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Thread: LAH, Jobs & Callings

  1. #1

    LAH, Jobs & Callings

    Hi Workers of the World!

    I have never been one to feel that "Lend A Hand" or other charitable and caring actions only have meaning if the doer doesn't "get something" out of it, some pleasure, satisfaction or sense of self worth in the giving. Why not? It should not be the primary or exclusive motive for being a "do gooder," but one can also partake in some positive sense or feeling for having done some good. I do not feel that it cheapens things or lessens the value, and it can be a great energizer for further action.

    I think this even includes feeling good in our jobs, and reaping some benefits there. Why not? Would that not inspire us to do even more good?

    This came to mind when I heard the following podcast today from the American public radio, on turning one's job (sometimes even a tedious or unpleasant job) into a "calling" that inspires one, gives satisfaction and pleasure. I'll be darned if a lot of the actions and attitudes recommended by the expert interviewed don't sound a lot like "LAH-ish" acts and attitudes. Oh, it won't turn a lot of truly bad jobs into dream careers, and it won't excuse a "mafia hit man" or dangerous drug pusher from the negatives of that, but it can be something to help many of us ... and make the world a bit more pleasant too.

    Give a listen if the topic is of interest ...

    Why do you work? Popular wisdom says your answer depends on what your job is. But psychologist Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale University finds it may have more to do with how we think about our work.

    Across a diverse array of jobs — from secretaries to custodians to computer programmers — Wrzesniewski finds people are about equally split in whether they say they have a "job," a "career," or a "calling." This week on Hidden Brain, Shankar Vedantam talks with Wrzesniewski about how we find meaning and purpose at work.
    https://www.npr.org/2018/07/30/63404...2-0-dream-jobs

    Gassho, J

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-19-2018 at 10:04 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Hi Jundo,

    I just finished reading a book called Bullsh*t Jobs by David Graber. He says that a lot of our modern day jobs are depressing and unfulfilling. People realize this and they tend to pretend they care, but in reality our modern jobs make us pretty unhappy.

    I agree with that, but I also think we must reboot the way we see our jobs. At the end of the day it's samu. We work not only to get a paycheck, but we also work for the benefit of all sentient beings. By doing whatever we do, we provide the means for others to do exactly what we do: to put food on the table in an etic and honest manner.

    There is no dream job, I think. But there is a right way to see what we do.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

  3. #3
    We also consider "Right Livelihood" in connection with this. In both the modern day and in ancient times (such as the Buddha or Dogen's times, for example, it was not so easy to find completely "clean" work for most people. In ancient times, even less than today perhaps, most lay people did not have the luxury of choosing their profession, let alone choosing work that involved no harm to others. So, what to do?

    Buddha-Basics (Part VIII) — Working Right

    The fifth branch of the ‘Eightfold Path’ is “Right Livelihood.” Right Livelihood means that, as a life choice, one should earn a living in ways not harmful, and helpful and healthful to the world.

    Nurse, social worker, and teacher seem obvious choices. In our interconnected economy, so too do bus driver, honest salesman, cheerful office worker, waitress supporting her kids, the engineer or businessman providing goods or services which benefit lives. Remember that the bus driver who gets people where they need to go, the teacher, the receptionist, the doctor or farmer, the researcher may be helping people in seen and unseen ways. On the other hand, perhaps the bus driver makes air pollution, the researchers work is used for harm, the receptionist answers phones for a big company with labor abuses in the third world ... . It is a complicated world, and there are no totally harmless jobs.

    Certainly, burgler, heroin pusher, hitman and environmental polluter fall outside the mark. And for all of us in careers of complexity — the lawyer, soldier, butcher (traditionally, said banned by Buddha), nuclear scientist — we must honestly follow our hearts: Are we doing what is really necessary? Are we doing it in the best ways we can? Are we leaving this world a better place?

    And if we must put food on the table for our family, let them be housed, go to school, have the necessities of life ... that goes in the "right livelihood equation" too. It does not excuse selling heroin to hurt someone else's children, but it does excuse our being a bit powerless to walk away from some less than perfect job. It was true in the Buddha's day too, when many of the faithful Buddhists to whom he preached were kings, business people, land owners whose business could never be as ethically perfect as a monk living in a monastery. The Buddha told them to do the best they could in their situations.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...-Working-Right
    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-19-2018 at 11:43 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4
    For the last year, I was the VP of Marketing for a private jet company. Also had a well-invested tech aspect. I felt flashy - rubbed great elbows with investors, did a lot of cringe-worthingly pointless meetings in Vegas at clubs at 3am.

    I learned a lot about the roles we play - even if it's a flashy role. It was a fun dance. Actually a good Dharma teaching for me. But also wasn't.. a good fit in the long run.

    When I left, I restarted my freelance career - and made it a point to take on clients that have social good aspects, or at the very least, volunteer. Sometimes we have to do our dance to get by. And per the podcast - wouldn't ya know - I guess a lot of this is mindset. Who woulda thunk it?

    ST,

    Rakurei

  5. #5
    Thank you Jundo ... it is a hard line sometimes when one's job is run by a bad employer, these jobs do exist. But for the most part, I feel our jobs is what we make them. If we see them a soul sucking, then that is what they will be. If we see them as benefiting not only ourselves (through a pay cheque), but also helping other's, we may find more meaning in what we do.

    I once heard someone say ... every job on the planet is in one way or another in service to others. I don't know of any job that is not serving someone for something. So if we come from that mindset, it can be helpful when for us when we have those crappy days.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  6. #6
    Member Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    I feel a lot of shame associated with my job because I am a sandwich maker for fast food chain. When I tell people where I work they usually respond with a kind of pity-- and an assumption that I am working there only to support some future goal. Of course I would like a less demanding, better paying job that is not embarrassing to tell people, but the truth is, I kind of enjoy the work. I am paid enough to be able to take care of my life, and I have enough free time to do the things I really enjoy. My motivations in life have never been career driven-- only hobbies and arts in my own time are the things that I am really driven to do. My job is simply a means to survive. And this is not to say that I do not enjoy my work: I am good at it. Customers seem to like me, and I have had the same employer for six years. I get the schedule I want and a regular raise. I have a good relationship with my employers and managers, and respect from my peers for my seniority. I make good food for my customers. I care about how their food is prepared and how it looks.

    I guess I think about my job a lot. The way people react to my job makes me feel pathetic. The whole millenial thing is to have that dream and go for it. I never really had one. I just wanted love and comfort, and if I ask myself if I am happy, the answer is yes. I am a bit poorer than my friends, but I have most everything that I need and I have been very lucky to have been able to travel a lot already in my life. I am grateful. Despite my lack of ambitions, my life is like that of a king compared to many other people in the world. I am always on the look out to discover something that I would love to do, and I am open to change. Living in California makes it kind of hard, so I would like to soon upgrade in income, but for now I want to learn how to have a little pride in what I do. I do it well.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    迎 Geika

  7. #7
    Member Koki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Parma Ohio (just outside Cleveland)
    Good thoughts...
    I agree with Shingen that all our jobs can be of service, if we view it that way. Ill save space by not going into detail, but I'm retired now, and all if my jobs were in service. My wife is a nurse..goes without saying.

    As strong, resilient, self sufficient, etc that we may THINK we are. We need each other..family, friends, Sangha...all one.

    "Get by with a little help from my friends".

    Gassho
    Frank
    Satoday

    Sent from my VS995 using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    I feel a lot of shame associated with my job because I am a sandwich maker for fast food chain. When I tell people where I work they usually respond with a kind of pity-- and an assumption that I am working there only to support some future goal. Of course I would like a less demanding, better paying job that is not embarrassing to tell people, but the truth is, I kind of enjoy the work. I am paid enough to be able to take care of my life, and I have enough free time to do the things I really enjoy. My motivations in life have never been career driven-- only hobbies and arts in my own time are the things that I am really driven to do. My job is simply a means to survive. And this is not to say that I do not enjoy my work: I am good at it. Customers seem to like me, and I have had the same employer for six years. I get the schedule I want and a regular raise. I have a good relationship with my employers and managers, and respect from my peers for my seniority. I make good food for my customers. I care about how their food is prepared and how it looks.

    I guess I think about my job a lot. The way people react to my job makes me feel pathetic. The whole millenial thing is to have that dream and go for it. I never really had one. I just wanted love and comfort, and if I ask myself if I am happy, the answer is yes. I am a bit poorer than my friends, but I have most everything that I need and I have been very lucky to have been able to travel a lot already in my life. I am grateful. Despite my lack of ambitions, my life is like that of a king compared to many other people in the world. I am always on the look out to discover something that I would love to do, and I am open to change. Living in California makes it kind of hard, so I would like to soon upgrade in income, but for now I want to learn how to have a little pride in what I do. I do it well.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    Hello Geika,

    Please don't feel ashamed ... this is your life and your choice in how you want to live it. People can be shallow and judgemental at times, but as I already said, you are doing good and being of service ... to me this is what counts. =)

    But also I commend you ... you are right that there too are times when we need to "survive", to do the things that we don't want to do, but do them anyway. This is a commendable quality which I admire.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Geika View Post
    I feel a lot of shame associated with my job because I am a sandwich maker for fast food chain. When I tell people where I work they usually respond with a kind of pity-- and an assumption that I am working there only to support some future goal. Of course I would like a less demanding, better paying job that is not embarrassing to tell people, but the truth is, I kind of enjoy the work. I am paid enough to be able to take care of my life, and I have enough free time to do the things I really enjoy. My motivations in life have never been career driven-- only hobbies and arts in my own time are the things that I am really driven to do. My job is simply a means to survive. And this is not to say that I do not enjoy my work: I am good at it. Customers seem to like me, and I have had the same employer for six years. I get the schedule I want and a regular raise. I have a good relationship with my employers and managers, and respect from my peers for my seniority. I make good food for my customers. I care about how their food is prepared and how it looks.

    I guess I think about my job a lot. The way people react to my job makes me feel pathetic. The whole millenial thing is to have that dream and go for it. I never really had one. I just wanted love and comfort, and if I ask myself if I am happy, the answer is yes. I am a bit poorer than my friends, but I have most everything that I need and I have been very lucky to have been able to travel a lot already in my life. I am grateful. Despite my lack of ambitions, my life is like that of a king compared to many other people in the world. I am always on the look out to discover something that I would love to do, and I am open to change. Living in California makes it kind of hard, so I would like to soon upgrade in income, but for now I want to learn how to have a little pride in what I do. I do it well.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    Hi Geika,

    Children tend to tell the truth. My 12 year old always asks to go to Subway and has mentioned that working there would be very cool.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  10. #10
    Actually, I do think I have found my dream job.
    It's the job where I can serve other people, where products are ethically produced and marketed, where we have 5 "precepts" of values we keep, where I love what I do having know-how (which I acquired at private school, all paid with my own savings) , I love love love my colleagues and we have just enough bad days and "stupid" customers as well.

    I really like to think part of "finding" this kind of job is to know what you like, what is most important to you and how do you see yourself in that environment. One can have a great job but still being unsatisfied because somehow we expect work must fulfill all the "needs" . Yet I believe, fulfilling is a "tricky business" to get into, in the first place; second, work is a part of life, not the whole life, so it needs to be balanced with your other interests and activities .

    Thank you for this thread, it's so interesting to read how we try to explain "work" part in our lives.

    Gassho, eva
    sattoday and also LAH

  11. #11
    Thank you Jundo. As a business owner--my services are only as good as my "lowliest" employee. All tasks are vital. Over the years, as the layers of protocols have built up and changes have happened, I am often struck by how much I depend on the skills of my co-workers--I can't even run my own lab equipment anymore! And if I clean a cage I will probably do it wrong, lol. What a wonderful thing it would be if we could all feel good about our right livelihood, whether it is making sandwiches, working at a desk, or doing surgery. Geika, you have it so totally right, nine bows to you!

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  12. #12
    Member Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Thank you, Shingen and Jakuden. Also Jishin, that is very sweet.

    Gassho, sat today, lah
    迎 Geika

  13. #13
    Okay, yes, I listen to a lot of podcasts (mostly in the car and gym). Fortunately, I have a work schedule that lets me do that.

    This recent public radio episode is also on this topic, with many interesting ideas. Alas, while the worker's changing his/her mind and attitude toward work can help a lot, it is true that something seems wrong with the way our economic system treats work and workers.

    I think it was much worse in many ways in the Buddha or Dogen's days (when most people were serfs and slaves, with no health care let alone any dental plan, not to mention sick leave and a one hour lunch break ... let alone food.) In fact, perhaps most people around the world still live like that. Often we in the urban west forget how good we have things compared, for example, to migrant workers who pick the vegetables we eat. Still, we can do better to improve working conditions in our industrialized countries too. When Dogen and the Buddha built their communities of monks, they also knew that they had to provide decent living conditions for their day and time.

    What's Wrong With Work?

    Alissa Quart spent the last few years traveling around the country, talking with all kinds of people about work. What she found is a lot of people with jobs that look good on paper but who feel — in a word — squeezed.

    Quart writes in her new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America,” about how work is not working for the middle class. She talked with Anne Strainchamps about the myriad causes, and, some possible solutions.

    ...

    Anthropologist David Graeber delves into the phenomenon of “bullshit jobs" in his new book. It’s an ironic and unfair society, he argues, that pays well for meaningless managerial jobs while undervaluing people like nurses, bus drivers, and musicians who contribute to our world. Speaking from the London School of Economics, where he teaches, Graeber talked with Steve Paulson about the misery of the middle management class — and what we might do about it.

    ...

    When we talk about reforming work, fixing work, creating new kinds of work — author and historian James Livingston thinks perhaps we’re not going far enough.

    I teach history at Rutgers University. I'm the author of six books by last count, the last one started out with the F word. That's a word I can't say on the radio. It is now titled "No More Work." I think it's a dangerous idea.

    The labor market has broken down to the point that it doesn't work for any of us. Labor markets —at least in the modern world — were supposed to produce character. Going to work taught you how to be a good person — how to be punctual, how to do what you're supposed to do. The labor market was also designed to allocate incomes transparently, fairly clearly. On both counts, the labor market has broken down.

    https://www.ttbook.org/show/whats-wrong-work
    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-21-2018 at 02:34 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Thank you Jundo and everyone for the interesting comments.

    This is a good thread and a very important topic I think.
    I have always had kind of mixed feelings about my job. I work for a small company which plays the role
    of an intermediary in the trading and delivery market (cargo & transport brokerage). Strictly speaking and
    from the perspective of I-me-mine, you do not produce or create anything. Neither do you feed the hungry or
    help homeless and sick in a direct way from the perspetictive of acting selfless.
    What you do is just re-sell the products and resources of others using your skills and knowledge of the field
    and environments involved. Sort of 'plain profiteering' some could say. So you may not feel pretty good when
    looking at things this way (In the past there were times when I had doubts if this was the appropriate job
    as far as right livelihood is concerned).
    However, on a large scale and since everything is connected as we say, you realize completely different picture,
    for example, that your diligent work contributes to timely delivery of the materials to certain devastated areas
    helping to rebuild people's homes or to speedy supply a factory which is about to stop due to the shortage of
    essentials. And this is when you feel a calling to do more and more. I hope I do not miss some points here..
    I agree with Shingen who said that our jobs are what we make of them. As long as you follow the ethics and act
    for the benefit of all sentient beings all jobs are lend-a-handers.

    Gassho,
    Washin
    sat/lah
    Last edited by Washin; 09-22-2018 at 02:38 PM.
    Wa (和) Harmony
    Shin (心) Heart-Mind

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