The Three Tenets

The Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers were first developed and articulated by Roshi Bernie Glassman in 1994. Since then, they have been studied and practiced by many people, including non-Zen Buddhists, and presented by many Zen Teachers. Below is an article on the Three Tenets by Roshi Egyoku Nakao, Abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, as well as other talks and reflections on the Three Tenets by other contributors.

Not-Knowing

Not-Knowing:
letting go of fixed ideas about yourself, others, and the universe.

With regular application, the practice of the Three Tenets can become a way of living from the center at all times. Although the tenets are taken in order when you study them, the practice is not necessarily linear. Each tenet reflects the others; they are seamlessly embedded in each other, flowing as center, circumstance, and action in an ever-unfolding and endlessly varied circle of life.

Bearing Witness

Bearing Witness:
to the joy and suffering of the world

The practice of bearing witness is to see all of the aspects of a situation including your attachments and judgments. You cannot live solely in a state of not- knowing, because life also asks that you face the conditions that are coming at you by being present to them. When you bear witness you open to the uniqueness of whatever is arising and meet it just as it is. When combined with not-knowing, bearing witness can strengthen your capacity for spaciousness, thus enabling you to be present to the very things that make you feel as if you have lost your center. It can strengthen your capacity to listen to other points of view, thus allowing a more nuanced picture of a situation to emerge.

Taking Action

Taking Action:
that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness

The third tenet is Taking Action. It is impossible to predict what the action in any situation will be, or the timetable for when it will arise or what might result from it. The underlying intention is that the action that arises be a caring action, which serves everyone and everything, including yourself, in the whole situation.

Sometimes the action is as simple as continuing on with the practice of the first two tenets of not-knowing and bearing witness; the very practice of the Three Tenets is itself a caring action. And though the action that arises from the engagement of not-knowing and bearing witness is spontaneous and often surprising, it always fits the situation perfectly.

For the complete article, originally published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Summer 2017, vol. xxvi, no. 4. follow this link: tricycle.org.

Wendy Egyoku Nakao Roshi is the abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, a successor of Roshi Bernie Glassman, and a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order.

The Three Tenets

The Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers were first developed and articulated by Roshi Bernie Glassman in 1994. Since then, they have been studied and practiced by many people, including non-Zen Buddhists, and presented by many Zen Teachers. Below is an article on the Three Tenets by Roshi Egyoku Nakao, Abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, as well as other talks and reflections on the Three Tenets by other contributors.

Not-Knowing

Not-Knowing:
letting go of fixed ideas about yourself, others, and the universe.

With regular application, the practice of the Three Tenets can become a way of living from the center at all times. Although the tenets are taken in order when you study them, the practice is not necessarily linear. Each tenet reflects the others; they are seamlessly embedded in each other, flowing as center, circumstance, and action in an ever-unfolding and endlessly varied circle of life.

BEARING WITNESS

Bearing Witness:
to the joy and suffering of the world

The practice of bearing witness is to see all of the aspects of a situation including your attachments and judgments. You cannot live solely in a state of not- knowing, because life also asks that you face the conditions that are coming at you by being present to them. When you bear witness you open to the uniqueness of whatever is arising and meet it just as it is. When combined with not-knowing, bearing witness can strengthen your capacity for spaciousness, thus enabling you to be present to the very things that make you feel as if you have lost your center. It can strengthen your capacity to listen to other points of view, thus allowing a more nuanced picture of a situation to emerge.

Taking Action

Taking Action:
that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness

The third tenet is Taking Action. It is impossible to predict what the action in any situation will be, or the timetable for when it will arise or what might result from it. The underlying intention is that the action that arises be a caring action, which serves everyone and everything, including yourself, in the whole situation.

Sometimes the action is as simple as continuing on with the practice of the first two tenets of not-knowing and bearing witness; the very practice of the Three Tenets is itself a caring action. And though the action that arises from the engagement of not-knowing and bearing witness is spontaneous and often surprising, it always fits the situation perfectly.

For the complete article, originally published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Summer 2017, vol. xxvi, no. 4. follow this link: tricycle.org.

Wendy Egyoku Nakao Roshi is the abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, a successor of Roshi Bernie Glassman, and a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order.