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With Sensei Jishu Holmes at Auschwitz in 1996

New: More about Zen in Northern Ireland

Zen Buddhist sites I recommend:

Zen Peacemakers

The Zen Center of Los Angeles


I became a Zen student in 1986. Prior to that I'd read a great deal about it. Authors like Kerouac and Ginsberg captured my imagination with their style and fascination with Buddhism. Straight Dharma books always caught my eye as well and I read a fair amount before finding a teacher. At the time my career was on a downswing and my love life had fallen apart. I knew I needed something to get me moving in a positive direction. On old friend, John Miller, a bassist and musical contractor in NYC, took me to an Introduction to Zen Practice at the Zen Community of New York (ZCNY) for my thirty-first birthday. I never looked back.

Bernie Glassman was the Abbot of the community at the time. The workshop was lead by Lou Nordstrom, a senior priest at ZCNY. After being hooked by Lou's presentation I signed up for a retreat lead by Peter Mathiesson. It was during that retreat that I first heard Bernie teach. It's been many years and Bernie is still my teacher. Besides learning to meditate ZCNY was a place of strong social action. Lead by Bernie's vision to establish a mandala for practice and livelihood ZCNY stepped out of the meditation hall and into the world. The Greyston Bakery was already up and running when I came along. The bakery provides employment for a bunch of local folks and some practitioners. Among it's achievements are winning the NY State Cheesecake contest and making the fudge brownies for Ben and Jerry's Fudge Brownie Ice Cream and Yogurt. They recently built a new bakery and renowned designer Maya Lin brought her considerable talents to that task.

After I'd been around about a year Bernie decided to create the Greyston Family Inn which is a place where permanent housing is offered to people coming out of temporary shelter. Several buildings in Southwest Yonkers have been renovated and serve as the foundation for the community. Last time I checked there were one hundred and forty seven apartments that are offered to the community. After the Inn was up and running Bernie decided to create a clinic for people living with HIV/AIDS. A Catholic convent for cloistered nuns came up for sale in the neighborhood and Bernie put together funding from the city, county, state, and federal governments to buy and renovate it. It's a full time clinic now with the offices of the Greyston Foundation taking up one of the buildings on the property. Bernie worked in Yonkers for fifteen years before moving on to start the Peacemaker Circle. If you're ever in the area you should make a point of seeing the Greyston Mandala. It's a sight to behold.

Within the Peacemaker Circle are a group of practitioners who have become members of the Zen Peacemaker Order and I am one of them. As I mentioned before my work is to bring Zen meditation to Belfast N. Ireland. Over the last several years we've conducted Many types of workshops that have been lead by Paul Haller, abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, Father Robert Kennedy, S. J. of St. Peter's College in Jersey City, U.S.A, and others.. You can find out more about it here. Belfast is an incredible place to teach meditation. You can read more about my work in Belfast in this article from the North Belfast News.

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