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(39,436 posts)
Sat Nov 24, 2018, 07:30 AM Nov 2018

Bernard Glassman, Zen Master and Social Activist, Dies at 79

Bernard Glassman, an acclaimed American Buddhist teacher known for his social activism, died on Nov. 4 at a hospital in Greenfield, Mass., near his home. He was 79.

The cause was sepsis, his wife, Eve Marko, said.

Contrary to the stereotype of a Zen practitioner lost in meditation, Mr. Glassman was deeply active in the world and in trying to address its ills. His activism was as much a product of his Buddhist spiritualism as it was of the liberal Jewish tradition into which he was born; the two remained inseparable throughout his life.

Mr. Glassman “was one of the most important figures in ‘Engaged Buddhism,’ which applies Buddhist teachings to what many Jews call tikkun olam, the project of ‘repairing’ the brokenness in the world,” Jay Michaelson wrote in a tribute in The Forward after Mr. Glassman’s death.

Mr. Michaelson called Mr. Glassman “a Zen mensch.”

Mr. Glassman broke into pop culture, sort of, when he got together with the actor Jeff Bridges, a friend, to write a slim volume called “The Dude and the Zen Master,” published in 2013. Mr. Bridges played Jeffrey Lebowski, a California slacker known as “The Dude,” in Joel and Ethan Coen’s cult movie “The Big Lebowski” (1998).

When Mr. Glassman told Mr. Bridges that some Buddhists considered his character a Zen master, based in part on his enigmatic utterances (“The Dude abides,” “The Dude is not in”), Mr. Bridges agreed to collaborate with him on a book about the movie’s Zen lessons.

“Not being in — not being attached to Jeff or Bernie or whoever you are — is the essence of Zen,” Mr. Glassman explains in the book. “When we’re not attached to our identity, it allows all the messages of the world to come in and be heard. When we’re not in, creation can happen.”

...In 1982 he opened the Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, initially as a way to provide jobs for Zen students. He eventually hired anyone who wanted a job, regardless of employment history or arrest record.

The bakery was soon making brownies and supplying them to ice cream makers, supermarkets and restaurants; today its food processing plant turns out 35,000 pounds of brownies a day. Its slogan is “We don’t hire people to bake brownies. We bake brownies to hire people.”

Mr. Glassman (whose first marriage ended in divorce) and his second wife, Sandra Holmes, founded the Greyston Foundation, sometimes called Greyston Mandala, in 1989 to address community needs in Yonkers. Its programs provide day care, job training, produce-growing gardens, medical care and housing for about 5,000 people a year.

More at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/23/obituaries/bernard-glassman-dead.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries&action=click&contentCollection=obituaries®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

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Bernard Glassman, Zen Master and Social Activist, Dies at 79 (Original Post) BeyondGeography Nov 2018 OP
Ji Jang Bosal janterry Nov 2018 #1
Onward. Harker Nov 2018 #2
Sad to hear of the passing of this great man RVN VET71 Nov 2018 #3
Noteworthy. . . . nt Bernardo de La Paz Nov 2018 #4
Living by the guiding principle of Tikkun Olam is beautiful. JudyM Nov 2018 #5
. Donkees Nov 2018 #6


(4,429 posts)
1. Ji Jang Bosal
Sat Nov 24, 2018, 07:40 AM
Nov 2018

He'd been pretty sick the last few years.

An absolutely lovely man, and wonderful teacher.


(2,713 posts)
3. Sad to hear of the passing of this great man
Sat Nov 24, 2018, 09:05 AM
Nov 2018

His work with and for the community will be his continuing legacy. May he rest in peace.


(29,402 posts)
5. Living by the guiding principle of Tikkun Olam is beautiful.
Sat Nov 24, 2018, 02:19 PM
Nov 2018

Last edited Sat Nov 24, 2018, 10:12 PM - Edit history (1)

RIP, brother.

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