Key Point: I am so attracted to the idea of using every day to create something important, even beautiful. When people start the day thinking of themselves as story creators, they thoughtfully paint, craft, hone, sharpen, build, and compose. I feel saddened when I hear people grumble about their work and often about many other things. They behave in ways that Pope Francis refers to as a “pickle face.” What a graphic picture. So what are the thoughts of two eminent philosophers and ancient mystics on the matter of daily work & living?
Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese-American writer, poet, and philosopher noted the following:
“Put love into your work.
“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day.”
He also stated:
“Your attitude towards life will determine life’s attitude towards you.
Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
“You are what you do every minute, hour, day.”
The very respected spiritual philosopher, Richard Rhor, in a recent daily meditation wrote about the desert fathers (Abbas) and mothers (Ammas); Mystics who chose solitude in the desert to achieve a deeper encounter and presence with their spiritual selves. Rhor notes:
“Through their solitude, the abbas and ammas learned to be sparing and intentional with their words and to preach more through their lifestyle than through sermons. There were few ‘doctrines’ to prove at this time in Christianity, only an inner life to be experienced. Abba Isidore of Pelusia said, ‘to live without speaking is better than to speak without living. For the former who lives rightly does good even by his silence but the latter does no good even when he speaks. When words and life correspond to one another they are together the whole of philosophy.’
An old abba was asked what was necessary to do to be saved. He was sitting making rope. Without glancing up, he said, ‘You’re looking at it.’ Just as so many of the mystics have taught us, doing what you’re doing with care, presence, and intention is prayer, the very way to transformation and wholeness. As other master teachers have taught in many forms, ‘When we walk, we walk; when we chop wood, we chop wood; when we sleep, we sleep.’ As you know, this is much harder than it first seems.”
1. Many organizations use this time of the year to conduct engagement surveys with employees. Their intent is usually noble. They want to create conditions for people to thrive. Excellent! What organizations also need to become great at, is to attract and retain people who come and put love into their work. That is a totally winning combination: Organizations creating an environment for people to love work and having employees who approach their work, whatever it is, with love. Where do you fit and contribute on this continuum?
2. When we work with care, presence and intention, the path for what’s next most often shows up. It is perhaps counterintuitive but most often true. When our heads are too much in the past or future we may stumble. The desert mystics were powerfully insightful: “When we walk… We walk.”
Walking with love in the Triangle,
One Millennial View: I’m going to focus on the “And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy,” part, because it stands out to me… Sure, I think we’re all striving to work with love. We’re hopefully taking stepping-stones to get there, but sometimes it might feel more like back breaking labor than that majestic match. That’s ok. It’s not just supposed to be handed to you. Unfortunately, unlike for the desert mystics, it’s 2015… If we just quit cause the “love” isn’t there yet, the “gates of the temple” could be our parent’s basements, or friend’s couches, or worse… And our “alms of those who work with joy,” is what? A bunch of credit card debt? No thanks! Guys, let’s absolutely all strive to love our work, but I bet if we work hard, suck it up, and stop complaining so much about “Bob in reception’s sighing problem,” we’ll get there faster and certainly with more appreciation.
Edited and published by Garrett Rubis