For this week’s post I thought I would talk about the “work” everyone does at the winter retreat. In an effort to become a more traditional retreat, last year we started to assign people “chores” to be done at the retreat.
These “chores” are called Jumu (주무) in Korean. Ju (주) is the hanja for the Chinese word 作 (Zuò) which means “to work”. Mu (무) is the hanja for the Chinese word 務 (Wu) which means “service”.
This assigning of work accomplishes two goals. The first being that of strengthening the groups bonding. When the participants all “pitch in” to help, the retreat becomes more of an event they are helping to run, as opposed to an event that they are attending. The second, and for me most important reason, is to “just work”. As I mentioned in previous posts, anything can be a meditative practice and in the case of the “chores” they become a meditative practice by “just working”.
“If the work is carried out wakefully, in a manner based entirely on the activity of collected attention and total carefulness,
then it is a continuation and another form of meditative practice,
in which the practitioner learns to maintain the meditative state of mind even in the midst of everyday routine.” – The Shambhala Dictionary
When a student enters the Dojang (training floor), they all enter wearing uniforms. There is not distinction between them. Everyone is the same, other than the student’s Taekwondo rank. A doctor stands next to a janitor who stands next to a teacher who stands next to the president of a Fortune 500 company. They all look the same and are treated the same. The outside world is left behind when they step onto the training floor. This is also true for Jumu. Every “chore” has the same value. One isn’t any better than any other and therefore all should be approached with the same enthusiasm. Cleaning the hall floor should be just as important as cooking the food, which should be just as important as serving tea. No one has a better Jumu. As soon as someone feels their “chore” is easier or better than another student’s, they have failed.
Unlike last year’s retreat, participants will be assigned their Jumu. Once the student receives their “chore” they should be grateful for the chance to contribute to the retreat and not think, “Yes, I got ….” or “No, I don’t what that…”.
Something to think about…..