Work Practice (Samu)
At Yokoji, we spend a large amount of time engaged in work practice. The verse we chant in the morning work meeting gives a sense of why it is such an important part of our practice:
May this compassionate dana (giving) be extended to all beings, may we serve with wisdom and compassion being mindful of safety, and may we realize the Buddha Way together.
Work practice is where meditation comes off the mat and enters the world. Traditionally, work practice would involve cleaning, sweeping, cooking and administration. To this day, the fundamentals have not changed - we still clean, cook and keep this Zen Center running. On a basic level, the reasons for this are obvious. To maintain something of value, the work needs to be done. One of the main points that Tenshin Roshi focuses on in Zen training is how the practice manifests in every day life. How each one of us goes forward into the world and leads our life, in terms of relations with others and the environment, is paramount.
Who are we working for?
How do we maintain an awareness that is respectful of the people and objects we interact with during our working day? Can we learn from the lessons that reveal themselves to us, regardless of what form they come in and where they come from? Work practice enables us to test these questions, to see the mechanics of the way we hold ourselves in relation to the world around us. We are working for the community, for ourselves and each other. It is a shift from seeing work as a means to an end. Work is the end in itself and the challenges, both physical and psychological, can teach us a great deal about ourselves if we are willing to learn.