Working up an appetite

job-huntSo after six months of looking, I’ve finally come upon a job through a temp staffing agency. I’m glad to have found something in this economy and wish everyone else luck. I can say one thing about job searching: it sucks.

Still, it was a necessary thing to do. It was a much better option than vegetating while interest accrued on my student loans. And I am inspired by my previous experiences in work, and by the words of E.F. Schumacher:

The Buddhist point of view takes the function of work to be at least threefold: to give a man a chance to utilise and develop his faculties; to enable him to overcome his ego-centredness by joining with other people in a common task; and to bring forth the goods and services needed for a becoming existence………If man has no chance of obtaining work he is in a desperate position, not simply because he lacks an income but because he lacks this nourishing and enlivening factor of discipline work which nothing can replace.

There was nothing much to compare with a job well done alongside people I enjoy working with, paid or not. Once the bills were taken cared of, not being paid had it’s own freedom in that I was doing the work for it’s own sake. Considerations such as, “Am I being paid enough for this work?” or “How can I move up?” did not matter. The work in itself was good enough. If I can, I would much rather spend my mental energy thinking “This is is good enough.”

I am also reminded of some of the monastics I’ve met and the stories they’ve shared. Many of them have had the full family and career life experience, but have retired to the monastery. No names are mentioned because it would undoubtedly be butchered in its spelling:

The head monk at Thich Ca Thien Vien told me of his previous career and family life before ordaining with his family’s support. I even saw him phoning home one night!

The head monk at Thanti-Thitsar Vipassana Meditation center had a long career as an engineer in Burma before becoming a monastic. There is also a visiting nun: fully ordained bhikkuni! After retiring, she wanted to join the sangha, but found out there was no theravada nun lineage. She then sought to ordain with the help of Chinese Mahayana nuns and continued to study as a fully ordained bhikkuni while in Burma!

Another nun I met from Hsi Lai Temple worked for some years as a computer programmer before turning away and following the Buddha’s path.

20050908163837_img_0322-7759002 All of these stories have pointed towards a theme of enough-ness and I cannot help but be reminded of the phrase spoken by the Buddha and his arahats at their enlightenment: “Birth is destroyed. The holy life has been lived. What needs to be done has been done. There is no more becoming.”

They’re done. They have given up the home life for the homeless life. They have retired from serving Mammon in order to serve God.

The working life with material concerns has just started, but I’m already planning for its end.

2 Replies to “Working up an appetite”

  1. I’ve found that the workplace contains myriad opportunities to bring practice alive. When I was a manager, I used my practice daily to the benefit of my employees. As an employee, I used my practice to the benefit of my manager.

    Monk and manager are both important “outside” jobs. But we all share the same “inside” job, which is to wake up and be of service in each moment.

  2. Hi Barry!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I have no doubts about the virtues of, and the opportunities for virtue, in the workplace. I suppose what I meant to convey was that I’m looking to do is to have the goals of the work place and the goals of my spiritual life pointing in the same direction. I guess this can be accomplished by either changing jobs or changing my attitude.

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