Kobo Daishi, the 9th-century Buddhist monk who was also a civil servant, scholar, poet and artist, is often quoted as saying, “The way you can tell the depth of a person’s enlightenment is by the breadth of their service to others.”
Along with Zazen, and kinship, service to others is the third prong of our practice. Service takes many forms – sometimes it is simple acts of neighborliness – spending time with an elderly person who is feeling isolated, or helping some local school-age friends with homework, or sitting at the bedside of someone who is dying. At BLMZC we will also engage in structured service to the community – responding to what is asked for and needed. Our first tasks are to let go of fixed ideas about what we think people need and allow ourselves to actively engage in the life of the community and coming into relationship with others. From those relationships, service programs will emerge.
However, we are not a social service agency. We will take a decidedly different approach to service, one that is not rooted in “fixing” others, rather we will cultivate healthy spiritual friendships the tare characterized by intimacy and healthy boundaries; dignity and respect; treating all people equally regardless of their situation in life. We will immerse ourselves in parts of our community that are not in the mainstream, but that experience marginalization and isolation due to economics, ability, age, health status, gender and sexuality, race, culture, citizenship status, and so on.