using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : January 2015
Roshi Bernie Glassman Facing the Ultimate Challenge “we all forM our own cluBs,” says Roshi Bernie Glassman. If we’re black, we may exclude whites. If we’re white, we may exclude blacks. “If we’re liberal,” Glassman continues, “we never listen to conservatives or read books by them or invite them to tea, and if we’re conservative, vice versa. “The most common thing we do to people that don’t fit out club is we avoid them. We also imprison them. Sometimes we beat them up. In the South, we used to lynch them. Gays? We bash them.” Glassman was at one time an engineer and mathematician working in the aerospace industry. After receiving traditional Zen training from Maezumi Roshi, he realized that his calling was to take his practice out into the world. His first step was to establish Greyston Mandala, a collection of companies that both generated profits and benefited the homeless. Next, Glassman began holding his groundbreaking “bearing witness” retreats, in which participants enter an environment that’s so overwhelm- ing that they drop their habitual thought patterns. For twenty years, Glassman has been leading bearing witness retreats at a place that represents the most terrible case of what we do to those outside our club: Auschwitz. Survivors, children of survivors, people from all over the world, of different reli- gions, even children and grandchildren of SS members—they’ve all sat with Glassman on the camp’s infamous train tracks, alter- nating silence with chanting the names of Holocaust victims. Generally, the retreatants believe they’d always deal with others humanely. On retreat, however, they’re thrust into close contact with those outside their club, and “being as we’re human,” says Glassman, “pretty soon what pops up is people get angry at how others are acting. Then we deal with that. “The theme of an Auschwitz retreat is not the Holocaust,” Glassman asserts. “It’s ‘How do we deal with each other?’” In 2014, Glassman spearheaded a retreat marking the twenti- eth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. The retreatants were half international and half African. It included a Tutsi woman whose arm had been chopped off, and the Hutu man who did it. Like the Auschwitz retreats, it had a universal theme: forgive- ness. For years, Rwandans had been working on reconciliation, but, according to Glassman, “what you see when you look in their eyes is trauma.” Forgiveness is the ultimate challenge. One retreatant in Rwanda was a man who’d been an officer in the Belgian Air Force. In 1994 he led a team of 300 people flying into Rwanda to rescue Tutsis who were gathered in a stadium and who were going to be killed. When he landed his plane, however, he received orders to not protect the Tutsis, It is good to realize that falling apart is not such a bad thing. Indeed, it is as essential to evolutionary and psychological transformations as the cracking of outgrown shells. Polish psy- chiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski calls it “positive disintegration.” He sees it in every global development of humanity, especially during periods of accelerated change, and it functions to permit the emergence of “higher psychic structures and awareness.” On the individual level, positive disintegration occurs when a person courageously confronts anomalies and contradic- tions of experience. It is like a dark night of the soul, a time of spiritual void and turbulence. But the anxieties and doubts are, Dabrowski maintains, “essentially healthy and creative.” They are creative not only for the person but for society, because they permit new and original approaches to reality. What “disintegrates” in periods of rapid transformation is not the self, but its defenses and ideas. We are not objects that can break. As open systems, we are, in the words of cyberneti- cian Norbert Wiener, “but whirlpools in a river of everflowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves.” We do not need to protect ourselves from change, for our very nature is change. Defensive self-protection, restrict- ing vision and movement like a suit of armor, makes it harder to adapt. It not only reduces flexibility, but blocks the flow of information we need to survive. Our “going to pieces,” however uncomfortable, can open us up to new perceptions, new data, and new responses. For Americans to get in touch with their pain for the world, a dark night of the soul may be hard to avoid. This is still the land of Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale, where an unflag- ging optimism is taken as the means and measure of success. As commercials for products and campaigns of politicians attest, the healthy and admirable person smiles a lot. The feelings of depression, loneliness, and anxiety, to which this thinking ani- mal has always been heir, carry here an added burden: one feels bad about feeling bad. One can even feel guilty about it. In a country built on utopian expectations, failure to hope can seem downright un-American. In our culture despair is feared and resisted because it rep- resents a loss of control. Our culture dodges it by demanding instant solutions when problems are raised. My political science colleagues in France ridiculed this trait of the American per- sonality. “You people prescribe before you finish the diagnosis,” they would say. “Let the difficulties reveal themselves first before rushing for a ready-made solution or else you will not under- stand them.” To do this would require that one view a stressful situation without the psychic security of knowing if and how it can be solved—in other words, a readiness to suffer a little. From World as Lover, World as Self, by Joanna Macy (Parallax). SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2015 56