Auschwitz and Not Knowing, the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers, are one and the same for me. Although I have been in retreat there many times, the place still holds a huge place in my heart and is always new for me. It always blows me away. I remain in deepest gratitude to Bernie for designing this deep plunge that never fails to thoroughly soak me. In the midst of profound annihilation there is an endless river of deep teachings and consolation.
I became a Zen Peacemaker at the conclusion of the first retreat in 1996. This has defined my life since then. A more rewarding life I cannot imagine.
At the end of the first retreat I stood in the ruins of the changing room of Crematorium 3, offered a small red candle and promised the spirits and souls that I would return every year. By the power of grace I have been able to do so until now.
Thank you All for this opportunity to practice and serve.
Roshi Grover Genro Gauntt is a dharma successor of Roshi Bernie Glassman, a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order and the co-leader of Hudson River Zen Center in Yonkers, NY. He has co-led the bearing witness retreats in Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rwanda, has initiated the Zen Peacemakers Native American programs and is regularly conducting street retreats around the world.
Genro and Manny Iron Hawk at the 2017 Native American Bearing Witness Plunge