Monday, November 2, 2015

book review - The Buddha Walks into the Office

I’m currently unemployed.

I had a nice job that I quite enjoyed, but it was in a city we no longer live in. I am missing the people there and the projects. I liked it because I basically got to invent the job and build a framework of procedures to maintain the departmental computer hardware and software inventory. I was a steward of the computer assets and of the interactions of the people with their computer issues. 

So, what does one do when one is currently unemployed? Hunt for jobs? Or, go to the library and get a pile of books to read? Off I went to get a new library card and browse the shelves. This book was sitting on the shelf waiting for me.

It’s been on my reading list for awhile. The author is a meditation teacher of some renown that I have taken some online classes with. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about stewardship and the Buddhist concept of Right Livelihood. 

The tag line for this book is “A Guide to Livelihood for a New Generation”. While I’m not young, I am (again) at one of the crossroads of life when one evaluates one’s direction. Unemployment does that. 

Lodro is a gifted writer. His writing is accessible and polished. This book is a blend of personal perspective and Buddhist teachings. 

He organizes the text into four parts, encompassing three yanas (Sanskrit for vehicle):
  1. Hinayana: Live with Purpose
  2. Mahayana: On-the-Job Compassion
  3. Mahayana: Six Tools for Compassionate Leadership
  4. Vajrayana: Be Awake for Each Moment
I specifically enjoyed reading, in part 2, the Three Steps for Creating Social Change through Inner Change. 
Step 1: Cutting through Fixed Views, which is familiar to me as managing expectations. Or maybe I should say “unmanaging expectations”.
Step 2: Raising Your Gaze, which speaks of removing yourself from emotional clouds in your view.
Step 3: Compassionate Activity, which basically says to be present and be the positive change you want to see.

While written for people currently in their 20’s and 30’s, it is a compelling read for anyone looking to see their daily work in a new light. I would (and maybe will) read it a second time through. It gave me some insight into how to be a more compassionate person in the workplace and also to understand the concept of "work" in daily living, as in - they are the same thing. Now, armed with some touchy-feely-goodness about work, maybe I can get out of the chair and find some.