A Worldwide Plunge into Not Knowing! A statement by Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, Roshi 

ZPI encourages reflections from retreat participants, staff, members & others touched by our work and doing similar work from around the world, as part of the practice of bearing witness. Barbara Salaam Angyo Wegmüller, Roshi shares a statement she made to the Zen Peacemakers special meeting with the ZPI Board of Directors and staff, March 26, 2020.

Dear precious friends, dear beloved Peacemaker family worldwide!

I hope you are still healthy and safe and your families and Sangha members are also.

We experience indeed a worldwide plunge into Not Knowing. We are all confronted with huge fields of uncertainty because the changes of our daily life are really challenging during these past weeks. 

What does it mean to practice Not Knowing, the first of our Three Tenets? 

It calls us to sit down, to be quiet and to say a big YES to open up to this very moment. 

My teacher Bernie Glassman wrote inside my rakusu, 


Plunging deeply into not knowing–into humbly saying “YES”–leads to big space.

Space down to the ground, to oceans and mountains, to sky and stars. It opens up to crowded favelas, slums, and prisons and to the suffering of the wealthy ones. To laughter and suffering. To life as it is in all it`s facets.

Not Knowing, not holding onto fixed ideas, needs this big humble YES.

Opening acceptance with this big “Yes” gives me the courage to feel my body, my breath, tension, pain, hunger, warmth, cold, fear, heaviness, and the sadness of my heart, but also the warmth of the sunbeam on my arm. This big “Yes” helps me to bear witness to this very moment which calls me to wake up to the joy and the suffering of existence of life and death!

We all can wake up now, to see clearly that our greed, that our greedy societies, are destroying our planet. But we see that things are changing now.

In Bearing Witness, our Peacemakers second Tenet, we have the choice to be and act as midwives for ourselves, being born as Bodhisattvas, making the vow to be courageous in the center of our fear.

We will all serve as best as we can. This may mean for now, staying home in compassionate containment, taking care for our own health, to leave the beds in emergency rooms for very sick people. But we can reach out to friends and neighbors by phone and Internet. We can support projects for homeless people by donating vegetables or money. We can gather toys and books we do not need anymore and send them to families who have to stay home in small flats with their kids.

Zen Peacemakers International is offering inspiration through Council Circles where we share from the heart and listen to each other from the heart. Many ZPO teachers and sanghas opened their zendos with Zoom rooms to include members for practice.

It is time for Metta practice and for Tonglen practice, for the patients and the personnel in hospitals, for ourselves and for our sisters and brothers.

This weekend a group of us will join a Workshop for Tara Practice online in the German language with Lily Besily, a woman teacher from Germany. We wanted to do it in person, now we find this solution.

For 78 days I have sent out a daily inspiration by email to a big group of people who are committed to a daily practice for 108 days. Recently I sent out a text for Metta practice in these days. Two days later my friend Rabbi Shir Yakoov Feit offered the practice on my Facebook site in a beautiful song. It is great to go through the day singing Metta practice!

From our Clochi Moshe Cohen, the head teacher of the Order of Disorder, I learned that he will offer a teaching in the art of adding humor in every situation Wednesday, April 1st. I think we need to learn this art of desperately never losing the warm smile in our hearts.

Friends, also this will pass!

 As we all go through this now, it looks as though we are witnessing the end of a culture of greed, selfishness and over-consumption and we are called to be midwives for a culture of compassion, creativity and gratitude for the gift of every life, even the smallest of insects. Maybe we will learn to behave like polite guests on our beautiful planet, our Mother Earth.

A friend sent me this poem from Masha Kaléko:


When the waves crash over me,

…I’ll dive down,

to fish for pearls.

We are all shining pearls in Indra’s net! 

We are all connected and we support each other with our vows. 

And we trust to be supported by the blessings of our ancestors at our backs.


Dear family members I thank you all for your readiness to walk the path together.

My best wishes for you.

May you be healthy and safe!




About the Author:

Barbara Salaam Anygo Wegmüller has been a member of the Board of Director of Zen Peacemakers International and the Zen Peacemaker Order – ZPO since 2016. She got Dharma transmission from the Roshi`s Bernie Glassman and Eve Myonen Marko. She has trained Zen Peacemaker Circles in Europe for many years. With her husband Roland, they serve the Zen Peacemaker Spiegel Sangha, in Bern Switzerland. Today she leads workshops on the Mandala of the five Buddha families, workshops for Council sharing and studies of the precepts. In Zen Peacemaker retreats, she offers Zazen, Council, including bodywork. She is a mother five adult children and four grandchildren.

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A Worldwide Plunge into Not Knowing! A statement by Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, Roshi 

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