Zen Teacher Bernie Glassman Suffers Stroke

By Craig Lewis
Buddhistdoor Global | 2016-01-15 |
Bernie Glassman. From wikimedia.orgBernie Glassman. From

American Zen Buddhist teacher and social activist Bernie Glassman suffered a debilitating stroke on Tuesday and is currently being treated in the intensive care unit of Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. Due to a hemorrhage in the center of his brain, he is unable to feel or move the right side of his body, despite regaining consciousness. According to a family representative cited by the Buddhist magazine and website Tricyle, Bernie is currently unable to take calls or receive visitors.

A former aeronautical engineer at McDonnell-Douglas, with a PhD in applied mathematics, Glassman first encountered Zen as a student when he was assigned Huston Smith's The Religions of Man for an English class. Glassman began meditating in the early 1960s and soon afterwards found a teacher in the form of Japanese Zen master Hakuyu Taizan Maezumi (1931–95) in Los Angeles. Glassman went on to become one of the original founding members of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, and received Dharma transmission in 1976 from Maezumi and then inka (formal recognition of Zen’s deepest realization) in 1995 shortly before Maezumi's death.

In 1980, Glassman moved back to New York City from the West Coast and established the Zen Community of New York. In 1982, he opened Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, to help alleviate homelessness in the area and provide jobs for residents who lacked education and skills. The proceeds helped to fund the Zen Community of New York, which transformed old buildings into new housing areas for the homeless. In 2003, the bakery moved to new premises that allowed it to increase production and employ more staff. Proceeds from the bakery, which today brings in annual revenue of US$3.5 million, enabled Glassman to establish the Greyston Foundation. As of 2004, the foundation, which provides HIV/AIDS programs, job training and housing, childcare services, and educational opportunities in underprivileged inner-city communities, had developed real estate projects worth US$35 million in Westchester County, New York.

Together with his late wife Sandra Jishu Holmes, in 1996 Glassman co-founded the Zen Peacemaker Order, which describes itself as “supporting the vision and inspiration for socially engaged Buddhism throughout the world.” The concept of the organization broadened to become a global, multifaith network focusing on the integration of spiritual practice and social action.

Glassman is the author of several books, including The Dude and the Zen Master, Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen, Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace, and On Zen Practice: Body, Breath, Mind.

In the words of Sensei Francisco Paco Lugoviña, a senior Zen Peacemakers teacher, “Bernie has been the center of gravity for many of us and our projects. As a lover of people and a connector, he manifests the conditions for all of us to empower ourselves. He is the first to remind us that the power never comes from him, but rather through the undaunted capacity to forge ahead pioneering into unknown universes.” (Zen Peacemaker Order)

See more

Roshi Bernie Glassman suffers a stroke (Tricycle)
Living Spiritual Teachers Project - Bernie Glassman (Spirituality & Practice)
Zen Peacemaker Order (Homepage)
Zen Master Bernie Glassman (YouTube)

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