Articles and Recordings

The Practice of Zen and Nonviolent Communication

In March, 2012, Jesse spoke at the Empathic Telesummit about the practice of Zen and Nonviolent Communication.  In it, he addresses some common questions about Zen and NVC such as “How to be compassionate with yourself in your practice, no matter where you’re at”, and “How Needs aren’t something to...

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Mindful Heart, Heart-full Mind


excerpt from Peaceable Revolution Through Education by Catherine Cadden

Sixteen-year-old Zeke was an active member of the Ku Klux Klan. I had the opportunity to work in high schools in the San Francisco Bay Area teaching nonviolence in a two-day workshop format. The first day was spent working on how to transcend our thinking, fixed ideas and our perceptions of others while connecting to human needs. The second day, we supported connection between students in the class as well as empowered them with conflict resolution skills.

By the second day Zeke had sat with his discomfort in a room with people he saw as Jewish, Gay, Black, Liberal, the wrong kind of White, and Female until he could no longer keep quiet. During a game, when it was a revealed that a Jewish girl's older sister would be having a wedding ceremony the following summer to marry another woman, he did not hesitate to voice out loud what was happening in his mind, "That's just wrong!

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Live and Learn!

Zen. Nonviolent Communication. How do they relate? Where do they intersect? Here. This body. This mind. This moment.

Dukkha, or {tooltip}stress1{end-link}Dukkha is commonly translated as “suffering”, however, I prefer Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation of dukkha as “stress”. This speaks more to my experience, where suffering is felt as a subtle energy of stress, from which emotions like fear, worry, anger, and depression spring.{end-tooltip}, is often what brings a person to a practice such as Zen or NVC. As a moment-to-moment practice, the Buddha’s teachings on dukkha invite us to reflect deeply on what the cause of stress, is, in this very moment. In Nonviolent Communication, we might name what our present feeling is, the need behind it, and a request to satisfy the need. Bringing the two approaches together, we have fertile ground for exploration. For example, there is a very natural curiosity that can arise when certain feelings and needs recur, over and over again. In these moments, I wonder, “What is really going on here? Is a need for empathy really the cause of my frustration?”

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The Universe Inside “How”

"What does one do to live from this place of gratitude and connection, rather than the deficiency and fear?" Someone in our class last night who practices NVC asked us this. They also asked, "Do you have any suggestions for How I can live more from this place of gratitude?" These questions imply that there is something to get more of, gratitude and connection, and something to get away from, deficiency and fear. I also notice a sense of powerlessness when these kinds of questions arise in myself; I have lost all faith in myself, and I am afraid that if I don't do something, my life will fall completely apart. When we seek for the answers, for someone "more enlightened" than ourselves to give us something that will save us, we miss the whole universe that is contained in those questions. The real question is, "What is the whole universe here that is being expressed through these questions?"

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