The Middle way of right accupation


Work is a part of human life that can’t be separated. By working, one earns income to sustain his/her livelihood. By working well, a person can live well and prosper. The Buddha teaches us that there are two ways that one can pursued. He/she could choose to work hard generating much capital as householder or choose to become a monk who lives without family, without material possessions, and with only small need for daily expense  because He focuses on spiritual goal and serves the welfare and happiness of others.

This time, the discussion focuses on work or occupation, specifically is about how to choose the middle way of right occupation. In this case, someone needs to have a clear understanding about the purpose of work. Without clear understanding, people can lose the balance of the purpose of what they are working on.

In reality, we can see that people, who are over worked, experience more suffering. By working, they do make more money and may achieve prosperous life. Modern people have become prosperous, but they fail to be happy. Physical challenges can be overcome, but mental distress becomes more significant because of anxiety and tension of their daily life.

Therefore, to overcome this problem, one should realize that not only physical health, but also mental happiness should be fulfilled. Occupation is not only to seek for prosperity, achieve status, get respect, but also to improve mental qualities: good habits, be responsible, have spirit of sincerity, have commitment, be patient, and increase awareness.

There is a story about a man who works as manager in a company.  He just returned from seminar regarding motivation. He called one of his employee to his office and said:

”Starting from now, you have to arrange a future plan and take control of your work. These will increase your productivity and I’m confident about this.”

“Will I receive a raised?” said the employee.

“No..No..money should not be your motivation and you will not get satisfaction from gaining more money.” Said the manager.

“Okay, if my productivity increases, will I received more money?” said the employee.

“Listen… You still don’t understand the theory of motivation. Take this book and read it. It will show you the real motivation that you should have in mind.”

Once they finished the conversation, the employee walked out and on the way out he said: “If I read this book, will I get more money?”

This story tells us about a person with a weak motivation who only hunt for more money. Besides of his poor productivity and creativity, He will experience more suffering in his job. Therefore, we should consider the purpose of the middle way of occupation is to reach far nobler goal than mere material achievement. The noble goal is the development of mental qualities that mentioned earlier: good habits, be responsible, spirit of sincerity, have commitment, be patient, and increase awareness.

It’s like a tree, not only has to have a big trunk, lots of branches and leaves, beautiful flowers, and sweet fruits, but also needs to have deep and strong roots. This type of tree will be strong and have a long life. This analogy is very similar with human life. With a strong mental qualities to do our work, one will be strong and durable to live his/her life. By exercising the middle way of right occupation, we are similar with a tree that always stays strong when a storm passes by. At the same time, this path will also lead us to true happiness. In the end, not only success, but also happiness will come to us.

August 17th, 2010.

B. Saccadhammo.