The word « samu » is of Japanese origin, it defines the whole range of activities necessary to meet the material needs of a community involved in the practice of the Way: cooking, serving meals, cleaning, carrying out administrative tasks etc…
Even though, from this practical point of view, samu may just seem like work, if we reduced it to that dimension, we would miss the inward attitude it implies.
It has three distinctive features:
- Concentration. We are not really practising samu if our mind is not fully involved in whatever activity we are engaged in. Samu implies oneness of body and mind in the activity undertaken.
- Mushotoku. One could translate this Japanese word by “seeking no personal profit”. Contrary to our professional activity the aim of which is most of the time to earn wages or obtain some kind of personal advantage, truly practising samu implies letting go of any personal profit. It is a selfless service provided to the community.
- In samu as a selfless service, the identification with a “Me” vanishes and the artificial boundaries between oneself and the others disappear. In this respect, samu is acting in a non-dualistic way.
Samu thus has a great spiritual value: it is in itself the practice of the Way.