Following the passing of Zen Peacemakers founder Roshi Bernie Glassman, many memorial ceremonies were conducted by ZPI affiliate groups, successors and the greater buddhist community around the world. Here we highlight a few.
Zen Peacemakers International will convene a memorial service for Bernie on Sunday afternoon, February 17th, 2019 at Greyston Foundation in Yonkers, NY USA. Attendance is open to the public, and we kindly ask everyone to RSVP.
The following piece was composed by Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao. Roshi Nakao is the third abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, succeeding Roshi Bernie Tetsugen Glassman and Taizan Maezumi Roshi in that role. Egyoku ordained as a Zen Priest with Maezumi Roshi in 1983, and received the final seal of approval (Inka) from Roshi Bernie in 2004. This piece was shared during the first Founders’ Memorial service at ZCLA, which included Roshi Bernie as a founder of the second generation.
Smoke-filled sky; burning eyes, sore throats—
When the great fire rages through,
Is there anything left?
In this month of fires,
our Great Benevolent Ancestor —
the Plum Hermit Who Penetrated Subtlety, Baisen Tetsugen,
went up in smoke.
Bernie, now we chant your name as Ancestor
See you with your clown nose
Smoking a cigar
Expounding prajna on the streets
In the killing fields
In countless realms far and wide
Making joy and sorrow your own —
And here, right here
We are filled with you.
Thank you for everything.
Your humble student,
The Zen Center of Los Angeles also celebrated “Bernie Day” on December 16th, with zazen, a Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony, open sharing about Bernie, and Pizza lunch– a favorite of Bernie’s.
Some Buddhist traditions mark the 49 days following a death, believing it takes this long for a consciousness to pass into another life. Several friends and affiliates marked this sacred time.
At the Windhorse Dojo in Deerfield, Massachusetts, The Engaged Mindfulness Institute held a daily Gate of Sweet Nectar ceremony and meditation practice to mark the 49 days. Each day the ceremony was open to virtual participants around the world. It culminated in the 49th Day Ceremony at Windhorse, where a larger ceremony was held with council practice and pizza for lunch.
Also on the 49th day, Bernie’s wife and successor, Roshi Eve Marko, invited all to participate in a simple ceremony, gesture, or act of help of others in Bernie’s honor, writing,
“I think I can speak for Bernie’s family as well as myself when I warmly thank you for all your emails, phone calls, and offers of love and support that we have received during this time. What a community gathered around him! I’m deeply grateful for the years we had with him and with each other, and I hope we continue to work together honoring his memory and for the good of all beings.”
Choboji in Seattle, Washington, and Peacemaker Gemeinschaft Schweiz in Switzerland observed the 49th day with morning ceremonies to honor his loving memory. Roshi Barbara Salaam Wegmüller, a guiding teacher of the Swiss peacemaker community, reflected on her Facebook page:
“My dear Zen master Bernie, when I met you 19 years ago, I had the big luck that you invited me to study with you, learning from you and following your footsteps.
“In your book Bearing Witness you wrote: ‘I was going to found the Zen Peacemaker Order. It would be a community of social activists and peacemakers from around the world. It would provide them with a home, a place where they could come together, tell their stories, and gather strength and new ideas, before going back to their own communities and peace endeavors. It would also be a place where they could explore the spiritual practice of peacemaking.’
“This is what I promise to you dear Bernie, offering a place to meet and explore with others the spiritual practice of peacemaking. With all my love and gratitude, Barbara Salaam.”
On November 11th the Blue Mountain Lotus Society in Harrisburg Pennsylvania held special ceremonies. Guiding teacher Tony Stultz Sensei wrote:
“Our memorial for Bernie was entitled, “L’ Chaim”. I shared all my stories about being with Bernie back in Yonkers, the beginnings of ZPO, hosting Bernie at Harvard, how sweet He was with my little son, the deep insights and all the laughter. I spoke about how hard Sandra’s (Jishu’s) death was and how things evolved after New York, my email exchanges with Bernie and my last words with him. I finished with a poem that I sent to Bernie back in ’98 that came from a dream:
Breakfast at Bernie’s
I walk up the street, the sign of the diner, neon letters missing, all aglow;
I open the door as a host of folks move in and out in silent, seamless flow.
I see that they have come from all walks of life, a motley crew of hungry ghosts from near and far;
Behind the counter is Bernie, a dirty apron tied about his waist, chomping silently on the stub of a cigar.
I sit at the counter and his eyes first pierce and then soften, searching my soul;
I smile back in silence knowingly and look down at the dirty menu, looking for what will make me whole.
“What do you recommend?” I ask, still trying to taste the words, written in the plastic menu;
“At Bernie’s we have whatever you need.” And he took a drag from his sacred smoke, gazing benevolently at the rough retinue.
My bowl of black bean chili was set before me and I ate in silence, while Bernie told me a tale about putting down the load;
When it was time to go, he handed me a brown bag and said, smiling, “Here’s something for the road.”
I walk back onto the street and after a few moments, I stop and look back around,
I see anew the cosmic diner, against the New York skyline, where whatever is needed can always be found.
The above images from the Blue Mountain Lotus Society ceremony are reproduced from the BMLS Facebook page.
Also on November 14, a memorial service was held at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The service included personal reflections by Roshi Joan Halifax and end-of-life care pioneer Frank Ostaseski, and the Gate of Sweet Nectar Ceremony. It closed with Roshi Joan’s recitation of the Kaddish. A recording of the ceremony can be heard at Upaya’s website for members of their mailing list.
In a gathering in Riverdale New York, members of the old Zen Community of New York (which later became Zen Peacemakers) gathered, and Bernie’s successor Nancy Mujo Baker shared the following poem:
December 2, 2018
In a moment alone with me
and one of my tearful openings,
of your stroke you quietly and deeply said,
“It is the best thing that ever happened to me.”
You knew I knew why
And now I say, Tetsugen, who penetrates subtlety,
and Bernie, the plunger, have come together
more integrated than ever. You are here
with us and we will keep learning.
Bringing mind and heart together we bow deeply to you.
Respect and gratitude to everyone who celebrated Bernie’s life and passing. May his memory and the results of his good works continue to inspire people to act for a more peaceful world.