When we bear witness, when we become the situation — homelessness, poverty, illness, violence, death — the right action arises by itself. We don’t have to worry about what to do. We don’t have to figure out solutions ahead of time. Peacemaking is the functioning of bearing witness. Once we listen with our entire body and mind, loving action arises.
Loving action is right action. It’s as simple as giving a hand to someone who stumbles or picking up a child who has fallen on the floor. We take such direct, natural actions every day of our lives without considering them special. And they’re not special. Each is simply the best possible response to that situation in that moment.
The awakened way is love in action. Socially engaged Zen means that we are letting go of what separates us, actively bearing witness to the joys and sorrows of the world, and responding appropriately, as if the whole world was our body.
That response might be direct care to those on the margins, advocacy around issues like healthcare or environmental protection, or other forms of service and engaged generosity that engage us with the social, economic, and environmental issues of our times.
We will cultivate practices of reaching out people who are facing major life challenges such as incarceration, drug/alcohol addiction, mental illness, homelessness, hunger, and discrimination or who are dying. We hope to engage with veterans, the LGBT community and individuals in prison as well as people at key developmental stages – most often youth and seniors.
Our response as Socially Engaged Zen practitioners is personal, intimate, connected. Characterized by care rather than ambition.
Bread Loaf Mountain is just starting out, so the possibilities for social action are endless. Please feel free to suggest some ways that our community can get involved.