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."

Infinite Circle

As we have built our schools, I have been guided by, anchored in an image of peacemaking from Bernie’s book, Instructions to the Cook, seeing Healing Our Selves and Others, — Bernie later called this, the Third Tenet, Loving Action, I now would call in Peacemaking,  — as “bringing to the societal table those who […]

Crane in the Tree

The Crane in the Tree A monk asked Gokoko, “When a crane stands upon a withered pine, what then?” Gokoko said, “On the ground below, it’s a shame.” *** Master Tozan previously said, “The spirit tree is sublime, but the crane doesn’t stay there.”[1]             This is an example of a koan that I do […]

Leadership Principles and Style Part II: Leadership Principles

Now, leadership principles. I am endeavoring to lead like Kuei-shan. I am endeavoring to leave the work of learning to “my students”, the rising leaders of ICS. And I am trying to transmit my way of teaching, my way of embodying Kuei-shan. Right now, I can sum it up in four Principles. First Principle: It […]

Leadership Principles and Style Part I: Leadership Style

One day Kuei-shan said to Hsiang-yen: “I am told that you have been under my late master, Pai-chang… Let me have your view as to your own being before your parents were born.” Hsiang-yen couldn’t respond. He retired to his room and looked through all his notes of Pai-chang’s teishos, but he could not find […]

What are Charter Schools?

What are charters? I had no idea when I first heard of them. Jamie  My daughter was in kindergarten in a Montessori School, and all the parents were talking about what to do as first grade approached. One of the other parents, a professor of education at a local college, suggested that we create a […]


To engage in Zen entrepreneurship is to engage with the possibility of failure. Working on this new charter application for the Bernie Glassman New Ventures Charter School to be located in southwest Yonkers, fear comes up.   First comes the fear of failure. We are stretching. What if we can’t get this charter proposal done? […]

No Merit

When Bodhidharma first met Emperor Wu, the Emperor asked, “I have built temples and ordained monks; what merit is there in this?” Bodhidharma said, “There is no merit.” I began the day reading the first few pages of Real Change by Sharon Salzberg. I bought copies for a bunch of people because Roshi Paco Lugovina, […]

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

As the holiday season progresses, as we approach the winter school break, there is no doubt that we are coming to the end of what has been for many of us the most challenging year in our lives and certainly the most challenging year in the history of ICS. I am so grateful for all […]

Teaching and Not Knowing

As I contemplate the challenge of transforming education in America, I am struck by the enormous obstacle presented by the “training of teachers.” My opinion, which I offer as an outsider, is based on my experience in social work and Zen training, — two experiences quite different from each other and very different from teacher […]


Glory be to God for dappled things — For skies of couple-colors as a brinded cow, For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; Fresh-fire coal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plow; And all trades, their gear and tackle, and trim.   All things counter, original, spare, strange; […]