Koans on the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers


Roshi Eve Myonen Marko and I (Bernie Glassman) have started a Koan System based on  the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers.  We will probably wind up with two different sets of koans (hers and his) and I have posted my initial thoughts on this koan system.

The Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers

 Entering the stream of Socially Engaged Spirituality, I vow to live a life of:

  • Not-knowing, thereby giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe
  • Bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world
  • Loving actions towards ourselves and others

The Three Tenets serve as the foundation for the Zen Peacemakers’ work and practice. Using the Three Tenets as an orientation transforms service into spiritual practice. Specifically, these practices suspend separation and hierarchy, and open direct encounter between equals as the spirit and style of the services offered through Zen Houses.

Not-knowing drops our conceptual framework from very personal biases and assumptions to such concepts as “in and out” “good and bad” “name and form,” “coming and going.” Not-knowing is a state of open presence without separation.

In this state we can Bear Witness, the second Tenet, merging or joining with an individual, situation or environment, deeply imbibing their essence. From this intimate “knowing,” we can then choose an appropriate response to the person or situation, described as “taking loving actions,” our third Tenet. This gives rise to the holistic, integrated, wrap-around style of service projects inspired by Bernie’s vision.

In speaking about the Three Tenets as separate practices and phases of consciousness, we are making deference to the discriminating mind. They are actually a continual flow, each containing and giving rise to the others.

…….Read More about the Koan System

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The Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers

Not-knowing is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation, deep listening to the situation.

It is the role of the Bodhisattva to bear witness. The Buddha can stay in the realm of not-knowing, the realm of blissful non-attachment. The Bodhisattva vows to save the world, and therefore to live in the world of attachment, for that is also the world of empathy, passion, and compassion. Ultimately, she accepts all the difficult feelings and experiences that arise as part of every-day life as nothing but ways of revelation, each pointing to the present moment as the moment of enlightenment.
Bearing witness gives birth to a deep and powerful intelligence that does not depend on study or action, but on presence.
We bear witness to the joy and suffering that we encounter. Rather than observing the situation, we become the situation. We became intimate with whatever it is – disease, war, poverty, death. When you bear witness you’re simply there, you don’t flee.
Loving Actions are those actions that arise naturally when one enters a situation in the state of not-knowing and then bears witness to that situation. It has nothing to do with the one’s opinions or other’s opinions as to whether it is loving actions or not.

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