We are part of Zen Peacemakers International, a community of social and environmental activists based on the engaged dharma teachings of RĹŤshi Bernie Glassman.
The Order is a smaller nucleus of members who wish to deepen their practice of awakening to the interdependence of life and their dedication to social and environmental change. Their full integration into the Order takes place in a ceremony of vows to uphold the Rule, which serves as the spiritual foundation of all our work.
While we will be offering a variety of training and practice paths that integrate service with the Dharma, we focus on developing a living and connected practice community that supports and empowers its members in all they do.
~Spiritual Directors Eve MyĹŤnen Marko, RĹŤshi, and Jorge KohĹŤ Mello, Sensei
We are an order of Zen practitioners working to alleviate suffering through various paths in social and economic justice and the healing of our planet. Recognizing the world as One Body, our members see these efforts as their dharma paths and expressions of the Buddha Way.
The Order was founded by RĹŤshi Bernie (Tetsugen) Glassman and RĹŤshi Jishu Holmes in 1996. Bernie used a mandala approach to practice which encompassed social service, businesses, and non-profits. He embraced community activists, businesspeople, homeless families, artists, children, political leaders, and ex-cons. He also respected other religious expressions, traditions, and practices, and later created an Order of Disorder, comprised of clowns, as an antidote to pretension, demagoguery, and self-righteousness.Â
In the U.S., RĹŤshis: Bernie Glassman, Sandra Jishu Holmes, Grover Genro Gauntt, Joan Jiko Halifax, Eve Myonen Marko, Wendy Egyoku Nakao, and Pat Enkyo O’Hara.
In Europe, RĹŤshis: Bernie Glassman, Malgosia Jiho Braunek, Frank De WAele, Michel Genko Dubois, Amy Tu Es Cela Hollowell, Andrzej Getsugen Krajewski, Catherine Genno Pages, Barbara Salaam WegmĂĽller, Roland Yakushi WegmĂĽller, Paul Shoju Schwerdt, and Roberto Mander.
Zen Peacemaker Priests were also ordained, beginning with Rev. Michael Daigu Oâ€™Keefe in 1996.
Meditation is our basic spiritual practice, as exemplified by Gauthama Buddha in India.
We have also inherited and been transformed by the dharma taught by male and female teachers across various Asian cultures, most directly through Japanese Zen. Our ancestors adapted expressions of the dharma to their cultures & eras; we continue this tradition of adaptation with gratitude and humility.
In that spirit, we also rely on Bernie Glassmanâ€™s Three Tenetsâ€”not-knowing, bearing witness, and the action that arises from not-knowing and bearing witnessâ€”for our social and environmental service. These Tenets form part of the Rule of ZPO.
â€śOne normally avoids trying to describe OD-ity, but normal is a trap, and so . . .â€ťÂ
RĹŤshi Michel Engu Nocando Dobbs continues to describe the Order of Disorder here:
â€śIn 1999, Bernie Glassman, the great Boobysattva, disrobed and began studying clowning with Moshe Cohen – a/k/a Mr. YooWho.Â Bernie had developed many projects and founded several organizations over the years.Â He noticed, among the Zen crowd, social activists, and entrepreneurs with whom he worked, an earnestness and seriousness that sucked the joy out of the moment.Â He wanted to spend the latter part of his life showing up unexpectedly and making sure people werenâ€™t taking themselves too seriously or becoming sanctimonious, that they really understood the notion of letting go.
Bernie dragged Peter Kuku Cunningham and then me into that mess around 2005, 2006, realizing that we were both a couple of wise asses.
The work of the Disorder is sharing lightness and laughter as well as radical and painful inclusion – nobody doesn’t belong. We delight in difference and paradox and work to reveal and revel in our shared incompleteness and brokenness, in our shared humanity. Standing with and as the lost and left behind, we heckle and dance, and laugh and cry together, leaning into absurdity.Â We ridicule rules and roles and stick a finger in the eye of pomp, pride, and power.Â We try to share and enjoy this one wild precious life with all beings!â€ť ~ Nocando
The Order is part of Zen Peacemakers International. While ZPI offers a variety of teachings and training for working in the world, the Order provides studies for people interested in going longer and deeper. We hope it will also encourage mutual support and collaboration among its members.
The Order currently has two co-spiritual directors, RĹŤshi Eve MyĹŤnen Marko and Sensei Jorge KohĹŤ Mello.
Our work is critical to our dharma path. Feeding the hungry, sitting with the dying, counseling families, helping war veterans, visiting prison inmates, operating businesses, or doing photographyâ€”all are forms and expressions of practice. Each member serves in his/her particular way, sometimes partnering with other members of the Order.
Some have helped immigrants and refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and Central America who need to rebuild their lives in Europe and the U.S.
Some supported the efforts of Lakota elders to revitalize their language and culture and stood with them at Standing Rock to stop the Dakota Pipeline.Â
Some forged bonds with healers in Rwanda and others continue to work towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians.Â
Some work in prison systems, with inmates, guards, and administrators.Â
Some have opened businesses, schools, and nonprofits in low-income neighborhoods while others provide food and direct services.
Some work politically for solutions to climate change.
We do this as individualsâ€”many of us have our own centers, teaching programs, and nonprofitsâ€”and also as one large spiritual family, training, working, collaborating, and celebrating together, bearing witness to the joy and suffering of the world.
Zen Peacemakers International organizes bearing witness retreats, gathering peacemakers to bear witness on-site to acts of violence, genocide, and cruelty. These retreats are fundamental to our training and practice. Some ZPO members have initiated their own plunges, with support and attendance by others.
As One Body, we seek to be intimate with all beings. Recognizing the emptiness of self calls us to appreciate all our different manifestations. In that spirit, we welcome spiritually-based peacemakers of every race, nationality, class, gender, sexual orientation, age, and physical ability.
We welcome new members who wish to be part of the ZPO family. We offer in-depth, foundational teachings on how to be a Zen peacemaker, and in the future will present different specific paths of practice led by teachers in these fields, such as dharma-based social action, social entrepreneurship, multi-faith offerings, and others. But the ZPOâ€™s main offering is a living community of activists who draw inspiration, energy, and support from the dharma and from each other. Please see Path to Membership below.Â
Many of us were inducted into the Order in its early years. While European members have continued supporting each other and working together, the Order as a unified family in other countries, especially in the United States, often lacked energy and resources.
Now, in early 2021, we would like to welcome back existing Order members from various countries. Please share with us your projects, skills, and experience, and help to mentor newer and younger members.
To do this, please register with us. In addition, please consider a ceremony of recommitment that will reconnect you with the Order, its offerings, and new members.