Penguin Speakers Bureau

Bernie Glassman

Zen Master, spiritual leader, published author, founder of the Zen Peacemakers, accomplished academic, and successful businessman.

Photo by Peter Cunningham

Biography

Bernie Glassman was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1939. His parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe and he grew up in a Jewish family with a strong socialist orientation. After graduating from Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, he went to work for McDonnell-Douglas in California in 1960 as an aeronautical engineer, concentrating on interplanetary flights. He also obtained a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from UCLA in 1970.

Bernie founded Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York, in 1982 as a business that hired unconventional employees who were deemed unemployable at other business locations. By 1990, the bakery grew into a successful $6 million business with more than 75 employees. In 1998, Bernie founded Zen Peacemakers for Zen practitioners dedicated to the cause of peace and social justice.

Bernie is the co-author with Rick Fields of Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Masters Lessons in Living a Life that Matters, and the author, with Eve Marko, of Bearing Witness: A Zen Masters Lessons in Making Peace and Infinite Circle: Studies in Zen. Bernie is also the co-author with Hakuyu Maezumi of Hazy Moon of Enlightenment: On Zen Practice III and On Zen Practice (The Zen Writings Series).

Bernie was awarded the ‘Ethics in Action Award’ by the Ethical Culture Society of Westchester and the ‘E-chievement Award’ by Toms of Maine. He was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the Westchester Coalition of Food Pantries and ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year’ by Business Week in 1993. He is a founding board member of the Social Ventures Network, a network of businesses committed to social change, and continues to serve as one of its spiritual leaders. In 2007, he was honored as a Purpose Prize Fellow given to those over 60 with the passion and experience to discover new opportunities, come up with new solutions, and make lasting changes.

Bernie is married to Roshi Eve Myonen Marko and has two children, Alisa and Marc Glassman, and four grandchildren.

Speaking Topics

  • The Dude and The Zen Master

    Zen master Bernie Glassman compares Jeff Bridges’s iconic role in The Big Lebowski to a Lamad Vav—one of those men in Jewish mysticism who “are simple and unassuming, and so good that, on account of them, God lets the world go on.” His buddy Jeff puts it a different way: The wonderful thing about The Dude, he says, is that he’d always rather hug it out than slug it out. For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and world-renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman have been close friends. In The Dude and the Zen Master,they offer an intimate glimpse into the conversations between a student and his teacher, a shared philosophy of life and spirituality, and the everyday wisdom of Buddhism. Inspiring, insightful, and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures a freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies, from two men whose charm and bonhomie never fail to enlighten and entertain—and their remarkable humanism reminds us of the importance of doing good in a difficult world.

  • What is Enlightenment?
  • Social Entrepreneurship and Spirituality

    In 1982, Roshi Bernie Glassman, now the best-known American Buddhist social activist, opened a bakery in the Bronx to employ his Buddhist students. Bernie became increasingly aware of local low-income community needs in neighboring Yonkers, a city that borders the Bronx and contains the largest concentration of poverty in affluent Westchester County. Bernie moved Greyston Bakery to southwest Yonkers in 1987, declaring an open door hiring policy. Out of this hiring policy a new and larger mission grew. Greyston Foundation developed holistic, comprehensive-services and rapidly became one of the most successful examples of social enterprise in the United States. Today, Greyston serves over 2,200 community members annually. Greyston’s integrated network consists of for-profit and not-for-profit entities that provide jobs, workforce development, low-income housing, supportive services, childcare, after-school programs, comprehensive HIV health care and housing, community gardens and a new bakery facility that supplies the ice cream industry with brownie chips.

See More Topics

Featured Book

The Dude and The Zen Master

"For more than a decade, Academy Award–winning actor Jeff Bridges and world-renowned Roshi Bernie Glassman have been close friends. In The Dude and the Zen Master, they offer an intimate glimpse into the conversations between a student and his teacher, a shared philosophy of life and spirituality, and the everyday wisdom of Buddhism. Inspiring, insightful, and often hilarious, The Dude and the Zen Master captures a freewheeling dialogue about life, laughter, and the movies, from two men whose charm and bonhomie never fail to enlighten and entertain—and their remarkable humanism reminds us of the importance of doing good in a difficult world."

– Penguin Group USA

Book This Speaker

Interested in this speaker? Please contact us for booking requirements and availability.

Contact Us By Email

Share

About PSB

Bringing award-winning and best-selling fiction and nonfiction authors to audiences everywhere.

Sign Up For Updates

Join PSB and get updates on new speaker announcements and much more.

Join

Connect With Us

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr for our latest updates.