Olympia Zen Center Order of Ryokan
From the moment we first began practice at Olympia Zen Center, we made the decision to rely totally upon donations rather than create a community based upon membership. This meant that for all time, our community was universal. Everyone belonged. So very rarely has our treasure house gone wanting due to the great generosity of our benefactors. On the rare occasions when we asked for help, you were there immediately to support us.
The first of the Paramitas, the virtues, is generosity without which we could not go forward. Generosity depends not only upon money, it depends too upon our attitude and spirit toward one another in the world. It is closely related to the first Precept of Not Killing Life. The positive side of this prohibition is to support and nurture life all around us. To be generous in all we do is the basic virtue of life.
Although we are a lay community, we hold out our Begging Bowl as the Buddha taught and as Ryokan, our model, taught. Ryokan wrote:
Long ago the Prince of Pure Eating preached how to beg, And the Beggar of Beggars truly acted out his teaching. Since then it is two thousand, seven hundred years and more. Yet am I no less a faithful pupil of the First Teacher. Therefore I beg, a bowl in my hands, a gown on my back.
Have you not read or heard of that noble one of high repute, who solemnly decreed: Equal in eating, equal under the divine law we must be.
Translation by Nobuyuki Yuasa in Zen Poems of Ryokan
Therefore, we follow the spirit of Shakyamuni Buddha and our Great Saint Ryokan relying fully upon Dharma which is nothing other than the demonstration of Generosity in the hearts of all our benefactors.
May your life go well; blessings follow a generous heart.