When I look around, I do not just see pain and suffering. I see love and commitment and deeply believe that all people are capable of the same great compassion as the Buddha, or the Guanyin(1). However, true compassion not only means having sympathy for the suffering of another, it is about reaching out to alleviate the suffering through concrete action.
Buddhism teaches people to do good without seeking recognition. However, although a single person can do a lot, without community, the number of people that could be reached, the seeds that could be planted and the teaching that could be transmitted is limited.
I founded the Urban Nun ZENDO and launched the DoKa Foundation project with wish to provide secular people with the platform for practicing compassion, which not only brings peace and contentment to the individual, but also paves the way for peace and harmony in the world.
The Urban Nun ZENDO, a miniature cross between an urban dwelling, municipal monastery, hermitage and charity, is largely funded by personal means. However, without students, sponsors and donors, social initiatives, conducted thought the DoKa Foundation project would not be possible. Only with the help of membership fees, tuition, and donations, the Urban Nun ZENDO can offer free practice and counselling to those with financial problems, visit shelters on-site, and run free mindfulness programs for deprived children and charities.
All life is a constant giving and receiving, but somewhere along the way, people stop cherishing small acts of kindness, underestimate the act of giving, and forget to be grateful for everything they receive. Giving is increasingly conditional, and receiving is measured by expectations. This mental pattern exists since time immemorial and it is not surprising that one of the most important Buddhist practices is a practice of Dana (translated as giving, liberality, offering, or alms). In general, it is a practice of developing generosity that is built up without any form of repayment expected from the recipient.
Practicing Dana is especially important in modern urban times, when concepts like “compensation”, “consuming”, “earning” or “profiting” are strongly linked to ego strategies. Dana practice transcends expectations of gaining something into an act of giving from the heart. And although, from the perspective of the Buddhist tradition, spiritual teaching is considered priceless, through Dana practice, the monetary offering for teaching is raised to a higher level - the character of ordinary secular transaction is lost and instead a personal development tool is created that also enables the conscious support of teacher and the community.
If you are one of those who would like to support the mission of the Urban Nun ZENDO or its social projects, you are invited to engage in Dana practice. By simply putting a 0.5 CHF coin in the money-box every day before shopping, you get the opportunity to set your mind on global wellbeing. The intention of helping other people through daily donation trains your mind to break through the ego’s walls and shift thinking and acting beyond the needs of the ego at least once a day.
In this way, the daily donation nurtures the seeds of kindness in each donor, which is also reflected on other occasions: whether it is kind communication with family and colleagues, patience with participants in traffic or any other ordinary daily activity. You will learn that the kindness is like a delicate plant that welcomes you with the most beautiful flower if you water it consistently and treat it properly.
This simple practice allows you to look beyond common social structures, and the interconnectedness of all becomes obvious. You will witness how small effort can make a huge difference over time!
However, in order to achieve this, the donation requires the right attitude - it should not be the ego product that is expressed through feelings of pity, arrogance, superiority, duty, or profit. Instead, it must be born out of mindfulness and expressed directly from the heart. In this way, not only do you contribute to the establishment of a consistent work of the DoKa Foundation project, what is undoubtedly a great support, but you also experience that the cultivation of generosity has value that goes beyond any material gain, social support or spiritual teaching - it increases the human capacity for compassion and creates inner peace.
Thank you for joining efforts to create a silent evolution of human consciousness.
From heart to heart
(1) Guanyin ( 觀音) (name commonly used in China) or Kannon (観音) (name used in Japan) is the bodhisattva known as Avalokiteśvara. It refers to the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion. Often described as “The One Who perceives Crying in the World"