Finding my path at work

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
Post Reply
MoonHare
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:43 am

Finding my path at work

Post by MoonHare »

Hello,

I am a relatively new practitioner and have been doing zazen/shamata and following some Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

I know I will most likely remain a lay practitioner, and because of this I will need to make a living.

I struggle greatly to find a professional path. I keep getting advised to find out what I want to do - but most jobs seem not really worth caring about.

Since starting practice, three things happened.
I was unable to stay in my old job, because the mindles and repetitive nature of it meant I could not engage in it, and remain mindful. It was clicking on things. The more I became aware of it, the more I suffered.

I've started to draw more - I find the activity similar to some forms of meditation and I feel a drive towards doing it.

I had to take a manual job, because that was the only thing I could think of doing, that I felt would enable me to be present whilst doing it.


I am at a loss. I have numerous skills that I could use, and I feel a drive towards contributing something meaningful/helpful to the world, in a way that would feel in alignment with my nature. And yet I find absolutely nothing professional I could channel that drive into.

I don't see anything that resonates with me. Most of the things apart from said creative activities, or domestic work feels false and contrary to my nature. Whilst at the same time - I don't see how I can survive doing it, and I also don't really see what's the point. People make art all the time. If I don't make it, someone else will. Nobody really needs it - it's just a nice way to communicate with others. It doesn't help that I feel driven - I feel a lot of energy that I needs to be spent. I just don't know in what way.

I feel like the idea of "finding ones passion" is a great scam. Why should we feel passionate about marketing? Why is feeling passionate a good thing anyway?

I need to get a job, but I don't want to again be in a situation where I am doing something that feels like I am compromising my integrity, or nature or ability. I don't want to waste my energy on something that is pointless. But I don't see anything that feels like I could do it and it would feel right.

Am I missing something? How do I get out of this mental double bind?
Are there any practices I could do to overcome this?


A short version of this is: I don't want to spend my energy on something I don't care about, but I don't see any jobs worth caring about. So I am stuck.


Bear in mind I haven't received any empowerments yet.
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11322
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Hate to break it to ya, but for the vast majority of people, work is well...work.

The best advice I've gotten is to find the thing you can imagine yourself doing for years and being reasonably happy. Don't set your expectations too high though, especially if you are an artist, it's very hard to get paid like that, and often you have to simply work and pursue the things you are really passionate about in the meantime.

I went into the therapeutic world not too long ago and wish I had done it sooner. it has a lot of frustrations, but having a job where you (sometimes at least) get to actively help people makes a lot of the BS that goes with working easier to bare.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 3982
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Short version:
Everybody wants a job but nobody wants to go to the job.
:jumping:
Many people who wish to devote as much time to dharma practice as possible (or for that matter have any passion, like making art) simply work whatever job they can in order to support doing that. If you are really interested in Dharma practice, then whatever job you have you can also make that a source of practice.
Be kind.
MoonHare
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:43 am

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by MoonHare »

Well, "work to work" would make me happy.

My issue is that apart from drawing/Writing and making food/cleaning most work doesn't feel like "work", but like being asked to walk on hands whilst dressed in a fancy vampire suit, holding a broom between my buttocks - and nobody even needs that. Literally nobody is better or worse of, regardless if I do it, or not. It doesn't feel like work, but like pointless, unpleasant time wasting.

So obviously I am doing something wrong.
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11322
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

MoonHare wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:32 pm Well, "work to work" would make me happy.

My issue is that apart from drawing/Writing and making food/cleaning most work doesn't feel like "work", but like being asked to walk on hands whilst dressed in a fancy vampire suit, holding a broom between my buttocks - and nobody even needs that. Literally nobody is better or worse of, regardless if I do it, or not. It doesn't feel like work, but like pointless, unpleasant time wasting.

So obviously I am doing something wrong.
No, that's just what a lot of jobs are like.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
User avatar
jake
Global Moderator
Posts: 1383
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 3:13 pm

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by jake »

Are you referring to bullshit jobs?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jHx5rePmz2Y

Code: Select all

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jHx5rePmz2Y
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11322
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Only other piece of advice I can give:

Don't take stupid jobs too seriously. Show up, do what you're supposed to do, avoid drama, and don't think about them at home. It takes practice but it can be done. With most crappy jobs the worst part of them is that you care about them, but they are so stupid. So, the solution is to care less.

Sounds bad I know, but you are right: There are simply a lot of jobs that are patently meaningless work with little or no upside. The best you can do in those situations is not take them seriously and use them to achieve your goals, to the best of your ability.

Learn to set boundaries with bosses and other employees, develop some skills in assertive communication, don't let people push you around, and things can feel better sometimes.

Also don't let the world of work determine your values system, in my opinion things like art, music, exercise, even "hobbies" actually often are more important than jobs. So you may have to work at a stupid job, but you do not have to adopt their values system and pretend that whatever thing they are doing is of primary importance.

There is important work out there of course, so the goal may be to figure out what you could do that would actually be in that category.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 3982
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

MoonHare wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:32 pm Well, "work to work" would make me happy.

My issue is that apart from drawing/Writing and making food/cleaning most work doesn't feel like "work", but like being asked to walk on hands whilst dressed in a fancy vampire suit, holding a broom between my buttocks - and nobody even needs that. Literally nobody is better or worse of, regardless if I do it, or not. It doesn't feel like work, but like pointless, unpleasant time wasting.

So obviously I am doing something wrong.
I want to know where I can get paid to dress like a vampire and hold a broom with my ass!

The “something wrong” is, I think, from a Buddhist point of view, is that you are looking at it as a source of refuge. You are “going for refuge” in a sense, in the job thing, but just don’t realize it. By going for refuge, I mean you are looking at it to provide you with a means ego satisfaction, etc. “if I could just get the right job then I would be happy!”
But, from studying Dharma, you already know that temporary sources of refuge are pointless to pursue.
Maybe you should become a monk?
.
.
.
Be kind.
SteRo
Posts: 648
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:29 pm

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by SteRo »

MoonHare wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:09 pm ...
Am I missing something? How do I get out of this mental double bind?
Are there any practices I could do to overcome this?
Investigate into the Four Noble Truths. Recognize the presence of the 1st and 2nd noble truth in that experience of yours.
User avatar
JoaoRodrigues
Posts: 86
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2020 5:04 pm

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by JoaoRodrigues »

I've done a lot of different jobs. Some of them I loved, and I'd like to do them again if I could. I made hats, the best hats in the world, for movies like Public Enemies. I've made all kind of shoes. I was a baker for a short period. I worked in steel. Now I have a desk job, and I'm 25-years-old. What I've learned is that most people don't hate their jobs, they hate the environment in those jobs, and you are also responsible for making the environment.

Art for the sake of art most of the times won't work out, either monetarily or in recognition. Most artists were only recognized after they died, or very late in there life, because, take poetry for instance, there are many great poems out there in which there author didn't had recognition, and a lot of great recognized poets that don't write great poems, but, they achieved in making there life a poem, what I mean is, most artists, there life struggles, difficulties end up being romanticized and recognized later on.

If your interested in Buddhist practice, like someone else said above, you'll learn to apply it in every situation and environment you're in. A Buddhist monk works, everyone works one way or another. An artist works, even more deeply. There's a phrase that I'll probably never forget, Morgan Freeman playing God in a movie called Bruce Almighty: "People underestimate the benefit of good old manual labor. There's freedom in it. Some of the happiest people in the world go home smelling to high heaven at the end of the day.."
User avatar
Supramundane
Posts: 380
Joined: Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:38 am
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by Supramundane »

MoonHare wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:09 pm Hello,

I am a relatively new practitioner and have been doing zazen/shamata and following some Tibetan Buddhist teachings.

I know I will most likely remain a lay practitioner, and because of this I will need to make a living.

I struggle greatly to find a professional path. I keep getting advised to find out what I want to do - but most jobs seem not really worth caring about.

Since starting practice, three things happened.
I was unable to stay in my old job, because the mindles and repetitive nature of it meant I could not engage in it, and remain mindful. It was clicking on things. The more I became aware of it, the more I suffered.

I've started to draw more - I find the activity similar to some forms of meditation and I feel a drive towards doing it.

I had to take a manual job, because that was the only thing I could think of doing, that I felt would enable me to be present whilst doing it.


I am at a loss. I have numerous skills that I could use, and I feel a drive towards contributing something meaningful/helpful to the world, in a way that would feel in alignment with my nature. And yet I find absolutely nothing professional I could channel that drive into.

I don't see anything that resonates with me. Most of the things apart from said creative activities, or domestic work feels false and contrary to my nature. Whilst at the same time - I don't see how I can survive doing it, and I also don't really see what's the point. People make art all the time. If I don't make it, someone else will. Nobody really needs it - it's just a nice way to communicate with others. It doesn't help that I feel driven - I feel a lot of energy that I needs to be spent. I just don't know in what way.

I feel like the idea of "finding ones passion" is a great scam. Why should we feel passionate about marketing? Why is feeling passionate a good thing anyway?

I need to get a job, but I don't want to again be in a situation where I am doing something that feels like I am compromising my integrity, or nature or ability. I don't want to waste my energy on something that is pointless. But I don't see anything that feels like I could do it and it would feel right.

Am I missing something? How do I get out of this mental double bind?
Are there any practices I could do to overcome this?


A short version of this is: I don't want to spend my energy on something I don't care about, but I don't see any jobs worth caring about. So I am stuck.


Bear in mind I haven't received any empowerments yet.
when i was very wrong i used to think that what one did for a living was not important. the key was to have a vibrant creative life and so what one did 9 to 5 was of no importance.

i couldn't have been more wrong!

i found that out when i actually held a 9 to 5 job! it in fact determines everything! the way people treat you, look at you, the type of people you interact with, the skills you develop, the person you will become. and most importantly, you cannot simply punch the clock to leave the office at 5pm and immediately switch gears; i found it would take hours to psychologically recover from the drudgery of the day's work, and even then you were already thinking the next day's work.

but i think that you are looking at things the wrong way, my friend; when you say that 'following your passion' is a scam, i beg to differ.
it is good advice. obviously, unless you are Elon Musk and can dream in technicolor and want to die on Mars, very few of us can literally follow their passion. nonetheless, you can find a job that harnesses your passion and allows you to grow.

if you thrive on interactions, if you are extroverted and like to help people, marketing can be your passion (i chose marketing as an example because you mentioned it). if you are a marketing a product that you believe in, that truly has a benefit, then yes, marketing can be your passion and you can foster very good qualities in yourself.

so don't look at the job itself as a passion, but at the qualities it will develop.

why not sit down with pen and paper and write down the five craziest ideas you have and then pitch them on kickstart?

what do you have to lose? what is it you really want to do? travel the world? help the poor? life a village from poverty? climb Everest? then create a business project that will enable you to do one of these and seek funding.

otherwise, there is always marketing hehe
avatamsaka3
Posts: 551
Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:11 am

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by avatamsaka3 »

and have been doing zazen/shamata
Do you think these are the same?
I was unable to stay in my old job, because the mindless and repetitive nature of it meant I could not engage in it, and remain mindful. It was clicking on things. The more I became aware of it, the more I suffered.
Mindfulness just means being aware of stuff. If you do the same thing 1000 times, you are just mindful each time you do it. Why did you suffer because you were aware of doing the same thing a lot? I know from my own experience I've felt similar things in situations where I believed I should be doing something else (fancier, basically, with more status), or the job was physically taxing. So I get that. But it's helped me to ask: How could doing anything else be any better if I can find peace with this right here and right now? If you can get something better that pays more, then get it. If you can't, then why feel bad? Be mindful and thankful. That's contentment built on mindfulness. A lot of people who have "more" are not content or mindful...
I had to take a manual job, because that was the only thing I could think of doing, that I felt would enable me to be present whilst doing it. I am at a loss.
Sounds to me like you've gained something!
I have numerous skills that I could use, and I feel a drive towards contributing something meaningful/helpful to the world
Washing plates is meaningful/helpful for the people who will eat food, isn't it? Cutting planks is helpful for people who build houses, so people can live in them. Making coffee is helpful so people don't fall asleep before they start their day. The world is an incredibly huge place, and you're an incredibly small part of it. So I find it's helpful to contribute something meaningful to this ground in front of me, this community, these people, these needs right here. Doing a great job in our lives is a contribution to our immediate world.
I feel like the idea of "finding ones passion" is a great scam. Why should we feel passionate about marketing? Why is feeling passionate a good thing anyway?
Not necessarily. It's based on a certain approach that people have. And they have their reasons for thinking this way. But passion is an emotion that's unstable and agitates the mind... so the Buddhist approach definitely would be in line with what I said earlier.
I don't see anything that resonates with me. Most of the things apart from said creative activities, or domestic work feels false and contrary to my nature. Whilst at the same time - I don't see how I can survive doing it, and I also don't really see what's the point.
If you dedicate yourself to the dharma, and study it deeply, you can view work as a support for or extension of your practice. You can look at all aspects of work as service. (I know that's hard sometimes, but there definitely are opportunities to make a positive contribution.) What's the point of painting? It might make someone smile. Isn't that nice?

And your nature? The nature of the mind is empty and pure... so say the masters.
User avatar
Sunrise
Posts: 76
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:55 am

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by Sunrise »

MoonHare wrote: Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:09 pm
I struggle greatly to find a professional path. I keep getting advised to find out what I want to do - but most jobs seem not really worth caring about.

I've started to draw more - I find the activity similar to some forms of meditation and I feel a drive towards doing it.

I am at a loss. I have numerous skills that I could use, and I feel a drive towards contributing something meaningful/helpful to the world, in a way that would feel in alignment with my nature. And yet I find absolutely nothing professional I could channel that drive into.

I don't see anything that resonates with me. Most of the things apart from said creative activities, or domestic work feels false and contrary to my nature. Whilst at the same time - I don't see how I can survive doing it, and I also don't really see what's the point. People make art all the time. If I don't make it, someone else will. Nobody really needs it - it's just a nice way to communicate with others. It doesn't help that I feel driven - I feel a lot of energy that I needs to be spent. I just don't know in what way.

I feel like the idea of "finding ones passion" is a great scam. Why should we feel passionate about marketing? Why is feeling passionate a good thing anyway?

A short version of this is: I don't want to spend my energy on something I don't care about, but I don't see any jobs worth caring about. So I am stuck.
Have you read "Zen and the Art of Making a Living. A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design" by Laurence Boldt? It's a big sprawling workbook that addresses the quest of finding one's life work. It's pretty good.

I think that for some people it's really important to clarify a vision of what they want their life's work to be. Having a vision gives a sense of direction and motivation. So definitely cultivate a vision of what meaningful work means to you. Really sit down and think about it again and again over time. Keep a journal to chronicle your insights and vision. But in the meantime to keep the lights on, find a job that's relatively pleasant to you if possible. Having coworkers you like definitely helps. Also we can practice Dharma anywhere. Every day we can go to work with a positive intention and recollect Dharma throughout the day. Every day we can try to be good to other people and share whatever gift we have. For example, an artist has the gift of sharing beauty and wonder with people.That is an awesome gift to have! The world absolutely needs beauty to nourish the hearts and minds of people. You have a lot to give, even if you're not sure exactly how to share it yet. Best of luck!
User avatar
KathyLauren
Posts: 693
Joined: Tue Apr 07, 2009 5:22 pm
Location: East Coast of Canada
Contact:

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by KathyLauren »

Being passionate about something may be over-stating the case. What people usually mean by it is doing something that resonates with your personality and allows you to express it. That is usually a good thing, as it reduces emotional conflicts. Artistic endeavours are a great way of expressing this passion.

However, few artists are good enough to make their primary income off their art. So you need a job, too.

What seems to be trapping you is that you are assuming that it should be your job that provides this energy for you. It doesn't have to be. Get a job that doesn't conflict with your values, but don't look for one that drives your passion. Not that there's anything wrong with a job that does, but they are as rare as hen's teeth. Instead, get your passion fix elsewhere.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy
MoonHare
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2019 10:43 am

Re: Finding my path at work

Post by MoonHare »

Just want to thank you all for replies, and thank you for taking time to consider this issue.
There are some really interesting suggestions and approaches, all really helpful. I am thinking them through.
Post Reply

Return to “Dharma in Everyday Life”