Service to those who live at the margins of society and at the edge of our collective awareness is the practice heart of Bread Loaf Mountain Zen. Service arises from meditation, where we touch the solidarity that naturally exists with all things.
We will create service programs that respond appropriately to the unmet needs of people in our region. But what we do, while important, remains less important than how we practice in the service realm. Our aim is to engage in service in ways that are characterized by friendship, equality, neighborliness, dignity, and warmth. We are not re-creating social service programs, nor are we operating out of a mindset of “fixing” or “helping” others. We don’t objectify others as “clients,” nor do we protect ourselves behind the armor of being helpful to an objectified “other” who we might view as lacking in some fundamental way. Instead, we mindfully accompany one another as whole beings walking a path of mutual discovery and care that deepens as the result of authentic relationship. Service is a reciprocal practice between beings of equal worth and dignity, offered warm hand to warm hand.
The Buddha teaches that spiritual friendship is “the whole of the spiritual life.” It is the heart of our practice.
You may want to read Bearing Witness and Instructions to the Cook by Bernie Glassman.