This podcast features Roshi Bernie Glassman's teachings at Upaya over the years and is a memorial series honoring his profound Zen teachings and socially engaged work in the world.
Roshi Bernie Glassman & Hozan Alan Senauke & Roshi Joan Halifax: Gate of Sweet Nectar 2015 (Part 5 of 5)
Part 5: “I live my life according to experiences, not according to the commentary.” This last half of the final panel traverses: projection in student-teacher relationships; how Roshi Joan’s and Bernie’s relationship has changed over the years; whether it’s true that “you can’t be friends with your students;” distinctions between resilience and “getting over yourself” in caregiving work; the disrespectful haste of consoling someone with “I know how you feel.” Someone asks Bernie, how have you managed to go against the stream when your innovations have so often met consternation? He says he hasn’t gone against any streams, he’s only gone with the stream of his experience of connectedness. “I live my life according to experiences, not according to the commentary.”
Roshi Bernie Glassman & Hozan Alan Senauke & Roshi Joan Halifax: Gate of Sweet Nectar 2015 (Part 4 of 5)
Part 4: A song and questions. After Alan leads everyone in song, the panel takes open questions and jams. They consider: are there any restrictions on what people do with this liturgy when they leave? How does the joy in breaking boundaries dance with respect for boundaries? How do you feel about the word “death” — is it too final? Or does its definiteness highlight the sea change in whatever transformations might follow?
Roshi Bernie Glassman: Gate of Sweet Nectar 2015 (Part 3 of 5)
Part 3: Dialogue ensues! The question of feeding hungry spirits what they want versus feeding them what they need engages many voices. This leads on to: what is the difference between bearing witness and the reflex to get rid of, to “heal?” In Bernie’s opinion Bearing Witness retreats are all about fear, going to what’s scary. In the Gate, we repeat the final Dharani so as to call out yet once more to every last, scared, unworthy hungry ghost: “please, come and eat.” At that moment we can ask ourselves: what parts of myself and my world do I keep away? Who would I not invite to tea?
Roshi Bernie Glassman: Gate of Sweet Nectar 2015 (Part 2 of 5)
Part 2: Feeding everyone. Bernie explains the inner logic and dramatic progression of the liturgy’s several pieces. It proceeds through loving invitations and invocations, magic work to actualize energies and feed everyone; through giving teachings; and climaxes with giving and taking the Buddhist precepts. Shingon condenses the five precepts into two: “Now I have raised the Bodhi mind;” “I am the Buddhas and they are me.” Do you feel like a fibber when you say them? That’s a live edge to explore, because you should try not to fib. Throughout, when we summon the various Bodhisattvas and hungry ghosts and all of it, it’s key to understand: we’re not summoning from afar, we’re recognizing within.
Roshi Bernie Glassman: Gate of Sweet Nectar 2015 (Part 1 of 5)
Part 1: An open-hearted overhaul. Bernie spins a lively history of the Gate of Sweet Nectar liturgy, from an early version (mythically attributed to Shakyamuni) to Menzan’s tantric innovations to his own open-hearted overhaul. Maezumi Roshi gave Bernie remarkable permission to remake the Gate (and by extension Zen) in an American grain: “He didn’t try to get me to be like him — he wanted me to be like me.”
Roshi Bernie Glassman & Hozan Alan Senauke & Joan Halifax: Engaged Buddhism, Radical Chaplaincy 2014 (Part 8 of 8)
Part 8: “Everything is opinion.” In this last dialogue, Bernie — with a little help from Roshi Joan and Sensei Alan — fields questions about whether the view that “everything is opinion” closes or opens dialogue; about the Greyston model; about the five Buddha families as a model for social entrepreneurship; about assassinating Hitler.