If you consider quietude right and activity wrong, then this is seeking the real aspect by destroying the worldly aspect, seeking nirvana, the peace of extinction, apart from birth and death. When you like quiet and hate activity, this is the time to apply effort. Suddenly when in the midst of activity, you topple the sense of quietude-that power surpasses quietistic meditation [seated meditation] by a million billion times.
Samu is the extension of meditation to its function. Without samu, Zen Buddhism would be a cult isolated from daily life.
-Robert Aitken Roshi
Samu, the cultivation of work as spiritual practice, is one of the four principal components of Zen practice along with zazen, teisho, and dokusan. It is essential that we learn to enter into work as an act of self-purification and realization. Samu includes the practice of dana (giving or generosity), mindfulness, and devotion. Samu practice sessions are held frequently on Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to1:30 pm as indicated on the calendar. Samu includes a short period of zazen, a simple formal tea ceremony in the zendo, a talk on work as practice and realization, followed by an hour and a half of light work. Then a formal meal is served and eaten in a modified oryoki style serving and eating a meal as a meditation practice.
The session concludes in the zendo with a question-and-answer period regarding work practice and a reading and discussion of a selected passage from the Shobogenzo Zuimonki, the concise training instructions by Zen Master Dogen. These samu training sessions are crucial as they provide a way of taking one's practice off the mat into one's daily life. Samu practice is not a substitute for sitting meditation but is rather the extension of meditation to its function. Samu and sitting meditation are therefore highly interrelated and interdependent.