Knowing When to Quit: Roshi Genro Reflects on a Photo from a 1999 New York City Street Retreat

“…Once you’ve experienced a certain amount of difficulty as a group, and the group’s gone through a lot, sometimes you don’t need four days on the street to get it.” Roshi Grover Genro Gaunt reflects on his experience during a street retreat in 1999.

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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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We Are Sumud, or If You Imagine It, It Will Be

“Sumud, like so many other acts of heartful resistance, begins as an act of the imagination. Someone dares imagine that force, occupation, discrimination, poverty, and violence can end.” Eve Marko reflects on her recent trip to Israel, and acts of imagination and revolution.

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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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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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بَحِبِّك This Says I Love You: U.S. Couple Addresses Islamophobia with Dialogue and Artivism

Married U.S. couple and co-founders of the Bahebak Project, Azzam, a Muslim Palestinian, and Anna, a Jewish American, speak about their work transforming fear to love. Through the Bahebak Project, they create grassroots community support networks to provide emergency assistance to Syrian refugees, respond to Islamophobia and Anti-Arab Prejudice with dialogue and artivism, and engage in peace-building across difference in the United States and Middle East.

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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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Inspire Us – Request for Blog Writings

INSPIRE US! Do you have a story to share in the spirit of the Zen Peacemakers and the Three Tenets? Consider writing for the Zen Peacemakers Blog. We are constantly collecting stories, interviews, essays and reflections to share with our international community. Writing can be a great way to practice the three tenets, to re-enter a situation with no bias, to bear witness and explore the ingredients present and consider them from different perspectives. One expression of compassion is said to be “Give No Fear”, and writing can be a way to give, to share with others, fearlessly.

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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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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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Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Russell

This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” – reflections from 20 years of participants in the Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats since 1996. In this post, Russell Delman writes a letter called “What Remains” about his experience during the 2016 Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat.

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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 Search of Dignity And Care: A ZPO Member’s Reflection On A Year of Street Retreats

“…The tech firms have headquarters literally right across the streetcar tracks from the Tenderloin, the city’s most impoverished neighborhood…my mind and my body can be and has been complicit in setting up boundaries and breaking down neighborhoods… if I allow all experience – the whole plaza – to penetrate me, then I will be transformed…” – ZPO Member Kosho Brian Durel of Upaya Zen Center.

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Brazilian Zen Peacemaker Order Member Leads Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning In Porto Algre Public Schools, South Brazil.

Brazilian J.Ovidio Waldemar, M.D. is a long time member and contributor to the Zen Peacemakers.
He is an American trained Brazilian psychiatrist who has for the last 20 years been active in the Viazen, the Porto Alegre Zen Center. In this program, SENTE, Ovidio weaves his Zen Peacemaker practices of meditation, council practice and the Three-Tenets with his clinical psychotherapy experience to support the children and community of Porto Alegre in South Brazil. Watch theBelow is a full report of this program.

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The One Body Had a Stroke

“Each one of us who lives here is part of that one body called the United States, though we often don’t realize it. One arm feels superior to the other arm, one leg would like the other to stumble, oblivious of the fact that that would cause the entire body to stumble.”

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“The River Song” Zen Peacemakers at Simply Smiles, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation, August 2016

In August 2016, the Zen Peacemakers visited Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. They met the people of La Plant and Eagle Butte, visited the local youth center and the wild mustang horse refuge, as well as worked with Simply Smiles – a non-profit building and revitalizing homes for Lakota families. This August 2017, The Zen Peacemakers will return to Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation for a week of service, in collaboration with Simply Smiles inc. Meet the local Lakota community, rebuild and prepare homes for the winter, practice meditation and council and deepen your appreciation of the Zen Peacemakers Three Tenets: Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. Join us! August 6-12 2017 Register at http://zenpeacemakers.org/nat2017/ “The River Song” Kristen Graves, Guitar, Music and Lyrics Tiokasin Ghosthorse, Flute Rami Efal, Video and photos...

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Standing People, Rooted People: Peacemaking Among the Indigenous Cultures of Southern Africa and Turtle Island

Drawing experiences from different corners of the world, two ZPO members, one from the United States, Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt and one from Finland, Mikko Ijäs, share their stories of being welcomed by #FirstNations and the #indigenous peoples of Turtle Island (Northern America) and Southern Africa and how their appreciation of #peacemaking was affected by encountering these rich wisdom cultures and the individuals that embodied them.

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Sharing a Meal with Hungry Hearts

by Cassie Moore, Upaya Resident “Calling all you hungry hearts All the lost and left behind Gather ’round and share this meal Your joy and sorrow I make it mine.” —from The Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy Most nights, people line up outside of the Santa Fe homeless shelter, Pete’s Place, well before the glass doors stretch open for dinner at 6 p.m. For dozens of people, “Pete’s” (formerly the Pete’s Pets building on Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe, now the Interfaith Community Shelter) is a winter emergency shelter that offers nourishment and beds, as well as community and safety. To serve meals, the shelter relies on legions of volunteers, like us. A Upaya team of eight, we’ve come dressed not in our usual Zenblack, but in “normal” clothes. We unpack a Subaru full of prepped veggies, spices, oils, and kitchenware and lug it all into Pete’s kitchen. Debbie who works at the shelter greets us with boundless energy, and orients us on how to prepare dinner, how to serve, and when to sit to join the shelter guests for dinner. Over several days, we have been preparing for this dinner with the help of local sangha members. Our menu feels like a pre-Thanksgiving feast for the 105 people who will fill Pete’s dining hall tonight. As we unload the car in trips, walking back and forth through the parking lot, we pass a dozen people looking in through the still-locked glass doors, pacing outside, resting on the sidewalk, catching up, smoking. A sangha volunteer whispers to me, “This is where I get shy.” Internally, I feel an old shyness fog me, too. I feel intense waves of differentiation coming up, noticing the clients who appear to be on drugs, seeing a group of women yelling in the parking lot corner. A man in the lot catcalls me. I notice this feeling arise that says, These people are different than me. I feel self-doubt. I’m afraid I don’t know how to show up with these people, that our differences are too big for us to connect, that I won’t know the right thing to say or do. As we settle in, the kitchen begins smelling like holidays: it’s snowing out and our chicken soup and...

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“If You Ask For Help, You Get Help” – A Zen Peacemaker’s Report from Standing Rock

By Sensei Michel Engu Dobbs, Zen Peacemaker Order, About an hour after going into a ditch in a white-out blizzard as we headed out of Oceti Sakowin camp and back to Bismarck, I began to look over at my friend Grover and wonder what the best way to cook a Zen Roshi was. I had no internet, and wasn’t able to look up a recipe online, so I decided to get out and start digging. As I began to free the right front tire, I heard a voice calling over the howling wind, and saw a young Lakota man standing in the snow- he hooked us up and yanked us on out. I crawled back into the car after hugging him with all my might, and turned to Grover and said, “That’s a miracle, huh?” He smiled back at me with a look that said “Of course, what have I been telling you? What did you expect? Haven’t you noticed what’s going on here?” Just a couple of hours earlier, as we said our goodbyes back in camp, a wonderful woman who shared a large tent with us and about 12 veterans, grabbed me. Andy, aka- Unci (Lakota for grandma), told me, “I’ve been taking care of people all my life- I had two disabled siblings, my parents were sick, then as a wife, and a mother, and as a professional nurse. Five years ago, I realized that I needed help, and I began to learn how to ask for it, and in those years, what I’ve learned is that the universe is endlessly generous- if you ask for help, you get help.” This was the strongest message for me, during our visit. From the moment we arrived, as I stood and looked around in stunned silence at the massive camp, populated by about 7,000 people, I saw folks all around who were helping each other, taking care of each other. If anyone opened their mouth and asked for help, there were ten or fifteen people there to offer it. What a startling contrast to living back in NY. In fact, when I finally got back to NYC, looking and smelling a bit like a hobo, I stood on the train platform waiting for...

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Retracing the Path of Bullets

    Retracing the Path of Bullets   A Report from a Seventeen-day Pilgrimage in Sweden, Bearing Witness to the Effects of the Arms Industry on Communities, Veterans, Refugees and Caregivers. By Pake Hall, ZPO Member, Sweden (Top photo by Lennart Kjörling. All other photos by Pake Hall) During the summer of 2015, forty individuals undertook a pilgrimage from Gothenburg harbor to the industrial district of Bofors in Karlskoga, to bear witness to how war and arms exports are present right here in the midst of the idyllic Swedish summer. It was an interfaith group and people joined and left at different points along the way. So why did we do it? How can walking along open Swedish roads, listening to stories and meditating have importance in connection with this subject? In spring of 2014, I became ensnared in the net of endless discussions around refugees and Swedish arms exports on Facebook. That spring, the rise of the extreme right wing Sweden Democrats party and a new arms deal between Sweden and Saudi Arabia were the reason that these issues were being so hotly debated. The discussions soon became more like polarized monologs and in my opinion led lead nowhere. One thing that struck me was that many of those who were very critical of allowing refugees to come in to Sweden often wrote things like:” They are not real war refugees” and ”Those who really need to flee are not coming here. Those who come are just luxury refugees.” For my part, I was just as convinced that they were truly refugees and that they were fleeing from inhumane conditions and terrible suffering. The discussions became very strongly polarized, with people just talking past one another and separation grew with each exchange. When I looked at what others wrote and at my replies, it struck me that I had very little direct experience of war and of refugees in Sweden. In many ways, I live in an insulated world where I mostly just heard stories that reinforced my worldview. How would it be to actually listen to a Swedish soldier who had been in combat? Or to people that actually work in the Swedish arms trade? To refugees? To people working in the refugee camps…...

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Zen Peacemakers Response to the US Elections

Zen Peacemakers Response to the US Elections The recent election in the United States has had a deep impact, not just on Americans but on many around the world. It has stoked shock, fear, upset, and anger in many, and relief, hope, and gladness in others. The big differences in how we feel reflect the diversity of people, their karmas, values and vision. That difference is no problem; honoring those differences while seeking common ground and taking action is the challenge facing us now. This is the best time to invoke the Three Tenets and bring forth the mind of not-knowing, bearing witness, and a response grounded in these Tenets. Rather than knowing what to fear and expect, which sows fires of confusion, outrage and victimhood, let’s cultivate not-knowing, letting go of preconceptions and certainties. Please use whatever practice grounds you in this space, be it meditation, mindfulness, ceremony, or prayer. Bear witness to what arises, both outside and inside, and then honor the response that naturally comes forth from this present moment. This is the best of times to practice these Three Tenets, grounding our perceptions and actions in our experience of the wholeness of life rather than in fear and bias. May we serve this Whole with strength, patience, humor, and determination. Roshi Bernie Glassman, Spiritual Director Roshi Eve Marko Sensei Grant Couch, Chairman Sensei Chris Panos, President Rami Efal, Executive Director...

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Large Sprite, Large Heart- In the Aftermath of a Street Retreat

During September 22-25 2016, six individuals have partaken in a Street Retreat in New York City, a homelessness plunge based on Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. Below is their email exchange in its aftermath concerning one individual they met on the streets. (September 28 2016) A vignette on our street retreat, As some of you know I went on a street retreat in NYC from Thursday to Sunday last week. In the course of being homeless we befriended a 47 year old woman who had been living on the street for 25 years now and is still alive. Fatima acted as our street coordinator; making sure we got our food at the Bowery Mission before others so we could get to the park for our closing ceremony on Sunday, got us coffee in the morning, showed us where to sleep in a big park in the village. She had amazing energy; you could see how alive she was from the way she laughed and cried to the way she offered herself to us; wanting to be seen and heard. She didn’t have teeth and admitted to taking crack and alcohol every day because she didn’t know how to cope with her life. We were sitting in our circle meditating and speaking from the heart and with a tear streaked face she looked into our eyes and said, “don’t forget me don’t forget Fatima”;. It reminded me of these parts of me that cry, are confused, feel messy and all our parts that cry “don’t forget me”. Marushka   (September 28 2016) Dear Friends, As you know we had a quick discussion & agreed we’d like to do something for Fatima for her upcoming birthday. I told her I would meet her for lunch again this Saturday at 12:30 at the meatloaf place; no guarantee she’ll be there but she did say she’s there every Saturday. I am going to bring a $100 Kmart gift card for her & say it’s from all of us; if however she doesn’t show I will just keep it for myself. Either way I will report what happens, & if she does show up I’ll give you all my address for any contribution you’d like to make. Gassho, Scott B.   (September 30 2016) Dear Street Sangha, Good day! Hard to believe that 7 days ago we...

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The Woman Sitting Next to Me

  By Roshi Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, Spiegel, Switzerland Tala is three years old. A year ago she arrived out of the war in Syria to Switzerland. Her mother brought her to our women circle. The first time some weeks ago, Tala sat for two hours in the circle, holding the talking piece when it was her turn, looking in our faces, smiling. Tala loves it, as we all do, our sitting in the meditation room around the candle in deep listening of what our one heart wants to share and to the sharing of all the hearts in our circle of women. Yesterday evening she laid down on the black zabuton and slept during all the rounds of our sharing, but at the end she woke up to blow off the candle. It is a good way – to share in council – about the pain and the joy we hold in our hearts. We invoked the presence of family members who are gone in the war, we called their names and accepted the deep pain of the loss. I often hear in Switzerland people hope not to meet their parents too often because their relationships are not always easy. In the circle, we listen to the pain of loosing everything, home, work, culture, friends, brothers and sisters — and out of this, came to me the idea to write poems in Arabic and work together on translation, to share it in a book. Later when I expressed this idea, I saw light in the sad eyes of the woman sitting next to me. After the council we had tea and sweets together. Every time the Swiss women come to the circle, or to the meditation, they bring bags full of beautiful outfits and shawls for the others or for their friends or families. The field is filled with love and respect for our different lives as women, all with the wish to be happy and live a precious life. Later, I wrote to Jared Seide a dear peacemaker friend and director of the Center of Council, asking if he knew anyone who would have Council guidelines in Arabic language. The same day, I got it, with warm wishes from Jack Zimmerman, Leon Berg and Itaf Awad, founder and head teachers and editors of the book “The Way of Council.”...

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COMING SOON: NEW WEBINAR SERIES with BERNIE GLASSMAN

As many of you may know, back in January 12th ​2016 Bernie has suffered a stroke. ​His recovery, according to his therapists, is nothing short of spectacular, other than the peculiar phenomenon that he sometimes, while speaking about his condition, forgets the word ‘stroke.’ He will pause, then recite an esoteric mantra revealed to him in the bardo of neuroscience blackout – ‘Bowling…? Strike..? Stroke.’ – and off he goes resuming his spiel. Watching him do that is like watching a dynamo engine winding itself up, only to release with great gusto. Once he returned home from rehabilitation, between therapies and espressos, Bernie began working on a new book and found great enthusiasm to share his post-stroke insights and current expression of Zen practice, which to him feels fresh and unconventional. “What else is new, right?” Bernie decided to share his process and study with all of us, for the first time, through periodic video internet calls (webinars). The webinar series will be open to all ZPO Member. If you are not a member yet this is the time to join this international community of spiritual practitioners and social activists and take part in this special opportunity to study with Bernie. >>CLICK HERE TO ENROLL AS A ZPO MEMBER<< >>If you are an enrolled ZPO Member, you may register to the webinar now and be notified once the dates become available. Click Here to Register<< Bernie is offering these teaching sessions free of charge. Any dana will appreciated and will support the Zen Peacemaker Order. No bowling experience or shoes...

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Coming Back to Ourselves: Council Training in the Balkans

The following report on the ongoing Zen Peacemakers peace-building efforts in Bosnia/Herzegovina is a glimpse into the ongoing development of our Bearing Witness program that includes Auschwitz/Birkanu, Poland, The Black Hills in Turtle Island/South Dakota, USA and Bosnia/Herzegovina. These are funded by donations and income from previous retreats (learn more here). They are planned, staffed and participated by many of our Zen Peacemaker Order members, who are actively pursuing social action causes around the world in ecology, human rights, refugee relief, hunger, homelessness, hospice, veteran support and prison outreach and others. To join the Zen Peacemaker Order and participate in world-wide community of spiritual practitioners and social activists, follow this link.   “Coming Back to Ourselves: Notes on a Council Training Workshop in the Balkans” By Jared Seide, Center for Council, ZPO Three participants in last year’s Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreat to Auschwitz had come from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). They arrived in Poland with some trepidation about just what the plunge would be like. They left shaken and pretty raw. When Jozo and I met them this month in Sarajevo, they were eager and energized. “I’ve missed you guys so much,” Boris said, “and, seeing you here, I’m starting to realize what the trip to Auschwitz was really about and why I’ve been feeling so unsettled these past months.” Turning toward suffering can take many forms. As a practice, it can seem counterintuitive and, to be wholesome, it demands skillful means, deep fortitude and compassion. The suffering of the Bosnian people is deep and profound and the events of twenty years ago are still tender and uncomfortable. Even now, excruciating memories are triggered by certain sites, uncorked stories, even turns of phrase. Despite the notorious “Bosnian humor,” an off-color and surprising proclivity for diffusing tension with dark jokes, there seems to be a longing for a real encounter with our common experience of suffering. So much there has gone unaddressed, unrestored, unmet… and a deep and embodied experience of coming together to grieve, release, celebrate feels emergent. Or so we imagined, as we designed a 4-day Council Training with an assortment of peaceworkers engaged in the complex and challenging work of rebuilding. The Zen Peacemakers Order is deeply committed to building relationships and bearing...

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WHAT’S IN A PHOTO?

  WHAT’S IN A PHOTO? By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Photo by Peter Cunningham Monkfish Publications, which is publishing a book on Lex Hixon and the radio interviews he did in New York City’s WBAI in the 1970s and 1980s, recently asked us for a photo of Bernie from years ago. I SOS’d Peter Cunningham, photographer extraordinaire, and we went back and forth with various old photos (“Wow, look at that one!” ”Who’s that guy?” “Remember her!” “When was this?”, and on and on), and somewhere in that process, it hit both Peter and me how historic some of photos are, and the broad, multi-weave tapestry we’ve not only witnessed over these decades but have been raveled into ourselves. One photo showed Bernie, Peter Matthiessen, and Lex at a table in the Greyston mansion in Riverdale. Bernie, bald and in his tattered brown samue jacket, is the essence of animation as he lays out one vision after another, Peter looks pensively (painfully?) down, probably wishing he was back home writing a book, and Lex shines like the sun, face radiant. I’m not there, it’s before my days, but I’ll bet a million dollars that this was a board meeting to discuss Bernie’s thoughts and plans for opening up businesses and not for profits as vehicles for Zen practice. Any old member of the Zen Community of New York will remember those endless meetings, the excitement, exhilaration, and the trepidation (How are we ever going to get the money!). It caused me to recall my own first experience, coming up with a friend to the Greyston mansion in 1985 for the evening sitting, only to bumble into the middle of a residents’ gathering in an immense dining room. Generously, we were invited to sit in the corner of the long table as they talked about plans to serve monthly meals at the Yonkers Sharing Community to homeless people, hiring those same folks at the Greyston Bakery (which was already in existence), following that up by building permanent apartments for homeless families (in a county that for years built no apartments of any kind, just private homes and Mcmansions), child care centers, and programs to help folks get off the welfare system. I sat there, novice...

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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 Trainings: Street Retreats

Bernie’s Trainings: Street Retreats By Bernie Glassman I wish to talk about going on the streets during Holy Week, the week of Easter, the week of Passover, one of the saddest and most joyous times of the year. I go on the streets at other times of the year, too, and each occasion is special in its own way, but the streets feel different during Holy Week. The remembrance and caring that spring to life during that time are unmistakable and unforgettable To give you a feel for what I mean, let me describe the 1996 Holy Week street retreat. We spent our first night sleeping–or trying to sleep–in Central Park. It was so cold that at about 4 a.m. we gave up and began to walk downtown, stopping for breakfast at the Franciscan Mission on West 31st Street en route to our hangout at Tompkins Square Park. We were tired and it didn’t help when we heard that it was going to rain that night, the first night of Passover. Walking past St. Mark’s Church in the East Village, I ran into its rector, Lloyd Casson. Notwithstanding the smell of my clothes after a night in the park, Lloyd gave me a hug. I knew Lloyd from the time he’d served as rector of Trinity Church, and before that, as assistant dean at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. When he heard that we would be in the area, Lloyd suggested we come to the Tenebrae service at St. Mark’s after our Passover seder and then spend the night in the church. Rabbi Don [Singer] had flown in from California to join us for Passover on the streets, but he’d disappeared in the middle of our night in Central Park. For purposes of the seder, we begged for food in the Jewish restaurants on Second Avenue and in Spanish bodegas by Tompkins Square. One retreat participant, a Swiss woman, was given twenty dollars by the Franciscans when she attended their mass that morning before breakfast. Suddenly, as we began to give up hope, Don appeared. He explained that he’d been so cold during the night that he’d gone into the subway to keep warm. After riding the trains all night he’d visited...

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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...

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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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Swami Vishnudevananda Saraswati

My wife, Roshi Eve Marko and I just returned from our annual teaching at the Sivananda Ashram on Paradise Island where, on the last day, we discussed Swami Vishnudevananda with Swami Swaroopananda. Below is a brief history of the wonderful Yoga Teacher and Peace Activist Swami Vishnudevananda. Swami Vishnudevananda A number of Zen Peacemakers will be gathering there in March. Also, Sivananda Peace Ambassadors will be joining all our Bearing Witness Retreats Vishnudevananda Saraswati (December 31, 1927 – November 9, 1993) was a disciple of Sivananda Saraswati, and founder of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres and Ashrams. He established the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Course, one of the first yoga teacher training programs in the West. His books The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga (1959) and Meditation and Mantras (1978) established him as an authority onHatha and Raja yoga. Vishnudevananda was a tireless peace activist who rode in several “peace flights” over places of conflict, including the Berlin Wall prior to German reunification. In reaction to a vision of a world engulfed by flames and people running hither and thither, oblivious of borders, Vishnudevananda began his peace mission, calling it the True World Order, aimed at promoting world peace and understanding. The first act was to create the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course in 1969, as he felt the need to train future leaders and responsible citizens of the world in the yogic disciplines. Later he conducted peace flights over the world’s trouble spots, earning himself the name “The Flying Swami”. On August 30, 1971, Vishnudevananda flew from Boston to Northern Ireland in his Peace Plane, a twin-engine Piper Apache plane painted by artist Peter Max. His Vedantic message, “Man is free as a bird”, challenged all man-made borders and mentally constructed boundaries. Upon landing, he was joined by actorPeter Sellers and they walked through the streets of Belfast chanting a song called “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.” Later that same year, on October 6, he took off with his co-pilot over the war-ridden Suez Canal and was buzzed by Israeli jets. The same thing happened with the Egyptian Air Force on the other side of the Canal. He continued eastward, “bombing” Pakistan and India with flowers and peace leaflets. On September 15, 1983 Vishnudevananda flew over the Berlin Wall, from West to East Berlin, in a highly publicized and particularly dangerous mission to promote peace. In a press interview given several weeks beforehand, he said, “Symbolically we want to...

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Radical Descent: The Cultivation of an American Revolutionary by Linda Coleman

“A rare first-hand account by an active participant in the radical underground movements … distinguished by the courage and painful honesty so critical in a memoir of this kind.” – Peter Matthiessen In her debut memoir, Coleman reveals an intimate account of her choice to join a revolutionary underground guerrilla cell in the 1970’s. This turbulent time in America has lessons for all of us in an age of domestic terrorism headlining the news today. What begins with her youthful idealism and intent to amend the “sins” of her blueblood ancestors soon becomes a firestorm of events that includes the activities of a local police “death squad”, the vicious rape of a co-worker, an attack on a radical bookstore, Ku Klux Klan threats, friends found to be on the 10 MOST WANTED list, her choice to bear arms, donate large sums of money, and transport explosives for a cadre with increasingly questionable motives. The unrelenting series of events that unfold inextricably land her many years later as a witness in one of the longest sedition trials in US history. Terrorist or freedom fighter? That becomes the readers question to answer just as it becomes Coleman’s question as well. Review by Eve Myonen Marko Linda Coleman just published a terrific memoir about her time as a young woman taking part in armed insurrection against this government. It’s called Radical Descent. Coming from a white and privileged background, she decided to join an underground cell of American revolutionaries fighting against our own military-corporate-government established which they accused of perpetrating wars around the world, purveying arms, persecuting minorities, and actively promoting inequality through a corrupt capitalist system. She describes what led her to join this struggle, and what finally led her out. What I really appreciate is her sharing the emotional turmoil she experienced, and especially the burden of guilt she carried over coming from a white and wealthy background. Day by day I hear everywhere around me the same questions: What do I do to change this world? Does anyone pay attention to nonviolent resistance? Is being an armchair middle-class liberal enough? Is meditation enough? Is anything enough? Linda and her friend felt the urgency of this American reality and what it was fostering, and they weren’t...

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Bernie’s 60 Years Jouney in Zen – The 2nd 20 Years: Social Action

So, this is my second twenty years in Zen—sort of the second twenty. I will start around 1976. That’s about forty years ago. I had just received dharma transmission from my teacher. I’m not sure exactly when that was—I should know, it might have been ‘75; it might have been ’76. Sometimes I waste a little time trying to figure out years. But 1976 was the opening of a monastery in New York, Dai Bosatsu Monastery that Eido Shimano Roshi was in charge of. And he started in—that celebration started with a one week Sesshin, which he invited people from different Zen centers across the country. And I was invited to represent our Zen Center of Los Angeles. And I already had had dharma transmission. So that was July ’76—that Sesshin—so somewhere before that. But more important in ’76, was this experience I had in which . . . So until all of that, I was in the mode of, you know, your samurai Zen teacher. And then in 1976 on my way to work, I was in a car with four people, driving to work. I had about an hour trip to go to work. And I had an experience, which I’ve talked a lot about, because it was so important in my life. It was an experience of feeling all of the hungry spirits, or ghosts in the universe—all suffering, as we all do, not just the Palestinians, everyone is suffering. And they were suffering for different things. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough enlightenment. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough food. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough love. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough fame. Some were suffering because they didn’t have enough housing. Some were suffering because they had bad teeth—like me, all kinds of sufferings. And what came up immediately was a vow. So it’s another case of these Three Tenets, you know. I had been for a few weeks—a little context; a few weeks before, I had had this question about reincarnation, which I might talk about in my third phase. But I had this question about reincarnation. And I went to Maezumi Roshi, and I said, “Can you talk...

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It was a Life

Sami Awad is the Executive Director of Holy Land Trust (HLT), a Palestinian non-profit organization which he founded in 1998 in Bethlehem. HLT works with the Palestinian community at both the grassroots and leadership levels in developing nonviolent approaches that aim to end the Israeli occupation and build a future founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence. He has been to many Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats and is a close friend of Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko. Sami Awad, on Auschwitz, fear, and the meaning of nonviolence Sami Awad’s article “It was a Life.” Every killing of every human is a story and a life that was, that is and was to be. It was a heartbeat that stopped before its time. Itwas a dream that disappeared abruptly like a television set that suddenly lost its power. It was a young woman who ate her last meal; it was not her favorite dish, but she did not want to upset her mother for cooking it. “Next time make pizza mom,” she yelled… then she yelled her last cry. It was a wife who did not know that her husband’s last look into her eyes would be imprinted as her eternal memory of him. It was a child who was learning to ride a bicycle. He fell, scratched his knee and cried. It was the father who gently put his hand on the wound, kissed his son’s forehead, wiped the tears, and told him “I am here for you.” A second later they were both not there. It was a young teenager who finally found the courage to send a Facebook message to a girl he admired. It was the young girl who received the message and blushed and wondered what she should do. It was the mother who just finished praying for her son to find a job. It was the son who was running home excited to have found his first job in 5 years; now he was going to take care of his family, buy new clothes for his kids, and take his wife out to dinner… something he never did. It was the businessman who called his wife and told her that he had found the right...

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Victim Consciousness is a Consciousness of War

“So you are a Moroccan” told me the young Arabic woman in the mourners shade “go back to Morocco! You are not from here!”. We were a group of six people, Jewish, most of us Rabbis, all of us students of our late Rebbe Rabbi Zalman Schakter Shalomi who passed just some days ago. We met in the mourning Shiv’a ritual in Jerusalem that was held by Rabbi Ruth and Michael Kagan for all the students of Reb Zalman. Gabriel Meyer came with the idea to go visit the Abu Hadir family, that their son, Mohamad, was kidnaped last week by Jews from the street in his town Sho’afat, and was burned alive as a revenge for the kidnaping and murdering of the three Jewish kids two weeks before by Palestinians from Hebron. Lisa Naomi Beth Talesnick, who was playing a wedding melody on the harp for Reb Zalman’s Sacred Union with the Divine Light, arranged it through some connections she had with the family through her work place as a teacher in the Arabic high-school. Some of us decided to go. It felt like the right thing to do as a direct line from Reb Zalman’s Shiv’a: doing something we know he would have done if he could. We were escorted in by family members who met us in entrance to Sho’afat. They brought us to the big shade of mourners. A line of mourners was standing there and we went and shook the hand of each of them, expressing our sadness and condolences. The father of the boy stood in the middle. Tall, present man, red eyes, just came back from meeting with Abas in Rammalla. Then we were taken to the women mourners hut. The mother set there, surrounded by other women, family and friends. The noble woman in purple is the mother of Mohamad. “Why did they have to burn him alive?…” We were invited to sit. One of the women started to talk strongly to us in English: “who will protect us now? I am afraid for my own son now!” the fear was real. Just like the fear of parents in the Jewish side of town, yet here it was mixed with the fear from the Israeli police...

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The Peace Activist’s Demons – Israeli Engaged Dharma Report, Summer 2014

A few years ago a group of us came to the Palestinian village of Jaloud. We came to support local farmers planting olive trees in one of their fields, which they couldn’t access due to attacks by Israeli settlers. Indeed, during the day, a pickup truck came in our direction from one of the settler outposts. An armed settler came out and demanded that the work stops. His manner was abusive but as there were dozens of us, we disregarded him. As he was waiting for the soldiers that he called in order to kick us out, he said threateningly to the Israeli participants: “Why are you meddling here? These farmers will pay the price for that”. It all ended well and we had all reason to be satisfied with the accomplishment of the day. But we were very worried by the armed settler’s threat. We took him to be serious and we knew that the village was subject to raids and violent attacks by settlers previously. What should we do? What could we do? Actually it was very clear to us what was called for. We should turn to the Jewish settlers in the area and find the ones who would share our concern and help us to prevent an attack. To many people, this idea could seem very naïve or very stupid: Settlers and Peace activists do not work together. “Fanatical right wing nationalists” and “extreme Left self hating Jews” as members of these two groups often tend to call each other, have nothing in common. Also, from a political perspective, turning to settlers for assistance would be recognizing the legitimacy of their presence in the Occupied Territories. Other options – such as turning to the police or army – were not practical: We knew that they would not do anything. Our conviction that turning to settlers was the right thing to do was three-fold: 1) We could not tackle this issue alone, we needed help. An ally who belonged to the same community as the potential attackers would be the most helpful. 2) We had the obligation to do all that we could to prevent the farmers from being attacked. No matter what we thought of settlers living in the Occupied...

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Lawless Holy Land Cycles of Revenge in Israel and Palestine by Roger Cohen

from New York Times, July 4, 2014: PARIS — “Israel is a state of law and everyone is obligated to act in accordance with the law,” the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said after the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager shot in an apparent revenge attack for the killing last month of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. He called the killing of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem “abominable.” President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has denounced the murder of the three Israelis, one of them also an American citizen, in the strongest terms. What to make of this latest flare-up in the blood feud of Arab and Jew in the Holy Land, beyond revulsion at the senseless loss of four teenagers’ lives? What to make of the hand-wringing of the very leaders who have just chosen to toss nine months of American attempts at diplomatic mediation into the garbage and now reap the fruits of their fecklessness? Sometimes words, any words, appear unseemly because the perpetuators of the conflict relish the attention they receive — all the verbal contortions of would-be peacemakers who insist, in their quaint doggedness, that reason can win out over revenge and biblical revelation. Still, it must be said that Israel, a state of laws within the pre-1967 lines, is not a state of law beyond them in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli dominion over millions of Palestinians, now almost a half-century old, involves routine coercion, humiliation and abuse to which most Israelis have grown increasingly oblivious. What goes on beyond a long-forgotten Green Line tends only to impinge on Israeli consciousness when violence flares. Otherwise it is over the wall or barrier (choose the word that suits your politics) in places best not dwelled upon. But those places come back to haunt Israelis, as the vile killings of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Fraenkel and Gilad Shaar demonstrate. Netanyahu, without producing evidence, has blamed Hamas for the murders. The sweeping Israeli response in the West Bank has already seen at least six Palestinians killed, about 400 Palestinians arrested, and much of the territory placed in lockdown. Reprisals have extended to Gaza. Palestinian militants there have fired rockets and mortar rounds into southern Israel in...

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Serving the One: Training in Spiritually-Based Social Action

The Zen Peacemakers is sponsoring a new training program in spiritually-based social action, led by its Founder, Roshi Bernie Glassman. For many years Bernie has modeled his practice on the words of the 8th century Founder of Shingon Buddhism, Kobo-daishi: You can tell the depths of a person’s enlightenment by how they serve others.  Bernie founded the Greyston Mandala in Yonkers, NY and the Zen Peacemakers to provide structures and examples of a path of service to others that is, in and of itself, a powerful tool to awaken to the oneness of life. This program will clarify the spiritual foundations of such a path and how they can be applied to one’s life and work. It will take place at Greyston, in Yonkers, NY, and Bernie will use the Greyston Mandala as his main case study. Bernie will discuss the practical and visible applications of the Greyston model and participants will be given the opportunity for hands-on internships at the Greyston Bakery. The program begins with a four-day workshop led by Bernie Glassman, from September 25-28, 2014. This workshop will include teachings and discussion on the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers, the Five Energies used to structure the Greyston Mandala (including most importantly their practical applications), and Greyston’s own Pathmaking Program, a philosophy and path providing individuals with a foundation on which to build their own life path. From Oct 2014 thru July 2015, participants will be divided into teams of 4 and each team will serve an internship at the Greyston Bakery for 3 weeks. These internships will be under the supervision of Greyston Bakery President and CEO, Mike Brady, Wharton business graduate and long time meditator. The purpose of the internships is to provide a hands on experience of working in a profitable company based on a spiritual practice. The program will conclude with another four-day workshop led by Bernie Glassman, from July 29-August 2, 2015. Participants will be asked to evaluate their internship experience, including the following reflections: To what extent did the Three Tenets manifest in Greyston’s structure and operations? To what extent did the Five Energies manifest? What worked and what didn’t? Suggestions for change. [Greyston staff will be on hand to listen to and address issues.] Interested...

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Eve Marko Shares Thoughts on Peter Matthiessen

I want to share some thoughts and feelings I have about Peter Matthiessen, who passed away last Saturday.

Peter was in the hospital till Friday, and I was told that he talked very little to none at all in the last few days of his life. But Michel Engu Dobbs, his successor, said that on Wednesday evening, when he visited, he asked him if he wished to chant the Heart Sutra in Japanese, or the Shingyo, as they did in his Ocean Zendo. Peter said yes, and the sick, mostly silent man and Engu chanted the entire thing in Japanese without missing a beat.

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Let All Eat Cafes

Jeff Bridges, who has been fighting hunger for decades, teamed up with the Zen Peacemakers to create “Let All Eat” Cafés to feed their communities in ways tailored to each location.  Bridges met Zen Peacemakers founder Bernie Glassman in Santa Barbara in 1999.  Over the years, their friendship and partnership have developed.  At Zen Peacemakers’ Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism, Jeff Bridges discussed his work to end hunger. “Let All Eat” Cafés are inspired by the Greyston Foundation in Yonkers, NY and the Stone Soup Café in Greenfield, MA. Accustomed to spending time on the streets, the Zen Peacemakers developed the Greyston Foundation as a set of social services and businesses that meet basic needs and affirm the dignity of all participants. This tradition of blurring the boundary between people being served and people serving continues with the Stone Soup Café, where a mixed income community gathers every Saturday to enjoy free food, activities and wellness offerings. Unlike many soup kitchens, the Café is a family-friendly environment.  The Stone Soup Café was started by the Zen Peacemakers in 2010 and continues as an independent entity today. The most important partners in establishing the Stone Soup Cafe are the Zen Peacemakers and the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.  The Zen Peacemakers tenet of Bearing Witness and the Unitarian principle of affirming and promoting the worth and dignity of each individual shape the Café’s unique approach.  While these influences are important, the Café welcomes people off all backgrounds without being tied to any specific tradition. If you are interested in putting this model of Soup Kitchen in your area, please read this, and/or contact Ari...

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Update from Aviv and the Israel engaged Dharma group

Dear Friends, It’s been a while since we sent our last report in English. We have several exciting and positive (!) developments to share but have not been able to make the time to properly write them down. Hopefully we will do that soon. Untill then through this video we would like to share with you one of our recent actiivities. In the past yeat we have conducted several “Dharma Tours” to the occupied Palestinian Territories. On these tours particiapnts get exposed to different aspects of how Israeli millitary control affects many aspects of life of Palestinians. There are several groups and organisations offering such tours. What characterises our tours is that we aim to conduct them as an integral part of Dharma practice: Coming in touch with a very painful reality of injustice triggers a host of responses. As Israelis, facing the pain and anger of Palestinains who condem Israel for what it does is not a simple task. Seeing the extent of the power difference between the forces which spread hostility to those who try to build peace, one easily can fall into despair. It is a challenge to stay open, compassionate and non reactive in these situations. So on our tours we take care to remind particiapnts to be aware of their inner attitudes while they see and hear unsettling information. We make sure that the language we use does not promote ill-will and encourages people to sray with an open heart. And we devote a significant part of the day so that people can reflect, share and find support. 6 weeks ago we led a tour to the area of Wadi Qana, half way between Tel Aviv and Nablus. Nearly 50 people joined us, many of them Dharma practitioners for whom it was the first time to engage in such a “political” tour. A reporter from the “Social TV” (an independent web-site that reports on various social issues) came with us and made a nice video of the day. He didn’t include our references to the inner world nor the time we devoted for reflection. Still, we are very happy with the video. As the Social TV made the extra effort to include English subtitles we are able to share...

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Eve Marko Reports on Trip to Israel: Africa in Tel Aviv, & West Bank

BALADY I’m in a taxi going to Checkpoint 300 in order to enter Bethlehem and visit with Sami Awad, head of Holy Land Trust. The checkpoint is gone, replaced by the big Separation Wall, which is yellow-gray on the Israeli side and awash with graffiti demanding an end to the occupation on the other side. But before we get there the taxi driver, a tanned, heavy-set man in his 50s, becomes nostalgic. “Do you remember what this was before the Wall? Remember all the fruit and vegetable stands, the stalls with fresh meat? Believe me, everybody came there, at least everybody who knew anything about good food. What didn’t they sell? Balady tomatoes, balady eggplant, balady watermelon.” “What is balady?” “Balady is Arab,” he says. “Those tomatoes are not like what they sell now in the stores, those tomatoes had meat and so much juice it just spilled out of your lips.  All Jerusalem went there to buy their vegetables and fruit—remember the grapes? Remember the olives? Now look at it,” he said, depressed. I remind him that now there are almost no suicide bombers on account of the Wall, but it seems to be small comfort to him. “There was a place for olives on the left there, nothing like it. Just a hole in the wall, but who didn’t know about it? All along here, on the road to Bethlehem, I stopped every day for lunch as well as to bring food home. You go in there?” he asks. We both know it’s illegal for Israelis to cross into the West Bank. “So tell me, what’s on the other side? Do they have any stores on the road on the other side?” No, I tell him, it’s as barren as on this side, only with lots more taxis and young boys selling postcards and gum. The stands and stores have been shut up a long time, lots of dust on the street. He shakes his head even as I put 40 Shekels in his palm. Only when I get home I look up the word Balady, and find that it doesn’t mean Arab, it means native. And that resonates eerily the next morning, when I meet my friend, Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi, in...

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Israeli Engaged Dharma

In the past 6 months our group was intensively involved in two campaigns of big concern for our Palestinian partners and friends: In Deir Istiya, farmers received notices ordering to uproot 2,000 olive trees planted on their private land. The reason given for this order was that the area was declared by Israel as a natural reserve 30 years ago and so planting of new trees was illegal. In Al- Walaja, where the separation barrier is being built by Israel on village land, it was we who discovered that the Jerusalem municipality was about to declare 1,000 dunams (247 acres) of the village’s land as a national park “for the benefit of the Jerusalem populace”. Both cases are being disputed in court right now and in both we have been giving support to the people, gathering important information and bringing the story to the media. These campaigns, the dilemmas they raised for us as well as the ways in which Dharma was manifested through them, were to be the focus of the current report. But instead, a profoundly touching meeting that took place in Al-Walaja in several weeks ago seems to be the right thing to share this time. The Israeli Engaged Dharma is a group of Dharma (Buddhist way) practitioners who aim to transform Conflict Mindset into one of Reconciliation. We work in solidarity with Palestinians and aim to raise the awareness of the Jewish population to the realities of life under occupation Our connection with the Al-Walaja begun more than 2 years ago, shortly after Israel started constructing the separation barrier around the village. The story of the fence and wall being built around Al-Walaja, deserves a separate account. As is common in other villages where the barrier has been built, we joined nonviolent demonstrations. We also contributed information for the court appeal by the village to set an alternative route for the barrier which would be less disruptive and we found ways to raise the awareness of the Israeli public to the issue. We are also involved in the campaign to stop the above mentioned national park plan. But as we learned more of the challenges facing the community and people in Al-Walaja, and as the demonstrations died down without achieving...

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In Norway, a New Model for Justice

An example of Bearing Witness: By TORIL MOI and DAVID L. PALETZ, Published: August 23, 2012, IHT Global Opinion ON Friday a Norwegian court will hand down its verdict on Anders Behring Breivik, who, on July 22, 2011, detonated a bomb in central Oslo, killing eight people and wounding hundreds more, then drove to Utoya Island, where he shot and killed 69 participants in the Norwegian Labor Party’s youth camp. The world’s attention is focused on whether the court will find Mr. Breivik guilty or criminally insane, and there has already been much debate about how the court handled the question of his sanity. But there is far more to it. Because it gave space to the story of each individual victim, allowed their families to express their loss and listened to the voices of the wounded, the Breivik trial provides a new model for justice in cases of terrorism and civilian mass murder. It is true that, on one level, the trial is not just about the state of Mr. Breivik’s mind but forensic psychiatry itself. The trial featured two psychiatric reports, the first concluding that at the time of the crime Mr. Breivik was psychotic and delusional, the other that he was rational. The spectacle of two teams of psychiatrists brandishing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and its Norwegian equivalent, only to draw radically opposed conclusions, undermined many Norwegians’ faith in forensic psychiatry. Less attention, however, has been paid to the court’s concern for the victims and their families. Before the trial began, the court named 174 lawyers, paid by the state, to protect the interests of the victims and their families during the criminal investigation and the trial. The court heard 77 autopsy reports. Listening to the technical details of the bullet wounds and other causes of death of 77 human beings could be soul-numbing. Not in this case. After each report, the audience watched a photo of the victim, most often a teenager, and listened to a one-minute-long biography voicing his or her unfulfilled ambitions and dreams. The court also allotted time to testimony from survivors, some with horrific injuries. We attended the trial during their testimonies, and to listen to the story of their pain and...

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The 1st Bethlehem Walk

Quiet Walking Listening Circles  Women Leading Change  5 October 2012 Manger Square, Bethlehem People of all nationalities and faiths are invited to join us in an event of solidarity for peace in the Holy Land. We are calling for a shift in consciousness, based on a deep commitment to nonviolence, a firm resolve to overcome barriers of separation, and faith that peace is possible. We plan to converge on Manger Square, in the center of Bethlehem, walking mindfully in columns and circles. Mindful walking is quiet, slow, and dignified. It expresses with our being, rather than with slogans and flags, our intention to live in harmony together. The experience helps us to develop calm, steadiness and confidence in the face of challenge. This event is for everybody. As a symbol of the possibility of change women will be at the forefront as facilitators of listening circles in which we will share our visions for the change we wish to see. We share a love of the land that we live in side by side. We all suffer from the continued occupation and injustice and lack of security. We all want to live in peace and harmony. We recognize that we all have the same basic needs for equal rights and deserve the same respect and dignity. We take responsibility for sowing the seeds of change, moving forward one step at a time.   Organized by a group of heartful Palestinians and Israelis For more information, please contact Iris Dotan...

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NEW YORK CITY PEACE WALK

The first large US silent Peace Walk is planned for New York City’s Central Park on Sunday October 7th, 2012. Following an opening gathering in the morning, the walk will circumnavigate continuously Central Park allowing participants to join along the way. The walk is intended to be slow, beautiful and dignified, without flags or signage, an expression of the goodwill and friendliness of people who live together. It empowers us all to be peacemakers. Instead of shouting in the name of peace, peace will be embodied by our quiet presence. ‘There is no way to peace, peace is the way’. With over 8 million people living in New York City, it is one of the most densely populated and ethnically and religiously diverse cities in the world. Home to over 100 ethnic groups, including several million Muslims and Jews, the walk is intended to demonstrate that people of all faiths and origins can live peacefully side by side. The peace we long for in the Middle East and Worldwide is actually possible. We call for the urgent cessation of violence in the Middle East and a serious and committed movement towards a sustainable and peaceful coexistence. The walk will be led by Jack Kornfield, one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America, Dr. Stephen Fulder, founder of Middleway, an Israeli-Palestinian group applying mindfulness and spiritual insights to peacemaking, and Professor Sami Zaidalkilani, Palestinian peace negotiator. Large silent peace walks have become famous in Israel and Palestine, for 10 years and Dr. Fulder has been a central teacher and visionary for these walks. All will be welcome and encouraged to join the walk. Public invitations will be extensive with outreach to many communities, including well-known religious, cultural, public and political figures. Further details will continue to be available at...

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Engaged Dharma in Israel

During the 2nd half 0f 2011 the Engaged Dharma in Israel group initiated a variety of actions and projects as part of their ongoing peace work. These included campaigns, solidarity actions with Palestinian partners, uncovering information about the occupation, petitioning authorities regarding violations of human rights, and laying the ground for educational work within the Israeli-Jewish society. Aviv Tatarsky of the Engaged Dharma in Israel group highlights here some of the lessons learnt during these months: Sangha as an invaluable resource for supporting activism ano peace work, the power of compassion and openness for turning confrontation into dialogue, and the deep relevance that our spiritual insights have when facing the challenges of peace work. Most of the examples concern their relationship with the village of Deir Istiya. Sangha as a vital Resource  One of their main missions is to raise awareness within the Dharma community to the meaning of living under occupation, and to create opportunities for Sangha members to get involved in peace and human rights work. A good starting point is what can be considered “soft” humanitarian action. Recently, for example, they organized for Sangha members to collectively buy a significant amount of olive oil from a few poor families in the village of Deir Istiya. It is important to note that even this simple action (an action very significant for the farmers) could not have happened had they not had the support of a large “non-activist” Sangha. From this soft starting point there are many ways to go deeper: They used this opportunity in order to inform the Sangha how Israeli policies and economic interests create a situation where Palestinian farmers find it increasingly more difficult to sell their oil. Olive agriculture being such a major part of Palestinian economy and culture, the implications of this situation can be very dramatic. Now they are working together with Deir Istiya farmers to create a channel for exporting their olive oil to both Israeli and foreign markets. This entails connecting potential customers on the one hand and assisting the village to develop quality assurance and other mechanisms that are needed. All this requires knowledge and expertise and here again the Sangha offers indispensible resources in the form of practitioners who are professionals in...

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Engaged Buddhism at Upaya Zen Center This Summer

Please join us at Upaya Zen Center in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, to study and practice with three of the leaders of socially engaged Buddhism in the United States: Roshi Bernie Glassman, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Acharya Fleet Maull. August 12 – 14, 2011 Charnel Ground Practice and the Five Buddha Families with Acharya Fleet Maull, M.A and Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD The essential nature of a bodhisattva or a Buddha is that he or she embraces the enlightened qualities of the five Buddha families, which pervade every living being without exception, including ourselves. These enlightened qualities include discriminating awareness wisdom, mirror-like wisdom, all encompassing space, wisdom of equanimity, and all accomplishing wisdom. To achieve the realization of these five Buddha families or the five dhyana buddhas, it is necessary to meet and transform the five distributing emotions of great attachment, anger or agression, ignorance or bewilderment, pride and envy. We will not only explore the practice of transforming these disturbing emotions on our own path, but also explore the five Buddha families as tools for social organizing principles for engaged work. CEUs for counselors, therapists and social workers are available for this program. For more info and to register: http://www.upaya.org/programs/event.php?id=639 ______________ August 19 – 21, 2011 Bearing Witness to the Oneness of Life with Roshi Bernie Glassman and Roshi Joan Halifax The founder of the Zen Peacemakers, Zen Master Bernie Glassman, evolved from a traditional Zen Buddhist monastery-model practice to become a leading proponent of social engagement as spiritual practice. He is internationally recognized as a pioneer of Buddhism in the West and as a founder of Socially Engaged Buddhism and spiritually based Social Enterprise. He has proven to be one of the most creative forces in Western Buddhism, creating new paths, practices, liturgy and organizations to serve the people who fall between the cracks of society. In this workshop Bernie will trace his evolution from the dharma hall to blighted urban streets. He will share the practices and principles he has developed to teach service as spiritual practice and to create sustainable, major service projects, such as the Greyston Foundation in Yonkers, NY. He will share the insights, revelations, personalities and personal experiences that have influenced his life and development. He...

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Dana Wiki: Helping Buddhist Organizations Get Involved in Social Service

Three years ago I started Dana Wiki, a website to help Buddhist organizations get involved in social service. On Dana Wiki, you can learn how to start and lead a small volunteer group in your Buddhist center or meditation group; get information on different types of social service; read Buddhist reflections on social service; learn about Buddhist teachers and organizations that are involved in social service; and find places to volunteer. The best part is that Dana Wiki is a wiki, which means that anyone, anywhere can contribute to and edit it. Back in November I did an interview about Dana Wiki and American Buddhism in general with Rev. Danny Fisher for Shambhala SunSpace, “Dana Wiki and the Future of American Buddhism: Danny Fisher interviews Joshua Eaton.” I hope that Dana Wiki will become a hub where Buddhists involved in social service can share what’s working for them, get help with what isn’t, find material for Buddhist reflections on service, and connect with others. I also hope it will be a place where we can learn from religious traditions with a longer history in America about how to do more effective service work. Please join...

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10 Asian + Asian American Buddhists Who Make a Difference

This post originally appeared on The Jizo Chronicles ____________ I’m taking this cue from Arun over on the blog Angry Asian Buddhist, which explores issues of race, culture, and privilege in American Buddhism. As Arun notes in his May 23rd post, May was Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. He suggests: “…it would be great if the Buddhist blogging community took advantage of the eight remaining days in May to spend a little time—maybe just one post—recognizing the voices of Asian American Buddhists.” I want to take Arun up on that invitation and highlight a few of the contributions of Buddhists of Asian and Asian American descent to the field of socially engaged Buddhism. Please note that the list includes people born in the U.S. as well as born in other countries… I couldn’t imagine a list about engaged Buddhism that left off folks like Kaz Tanahashi and Thich Nhat Hanh, so that’s why I expanded on Arun’s original suggestion. This list is by no means exhaustive… I’m only touching on a few of the engaged Asian and Asian American Buddhists that I have known, worked with, and deeply appreciate. (By the way, the list is organized alphabetically by first name.) Anchalee Kurutach was born and raised in Thailand but has lived in the U.S. since 1988.  She has been involved with refugee and immigrant work for over twenty years in both Asia and the U.S. Anchalee is very active in both the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as well as the International Network of Engaged Buddhists. Anushka Fernandopulle, a dharma teacher in the Theravada tradition, is on the leadership sangha of the East Bay Meditation Center, in Oakland, CA. In addition to her past service as a board member for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and her support for many other progressive organizations, Anushka brings a dharmic perspective to politics: she serves as a mayoral appointee to the San Francisco Citizen’s Committee on Community Development, a commission that advises the city on community development policy. Canyon Sam is a third generation Chinese American activist, author, and playright. She is the author of Sky Train: Tibetan Women On the Edge of History. After spending a year backpacking through China and Tibet when she was in her twenties, Canyon...

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Prayer to Avert War by Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo

Last night, I finished translating the Prayer to Avert War by Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo (gang shar dbang po, 1925-1959). Khenpo Gangshar resided at Shechen (zhe chen) and, later, Surman (zur mang) Monastaries, both in eastern Tibet. He was also one of the primary teachers of both Thrangu Rinpoche (khra ‘gu) and the controversial Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (chos rgyam drung pa), who founded Shambhala International . . . Continue reading at JoshuaEaton.net . ....

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Looking Back at the Year in Socially Engaged Buddhism

Buddhist monks praying for peace in Thailand, May 2010 [The original version of this post appeared on The Jizo Chronicles, Dec 31, 2010] This is a good time to look back at what’s been going on in the world of socially engaged Buddhism in 2010. (To get an idea of what’s ahead for 2011, look at the Calendar of Events from The Jizo Chronicles.) It’s been quite a year, actually. Two of the pioneer socially engaged Buddhist organizations, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and Zen Peacemakers, were quite active. Sarah Weintraub stepped into the role of executive director at BPF and that organization’s Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE) program is being revived. In August, the Zen Peacemakers hosted the Symposium for Western Engaged Buddhism in Montague, MA, featuring (among others) Roshi Joan Halifax, Paula Green, Roshi Bernie Glassman, Robert Thurman, and Fleet Maull. The Tzu Chi Foundation, which has also been around for a long time (since 1966), continued to provide help when it was needed most, in the wake of the January earthquake in Haiti. Newer organizations like the Interdependence Project, Buddhist Global Relief, and the Clear View Project are up to some interesting things. like IDP’s fairly bold step into the New York political arena and Bhikkhu Bodhi’s visit to the White House on behalf of Buddhist Global Relief. In the blogosphere, Hozan Alan Senauke just started the new Clear View blog, and other bloggers featuring socially engaged Buddhist content include Danny Fisher, Katie Loncke, Nathan of Dangerous Harvests, and Nella Lou of Smiling Buddhist Cabaret. By the way, the best book on socially engaged Buddhism this year, for my money, is Alan’s The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines. On the international scene, the biggest news without a doubt was the November release of Burma’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This was the year we lost Robert Aitken Roshi, fierce and dear Zen teacher, founder of the Diamond Sangha, and co-founder of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. There were Buddhist chaplains in the Gulf after the oil spill, Buddhist peacemakers amidst the violent uprisings in Thailand, Buddhist activists sitting on the streets of San Francisco, Buddhists bearing witness in Auschwitz and Rwanda, and Buddhist monks and nuns walking for a...

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Challenging Questions for Engaged Buddhism

This post originally appeared on The Jizo Chronicles on September 30, 2010, written by Maia Duerr ———————- Okay, we’re going to mix it up a bit today. Lest you think that I am a birkenstock/patchouli-wearing socially engaged Buddhist, it’s important to know that one of my original intentions for The Jizo Chronicles was to give voice to many kinds of engaged dharma, and to demonstrate that it doesn’t all fall into the liberal/progressive camp. And that’s a good thing. One of the hats I wear is directing the Upaya Zen Center‘s two-year Buddhist Chaplaincy Training Program. I’ve been doing this with Roshi Joan Halifax since the inception of the program in 2008, and it’s one of the most deeply satisfying experiences in my life. One of the students from our first cohort (which graduated this past March) was Dr. Christopher Ford. Chris is a dedicated Buddhist practitioner as well as a brilliant man. A graduate of Harvard, Oxford, and Yale, he served as the U.S. Special Representative for Nuclear Nonproliferation during the Bush Administration and he’s currently a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Chris is the author of The Mind of Empire: China’s History and Modern Foreign Relations, and he has a website, New Paradigms Forum. Chris and I have a lot of affection and respect for each other, even while our perspectives on a number of political issues are often quite different. But I have to say, one paper that Chris wrote while in our program — called “Nukes and the Vow: Security Strategy as Peacework” — really caused me to question a number of my own assumptions, both about nuclear disarmament as well as engaged Buddhism. Because I know Chris well, because we have practiced alongside of one another, and because I have tremendous regard for both his meditation practice as well as his extensive experience working in the world of government policy and diplomacy, I really sat with challenging questions he posed in this paper. One of Chris’ points is that even as peaceworkers, we should be very wary of being absolutists and “theologizing” the idea of total nuclear disarmament.  He goes on to explore why abolition of nuclear weapons may not be the “skillful means” that advocates of nonviolence...

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The Protector of Men

We have much to learn from the way in which the author views the legal code not as an exclusively legal or political document, but as an ethical one, and one about which Buddhists ought to be legitimately concerned. At the very least, it shows us that Buddhist social and political thought are anything but new.

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Birth, Old Age, Sickness, Death, and Taxes: The Buddha on Fiscal Policy

Most Americans—probably even most Buddhist Americans—think of Buddhism as a quietistic spirituality focused on either individual peace of mind or complete transcendence of the social and material worlds. The famous sociologist Max Weber called it a “specifically unpolitical and anti-political status religion,” and that’s the impression that has pretty much stuck ever since. So, it might surprise many people to learn just how preoccupied Buddhist texts are with at least one mundane, bread-and-butter public policy issue: taxes.

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Support Bone Marrow Donation

Dear Friends, Jeana Teiju Moore, a good friend and a founding member of the Zen Peacemaker Circles, has been walking across the country to raise awareness for the need for bone marrow donors, under the auspices of the Jada Bascom Foundation. Her infant granddaughter was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at birth and is now thriving, thanks to a donation of bone marrow from a young man in Germany. You can see the story on the website www.stepstomarrow. Both she and the Jada Bascom Foundation have been nominated for awards through the Classy Awards. The nomination and becoming a finalist for the awards were based on merit, but whether they get the award or not depends on how many votes they get. The voting will take place until Oct. 22 (and began Oct. 9). The way it works is that people can vote daily, in each of the two categories. So I’m asking you as a friend and supporter of Jeana and the Jada Bascom Foundation, to look at her website and decide for yourself if you’d like to engage in this process of voting for her and the foundation. To do so you need to: 1. Go to the Classy Awards website, stayclassy.org. 2. Scroll down to near the bottom of the page on the left and click on Nominations. 3. Then click the LA tab (back at the top) and look for the Volunteer category. Please vote for Jeana if you think she is the best candidate. 4. You will then need to register so you can get back in easily daily. 5. Vote again, this time clicking on the NY tab. This time you will be looking for the Small Category of the Year category. (You may need to exit the site and then re-enter in order to cast this second vote. At least I did need to do it this way this morning). Thanks for your attention. If they win in either of these categories it will catapult their foundation’s work to the national stage, which will increase donors for more people in Jada’s situation. If you’d like to pass this on to people in your network, and suggest that they also pass on the info, that would...

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Auschwitz II — Zen Peacemakers' retreat, June 2010, from Jiko

I did not go to Auschwitz to find out what happened there, nor to understand the worst that the human mind can do. Nor did I go in sympathy with the suffering of the Jews and others killed and tortured there. The only reason to go was to discover to what my own heart and mind could open from staying with such a dire, unbearable, and unfathomable event. I asked how the potential or actuality of what produced Auschwitz, is present and manifesting in my life? Can this experience help me learn and connect with my own humanness, help me in choosing love/identity as the only motivation for action in my life? We are taught in many religions that there is a “peace that surpasseth all understanding,” the stillness at the center of the storm, the great wisdom in which the small discomforts that can absorb our days and our energies are as nothing in the grand functioning of the cosmos, in the mightiness of God, or the cosmic void. What we experience is never personal — only our self-protective responses make it seem so. For the first three days at Auschwitz I was uncomfortable at hearing, seeing all the horror, viewing reconstructed, imagined lives of Jewish communities before the holocaust, and imagining the dislocation and cruelty of their precipitous deaths without dignity, the removal of their freedoms in the grossest of ways. I tried to imagine the mind that could be unmoved while doing such terrible actions. I was wondering if my being relatively unperturbed in the midst of all this came out of such a mind, unable to connect, distant and cold. Or was it acceptance of the human condition? My thoughts considered that I have studied old age, sickness and death intimately and deeply over quite a few years. We will all die, and death does not look too bad — my own near death experiences have felt like release and enfolding rather than fearful deprivations. Many of us die prematurely. Many of us suffer sickness and pain. Many of us, our lives and our passionate, loving dedication of sustained effort, are abused and misused. We lose hope, we lose our loved ones, our children, our countries, homes, possessions, and our...

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From Vision to Buddhist Social Action

“How do we go from vision to action?” This question was asked at the recent Symposium on Buddhist Social Action at Zen Peacemakers. Here is a brief  account of what I found helpful in going from vision to action after completing my Zen Peacemaker seminary training for ministry. From spring 2009 through spring 2010 I co-lead with Kanji Ruhl the first 14 months of establishing Appalachian Zen House in Bald Eagle Valley in central rural Pennsylvania. This, the first of Zen Peacemakers’ Zen Houses is now led by Kelle Kirsten and Bob Flatley. Our mission was to serve, as an integral part of our Zen practice, the under-served people, beings, and natural environment in this depleted rural valley. The valley was Kanji’s childhood home, but I had never visited Pennsylvania before. Nor did I know well any other current secular community after being a monastic in a Zen Monastery for 8 of the 10 years prior. So my first task was to immerse myself in experiencing the life here. Meanwhile I was finding out the needs of the people. And I was finding out who could be attracted to serve in “enhancing the community’s ability for inclusive, non-sectarian, responsive and sustainable activity in harmony with the natural environment.” I was very fortunate to form relationships within three main groups of people that participated in our endeavors – the local protestant Christian communities, a dominant social aspect of the valley, liberal community- and environmentally-minded folk, and impoverished local people who were not overtly part of the above groups. Connections were also forming over the 14 months with teachers and students at Penn State University, as well as with other Buddhist groups, and I expect that these too are continuing to grow. 1.    Joining the local protestant Christian communities. An essential first step for my own connection with the local people, life, and area was for me to rent a cheap apartment and live alone in a small village. In this way I was dependent on my new neighbors for information and social interaction. Despite my foreign accent and their awareness that I was a strange “Buddhist,” these tightly-knit Christian communities were warmly welcoming and very generous. They included me in many social and community...

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Class Consciousness: Why Liberating Sentient Beings Means Liberating Society

I tend to think of Buddhist practice as a way of cultivating a mind so stable that such storms leave it unscathed, and I often judge myself harshly when I fail to live up to that standard—when the storm breaks through my mental roof, leaking in toxic emotions, and I’m too exhausted, or cynical, or just plain lazy to apply the Buddha’s teachings. Suffering and delusion are always my suffering and delusion. They are always personal, always private, and always necessitate a private remedy. What I often forget, though, is just how much social, political, and economic structures really do effect our ability to practice the dharma.

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Buddhism and Kerouac on How to Blog

Getting Started! Want to reach a wider audience but don’t know where to start? Believe it or not, the Buddhist tradition offers deep insight into how to blog to make the world a better place. In this post, I combine Jack Kerouac’s Rules for Spontaneous Prose with the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers to derive some simple practical tips for joining the global conversation. Kerouac was a great teacher to me of the Zen Peacemaker’s first two tenets (Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness), although I eventually looked elsewhere for inspiration regarding how to apply the insights of Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness through action in the world.  I list appropriate rules from Kerouac under each tenet. 1. Not-knowing 22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see the picture better. 5. Something you feel will find its own form. 24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge 29. You’re a genius all the time 10. No time for poetry but exactly what is 13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition I scrutinized, hesitated and edited for months regarding my first blog post.  When I talked to my Zen teacher about it, she gave me a koan: how do you step of the 100 foot pole? You just do it!  I was crippled by fear of how readers would receive my writing.  It turned out that that first post went ignored and later posts that I rattled off in a few minutes received several hundred views.  You can’t know ahead of time!  The important thing is to let go of our expectations regarding quality and reader interest and just get in the habit of sharing.  Be thoughtful and adapt your style according to response, but watch out for getting hung up on ideas of what you should be writing. 2. Bearing Witness 1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wile typewritten pages, for yr own job 17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself 15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog Once you’ve put aside ideas about what you should or shouldn’t be writing, look around. What moves you? What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What makes you excited? Readers will relate if you...

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Podcast: Comments from Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism

From Interdependence Project: Joshua Adler and Patrick Groneman took time at the Symposium for Socially Engaged Western Buddhism to speak with some of the participants and panelists about the socially engaged work that they are practicing, what drives them to do this work, and what, if anything, makes their work “Buddhist.” Music in this episode is taken from a live performance by Akim Funk Buddha. Organizations and Projects Referenced in this episode: Zen Peacemakers The Linage Project Buddhist Global Relief Akim Funk Buddha Wherever You Are Is The Center of the World Download the Podcast Here Subscribe to the ID Project Podcast Here or Via iTunes Here Please consider supporting the ID Project Podcast by signing up to become a member. More information is available on our donate...

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David Loy at the Tricycle Book Club

Join us Monday, September 20 at the Tricycle Book Club for the discussion of David Loy’s The World is Made of Stories. In this small book about big ideas, Loy attempts to tell the story of stories by engaging in a playful, energetic dialogue with wisdom quotations from a wide variety of sources. Everything that we know, Loy contends, we know from stories. He writes: “We play at the meaning of life by telling different stories.” If stories hold this much power, and we’re all storytellers (Loy also points out that to not tell a story is to tell a story), then what can we take away from this understanding? What stories should we tell about ourselves and our world? Come talk it out with us at the Tricycle Book Club. It’s free and easy to sign up. We’re looking forward to seeing you there. Buy the book from Wisdom Publications here. David Loy is a frequent Tricycle contributor. His previous books include The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory and The Dharma of Dragons and Daemons. He is the Besl Professor of Ethics/Religion and Society at Xavier University in...

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Mindful Politicians: Time has come today (in New York and California, at least)

From Shambhala SunSpace: We’ve of course talked about the concept of “Mindful Politics” here before — the Shambhala Sun had a Mindful Politics issue, has an online Spotlight of some of our best pieces on the subject, and we even put out a Mindful Politics book, too. The New York primary election is tomorrow and both New York and California have general elections in November, so why not read up on the two politicians in question: In New York, for Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman In California, for Governor: Jerry...

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What's Your Story?

It is said that Huineng, the Sixth Zen Patriarch, experienced sudden enlightenment upon hearing a passage from the Diamond Sutra as it was recited by a monk chanting nearby on a city street. The actual passage from the Diamond Sutra which opened Huineng up to his True Self roughly translates as, “Abiding nowhere, raise the Bodhi Mind.” We also know that Huineng was unable to read or write and so would have never encountered this teaching if he had been dependent on reading it for himself. Case three of the Book of Serenity describes an encounter between the ruler of a country in East India who during lunch with the 27th Ancestor, Hannyatara, asked him, “Why don’t you read the sutras?” Hannyatara replied, “This poor follower of the Way, when breathing in does not dwell in the realm of the skandhas, and when breathing out is not caught up in the many externals. Always do I thus turn a hundred million billion rolls of sutras.” Tracy Chapman, a popular singer/songwriter wrote a lyric in one of her popular songs that goes something like this: “There is fiction in the space between the lines on a page and reality. Write it down but it doesn’t mean, you’re not just telling stories.” It’s easy to get hooked on words. Language is one of the most powerful tools known to humankind. And yet our words are always pointing to something beyond their reach. Try to capture in words a beautiful sunset such that you convey the actual experience of that sunset to another person who is not seeing it. Our words may paint a picture of a sunset and quite possibly create an image of one in the mind of the listener … but they will never convey the experience of the actual sunset being seen. It simply cannot be done … such is the nature of words and language. And yet, we often take their meaning to be the literal truth of our lives and reality itself. The term samskhara denotes one of the five skandhas. In Buddhist teaching, the skandhas are the five “aggregates” that make up the self. The other four being form, feeling, perception and consciousness. The five aggregates or “bundles” describe the intersection where various conditions...

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Photos: Patch of Grass to Abundant Harvest!

Deerfield Academy’s boys lacrosse team helping set the garden fence posts. On Earth Day April 2010, we broke ground on a 1/4 acre garden at the Montague Farm. Now in September we are harvesting and serving organic vegetables every week to 60-70 people at our Montague Farm cafe free community meals. This garden was created by many people: Karen Idoine, Ike Eichenlaub, Laurie Smith, Tim Raines, Doug Donnell, Janice Frey, Bonnie Bloom, Dan Smith, Charlie Kerrigan, Henry Marshall, Kanji Ruhl, and the Greenfield Farmers Co-operative Exchange. The fabulous Big Brothers/Big Sisters crew (Ashley, Brooke, and Rachel) and the Deerfield Academy lacrosse team and their coach Jan Flaska have been instrumental. Rosalind Jiko McIntosh has coordinated nurturing of the garden since June. Cucumbers, zucchini, basil, cilantro and carrots being harvested right now. Volunteers to maintain the garden and process the harvest are very welcome. A plot of grass transformed into the Montague Farm Zen House garden Tim Raines on the first round with the rototiller in April. After the Deerfield Academy lacrosse team helped dig a fence trench and set the poles. Karen Idoine and the chicken wire fence in mid May. At last, early plantings in June! Abundance in...

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Sit-For-Change on September 18.

This one is from our friends at the Buddhist Peace Fellowship: September 18th is quickly approaching and Sit-for-Change is gaining momentum! Sit-for-Change is an innovative event weaving together contemplative practice and fund-raising – both of which are important parts of creating a stable, dynamic, and powerful movement for social change. Sit-for-Change is like a walk-a-thon… you can help us raise funds by getting people to pledge you to do contemplative practice for 108 minutes on September 18th.  You can also support this event by pledging one of us! Come sit with us! The BPF community will sit together in Berkeley, and around the country, to care for ourselves while caring for the world. It’s a day for you to practice mindfulness and awareness, while supporting the work of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and our event partner, Center for Transformative Change. Register for the BPF Community Sit for Change today! On September 18th, spend 108 minutes in practice – sitting with us in Berkeley or on your own, practicing yoga or walking meditation, or whatever activity nourishes you – and invite your friends and family to participate and/or to sponsor your activity. You can also support BPF Community Sit for Change by pledging for one of our staff members or friends. Or you can simply make a donation to support BPF. Learn More Thank you again for all that you do, and for being a part of our community. with deep bows, Sarah...

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Building the Buddha of the Future: Community

Panelists at Symposium Discuss Socially Engaged Sanghas “The Buddha of the future,” said moderator Alan Senauke, speaking at the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism and paraphrasing Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, “will be sangha” — that is, community. But what makes a socially engaged community? Senauke, a Soto Zen priest and vice-abbot of Berkeley Zen Center and founder of the Clear View Project, asked this question of his panelists on August 10. “What makes your community work?” he added. ‘What are the challenges?” In war-torn Colombia, building a socially engaged community can mean helping to support villagers in their work to heal strife and create productive lives, said Sarah Weintraub, executive director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF). She explained that the BPF’s Dharma in Action Project works with the Reconciliation Accompaniment Project in Colombia, allowing participants to be “present with those people and bearing witness” so that the Colombian villagers involved in the project “can live their peace work and grow their crops.” It also trains socially engaged leaders through “hands-on, on-the-ground experience.” Another example of community social engagement, Weintraub said, is the BPF’s Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement (BASE), focusing on “practice, study,and action. It’s awareness training, in relation to each other and social change, taking who we are as a starting point for action.” Yet a third example of socially engaged community-building, according to Weintraub, are efforts such as the “BPF 2.0” project, connecting people through Facebook and through other sites online. Socially engaged community also can mean a monastic group that ventures into the world to confront injustices. Clare Carter, a member of the Nipponzan Myojoji Japanese Buddhist Order, has walked on lengthy international pilgrimages to raise awareness of the legacies of slavery and racial oppression, and to demonstrate for peace. Yet living in community can itself be a powerful practice, she emphasized.  “In sangha we run into things and keep working on it minute by minute — it’s constant practice, with no getting away from it.” Young people often live in desperate need of community, and Ken Byalin and John Bell spoke of their own inspiring work in developing opportunities for youth. “The educational system was worse than I thought,” said Byalin, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest,...

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Beyond — Zen Peacemaker retreat at Auschwitz June 2 to June 12, 2010

The setting is beautiful, walking to Birkenau in the early morning. The sun is already bright and very hot. In the flat narrow fields striped with different greens, heads of grain grow and glisten, stirring in the sweet earth-scented breeze along with blue cornflowers and red poppies. Hay has been scythed and is being tossed by the pitchforks of bare-chested farmers, or swept into loose beehive shaped stacks. Morning doves call, and cuckoos repeat — just like the wooden bird popping out of its little carved clock house over the antipodean dinner table of my 1940s childhood. Icy shivers chill my spine and freeze my stride even before my mind registers the watchtowers and barbed wire enclosures – the endless ordered ranks of barracks and chimneys that appear over the fields. Too vast, too determined, they speak of an intent that is intolerable in its horror – the calculated efficiency of terrorizing, torturing, humiliating, degrading, murdering and annihilating 1.1 million children, women, and men of many kinds, nations, and faiths. Along with them were destroyed the humanity of the SS guards – the humanity that is the one quality giving value to our human life. Yet, over a few short days, Birkenhau was to become a place of such tender love, joy, and affirmation of spirit that it was incredibly hard to leave. It seemed at first that I felt only shallowly my own and others’ pain here, and yet I cried out in agony of spirit — with, and as, both victim and perpetrator. From that cry was released a love for each particular person encountered here, now, and for those from the past. For a brief moment I glimpsed how deep is our oneness in this glorious endeavor of apparent embodiment we call life, with all its capacity for joy, and its suffering from separation. This retreat at Auschwitz with Zen Peacemakers offered profound affirmation that when we continue to listen to ourselves and others with an open mind and heart, death and pain of body and spirit, however terrible, can never offer a final answer. And this truth exists even while such horrendous events seem beyond the realm of forgiveness and far beyond any possibility of consolation. So what is the...

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Community Ambrosia at Montague Farm’s Free Family Café!

A young man with his seven-week-new baby daughter wrapped snugly against his chest is making salad at the dining room table. With three other guys. Work is focused, conversation easy. At the sink Maryl plunges with a sweet smile into quickly dissolving a huge mound of cooking dishes. Then Gary and she (they are celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary this weekend) happily process box after box of garden and donated herbs and vegetables to make 20 quarts of oh-so-fresh gazpacho. Totally awesome! I have collected this week’s raw ingredients and dishes that have been so joyfully and generously donated to our Montague Farm Zen House Free Family Cafe. (Included this time is a huge box of peaches, unbelievably juicy and sweet, and richly, intensely and beautifully colored.) I have dreamed up a great menu (…DESSERT – Local Farm Fresh Peaches on Maple Cream Pie in a Walnut Crust…) and sent it for printing. And I realize once again that I have bitten off more than I can possibly make for 70 hungry guests in the time available. And amazingly, once again, fabulous people just turn up from out of the blue — and ease and joy flow out of the kitchen along with all the food, fresh, ready and delicious to eat, right on time. So many willing hands and smiling faces contribute to this family community offering in our rural valley. Such loving angels stay to clean up so that no trace is left that it ever happened. (Except the delight.) And it happens every week! It takes no-effort, and happens in no-time! A miracle, no less. Do come join us! The open heart and hands of community in action — you. Just for you! (Food preparation every Friday afternoon and Saturday early in Montague Farm...

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Can Green Buddhism Save the Earth?

Peter Matthiessen, Daniel Goleman, Stephanie Kaza, Others Discuss Buddhist Environmentalism at Symposium “I wrote about vanishing wildlife 50 years ago. I wish I could say we’ve made more progress,” remarked the naturalist, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and Zen teacher Peter Matthiessen during a panel discussion on the environment held at the Zen Peacemakers’ Symposium on Western Socially Engaged Buddhism on Thursday, August 12. “We’ve made some progress, but there are more extinctions now than ever in the history of our planet.” That in itself is deeply alarming. But in addition, Matthiessen said, “Things that affect wildlife almost always impinge on people. And generally,” he stressed, “poor people are the first affected.” That includes native peoples, whose cultures are exceptionally rich but whose economic resources may be scant. Matthiessen spoke of traveling to an Arctic region west of the Brooks Range, “the last refuge of Ice Age megafauna — all three kinds of bears, and wolves; glorious — and a tremendous variety of migratory birds. There are no roads at all. The Indian people there are hanging on to their culture, they depend on the caribou, and they’re resisting the bribes of the oil companies. The oil companies call that area ‘the 10-02’; the native people there call it ‘the sacred place where life begins.’ It’s so sacred they won’t walk there. The oil company wants it.” People living in the Arctic, Matthiessen continued, “are our first global climate change victims. Whales stay next to the icepack, and as the ice recedes farther out to sea, the people have to go farther to reach them. At the same time, the permafrost is melting. As usual, our government is not taking good care of our native people. The spill in the Gulf of Mexico is very serious, but the Arctic is so much worse. The oil doesn’t break down in very cold water. And the oil companies themselves say there’s at least one spill a day.” Matthiessen quoted a tribal elder who said, “God may forgive you, but your children won’t.” The problem is complicated enormously by the fact, Matthiessen contended, that “Big Oil owns the country. They own Congress and the White House. Greed is their true nature.” Greed, however, is the good news for Daniel...

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Burma's Saffron Revolution Comes To Symposium

Socially Engaged Buddhism at the Edge: Burmese Monks Speak of Torture, Imprisonment Two veterans of the “Saffron Revolution” — the peaceful revolt in August and September, 2007 of saffron-robed Buddhist monks in Burma, who led thousands of people in street marches to protest the brutal military dictatorship in that nation — spoke on Wednesday, August 11 at the Zen Peacemakers’ Symposium on Western Socially Engaged Buddhism. The monks shared a harrowing account of repression and cruelty. “We marched for freedom of speech, of writing, freedom of the press,” said one of the monks (whose names and photos are being withheld in this report to protect their families in Burma from possible government reprisals). “We marched for human rights.” The monks, who have received political asylum in the United States after their dangerous escape from Burma, are members of the All Burma Monks’ Alliance. One of the monks explained that in the street marches of 2007 they protested with “loving compassion. Just breath and chant. We chanted, ‘May all human beings be free from killing one another. May all human beings be free from torturing one another. May all human beings be well and happy.’ We didn’t break any law. We were met with brutality and arrests. Monasteries were raided at midnight and shut down.” These events, well documented in Western news media at the time, resulted in harsh treatment of monks detained by the Burmese police. One of the monks at the Symposium spoke of being repeatedly tortured while imprisoned. Other monks were killed. Three years later, an estimated 450 Buddhist monks remain locked up in Burma, under terrible conditions. “We’re supporting the monks in prison,” one of the speakers said. Many other monks live in hiding, disguised as laypeople. According to an All Burma Monks’ Alliance flyer distributed at the Symposium, the Alliance members work to achieve a fourfold mission: 1. “To support the many monks currently being held as political prisoners in Burmese jails. Prisoners in Burma are not given food, medicine, or any other sustenance. Their families must provide them with everything, and their families are desperately struggling to do this. We are helping them.” 2. “To support refugee monks who have escaped from incarceration and torture in Burma. Some live...

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Special Ministries Discussed at Symposium

Buddhists Ministering on Prison Issues, Five Commitments, Food, Mental Health From prison hospice rooms to rooftop gardens in the Bronx, Buddhist ministers are redefining what it means to serve in the world, according to participants in a panel discussion on “Special Ministries” at the Zen Peacemakers’ Symposium on Western Socially Engaged Buddhism in Montague, MA on Wednesday, August 11. It’s about applying Buddhist dharma and mindfulness practice in different settings, said moderator Fleet Maull, a Zen priest and a pioneer in the field. Among his many projects, Maull has founded the Prison Dharma Network and the National Prison Hospice Project; the latter, established during the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s, was the first hospice project in an American prison. Today it lists 125 organizations in 15 countries and in 30 states of the United States. Very little Buddhist prison ministry existed in the 1980’s and ’90s, Maull said, and conditions in the prison hospitals were horrendous — he cited, as one example, terminal cancer patients in agonizing pain given Tylenol as treatment. From these hellish beginnings the National Prison Hospice Project emerged.  The Prison Dharma Network, meanwhile, is building a resource movement, Maull said, counting among its many programs an ongoing enterprise that sends dharma books to 2,500 prisoners. The Network ministers not only to prisoners but to prison staff, Maull emphasized. “Everyone,” he said, “is a bodhisattva and buddha-to-be.” Through these Buddhist ministries, Maull helps bring the dharma to some of the seven-to-eight-million people in America enmeshed in various ways within the nation’s prison-industrial complex. Prison ministry is also a focus of Anthony Stultz‘s numerous socially-engaged Buddhist projects with the Blue Mountain Lotus Society in Harrisburg, PA. These projects are organized around the Five Commitments, principles that emerged from a multi-faith World Parliament of Religions conference. The first Commitment is Non-Violence. The ministry of Stultz’s organization meets this Commitment, he said, by addressing the issue of bullying in local schools and offering mindfulness-based “true self-esteem” programs. The second Commitment is a pledge to create Solidarity and a Just Economic Order, which Blue Mountain Lotus works to fulfill not only through its prison ministry, but through collaborations with the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters, and through sponsoring a “mindful...

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Montague Farm Café at Turner’s Falls Block Party

(One of the) Best Afternoon(s) of My Life. A small watermelon falls on path of the Montague Farm Zen House and bursts open to reveal black seeds in glistening intensely yellow flesh. Higgledy-piggledy, we are loading the little red truck with paper plates, chairs, chopping board, cymbals and bells, coolers filled with jars of coffee and pesto pasta, and box after box of vegetables all carefully bagged or wrapped in bundles courtesy of a generous organic farmer. Through the rear view mirror, miraculously, the stuff is not flying off as we drive from Montague to the summer block party at neighboring Turner’s Falls.  Our weekly meal, which typically occurs on our own farm, is taking a field trip. Our people jauntily play an assortment of instruments to lead the party’s opening parade, as we assemble our offerings in the shade of a tree on the cordoned off main road and begin shouting over the hubbub “Free food! What would you like? Come and eat!” That was at 1:30 pm. Somewhere along the way someone hands us a godsend bottle of cold water saying “Don’t get dehydrated!” Then suddenly it is 6:00 pm and we are loading the little truck with empty boxes and trash to head precariously back to Montague Farm where a large Symposium gathering sits talking about social action through microphones. What happened in between is a blur of action. Faces… closed, curious, doubting, toothless, on bicycles, in wheel chairs, ulcerated, bejeweled, speaking not-English, babies and children. “Would you like some pesto pasta or some rice and beans, cold coffee or tea? Have a slice of watermelon or some juice! Here is a piece of panettone cake!” “Would you take home some of these vegetables to cook? Who do you know who would like some? Take it for them! Feel this beautiful squash in your hand – it’s yours! It’s free!” “People give it to us — we give it to you. Join us noon to 3 o’clock every Saturday for free fun and food at Montague Farm. Come and serve, come and eat! See you there!” “Thank you very much! You are so welcome!” Yes it really is free! It is the best food on the block (I made it!) and...

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Symposium: Jon Kabat-Zinn on stress reduction

By Fleet Maull: What follows here is myparaphrasing of Joh Kabat-Zinn’s presentation: he is interested in strategies for change that do not lead to polarization, burnout and further conflict. While he has deep respect for the teachings and practices of the Buddha and feels connected to this tradition and its wonderful lineages, teacher and practitioners, he also feels the need to not personally identify himself as a Buddhist or with any particular religious identity and a need for us to move to a universal Dharma that can reach and/or include all people rather than being tied to Buddhism or Buddhadharma as a more limited identification alone. His work has largely focused on bringing mindfulness-based interventions into the fields and practice of medicine and psychology: mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (MBCB), mindfulness-based relapse prevention and so on. When he was a graduate student at MIT in molecular biology he was very aware that MIT was involved in all kinds of high tech weaponry development, he spent a lot of time not being in the laboratory but trying to bring a mirror of awareness to what was going on at MIT. As a graduate student and going forward he felt there must be another way to do science. He wrote a piece for the newspaper there at MIT about the need for an orthogonal institutions, institutions rotated 90 degrees in consciousness, meaning a 90 degree shift in consciousness and view that would move the work at MIT in a new, healthier direction. A 90 degree shift where everything is the same as it was before and nothing’s the same at the same time. This led to deciding to make this orthogonal shift his work and leading to the development of MBSR. After practicing mindfulness meditation for many years, beginning in 1966, thought why not create a clinic in a hospital, which are “dukkha magnets” (magnets of suffering). Called the clinic initially simply, beginning in 1979 at the UMASS Medical Center, a stress reduction clinic, so that it would not appear as something foreign, strange or esoteric to patients or the the medical staff. What meditation is … is paying attention and being kind to yourself. Working with referrals from physicians at the hospital, enrolled...

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Thangkas by Mayumi Oda

Dear Friends, Thangkas (pronounced TAHN kahs) are Tibetan paintings portraying Buddhist deities or mandalas. Rich in symbolism and allusion, thangkas act as a teaching tool for students of Buddhism. Mayumi’s thangkas were painted during her activist years when she founded “Plutonium Free Future” in Japan and Berkeley, California. Known to many as the “Matisse of Japan,” Mayumi Oda has done extensive work with female goddess imagery. Born to a Buddhist family in Japan in 1941, Mayumi studied fine art and traditional Japanese fabric dyeing. In 1966 she graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts. In 2010, California Institute of Integral Studies awarded Mayumi an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts and Spirituality. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Yale University Art Gallery, and elsewhere. Mayumi has wonderfully donated the unique, museum-quality thangkas shown here to the Zen Peacemakers. There will be a silent auction during the Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism (Aug 9-14) to raise funds for the Zen Peacemakers activities in Socially Engaged Buddhism. Purchases are half tax deductible. We are inviting those on our mailing list to also bid. Each day we will announce the largest bid for that day and give individuals and organizations the opportunity to bid during the next day. At the end of the week we will announce the winning bid for these beautiful art treasures. White Tara [2003] Size: 11 feet by 5 feet Retail: $50,000 Minimum bid: $25,000 Dakini, the Sky Walker [1987] Size: 11 feet by 5 feet Retail: $50,000 Minimum bid: $25,000 Zen Peacemakers is a 501(c)(3) organization. You can bid on either or both of these extraordinary thangkas by calling Laurie at 413-367-5272 or by sending an email to Thangka Bid. With deep appreciation and with much love, Bernie...

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Buddhism symposium draws 500 looking to make a difference.

from the Springfield Republican Often, when people picture devout Buddhists, they see images of bald-headed monks performing foreign rituals in east Asia. But, Bernie Glassman, former aerospace engineer and founder and president of the Zen Peacemakers in Montague, is trying to change this perception with his organization’s presentation of the six-day, Socially-Engaged Buddhist Symposium, that starts Monday. The event will honor Zen master and author Robert Aitken and other pioneers and promoters in this country of mindfulness practice including the well-known author and travel writer Peter Matthiessen, who is an ordained Zen priest, and Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. “Buddhism is about realizing that we are interconnected,” said Glassman. READ...

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Buddhist Chaplains Love the Gulf

From Jizo Chronicles Buddhist Chaplains Love the Gulf Grand Isle Graveyard, photo by Penny Alsop Here’s the latest update from Penny Alsop, who I’ve mentioned and quoted several times before in The Jizo Chronicles. Penny has initiated the “Chaplains Love the Gulf “ project and is coordinating a trip in August so that “the people and environmental region of the Gulf can receive the benefit of compassionate presence of a contingent of chaplaincy students.”  Penny took a scouting trip to Grand Isle, LA, this month to begin that work. This is her report. _________________________________________ More Love by Penny Alsop This past weekend I set out for Grand Isle, LA to begin our project, to research some details and to see for myself how my beloved Gulf coast and the people of Louisiana are faring since oil has taken over their lives in this most despicable way.  Lives have been turned upside down, every which way and even those who are making good money like the three fellows I met from Texas who work twelve hours per day, in twenty minute intervals, in hazmat suits in the sweltering Louisiana sun to wash the oil off of boom, would much prefer to be at home with their...

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New Book on Bearing Witness in Rwanda

This new book made by Fleet Maull and Peter Cunningham recounts their experiences at the first Bearing Witness Retreat in...

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Huffington Post: Jeff Bridges & Zen House Fight Child Hunger

From Child Hunger and How Zen House Can Help at the Huffington Post: By Bernie Glassman My vow to feed as many hungers as possible includes the physical suffering of food insecurity. According to Jeff Bridges’ End Hunger Network, 16.7 million American children — nearly one in four — live in households that do not have access to enough nutritious food to lead healthy, active lives. …The Montague Farm Zen House is teaming up with my friend Jeff Bridges to channel the energy of the entertainment industry and other partners towards achieving President Obama’s ambitious goal of eliminating childhood hunger in the U.S. by 2015. We will explore this partnership further at this summer’s Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism… As I said in a recent interview, dharma centers that were set up to help people become less egoistic instead became middle class enclaves of self-absorption. Today, the structure of the residence training of the Montague Farm Zen House recognizes that family life is a rich field of practice. The Zen House supports family life for the residents and for the families in need who come to our meals and wellness programs READ FULL...

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7 ways to use the internet to reduce suffering.

Applying Eastern Wisdom to Modern Tech. Lessons from the Wisdom 2.0 Summit. 1. Practice being present in person 2. Practice being present online 3. Build Relationships 4.Enforce accountability 5. Raise money and spread petitions 6. Organize information & Study 7. Coordinate Actions & Meetings 1. Practice being present in person New technology only recontextualizes the same challenges that we have always faced. The original message of Buddhism still applies: Don’t get too attached. Don’t get distracted. Stay present. Having a new shiny toy is no excuse to not be fully present to the person in front of you. @Wisdom 2.0 Conference: In the panel Managing the Stream: Living Consciously and Effectively in a Connected World, Roshi Joan Halifax stressed that the quality of presence emphasized in Zen is based on physical proximity. While she loves social media and would feel impoverished without it, she said that you are fooling ourselves if you think you could play with your i-phone and look someone in the eye at the same time. Only a Buddha could simultaneously perceive the relative and the absolute. While celebrating these technologies, Roshi Joan was sure to keep their shadow side on the table for discussion. 2. Practice being present online A major message that conference organizer Soren Gordhamer stresses in his book and articles is that when you are talking to someone, talk to them and when you are tweeting tweet. @Wisdom 2.0 Conference: While spiritual publisher Sounds True founder and owner Tami Simon affirmed that face-to-face interactions were more important than virtual ones, Soren confirmed that her heartfelt e-mails have warmed him. Clinical neuroscientist Philippe Goldin, Ph.D. shared research that demonstrates the mental health benefits of mindfulness practice while Linda Stone explained a study that demonstrated that people who do breathing practices such as athletes, performers or meditators are less likely to exhibit “e-mail apnea”, the typical shortness of breath and quickening of heart-rate that happens when while we read e-mails. Ben Parr, co-editor of Mashable Social Media Guide put it simply: social media has always been about people and connections between them. If you get too wrapped up in the tools, then you are a tool. 3. Build Relationships Online networks allow us to develop connections between people within...

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Wired Magazine: 'Open-Source Politics' Taps Facebook for Myanmar Protests by Sarah Lai Stirland

OK, this isn’t breaking news, but it is an interesting example of our study of digital engaged Buddhism. (October 2007) Tens of thousands of people are expected to take to the streets around the world Saturday in Facebook-fueled marches protesting Myanmar’s recent crackdown on monks’ pro-democracy demonstrations. The marches, organized at a lightning pace by volunteers using Facebook, show the increasing power and reach of a social-networking site originally designed to help college students find drinking buddies. Facebook members in dozens of cities worldwide have planned demonstrations for Saturday. READ...

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This Obon: Can We Feed All the Hungry Ghosts?

Can I Acknowledge My Sickness? In a Huffington Post article, Zen Master Bernie Glassman, the founder of my Zen community explains: In the Zen Peacemakers, we recite Sanskrit spells and provide food for hungry people in our community. We prepare a food offering and use ancient spells to invite the hungry ghosts into the room. He explains the origin of the Obon rituals of making offerings, setting boats into the river and doing a traditional dance. He explains how those rituals form the basis of our weekly liturgy, which represents our commitment to serving the community. As they explain in the video below, Bernie developed our liturgy with the kirtan singer Krishna Das. Sitting with people or aspects that I don’t want to acknowledge is part of my daily practice, both on the cushion and in the meals program of our Montague Farm Zen House. At our meal last Saturday, a guest said something to me and I didn’t acknowledge her. Looking back, I realize that I had a sense that her mannerisms and behavior were weird. They didn’t conform to typical social standards. Why didn’t I want to let her in? It makes me think about attending a group therapy session for the mentally ill of a dear family member of mine. I previously didn’t want to accompany that person. I didn’t want to acknowledge that people can lose control. I didn’t want to acknowledge how people’s psychotic delusions reflected my own personal delusions. But staying in that space and returning to similar spaces has deepened my connection to that family member, to myself and to...

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US Social Forum: Fighting 'Compassion Fatigue' with BPF Director

The United States Social Forum was held in Detroit, Michigan from June 22-26, 2010, and gathered over 15,000 activists from around the country.  During that week I worked as a Spanish/English interpreter for some of the 1000 workshops offered, I performed at a political music concert for activists of faith, and co-led a workshop with Sarah Weintraub, the Executive Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship.  Our workshop, “Caring for Ourselves and the World”, was very well received. Sarah will be one of the presenters at the August Symposium on Socially Engaged Buddhism at the Zen Peacemakers center in Montague In 2001, social movement leaders in Porto Alegre, Brazil, convened the first-ever World Social Forum as a space for progressive activists from around the globe to meet, learn and strategize with one another to strengthen  efforts for justice, peace and equality under the slogan, “Another World is Possible.”  Activists in the United States organized the first national Forum in Atlanta in 2007, and this year the second, in Detroit.   The diverse organizing group included young people, people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, people of various sexual identities, and Indigenous people.    The agenda was created by the participants themselves – thus at any given hour, we could choose to attend a workshop, a live cultural performance, a film festival, a protest march, a work brigade to serve the people of Detroit, a guided tour of some progressive aspect of Detroit’s past, or a “Leftist Lounge Party”.    A space was set up in the main event site for morning meditation followed by guided spiritual practices from a different faith each day. Sarah Weintraub and I had met in California in late April, and found we shared some common background.  We both had spent time immersing ourselves in human rights work in Latin America in countries in civil war (she in Colombia, me in Guatemala), and both had returned from that work showing signs of what’s commonly called “burnout”, also known as “compassion fatigue”.    Both of us had entered into Buddhist practice as one way of addressing our spiritual and emotional challenges, and both had remained engaged in activist work, this time, bringing some of the lessons of our overseas experience and our Buddhist practice into...

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Symposium Presenter Anne Waldman Appeals for help for Naropa

Waldman will present in the first Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism on the topic of arts and social change.  Read her full letter at Elephant Journal, co-authored with Lisa Berman or read the following excerpt: We want you to know that we are here, that we support and acknowledge our students, that we are up and running, and that the SWP staff, Reed Bye, Interim Chair of the W&P Department, and Naropa administrative staff and trustees are willing to meet with students to clarify and listen to concerns. We are part of a larger world and culture that is going through tremendous change, paradigm shifts of all kinds. We will all have to do with less and continue to cultivate our empathy and compassion and our artistic paths. We exist amidst huge waves of suffering as the oil spill continues to gush and harm many sentient beings and the vegetal world, as war rages, as financial cuts are made that affect everyone.  It is our duty to stay awake and to provide feedback in our own communities. The writing community here at Naropa has always been an activist one, and a spiritual one. We honor this...

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Dudeism=Buddhism? Bridges, Bernie and Symposium

Watch the Tricycle Web Exclusive Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman: A Conversation, click here. Jeff Bridges is scheduled to perform and present at the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism. What is Dudeism? According to dudeism.com, a website dedicated to deploying the wisdom of The Dude (Jeff Bridges) from the comedy The Big Lebowski, Dudeism is a religion with the following creed: The idea is this: Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide. In short, Dudeism is not Buddhism. However, dudeism.com does list the Buddha as one of the “Great Dudes in History”—along with Snoopy, Gandhi, and Jerry Garcia—citing the fact that “he bailed on his birthright and taught that you should go with the flow.” Read Full Article at Tricycle Image: Dude-vinci, from...

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Engaged Buddhist named Poet Laureate of the United States

Merwin moved to Hawaii in 1976 to study with Robert Aitken Roshi, the primary honoree of the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism.  While the New York Times says that “his interest in Zen Buddhism have sometimes made him seem like a man apart from society, a soul too pure too mix with the frantic heave of life as we know it,” they also describe his social engagement: But Mr. Merwin’s appointment is potentially inspired. He is an exacting nature poet, a fierce critic of the ecological damage humans have wrought. Helen Vendler, writing last year in The New York Review of Books, called him “the prophet of a denuded planet.” With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico becoming more dread and apocalyptic by the hour, Mr. Merwin may be a poet we’ll need. The pacifist in him may brood over the long war in...

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SEB Symposium presenter Anne Waldman to perform Ginsberg’s “Howl”

At an exhibit on the photos of Allen Ginsberg displayed at the National Gallery in Washington D.C., beat poet Anne Waldman will do a reading of Ginsberg’s famous poem “Howl.” Like Ginsberg, Waldman was a key figure of both the Beat Generation and the transmission of Buddhism to the West. On August 14, Walman will give a keynote address, participate in a panel and lead a discussion on arts and social change at the first Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism.  You can register for that day alone or for as many days as you please of this historical event.  Read the full report of the gallery exhibit in the Washington City...

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Boston Herald Reports on Jeff Bridges' Participation in Symposium

“That Oscar winner Jeff Bridges will sing his Crazy Heart out at an Aug. 13 concert with his songwriter bud John Goodwin during the Zen Peacemakers’ ‘Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism’ in Montague. Goodwin co-wrote ‘Hold on You,’ a tune sung by Bridges in ‘Crazy Heart.'”  Bridges studies Zen with Bernie Glassman and you can watch a video of their discussion.  While Bridges has visited Montague in the past to participate in events, we hope that he doesn’t get whisked away by an unplanned demand to film a new movie. READ FULL ARTICLE LEARN MORE APPEARANCE AND...

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Dalai Lama: Monks and soldiers have more in common than meets the eye

His Holiness the Dalai Lama made a statement supporting armed forces featured in a post last Monday on the  of the Buddhist Military Sangha blog.  His Holiness said that actions that appear “harsh or tough” on the surface may actually be “non-violent” if they are based on good motivation.    What makes both a good monk and a good solider is the drive to serve others:  “Inner strength depends on having a firm positive motivation. The difference lies in whether ultimately you want to ensure others’ well being or whether you want only wish to do them harm.”  How do these comments make you...

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Audio podcast: A Jew in Germany, insights from Auschwitz

Sensei Beate Stolte and Natalie Goldberg recently attended a Zen retreat at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Natalie is Jewish and Stolte grew up in Germany; both share intimate stories and insights from their experience at the retreat. Discussion transpired about the human capacity for genocide, and the concepts of embracing fear and darkness, and creating meaning in one’s circumstances.  Listen to the podcast from Upaya Zen...

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Upaya hosts benefit for Buddhist Education for Social Transformation

Please join us on Saturday, September 18, 7:00 pm, at Upaya Zen Center for a very special evening with Jami Sieber (electric cello/vocals) and Colleen Kelley (author, artist). “Hidden Sky” is a lush musical and visual journey into a world honoring the bond between human and elephant; a magical multi-media performance inspired by their remarkable experiences with elephants in northern Thailand. The evening is a benefit for the Buddhist Education for Social Transformation (BEST) program that is being created in northern Thailand at International Womens Partnership for Peace and Justice, in collaboration with Upaya’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Program. Jami and Colleen are generously offering this concert as a gift to the community and in support of the BEST program — no ticket is required and admission is free. We hope that you will respond generously at the concert with a donation to support scholarships and other expenses for the BEST program (minimum suggested donation is $25). Sign up...

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DC fest includes films, discussion on Engaged Buddhism, diversity

Sunday afternoon, June 20, will see a program sponsored by the Washington Buddhist Peace Fellowship. It will start with a screening of “Peace is Every Step,” a portrait of Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for the nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his efforts to end the war in Vietnam peacefully. Following the film, Peace Fellowship founder Hugh Byrne will lead a meditation and a discussion on engaged Buddhism with peace activitst Colman McCarthy. Read full article in...

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My Murmurs Over the Marmara by Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi

Rabbi Ohad Ezrahi has represented the Jewish tradition at Auschwitz Bearing witness retreats for many years. He studies Zen with Bernie Glassman and is a peace activist. He wrote the following article on recent events: English tr., Yair Ohr As a peace activist, I am hurt and frustrated to see supposed “peace activists” attacking other human beings with violent rage: that is NOT the way to bring peace. As an international peace activist, I want to say to those who were involved in the violence on board the Marmara flotilla: You are not peace activists. You came as confrontationists looking for a fight, and you are personally responsible for the bloodshed that took place. I would have expected other peace activists from around the world to come out loudly and say this unambiguously, but it seems that their voices have suddenly gone silent. And as an Israeli, it frustrates me to see the Israeli Army so foolishly falling into this trap. Could the Israeli army with all its advanced intelligence gathering systems not have obtained more accurate information about what was planned for them on board the ship? Couldn’t they have just neutralized the ship’s engine by some simple commando action in order to stop the ship dead at sea, without direct confrontation, thus avoiding any bloodshed? The State of Israel has become a very clumsy bully that strikes out heavily against anyone who irritates it, then justifies by crying, “But he started! He spit on me! He insulted me! He hit me with an iron rod!” The modern Israeli Army resembles the Golem of Prague, which was sent to protect the Jews, but was an inept and dangerous creature. But unlike the original Golem, it seems that the modern Israeli version lacks any sage guidance to control it, and no one knows to erase the Divine Name from its forehead and return it to dust at the right time, as did the Maharal of Prague in the famous story. Many of us right now want only to hide our faces in the ground out of shame: ashamed of “our” state that conducts itself with such inane stupidity; ashamed of the “peace activists” who tried to murder soldiers with clubs and knives; ashamed of...

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Audio: Roshi Joan Halifax talks on Buddhism & Grief

Roshi Joan Halifax discusses the five ‘territories’ of grief. Roshi also shares how people close to the Buddha responded after his death and how current Western attitudes about death and dying impact people’s lives. She expounds on the physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms that can manifest when one is grieving. Roshi shares intimate stories about her experiences with grief and death and offers suggestions to professional caregivers who work with the dying or bereaved....

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Technological and Political Progressivism in Historical Buddhist Thought

From an article by Kris Notaro: Many of those engaged in activities pertaining to environmentalism, human rights, antiwar activism, and similar activities consider themselves Buddhist or ally themselves with its philosophy.  Many organizations, such as the Zen Peacemakers, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, and Buddhist Global Relief are founded as both sanghas (Buddhist congregations) and politically and socially active groups . But this was not always the case. In fact, at various points in its history, Buddhism was not only unconcerned with improving the world, but actively discouraged working to improve living conditions on this...

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Second Life Activism by Kate Crisp

Virtual Second Life Free Tibet meditation vigil (video) Virtual Second Life chain in support of Burmese monks (video) Using the avatar Vivienne, Peacemaker Institute and Prison Dharma Network director Kate Crisp organized hourly meditations to promote Tibetan peace and organized a day-long vigil and a chain of avatars that stretched 500 people in support of Burmese monks. View Tibetan Peace video.View Burmese Support...

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Lineage Project joins Tricycle Community Site

From Tricycle We’re always pleased when a new group joins us at the Tricycle Community site, and we were especially pleased to see the New York-based Lineage Project throw their hat into the ring. Founded by Soren Gordhamer, the brains behind Wisdom 2.0, the Lineage Project has been bringing alternative tools for physical, emotional, and mental wellness to at-risk and incarcerated youth since its founding in 1998. It’s a well known fact that America’s prisons are packed to bursting, and that Americans in prison are disproportionately non-white. The Lineage Project employs mindfulness-based meditation and other “alternative” tools to help turn young people’s lives around. From their site: The Lineage Project is one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations providing alternative tools for physical, emotional and mental wellness to at-risk and incarcerated youth ages 10 to 21. Through the teaching of yoga and meditation to over 600 of these youth annually throughout New York City we provide a unique forum to cultivate resiliency and positive youth development, providing tools that can transform young lives. We conduct our program in collaboration with local community- based organizations, schools, and New York City and State detention facilities. Our current community partners include, The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, The New York City Department of Juvenile Justice, The Fortune Society, Humanities Prep High School. Over the past 12 years, we have held programs for youth in collaboration with many facilities including the Department of Correction’s Adolescent Detention Center at Rikers Island, The Jewish Board of Children and Family Services, New York City Department of Juvenile Justice, and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Although no longer working at Rikers and The Jewish Board of Children and Family Services we have recently added four new service sites, The Fortune Society, The Brooklyn Job Corps, Crossroads Juvenile Justice Facility, and Humanities Prep High School. Visit them at the Tricycle Community here to join in the discussion about the challenges facing today’s youth, and what you can do to help. Below is a 15-minute video of what the Lineage Project...

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Elephant Journal Readership is at a record high.

Readership is at a record high, we won #1 green content in US on twitter 2010, this Facebook Page brings in > readers than Google itself, TreeHugger just named Waylon Lewis a top “Eco Ambassador” in US…but there’s no sustainable business model for new media. Save the elephant? From the Elephant...

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Multi-Faith Prayer for Peace Group Celebrates 60 Years in June

From the Orlando Sentinal Gustav Niebuhr, Sister Joan Chittister, and Zen Master Bernie Glassman will be among those participating in a conference celebrating the 60th anniversary of Fellowship in Prayer, a multi-faith nonprofit forced on “prayer for peace,” on the campus of Princeton University. The June 24-27 conference will also feature a gala performance by Salman Ahmad, lead singer of the band Junoon which has been described as ”the U2 of Pakistan.” The conference, PRAYER: An Answer for the 21st Century, offers a unique opportunity to join others in identifying and claiming the values and practices within and across faith traditions that are foundational for peace, justice and global sustainability. “Our world is deeply in need of interfaith cooperation,” says Janet Haag, Fellowship in Prayer’s Executive Director, “and we can think of no better way to mark our 60th anniversary than to invite people to join us in committing themselves to social change based on a broad, inclusive spiritual and social consciousness.” For more information, to register for the conference or the gala, visit www.fellowshipinprayer.org or call...

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Zen Master Bernie & Jeff Bridges Video II

To watch part 1 of this conversation filmed by Tricycle, click here. To watch part 2 of this conversation, click here. To learn more about the Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism this August in Massachusetts, where Jeff is scheduled to perform,  click here. To watch Joan Oliver’s interview with Bernie Glassman on the Symposium, click here (we improved the sound quality since the original post). And finally, to help support more great material like this, become a Tricycle Community Sustaining...

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UMass Donates Compost to Zen House Garden

Our garden keeps growing.  There are still spots available in the residence program for people who want to participate.  You could meditate, garden and work at the Montague Farm...

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Sign the Charter for Compassion!

Learn more and sign the charter The Charter for Compassion The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect. It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others—even our enemies—is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion. We therefore call upon all men and women ~ to restore compassion to the centre of morality and religion ~ to return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate ~ to ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures ~ to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—even those regarded as enemies. We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community. Learn more and sign the...

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Twitter and the Dalai Lama: Can Social Media Help Create a Happier World? by Soren Gordhamer

I hear it quite a bit. People say, “Twitter is useless. It is just people with big egos trying to promote themselves. The sooner it dies, the better.” People argue that it is inherently opposed to a mindful, happy life. In fact, the issue of happiness, and technologies role in either helping support or diminish it, came up recently at the Peace summit with the Dalai Lama, where one of the panels included eBay founder, Pierre Omidyar. The Dalai Lama spoke of the danger of developing more affection for technological devices than people, and emphasized that all the external things we think will make us happy – money, fame, power – never do because it requires an inner shift. Pierre spoke of the ability of technology to help bring people together based on shared interests…READ...

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Iran, Burma and Global Cybersanga by Laura Busch

From the last issue of our Bearing Witness Newsletter on Socially Engaged Buddhism: by Laura Busch Socially engaged Buddhism has gone online. Or rather, we have gone online as socially engaged Buddhists. Yet, there are those who may cringe at the idea. One can easily find on the Internet rampant materialism, and new methods of communicating human anger and ignorance such as cyberbullying, flaming and spamming. So is the Internet truly a beneficial technology for promoting social justice and activism? And if so, how do we use this technology to benefit sentient beings? Iran: Internet democracy or repression? Scholars studying social activism and the Internet have offered many answers to these types of questions. While the Internet can be effectively used for social justice, it can equally be a tool of surveillance and censorship. This duality was apparent during the 2009 election in Iran, where angry citizen used Twitter to organize protests against the government. Protester cell phones captured and posted videos of these events, which eventually made their way to news agencies like BBC and CNN. At the same time, the Iranian government used the very same technology to seek out, arrest, and torture protesters. As we can see, the Internet can be as much of a liberating technology as a technology of control. The Digital Divide Furthermore, other factors can inhibit the Internet’s effectiveness as a tool for alleviating suffering. One of these factors is the “digital divide”: a disparity of internet access within and between countries. These disparities are generally based upon differences in geography, income, age and education, often resulting in a lack of internet access amongst impoverished populations. This lack of access can also result in perpetuating social inequality. Yet, despite these important issues, the Internet does appear to have greater potential as an effective tool for activism than previous communication technologies like television. The Internet is a unique in that it allows people to instantly connect to other like-minded individuals, find information, and make their voices heard. It can be a platform where local marginalized voices, that have previously been silenced, can reach the global public and express their needs. Constructing Global Cybersanga So how can we effectively use this technology to educate and promote social justice in...

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Naropa University among The Princeton Review’s Greenest Schools.

From the Elephant Journal: The Princeton Review and U.S. Green Building Council have recognized Boulder’s own Naropa University as one of the greenest in the nation in their recent Guide to 286 Green Colleges.  Through using electricity that is 100% wind powered and implementing an all-encompassing composting system, they are among a list of schools, also including four other Colorado schools, that are leading the nation in sustainable learning environments.  Naropa also has an on-campus greenhouse that yields crops for both the campus’ cafe and landscaping and its sprinklers, unlike CU Boulder’s, only waters when needed.  Another impressive part of Naropa’s program is their academic opportunity for green majors and minors in a wide variety of subjects ranging from sciences to agriculture to sacred ecology. Naropa’s full press release. The Elephant Journal is a great publication. Here is why we should support...

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Civil Eats: Buddhists Reap Their Karmic Fruits (And Vegetables)

“While children zip around the Northeastern rural property, adults mingle and serve up heaping portions of macaroni and cheese and colorful salads,” says yesterday’s article covering The Montague Farm Zen House from Civil Eats, a group dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems.  Read the full article or check out the following excerpts: More than anything, the scene resembles a small-town fair. But it is simply another night at the Montague Farm Café. The free dinner is hosted by the Buddhist Montague Farm Zen House in Montague, Massachusetts, as part of the group’s efforts to promote sustainable food and health… The specter of hunger hovers in the consciousness of Werner and Montague Farm residents. Nearly a third of the families in the Zen house’s area experience food insecurity, meaning that they do not always have access to or money for enough nutritious and safe food. Montague Farm provides transportation to their dinners for less affluent folk, who may not have the resources to drive into the country—or prepare organic, local fare. With the meals, “there’s an idea that everyone bears witness to experiences outside our own. We offer a space to serve with love and dignity,” Werner says. Religion and farming are seldom closely associated in our minds, but historically, strong ties unite Buddhism and working the...

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Forget Farmville: Watch Our Organic Farm Grow in Real Time Part II

Join our residence program or come volunteer and get involved with our organic community...

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Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman: A Conversation (Part 1). A Tricycle Web Exclusive

Watch here! Look for Part 2 next week and for Katy Butler’s interview with Jeff Bridges in our upcoming Fall 2010 issue! (recorded by Ms. Mars of Cenozoic Studios for Tricycle, Photos taken by Seabrook Jones for...

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Was the Buddha socially engaged?

While the author of a recent post on Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar argues that “Twist it and wring it and pound it any way you like. Buddha did not engage in engaged Buddhism,”Ramesh Bjonnes argues in an article in the Elephant Journal that “Buddha was an animal and human rights activist long before the popularity of PETA , Amnesty International, vegan and vegetarian activism.” From Digital Tibetan Buddhist Altar: If you are rushing from one disaster to another, saving whales, trees, dogs, birds, starving orphans, victims of this, and victims of that, sooner or later you will become exhausted. Sooner or later, you will come to realize that, despite all of your effort, the whales, trees, dogs, birds, orphans, and victims are no fewer in number than when you began your crusades. Later, rather than sooner, you might even come to realize that all your rushing around is just another excuse for not realizing emptiness: for not realizing impermanence. Another excuse for not practicing dharma according to dharma. Welcome to samsara, and the topic for today’s sermon, which is “Does Samsara Really Need Janitors?” I want to test the thesis that one can run around placing labels on phenomena, tidying up samsara with a mop and bucket, or one can realize the nature of one’s own mind… When Buddha achieved or relaxed into whatever it is we believe he achieved or relaxed into while sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree, a large red cross did not suddenly begin glowing on his chest. He did not jump up and rush out to save the poor. He did not latch on to a cause and use it as the locus of a fundraising mechanism. He did not begin building institutions. Twist it and wring it and pound it any way you like. Buddha did not engage in engaged Buddhism. From the Elephant Journal: “Immense sacrificial ceremonies, such as the sacrifice of the horse (ashvameda), through which the Brahmans imposed their power, ruined the states financially,” writes Alain Danileou in his book While the Gods Play… “[Both Buddha and Mahavira, the founder of Jainism] were in open revolt against the karmakanda [prehistoric ritualistic portions] of the Vedas, but they were not so opposed to the the jinanakanda [more...

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Instructions to the Cook wins Filmaker's Choice Award

I did a blog post a few days ago where you could view Instructions to the Cook at the Culture Unplugged online film festival.  Thanks to your votes, this film one one of the ten best! From the Culture Unplugged Studios Team (www.cultureunplugged.com) We would like to thank you for your film submission to Culture Unplugged and participating in “Humanity Explored” We are happy to inform you that your film ‘Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master’s Recipe for Living a Life That Matters ‘ is selected among the top ten films for Film-Maker’s Choice Award (best art). This group of ten films for the mentioned award is selected by the public and C.U. festival team. We have sent this 10 films to esteemed film- makers /Producers / Social Scientist / Activists  across the globe. They are: Andrew Cohen (is an American guru, spiritual teacher, magazine editor, author, and musician who has developed what he characterizes as a unique path of spiritual transformation, called Evolutionary Enlightenment), Barrie Osborne (Producer, New Zealand, 7 times – Oscar winner), Michael Peyser (Producer, Film Executive, and/or Professor of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California), Elza Maalouf (Integral Insight Consulting Group), Shekhar Kapoor (Film-maker/Director, India, Oscar Nominated 2007), Dr. Amit Goswami, Ph. D(professor emeritus in the theoretical physics department of the University of Oregon, pioneer of the new paradigm of science called “science within consciousness), Michal Levin (writer, spiritual teacher, and pioneer of her own independently developed LEAP (Life Energy Activation Process) Meditation). Along with you we are anxiously awaiting to hear their voice and receive the vote. We will be contacting you soon. Our best wishes to you for this as well as future films. Yogesh on Behalf of, Culture Unplugged Studios Team www.cultureunplugged.com Promote Films. Promote...

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NEW Bearing Witness newsletter: Socially Engaged Buddhism Online

The May issue of Bearing Witness: the Free Newsletter on Western Socially Engaged Buddhism explores the role of online technology in the world of SEB.  It includes my first-hand coverage of the Wisdom 2.0 conference and perspectives by activists, scholars and leaders of Buddhist organizations including Roshi Joan Halifax (Upaya Zen Center), Soren Gordhamer (Wisdom 2.0), Vince Horn (Buddhist Geeks), Alan Senauke (Clear View Project), Chris Queen (Zen Peacemakers) and Kate Crisp (Peacemaker Institute and Prison Dharma Network).  Stay tuned to this blog to explore questions regarding this complex and controversial topic.  Key questions from Chris Queen’s introduction: Articles in this month’s Bearing Witness raise provocative questions for socially engaged Buddhists. Despite the power of the web to alert us to the suffering of beings around the world, are we spending far too much time staring at screens in darkened rooms? Are typing and clicking, texting and Googling truly Buddhist practices, in the way that meditating, chanting and serving are? Is “high tech” a substitute or a supplement to “high touch”? Can the virtual activism of Second Life avatars be compared to the bodily service of flesh-and-blood...

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A conversation with Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman

From Tricycle Last week, Tricycle contributing editor Katy Butler sat down for a joint interview with Zen Peacemakers founder Bernie Glassman (left) and actor Jeff Bridges (right) in Austin, Texas. To find out what they discussed stay tuned to tricycle.com for a video of the interview. Based on the photographs, it looks like it was a lively conversation! Photographs by Seabrook Jones,...

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Bernie Glassman/Krishna Das workshop

“Secret notebooks…wild pages” blogs about her trip to Montague for the Bernie Glassman/Krishna Das workshop in which they discuss service. Great pics as well.

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Watch Instructions to The Cook: A Zen Master's Recipe for Living a Life That Matters

View this movie at...

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Video: Krishna Das & Bernie sing/explain origin of ZP theme song

At a workshop at the Zen Peacemakers’ Motherhouse last Saturday, Krishna Das and Bernie described the origin of the Gate of Sweet Nectar, the Zen Peacemakers’ primary liturgy and “them...

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Seaweed donated to MF Zen House

I am so happy about the 6 bags of seaweed donated for the Montague Farm Zen House community meals -thank you Larch Hanson, seaweed man.

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Now the Whole Planet Has its Head on Fire: Collective Karma and Systemic Responses to Climate Disruption by Taigen Dan Leighton

Taigen Dan Leighton will be a presenter in the Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism this summer. from A Buddhist Response to the Climate Emergency, edited by John Stanley, David Loy, and Gyurme Dorje (Wisdom Publications, 2009) The failure of the teaching of karma as solely an individual matter, without accounting for systemic, collective causes, was recognized by the great leader of the Untouchables, Bhimrao Ambedkar, who led the mass conversion to Buddhism of over three million Indian “Untouchables” starting in 1956. For Buddhists to respond appropriately to the calamities that have only started to befall us all from global climate disruption caused by human activities, we will need to rethink the common misunderstandings of karma that have prevailed in Buddhist Asia. The teaching of karma has been frequently misused in Asian history to rationalize injustice and blame the victims of societal oppression. The popular version of this includes that people born into poverty or disability deserve their situation because of misdeeds in past lives. Such views have themselves caused great harm…read...

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Email Your Senator for Burma!

This from the U.S. Campaign for...

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Bodhisattvas Needed in Louisiana

Here’s the idea of the day, from Hozan Alan Senauke of the Clear View Project: How about a Buddhist brigade to Louisiana to help with clean up from this huge mess of an oil spill that will hit land soon? The consequences are projected to be devastating. Here’s a small resource list to get this off the ground: OIL SPILL CLEANUP–To volunteer: 1-866-448-5816.If you have a boat: 425-745-8017. To report oiled wildlife: 1-866-577-1401. Spill-related damages: 1-800-440-0858. (Please repost.) Register to volunteer with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Louisiana Shore Cleanup Facebook Page If you’re interested in connecting with other dharma practitioners who want to go to the Gulf region to volunteer, feel free to comment on this post and find each other. Who wants to take the ball and run with...

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Forget farmville: watch our REAL garden grow in real time!

The Montague Farm Zen House garden-to-be, fence posts in, ground tilled.  Join our residence program and get...

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Lacrosse team digs trench for Zen House organic garden

Thank you Deerfield Academy lacrosse team for the trench and tall cedar posts you dug in the garden for the soon-to-be-placed fence. One step at a time, we are creating a hearty garden (20ft x 50ft.) Spots available in residence program for people who want to join in the fun! Please help spread the...

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Montague Farm Zen House launches community meal

Montague Farm Café –the family-oriented community meal organized by the Montague Farm Zen House– had an extraordinary launch on April 10th with over 85 people, including tons of kids, attending. Residence program trainees (now accepting applications) will these meals in the future.  Our meals fill a gap in the free community meals offered in our surrounding towns (where a staggering 30% of families experience food insecurity and 18% experience hunger) and offer a wonderful and safe place for kids to play. We do outreach with the family shelters and community meals in the area, as well as the Department of Transitional Assistance, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children), Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and youth who have been in the foster care system. We also reach out to neighbors and friends and create a festive gathering. We are getting excited for our Montague Farm garden, where we will grow veggies for our community meals. We have a donation of seeds from both Fed-Co and Justin Idoine, in addition to one ton of compost from UMass-Amherst. Between April 22-27, the Deerfield Academy boys lacrosse team and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Franklin County helped us set up the garden and put in a fence. An ever widening circle -extra hands always...

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Detroit Street Retreat: May 13th-16th

DETROIT STREET RETREAT SOCIAL ACTION THROUGH BEARING WITNESS May 13th – 16th, 2010 “When we go… to bear witness to life on the streets, we’re offering ourselves. Not blankets, not food, not clothes, just ourselves.” -Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness We will live on the streets of Detroit, having to beg for money, find places to get food, shelter, to use the bathroom, etc. By bearing witness to homelessness, we begin to see our prejudices directly and to recognize our common humanness. We will stay together as a group and twice a day participate in meditation (in the Buddhist and Christian traditions) and sharing. The donation for the retreat is $250.00. All funds will be donated to Homeless Service agencies and to the non-profit forming to address systemic causes and find solutions to homelessness in Detroit. Registration and payment deadline is May 7, 2010. The retreat is limited to 12 participants on a first come, first served basis. Jeanie Murphy O’ Connor and DaeBulDo Stuart Smith will lead the retreat. To learn more about bearing witness to homelessness, read Bearing Witness by Bernie Glassman. If you have any questions or to register, please contact Jeanie or Ch’anna Lynda Smith at:...

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Can all dharma centers become tuition-optional Goenka factories?

Have you ever looked at the price tag of a meditation retreat and thought ‘Damn Enlightenment is expensive?!’  I know I have.  Have you heard someone say that it is unbuddhist to charge for the dharma?  Well, the Buddha’s original followers may not have charged for their teachings, but they also owned nothing but robes and begging bowl and I don’t hear any Western Buddhists saying that it is unbuddhist to wear blue jeans. Reacting to the price tag on our Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism, fellow mindful blogger Katie Loncke questioned whether charging $600 for a one week event was in line with the philosophy of Socially Engaged Buddhism and whether it might be more socially just to offer a tuition-optional model like that of the Goenka centers.  However, as two practitioners in the Goenka tradition describe in a Buddhist Geeks podcast interview, the Goenka model more closely resembles the cheapness and uniformity of a mass-production factory than a radical anti-capitalist plan for inclusion. At the Zen Peacemakers, the Goenka centers have come up in conversations about how we structure our own centers.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to charge tuition? Do we want the Zen Houses to become an understandable model that can be easily reproduced and franchised anywhere in the world or do we want each house to develop its own loving actions based on bearing witness to local circumstances? While I would like to learn more about how the Goenka folks (and IMS for that matter) get money to provide widespread free and reduced-price tuition, I know that we do provide low-cost ways to participate in some programs including bartering volunteer labor for tuition and sometimes housing (which we will do for the upcoming Symposium).  As Karen Werner, the director of the Montague Farm Zen House (our local ministry) is a founder of the North Quabbin Time Bank and thus a leader in the alternative economies movement, we also wonder how non-capitalist models could compliment our tuition-based programs. At the same time, isn’t the marginal cost of coordinating and providing food, wellness and transportation services for low-income neighbors (which is the focus of the Montague Farm Zen House) more expensive than the marginal cost of squeezing...

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Petition to Save Lumbini, the Birthplace of Buddha.

This is from the blog Buddhism and not technically a Western Socially Engaged Buddhism, but relates to an article by Westerner Paula Green that we featured in the past. Lumbini is said to be the location of the birthplace of Buddha, which is located in present day Nepal. The importance of Lumbini is not only marking the region where Siddhartha was born but with his birth it is also where Buddhism itself was born. However, the site has fallen into disarray and ruin, unlike it’s more famous pilgrimage site of Bodh Gaya where Buddha was said to have awoken from delusion and realized full enlightenment. In recognition of its religious significance, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Lumbini as a World Heritage Site in 1997. Today, environmental pollution from heavy industry (cement and steel plants) that have located in the Lumbini region of Nepal is degrading air and ground water quality and local agriculture. It is likely impacting human health as well. A campaign has been underway for some years now to stop this desecration of Lumbini’s sacred space. As the collective voice of Lumbini’s friends around the world, LEPA [Lumbini Environmental Protection Alliance] is writing to humbly request your support in an international effort to protect and safeguard Nepal’s Lumbini from the growing impacts of environmental pollution.This petition is an appeal to Nepal’s Ministry of Industry’s Industrial Promotion Board (IPB) to: (1) create an industry-free zone around Lumbini, (2) freeze the establishment of new industries outside of this industry-free area, and (3) strictly monitor existing industrial firms. The document requests that the Ministry of Environment of the Government of Nepal undertake a continuous, professional industrial pollution monitoring and assessment program of the industries and environment in the Lumbini Road Industrial Corridor, with certain provisions as noted therein. Impact on Archaeology in Lumbini Area: Air polluting substances (particulate matter, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other pollutants) emitted by the factories in Gonaha VDC 6 – 8 and Kamhariya 3 – 6 are likely to damage the Lumbini Ashoka pillar with its inscription and the archaeological remains at the World Heritage Site Lumbini and other archaeological sites. Historic stone structures in Europe, notably the Cathedral of Seville, Spain, have been damaged...

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SEB Symposium Presenter Jules Shuzen Harris, to Participate on New School Panel Discussion: ‘Conversations on Change’ in New York City

As announced by the Business Wire, Jules Harris will be a panelist for a conference in New York City tomorrow. At the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism this summer, he will be part of a panel on Special Ministries along with Fleet Maull and Francisco Lugoviña.  From the Business Wire: the Vera List Center for Art and Politics to participate in a panel exploring new possibilities for civic engagement. Purposely designed as a conversation that crosses boundaries, the panel will address both commonalities and distinctions about how meaningful social and political change can be achieved. Appearing alongside Harris will be the physicist Sean Gourley, who has been researching the mathematics of war, and activist artist AA Bronson, currently leading the program, ‘A School for Young Shamans’, at the Banff Centre, an arts and culture center located in Alberta,...

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Volunteers clear space for expanded organic garden

Montague Farm Zen House volunteers are working in our field right now to clear wood and pipes in order to clear space to expand our organic garden.  Volunteers include staff from Big Brothers Big Sisters as well as former a tenant of the farm from its days as a commune.  Working in the garden will be a task for people in the residence...

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Tikkun Interview: Sami Awad Palestinian Activist for Nonviolence

Tikkun Interview: THIS IS A CONVERSATION WHICH TOOK PLACE IN TIKKUN’S office in California in May 2008. Sami Awad(SA) is the chair of Holy Land Trust, a not-for-profit Palestinian organization established in 1998 in the holy city of Bethlehem. Michael Lerner (ML) is editor of Tikkun magazine. Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives have been working with Holy Land Trust to support their campaign for nonviolence. SA: The Palestinian community in the last three or four years has become more and more aware that engaging in armed resistance has not achieved anything on the strategic level as a pragmatic approach to ending the occupation. More and more Palestinians are seeing that engaging in armed resistance is not doing anything. ML: I am going to ask a few of the questions that will pop into the minds of people who don’t share Tikkun’s perspective, thus “playing devil’s advocate” in this interview. Here goes: “What do you mean, more people? Didn’t they just vote Hamas into power, and Hamas says that the armed struggle is the way to go forward.” read...

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ID Project Hosts Live Online No Impact Week

The Interdependence Project is hosting a man known as No Impact Man (Colin Beavan), who is challenging and supporting over 1300 people in becoming more mindful of the impact of their consumption and attempting to have no impact for one week… read more I am intrigued by this project, having just completed a rigorous three-day no pizza mini-week...

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Two More Groups Start Online Dharma Study

Roshi Joan Halifax says “At Upaya Zen Center, we feel that our Facebook page, Ning sites, and Twitter sites, plus our blogs and free dharma podcasts, provide a powerful resource for our students, who come from all over the world.”  Adding to the shift towards online teaching events and learning communities already taken by Buddhist magazines Tricycle and Shambhala Sun as well Zen Peacemaker affiliates like Upaya, the Peacemaker Institute and Prison Dharma Network, two other purely online Dharma media groups are elaborating web-based study initiatives as well. The Elephant Journal started as a magazine in Boulder, CO and eventually switched to a purely online format.  It posted yesterday that it will initiate an online study of the Bhagavad Gita.  They say the initial responses were positive.  The second group is Buddhist Geeks. They started as a podcast by some (relativity) young practitioners and recently expanded to include an online magazine.  Their e-newsletter today explained: “In the coming months, we’ll be hosting a number of online teaching events that will give Buddhist Geeks listeners direct contact with some of the teachers featured in our interviews. We’re also planning a meditation mentorship program to give practitioners the kind of access to teachers that’s normally only found on retreat.” As we prepare for the May issue of Bearing Witness on Socially Engaged Buiddhism online, I’ve grown optimistic about the power of online media to support Dharma study and practice.  Isn’t part of the point for us to disidentify with our body and day-to-day persona anyway?  I hold my face-to-face relationships as central, but have also grown to warmly feel connected to a global cybersangha.  In terms of the power of online media to reduce suffering for everyone and achieve social change, my verdict is out.  I found Zen Peacemakers online, so I feel like there is potential, but I still want to see more...

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How to help victims of earthquake in Tibet

Help the victims of the Earthquake from John Pappas at Sweep the dust, Push the dirt.

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Zen Peacemaker Sensei Eve Marko introduces Palestinian Peace Activist

Sami Awad is a Christian Palestinian, not a Buddhist, yet colorful divans lining a large room in the offices of Holy Land Trust, the nonprofit he founded and heads, serve as meditation mats and cushions for staff and associates. Each Friday morning he participates in a nonviolent action around the Separation Wall that often turns violent (“I have to call my wife and parents as soon as it’s over to tell them I’m okay.”). But he has attended a few of the Zen Peacemakers’ bearing witness retreats at Auschwitz and plans to send several of his activists to participate in the multifaith, multinational retreat for youth that will take place there in November 2010… read...

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New Buddhist Geeks Podcast Interview with Bernie Glassman

Episode Description: We’re joined this week by one of the pioneers of the socially engaged Buddhist movement, Zen Master Bernie Glassman. Although he grew up in a family that valued social action, after some years of Zen practice he had an experience that amplified his calling to serve those in need. At that point he made a vow to feed all hungers. We speak about the interconnection—and accordingly to Bernie, the inseparability—between contemplative practice and social action. He shares details of many of the projects he has been part of, including the Greystone project in Yonkers, New York, which helped to cut homelessness in that area by 3/4’s. He also shares some of the key tenants from the group that he founded, called the Zen Peacemakers. These tenants link together the “not knowing” of spiritual practice with the “loving action” of social engagement, and make it possible for us to turn our spiritual awareness into a vital force for all those in need. read transcript or...

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Joanna Macy- The Great Turning

The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the Industrial Growth Society to a life-sustaining civilization. The ecological and social crises we face are caused by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits—in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste… read...

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Remembering and Honoring Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg passed away thirteen years ago this week on April 5, 1997.  I remember when he shared a poem in typical Ginsberg style at the opening of the first Greyston housing unit.  As a long-time Buddhist activist, he supported our work in Greyston.  I remember several years later.  I was working at Greyston and I was away from the office.  Allen called and left a message, saying that although his doctors had said he had 3 months to live, he felt he was going faster than that.  He started calling his friends to ask if there was anything he could do for them.  After returning, about 3 hours after the phone call, he had already slipped into a coma.  He passed away shortly after.  He also wrote a letter to President Clinton, letting him know that if he wanted to give him any awards or honors, he better do it...

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Take Action! Buddhist Peace March

We continue of our month of focus on Buddhist activism with a call to action.  This April, Symposium presenter Sister Claire Carter and the Nipponzan Myohoji order of Nichiren Buddhism are joining peace activists organizing walks across the country converging in a national rally in New York City on May 2, 2010 when the United Nations begins its review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Get involved walking, hosting or sponsoring...

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Donate a Cushion to Homeless Meditation Practitioners (Please Forward, Repost, Tweet, Etc.)

This from Kiley Jon Clark at HMP Street Dharma: Dear HMP friends, I need your help this time. Please contact as many Buddhists/People/Meditation/Groups/Temples/Centers as you can…and ask them to please send us some meditation cushions! We have a beautiful Chapel at Haven for Hope, that we are going to be allowed to use for Homeless Meditation Practitioners… When it is our night to use this Chapel, I want it to look, smell, and feel like a real Buddhist Sanctuary…because…it will be…at least for that night…and we want it complete with Alter items, incense, candles, colorful tapestries, etc…and most importantly: Meditation Cushions! Can you send some emails to people you know, and help me get this done, Please? Or if you know a better way to get cushions, let me know…like setting up an account with a company that makes them or something like that…. but I don’t want to ask for money…it would be cool if many, many People and Centers all just sent one Cushion a piece…and then everyone  would have a hand in providing meditation instruction in the Homeless Community. counting on you, [email protected] hmpstreetdharma.org thanks, Kiley Jon Clark PO Box 71 Floresville, Texas 78114 For more about this project for the homeless, follow this...

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Ben & Jerry Visit, Donate Ice Cream to Montague Farm Zen House

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, founders of  Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, visited Montague on March 26 to meet with their old friend Bernie. They announced that they would donate ice cream to the Montague Farm Zen House for the MFZH Family Meals for the underserved of the Pioneer Valley. Back in 1987 Bernie met Ben and Jerry at the formation  meeting of the social venture network. The business deal that Greyston Bakery would provide fudge brownies for their fudge brownie ice cream and fudge brownie yogurt proved a vital source of income for the bakery and jobs for the underserved population of Yonkers, NY. Ben, Jerry and Bernie were part of the early rise of social enterprise in the...

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Congrats to Upaya Chaplians!

As Maia Duerr explains in the Jizo Chronicles, Upaya Zen Center’s Buddhist Chaplaincy Program just finished an intense 10-day period, graduating and ordaining their very first group of thirteen chaplains. We at the Zen Peacemakers are inspired to see these developments in the movement for Socially Engaged Buddhism.

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Bearing Witness: Buddhist Activism

During the month of April, we invite you to join us exploring Buddhist activism. This month’s issue of Bearing Witness Newsletter features peace, environmental and criminal justice activism. In the Bearing Witness Blog, we will highlight one article at a time from the issue, inviting your comments and questions. This issue highlights opportunities to get involved including a multi-state walk for peace, environmental activism in New York City and the Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism, where 7 activists featured in this issue will present.

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Spreading Socially Engaged Buddhism at Home and Abroad

Hello, I’m Ari.  I train and serve on staff at the Zen Peacemakers, working with Bernie Glassman to coordinate our online community, among other things.  I’ll be one of your hosts for this blog, which will accompany our free online monthly newsletter on Western Socially Engaged Buddhism.  The About page explains what this blog will be about. Last January, Geoff Taylor (who took these pictures) and I accompanied Bernie to the Rowe Camp and Conference Center, where he led a weekend workshop.  We  thought it would be a good opportunity to answer questions for an interview that will appear in the German magazine Connection, in anticipation of Bernie’s June/13 appearance with musician Konstantin Wecker in Berlin. To get a taste of Konstantin’s work, check out Sage Nein!, which implores us to say no to fascism and xenophobia. The interview questions were prepared by Christa Spannbauer, journalist and assistant to Roshi Willigis Jäger.  We  look forward to working with her to promote Socially Engaged Buddhism in Europe.  Bernie’s answers were shaped by Christa’s insightful questions, the current projects of the Zen Peacemakers and the comments of workshop participants. Rowe director Rev. Douglas Wilson came out of sabbatical to join us and raised powerful questions about working towards systemic change.  Zen teachers Mervyn and Cecilie Lander asked about developing Socially Engaged Buddhism in their zendo in Australia.  After the conference, they visited us for a few days in Montague and later joined the Zen Peacemakers Sangha.  It was a pleasure to record Bernie’s answers to Christa’s questions.  Stay tuned to this blog for this previously unpublished interview and much...

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