Corporate Stress and the Hinayana

This is a bit of a break from the series of thoughts on Faith, but in a way it is kind of related. The last week has been a trying one and one of significant discovery and self-reflection. In a way, Buddhism seems to be but a natural set of insights on life and the way our minds work instead of a “religion” of sorts – probably why it’s impact has been so universal, but I digress.

I am pondering how to deal with the stress of a corporate job and how to “order my life for practice”. The basic message of the foundational vehicle of Buddhism is to create the right conditions for practice in one’s own life. It doesn’t mean that you become a perfect little monk or nun, instead it means that your life is in order physically, emotionally, spiritually, in order to engage in the hard work of the Buddhadharma. That message really became clear to me this week. My practice life is ok, but it really could be much better.

A lot of reflection led me to the conclusion that my job is the source of a lot of stress in my life and something that I’ve been grasping at for a long time for some unknown reason. In a moment of what Reggie Ray calls situational vipashyana (situational insight), I had a kind of “birds-eye” view of my life. I was at once awestruck and sad at what it had become and saw the havoc being wreaked by stress in my own life and that there is a situation that I need to get myself out of.

Buddhism is not about shying away from experience or escaping necessarily, it’s more about leaning into it, and leaning into one’s habitual patterns to see them for what they are and work with them.  But the Buddhist teachings also tell us that we have to work towards a situation that is conducive to our practice. A situation where getting up in the morning is a chore, and one comes home from work emotionally and physically drained each and every day is not a productive one, nor is it one conducive to the practice of Buddhadharma. So I’m looking for another situation that isn’t so draining.

I don’t expect to find bliss in the next situation, but it will offer me an opportunity to “re-start” life and practice. The contemplation and musing is ongoing, but of course, Buddhism is a lot more about the journey than the goal.

Sarva Mangalam

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