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Thread: Treeleaf Global Service Days: July 6-20 2013

  1. #1
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Treeleaf Global Service Days: July 6-20 2013

    Greetings all!

    I hope you are having a marvelous summer season - Treeleaf Global Service Days are upon us again - from July 6-20. I'm really looking forward to sharing our activities and experiences from our engaged service work this time around. I am including Jundo's description of the Global Service concept below, for those who are not familiar with it. I will be writing shortly with a project of my own that I hope to launch in July, so stay tuned!

    And now, to give Jundo center stage:
    ______________________________________

    I think we should give a little more detail, especially for new folks ...

    --- We ask everyone to undertake a project where they are actually out helping "hands on" folks in need, not merely writing a check (although you can do so in addition). So, if there is some physical activity in your town or community you can undertake that day ... from planting a garden in an abandoned field, to working in a soup kitchen, to visiting the elderly at an old age home, to running a race for cancer prevention ... please do so. HANDS ON, and the dirtier the better!

    --- For folks with physical restrictions due to disability or age, there have even been many ideas in the past that folks can do right from home or online. Please check our previous Days of Service for project ideas.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...Global-Service

    --- For our busy fathers and mothers, this can be turned into a family activity ... bring the kids and make it a memorable day and a time of sharing, learning some important lessons.

    --- For folks who are already volunteering in their communities, it is fine to include and re-dedicate that existing activity to out Global Day of Service if you do not have time to take on an additional activity.

    --- We ask all our members to work for the benefit of other Sentient Beings, in a spirit of giving. It is not about you or us.

    --- We encourage everyone to discuss their projects in this thread as a way to "share ideas for projects", inspire others and build a sense that we are doing this as a community. So, we encourage you to discuss what you are doing. However, (1) even if you write here about your projects, remember that it is not "about us" or taking any credit, or (2) if you truly wish to remain semi-anonymous, feel free to send an email to Jundo and I will repost it here without using your name (you can even send an anonymous email if you wish! ). So, please post here your ideas and plans for projects, and stories about "how it went", so that we can all share as a Sangha in the experience.

    --- We do have a blog where we collect these projects designed by Kyonin (what is the link?), where we may repost some of these stories in order to inspire others, but only after removing most names.

    One final word ...

    I do not collect donations for being part of Treeleaf because THIS is the donation! (What, you thought Treeleaf was free? It is freeing ... but not free!). I cannot say in stronger terms how much we all hope, depend on and expect everyone who is partaking of this community ... from our newest folks to our old hands and priests ... to join in this effort. It is really not optional, for it is our Practice here ... as much as sitting Zazen or any chanted words to save the "Sentient Beings". It is expected of those who wish to be part of and partake of this Treeleaf community, our request that you give back for what you receive in this way, the bill for any benefit received. EVERYONE is expected to participate in some way (and there is a way for all of us to do so).

    THIS is ZAZEN TOO!

    _____________________________
    Gassho
    Yugen
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  2. #2
    Thank you, Yugen. I think it is good to be of service all year round but having a specific period is a good way to concentrate the mind.

    I am one of the physically limited folk and my usual service tends to consist of things like writing letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience and to a young girl we sponsor in Burkina Faso. Will have a peek at other ideas for the less active among us and welcome any suggestions. Another thing I did once was to have a 30 day gratitude project on a social media site and invited anyone to join in. This seemed to have a good effect on all involved. I wish I had the energy to contribute more to the local community but such is life just now.

    Look forward to hearing about the other projects that are going to be happening this year.

    Gassho
    Andy

  3. #3
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    Dear Treeleafers:

    I wanted to share with you the launch of a project that has been in the brainstorm and planning phase for some time – and now it is time to put into motion.

    One of the most formative and profound influences in my Zen practice and training the last two years has been Dogen’s Mountain and Waters Sutra in the Shobogenzo. The outdoors have always been a very large presence in my life – I have never fully realized how essential being close to the ocean, mountains, and trees is in terms of my own existence. As my practice and commitment deepen, I have attempted to create a service project that would embrace not only my love and gratitude for these surroundings, but my recognition that the well-being of the Maine coastline and our environment as well as my own existence are inextricably bound. It is no surprise to any of us that many changes – climactic – economic – demographic – hydrographic and geographic – are occurring.

    I have decided that I would like to kayak to each of the islands on the Maine Island Trail. As there are almost 200 islands, this project will take a number of years. I plan to spend several hours on each island, in the case of remote or offshore islands I will bivouac overnight. I will sit Zazen on each island and record a visual and written journal entry for each visit. Gary Lawless of Gulf of Maine books has suggested I write a Haiku for each visit, and tuck the verse in the nook of a tree, or under a stone. In the course of this journey I hope to record observations of change, climate, Zen practice, and the cycles of change that come to the ocean and coastal ecosystem. Perhaps not least of all, the changes that come to us as individuals.

    In China and Japan, monks used to travel from monastery to monastery, and teacher to teacher, on foot, as part of their training. Hanshan retreated to the mountains, as did Dogen. I view my exploration as a continuation of this tradition. The islands will be my monasteries, the ocean and trees will be my teachers.

    There are at least two practical activities that are already part of, or will be part of this effort. I am sure more will emerge as the effort is underway. With your help, I am sure we will think of others.

    I am already engaged in coastal/island shoreline cleanup activities hosted by the Maine Island Trail Association and other local organizations. I bring my sons on me for these efforts – they are an excellent way to introduce the idea of service in a coastal community, and also the notion of closeness, indeed, no separation between ourselves and the surrounding environment. The Mountain and Waters Sutra helped me to realize what I had always felt but never understood on an existential level: that all entities interpenetrate one another – and lead us to attunement to and engagement with the world. Since all enitities interpenetrate one another, the distinction between nirvana and samsara ultimately disappears. Things just “are” in their phenomenal existence, in the present, with nothing to add or take away. The majesty of pine trees clinging to an island coastline, an ocean storm blowing in – there is nothing more and nothing less.

    Secondly, over time I plan to lead groups of young adults to some of the more easily accessible islands. When I was affiliated with a university community, I used to lead groups of at-risk youth on orienteering trips. The transformation in the behavior and attitude of young people when time is spent in the outdoors, and the world of street violence and precarious existence is left behind is remarkable. I would like to share what I have discovered.

    I will be launching a blog shortly (Kyonin has graciously offered to help with this), and plan my first voyage in the month of July. In the meantime, here is a link to some information about the Maine Island Trail.

    http://www.mita.org/about

    Please feel free to suggest ideas for this practice. Any Treeleafers who want to join for segments of this exploration are welcome.

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    Last edited by Yugen; 06-27-2013 at 07:57 PM.
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  4. #4
    Yugen, my mother is from a small town called Sanford, Maine. I was born across the state line in Dover, New Hampshire. For three years in my early teens, I lived in Limestone, Maine, in the extreme northeast corner of the state. You have a beautiful canvas upon which to paint your project.

    Gassho,
    William

  5. #5
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    William.
    I lived in Kennebunkport for sixteen years - used to eat breakfast at the Cockpit Cafe at the Sanford Airport all the time! That's awesome! If you are visiting Maine join me for a leg of the voyage....!

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  6. #6
    Hi everyone,

    Here are my plans for Global Service Days:

    This summer I will continue on my pilgrimage of 2600 km, alone on a bicycle from my home town to Santiago de Compostella in Spain, also known as the Camino. Across, Holland, Belgium, France , over the Pyrenean mountains into Spain and then across Spain to the most western tip called Finisterra ( the end of the world). It is my dream to sit Zazen on the rocks of the “end of the world” some day.

    Along the way, a pilgrim is supposed to get a stamp at predefined religious sites along the way to prove the route followed when arriving at Compostella. Although it is a Catholic tradition dating back to 1100 AD, today people take the challenge for many different reasons. Up till now, I did 600 Km and will continue the journey for at least 500 km. Along the way, I will sit at each landmark and look out for at least one person to help with whatever comes on my path. Like Yugen, it will take a lot more then the Global Service Days period but that is OK. And I will do the garden of my sick neighbor, who suffers from rheumatism at the age of 39.

    Deep bows,

    Enkyo

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    I like that Enkyo - and meet whatever and whomever comes your way! Is there a map of your route you can update and share with us?

    Deep bows
    Yugen
    -----------------------------------------------------------
    Please take all my comments with a grain of salt - I am a novice priest and anything I say is to be taken with a good dose of skepticism - Shodo Yugen

  8. #8
    Wow: you guys are very ambitious. I am trying to finalize plans right now to teach yoga twice a week for six weeks to teens and pre-teens at a local community center. These are kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and neighborhoods with a history of gang activity. Although, the classes will not be overtly spiritual, I want to teach kids to connect to their breath and to the quiet place inside themselves, so that they can use those tools to (hopefully) avoid violence.

    Gassho,
    William

  9. #9
    Enkyo - what a lovely idea. I'm envious of you! :-) Be safe on your journey. Are you going to take photos along the way?
    Gassho,
    Matt

  10. #10
    And I was here about to ask about the GDS.

    So glad we are about to start!

    My projects so far are:

    -Creating a local sitting group
    -Creating an online sitting group
    -Keep on hosting websites for nonprofits and bloggers in exile (so far I host 12 sites)
    -Teaching English to a new kid who needs it
    -Cleaning up the park I run every morning

    Lets see how it all goes.

    Thanks Yugen!

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Last edited by Kyonin; 06-27-2013 at 08:51 PM.
    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Yugen's Avatar
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    William wrote: "Wow: you guys are very ambitious."

    It is not my intention to propose a project or undertaking to intimidate or minimize the efforts of others - We each do what we can - my efforts in Global Service Days have involved taking jars of spaghetti sauce to the food bank with my nine-year-old son (something we still do). Engaged Service, like beautiful large shade trees, grows from initial efforts. We do what we can with the time and inclination we have. This project represents the assembly of pieces of my life over the years which Zen practice and ordination have brought together - for me, service and presence in the world has become something that I aspire to every day, not just in a fixed two-week period every few months. It also represents a major restructuring of my life (along