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Jun 26
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Give A Day

photo by Terry Rudderham

photo by Terry Rudderham

Day: Given
by Gordon Shotwell

A few years ago, I wrote an article for the Shambhala Times describing my own irrational willingness to volunteer almost unlimited time to Shambhala, but complete irritation about being asked for a monetary donation. It was strange for me to recognize that, while I spend most of my life exchanging time for money in one way or another, it was so much easier to volunteer labor than to volunteer the financial product of that labor.

Fast forward to this summer: Shambhala International took me up on my idea to host a “Give-A-Day” fundraising campaign. I was therefore predictably excited to hear this. The idea of this campaign is to ask people to pick a day in July and dedicate the activity of that day to Shambhala. This could be simply a dedication of intention, or practice, or it could include a financial donation of one day’s wages. I often find money abstract and difficult to connect to the world, and so monetary donations are a little difficult. I love this campaign because it’s asking for something concrete which we all have in equal measure – one day of our activity, whatever that activity may be or produce.

My job during the first part of the summer was to study for and take the Law Society of Upper Canada licensing examinations (the bar exam). Since I won’t be working in July, I decided to give June 18th, the day I was taking that exam, to Shambhala.

The Ontario licensing examinations are an interesting and somewhat surreal process. Eleven hundred hopeful law students file through an elaborate security process with multiple checkpoints (checking for, among other things, foods that might be too loud and therefore disturbing to other exam-takers, like apples and carrots, and bulky clothing that might hide recording equipment), into a large airplane hangar. We stay in this hangar for the next seven hours answering multiple choice questions about real estate, wills, and business law. If you want to reach under your desk to get your lunch, you have to raise your hand for a monitor to come and do it for you. You have to be escorted to the restroom.

As I was taking the exam I kept reflecting that probably none of my fellow test takers had ever heard about basic goodness and probably very few of them knew how to meditate. I found myself wondering whether any of them had the thought of working to develop enlightened society. The awareness that I was doing this annoying, tedious, somewhat dehumanizing activity for a bigger picture of something worthwhile really helped me feel more cheerful about the whole experience. Each time I noticed my own anxiety, or felt the waves of anxiety and suspicion wafting off the other almost-lawyers, I remembered the aspiration I had made that morning. I reminded myself that I wasn’t just trying to get through the day; I was doing something that hopefully would benefit everyone in that airplane hangar.

By giving June 18th I was able to connect my aspiration for enlightened society with the rather tedious and dreary work I had to do that day. In a simple, direct way, my activity that day supported the creation of enlightened society, more directly than I usually notice. It was wonderful practice, and I encourage everyone to consider giving one summer day to Shambhala.

Gordon Shotwell
To learn more, and donate a day, please click this link.

Gordon Shotwell is a second generation buddhist and cheerful member of the Shambhala community in Halifax.

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3 responses to “ Give A Day ”
  1. Christopher St.John
    Jul 28, 2013

    Thanks, Gordon, for the inspiration for this Give a Day Campaign. I have been inspired to use tomorrow Monday July 26 to launch a project which has in turn been inspired by Robert Reichner, Carolyn Mandelker and Connie Brock.
    Several of us at the KCL governance gathering contemplated Connie Brock’s question, “What should we do in relation to the number of individuals who have been supporting the center of the mandala individually.” It struck us that while as Robert Reichner’s report so well documents, the unified giving model is the ultimate answer, the stream of individual gifts to the center of the mandala remains an important source of revenue that will undoubtedly still be needed for quite some time as we make the desirable shift to the UGM ( I prefer the name “One Shambhala” but I defer to the present common parlance). We have begun a project, approved in concept by Connie Brock and Carolyn Mandelker , to gather volunteers who are interested in developing a script, practicing with each other as may be necessary, and getting from Connie the list of donors, starting with those who attended a governance gathering as the most knowledgeable and “tuned in” to begin with.
    When ready and approved, we would divide the “target” list into as many volunteers as we have – if we get 20 volunteers willing to make 20 calls we could reach as many as 400 donor/members. If we are successful in our first rounds, we could consider recruiting and continuing until we are able ideally to have a peer to peer conversation from one volunteer/donor to another to reach every single person who has supported the mandala in recent years.
    Our very first purpose would be to personally thank them for their demonstrated generosity and commitment. Our second purpose would be to LISTEN to their concerns and questions especially about all the issues identified in Robert’s report (and no doubt the other heartfelt concerns that bubble up whenever Shambhalians gather). Third, only when the conversations naturally evolve to the point where it is relevant to ask if they have thought about what they might want to do with their current giving to the center of the mandala as we migrate to UGM.
    I welcome any and all comments on the project described, ESPECIALLY from donors themselves are interested in making some calls as part of this person to person, peer to peer, outreach to Shambhala donors to thank them for their support, ask how we can help UGM forward and find out whatever help they may need to decide their next steps as individuals
    Kiki Soso!

  2. Abbie Halpern
    Jul 1, 2013

    Great campaign, Gordon!

  3. Terry Rudderham
    Jun 27, 2013

    This is a very inspiring story. Thank you Gordon.

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