On my 55th birthday in January, 1994 I (Bernie Glassman) did a retreat in Washington D.C. working on the question of what should I do to serve those rejected by society, to those in poverty and to those with AIDS. Upon returning home, I discussed my vision of a container for people wanting to do spiritual based social engagement with my wife, Jishu. We decided on developing a Zen Peacemaker Order with the theme of spiritually based social engagement.
The ZPO is currently being re-envisioned by Roshis Wendy Egyoku Nakao and Pat Enkyo O’Hara. Bernie Glassman is the Spiritual Elder.
Not-knowing, the first tenet of the ZPO 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 one’s opinions or other’s opinions as to whether it is loving actions or not.
We have developed practices to help us actualize these three tenets and await new practices to be developed.