Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

dorjedradul
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Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by dorjedradul »

Dear unknown dharma friends,

I'm in my early 20s and am one year away from graduating as an english major. I've spent time in India and Nepal and have been fortunate enough to meet some wonderful masters, most of whom were Nyingma. I have taken refuge, have a daily practice, etc.

My purpose for writing here is to ask lay practitioners, particularly of the Nyingma tradition, who live in the U.S. to share their thoughts on careers. What would you tell your younger self in regard to making a living and choosing a career path with an eye to finding a balance of remembering impermanence and karma while also not neglecting to plan ahead financially. I've considered learning Tibetan and attempting translation (hard to make a living, I hear), law, financial advising, and teaching high school english. I suppose one might argue this isn't about dharma, but I think it is.

Thoughts, criticisms, and questions are welcome.

Thanks,
D.
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Könchok Thrinley
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Könchok Thrinley »

dorjedradul wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:06 am Dear unknown dharma friends,

I'm in my early 20s and am one year away from graduating as an english major. I've spent time in India and Nepal and have been fortunate enough to meet some wonderful masters, most of whom were Nyingma. I have taken refuge, have a daily practice, etc.

My purpose for writing here is to ask lay practitioners, particularly of the Nyingma tradition, who live in the U.S. to share their thoughts on careers. What would you tell your younger self in regard to making a living and choosing a career path with an eye to finding a balance of remembering impermanence and karma while also not neglecting to plan ahead financially. I've considered learning Tibetan and attempting translation (hard to make a living, I hear), law, financial advising, and teaching high school english. I suppose one might argue this isn't about dharma, but I think it is.

Thoughts, criticisms, and questions are welcome.

Thanks,
D.
Depends on you really, one of my friends she has two jobs, both are not full time and she makes enough to have time for daily practice and going every weekend for a retreat. Depends how much time you want for practice and how well you can live with less stable income or a job.

I would say that teaching is probably the best job out of those, because quite a lot of free time, however that time is often spent in stress and preparation for classes. So... who knows. Hope this helps a bit. :rolling:

Ps. Welcome to Dharmawheel.
“Observing samaya involves to remain inseparable from the union of wisdom and compassion at all times, to sustain mindfulness, and to put into practice the guru’s instructions”. Garchen Rinpoche

Formerly known as Miroku.
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Lingpupa
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Lingpupa »

Könchok Thrinley wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:23 am I would say that teaching is probably the best job out of those, because quite a lot of free time, however that time is often spent in stress and preparation for classes. So... who knows. Hope this helps a bit. :rolling:

Ps. Welcome to Dharmawheel.
As a former teacher, I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. There is indeed more free time than in some jobs, but not nearly as much as you might think at first glance. And another point: you have NO freedom to choose your holidays. So when your Ultimate Monster Guru and entourage come in to a centre only an hour's drive away and is giving the teaching you have longed for and prepared for over months from Monday to Friday next week, plus a public talk and blessing on Saturday - tough cookie. You get to go to the public talk and blessing.

If you can find a way to work freelance (I've been lucky enough to do that for the last 24 years) then it might be possible to be more flexible.
All the best
Alex Wilding
Stupa in the Snow blog at http://chagchen.org/
Simon E.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Simon E. »

Your question is indeed about Dharma. And so potentially is any career that you eventually follow. :smile:
It’s not about what you do. It’s about your motivation, and compassion, and the mindfulness you bring to whatever it is.

:namaste:
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
Malcolm
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Malcolm »

dorjedradul wrote: Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:06 am Dear unknown dharma friends,

I'm in my early 20s and am one year away from graduating as an english major. I've spent time in India and Nepal and have been fortunate enough to meet some wonderful masters, most of whom were Nyingma. I have taken refuge, have a daily practice, etc.

Thoughts, criticisms, and questions are welcome.

Thanks,
D.

First, you must choose a career that aligns with right livelihood. Nursing is one of the best careers for a buddhist. It is flexible, portable, and it involves caring directly for people who are suffering. It also allows one to do retreat attend teachings and so on.
Cmjd3055
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Cmjd3055 »

What about Mental health counseling. It requires a masters degree and a couple years post grad training, but a solo private practice will pay the bills, provide a flexible schedule and leave plenty of Time for practice. The best part is you get to actually help people every day.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by pemachophel »

One of the manual trades, such as carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc., where you can work as a free-lancer, make good money, and not have to take work problems home with you at night
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TrimePema
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by TrimePema »

pemachophel wrote: Wed Jan 08, 2020 9:01 pm One of the manual trades, such as carpenter, plumber, electrician, etc., where you can work as a free-lancer, make good money, and not have to take work problems home with you at night
this is what Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche advises. but He also says you can do whatever you like. you can think of it in two ways:

1. what would beings benefit the most from my doing as work?
2. what work would allow me enough financial freedom and time off to practice as much as possible for the benefit of others?
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PadmaVonSamba
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

i don't have to think twice about this:
If it were me, I'd go teach English at a buddhist monastery or Nunnery in Sikkhim or some place like that.
You will meet great teachers and lamas from many traditions
and you will help spread the Dharma teachings.
Get inside the mandala.
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Be kindness
pema tsultrim
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by pema tsultrim »

Hi and welcome to Dharmawheel. I've been a public school teacher since 2007. I've taught almost every grade from Kindergarten through 12th grade (got my start in MS and HS English), and I've found a professional home in public Waldorf education, which I find to be extremely rewarding and aligned with my spiritual practice. I do not recommend HS English, unless you want to spend endless hours of you "free time" grading papers (as the other former teacher pointed out). I actually find the built in time off to be great. My personal issue is that I have a family with young children so I am constantly broke. If you intend to stay single and not have kids, you can make enough money as a teacher, esp with credentials and masters degree, you'll get retirement benefits, you are practicing Right Livelihood, as Malcom mentioned is most important, and you get built in holidays and partial summers off. So if you want to travel or do personal retreats that is possible. There are plenty of drawbacks, however. Those are just the pluses.

I would highly suggest, however, if you are leaning towards education and English in particular, that you look into teaching English in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Thailand or other countries with Buddhist culture. You can make very good money because they give you housing and a good salary, you are treated with much more respect than in schools in the US, and you can actually save up money. Then too, they will often pay for a round trip air ticket each year so you can return home and back. Plus in places like Taiwan there are so many Nyingma and other Tibetan lamas living there, you can definitely connect with dharma. It's close to India and Nepal as well.

Nursing does sound like a heroic profession, and there is so much demand, if you have the stomach for it. You also work intensively for several days, then get the rest of the week off, so you can alternate in and out of intensive periods of practice even within each given week.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Malcolm »

pema tsultrim wrote: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:08 am
Nursing does sound like a heroic profession, and there is so much demand, if you have the stomach for it. You also work intensively for several days, then get the rest of the week off, so you can alternate in and out of intensive periods of practice even within each given week.
It also pays more than these other trades mentioned above and is more flexible.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by fckw »

I recommend working at an investment bank, or at least in management consulting. You'll end up making a lot of money, which allows you to funnel into any direction you like. There are plenty of buddhist teachers who are very keen on finding financial supporters for their own project ideas - from building monasteries, supporting children to get a proper education, finance the purchase of buddha statues and so on.
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PeterC
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by PeterC »

fckw wrote: Sun Jan 12, 2020 6:38 pm I recommend working at an investment bank, or at least in management consulting. You'll end up making a lot of money, which allows you to funnel into any direction you like. There are plenty of buddhist teachers who are very keen on finding financial supporters for their own project ideas - from building monasteries, supporting children to get a proper education, finance the purchase of buddha statues and so on.
Having money will indeed make you we one with sanghas and get you more access to teachers than, well, not having money. It can also leave you doubting your teachers because it will expose you to the business side of the dharma; and it can also create friction with sanghas when they pursue you for funding for stupid projects that make no commercial sense and are badly managed. Both of these will make maintaining pure perception harder. My personal feeling is that it’s a net negative.

That said income, and security of income (these aren’t the same thing) are an important form of freedom. What you sacrifice to achieve them is time. But it is surprising how much time you can find even if you do a demanding job.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by fckw »

PeterC wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:00 am Having money will indeed make you we one with sanghas and get you more access to teachers than, well, not having money. It can also leave you doubting your teachers because it will expose you to the business side of the dharma; and it can also create friction with sanghas when they pursue you for funding for stupid projects that make no commercial sense and are badly managed. Both of these will make maintaining pure perception harder. My personal feeling is that it’s a net negative.

That said income, and security of income (these aren’t the same thing) are an important form of freedom. What you sacrifice to achieve them is time. But it is surprising how much time you can find even if you do a demanding job.
Thanks Peter for nicely explaining what I did not bother to express in a more detailed fashion. Thanks in particular for pointing out the "stupid projects that make no commercial sense and are badly managed". For example, having learned what a business plan is and how to judge a project based on a business plan (or the lack thereof) is indeed a valuable skill to have.
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PeterC
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by PeterC »

fckw wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:49 am
PeterC wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:00 am Having money will indeed make you we one with sanghas and get you more access to teachers than, well, not having money. It can also leave you doubting your teachers because it will expose you to the business side of the dharma; and it can also create friction with sanghas when they pursue you for funding for stupid projects that make no commercial sense and are badly managed. Both of these will make maintaining pure perception harder. My personal feeling is that it’s a net negative.

That said income, and security of income (these aren’t the same thing) are an important form of freedom. What you sacrifice to achieve them is time. But it is surprising how much time you can find even if you do a demanding job.
Thanks Peter for nicely explaining what I did not bother to express in a more detailed fashion. Thanks in particular for pointing out the "stupid projects that make no commercial sense and are badly managed". For example, having learned what a business plan is and how to judge a project based on a business plan (or the lack thereof) is indeed a valuable skill to have.
You were being diplomatic :)

It is indeed a valuable skill, but I find it consistently hard to apply in sanghas. The point at which you want to apply it is when deciding to go ahead with a capital project or not, but usually that decision is made by presenting it in a positive light to the lama and getting his blessing for the project, at which point nobody dares say that it's a bad idea.

I thought I could be helpful to what used to be my main sangha in this regard, and for many years agreed to help out on various projects. I found the whole process so dysfunctional that eventually I concluded that I really couldn't make enough of a difference, and that it was getting in the way of my practice. The lama in question was equally accessible to me before I tried to help, during and after, and was very open to being questioned/challenged on projects, much to the horror of some members of the sangha. I really couldn't see any way through the mess that wouldn't accumulate negative karma and/or endanger my vows, so I just backed out quietly. These days I try instead to sponsor things directly, usually either translations or people who want to go into retreat. Sanghas are always fundraising for capital projects but often without actually thinking through how they will fund the operating costs, and I have no desire to get involved in that.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by fckw »

The lamas you mention are the nice ones. I've seen situations where the lama has some idea, and keeps stuck to it, no matter whether it's realistic or not to be implemented. Then, if you dare questioning the lama's idea, you end up in a really awkward position, because s/he might take it as a personal blame. Plus, there are just too many sanghas that don't talk to each other. I've heard teachers stating that trying to team up with another teacher is out of question although both sanghas are pursuing more or less the same idea with some rather irrelevant differences. That's why I never tried to become an "inner circle member" of any such organisation. Problem is that this sometimes also excludes you from teachings you'd like to get. Being a rich investment banker literally will give you instant access to certain types of teachings that otherwise might require years to pursue.

And it's true that even with a demanding job you'll still find plenty of time to practice if you're serious enough about it. In fact, I have the impression that Westerners are more serious about practice if they have less time for it due to a demanding, well-paid job.
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PeterC
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by PeterC »

fckw wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:18 am The lamas you mention are the nice ones. I've seen situations where the lama has some idea, and keeps stuck to it, no matter whether it's realistic or not to be implemented. Then, if you dare questioning the lama's idea, you end up in a really awkward position, because s/he might take it as a personal blame. Plus, there are just too many sanghas that don't talk to each other. I've heard teachers stating that trying to team up with another teacher is out of question although both sanghas are pursuing more or less the same idea with some rather irrelevant differences. That's why I never tried to become an "inner circle member" of any such organisation. Problem is that this sometimes also excludes you from teachings you'd like to get. Being a rich investment banker literally will give you instant access to certain types of teachings that otherwise might require years to pursue.

And it's true that even with a demanding job you'll still find plenty of time to practice if you're serious enough about it. In fact, I have the impression that Westerners are more serious about practice if they have less time for it due to a demanding, well-paid job.
All true. Actually I've seen the sanghas of lamas who are members of the same family engage in completely redundant duplicative activities. It's just silly - but they don't want to hear that. And as you say, waving money around does tend to get you invited to teachings you otherwise wouldn't know about. I don't think this is necessarily deliberate - it's just sangha members wanting to do something to help you because you've been helpful. (Although I'm sure in cases, yes it is deliberate.) At this point, though, I'll just take the slower route. The behavior of sanghas over the years persuaded me of the merits of being a near-solitary practitioner.
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by Simon E. »

Before posting I asked myself whether I was about to embark on another circuitous ramble around matters Vajrayana in the U.K., but decided that it was relevant..
A centre set up to disseminate the teachings of a well known Lama lost its excellent teacher/ administrator when she decided to leave the robe and marry. Her replacement was from central office. A typical example of what Situ Rinpoche calls “Mr Monk”...
The new guy decided that his main priority was to obtain bigger premises, so he set about pressuring the regulars to part with their money to keep him in the style to which he aspired.
Classes became infrequent. Visiting teachers became largely a thing of the past. Long term supporters drifted away.

That was several years ago. The situation continues. Mr Monk still holds sway over a semi -moribund organisation.

The point I would make is that there is a tendency in Buddhist circles to downplay the skills needed to make money and spend it wisely. Those skills are badly needed.
“You don’t know it. You just know about it. That is not the same thing.”

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche to me.
humble.student
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by humble.student »

Without wishing to start a debate as to the pros and cons of so-called "effective altruism," I will note that the 80,000 Hours project has a good run-down on jobs in impactful areas, useful suggestions for study, training etc, as well as a jobs board (always helpful). See here for details: https://80000hours.org/articles/advice-by-expertise/
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PeterC
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Re: Career Advice for a Young Nyingmapa

Post by PeterC »

Simon E. wrote: Mon Jan 13, 2020 1:40 pm Her replacement was from central office. A typical example of what Situ Rinpoche calls “Mr Monk”...
that’s a good expression. Somehow it had me thinking of the Mr Men...
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