For every act of evil, there is an act of beauty. You Can't Change the World, Only Your Attitude Towards It.

Buddha goes to work

Work is essential, even if it were the basic tasks of cleaning your living area, digging some vegetables and fetching water, then work is part of life. In the modern world few of us get near the earth and more often than not our work is for someone else for payment of credit into the chip in our arm - not really, for now it goes into a bank account. We are then free to spend it on whatever we like. (As long as we pay tax, rent and bills, by which time there is none left, but in theory you could spend it on what you liked.)

So this modern process of working to make the non-working rich even richer so that you can serve the basic needs of society or be locked up - can be seen as a rather negative process. So how can it be enjoyed?

There is the choice of joining some kind of commune where you avoid work and being poor by instead volunteering to work and be poor in a community of like minded people, all together working for mutual benefit. (Plus the owner who says; "this is a community, that I'm in charge of. We make all our decisions as a comity, but I get final say".) A community is almost certain to fall into the same traps as any council, state or country because of this inability for humans to truly say "we are all one" - there is always the "we are all one, but he gets final say" model.

So, on leaving the problem of government to those who wish to spend their time on it, I will instead focus on enjoying your whole life, including time at work.

My final note on government is from Chuang Tzu who said "when people are truly free then good government comes of itself".


The four letter word enjoyed by the few who get to work in a role that rewards them and despised by the many who get by but would very much rather not have to.

Some say "find a job you enjoy and you will never work again" and they have quite obviously never scoured the job pages through advert after advert of "want to make money stuffing envelopes?" and "make money as a cleaner, must have 4 years experience and perfect references". For the many the job market is like reading a list of the worlds worst jobs when in truth it is a list of all the jobs you'll get to see. On applying you'll likely be up against 100 other people just by sending in your CV, probably not get the job, and if you do, dislike it with more angst than a teenager who was just grounded.

It had crossed my mind while at work "what would Buddha do in my position?" I considered two outcomes; He would be swept up by disciples who would offer to do his job and keep him in a life of lazy bliss or he would get by with a positive perspective. Now the Buddha was a work shy character, some may call him a lazy bastard, who said "Hey if you sit under a tree, do nothing and beg for food, life is easy!" but lets take it that he was now properly enlightened and not so off balance. A truly enlightened Buddha would get by in any role as the Monks are told to, they must do menial tasks, all tasks, with focus on the whole being.

Like the Zen tale: "what shall I do?" "have you finished your rice?" "yes" "well go and wash your bowl" - and thus he was enlightened. Or the Hindu Karma Yoga, that is joining to the whole (yoga), by action (karma). This is how they make rich people clean toilets in ashrams, cunning justification.

The Taoists do not say that life is illusion as if there were an alternative, they embrace this life as heaven, real, all we have, the ultimate reality (as it has to be to be non-dual).

My day job is to cut paper with a large hand operated guillotine in a print company. I start with several hundred large sheets of paper or card, each have 8 - 20 individual items printed per sheet, and the whole slab of paper is to be manhandled into various positions. The blade is pulled down, with great effort, through the many sheets and after numerous cuts the individual items now liberated from the large sheets. At this time the small items are to be packed into boxes or wrapped in brown paper.

This can be seen as a very dull, physical and repetitive job. It is, and that is why I have so much time for philosophising and meditation. The ways I make it into a part of my practice to attaining perpetual bliss now follow:

1) I watch with great amusement and interest at how other members of staff take life seriously.
2) I draw myself to the moment always doing the very action at hand and not looking back at mistakes or forward to the huge stack of work waiting for me.
3) I meditate every thought that occurs to a point where I am looking from the whole not the actor.
4) I stand in fascination of how the universe came from infinite perfection to these odd roles of money orientated boss; heavy drinking, overweight, print operator; angry, self centred pre-press guy; and me the Tao monk operating the guillotine.
5) I watch how a bunch of monkeys act as the mask on their faces, taking life as real and not knowing that they are infinity acting out an infinite dance of creativity.
6) I watch my breath and imagine all from the non-solidity of matter to the vastness of the universe acting in unison.
7) I watch how heat and hard work can affect my thoughts and reaction to others, I laugh at myself when the actor me says something to another from the perspective of individual and I take it as an important learning process that I must get the most from.
8) I marvel at how the boss is driven to work hard to attain freedom as if banging a drum to make it quiet.
9) I enjoy the freedom of my mind to explore reality in the knowledge that this is only a mere reflection.
10) I feel bliss in being where others may just suffer, want to quit, or be day dreaming of beer or lottery wins.

I'm not perfect, but I get a lot from work that I would not get from sitting under a tree. I do however love sitting under trees watching nature, but work is for learning lessons about the self and others that nature alone can not teach.

Tao Wow | Daily Cup of Tao

1 comment:

Leon Basin said...

A great article again that hit home for me. I'm going to start thinking differently about work, nowadays. Thank you! I actually started this today and hope to continue.