Tag Archives: global service day

The Marrow Of Zen (from “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”, by Shunryu Suzuki) and a Few Thoughts on Global Service Day

Last weekend I was fortunate to receive two Zen books from my cousin (well technically she’s my niece, but she’s older than I am so our relationship is more “cousin-ish”).  One is Shunryu Suzuki’s “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”.  This book is rather well-known among Zen folks, especially in the West.  I actually have the audio of this book; still, it’s nice to have it in a physical form that I can bring along anywhere.  What I find amusing though is that every time I read, I hear the voice of the narrator in the audio format.  Anyway, here’s an excerpt:

THE MARROW OF ZEN

In our scriptures (Samyuktagama Sutra, volume 33), it is said that there are four kinds of horses: excellent ones, good ones, poor ones, and bad ones.  The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver’s will, before it sees the shadow of the whip; the second best will run as well as the first one does, just before the whip reaches its skin; the third one will run when it feels pain on its body; the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones.  You can imagine how difficult it is for the fourth one to learn how to run!

When we hear this story, almost all of us want to be the best horse.  If it is impossible to be the best one, we want to be the second best.  This is, I think, the usual understanding of this story, and of Zen…(t)his is not the right understanding.  If you practice Zen in the right way it does not matter whether you are the best horse or the worst one…

When you are determined to practice zazen with the great mind of Buddha, you will find the worst horse is the most valuable one.  In your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind.  Those who can sit perfectly physically usually take more time to obtain the true way of Zen, the actual feeling of Zen, the marrow of Zen.  But those who find great difficulties in practicing Zen will find more meaning in it.  So I think that sometimes the best horse may be the worst horse, and the worst horse can be the best one.

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I posted about Treeleaf’s Global Service Day last week.  Well, it’s done.  The two-week period is over.

And at the same time, it’s not.  After all, if you truly understand the intent behind Global Service Day, you’ll know that everyday is Global Service Day.  Every moment is, after all, an opportunity to be of service to the world.  That might mean cheering up someone who’s feeling down, or offering to help a neighbor, or volunteering for some type of community service.  Every moment can be a moment dedicated to work of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout space and time.

Anyway, a few folks over at the Filipino Buddhism Facebook group have expressed interest in having our own Global Service Day.  We even have our own blog already – though it’s still new so you won’t find much in there right now.


Treeleaf Zendo and Global Service Day (October 20-November 2)

You’re all invited to participate in Treeleaf Zendo’s Global Service Day. Just what is “Global Service Day”?  Simple: pick a day within next week (it’s supposed to be within a two-week time period so as to provide flexibility, but I’m blogging this a week late – sorry about that).  On that day, do something – anything – that will help even just a little.   Here’s an excerpt from the About Us page:

Global Service Day is a project sponsored by the teachers, members and friends of Treeleaf Zendo. We practice Engaged Service together in our communities across many countries and geographies – in this blog you will find our stories and experiences.

and from the Welcome Page:

Global Service Day is an opportunity to contribute a day of service in areas of need in our own communities – it is our hope and plan that this effort not be limited to our Sangha. Buddhist Sanghas of all flavors … and churches and civic organizations of all kinds … are engaged in projects such as this. We are now joining in. Some projects may be primarily done with and among our own Sangha members, some may be in cooperation with other Sanghas, churches and groups. The most important point is that the work should not be done for our benefit (although certainly there is endless merit and personal benefit in generosity and kindness to others), but should be undertaken with an eye toward “where can we truly help” and “how can we be truly effective.”

We sincerely believe that our Practice is found – beginning and end – on our sitting cushions in stillness, yet our Practice continues as we rise up from sitting to be with our families, in our workplaces, towns, communities, society, the whole world.

Here are some examples of what some of our members did in the past:

-I plan to do some charity sewing every month for the next year. There are needs in the world that I had no idea were not being met.

-I recently spent a few hours explaining the benefits and problems of social media to my hospice’s director…maybe it will help them organize their first Facebook page..

-I will once again be sharing the wonderful antics of my pet with my granny and fellow folks at her retirement facility.

-I also will be doing something at school for mentally challenged kids.

-Starting this weekend, and for 3 or 4 weekends more, I’ll be part of a team delivering toys and blankets to children’s hospitals

-My volunteering over the last couple of years has progressed from the commitment of a day four times a year to a new career in social work and environmental advocacy.

-I have become a “Chemo Angel.” I basically, have been assigned to a person who has cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. I write notes/cards of encouragement and send small gifts every week.

-I’m volunteering to assist the caretakers of the aged, infirm, ill, developmentally disabled

-I’m volunteering at the animal shelter.

-I’m going to work one full day for free for a person who just started his business

-I’m volunteering with a local Buddhist group tidy a neglected community garden

I should add that we have four Global Service Day periods for every quarter of the year.  Each period lasts about two weeks.

“WHOA!  Two weeks, four times a year?  You mean there’s more than one?” is probably what you’re thinking right now.  Well, like I said earlier, we figured we could use some flexibility.  And if you think about it: EVERY-FREAKIN’ DAY can be Global Service Day – you just need to start the day with the intention to be of benefit to the world, no matter how small your actions might seem to you.

So if you want to take part in Global Service Day, simply pick any day within the two-week period.  Actually, we’re about to start week 2 already so just choose one day out of the week starting today.  And you don’t even need to limit yourself to just one day if you really want to do more and can’t fit everything into one day.

Oh, and if you don’t mind, I encourage you to visit the Global Service Day “Get Involved” Page and sign up.

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If you want to find out more about Treeleaf, click on the links here, here, and here.

If you want to find out more about Global Service Day, click on the links here and here.


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