Like many of you, I spend much of my life in a workplace whose objectives are moving targets, whose aims are often at odds with each other, where the “rules” seem malleable, and where there often seems to be unfairness for both the clients and for me. The fantasy about a career which would change society for the better has not unfolded exactly as I had planned and I sometimes feel stressed, deflated, and at conflict with co-workers, clients and the aims of my profession.
From a Buddhist perspective, these are excellent conditions for practice. This fertile ground may be an opportunity for us, as Zen practitioners, to come together to support each other as we struggle through this aspect of our lives.
The discussion group outlined below is a suggestion for how we can provide positive mutual support in line with our practice. A book titled “Real Happiness at Work” by Sharon Salzberg, a teacher in the Insight Meditation tradition, is suggested as a text we could use to guide our discussions. I have 9 copies which I picked up for $9 each which I could sell to participants.
Proposed Discussion Group Format
Proposed Dates: January 8, January 22, February 5, February 19, March 4, March 18
(Every second Friday evening)
Time: 6 – 7:15 PM (Approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes)
Short Sit: 5 minutes
- Circle: Check-in: How’s work? 15 minutes
Are there one or two key issues you feel need your attention right now? (Just name and hold without trying to answer or explain too much. Go into more depth in small group discussion)
Opening Talk and Description of Relevant Chapters: 15 minutes
Topic from Sharon Salzberg’s book (Ideas about how we might relate her approaches to personal experience and to the precepts)
Small Group Discussion: 15 minutes
(if the group is already small, we’ll just do this together)
Personal reflections on how approaches in S’ book might help with your current workplace issues (or not).
Reflections & Conclusions: 15-20 minute
- Stealth meditation (or a thought to carry) for the next few weeks: 5 minutes
Please let us know by January 2, 2016 if you’ll be able to attend some or all of the discussions by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nin-en Susan Elbe is one of Mountain Rain Zen's practice leaders and works as a city planner. She is a long-time Zen practitioner and was shuso (head monk) for our 2009 practice period.