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."

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; […]

Entrepreneurial Time

Since there is nothing but just this moment, the time being is all the time there is. — Dogen Do it now. Things need to happen quickly. Monthly meetings accomplish nothing. Weekly meetings are the minimum, the absolute minimum. And that is far off the entrepreneurial pace. The entrepreneurial pace requires progress almost every day.  […]

Perfect Good

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” We are exploring the process of replication. It seems new to us, but actually, this is the third time we’ve been thinking about it. The first time was even before Lavelle Prep opened. Even in those earliest days, based on our school design, people were […]

Facing Race

I want to avoid putting a label on what we are trying to do in our schools.  “Black lives matter.”  “Anti-racism.”  There is apparently an imperative hard-wired into the human brain to put labels on things. It’s deeper than habit, deep in the human DNA. We put a label on something and we think we […]

A Bernie Koan

In the Zen tradition, Koans are used as teaching cases, often commented on by many generations of teachers who use these cases in teaching students. The study of koans is an important component of Zen training, in some traditions, the most important. The Case Bernie told the story of the Maezumi Institute. Maezumi Roshi wanted […]

Turn the Other Cheek

Jesus said to turn the other cheek. “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:40)                 There is a wonderful Zen story about the great Rinzai master, Hakuin who lived in Japan from the 1680s until the 1760s (the exact dates are unknown). It is told […]

Speak Truth to Power

I have been saying for a long time that when I first heard Roshi Bernie say that spirituality and social action were both aspects of Zen practice it was like I had come home. They were aspects of me and when I heard this, I was home. I was about 50 years old and my […]