Hi everyone,

We are going to try out a new approach to the engaged center.

For me, service and being of help to others is one of the cornerstones to Buddhist practice. But over the years I have not found it easy to do so. Often it is difficult to think of ways to help, or to feel like what Iím doing makes a difference. Often, I start looking for ways to volunteer or be of service and find the road difficult. You would think it would be easy to be of service, but I often feel it isnít. There are so many things in this world that need our help but sometimes it is just so hard to know where to start.

So I would like to try a new approach, which Iím hopefully will help all of us engage with the problems of world around us and help each of us find ways to be of service.

The idea of the new approach is as follows, we will pick a topic to discuss and engage with for about 6 months, from now until we start preparing for Ango. There will be couple months of discussion about the topic itself, where I will ask everyone to go and learn about the theme, share stories and really broaden our understanding.

Then we will move on to talking about ways we can be of service; how can we contribute to helping? There are a multitude of ways to get involved, and I really want to encourage people to think outside of the box. This portion of the project is really meant to help everyone feel they have a way that they could be useful. From suggestions that are small and can be used for your LAH commit, to large projects and everything in between.

Finally for those of us who are moved, we will spend a couple months seeing what service we can do. How can we help and discussing how it went.

There are two very important things I want to stress here.

First, we are not leaving LAH behind. This Engaged Project is meant to help people look around and engage more deeply and help people be inspired. If you are having trouble finding ways to participate in LAH we will talk about the small daily things that could be done, we will also discuss larger ways to volunteer if you are moved by the topic and want to be of service that way.

Second, if you already have a charity that you work for we donít want you to stop doing that work and do this instead. And this doesnít have to be in addition. If you feel you already give enough (or there just isnít time to do more), that is completely acceptable. But please do join us for the discussions. And help others who are maybe struggling and could use support.

Lastly, I really want to encourage everyone to be supportive of ideas that are put out as ways to help. I remember a conversation with a volunteer who had just gotten back from helping with refugees from Syria. He was helping to deliver food and clothing. He told me that while the refugees took what was offered, they also stated it wasnít what they needed. They really needed jobs, so they could get their lives going again. Unfortunately this organization couldnít provide jobs, all they could do was help the refugees have food and clothing until the situation changed. This realization was really upsetting to this gentleman because he felt like what he had done wasnít enough or maybe wasnít even helpful. But I would argue, sometimes there are limits to what we are able to do. The best thing for the refugees would have been to get them all jobs, but that just wasnít possible at that time. And so they needed to provide what they could.

With the information and abilities we have, we do the best we can and sometimes it isnít enough. But that shouldnít deter us from trying to help. And if we always look at the reasons we shouldnít or why what we are doing isnít enough; then we will never get started.

Iím going to leave us with what I hope becomes a bit of a mantra around the Engaged Center

ďOne rain drop raises the sea.Ē

No matter how small the contribution it will help raise us all, so please join us in this engaged project.

Gassho,

Shoka
sattoday

Whatís next:
ē Consider joining us in these discussions and possibly service
ē Keep an eye out for new posts with prompts for discussion
ē Join us for discussion even if you already volunteer for a different cause
ē Donít feel that your contribution is too small, every rain drop matters!