“Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz”

Join me at the

Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat on November 2-6, 2015

For years I have been wanting to go to a “Bearing Witness Retreat in Auschwitz” organized by Bernie Glassman, head of Zen Peacemaker Order. 

This year, the call has become stronger, maybe due to the dire situation with the Greek economy, politics, and the recent refugee crisis.

Buddhism reminds us that we are not-separate, and that at the heart of our being a great power continues to shine inwardly and radiate outwardly no matter what the external circumstances may be.  One does not need to close up during times of crisis; quite the contrary, one relaxes and opens up through giving and compassion.

Wanting to join the 2015 Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat on November 2-6, I found out that it would cost $1,800 plus travel and board. No way, I though to myself,  can I make this happen this year.  Then I was sent information from the Zen Peacemaker order that encouraged me to raise the funds through a Mala. We are supposed to invite our friends to contribute by becoming donors.  In Bernie’s words, “When they offer a bead, they will be working, training, studying and traveling with you wherever you go.”

Apparently, this tradition of opening ourselves to living through the generosity of others, was established 2,500 years ago by Buddha himself. "Shakyamuni Buddha led his monks each morning in the practice of begging for their daily food. Each day’s offering was received with thanks regardless of its nature or size. In this way the Buddha encouraged simplicity, the generosity of both giving and receiving, and undiscriminating appreciation. We continue this begging practice by raising support for our work by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a necklace. Each bead represents a person who supports that member’s vision and work, and the entire mala represents the Member’s community of support.”

If you feel it is appropriate and matching your own inner wish, please join me in this retreat, by becoming a sponsor in the Auschwitz Meditation mala project.

Here is how:

1) You could contribute by sending  $180 for retreat registration. I will provide bank or paypal  information as needed. 

If this amount exceeds your budget capabilities, maybe you can invite another friend or your partner to share the cost of one bead?

2) I will prepare a Mala of 18 beads, and one Large Bead with your name strung next to the particular  bead.

3) The Large Bead will be dedicated and hopefully sponsored by our friends from NYSY, Avocado Café, and Zen Center Athens.

4) You will be walking and sitting in meditation with me as I think of you silently with gratitude during the retreat.  

5) If you are ready to be moved, please read Bernie’s account, “Why do I keep going back to Auschwitz Birkenau”… 


May the invisible mala of our friendship continue to grow and support us on our path of healing, completeness,  and happiness. 

With a deep bow of gratitude,

Vivi Letsou

Zen practitioner, Athens