A life dedicated to service...

Week 35: What might be your life vow?

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” Thich Nhat Hanh, contemporary Zen teacher

Many years ago, during a leave-taking ceremony at the monastery, I was asked how I proposed to go from the structured routines to the world out-there? I want to “live as a monk in the world” I said, not knowing what that would entail.

Looking back, that vow has become a scaffolding for me, something to lean on. The ancient precepts of “Do no harm,” “Speak truthfully,” and “Practice generosity” have guided me amid the turbulence of everyday living. They’ve led me to volunteer in cancer and geriatric care settings, to adopt a rescue hound who’s turned into a therapy pet, to offer mindfulness courses in community and corporate setting (and donating the proceeds), to come when called to the bedside of strangers taking their last breath, and generally look for ways to serve. As a most amazing result, I’ve become less self-centered, more honest, less unsure, altogether clearer about my place in the community of beings. Even my dreams have become less turbulent.

Now to you — What might be your life vow? What do you want to do with the days and years that remain? How can you be of service to the world?

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. / There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” — Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, 13th Century mystic

About the Author
Peter lives in Victoria, BC, where he volunteers in health-care. teaches mindfulness meditation, and offers end-of-life care.

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