A new initiative is underway at OMZ  called “Off the Cushion” which allows us to practice engaged Buddhism.  The term engaged Buddhism was created by the Vietnamese monk, Thich Naht Hanh, and refers to the practice of applying insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of suffering and injustice in our communities. Our sangha will be volunteering for two Collier County non-profit organizations which address the needs of the mentally ill and of the working poor. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides services to help individuals and families affected by serious mental illness, through education, support and advocacy. OMZ volunteers will assist in the activities offered at the NAMI drop in center, food and clothing bank, and with special events, projects.  There are also opportunities to provide our individual skills and talents to create new program offerings for clients or assist with office management needs.  Baby Basics of Collier County provides and distributes free diapers to babies of the working poor in the communities of Naples, Immokalee, and Bonita Springs. Since 2004 they have served over 1000 babies at 10 distribution sites providing diapers and kindness to those in need.  Our sangha volunteers will enable Baby Basics to open an 11th site which will be operated by OMZ volunteers. To learn more about our Off the Cushion program please contact Karen Lasker at kllasker1@gmail.com.

“If there is anything I have learned about men & women it is that there is a deeper spirit of altruism than is ever evident. Just as the rivers we see are minor compared to the underground streams, so, too, the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what people carry in their hearts unreleased or scarcely released. (Hu)mankind is waiting and longing for those who can accomplish the task of untying what is knotted, and bringing these underground waters to the surface.” –Albert Schweitzer