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Lions Roar : July 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2006 37 young children. So Glassman conceived of the Greyston Family Inn, which would include apartments for homeless people, a daycare center, and an after-school program. Over the seventeen years that Glassman was at the helm, the Greyston mandala developed into one of the first genuine “welfare to work” programs in the country, including all of the above-mentioned programs as well as a medical center and housing complex for people with AIDS. Last year, Greyston, on whose board Glassman still sits, had a combined operating and capital budget of $28 million. In the process of developing this huge business, though, Glassman lost many students. “He was still trying to have the Zen community,” says Pat Enkyo O’Hara, one of Glassman’s dharma heirs and the abbot of the Village Zendo in New York City. “And, quite frankly, it’s very hard to maintain a regular sitting schedule when you’re also trying to run a business and start a social-action network. So I think it was an enormous struggle.” Enkyo O’Hara adds, “He’s focused on what’s at hand. If there’s a starving person at hand, then it’s not time to be chanting.” Glassman writes about this period in a not-yet-published book: “Many of my students left. They disapproved of how much energy we put into the bakery, saying this wasn’t serious practice, as if serious practice was confined to the cushion. But now more than ever I felt I was finally doing what I really wanted—work- ing and teaching in the area of social action, feeding the hungry spirits. I loved talk. I loved action. I loved working alongside my students, rather than preaching to them in the zendo.” “My experience of Zen is how radical it is,” says Wendy Egyoku Nakao, another of Glassman’s dharma heirs, and the abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles. “It cuts through the layers and layers of conceptual thinking. It is not about the right way, the Zen way, the whatever way it needs to look in order to be ‘accept- able’ to the staus quo. Not at all. There will always be a place for Zen masters like Roshi Bernie, whom people can’t make sense of, who are willing to use unconventional upayas, skillful means.” Glassman Roshi and Pat Enkyo O’Hara “There will always be a place for Zen masters like Roshi Bernie,” says Wendy Nakao, “whom people can’t make sense of, who are willing to use unconventional means.”