Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the week of July 29, 2013

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Spirituality at Work

Introduction

We seek an effective spiritual path that does not cleave our life into two domains, the spiritual and the material. In truth, there is only one domain, only one life. And it is ours to live as well as we choose. The real split in our life is between when we live in presence and when we live in non-presence. We know the issues of work-life balance, which primarily concern time allocation. But we do not need to maintain a balance between our inner, spiritual life and our outer material life, because they can coexist, they can occupy the same moments. Outwardly, we do what we do. Inwardly, we could live in presence. It is not a question of trading off one for the other, but a question of the level of quality of both, for our inner work can raise the quality of our outer engagement, and vice versa. One is in time, while the other is in eternity, and both are now. So in this series, we look at how our inner spirituality can work in tandem with our outer life, in particular with our job or career, where we spend so much of our time.

Jobs require attention. We pay with our attention and action, and our employer or client pays us monetarily. Attention, though, is not only a core element of our external work, it also plays a crucial role in our inner, spiritual work. More generally, our will, of which attention is but one manifestation, occupies the core of everything we do, including both our job and our inner work. So rather than leading a split life, an inner life and an outer life, a spiritual life and a job, a job and a family, we begin to see and live one seamless life, where everything we do affects everything else, where we ourselves are the one constant in the ever-changing stream of our life. How we act at work can help or hinder our spiritual development, and our spiritual development can support how we perform at work. Our spiritual path becomes our life and our life becomes our path. We need not, nor can we, clearly distinguish between the two.

When you sit down to meditate, is that a purely spiritual endeavor? Perhaps that is your intention, and to be the most deeply effective, that needs to your intention. Yet, meditation strengthens your attention, your will, your clarity and peace of mind and heart. All these qualities also serve you in your job. Thus, meditation has a positive side effect: it enhances your job performance.

Similarly, other spiritual practices such as the work of presence, attention and kindness, respecting our conscience, noticing the creative impulse, and so on, notably develop our soul while at the same time positively impacting our outer activities including our job. Furthermore, we can engage in these types of practices in parallel with our job activities, in mutual reinforcement.

In this inner work series, we experiment with ways to incorporate our inner work into our job. Not every working moment requires our total attention; we may have some spare attention to use for our simultaneous inner work. Later though, this distinction, this need to divide attention becomes subsumed into one, more powerful attention that incorporates all of what’s happening, all of what we’re doing, both inwardly and outwardly. That way our inner work can enable us to bring more attention to our job, and more attention means more quality. Even the distinction between inner and outer can vanish into the one reality that we live. But at first we need that distinction as we learn the methods of effective spiritual inner work.

    1. Presence at Work
    2. Excellence at Work
    3. Ethics
    4. Responsibility
    5. Relationships
    6. Communication Presence
    7. Service

For this week, notice your attitude toward your job. Is your job time somehow time that you have sold, time devoid of your true interests, lost time that matters less to you than your other time? And even if you love your job, do you use that time to help build your soul? Can you, through your inner work, reclaim the time of your job, while enhancing both?


        

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