About Zen Peacemakers

Photo of Bernie’s head trainee ceremony, 1973


After completing two decades of Zen training with Taizan Maezumi Roshi and helping him in building the Zen Center of Los Angeles, Bernie Glassman led his Zen students in the 1980’s to create the Greyston Foundation a network of social business and services in Yonkers, NY. Today, Greyston is studied in business and social work schools as a model of conscious business and urban poverty reduction.

On his 55th birthday in January 1994, Bernie Glassman conducted a street a retreat in Washington D.C. while holding the question what should he do to serve those rejected by society, those in poverty and to those with AIDS. Upon returning home, he discussed his vision of a container for people wanting to do spiritual based social action with his wife, Sensei Jishu Holmes. They decided on developing a Zen Peacemaker Order with the theme of spiritually based social action.

Since then, Zen Peacemakers has led thousands of participants through street retreats and the annual interfaith Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat. Through these and service projects in the United States, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America, Zen Peacemakers has become a magnet for peacemakers of all backgrounds, consisting a network of members and affiliates in over 20 countries. Through this work, Bernie’s innovation, vision and inspiration have helped close the gap between what society is and what it could be.
“Bernie has been the center of gravity for many of us and our projects. As a lover of people and a connector, he manifests the conditions for all of us to empower ourselves. He is the first to remind us that the power never comes from him, but rather through the undaunted capacity to forge ahead pioneering into unknown universes”. -Sensei Francisco Paco Lugoviña, senior Zen Peacemakers teacher.”


We envision an enlightened society where suffering is transformed into wisdom and compassion and all beings live in harmony and are relieved of the afflictions of hunger, war and disease. Spirituality and service are tools we use to help all beings find freedom regardless of race, religion, ability, gender or nationality.


We are a worldwide movement of Peacemakers who practice meditation, embody the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers (Not Knowing, Bearing Witness, Taking Action), live an ethical life, and do social action as a path of awakening and service. We seek to connect, inspire, support, train, and mobilize Zen Peacemakers throughout the world.

The Three Tenets serve as the foundation for the Zen Peacemaker’s work and practice. They underlie our commitment to broad-based inclusivity, service, multi-faith communion, and to a lifelong peacemaking path that integrates work, training and practice.

Entering the stream of 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