Bernie Glassman

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Bernie Glassman
Bernard Glassman

(1939-01-18)January 18, 1939
DiedNovember 4, 2018(2018-11-04) (aged 79)
SpouseEve Marko
SchoolZen Peacemaker Order
LineageWhite Plum Asanga
EducationBrooklyn Polytechnic Institute
University of California, Los Angeles
Other namesBernie Glassman
Senior posting
PredecessorTaizan Maezumi
SuccessorJoan Halifax
Father Robert Kennedy
Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Pat Enkyo O'Hara
Lou Nordstrom
Don Singer
Grover Genro Gauntt
Anne Seisen Saunders
Francisco "Paco" Lugoviña
Barbara Salaam Wegmueller
Roland Yakushi Wegmueller

Bernie Glassman (January 18, 1939 – November 4, 2018) was an American Zen Buddhist roshi and founder of the Zen Peacemakers (previously the Zen Community of New York), an organization established in 1980. In 1996, he co-founded the Zen Peacemaker Order with his late wife Sandra Jishu Holmes. Glassman was a Dharma successor of the late Taizan Maezumi-roshi, and gave inka and Dharma transmission to several people.

Glassman was known as a pioneer of social enterprise, socially engaged Buddhism and "Bearing Witness Retreats" at Auschwitz and on the streets with homeless people.[1]

According to author James Ishmael Ford, in 2006 he

...transferred his leadership of the White Plum Asanga to his Dharma brother Merzel Roshi and has formally "disrobed," renouncing priesthood in favor of serving as a lay teacher.


Bernie Glassman was born to Jewish immigrants in Brighton Beach,[1] Brooklyn, New York in 1939.[2] He attended university at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute and received a degree in engineering. Following graduation he moved to California to work as an aeronautical engineer at McDonnell-Douglas. He then received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.[3]

Glassman first encountered Zen when he was assigned Huston Smith's The Religions of Man for an English class in 1958.[4] From there, he continued reading including books by Alan Watts, Christmas Humphreys, and D.T. Suzuki.[4] In the early 1960s, Glassman began meditating[4] and soon after sought a local Zen teacher.[4] He found Taizan Maezumi in Los Angeles, California[4] and Glassman became one of the original founding members of the Zen Center of Los Angeles. He received Dharma transmission in 1976 from Maezumi, who intended to create an inka shomei ceremony for him in 1995, shortly before Maezumi's death, conferring the influences of his own main teachers to Glassman.[2]

In 1980, he founded the Zen Community of New York. In 1982[5] Glassman opened Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, which initially provided jobs for the Zen students and evolved into an effort to help alleviate the widespread homelessness in the area.[6] The bakery provided jobs for inner city residents who lacked education and skills.[6] Greyston employed low-skilled workers from the neighborhood, many of whom were homeless themselves, and sold baked goods to shops and restaurants in Manhattan. In 1989 Glassman entered an agreement with Ben & Jerry's, and Greyston Bakery has become the supplier of brownies for several lines of ice cream.[7]

Through the success of his bakery–which in 2016 was earning $12 million in revenues–Glassman founded the Greyston Foundation (sometimes called Greyston Mandala) with his wife Sandra Jishu Holmes in 1989. He retired from the Greyston Foundation in 1996 to pursue socially engaged Buddhist projects through the Zen Peacemakers.[8] As of 2004 the Foundation had developed $35 million worth in real estate development projects in Westchester County, New York. The Foundation offers HIV/AIDS programs, provides job training and housing, child care services, educational opportunities, and other endeavors.[6] In 2003 the bakery moved to a new building, which allows for higher output and more employment opportunities.[7][9]

In 1996, Glassman, with his wife Sandra Jishu Holmes, founded the Zen Peacemaker Order. According to professor Christopher S. Queen, "The order is based on three principles: plunging into the unknown, bearing witness to the pain and joy of the world, and a commitment to heal oneself and the world."[1] Richard Hughes Seager writes, "The Zen Peacemaker Order...has the potential to rival Thich Nhat Hanh's groups and the Buddhist Peace Fellowship as a force in American activism."[10]

In 2012, Bernie Glassman founded The Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield, MA (originally the "Let All Eat Cafe" in Montague, MA) together with Academy-Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges, his Zen student.[11] Bernie and Jeff were really into making people feel welcome and providing access to dignified treatment and making their meal experience one where they felt cared for, not rushed, and fed body, mind, and soul. The Stone Soup Cafe is inspired by the Zen Peacemakers' three tenets, which are to start with a mind of not knowing, letting go of fixed ideas so that you can bear witness to the joy and suffering around you, and then to do the actions that come out of that bearing witness. The Stone Soup Café still operates today as a Pay-What-You-Can Café - a mixed-income restaurant experience that brings people together, bridging across differences.[12]

Glassman died on November 4, 2018, from complications of a stroke in Springfield, Massachusetts at the age of 79.[13]


Bernie Glassman with Elihu Genmyo Smith

Glassman taught about what his teacher, the late Taizan Maezumi, called the "unknowing." Not-knowing is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers, and Glassman said of it, "In Zen the words source and essence are the equivalent of Unknowing, and they come up again and again. We have the absolute and the relative perspectives about life, and Unknowing is the one source of both of these."[1] Also, Glassman was known for his many "street retreats." Author James Ishmael Ford writes, "...'street retreats,' for instance, moves sesshin into the streets: participants eat in soup kitchens, and, if they know they're not displacing homeless people, sleep in homeless shelters or, otherwise, sleep in public places. Zazen takes place in parks."[2] In the 2000s, Glassman developed an experiment in sociocratic consensus-based zen training and interfaith facilitation, known initially as Peacemaker Circle International Archived 2018-11-22 at the Wayback Machine,[14] and later Zen Peacemaker Circles. Interconnected projects were established globally,[15] replacing the role of 'Zen teacher' with participants learning from each other and sharing ideas between Circles.[16] Starting in 2001, Glassman taught "Clowning Your Zen" workshops with Moshe Cohen,[17] and founded a "clown order" called the Order of Disorder[18] within the Zen Peacemaker Order.[19] In his last years, having disrobed from the priesthood, Glassman together with his third wife Eve Marko continued the work of his teacher Koryu Osaka Roshi[20] in developing lay forms of Zen practice.


Zen Center of Los Angeles

Bernie Glassman appointed several "senseis"[21] and "roshis" in traditional zen, and established the non-hierarchical roles of 'Steward' and 'Circle Dharmaholder' as coordinators and visionholders to continue the Zen Peacemaker Circles model. A number of his successors have also given dharma transmission to some of their own students:[21][22]

  1. Ancheta, Alfred Jitsudo Roshi
    1. Arbiter, Eric Kishin Sensei[23]
    2. Bruce-Fritz, Carol Myoshin Sensei[24]
    3. Elkin, Rick Issan Sensei
    4. Fritz, Ralph Kendo Sensei[24]
    5. Helzer, Douglas Red Heart Sensei
    6. Walter, Sydney Musai Roshi
    7. Whalen, Thomas Zenho Sensei
  2. Baker, Nancy Mujo Roshi
  3. Barragato, Stefano Mui Sensei (b. 1930)[25]
    1. Barragato, Margaret Ne-Eka
      1. Wohl, Peter Seishin Sensei
        1. Peter Joryu Harris
        2. Jaime Heiku McLeod
        3. Todd Hotai Watson
    2. Paquin, Linda-Lee Abhaya
  4. Bastien, James Daikan Sensei
  5. Byalin, Kenneth (Ken) Tetsuji Sensei
  6. Ciepielewski, Jakub Bokkuren Roshi
  7. Collande, Cornelius v. Roshi[26]
  8. Dubois, Michel Roshi[26]
  9. Gauntt, Grover Genro Sensei
  10. Gyger, Pia Jinji Roshi
  11. Halifax, Joan Jiko Roshi
    1. Bakker, Irene Kaigetsu Sensei[27]
    2. Byrnes, Brian Joshin Sensei[28]
    3. Kazniak, Al Genkai Sensei
    4. Stolte, Beate Sensei[29]
    5. Palma, José Shinzan Sensei [30]
    6. Quennell, Genzan Sensei[31]
  12. Krajewski, Andrzej Getsugen Roshi[26]
  13. Harkaspi, Helen Kobai Yuho
  14. Hixon, Lex Nur Jikai (1941-1995)[26]
  15. Hixon, Sheila Jinen Sensei
  16. Holmes, Sandra Jishu Angyo Roshi (1941-1998)
  17. Kahn, Paul Kuzan Genki Roshi[26]
    1. Ackerman, Joan Noge
    2. Brown, Tucker Sansui
    3. Bruce, Susan Kijin
    4. Bruner, David Moksui
    5. Dowd, Cathleen Kanno
    6. DuFrene Troy Kyokai
    7. Duncan, Shoko Sings-Alone
    8. Greenberg, Bill Jikai
    9. Kahn, Jacks Jocelyn Myoen
    10. Kahn, Monika Seiryo Genmitsu Roshi
      1. Johnson, Trish Kojindo
      2. Mancuso, John Mitsudo
    11. Kolman, Phil Sengetsu
    12. Koopalethes, Wally Toryu
    13. Noble, Greg Tensho
    14. Peterman, John Reizan
    15. Sato Gerpheide, Karen C. (KC) Zero Kyozen Sensei
    16. Schmachtenberg, Wolfgang Okami
    17. Stern, Paul Kisho Roshi
      1. Hansen, Eileen Toshin
    18. Tirch, Dennis Doshini
    19. Vardi, Eran Kyoka Junryu Roshi
    20. Wagner, Ann Ankai Roshi
      1. Senegeto, Thomas Kian Sensei
  18. Kennedy, Robert E. Jinsen S.J. Roshi (b. 1933-)[32]
    1. Abels, Gregory Hosho Sensei
    2. Abels, Janet Jiryu Roshi[33]
    3. Bachman, Carl Genjo Sensei
    4. Birx, Charles Shinkai Sensei (b. 1944)
      1. Pumphrey, Ben Mui Sensei
      2. Thompson, Scott H. (b. 1948) Dharma Holder (Assistant teacher)
    5. Birx, Ellen Jikai Roshi (b. 1950)
    6. Butler, Tim Tomei Sensei
    7. Cicetti, Raymond Ryuzan Roshi (b. 1950)
      1. Daniels, Michele Keido Sensei
    8. Eastman, Patrick Kundo Roshi[34]
      1. Averbeck, Marcus Hozan Sensei
      2. Collingwood, Chris Ryushin Sensei
      3. Woodcock, Jeremy Ryokan Sensei
    9. Efird, Susan KoDo Sensei
    10. Healy, Miriam Yukan Roshi
    11. Holleran, Michael Koryu Sensei
    12. Hunt, Kevin Jiun Roshi (b. 1933-), O.C.S.O (Order of Cistercians of the Strict Order)
      1. Taberner, Cynthia Kin Ryu Sensei
      2. Tacy, Madeleine Seikai Sensei
      3. Onge, Timothy Mangetsu Sensei
      4. Seul, Jeff Kōgen Sensei
    13. Laheen, Mary Soshin Sensei
    14. Maher, Carl Chimon Sensei
    15. Montecel, Maria "Cuca" Kosen Roblwedo Sensei
    16. Richardson, Janet Jinne, CSJP Roshi
      1. Blackman, Bruce Seiryu Sensei (b. 1942)[35]
      2. Craig, Barbara Shoshin, RSM Sensei [Religious Sisters of Mercy] (b. 1932)
        1. Falcone, Anthony Hoetsu Sensei
        2. Hebb, John Joho Sensei
        3. Sullivan, Edward Sangetsu Sensei
      3. Dougherty, Rose Mary Myoan Sensei[36][35]
        1. Dietrich, William (Bill) Ji An Sensei
        2. Ertman, Robert Jin Gen Sensei
          1. Palmiter, Martine Taikai Sensei
      4. McQuaide, Rosalie Jishin, CSJP Sensei
    17. Schubert, Paul Seiko Sensei
    18. Yee, Amy Enhai Sensei
    19. Viggiani, Carl Chimon Sensei
    20. von Wobeser-Hopfner, Inge Eigen
  19. Lee, Robert Sokan Roshi
  20. Lugovina, Francisco Genkoji "Paco" Roshi[26]
    1. williams, angel Kyodo Sensei
    2. Nelson, Craig Daiken Sensei
    3. Salazar, Joaquin Ryusho Sensei
  21. Marko, Eve Myonen
  22. Matthiessen, Peter Muryo Roshi (May 22, 1927 – April 5, 2014)
    1. Bastis, Madeline Ko-i Sensei
      1. Cantor, Mitchell Doshin Sensei
        1. May, Wilbur Mushin Sensei
    2. Dobbs, Michel Engu Sensei
    3. Friedman, Dorothy Dai-en (Daien) Sensei
      1. Campbell, Chodo Sensei
      2. Paley Ellison, Koshin Sensei
  23. Maull, Fleet Shinryu Roshi[26]
  24. Merzel, Dennis Genpo Roshi
  25. Nakao, Wendy Lou Egyoku Roshi
    1. Berge, Raul Ensho, Dharma Holder (2006)
    2. Boyd, Merle Kodo Plum Dragon Sensei
    3. Hawley, Kipp Ryodo Sensei
    4. Janka, Gary Myogen Koan Sensei
  26. Nordstrom, Louis Mitsunen Roshi (b. 1943)
    1. Denton, Timothy Issai Sensei
    2. Hawkins, Roger Shikan Sensei
    3. Thompson, Phil Zenkai Sensei
    4. Rubin, Jeffrey Jiko Sensei
    5. Gallagher, Jim Genjo Sensei
    6. Hicks, Greg ShinShyou Roshi
    7. Olmos, Mico Ryutaku Roshi
    8. Boyles, Sarah Nanshin Sensei
  27. O'Hara, Pat Enkyo Roshi
    1. Eiger, Randall Ryotan
    2. Harris, Jules Shuzen
      1. Rapaport, Al Tendo Fusho[37]
        1. Linda Myoki Lehrhaupt[38]
    3. Hondorp, Catherine Anraku Eishun Sensei
    4. O'Hara, Barbara Joshin Sensei
    5. Terestman, Julie Myoko Kirin Sensei
    6. Thomson, Sinclair Shinryu Sensei
  28. Saunders, Anne Seisen[39]
    1. Deer, Herb Eko[39]
    2. Wild, Sara Kokyo[40]
  29. Singer, Don Ani Shalom Rabbi Sensei
  30. Richardson, Janet Jinne Roshi[26]
  31. Waele, Frank de Roshi[26]
  32. Wegmueller, Barbara Salaam Roshi
  33. Wegmueller, Roland Yakushi Roshi

Circle Zen Dharmaholders:

  1. Margueritte Gregory
    1. Jeana Moore
  2. Barbara Wegmueller
    1. Gabriele Blankertz
    2. Chris Starbuck
      1. Geoff Taylor and the Western Massachusetts Circle
      2. Frances Collins
    3. Steve Hart
    4. Franziska Schneider
    5. Kathleen Battke
  3. Roland Wegmueller
  4. Ohad Pele Ezrahi (Rabbi)


  • Bridges, Jeff; Glassman, Bernie (2013). The Dude and the Zen Master. Blue Rider Press. ISBN 978-0399161643.
  • Maezumi, Taizan; Glassman, Bernie (2007). The Hazy Moon of Enlightenment: Part of the On Zen Practice Series. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 978-0-86171-314-1. OCLC 73742251.
  • Glassman, Bernie (2002). Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen. Shambhala Publications. ISBN 1-57062-591-3.
  • Maezumi, Taizan; Glassman, Bernie (2002). On Zen Practice: Body, Breath, Mind. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-315-X. OCLC 49822921.
  • Glassman, Bernie (1998). Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace. Bell Tower. ISBN 0-609-80391-3.
  • Glassman, Bernard; Fields, Rick (1996). Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters. Bell Tower. ISBN 0-517-88829-7.

Other media[edit]


Glassman, Bernard; Fields, Rick (1996). Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters. Shambhala Lion Editions. ISBN 1-57062-260-4. OCLC 35811026.


Selected honors[edit]

  • 1991 Best of America Award for Social Action, U.S. News & World Report
  • Ethics in Action Award, Ethical Culture Society of Westchester
  • E-chievement Award, E-Town, Tom's of Maine
  • Man of the Year, Westchester Coalition of Food Pantries
  • 2016 Babson College Lewis Institute Social Innovator Award

Selected board participation[edit]

  • The Temple of Understanding
  • White Plum Asanga
  • AIDS Interfaith National Network
  • Social Venture Network
  • Westchester Interfaith Housing Corp.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Christopher S. Queen. "Buddhism, activism, and Unknowing: a day with Bernie Glassman (interview with Zen Peacemaker Order founder)". Tikkun. 13 (1): 64–66. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  2. ^ a b c James Ishmael Ford (2006). Zen master who? : a guide to the people and stories of Zen. Wisdom Publications. pp. 167–168. ISBN 0-86171-509-8.
  3. ^ Christopher S. Queen (2000). Engaged Buddhism in the west. Wisdom publications. ISBN 0-86171-159-9.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Sweeping Zen Interview with Bernie Glassman". Sweeping Zen. May 2012.
  5. ^ Ari L. Goldman (December 23, 1991). "Cookies, Civic Pride And Zen". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  6. ^ a b c Perry Garfinkel (2006). Buddha or Bust. Harmony Books. pp. 33–34. ISBN 978-1-4000-8217-9.
  7. ^ a b Robert Egger; Howard Yoon (2004). Begging for change : the dollars and sense of making nonprofits responsive, efficient, and rewarding for all. HarperBusiness. pp. 136–137. ISBN 0-06-054171-7.
  8. ^ Chris Lazarus. "Recipes for Empowering Community Greyston, Mandala, Yonkers". New Village Journal (1). Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  9. ^ Mark Roseland (2005). Toward sustainable communities : resources for citizens and their governments. New Society Publishers. p. 173. ISBN 0-86571-535-1.
  10. ^ Richard Hughes Seager (1999). Buddhism in America. Columbia University Press. p. 209. ISBN 0-231-10868-0.
  11. ^ "I used to eat at soup kitchens to survive. Now as a volunteer, I see it from the other side". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  12. ^ "Café History". Stone Soup Cafe.
  13. ^ Abrahams, Matthew (November 5, 2018). "Roshi Bernie Glassman Passes Away". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.
  14. ^ Eve Marko, in Women Practicing Buddhism: American Experiences by Peter Gregory and Susanne Mrozik (1998, Wisdom Books US), p114
  15. ^ "UK Zen Peacemakers". Archived from the original on 2013-05-15.
  16. ^ ""Bernie Glassman 2: The Circles Are Us"". Michael Stone Teachings. 11 October 2014. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  17. ^ "My Story". Moshe Cohen. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  18. ^ "Zen-Buddhist Clown And Associate Of Human Evolutionary Biology". Red Nose Factory. 14 February 2019. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021. The Zen Peacemakers founder, the late zen teacher and author Bernie Glassman also started a clown order known as the Order of Disorder [...]. Bernie thought that clowning and Zen have a lot in common and that clowning could help people not to be too serious with their practice.
  19. ^ "Order of Disorder". Zen Peacemakers. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Koryu Osaka Roshi".
  21. ^ a b Sanbo Kyodan: Harada-Yasutani School of Zen Buddhism and its Teachers
  22. ^ "White Plum Asanga teachers (Maezumi lineage)".
  23. ^ "Houston Zen Center".
  24. ^ a b "Forest Wind Zendo". Archived from the original on 2019-01-25. Retrieved 2020-06-30.
  25. ^ "Lineage". Treetop Zen Center. Archived from the original on 9 November 2021. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bernie's Zen Teachers & Dharma Successors". 22 February 2012. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  27. ^ "Sensei Irene Kaigetsu Bakker @ Upaya Zen Center". Upaya Zen Center. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  28. ^ "Sensei Joshin Byrnes (Vice Abbot) @ Upaya Zen Center". Upaya Zen Center. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  29. ^ "Stolte, Beate Genko | Sweeping Zen". Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  30. ^ "About me..." Shinzan. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  31. ^ "Sensei Genzan Quennell (Guiding Teacher and Temple Coordinator) @ Upaya Zen Center". Upaya Zen Center. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  32. ^ "Morning Star Zendo". Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  33. ^ "Our Teachers · Still Mind Zendo". Still Mind Zendo.
  34. ^ "Wild Goose Zen Sangha". Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  35. ^ a b "Zen Peacemaker biographies". Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  36. ^ "One Heart Sangha Zen Meditation". One Heart Sangha Zen Meditation.
  37. ^ "Rapaport, Al Tendo Fusho". SweepingZen. Archived from the original on July 19, 2015.
  38. ^ "Lehrhaupt, Linda Myoki". SweepingZen. Archived from the original on July 19, 2015.
  39. ^ a b "Teachers". Sweetwater Zen Center.
  40. ^ "Sara Kokyo Wildi, Yogalehrerin und Leiterin von sarva". Archived from the original on 2016-01-25. Retrieved 2016-01-09.

External links[edit]