Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dear Friends,

Many of you have called, emailed, written, Facebooked, and Skyped to wish me a happy birthday. I am grateful for your words and friendship.

As many of you know, I was born to a Jewish Brooklyn family, so as I turn 75 I’m reminded of the Jewish blessing: Blessed be the One that has brought us to this day. Since all of us are this One, I am thinking today of the many people who have brought me to this day through their work, energy, devotion, and love. I think of my parents, one of whom died just seven years after she gave me this life, and the sisters who helped raise me in her absence. I think of my teachers who continue to teach me long after they left this realm of existence. I think of my students, their devotion to the dharma, and their openness and willingness to work with me even as my understanding and teaching evolved and changed over many years.

I am so grateful to the folks at Greyston who continue even now, almost 35 years after our shaky start, to bring spiritual, social, and economic change to the people and community of southwest Yonkers, New York. I appreciate all of us in our wonderful diversity—the political leaders, business people, artists, social workers, householders, priests and monks, Americans, Europeans, Africans, and Asians of all religions—who responded to a vision of spirit and social action that guides the Zen Peacemakers. And my heart continues to crack wide open remembering the street people who accompanied and cared for us on the streets, and the souls of Auschwitz. Every one of you has deeply enriched this world and life.

The future seems so bright when I think of my dharma successors and their students and successors opening up new paths of practice. I owe a debt of gratitude to the board of Zen Peacemakers that has aided me in my transition to elder with patience and dedication. And I am deeply moved by my own children and the wonderful human beings they’ve become—real mensches—in the face of my own shortcomings as a father, and the happy, healthy families they’re raising. Finally, there are no words to express my feelings for the three women who shared my life and for everything that I learned from them.

My heart is full with all that you have given me.

Love, Bernie

5 Responses

  1. Dear Bernie,
    strange: some hours ago I have written a comment, something has not worked. – I just wish to tell you that i love you and that I wish to dedicate my life to bearing witness. your letter is marvellous, I am resonant to every aspect of it.

    Yours truly

  2. continue with your heart full and open, sharing and guiding and being led on this journey
    my trip to auschwitz this past fall continues to ripple and expand the world, esp mine
    thank you for your birth, and the birth of the peacemakers
    and living your values, sharing with mlk, not bad
    enjoy your moments, they are precious
    love and peace from the redwoods

  3. Thank you Bernie, I’m deeply moved by your expression of gratitude. You have always been my great teacher of compassion,unconditional love and re-membering, I wish you lots of good health, peace of the heart and wonderful sharing yourself wth all around, love, tanna

  4. Dear Bernie,

    now it MY heart that is cracking open upon listening to your words every of it soaked with gratitude. Thank you so much for your life long learning. For taking the risk to enter new spaces, again and again. Spaces and places we probably would prefer not to enter deeply. Thank you for your teaching of oneness and loving action: Quite often it is coming to my heartmind how I would without hesitation help my left hand if I had cut me with a knife while chopping the vegetables. – Every child would understand this, so everybody will “understand” One Body and Loving Action. – I am so thankful to learn how to transfer this example into daily life and not to get stuck with endless remorses whenever is doesn’t happen but just to go on – which is quite often. – Thank you also for honoring your birth and your parents, everybody on your path, AND the souls. – Thank you also for leaving paths when you felt it was right to do so. – Thank you for honoring your children and their growth and you wives, I really appreciate that and feel honoured to learn through, with and from you – for example from this letter. – With palms together, blessings to all pearls of Indra’s net!. Jion

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