Elements of livelihood

Is the end product wholesome?
In your work, what is the product or service being delivered? Regardless of your role in producing it, you are contributing to some effect in the world. Whether you are the janitor, the manager, the truck driver, the receptionist or the creative director, you are working together towards the same goal. The product or service, the result of your work, can be evaluated as beneficial or not, to yourself and others.

Because I love books and think of them as good to have in the world, I worked for three different publishing firms in my early work life. People who care for others are clearly providing a beneficial service. People who sell illegal drugs are not. What is the end product of your work? Is the end product supported by your effort, on balance, wholesome? (Sometimes the answer to this question is not obvious).

Is your work environment wholesome?
Is the place where you perform your work safe? Are you surrounded by people who are mostly trying to do the right thing? There will always be a mix of positive and negative personalities around you. What’s the ratio in your workplace? Is it so negative that any positive conversation is quashed? Or is it generally uplifting? Is there a sense that everyone is constantly overworked? Think about all the factors, human and material, that make up your workplace. When you arrive, are you glad to be there? If you work with other, are those around you glad you’re there?

Does your work include aspects that seem unethical to you?
In the course of your work, are you sometimes asked to do things you consider unethical? Remember that unethical is not the same as unpleasant. Firing someone is an unpleasant task, but it’s not intrinsically harmful. I’ve been fired, and although it was painful, it was best for all concerned.

Are you sometimes expected to break one of the five precepts described in previous posts: killing, stealing, lying, engaging in sexual misconduct, or taking intoxicants that lead to heedlessness? Do you break them on your own, with no one else asking you to?

If you find that you are spending a lot of your work day doing something other than the work you’re being paid for, is that stealing time? Are you taking something you shouldn’t? When your work day is over, do you feel you have provided an honest day’s work for a fair reward?

I’m sure that if you think about it, your reflections will lead you to questions beyond these.

About lynnjkelly

Australian/American. Practicing Buddhist.
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