WHO ARE YOU REALLY?

“And though we were talking lightly and easily, we were really looking at each other and asking, ‘So who are you after these days away? Who are you, really?’ And I realized that that’s really the question I ask every morning when Bernie gets up. So much has happened, so much has changed.” Eve reflects on her reunion with Bernie after his first public talk since the stroke, which took place this past Tuesday, April 25th, at Vassar College.

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Scenes of Domestic Bliss: Eve and Bernie, April 2017

Eve describes the early April scenes of “domestic bliss” taking place in Eve and Bernie’s household in Montague, Massachusetts. She shares the intimate micro-moments of the everyday, and in so doing, shows how Bernie is continuing to heal with much hilarity and spunk.

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Bernie and Eve in Alabama: Post-Stroke Recovery and Physical Therapy, March 2017

Bernie is currently spending 2 weeks at the Taub Clinic in Birmingham, Alabama working on regaining mobility in his hand that was previously paralyzed from his stroke. He’s engaging in physical therapy aimed at “re-wiring the brain.” We’re all very excited by Bernie’s progress as seen in the following videos, and hold much gratitude for everyone’s support. Below, Eve reflects on her and Bernie’s experience in physical therapy, and the resiliency Bernie continues to demonstrate.

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Roshi Glassman, Zen Peacemakers Join Chief Looking Horse’s Prayer for Standing Rock

Sage from Cheyenne River reservation burned today at Zen Peacemakers offices.  Lakota spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse, the 19th holder of the sacred white calf woman pipe who has led in Standing Rock and has met with Zen Peacemakers last summer, requested spiritual leaders around the world to join him in offerings to the Bundle, in support of the land, the river, Mni wic’oni, the Native American nations who gathered in Standing Rock to their defense, as well as in support of the “healing of those who are making these dangerous decisions.” At 4pm EST this clear and warm Wednesday, Roshi bernie Glassman, Roshi Eve Marko, head teacher at Green River Zen Center, and Rami Efal, executive director of Zen Peacemakers halted their work, gathered in a simple ceremony, invoked indigenous people everywhere and particularly in Standing Rock, and dedicated the collected energy of today’s prayers to action that will benefit...

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Special Offer: Bearing Witness, Hardcover, Signed By Bernie Glassman 2017

Bearing Witness: A Zen Masters Lesson’s in Making Peace, Written by Roshi Bernie Glassman and Roshi Eve Marko, has introduced countless people to the Zen Peacemakers Three-Tenets: Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. We are offering, for limited time, 25 copies signed by Bernie.

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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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One Year Since Bernie’s Stroke: A Letter of Gratitude

A year ago today, Roshi Bernie Glassman suffered a severe stroke. Zen Peacemakers is deeply grateful to all those who supported him in a remarkable recovery and in his further healing ahead. In the link below, read ZP’s letter of gratitude, as well as a reflection by Roshi Eve Marko on this one year journey.

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“If Strain, No Gain”

“Bernie … realized… the similarities between the somatic arts like Feldenkrais and his own Peacemaker tenets…What if…not-knowing… also includes letting go of movement patterns that don’t work?” Read Ariel Setsudo Pliskin’s reflection on accompanying Bernie in his post-stroke physiotherapy exercises.

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2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz Retreat Summary

‘This [Auschwitz retreat] is an opportunity to love, and to give up fear.’ Bernie called, spirited yet tender, from the middle of the auditorium on his way to his quarters after delivering his opening remarks for the 2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat.   He was surrounded by eighty participants from seventeen countries who have traveled seas and land to participate. Forty-five of them, an unprecedented number, had come to Auschwitz for the first time with the Zen Peacemakers. In the following five days, through rain, snow and sunshine, we shared time at the camp, visiting the barracks of children, women and men in places where they spent their last nights and days, we dedicated ceremonies at the remains of the crematoriums and ash fields where they were killed and disposed of, and we sat silently at the selection site where this very decision of their fate was made by other fellow human beings. From the silence, we called their names and those of our own loved ones that died there. Above us, crows circled and swooped.   “I came quite “not knowing” and plunged into one the most meaningful experiences in my life. I felt cared for, safe and guided through this week with enough flexibility to find my own pace. I felt as part of a compassionate community and I am deeply thankful for all these moments of deep humanity. ” – Retreat Participant   Day by day, we further revealed the layout of the camp and the schedule was marked by extended time for self reflection, private practice and exploration. We bore witness to moments of grief of soft lullabies in German, Hebrew and French and moments of celebration of life by songs in Arabic, Dutch and many other tongues. We heard from Yaser and Rabia, two Palestinian siblings, refugees from present-day war-torn Syria of their moments of despair and inspiration, of caring for family and friends, and joined them in the Al-Fatiha – the most essential Muslim prayer – in closing our final silent circle, kneeling palms up by the alter at the selection site. Their presence at the retreat anchored our experience in the present suffering of their people and many others around the world.   One afternoon, Bernie, wheeled by chair and surrounded by the participants, visited...

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Bernie Off to Poland

(in photo, Bernie exercising with Ari Setsudo Pliskin)   By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko, ZPO   Bernie goes off to Poland on Friday. Back in June, when he barely walked and had only just mastered the stairs, he began to say how much he wanted to join the November retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Zen Peacemakers’ 21st annual retreat at the concentration camps. To be honest, I thought it was pretty crazy. When we filled out questionnaires for the Taub Clinic in Alabama, one of the questions asked what specific and practical outcomes Bernie hoped for from their intensive therapy, and he asked me to write that he wished to go to the retreat in Poland. Again I thought it was pretty crazy. On Friday he’s going. Without me. There will be people accompanying him on the planes between Boston and Krakow, and someone with him the entire time he’s in Poland, not to mention some 80 other folks who’ll be happy to see him and do everything they can for him. He’s been practicing his walking outside on uneven terrain, as he’s doing with Ari in the photo. At the camps themselves he’ll need to use his wheelchair, and momentarily I think of one of the exhibits at the Auschwitz Museum showing the various canes and prosthetics the people arriving on the trains used. They were the very ones who were quickly ushered to extinction while the mechanical aids, seen as more valuable than the humans, were given a longer life. I wonder what he’ll think when he sees that exhibit. If he sees it. The Museum is not wheelchair accessible and it’s a lot of walking. Bernie will have to pace himself, see what he can do, how far he can go, how far he can let himself be from a bathroom. The camps are meant to be arduous. No drinking or eating is allowed inside those fences, and Birkenau itself is huge. But over the 21 years quite a number of people with some disability have joined this retreat. Since I’ve heard of his wish to go back there I’ve thought of the old scenario of human approaching the officer in elegant uniform and told whether to go right or left. I...

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Bernie Glassman to Join 2016 Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat

Bernie Glassman, after eight months of post-stroke recovery, is determined to attend the upcoming retreat in Poland in October 2016. In two conversations, one at the video above and another at the written interview below, he explains his motivation.  Bernie: Since the stroke, I have been mainly focusing on getting my mind and body back in shape. Not too long ago, it struck me that as I am right now—in terms I can walk, I’m still with a cane—I’m ready not just focusing on getting myself better, I’m ready to look out. And of course during this whole time I’ve had a lot of meditation, and a lot of space in which I could peer at things. But somehow the idea of Auschwitz came up, and I want to be there. I want to be there for the next retreat. And what also came up is Marian. Everybody who goes to Auschwitz goes one night to see Marian’s work, and hear his story. And that’s been happening since pretty much the beginning. He died a few years ago. But people still get to see his work, and hear his story. But for me the importance of his story—and it is amazing, I loved the man, amazing person . . . But what struck me, I think from the first time I met him—which I believe was the second retreat that we met him—was that I noticed that he wasn’t showing anger, or hatred. And he said, “How can you hate anybody? I have not hatred for any of the Capos, or Nazis. I don’t have hate for anybody.” Now for most people—and you have to remember that that’s why I started the Auschwitz Retreat, to learn how we can live with others without hate, without anger. Here was a man living that way. I hadn’t met people doing that. Everybody has somebody that they hate, they dislike. And in my relationship with him, he never showed me that side. So it was very important for me. And then he died. And a couple of years have passed. And I went through my stroke to remember this path that he had started in Auschwitz started fifty years after he was released from Auschwitz. And it was started because...

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ENLARGING THE SCOPE, PART 2: DIG INTO COMPLEXITY

  Preface: As we are gearing towards the 21st Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat, Bernie requested to bring to view his questions, intentions and themes that were shaped by twenty years of co-leading these retreats in Poland, Rwanda and the Black Hills. The narrative of events that led to the first retreat is described in the article “Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness”. Part 1 of this interview is available here. Below is part 2 of this interview.   Rami: I heard you say once that you have a vision of what Bearing Witness retreats are and that while both the Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness retreats in Rwanda  2014 and in the Black Hills 2015 were successful in their own way, they both differed from that vision. Can you say more about that? Bernie: In Rwanda, we had mostly two sides, the Hutu and the Tutsis. We had some Europeans of course, but it was all about Rwanda. No Congo, no others… We did have this guy—you heard about the guy that was a paramilitary guy that came to a retreat. Twenty years before, when the genocide in Rwanda was happening, he was sent with a battalion (I think it was 600 Belgian) to rescue the local Rwandans that were surrounded in a coliseum by militia. He was sent with orders to stop what was going on. He commanded armed soldiers, they could have stopped what was happening. When their planes landed, he got a message from Belgium headquarters saying, “Forget it. Rescue whatever Europeans you can. Go there, get them out, and leave.” And that’s what he did. For the twenty years he hadn’t told that story to anyone. Not to his wife—his marriage was on the verge of breaking up. It was killing him. At our retreat, 20 year later, he broke that story. Now that’s a bearing witness kind of thing. I tried to get more people like that. We couldn’t. So if I had any remorse, it was that I wasn’t able to get enough different kinds. It was just a few people. We had a woman who’s arm was chopped off, and we had the guy who cut her arm off there. But it wasn’t broad enough for me. I wanted—because I know the Europeans have a heavy burden in what happened...

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ENLARGING THE SCOPE, PART 1: START WITH THE LIVING

  ENLARGING THE SCOPE, PART 1: START WITH THE LIVING Interview with Roshi Bernie Glassman, Conducted in Montague, MA USA in June 2016 Transcribed by Scott Harris Preface: As we are gearing towards the 21st Zen Peacemakers Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness retreat, Bernie requested to bring to view his questions, intentions and themes that were shaped by twenty years of co-leading these retreats in Poland, Rwanda and the Black Hills. The narrative of events that led to the first retreat is described in the article “Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness”. Below is part 1 of this interview. Part 2 will follow.   BERNIE:  So, I just want to talk and lay out the history of the retreat in Auschwitz. When I entered Birkenau the first time, I was overwhelmed by the sense of souls. And at that time I called it a remembrance of souls. In English it’s an interesting word—remembrance or re-membering, putting together of souls. Now, I did not fix a label on the souls. If you think of it—and I didn’t think of it at the time, at the time I just thought I was remembering souls. But there were so many souls there. Definitely it wasn’t just Jewish souls. There’s Poles, and Gypsies—so many different souls. So at this time, that’s a feeling I had, and I didn’t know what that meant, for remembrance of souls. At that time I didn’t go deeper into “what does this all mean?” I was just overwhelmed by remembrance of souls. And I decided I need to sit here until that becomes clear—perhaps as I’d done before. And I felt I had to do it here. I had to sit until I had that experience that cleared it up for me in some way. I had to go deeper. I don’t know when I decided that I would invite other people to join me in that. It was either then, or on the plane going home with Eve—I don’t remember now, things get a little mixed up. But by the time I got home I decided that I was going to invite people to join me, and that it would not be a Jewish retreat. That it would be a retreat honoring all those souls that had been desecrated. And so therefore I...

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THE WOMAN, THE MAN, AND THE SPACE IN BETWEEN

By Eve Marko  Photo by Jadina Lilien   Bernie’s going up the stairs, I pass him walking downstairs, and suddenly hear Phump!Instantly I turn around. “What happened?” “Nothing, I saw this gorgeous woman and I almost fell over.” My brother gave me a book in Hebrew, teachings by and anecdotes about Rabbi Menachem Fruman, who passed away a few years ago. There is much to relate about Rabbi Fruman, whom we met on a few occasions: a settler rabbi, a lover of the Holy Land who insisted it belonged to God rather than to Jews or Muslims, who cultivated friendships with Muslim religious and political leaders, including the heads of the PLO and Hamas. He also believed deeply in the importance of couples, of intimate relationships. For this reason, whenever he was interviewed by a newspaper photographers liked to photograph him together with his wife, Hadassa. Once he said to the photographer: “Here’s a major scoop for you. You can take a picture of God and bring it back to the paper! Just point the camera here,” and he pointed to the space between him and his wife. The Zohar, the basic text of Jewish Kabbalah, states that God isn’t to be found in the one person, but rather between two people. There’s myself, there’s my husband, and God is in the middle, in the emptiness between us, never in the one. No, not even in the Great Man. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve meditated, how many kenshos (enlightenment experiences) and dai-kenshos (great enlightenment experiences) you’ve had, or even what you’ve done for the world. That’s not where God resides. Often people ask me how my practice has helped me over these past six months since Bernie’s stroke. I think they’re asking the wrong question. The practice isn’t what I do early mornings when I go to my office, light a candle and sit. That’s the easiest, most comfy part of the day. The practice is when I then get up and return to the bedroom to ask Bernie how he’s doing, how he slept. To look again at what happened, his loss of weight, his unsteady but determined walk with cane, the splint on his right hand, the question in his...

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Resonance is Everywhere

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

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“Now what?” Bernie Talks About the First Days After His Stroke

  “NOW WHAT?” Bernie Glassman and Eve Marko Talk About the First Days After His Stroke Conversation recorded in May 2016, Transcribed by Scott Harris Bernie: So, you remember four months ago [January 12th 2016], we were having an international conference call on the Internet . . . from Germany, from Israel, California, Colorado, all around. And all of a sudden, I was in my office with Rami—our office downstairs—and you were in your office, and all of the sudden, you came down to give me a note. Do you remember what that said? Eve: Yeah. I wrote you a note on the yellow pad of paper, and it said, “Bernie, don’t take over the meeting. Just listen.” Bernie: So, I got that note, I started to listen, and all of a sudden, I blacked out! And I have no memory—I don’t even know how many days I have no memory for. So maybe you can tell us a little about that initial period.   Eve: Yeah, you sure took that seriously, “Don’t take over the meeting,” because at that point you started sliding down your chair. And Rami called me again, and I came down. And he had caught you, and put you on the floor. So you were lying on the floor, on your back. I looked at your face. And you were talking at that point. I asked you to raise your leg, and you couldn’t raise your leg. And I asked you to raise your arm, and you couldn’t do that. And then I could tell that your speech was beginning to slur. And then it just stopped. And I asked you, and you just, like did this [shaking head left and right], or something like that—that you couldn’t speak anymore. Oh, and I said I wanted to call 911, and you said, “No.” And I must have asked you another one or two questions, and then I called 911. And they came, and they were great. They were ready, and they hooked you onto certain medication, put you in an ambulance, took you to a hospital in Greenfield [MA]. They turned right around then, and took you down to Springfield, also in the ambulance. And you went straight into...

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“What Shall I Sing to You?” Video Interview with Bernie Glassman and Krishna Das

Bernie Glassman and Krishna Das met soon after the 2015 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat in the Black Hills and shared about the practice of Bearing Witness and their personal experiences of the retreats in South Dakota USA and in Auschwitz/Birkenau Poland. Watch the video in full below or read the transcription of the interview here. Interview videotaped and edited by Rami Efal, video of Krishna Das performing in Auschwitz/Birkenau by Ohad...

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OAK TREE IN THE GARDEN

By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko posted originally on her blog on May 21st 2016 Today is Vesak, a Buddhist holiday commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. In his honor, people all over the world meditate, chant, walk, make prostrations and offerings, give charity, and vow to awaken. My husband, Bernie, has shared that during the first months after his stroke, while resting in bed, he has gone into a state of deep meditation that’s effortless, restful, and at the same time fully alert. He said that it has taken him into the most profound space of not-knowing that he has experienced so far, and that it felt so natural and organic that he thought nothing of it—didn’t think to himself Wow, this is something! or label it as special in any way—until someone asked him if he was bored lying in bed and staring out into space. It was only then, as he began to explain what was happening, that it occurred to him that perhaps something unusual was taking place. I was glad to hear this on his account, and also because it’s nice to know that when our body isn’t responding as it always has or when our energy level isn’t what it once was, this makes space for new things to happen. For myself, I’d always hoped that if and when I get older and weaker, I would have the alertness of mind to do prolonged meditation. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think of all the things that enable Bernie to experience the state he described. People prepare and serve him food, people have helped him walk wherever he needed to go (now he can walk mostly on his own with a cane), someone makes the bed, someone sets up the table adjoining his bed with the things he needs to have on hand, someone makes sure to adjust the blanket and pillows when he can’t do this. Generous friends all over the world have given us money towards his recovery and have prayed and meditated on his behalf. All these things enable him to not just recover, but also explore a deep meditative state. Hunger and thirst would be distractions. Discomfort and pain, with...

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UPDATE: 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat CANCELED

UPDATE: 2016 Native American Bearing Witness Retreat CANCELED Dear members, friends and supporters, The Zen Peacemakers and our Lakota friends in South Dakota would like to thank all of you who supported the Native American Bearing Witness Retreat this year with your enthusiasm and patience. As it stands, we did not receive enough registrations to cover the costs of the retreat and arrived at a point on our planning timeline it was no longer possible to continue. Today the Zen Peacemakers board of directors, with full hearts, concluded that it is necessary to cancel the retreat. In our years of Bearing Witness we have learned to pay attention and respond to the unique needs of the moment. Last year that has resulted in the tremendously successful 2015 Native American Bearing Witness retreat. This year, the needs and fruition seem to have changed. We have also learned that things don’t end but change form and direction. This moment is such a moment, and we are excited and dedicated to see the form of the next unfolding in seventeen years of relationship with our Lakota allies, friends and elders. If you are one of the many who have fully registered to the retreat, you have received an email regarding your money refund options. If you have not received it yet, please check your inbox, write Suzanne Webber, our retreat’s registrar, at suzanne[at]brooksbendfarm.com, or me at rami[at]zenpeacemakers.org, 347.210.9556 We are glad that many relationships and actions rose from last year’s retreat. We hope you continue and share them with our community. Thank you. Rami Efal ZP Operations Coordinator and Assistant to...

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UPDATE to ZEN PEACEMAKER ORDER MEMBERS, SPRING 2016

  Dear Member of the Zen Peacemaker Order, On April 29-30 2016, the international ZPO governance circle gathered at Bernie and Eve’s house in Massachusetts USA with the circle’s members flying from California, Germany, Belgium, Colorado, Israel and driving up from New York City. All the ZPO regional governance circle stewards were in attendance. For information about the ZPO’s governance structure and the list of all stewards, click here. First and foremost, we listened and set an intention to address concerns and requests coming up from members through the local regional circles. Many of the topics, such as ZPO training paths, ZPO Bearing Witness Retreats, ZPO membership and ZPO training groups, were discussed in the context of what became the new ZPO transition group. Marushka Glissen, ZPO Steward on the New England Governance circle who attended the meeting as a witness, wrote: “It was clear to me that Bernie had come a long way from when he first had his stroke on January 12th 2016 especially in his ability to speak clearly. Some of his relationships with people in the International Circle spanned 45 years and the interconnection of all present was palpable. The most significant thing that got accomplished at this meeting was the installation of a transition group. They will help the ZPO move from a leader based organization to a vision based organization. The vision for many is how to create and expand a community based on meditation, social action, and peacemaking through the 3 tenants.” Zen Peacemakers Inc., the 501(c)3 nonprofit US organization has been established to support Bernie in his teachings and projects, which included Bearing Witness retreats as well as the ZPO. As the Order developed, the need to birth it from being a project into an actual legal entity that would support its growth, its vision and its members was evident. This group is mandated with proposing to the International governance circle and ZP Inc. board of directors how to seamlessly as possible facilitate that. It is my impression and conviction that the individuals in this circle are whole-heartedly dedicated to listening to our members’ needs as we weave the vision Bernie holds and to which I suspect many of us responded, and I hope this communication...

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Greyston’s Founder Wins Social Innovator Award

  Greyston’s Founder Wins Social Innovator Award As Organization Continues to Expand Impact (from Greyston press release, April 2016)   April 8, 2016. Yonkers, NY – On April 7, 2016, The Lewis Institute at Babson presented the Social Innovator Award to Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, for pioneering an organization dedicated to job creation and community empowerment. Bernie joins the ranks of past Social Innovator Award recipients, such as Dr. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl, Founders of Partners in Health. This award celebrates extraordinary global social innovators and informs the Babson community on what it takes to create real and lasting change in the world. Bernie created Greyston on the foundation of Open Hiring, which embraces an individual’s potential by providing employment opportunities regardless of background or work history while offering the support necessary to thrive in the workplace and in the community. Greyston continues to champion and expand Open Hiring 33 years since its founding. The event also marked the launch of an innovative partnership between Greyston and Babson. Babson will be the first school to participate in Greyston’s immersive social innovation learning program, which will change the way students learn and approach social change. Mike Brady, CEO and President of Greyston, says, “33-years ago Bernie had a vision for combining business and the values of non-judgement, transformation and loving action to change the lives of people most in need. His vision continues to inform innovative approaches to poverty alleviation three decades later. We are delighted to be launching the education program with Babson College to create a new generation of courageous leaders who will push Bernie’s vision forward. Businesses need to embrace solutions like Greyston’s Open Hiring if we are to break the cycle of poverty and the address the social injustices in the world today. ” “We are excited to co- create this innovative program. Social Innovation is best taught in context and there is no better context for our students to learn from than inside one of the most admired and sustainable social enterprises,” Cheryl Kiser, Executive Director, The Lewis Institute. About Greyston: Founded in 1982, Greyston is an integrated network of programs that provides jobs, workforce development, child care, after-school programs and community gardens, reaching more than 5,000 community members...

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THE SOUND OF ONE HAND

  THE SOUND OF ONE HAND By Roshi EVE MYONEN MARKO There’s a Zen koan made famous by the 18th century Japanese Zen master, Hakuin: What is the sound of one hand? Koans are questions or stories that sound quirky, but actually point to life as both clear and inexplicable. So we think we know the sound that two hands make when they come together, but what is the sound of one hand? Bernie’s right hand, part of the right side of his body that was affected by his stroke, is always in a splint so that his fingers remain open rather than clenched. His hand must also be elevated wherever he is, placed usually on a cushion. Bernie has not had an easy time with his right hand. It usually bends in the elbow and the fingers curve as the day progresses. At this point he is able to touch his second and third fingers with his thumb but no further, and lacks the strength to grab onto things and hold them. This is changing and improving all the time, but for now it means that he can only do things with his left hand (he has been right-handed all his life), unable to cut the food on his plate, remove his watch before a shower, or insert a charger into the phone. Since he invariably prefers to lie on the left side of the bed, his right hand is always between us. If I’m not careful I’ll bump into it. On occasion he’s forgotten all about his right hand, not even feeling it when he rammed it into a wall, or had no idea where it is (Where did I put my right hand? I can’t find it). It lies between us like some strange, floppy object, an incomprehensible barrier, which in some way is exactly what a Zen koan is. What is the sound of one hand? I’ve had a lot of meshugas (famous Japanese word) in connection with Bernie’s hand, at times making it a symbol of the stroke itself. What is the sound of my husband’s right hand? What is the feel, color, smell, even the taste of this one hand? It has attained vast proportions in my mind...

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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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STAND ON THE LEG YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HOLD YOU

STAND ON THE LEG YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HOLD YOU by Roshi Eve Myonen Marko February 2nd, 2016   I continue to watch closely as my husband, Bernie, does physical therapy to strengthen the right side of his body, afflicted by the stroke that sent blood coursing through the left side of his brain. He stands with some difficulty while holding on to a bar with his left hand, and begins to walk slowly while the therapist on the other side helps him step forward with his right leg. Like almost all of us, Bernie assumes that once he walks the legs will go by themselves, so he moves his chest forward thinking the legs are there, only the right one isn’t. He can’t assume that what worked before is working now. And without much feeling in the right leg, he has little awareness of where it actually is. I stand behind the two men, feeling how each small scene paints such broad strokes. I myself, who haven’t suffered a stroke, also tend to move forward with my upper body ahead of the legs that carry me, ahead of myself, mind working out some future plan or scenario while the body lags behind. I remember Bernie often telling me that Maezumi Roshi, his teacher, used to caution him: “Tetsugen, when you move fast, people stumble.” I’ve stumbled. And now Tetsugen, or Bernie as he’s presently known, moves very, very slowly. The therapist is also concerned that Bernie will favor the left leg, which he’s aware of, over the right: “Don’t stand on the leg you know can hold you,” he tells him. “Stand on the leg you don’t know can hold you.” Let go of what you know, the working limb that gives you confidence, and lean on the other side of the body, the side you don’t trust, that you can barely make out is there or not. “Don’t wait for the brain to figure it out, you do it first.” And I remember 1986 when I participated in my first public interview. In that highly ritualized, public ceremony, one student after another approaches the teacher and asks a question. I approached and quoted a verse from the “Gate of Sweet Nectar” liturgy:...

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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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“What Should I Sing To You?”

“What Should I Sing To You?”   Conversation with Krishna Das and Bernie Glassman Transcribed from a recording at Bernie’s house in Montague, MA USA, 9/21/2015     BERNIE: So we all talk about the interconnectedness of life, the oneness of life, but if we look carefully at ourselves and see how many aspects of life we shy away from or won’t come in contact, and then try to figure why. I think the biggest reason is fear. So that’s how these Bearing Witness retreats… Well, I don’t know if they started because of that, but that’s where the large numbers started. KD: I had a lot of fear before my first retreat, “How am I going to deal with this?” Just the fear of going, being in that place where so much suffering happened and so much torture and so much inhumanity was manifest. So I just didn’t know what was going to happen to me, you know. So just to go and go through the process and the practice of being in the camp at that time was] very freeing from that fear that I had. Just not that simple. And then to be talking about fear, how much fear there must have been in the camp at the time of the war. The atmosphere was extraordinary. BERNIE: We were just together in South Dakota, in the Black Hills and we met with the Lakota folks. And the fear, the elders went to boarding schools ran by Church, Catholic Church, and the fear that must have existed there, because if they spoke any Lakota they were beaten up, if they wore any traditional clothes they were beaten up. In that school there is a track where people run around and underneath that there’s graves of children that died there. So they had a reason to be afraid, but that fear permeates everywhere. The other reason for these Bearing Witness retreats is our ignorance, which I think that is with most of the non-Native Indians that came, they] had no idea of what went on in their own country, of what we did. KD: And are still doing.     BERNIE: And are still doing. And why we have these ignorant things? Again,...

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BERNIE’S HEALTH: 1/17/2016

BERNIE’S HEALTH: 1/17/2016   By Rami Efal   “Oy vey” Bernie muttered over the mushroom soup at lunch. His speech is clearer when his energy is up, and along with talking about the state of work he is very concerned about the recent cigar order that’s been sitting in the post office. To stay fresh they need to go into a humidifier — STAT, which, our dedicated nurse explained, is faster than ASAP. Saturday, Bernie spoke with Marc his son on the phone, and Alisa, Eve and myself were all struck by the candidness and vulnerability in his voice. Later that evening Alisa left back to DC and will return to his side soon. This morning Sunday, He read Eve’s written updates and chuckled. We acknowledge this simple act being an unimaginable progress over the first few days after the stroke. He read some of the comments and emails he received and leaned back, seemed tired, and, we suspected, moved. The doctor prescribed him to exercise his right arm. Many of us have heard Bernie teach using his body — how Mary and Joe, his two arms, are part of Bernie, the whole – so they care for one another. Today he turned to Joe, warm but limp on his right, and called out ‘Hey! Tip’sha (Hebrew for silly)! Move!’ Eve and Bernie laughed. He dons Boobysttava’s clown voice and goes into a fascinating, and hilarious, dharma spiel. Eve, assuming a challenging tone and pointing at his arm, asked: ‘If you can’t feel it, is it still part of you?’ They exchanged a glance. Then Bernie raised his working left arm, reached over and lifted the other – pushing and pulling – doctor’s orders. We were getting ready to leave. A young RN pops into the room and gasshos to Bernie – “You did it to me yesterday coming out of the MRI, so I wanted to return the favor.” The old Cambodian man in the bed next to Bernie, we learned, was a Buddhist monk who had been living for years at the Peace Pagoda in Leveret MA. Each day, his grandson hitchhikes three hours back and forth to see him. We saw no other visitors. Several flower vases arrived for Bernie. They really lit the...

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BERNIE’S HEALTH / The Dude Says: “Lotta Ins, Lotta Outs, Lotta What-Have-You’s”

By Roshi Eve Myonen Marko Jan 15th 2016 In the morning Bernie seems rested and not much changed from yesterday. Soon he, Alisa and I are greeted by Mark Keroack, President/CEO of Baystate Hospital, accompanied by senior staff, wanting to make sure Bernie’s getting the quality care he needs. We have no trouble assuring him that his staff and hospital are terrific. After that, terrific specialists examine Bernie’s body-mind, he gets that “too many people” look on his face again and says little. They’re satisfied with his progress, but we feel he may have slid back a little from yesterday. Afternoon: Nap, lunch, and picture time. Alisa shows him photos of his family of origin: parents, four older sisters, aunts and cousins.Bernie points at each and calls them by name: Edith, Bea, Selma, Sally, my mother (who died when he was 7), my father. He looks at a photo of him surrounded by four adoring sisters who came to part from him when he sailed to Israel in the early 1960s. “Where were you going?” we ask. “Ship,” he replies. He studies each photo carefully, telling tales of his Communist aunts of whom he’s very proud. We follow most of it. He asks Rami about who’s attending the planning meeting for the Black Hills summer retreat (he and Eve had to cancel). He begins to tease his nurse. She asks him: “Do you know your name?” “Yes,” he answers, and nothing more. She shakes her head. “Funny man!” Alisa says that soon we should ask you to offer prayers for the nursing staff taking care of Bernie as well as for Bernie. At some point he chats so much, lots of it quite coherent, that we wonder whether it’s really such a good idea for him to learn to talk again. Other times he subsides into a tired silence, or else the words are too slurred for our ears. The right side of his body is still fairly—well—still. Still no better antidote to expectations than reality. But when the staff takes him down for an MRI he thanks them with a half-gassho, which we explain is a gesture of respect and appreciation. “I thought he was trying to shake my hand,” the young aide says....

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Bernie’s Health

Dear Family and Friends, Bernie suffered a stroke on Tuesday 1/12/2016 around 1pm EST. He spent 36 hours in Intensive Care, was “downgraded” to Neurological Intensive, and as of this evening was “downgraded” again to a regular hospital room in Baystate Health Springfield Hospital. His condition is stable ​and the plan is for him to enter an acute rehab program, probably early next week, for a period of 2-4 weeks. The stroke, due to a hemorrhage, affected the left side of his brain, thus resulting in very little movement in the entire right side of his body and also undermining his speech, which is now so slurred that we can only understand around 20% of it (a substantial improvement over Tuesday). No change to his eyebrows. We are immensely grateful to Baystate Hospital and all its staff for superb care of Bernie and patient and honest interactions with us. The Montague town police and ambulances came some 10 minutes after we first called, and Bernie got “anti-stroke” medications within 30 minutes of the stroke itself, a great tribute to these first responders. This quality care continued in Franklin Medical, our local adjunct hospital, and then in the far larger Baystate in Springfield. Bernie has his struggles. His understanding of words, too, is diminished but doctors expect that to be fully remedied. When there are too many doctors around him he mumbles “too many people” and wants them to leave him alone. But nobody’s second-guessing the wonderful and loving care he’s getting here at Baystate. Yesterday, the day after his stroke, our alarm went off for the noon minute of silence for peace. He lay quietly, and then, with difficulty, raised his good hand in half-gassho. Right now the prognosis for recovery from neurologists and rehabilitation doctors is good to very good; healers and prophets are saying excellent. They expect some permanent deficits in his right arm and hand, a little less in his right leg, and they believe his speech will begin to improve within 2-4 weeks (we don’t know if that’s good or bad). They believe he will become independent and self-sufficient within several months, and cantankerous and bossy in 4 days. Alisa Glassman, Bernie’s daughter, flew in from Washington, D.C. and she...

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Bernie’s Training: Bearing Witness

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

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Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement

Bernie’s Training: Social Engagement By Roshi Bernie Glassman Photo by Peter Cunningham of Bernie, Sandra Jishu Holmes and the Greyston Builders, local Yonkers construction crew  started by Bernie, at the first rehab project (2.8 million dollars) for homeless families (19 units of housing) and a child care center in Yonkers, NY USA. Greyston has built over 300 units of housing by 2015.  (Continued from Bernie’s Training: In The Beginning ) 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. But more important in ’76, I had an experience which was very 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. 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. Out of that, in a car ride to work, a vision of all of these hungry spirits popped up. And immediately it also popped up, that these are all aspects of me. Just remember, my experience was that everything is me. All of these hungry aspects of myself popped up. And an action came out of that, which was a vow to serve, to feed—it was really more to feed all of these hungry spirits. So until then, I had decided that my work was going to be in the meditation hall, and in a temple. I had quit for the fourth and last time my job at McDonnell Douglas. And I was now a full time Zen teacher. And I was going to work only in the meditation hall, and work only with people who came to our Zendo, and wanted to be trained. But now I made this vow to work with all these hungry spirits. So that meant I had to change the venue, change the place I worked. And now it...

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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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Gate of Sweet Nectar at ZCLA Part 2: Mudras

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

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

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

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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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Bernie Q12: What is Your Vision Today for a Better World in Future?

Questions by Christa Spannbaur Recorded at Rowe Conference Center by Ari Pliskin Zen Master Bernie Glassman Bio 12) What is your vision today for a better world in future? I’ve got no vision for the...

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Socially Engaged Dudeism

Just had a nice conversation with Rev. GMS.  He is part of a church known as Dudeism and he attended the Symposium for Socially Engaged Buddhism.  He and others are exploring possibilities for Socially Engaged Dudeism. Several years ago Roshi Bernie Glassman met Jeff Bridges and thus began a long-term friendship. Bernie said to Jeff, “You know, a lot of folks consider the Dude a Zen Master.” Jeff replied, “What are you talking about … Zen?” Bernie said that quite a few people had approached him wanting to chat about the Dude’s Zen wisdom. Jeff said that he had never heard of that. This article revives a series of posts to let that conversation go on with those interested in the Dude. Bernie did a koan study using the Big Lebowski as source material and featuring Koans by the Coens. These koans will be posted on this blog with comments by Bernie and Zen students. The first one follows: What to do? Lebowski Koan: “What do you DO Mr. Lebowski? A Harvard student asks: “How do I choose my vocation?” Koryo Roshi* says: “Why do you put on your patchwork robe at the sound of the bell?” KoOn’s interpretation: “What will Gandhi do when he grows up? Roshi Bernie replies: The vocation chooses You! *Koryu Roshi is quoted frequently in this blog. Roshi Bernie calls him his “heart teacher.”  Koryu Roshi approved Bernie’s presentation of his first koan and also for his subsequent first one hundred koans. He finished his koan study (around 1000 koans) with his root teacher, Maezumi...

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How do we finance and structure enlightened engagement?

What is the structure of the Engaged Buddhist Sangha and how is it financed? At the Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism various leaders are shedding light on the question of the structure of Buddhist community.  On Monday, Bikkhu Bodhi explained that according to the sutras, the Buddha taught that lay people should donate to support monastics. Robert Thurman reminded us that the meaning of ‘bikhu’ is not monk, but ‘free luncher.’ This reflects host Bernie Glassman’s question of whether some kind of ordained or lay order would be useful today to organize Buddhist communities. While our culture doesn’t have the tradition of financially supporting a community of religious devotees, we do have the structure of the charitable non-profit and also of social enterprise. How we organize ourselves reflects how we present ourselves. Steve Kanji Ruhl, founder of the Appalachian Zen House, talked about his decision to use his dharma name in rural Pennsylvania in order to challenge the dominant assumption that we live in a Christian nation. Is this a contrast to groups like Interdependence Project and Mirabai’s Center for Contemplative Mind in Society who take out explicit reference to Buddhism? In our own society, we find new, appropriate forms of Buddhist practice that account for contemporary relationships and financial structures. In the BASE (Buddhist Alliance for Social Engagement of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship) discussion group, participants discussed the challenge of living in community, including the realization that not all interpersonal issues can be solved. In the Zen House group, we discussed the challenge of finding capital and ongoing funding for a project that has people who are excited to become engaged and inspiring vision to guide...

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Bernie Establishes Hopes for Symposium.

Introducing the panel on the challenges of Socially Engaged Buddhsim, Bernie explained that when he first organized the Symposium, he wanted to honor the pioneers, give them chance to get together, see each other, share and network.  It would be a chance to learn new things and serve as sort of job and volunteer fair. The focus is on taking action and doing something!  After the Symposium, we will look at what new things may come of this event.  By the end of the Symposium, we will be explore putting together a declaration, a set of affirmations that reflect that. During the Symposium, Ari Setsudo Pliskin and Steve Kanji Ruhl will review salient points of the event during Thus Have We Heard sessions every day and Bernie will lead a session reflecting on What’s the Deal Here?  (A great Koan, he joked, introduced by Lenny Bruce.)  In this way, we will be looking for major developments. photos by Clemens M....

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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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Bernie Q7: How Do You Train Students To Enter The Center Of Suffering?

Questions by Christa Spannbaur Recorded at Rowe Conference Center by Ari Pliskin Zen Master Bernie Glassman Biography 7) How do you train your students to be able to go right into the centre of the suffering of the world without loosing their spiritual trust in life and their inner balance? Hotei has the right things in the bag.   You fill the bag with as many tools as you can.  Then you approach each situation, unbiased, unconditioned and totally open.  There are tools or upayas that will help us realize the three tenets.  For me, meditation was a great helping in getting to not-knowing.  I know many people who have reached not-knowing without meditation.  What has been more important is what I call ‘plunges.’  A plunge is to take you into a situation in which your rational mind has no way of dealing with it.  Normally, we don’t go there.  A common plunge that many of us go through is the death of a loved one.  Others are the Auscwitz retreats or street retreats. Planning the first Auscwitz retreat took 1.5 years.  The idea of the first day is to overwhelm people’s senses.  Bearing witness is to stay there-be in that situation, feel...

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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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Future of Buddhism: Zen Houses

An Interview with Bernie Glassman By Ari Pliskin These comments are part of a longer interview with Bernie Glassman in January, 2010. The questions were written by Christa Spannbauer, journalist and assistant to Roshi Willigis Jäger, and the interview was conducted by Ari Pliskin. Your own social activism as a Buddhist Zen master is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of taking care of others. Despite the first vow in Zen, which is to save all sentient beings, in the Zen tradition there’s not much real engagement in taking care of the poor and the underprivileged, which is often the case within the Judeo-Christian tradition. What do you think are the reasons for that, and what’s your vision of Zen in the modern world? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that within Japanese Buddhism, martial arts became associated with Zen. The samurai, for example, thought about having no subject-object differentiation while you cut off someone’s head. READ...

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Q10: How Can We Deal with the Dehumanizing Aspect in Ourselves?

10) In an interview that you gave in Auschwitz you said: “There is a part of us that allows us to dehumanize people. It’s an aspect of ourselves that we don’t want to touch. Auschwitz is the world-monument of that aspect of ourselves.” How can we deal with this aspect in us so that it doesn’t cause so much harm in the world? The first way to deal with this aspect is to remember.  “Re-membering” as the opposite of dismembering – putting back together what’s been taken apart.  After the 8th year of remembering victims, Heinz-Jürgen Metzger, the coordinator of Peacemaker work in Europe said it was time to start remembering the perpetrators.  Heinz’s uncle was castrated because he wouldn’t do the work of the SS.  Heinz didn’t learn about this for 25 years because his family was disgraced because his uncle wouldn’t comply.  When Heinz proposed remembering the perpetrators, about half the participants were ready to leave. I brought up the issue of remembering and honoring the perpetrators at a later retreat, which was very difficult.  Honor means we site their name, like we do for those who died there.  The goal was to change from just blaming and hating the perpetrators to get into what was going on- to change the mode.  So we did a ceremony in guards tower, where each person honors a time when they were a perpetrator or someone was a perpetrator to them.   How far can you go in this remembering?  If this is one world, and the point is to re-member the whole world, where do you stop?  That’s where your practice has to be. To go into the spaces of what the perpetrators went to and what happened after- many committed suicide. Another way is to recognize who we exclude and invite them in.  The most common way of dealing with outsiders to our club is to avoid them.  At the worst, there is Auschwitz, war, lynching, imprisonment, gay bashing. I’m a Democrat.  I’ve never voted Republican.  I will talk with Republicans and invite them to my house.  I can’t get angry at people outside my club.  I don’t like their viewpoint, but I’m not going to be angry at the guy for having it. ...

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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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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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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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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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Bernie Interview Q2: What is Zen?

Questions by Christa Spannbaur Recorded at Rowe Conference Center by Ari Pliskin 2) When people in the West think of Zen, they tend to think of people wearing black robes sitting in meditation-halls for many hours, in strict silence, without moving. Your practice of Zen seems to be very different from that. What is Zen for you? Bernie Glassman: My teacher, Maezumi Roshi stressed that Zen is a synonym for life.  The practice of realizing the oneness of life means that it has to be for all of life.  It can’t be just what you do on the cushion.  A metaphor that illustrates this is the metaphor of One Body.  Imagine that I identify with this bag of bones.  I get thirsty, I ask for coffee.  I take a sip.  Imagine that I have a disease-it is associated with not experiencing the oneness of life.  Let’s imagine my right arm is called Bubela and the left one is Sally.  My head is Bernie.  Sally and Bubela have meditated and they study, but they don’t experience it the oneness of life.  They only talk about it.  Sally sees that Bubale is bleeding, but Sally says: I don’t want to get my dress dirty, or she says, I don’t have the training or my spiritual training tells me not to get involved.  Bubale dies.  Bernie dies.  Sally dies.  Or they are activists and Bernie is hungry, but they fight over feeding him.  Bernie dies.  They both die.  But if they truly experience the Oneness of the Body, of course they feed...

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Bernie Interview Q1: How do you bring together the poles of spirituality and activism?

Questions by Christa Spannbaur Recorded at Rowe Conference Center by Ari Pliskin 1) You’re one of the most important Buddhist pioneers in bridging the gap between spirituality and social activism, a gap which is still very wide in the Western world. Many people on the spiritual path are convinced that they do enough for the betterment of the world by sitting on their meditation-cushions searching for their inner peace. Because of that, many socially and politically engaged people are very suspicious of spiritual people and think of them as being egocentric and selfish. How can we bring these opposite poles together? Bernie Glassman: As a teacher, I come up with things that work for this place and time to help my students realize the oneness and interconnectedness of life. I’m strongly committed to the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers. Our first tenant is not-knowing, our second tenant is bearing witness and our third tenant is loving actions. By not-knowing, I don’t mean not collecting knowledge and studying and learning. What I mean is not being attached to any of that. Enter a situation as open as you can be. We have different things we do to reach not-knowing. For those who have done koan study, that is the state that is the essence of mu or the essence of one hand. Bearing witness is removing the dualism between you and the object. If you are bearing witness to suffering and you are not suffering, then it isn’t bearing witness. Bearing witness to joy is joy. Bearing witness to suffering is suffering. Third is do something about it: loving actions. Get involved. It’s not enough to just sit in a group and talk about it or read interviews about it. My experience is that if you can enter the space of not-knowing and bear witness, then unplanned loving actions arise. As people deepen their understanding of the oneness of life, the loving actions are the side effects. My biggest interest is in bearing witness to the system. My reflection has been that people honor those who attend those hurt by the system, but we kill those who try to change the system. Many wonderful people, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahtma Ghandi were...

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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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Interview Questions for Zen Master Bernie Glassman

As I explained in a previous post, a Zen journalist in Germany sent us a set of excellent questions that became the basis of a workshop given by Zen Master Bernie Glassman.  Here are the questions.  Stay tuned to this blog for answers. Interview with Bernard Glassman Roshi by Christa Spannbauer Berlin, 2010/01/20 1) You’re one of the most important Buddhist pioneers in bridging the gap between spirituality and social activism, a gap which is still very wide in Germany and the Western world as a whole. Many people on the spiritual path are convinced that they do enough for the betterment of the world by sitting on their meditation-cushions searching for their inner peace. Because of that, many socially and politically engaged people are very suspicious of spiritual people and think of them as being egocentric and selfish. How can we bring these opposite poles together? 2) When people in the West think of Zen, they tend to think of people wearing black robes sitting in meditation-halls for many hours, in strict silence, without moving. Your practice of Zen seems to be very different from that. What is Zen for you? 3) It’s become almost a sort of spiritual dogma in the Western world: the belief that you first have to find inner peace before you can commit yourself to peace-work in the outer world. Your own opinion is very different from that and refreshingly rebellious. Would you like to explain your opinion? 4) Your own social activism as a Buddhist Zen-master is deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of taking care of others. Despite the first vow in Zen, which is to save all sentient beings, in the Zen-tradition there’s not much real engagement in taking care of the poor and the underprivileged, which is often the case within the Judeo-Christian tradition. What do you think are the reasons for that, and what’s your vision of Zen in the modern world? 5) You are the founder of the Zen-Peacemakers and you initiated many social projects within the last decades: AIDS-houses, the Greyston bakery, housing-projects for homeless people. Your newest project is the foundation of Zen-houses. Can you explain what they’re for and what the idea is behind them? 6) Some people say...

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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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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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