Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Bodhisattva Ideal at Work

This is my first post in what I suspect will be a much less regular schedule of writing on The Corporate Zendo.

I'll talk about my new thinking for the blog and Facebook page in upcoming posts, but I want first to talk about something that is very important to me.

For the last hundred years or so, we in America have been operating under some assumptions that I think are just wrong--

That more is better, especially when it comes to money and possessions.

That success is about material things.

That there is a set of external circumstances and possessions that can produce lasting happiness.

That work, as currently constructed, is a vehicle for personal fulfillment.

If, as the Dalai Lama says, the purpose of life is happiness, we're doing a pretty shabby job. We may have more stuff, but it feels like we have given our time and health and happiness in return.

I think there's a better way. And I'd like your help.

In Buddhism, the bodhisattva is one who is dedicated to freedom and happiness for all beings. The bodhisattva even delays his own enlightenment so that others may be enlightened first. I think we need to think of ourselves as bodhisattvas at work, dedicated to freedom not only for our coworkers, but also for our employers.

Instead of spending hours of face time with nothing to show for it, we need to show how less time at work can make us more effective.

Instead of operating out of fear, we need to spread love.

Instead of defending and protecting, we need to be open and vulnerable.

Instead of dedicating ourselves and our companies to the pursuit of the mighty dollar, we need to find and work at companies that have a mission to do good, or create beauty, or provide knowledge in the world. And be confident that in doing those things, we will have more than enough.

If this is a mission that you believe in as much as I do, please spread the word. I want to build a movement. I want to change the world of work, and I passionately believe we can and must.

In building this movement, we can show more and more employees that it is possible to be happy and fulfilled at work, and more and more companies that some of the best employees want nothing less than an employer who will challenge them, and enable them, to do their very best.


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