Raising a Mala

On this street retreat, we will be supported by social service agencies and public nonprofit organizations. Since we are not chronically homeless, we need to make donations to those who will be supporting our lives. For all of the street retreats organized by Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community, a donation has been requested of the participants in order to be able to offer donations to the social service agencies that support us. Prior to this retreat we ask that you each beg of your family, friends, associates or just on the street for a requested minimum of $500. This money will be distributed to those social service agencies that have helped us. One third of the funds will go to the socially engaged practices of Bread Loaf Mountain Zen Community. As a group we will decide at the end of the retreat where the remaining two thirds of the offerings should go.

We request that you not use your own money for the mala. It is important to bear witness to the process of asking for your livelihood. To sincerely engage in this experience, we need to humble ourselves at the outset, attempt to explain to others our reasons for participating and beg for their support. This is a challenging and ultimately hugely rewarding experience. You need to ask at least five people–more would be great. In our Zen Buddhist practice, we call this assembling a Mala–prayer beads. Sincerely promise your donors that they will be traveling with you on the retreat and you will personally tell them about your experience when you return home. It is a lovely gesture to label the beads with your donors’ names and wear them during your time on the streets. Your donors could give you cash or checks made out to you. Then, once you have raised the funds (preferably prior to the start of the retreat), please make out one check payable to Bread Loaf Mountain Monastery (attn. Street Retreat – name city), PO Box 818, Middlebury VT 05753.

To give others the opportunity to give is a true gift. Don’t doubt it. When we are truly and selflessly motivated, people will support us. Trust in this always.