Mala Practice

The Mala practice of the Zen Peacemakers continues two legacies – the old Buddhist practice of alms-begging, and Bernie Glassman’s creative, maverick entrepreneurship.  

Whether you raise funds for your tuition on one of ZPI’s Bearing Witness programs, for your membership contribution or for your own projects, ZPI encourages everyone to reach out to close ones and include others in what otherwise may be a very personal journey or endeavor. You will raise awareness for the causes you believe in, and support the raising of global awareness.

What is Mala Practice?

2,500 years ago, it was the practice of the lay congregation to support monks through donations of food and clothing. Shakyamuni Buddha led his monks each morning in the practice of begging for their daily food. Each day’s offering was received with thanks regardless of its nature or size. In this way the Buddha encouraged simplicity, the generosity of both giving and receiving, and undiscriminating appreciation.

We continue this begging practice by raising support for our work by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a necklace. Each bead represents a person who supports that member’s vision and work, and the entire mala represents the Member’s community of support.

This is a practice of giving and receiving. By asking for support from family, friends, and associates, we acknowledge that as individuals, we are limited in what we can do. We depend on the generosity of others to increase our membership, train more peacemakers, and develop and support more programs. This is one more way in which we bear witness to the interdependence of life.

Your practice includes everything, including money.

Another important aspect of mala practice is the incorporation of the ministry of money in our program. When you assemble a mala, you include the management of money and fundraising in the work of peacemaking work and spiritual practice; the give-and-take of money is the compassionate, unobstructed flow of energy that nourishes and transforms our activities.

Mala practice also gives us the opportunity to share our work with our families, friends, and associates. Most of us lead professional work lives and have families. By raising money for our Socially Engaged Buddhist work, we publicize its activities, and most important, our own commitment. By wearing the beads we have assembled, we take our supporters with us in our peacemaking endeavors and on Bearing Witness retreats such as at Auschwitz, thus making family and friends an intimate part of this peacemaking journey.

Share your Gifts

With today’s social media and crowdfunding platforms, it is simple to set up ways for people to support you. Try to think creatively. What are your gifts? How can you continue your connection with your supporters before, during or after your event or reaching your mala goal? If you can draw or write poems, perhaps offer sketches or share your writing. Consider organizing a ‘salon’ event at your community hall or presentation at your office. You will return from your trip with many experiences that those who supported you will be wanting to hear.


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Mala Practice


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