Global Day of Service

A Treeleaf Sangha site

Gratitude and Giving

“Similarly, the offering of only one coin or a blade of grass can cause the arising of good, for the teaching itself is the True Treasure and the True Treasure is the very teaching: we must never desire any reward and we must always share everything we have with others. It is an act of charity to build a ferry or a bridge and all forms of industry are charity if they benefit others.” ~ Dogen Zenji

I hope you are all well and the 2015 is bringing much joy to you and your families. The Global Days of Service are upon us again, well actually, they never leave us. They are there always there when we are engaged with our family members, our neighbours, co-workers, and strangers.

Today is a beautiful sunny day on the West Coast of British Columbia. Thoughts of flowers blooming, grass soon needing to be cut, etc. But not all communities or places in this world are facing this kind of weather. Some areas are being hit with record snowfalls and very cold temperatures. So what can we do? How can we engage in our communities and give back?

Gratitude & Giving

Simple acts of gratitude and giving are everywhere … if your community is hit by a snowstorm, maybe help shovel that extra snow off their sidewalk or driveway. Clean the snow off their vehicle. Help someone maneuver through the maze of snowbanks. Or maybe consider donating those extra blankets or winter jackets to folks who maybe having to face those cold temperatures. Even here on the West Coast we also have ways to support and give back. Helping someone remove the extra dead leaves and junk from the lawns, gutters, cleaning the winter mold and mildew off the sides of their homes, etc. One of the projects I do in my community at this time of year is help my neighbour turn and prepare his soil for the coming spring. He has a ton of flower and veggie beds … so it is hard work and not always the most pleasant thing to be doing, but the reward and the gratitude on his face when all is said and done, is priceless!

So everyone, I again look forward to the changing of seasons and the changing of peoples lives when we engage and support one another. If you have any wonderful ideas to share and support, please feel free. Also know that task may not call to you and that is ok … there are many ways we can help and give back. So please don’t feel pressured. =)

Thank you all again for the wonderful efforts you do … you truly are a beautiful bunch. =)


Pay It Forward – The Middle Way

Treeleaf Zendo - Global Days of Service

I have been thinking of new projects in where we can take our practice out into the community and help in a more direct way. I know a lot of you help in others ways such as volunteering, donations, etc and this is wonderful … but lets switch it up a bit.

When a drop of water falls in the ocean,
When a speck of dust falls on the ground,
At that moment the drop of water is no longer a drop of water,
It becomes the ocean,
And the speck of dust is no longer a speck of dust,
It becomes the entire earth.

– Kodo Sawaki

The other day I was coming out of Tim Hortons with a handful of coffee for the construction crew at my house. I was more focused on not dropping the coffee as I was approaching the door and didn’t notice until it happened, but this kind man rushed up to hold the door open for me with a huge smile. I could see at that moment he truly wanted to help, to make a difference, even if it was to just hold the door. I know we do this a lot throughout our days being parents, friends, co-workers, and the like … but do we really see our engagement with the world or are we just going through the motions?

I thought about this for a moment and I know for myself sometimes even holding the door for someone is more of a habit, then really seeing and feeling the impact that it has on that person. Not only making a connection through my actions of help, but ensuring that I see them with my eyes, with my smile. Engagement to me is being in that moment, right there, with all my being.

I know we are all starting back into the grind of life – the holidays are done, kids back at school, work loads have piled up, and bills need to be paid … so my approach in this activity will be just small moments of your time throughout your day, at any given time, and with no money. All I would like to see is totally engagement in your activity of help and support. So if you hold the door for someone, hold the door! Look at them and let them know you see them, that you truly want to be there at that moment for them … and of course, smile! =)

Here are some ideas that might get you going or stir up some thoughts where you can make a difference. Please do share any ideas that you have or that you have done in the past.

  • Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  • Introduce yourself. Make new colleagues, classmates, etc. feel welcome.
  • Clean out all your old clothes and donate them to someone in need. Your old is someone else’s new.
  • Listen intently to people’s stories without trying to fix everything.
  • Donate blood. One pint of blood can save up to three lives. Locate your nearest blood drive.
  • Share your umbrella with a stranger on a rainy day.
  • Check up on someone who looks lonely.
  • Let someone with only a few items cut you in line at the grocery store.
  • Replace what you’ve used. Eg: fill up the copier or printer with paper after you’re done using it or start a fresh batch of coffee.
  • Give words of encouragement to someone about their dreams, no matter how big or small they are.
  • Babysit for couples or single parents who don’t get out much so they can have some alone time.
  • Help someone get active. There’s a co-worker or acquaintance in your life who wants to get healthy, but needs a helping hand. Offer to go walking or running together.
  • The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or in need of assistance, stop and ask how you can help.
  • Become a mentor or tutor to someone in need.
  • Come to the rescue. If you realize someone is sick, bring them some hot tea, soup, etc.
  • Be a courteous driver. Let people merge in front of you.
  • Offer your seat to someone when there aren’t any left.
  • Listen to someone’s pain and help them find a path through it.
  • Hug a friend. Let them know how important they are.
  • Bake cookies or brownies and share with a neighbour or colleagues.
  • Send a nice email or handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly.
  • Leave encouraging post-it notes in library books and other random places.
  • Compliment someone who deserves it.
  • Stand up for someone. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them.
  • Take the time to teach someone a skill you know.
  • Teach others how to make a difference in this world by setting a good example every day.

So what do you think? How about we start next week off (Jan 26th) with a new approach, a new way of engaging our communities. I look forward to hearing your stories and sharing mine with you all.

Thank you all for taking the time and for being the wonderful Sangha that you are … I am truly grateful for you all. =)

Compassionate Giving Online

Hello everyone,

One of our Sangha member’s has shared a wonderful list of online organizations/charities … please have a look and consider sharing if you are able. =) Gassho ABC Home’s Gifts of Compassion gifts of service, gift registry for 34 nonprofits gifts of service, gift registry, wish lists rates nonprofits on how they use donor dollars rates 1.7 million nonprofits, with tips on giving wisely gift certificates, gift baskets, gift registry, wish lists Heifer Project’s online catalog with gifts, wish lists, wedding registry Oxfam America’s online gift catalog Seva Foundation’s Gifts of Service tribute cards, gifts of service

These are larger organizations… but don’t forget your local charities and people in need!

Giving Tuesday


Today is a new day, a day like many others where we can get up off our zafu and step outside into our communities. Jundo has shared a wonderful idea about sharing ideas about sharing and supporting one another.

Giving Tuesday is a cause where we can all come together and give a little something, whether that be with your family, place of employment, or the community you live in. Then we come together here and share any ideas we have or share in the ways we have made a difference. What do you think? Have any ideas?

Have a look and Giving Tuesday and maybe they too can inspire change within you. =)

Giving Tuesday WebsiteFacebook PageCharter for Compassion

Thank you …

Hello everyone,

First off thank you so very much for taking the time out of your busy schedules and undertaking this project with me. The Global Days of Service is a wonderful practice where we can give back to our community or to people who are in need. I understand that not all of you were able to partake in the last two weeks, but know that this practice is not just done on the set dates and times, but is able to be done everyday, every moment. =)

Also just a heads up that the holiday season will be upon us soon enough and I know there will be many ways to lend a hand or support someone in need. So I will be setting another Global Days of Service in the month of December … so keep your eyes pealed.

I hope the wonderful ideas and thoughts from our fellow Sangha members have given you some inspiration or maybe planted the seed for upcoming service days. I look forward to sitting, practicing, and sharing with you all. =)


Welcome to the Global Day of Service for October 20th-November 2nd, 2014

Hello everyone, our next Global Days of Service period is upon us!

As we approach our next days of service period there will be some of you for whom this is the first time you participate, feel free to view the experiences in past threads of those who have gone out into the world to serve. For others this will be the second or third time that you are being asked to serve your community. If you are feeling stumped on how you may be of service please take a look at some past Global Day of Service – Project Ideas and maybe some inspiration will come up for you.

The idea of a two-week period is to give Treeleafers as much flexibility as possible in scheduling their day of service and at the same time try to create some community and momentum as we work and support one another in relieving the suffering of others in the world.

Also, if you wish to share anonymously please PM myself and I will post it for public viewing within the forum thread.

For some it will be an uncomfortable experiment, for others a welcomed challenge. Either way please know there is no pass or fail … the important part is to try and perform your activity with a kind and sincere heart. Whether that be helping someone in your community, picking up trash in your local park, writing a pen pal letter, cleaning a dirty diaper, or donating money to a family or organization in need … if done with loving kindness there is no difference, no separation.

Please share your experiences here, I’m particularly interested in knowing how the experience and meaning of service has changed for you over time. Thank you again everyone for your time and effort during our Global Days of Service … Happy Sharing! =)

Treeleaf Zendo - Global Days of Service

Please join in and do your part.

In fact, this is part of the “donation” we ask of you for participating in Treeleaf. Our Sangha is Freeing, but not Free … and while we do not impose any required fee for our activities here apart from voluntary donations, we do ask EVERYONE to roll up their sleeves and do something to help those truly in need. Please consider this a mandatory charge! Thus, I am going to ask every single person sitting in our Sangha, without exception, to join in this. This is not simply a matter of writing a check (though that is good too), but rather we will request “hands on” work of some kind taking a day or much of a day. Include the whole family, the kids, and make it a family event! No one type of activity will be required, although some activity is required of you, and there will be an activity suitable for each and all of you to choose, something for everyone despite busy schedules or physical limitations. There is always a way to help.

And here is a bit more on this from me, a talk I gave before our first Global Days a couple of years ago …

Winter 2014 Global Service Days are Here

Community service (volunteering) is to my way of thinking, something to be undertaken at any time; don’t just wait for Global Service Days. But, Global Service Days, as practiced at Treeleaf once every three months, is an important opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves in our practice.

You and I have what we need. There is beauty in letting it go; sharing it!!
The gift of service is boundless and inexhaustible.

There are many ways in which our members help their communities. The following is a list of what a few members have reported:

-I plan to do some charity sewing every month for the next year. There are needs in the world that I had no idea were not being met.

-I recently spent a few hours explaining the benefits and problems of social media to my hospice’s director…maybe it will help them organize their first Facebook page..

-I will once again be sharing the wonderful antics of my pet with my granny and fellow folks at her retirement facility.

-I also will be doing something at school for mentally challenged kids.

-Starting this weekend, and for 3 or 4 weekends more, I’ll be part of a team delivering toys and blankets to children’s hospitals

-My volunteering over the last couple of years has progressed from the commitment of a day four times a year to a new career in social work and environmental advocacy.

-I have become a “Chemo Angel.” I basically, have been assigned to a person who has cancer and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. I write notes/cards of encouragement and send small gifts every week.

-I’m volunteering to assist the caretakers of the aged, infirm, ill, developmentally disabled

-I’m volunteering at the animal shelter.

-I’m going to work one full day for free for a person who just started his business

-I’m volunteering with a local Buddhist group tidy a neglected community garden

Personally, among other volunteer work, back in September, I opened my ‘vinyard’ to any one interested in picking their own. You can’t imagine the various reasons people had to take up this offer


Some just wanted a day in the sun. Others said they welcomed the opportunity to make preserves to tide them over the winter. But, watching the young family that came to provide their children with an educational experience was priceless.

I invite you to please take a few moments to let us know what your contribution to Global Service Days will be.

The Sharing of Ideas


Treeleaf’s Fall 2013 Global Days of Service are upon us. This year our Sangha’s fall tradition is being celebrated from October 5th to 19th. In recognition of this period last year, Kyonin and Yugen designed this separate web page; where we can track the various activities of our membership. In keeping with this we have collected examples of what has been posted on the Discussion Board and will actively follow-up to solicit individual stories to not only inspire us to greater action in this current period but, hopefully provide material that will allow others (all of us for that matter,) to renew their commitment in future Global Days of Service.

In summarizing the planned activities reported to date, we’ve been reminded of how we all have different talents which we bring to this endeavor. Although we do not all have immediate financial resources that we can throw at human suffering, some folks remind us of ingenious ways in which we can benefit our fellow beings. Right off the top we think of physical activities that can improve what we perceive as deficiencies; such as collecting food and resources for hurricane, tsunami (and other disaster) victims or food banks and homeless shelters. Volunteering at Nursing Homes, Hospices, Day Care and Children’s Wards are suggested activities as well as exercising animals at Shelters or reading to children at Libraries. We’ve also seen plans to knit, sew or bake things to raise money or comfort children, animals and seniors. And of course, let’s not overlook the environment; projects to collect litter, clean up streams or just plain clean-up; scrubbing toilets, stalls, kennels. There are also other’s who intend to use their organizational skills to raise donations through speaking events or being actively involved in the administration of community projects.

No matter what your particular talent or skill is, we encourage you to apply it. As noted above, we will be following up to bring individual stories of service to you in this space. So, get out there and experience the joy of helping others. The closer you can get to actually one-on-one contact with ‘other beings’ the more you will realize that charity and compassion both begin at home. You’ll find that what most people need is a good listening-to.

There is a neighbor that can use your care and listening. All you need do is be yourself.

Our Second Day of Service is coming!

Soon we will have more information.

Stay tuned!

Just an Egg! By Nigel

Thinking of something to do for our Global Service Days really filled me with that sense of having to put something else on my list of things to do! But it was this that prompted me into thinking about why I felt this; after all it is about extending my Ango commitment into the world at large. I have constraints against regular social contributions, like at our local hospice where I would like to help out, but which would be unfair considering my unpredictable schedules. So I started thinking smaller and closer to home.

I often walk around our neighborhood which runs along the coastline of Plymouth
Sound and often meet people from my street also walking to get some air or to
give their dogs a run out. I often say hello in passing and from these many chance
encounters I have spent a lot of time just listening to their stories and problems.

My idea to give away eggs is a homespun habit that developed since I started
keeping chickens about a year ago. This was around the time some friends were
moving house and asked me to take in two of their chickens. I wasn’t keen but as I
had a spare bit of unused vegetable patch (from another home project laid to waste
by lack of time) I reconsidered that it would encourage me to spend more ‘green
time’ outside, appreciating a connection with nature available at the top of my
garden. So I ordered a coup and built an enclosing run.
The chickens were delivered and after a couple of weeks were in the routine
of laying. By coincidence during this time a new law banning battery farming of
chickens came into force and thousands of battery hens suddenly became illegal and
faced being slaughtered. Through a charity (British Hen Welfare Trust) that relocates
these hens, I found myself with two more!

I found that they did need to be looked after, but I enjoyed doing the morning and
evening rounds, sitting looking at the sunset scenery, appreciating the trees and
night sky and generally reconnecting with this outside, non-electronic and peaceful
nature. I was hooked so much that I even cleared out a shed that had been my
children’s playhouse and turned it into a sitting space. I could now go up and let
the chickens out while I did my morning and sometimes evening sits. To boot these
chickens would scratch dirt and eat goodness knows what from the ground and
produce something oval, beige but filled with a golden yellow bounty.

With four chickens I found that we were receiving more eggs than my family could
eat, so we started giving them to friends. It wasn’t until a colleague of my wife
suddenly presented us with a most amazing homemade Mauritian curry that I
realised how these eggs were being appreciated! I used to give the large double-
yolkers to my next door neighbour, who was suffering with skin cancer, writing
his name on each one! (He’s a big guy so he needs them). The kind of simple
appreciation of eggs surprised me as they are quite plain things really. I really
felt that something was being touched on, a kind of old ways thing, when these
exchanges were of kindness and friendship, a harking back to more rural times. I
gave about two dozen eggs to a Women’s Institute Cake bake for another friend and

then thought that these chickens were doing more than just laying eggs!
So now I am putting these two threads together, and extending the goodwill that
giving eggs creates, with the meetings I have with people on my walks. The tales
I hear of are sometimes a cry of despair: of (grown) children who can’t get jobs;
grandchildren damaging their lives on drugs; and the incomprehensible (to them)
way that young couples in their families treat each other.

I have given away three boxes of eggs so far this week and the effect of giving and of
just listening is visible on the faces when we part.
‘A problem shared is a problem halved’.
What strikes me is how deeply this senior generation understands the pressures and
difficulties that life now throws at us, but feel so powerless when things go wrong for
their loved ones. Chatting with older people has helped me reconnect to a society I
have lost touch with since the death of my own parents over the last fifteen years.
It has been a lovely experience for me to reconnect with a generation whose values
and beliefs we are going to miss in the future.

My chickens have helped me truly connect in so many ways and they have shown me
how everything is interconnected in some of the most surprising ways!
I hope to keep all this going but the trouble is my wife seems to have picked up on
this idea and is handing out my eggs (!!) to fellow (younger) students on her course,
who are obviously in need of better nutrition!
I think I may need to get more chickens!