Reading Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace by Bernie Glassman Roshi and Eve Marko was an eye-opening introduction to Socially Engaged Buddhism, in particular, the Zen Peacemakers' annual (currently 19th) retreat to the old site of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
The Zen Peacemakers' Three Tenets are:
Not-Knowing, by giving up fixed ideas about ourselves and the universe
Bearing Witness to the joy and suffering of the world
Taking Action that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness
Glassman expands on the third tenet:
When we bear witness, when we become the situation — homelessness, poverty, illness, violence, death — the right action arises by itself. We don’t have to worry about what to do. We don’t have to figure out solutions ahead of time. Peacemaking is the functioning of bearing witness. Once we listen with our entire body and mind, loving action arises.
Loving action is right action. It’s as simple as giving a hand to someone who stumbles or picking up a child who has fallen on the floor. We take such direct, natural actions every day of our lives without considering them special. And they’re not special. Each is simply the best possible response to that situation in that moment.
With the greatest possible respect and deference to the victims of the Nazi holocaust, their families and loved ones, my heart will burst if I don’t bear witness to another holocaust that is taking place under our noses. In the spirit of Not Knowing, I won’t say another word about it this year except to share these ten pictures.