also been my experience that while we love these characters that lived hundreds of years ago, we don’t love them so much while they’re still living. We don’t always love our present day madmen and eccentrics, for these are the people who manifest our shadow. They live in the cracks – nor just of our society but of our psyche. They put in our faces those qualities in ourselves that we’d prefer not to see – a refusal to conform, a refusal to “grow up,” a human being who ignores conventions and acceptable standards of behavior and makes up his life as he goes along. I think of Issan Dorsey as the shadow in many people’s lives. He was a drug addict, he was gay, he appeared in drag, and he died of AIDS. For many years he lived right on the edge, befriending junkies, drag queens and alkies who lived precariously like him, on the fringes of society. When he died, a Zen teacher and priest, he was still befriending and caring for those whom our society rejected then and continues to reject now, people ill with the AIDS virus. Like the old Zen masters of old, Issan Dorsey was outrageous; he manifested the shadow in our lives. And he was loved not just after his death but also during his life. For Issan had exuberance for all of life, and that included death, too. I first met Issan Dorsey in 1980, just after he began the Maitri group on Hartford Street. I happened to be visiting San Francisco Zen Center and was in the zendo when Roshi Richard Baker, Abbot of the Center, announced that a satellite group of gay Zen practitioners was forming in the middle of San Francisco’s Castro District, under the leadership of Issan Dorsey. Baker Roshi strongly supported Issan’s work, as he would continue to do for years to come. That was my first meeting with Issan. By...

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