Samu (Zen)

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Samu in the kitchen

Samu (作務) is participation in the physical work needed to maintain the Zen monastery.[1][2] According to tradition, it was emphasized by Baizhang Huaihai, who is credited with establishing an early set of rules for Chan (Chinese Zen) monastic discipline, the Pure Rules of Baizhang.[3] As the Zen monks farmed, it helped them to survive the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution more than other sects which relied more on donations. These rules are still used today in many Zen monasteries. From this text comes the well-known saying "A day without work is a day without food" (一日不做一日不食 "One day not work, one day not eat").[4]

See also[edit]

  • Samue – work clothes when engaged in samu


  • Bresnan, Patrick S. (2017), Awakening: An Introduction to the History of Eastern Thought, Routledge
  • Dumoulin, Heinrich (2005), Zen Buddhism: India and China, World Wisdom, Inc, ISBN 978-0-941532-89-1
  • Heine, Steven; Wright, Dale (2010), Zen Masters, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-979885-8
  • Seager, Richard Hughes (2012), Buddhism in America, Columbia University Press



  1. ^ Bresnan 2017, p. 512-513.
  2. ^ Seager 2012, p. 133.
  3. ^ Dumoulin 2005, p. 170.
  4. ^ Heine & Wright 2010, p. 15.