FROM BERNIE: As I look at what’s happening everywhere, the violence in the United States, in Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Europe, I remember that the Three Tenets are not a theoretical thing. I enter a deep state of not-knowing, bearing witness to what’s going on with no judgments or biases, just bearing witness, and then take the action that arises. I invite you, everyone, and especially our members of the Zen Peacemaker Order, to do the same. Then please write comments on this post replying to this question: What actions came up for you going into that space of not knowing and bearing witness? Thank you – Bernie Glassman


10 Responses



    Bearing witness. Baring witness. Not-knowing. Just don’t know. Insight Out Recovery has emerged in the last 3 months from the process of bearing witness and just-don’t-know, a creative outpouring by Universe/Spirit/God/Buddha Nature to meet the needs of all of us affected by the violence of addiction: personal, familial, occupational and societal violence. Insight Out Recovery is dedicated to guiding addicts, addicts’ families, and those who treat addicts, along their path of healing. We guide people in caring for their bodies, their minds, their spirits, in an atmosphere of Love for each individual, just as we are.


    My work for many years has been with people in trauma – physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual. We all share in the burdens of trauma, including myself. Three months ago, a family member was discovered to have relapsed into heroin abuse. Accessing medical detox and ongoing care for relapse prevention met with multiple obstacles. It is not that the community does not care and is not trying. It is that our national problem of drug abuse is an epidemic and resources are stretched thin.
    I had been aware for some months that my medical practice, treating chronic pain, was being underutilized. I prescribe opiates and, by definition, am part of the problem. Bearing witness and not-knowing led me to consider expanding my practice into substance abuse treatment. An important piece of my history: I am an IV opiate addict with many years in recovery. While AA/NA 12 Step programs are important for many,
    I followed a different path, utilizing Zen practice with Jitsudo Roshi, DreamWork with Marc Bregman, and BreathWork with David Elliott, as bedrocks of my recovery. I have worked on myself and with other addicts for over 20 years utilizing these practices.


    I spoke with No Gate Sangha members here in Albuquerque about what I felt calling to me: I asked Jitsudo Roshi, Issan Atelier, Travis Black, Molly Black, and Scott Otterness if they would be involved with meditation practice and art practice recovery, I asked Andy Miles and Quelan Xiu if they would help me to provide Chinese Medicine treatment for detox. I contacted Nathaniel V. Dust, a drug treatment professional in the Salt Lake and Los Angeles areas. Nathaniel and I had met while learning BreathWork, which we both found profoundly effective in quickly shifting energy in suffering addicts. All agreed enthusiastically to work on this ambitious project.
    At the same time that we were discussing treatment here and abroad, friends of Andy and Quelan’s called from China to discuss opening drug treatment centers in China, the inspiration arising for all of us simultaneously. There are essentially no drug treatment centers in China. Drugs other than alcohol are virtually impossible to obtain in China. And the concept of addiction is largely not accepted there, as labeling someone an addict would mean intolerable loss of face. Nevertheless, as financial prosperity has grown, 2nd and 3rd generation children of wealthy Chinese families are developing serious drug problems while traveling outside China. When these children return home, treatment options are minimal.


    As soon as I began to talk with other Sangha members, I felt, and continue to feel, a Quickening. A growing of Life within us and around us, imbuing our actions with a force and a grace that is wholly other than me and us and fully supports me and us. Aaahhhhhhhhhhh. This Ocean carrying, caring. My tears of gratitude coming from and rejoining the Ocean.


    Together we all realized that we could provide top-level treatment for detox and relapse prevention in China for a fraction of the cost of treatment in the US, therefore making it an attractive option for Americans. We would be able to provide treatment that includes the best aspects of US medical care, Chinese medical care and meditation practices not commonly used in US centers. At the end of this month, a few of us will be travelling to China on a reconnaissance journey to explore the possibilities of making this dream a reality, with the ultimate goal of treatment centers in both China and the US.

    Tom Whalen, MD (with Jitsudo)
    For more detailed information on our project, including retreat schedules, please go to


    Tom Whalen MD

    Tom Whalen MD received his BA from Amherst College in 1971 and began both Zen and acupuncture practice the same year. After residency training in Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology at U Mass Medical Center and Medical Center Hospital in Vermont, he was Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology. His private practice since 1997 has been devoted to pain medicine. Tom started practicing Zen with Roshi Jitsudo Ancheta the same year, and has been a Dream Work practitioner since 1991. As well as being certified in medical hypnotherapy (1992) and as a BreathWork Healer (2011), he is receiving Dharma Transmission from Roshi Jitsudo Ancheta in 2016.

    Roshi Jitsudo Ancheta

    One of twelve Dharma Successors of Japanese Zen master Maezumi Roshi, Jitsudo is a teacher of traditional Zen practice. Being a Dharma Successor of Bernie Glassman as well, he works to promote peace in conjunction with the Zen Peacemakers based in Massachusetts. Co-founder of the Center for the Promotion of Peace and Founder of No Gate Sangha, both located in Albuquerque, he also worked as Co-founder and Abbot of Hidden Mountain Zen Center. Early in his career he developed the property for Zen Mountain Center in Idyllwild, CA as Vice Abbot. His avocation in semi-retirement is the practice of woodblock printmaking, with an emphasis on Buddhist imagery.

    Andrew Miles DOM

    Andy Miles studied Chinese medical arts at age 15 and later studied formally with post graduate education at the Canadian College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and then studied advanced diagnostics and integrated medicine at the Chengdu University of TCM in China. He lived in China for years learning more about Chinese medicine in laboratories and learning from China’s top specialists. He has consulted for pharmaceutical companies, practiced medicine and taught martial arts in China and has been recognized by the Taiwanese and Chinese governments for promotion and preservation of traditional Chinese culture.

    Xuelan Qiu PhD

    Xuelan Qiu (Lan Miles) studied pharmacology of Chinese medicine in Chengdu University of TCM and West China Medical Center of Sichuan University in China lending a deep insight into the chemical structure and mechanism behind plant based medicines. She has published extensively on evidence-based Chinese medicine. Her experience in pharmaceutical research and development in labs and Chinese medicine hospital enables her to have both traditional and modern perspectives. Her expertise allows her to bridge the gap between Chinese and allopathic medicine and examine herbal quality with pharmaceutical precision, being able to explain how herbs interact with your medications, and how they work and metabolize in your bodies.

    Nathanial V. Dust, B.MSc., RADT

    Nathaniel V. Dust has worked in the addiction field for almost a decade, using the power of a person’s breath as a catalyst for positive changes in clients’ lives. Nathaniel became certified by David Elliott to teach this kind of powerful healing to others and since then has studied substance use disorder, sexual abuse, and other trauma to offer clients comprehensive and professional care. He has helped thousands of people process trauma, disarm negative thought patterns, and maintain healthy and happy relationships with themselves and loved ones. Nathaniel’s client base ranges from those seeking relief from everyday anxiety to people suffering from severe emotional and physical trauma and desperate for help. His specialty includes working in addiction treatment facilities to help accelerate clients’ journeys to recovery.

  2. I well know the particular taste and heartbeat of fear and that comes with entering new groups of people. My family of origin group was rarely safe and so I carry that physical response in some old body chemistry. The Three Tenets has been so helpful of late. Bernie’s question: “Where am I not connected? Where is the darkness I am most afraid of?” I walk towards that now…dropping the old story and being in Not Knowing, being one with my old anxious sensations, breathing kindly into that and Letting Be. Then it seems the “Me” takes a backseat and the person in front of me comes alive in connection. There’s no problem.

  3. Just feeling from my heart the dispair and suffering and of the family concerned , and send them white light from deep inside , just asking to All being that this life experience be softer and peaceful on there path and much more ;

  4. Yes. Looking back at the consequences of some of my decisions and actions, I can usually see where I was coming from that nonjudgmental space or not. The flip side, however, is that the moment I act, i believe I am creating waves: karma (whether we label that good or bad). In the messy and sticky world of samsara, I, personally, would think it grandiose to ever believe I can act completely without karma and I’m suspect of anyone who would make this a claim for oneself. We do the best we can to be as aware as we can, then make that leap from the “100 foot pole” which sometimes hurts.

  5. Let’s lobby to reinstate the Assault Weapons ban. Maybe we can’t stop people from going crazy, but at least we can check the excessive damage that then comes with giving crazy people access to military weapons.
    Even Reagan thought lifting the ban was nuts.

  6. I find myself just loving people more. Being supportive in little ways. Paying attention to them allows me to pick up on how they may be feeling. Remaining open to them and allowing for change within them AND within myself. I find interactions are deepened.

  7. My awareness is that the way I can personally best bear witness while in a state of not knowing is to find the light–the love–within myself and shine it–share it–into every encounter of every day as best as I can. To be a light in my small part of the world.

  8. Dear Bernie, thanks by Your invite. I live in Brasil and Im member ZPO since early 2015. Here the violence against the poor, Indians, blacks, women, gays and others is one of the world’s largest. I’m retiring this year from my job and the practice of the three tenents has been my focus at this time looking for an activity that I can continue my journey in this life. I realize my practice formal Zen in Zen Temple Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro under the guidance of Sensei Alcio Eido Soho. The Temple is located the entrance to a favela (poor neighborhood) where this violence is much more present. Earlier this year an action that emerged from this practice of Unknowing and Bearing Witness with the situation was to invite Barbara Roshi and Sensei Roland to meet and hold a lecture on the ZPO in the temple and since then new actions flourishing day by day taken place this space of not Knowing and bearing witness? Like: a study with Barbara Roshi of How do Bearing Witness in Brasil ( like in favelas of Rio de Janeiro and others)and How use the Metodology of Opressed Theather in It, the possibility a street retreat in Rio de Janeiro at 2017 under guindance of Genro Grove Roshi. So like You say each day more I feel the Three Tenets are not a theoretical thing because I can see the flowers continue to appear every day of this practice.I know It is still preparing actions to go against suffering and joy of these people who suffer the violence of racism and diversity but necessary actions to do so. So I invite You and Roshi Eve to come soon to Rio de Janeiro for a holiday and close to see these flowers of the great tree that is the ZPO, planted by You and looked after by all members of the ZPO for whom I bow down. Come Bless Us with Your presence. Warm regards Ivan

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