Roshi Ken (ICS President Ken Byalin) says: "I’m not a typical Zen teacher. My Zen practice manifests as social action. Integration Charter Schools is a manifestation of the practice."

Organizational Design

I discovered Ray Dalio’s Principles (Simon and Schuster, 2017) accidentally on a Barnes and Noble bookshelf, and it has been a delight ever since. I’ve been learning a lot, and am finding that Dalio has articulated some of the principles which we have been discovering. That is encouraging, yet one exception stands out. Dalio argues […]

Honoring Bernie Glassman

I am often asked about what we have accomplished. Beginning with the opening of Lavelle Prep in 2009, followed by two more schools, now a fourth on the way, merging the schools into a corporate structure, Integration Charter Schools, serving in the coming year over 1000 students, one-third living with emotional challenges and other special […]

Families First

The practice of Zen is about achieving balance in our lives. All of us, students, faculty, and administration are balancing the competing demands which we face at home with those we face at school. For staff, indeed for employees generally, there is a burgeoning self-help literature. Very little has been written about the ways in […]

Everyone is Unique

The Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. The teacher, the teaching, and the community of practitioners. Or as Roshi Bernie Glassman says: Buddha, the Oneness of Life; Dharma, the absolute uniqueness of every moment; Sangha, the Unity of Oneness and Diversity. Bernie often refers to Enlightenment as the realization and actualization of the Oneness of Life. […]

Raising Money

What’s my New Year’s Resolution? What’s the hardest thing for me? Raise more money. Beg more. When The Verrazano Foundation needed to raise money, I called my teacher Roshi Bernie Glassman for advice. Bernie had done wondrous fundraising for The Greyston Foundation. I told him about our situation and he told me, “If I was […]

Everyone is Irreplaceable (Part 1)

Tough guy bosses often threaten, “No one is irreplaceable.” What they mean is something like, “Don’t threaten me. We can manage fine without you.” Nice guy managers say the same words to members of their team when a key staff member departs, but they mean something more along the lines of, “Don’t worry. We will […]

Is This Your Dream Job?

Zen practices allows us to connect to our dreams. It helps us become aware of and drop away the conditioned thinking that often stands in the way of our even knowing what our dreams are. Zen practice also allows the aspiration to arise, to allow all people to connect to their dreams. Alternatively, it is […]

Do It Now

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. On Staten Island, Christmas lights are already going up. Have you begun to think of New Year’s Resolutions for 2018? All the things you didn’t do this year: Go on a diet? Get back to the gym?  Go back to school? Clean out a closet? Why wait until January 1? Do […]


When I was still new to consistent, every day Zen practice, I discovered Being Peace (Parallax Press, 1987), Thich Nhat Hanh’s seminal work. Parts of the book blew me away, and I was completely taken by the example of his life and his teaching. Yet he also said some things that struck me as totally […]

Our Hedgehog

My entire Zen life has been about what the Zen community calls, “practicing non-attachment.” Of course, you cannot work with or on non-attachment. Striving for non-attachment is totally illusory. You can only work with attachments, one after another, as they arise, seemingly endlessly. In my personal experience, attachments to ideas are perhaps the most challenging. […]