April 8-12, 2020 New York City
2,500 years ago Shakyamuni Buddha led his monks each day in the practice of begging for food, receiving whatever was offered with gratitude. In 1996 Bernie Glassman started with the Holy Week Street Retreats. In this 2020 Holy Week Street Retreat led by Joshin Byrnes, we will plunge into a variation on this early Buddhist practice of renunciation and the practice of Bernie Glassman.
We will live on the streets of New York with no resources other than our true nature, experiencing homelessness first-hand, having to beg for money, find places to get food, shelter, to use the bathroom, etc. By bearing witness to homelessness in this way, we can begin to see our prejudices and our boundaries directly and to recognize our common humanness. It is a way to experience our interconnection and realize our responsibilities.
We begin our begging practice by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a bracelet or necklace. Each bead represents a person who sponsors your street retreat, and the entire mala represents the community of support. We will wear our malas on the street retreat. Participants are asked to raise a minimum of $500 by asking at least five different people to support them. After the retreat, we collectively decide how to give the money we have raised to organizations that support our lives on the street or to seed-fund new activities that address homelessness.
“When we go… to bear witness to life on the streets, we’re offering ourselves. Not blankets, not food, not clothes, just ourselves.” – Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness
Please click here to fill out a simple questionnaire, which is the first step toward registering for the street retreat. After it is reviewed, you will receive a personal email directing you to registration for the retreat Thank you.
Click here for info on Preparation, Logistics and Guidelines
Click here for info on Raising a Mala
Click here for info on Bearing Witness Practice