Work, Work, Work

Below is my sharing with a Buddhist on coping with work related difficulties.

Thank you for replying and again sharing with me your present work life.

It sounds like you are having a tough time at work. I hope things will turn for the better for you. But before the situation including your boss change, let’s look at what we can do on our side.

There are many areas that we can look at, but for a start, we can look at two primary aspects of it. External (worldly, superficial, processes) and internally (spiritual well being, motivation, satisfaction etc).

I tend to like to help people solve their problems with the simplest solution where possible. This is most helpful to achieve short-term improvements but stress and problems may recur if the internal aspect is not improved and developed.

The only job scope is the one given by our boss. Yes we signed on the dotted line, yes, there is the contract, terms and conditions etc, but on the ground, our immediate superior can and usually would assign us tasks and projects etc as needed. If our job scope remains the same from day 1 till we retired 30 years later, that would not speak well of us would we? Do we also complain when the boss give us a raise or promotion?

On the other hand, does that mean that we should slog and sell our whole life to the company? No, we should not. While our boss can assign to us tasks and projects he deem necessary, it is up to us to decide whether we still want the job if the scope has changed so drastically.

Between the boss’ demands and our ability to fulfill the tasks, we have to find a balance that we are can breathe in. Sometimes the right thing to do is let a project fail if it is stretching the team too thin. Yes, you heard me right. Sometimes a minor setback in a project is better than a breakdown in YOU. You are not defined by the project you do. That is not who you are. We should be responsible for our work but not be solely defined and bounded by it. It is ok to fail.

Failure will let your boss and management know that it really does not work. While we should not sabotage the project, there is no reason to break ourselves just so that the project goes smoothly.

If the boss still fail to see that there is a flaw in the work arrangement, you may want to rethink whether this job is suitable.

(Sidenote: What is your job title?)

On the spiritual (internal) end, it is important to be able to maintain the internal peace and calm while we work. As long as we decide to continue working in the company, we have to be at work for 9 ~ 11 hours a day. Whether we do it happily or not, we are still bounded by contract and duty to do it.

From a bodhisattva path point of view, going to work can be an opportunity to help solve sentient beings’ problems and difficulty. Work is precisely that. It is about transforming different problems into simpler or a different one and passing that problem to another person who in turn do the same until it is simple enough to be solved. Instead of dreading to do work, a bodhisattva ‘work’ with a mindset of helping others solve their problems, removing their stress and fear. They also do that with the intention of creating positive Dharma links in order to fulfill the long term resolve of leading oneself and others towards Nirvana!

From an arahant-aspirant point of view, going to work can be an opportunity to earn a livelihood that is blameless and if possible be of positive impact on others. In the process, if there is defilements arising in oneself, then it becomes an opportunity to practise mindfulness and watch how the
defilements arise and how they cease. And through that process, reduce and eradicate defilements gradually.

It is good to chant Amitabha and Guanyin pusa’s name everyday. For one who does that, one resolves to apply mindfulness in one’s life. A Guanyin pusa’s disciple will try to have loving thoughts and compassion towards all he see, hear or encounter.

The chanting can help us get centred even at work. When you hear the phone ring, let it remind you like the Buddhist bells, a reminder to be mindful, to be mindful of the Buddha and pusa’s qualities that we resolve to develop in ourselves. A reminder to be mindful of our body, speech and mind.

About your fears, it may be good to speak in person.
Whenever you are free, you and your family are welcome to come to the Buddhist Library to receive blessings and guidance. To avoid disappointment, do call in advance.

Hope this help you tide through your tough time.
May you be guided and protected by the Buddha, Dharma and the Sangha!

Suki hontu! ^_^

1 thought on “Work, Work, Work”

  1. Hello Venerable.  Interesting, and what a coincidence!  Your comment on how it is better to let thing fail than to let our mind breakdown. Just 2 days ago, I was expressing my frustration of the never ending tasks coming from my other boss in Switzerland to my boss in Singapore.  He advised me to park the instructions from this other boss aside and go and have a beer (my boss in Singapore is an American).  Of course, I did not have a beer 🙂  I packed up, went home, had a shower and dinner, read some assays on Heart Sutra, meditated and slept.
    For practising Buddhist (at least for me), meditation provides the greatest tool to manage  day-to-day stress.  It also makes me see how vulnerable this samsara can be, never ending changes and turbulances.

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