Monday, 4 April 2011


a Moment for Wisdom…


“Work has to include our deepest values and passions and feelings and commitments, or its not work, its just a job.

A job is something to pay our bills with.  Work is something that touches our heart and expresses our being.  That joy is the key to spirit.”

Matthew Fox

Personal Wisdom:

What is your “job”? How do you pay the bills?

What is your “work”?

What is its meaning in your life? In the lives of others? In society? What does it mean to the Earth?

Does your work touch you? Bring out the depths of your spirit?

Assuming your expenses could be met some way, would you do what you do for free (without pay)?  Why? Why not?

What would have to happen for your work and your job to be the same?

Societal Wisdom:

Why do we so often confuse “job” with “work”?

If all of us were engaged in meaningful work, what would happen to the systems and structures of our society?

a Moment with Sharif…


So… ready to don your yellow vest, your yellow gloves and go cleaning latrines in a refugee camp?

The young people in the 2006 photo are VOLUNTEERS. They aren’t even paid the Sarvodaya-average monthly salary of fifty dollars (yes, that’s a month). They do so because they are called by something…

What about the overly-tall Westerner in the second photo? I actually had to get on an airplane and fly halfway around the world, for the opportunity to stand in the sweltering sun, distributing relief packets to the refugees of the fighting between the Government and the Tamil Tigers.

Why do we do this? Two lines from “Creating a World That Works for All”:

“Success means I have acted in the world as though I were a part of it, not apart from it.
Success means becoming conscious of and faithful to my values and to my soul.”

The reason for doing this is “work” – but in the sense my friend Matthew Fox means it.
What the Buddha called “right livelihood”. Your work gives you the opportunity to express your human and spiritual qualities: compassion, empathy, joy, fulfillment…  Your work gives you the opportunity to express your craft, your genius, your mastery. Think about the Japanese cabinet makers I mention in “Creating”, crafting a cabinet, then submerging it in tung oil for 100 years. Do you think they are working a “job”?

Every time a Congressman (or President) talks about “creating jobs”, I get nauseous. We
need to dump the paradigm of “jobs”. It doesn’t matter whether its an empty job paying minimum wage at McDonalds or an empty job paying $60,000 with the government, empty is empty.

How many of us go to jobs that keep us busy all day, yet mean nothing for the Earth, nothing for others, nothing for our own souls? (And we wonder why so many people use drugs…)



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All photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.

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