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Thread: Samu

  1. #1

    Samu

    A question for Jundo and all:

    In a monastic setting, who determines the work duties for the monks? Do they get to choose what "chores" to do, or are they assigned specific tasks by someone else?

    Just curious because I'm making an effort to make a samu period a part of my daily routine but I'm trying to figure out how to organize the tasks into a coherent weekly schedule. I don't need to do things like they do in a monastery, but I would like to attempt to be true to the spirit of the practice. I feel like the retreat we did in the fall prepped me fairly well for how to do samu with the right attitude, but I want to get some kind of regular work period arranged. Also, does charity work like Jundo suggests happen in other zen sanghas, or is that a Western, engaged-Buddhist spin on the traditional idea of samu?

    Any help would be appreciated,
    Bill

  2. #2

    Re: Samu

    Just two cents, but I think any job can really be Samu. However; I think something that has little or no speaking probably best. When I stayed at the monastery before, my duties were to clean the floor in the Sitting hall, vacuuming, refinish some stairs, Stuff like that. We would dedicate the Samu to all living beings. Perhaps you can pick a different task for different days.


    G,W

  3. #3

    Re: Samu

    Quote Originally Posted by DontKnow
    A question for Jundo and all:

    In a monastic setting, who determines the work duties for the monks? Do they get to choose what "chores" to do, or are they assigned specific tasks by someone else?

    Just curious because I'm making an effort to make a samu period a part of my daily routine but I'm trying to figure out how to organize the tasks into a coherent weekly schedule. I don't need to do things like they do in a monastery, but I would like to attempt to be true to the spirit of the practice. I feel like the retreat we did in the fall prepped me fairly well for how to do samu with the right attitude, but I want to get some kind of regular work period arranged. Also, does charity work like Jundo suggests happen in other zen sanghas, or is that a Western, engaged-Buddhist spin on the traditional idea of samu?

    Any help would be appreciated,
    Bill
    Hi Bill,

    I have done some talks about Samu in the past, all vanished. One that survives is that one that I did for the Zazenkai and talks about the attitude of Samu ...

    http://www.treeleaf.org/library/zazenka ... php?page=5

    I will try to do another one in the next day or so (cause I just happen to have lots of work in the garden that has to be done around here)!! :?

    Samu is vital to Practice. In fact, Samu --IS-- "working Zazen"!

    No, the monks were assigned their different work assignments (very little in a monastery is a matter of free choice for a young trainee monk), and usually rotated through all the work in the monastery. Two of the best, and most classic, is cleaning the toilets and cleaning the floors. Here is a film about a "day in the life of a soto monk" at Sojiji, where I sat for 10 years (as a lay person, before I was ordained) ...

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... ex=0&hl=en

    That also shows the importance of work in the kitchen. (The film is a little misleading at one point, because Sojiji is like the Vatican of Soto Zen [with Eiheiji], and has many parishioner visitors who come for a day. The luxurious food shown in the dining room is for them, and not for the monks who eat a simpler diet, usually in Oryoki in the Sodo hall.)

    I believe it is important that the work you pick for daily Samu should be something you mentally resist a little. If you hate washing the dishes or washing the bathroom in your house, that is excellent samu ... because a large part of our practice is, of course, learning to drop resistance and drop "likes" and "dislikes", and just to be present with how things are. Samu does not have to be something outside of our normal life though, and if you are busy with a job in the office or taking care of home, well, just pick something in those places that you mentally resist. Samu should perhaps last an half hour or hour at least, so for overworked people, you can select things within your existing duties at home and work. Excellent Samu!

    Yes, the idea of doing community volunteer work as Samu is probably a Western engaged Buddhist spin. However, many temples and monasteries in Asia run some charity programs, like hospices and the like, so it is not that unique. I have not been too insistent on people doing "Samu" work practice at Treeleaf, but I think I should crack the whip a little. If someone will do community volunteer work, preferably, it should be hands on actually helping people in need like the sick or elderly or kids in need (not just folding envelopes) However, for those already loaded with work and family obligations, an intentional commitment to non-do some of those activities is "Samu" practice. We could have a group in which people discuss Samu and support each other.

    (By the way, I do not accept any "Dana" financial contributions for Treeleaf, as we have sufficient resources for what we are doing. However, I do encourage people to make financial donations to charities that help folks, e.g., feeding the poor, finding a cure for a disease. Both donations and Samu work should be a bit beyond the point where it starts to hurt).

    Thank you too, Will, for a nice comment on your Samu experience. Yes, as Will says, silence is usually an important part of it. Also, dropping likes and dislikes: We wash the floor DILIGENTLY and CAREFULLY, but without any thought of "clean" "unclean" or a goal. Tricky, but it can be done on the "simultaneously true" channels we practice here.

    I hope that answered your question. So, in a day or so, please look for the "Sit-a-Long" talk entitled "Fat Man Pulls Weeds in Garden"

    Gassho, Jundo

    ps- Also, found a little film by the same producers there with Nishijima Roshi.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... ex=0&hl=en

  4. #4

    Re: Samu

    So, in a day or so, please look for the "Sit-a-Long" talk entitled "Fat Man Pulls Weeds in Garden"
    :lol:

  5. #5

    Re: Samu

    Do you think a particularly healthy, especially hated form of exercise (like running) can be Samu? That probably seems like a weird question, but I really am curious. I was trying to think of daily chores I strongly dislike, and that's one of them.

  6. #6

    Re: Samu

    Quote Originally Posted by aebaxter
    Do you think a particularly healthy, especially hated form of exercise (like running) can be Samu? That probably seems like a weird question, but I really am curious. I was trying to think of daily chores I strongly dislike, and that's one of them.
    I think so. Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7

  8. #8

    Re: Samu

    Hi,

    The 'Sit-a-long' today is on the attitude of 'Samu', if you want to take a look or sit ...

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/04 ... weeds.html

    Gassho, The Fat Man Pulling Weeds

  9. #9

    Re: Samu

    Inspired by this thread - I noticed that on the busy road where I live a lot of litter had been dropped, so...following some zazen & with (I hope) the appropriate frame of mind, I spent 20 minutes this afternoon picking it up (with gloves & a black bag). I felt a little self conscious, but whistling tunelessly I filled up my back bag with rubbish and by the end the place looked a little better.

    Next - well there's some grafitti on the door of the electrical sub station across the way. I need to get some paint mixed - but I have looked at it for nigh on 6 years so its about time someone fixed it!

    Will keep you posted.................. .

    Jools

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