Glassman, Bernard Tetsugen 1939-(Bernie Glassman)

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GLASSMAN, Bernard Tetsugen 1939-(Bernie Glassman)

PERSONAL: Born January 18, 1939, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Otto Isaac (a compositor) and Pauline (Finkelstein) Glassman; married Helen Silverberg (a Buddhist priest), August 25, 1963; children: Alisa, Marc. Education: Polytechnic Institute of New York, B.S., 1960; University of California, Los Angeles, M.A., 1968, Ph.D., 1970.

ADDRESSES: Home—Greyston Seminary, 690 West 247th St., Riverdale, NY 10471. Office—Zen Community of New York, 5720 Mosholu Ave., Riverdale, NY 10471.

CAREER: Buddhist monk, teacher, and author. Douglas Aircraft Co., Inc., Santa Monica, CA, associate engineer, 1960-62, aerodynamicist, 1963-69; McDonnell Douglas Astronautics, Inc., Huntington Beach, CA, senior scientist and acting branch chief of performance analysis, guidance, and flight mechanics, 1971-76. Ordained Soto Zen Buddhist monk, 1970; Zen Center of Los Angeles, head monk and head of meditation center, 1973, executive vice president, assistant spiritual director, and director of Center Publishing's "Zen Writing Series," 1976-79; Institute for Transcultural Studies, Los Angeles, CA, executive vice president, 1976-79; Zen Community of New York, Riverdale, chairman of board of directors, president, and spiritual director, 1980—. Member of Soto Zenshu, Soto Zen Buddhist School of Japan; presenter at workshops, conferences, and seminars; lecturer at colleges and universities, including University of California, Los Angeles, Occidental College, Haverford College, Swarthmore College, University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University, Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York, and Hofstra University; guest on radio programs.


Three-Degree-of-Freedom Trajectory Simulation Computer Program AB60, McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (Huntington Beach, CA), Volume I: Derivation of Equations, Volume II: User's Manual, 1966.

Space Flight Handbook, Volume III: Planetary Flight Handbook, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 1969.

Computer Program Management Technique: CPMT Manual, McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (Huntington Beach, CA), 1973.

(With Taizan Maezumi) The Hazy Moon of Enlightenment, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1978.

(With Rick Fields) Instruction to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living Life That Matters, Bell Tower (New York, NY), 1996.

(Under name Bernie Glassman) Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace, Bell Tower (New York, NY), 1998.

(Under name Bernie Glassman) Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen, Shambala (Boston, MA), 2002.


On Zen Practice, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1976.

On Zen Practice II: Body, Breath, Mind, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1977, revised edition, under name Bernie Glassman, Wisdom Publications (Boston, MA), 2002.

John Buksbazen, To Forget the Self, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1978.

Maezumi Loori and John Loori, The Way of Everyday Life, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1978.

Thomas Cleary, Sayings and Doings of Pai-Chang, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1979.

Francis Cook, How to Raise an Ox, Center Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1979.

SIDELIGHTS: Prior to his ordination as a Buddhist monk in 1970, Bernard Tetsugen Glassman worked in the aerospace industry, and developed the General Performance Analysis Tool Trajectory Simulation computer program. He authored three texts related to the aerospace field, but the bulk of his writing career has been as author or editor of works on subjects relating to Zen Buddism.

Glassman's 1998 book Bearing Witness instructs readers in how to make peace with the world and the past. When discussing the state of world affairs, as Raul Nino noted in Booklist, Glassman offers a "centered . . . and balanced perspective." His Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen is another educational book on the topic, and this time Glassman takes a much more in-depth look at three important Zen texts. He guides the reader through an understanding of the poem "Heart Sutra," as well as of The Identity of Relative Absolute and the Zen Bodhisattva Precepts. His contention is that an understanding these writings is crucial for all Zen practitioners. A contributor to Publishers Weekly commented that Glassman's "style and thinking are like thick, polished glass: clear, compact and strong."

Glassman once told CA: "I was principal investigator on an independent study to develop new parameter hunting and optimization procedures and supervised the engineering effort that provided trajectory optimization programs for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at Goddard and the Comsat Corporation.

"I directed trajectory and mission analyses for lunar and interplanetary mission studies and was in charge of the preparation of the planetary flight handbook for Mars stopover missions using Venus swingbys. I also worked on studies related to Thor system space vehicles, and range safety studies and capability studies in connection with the Delta space vehicle.

"During this time, I maintained a parallel career in my religious practice and involvement with the development of Zen Buddhism in America, having first encountered Zen in 1958 during a college course on religions. This began an odyssey of study through books and personal contacts with teachers in Japan and the United States, including Yasutani Roshi, Koryu Roshi, and Taizan Maezumi Roshi.

"I began full-time practice with Taizan Maezumi Roshi in 1968. Maezumi Roshi is a Dharma successor in the Soto tradition, as well as in two lines of the Rinzai tradition. He trained me in a wide range of personal studies in addition to various administrative, liturgical, and training positions connected with a Zen center and training dojo. He allowed me to work closely with him in the development of the Zen Center of Los Angeles.

"I became a monk in 1970 and in 1976 left the aerospace industry to devote myself entirely to Zen practice. I helped found the Institute of Transcultural Studies (now the Kuroda Institute) and Center Publications. In 1976 I completed koan study, and in 1977 formal training for the priesthood in the Soto tradition, becoming the first Dharma successor of Maezumi Roshi. The occasion was celebrated in Japan in August, 1978, when I officiated at zuisse ceremonies at the two head temples of the Soto sect, Eiheiji and Sojiji.

"In 1980 I moved to New York City to establish the Zen Community of New York, an interreligious Zen practice center. The community offers regularly scheduled meditation, Dharma meetings, retreats, workshops, classes, seminars, and month-long intensive training periods, each with its unique emphasis. In addition, the Zen Community of New York began its first livelihood, Greyston Bakery and Café, in 1982. I developed a full-time, comprehensive training program consisting of daily meditation, of work-practice within the bakery, café, and offices of the community, of communal living-practice, and of study of root texts and sutras. I also hold private interviews with my students and give Dharma talks several times monthly, some on the meaning of work-practice."



Booklist, April, 1998, Raul Nino, review of Bearing Witness: A Zen Master's Lessons in Making Peace,p. 1280; April 15, 2002, Donna Seaman, review of Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen, p. 1364.

Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2002, review of Infinite Circle, p.61; July 1, 2002, review of On Zen Practice, p. 72.

Tikkun, January-February, 1998, "Buddhism, Activism, and Unknowing: A Day With Bernie Glassman" (interview), Christopher Queen, p. 64.