حاضر بودن در خانه و محل کارکتاب: هنر قدرت / فصل 9
حاضر بودن در خانه و محل کار
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CHAPTER SEVEN - Being Present at Home and at Work
Once you have seen the truth and beauty within
yourself, then you can see it within your loved one. To love means being there for your beloved, recognizing his presence as important. To be there, to be fully present, to appreciate the preciousness of your beloved, this is the practice of true love. To be there for him, you have to be there for yourself first. Do you have the time to be there for yourself? Do you have the time for a cup of tea, for an orange, for your in-breath, your out-breath?
Do you have the time to take steps without thinking of your projects?
If you don’t understand yourself, if you are not capable of accepting yourself, it will be impossible for you to understand and accept the other person. The practice of mindfulness will help you get deeply intouch with yourself, so that you can understand your suffering, your difficulties, your deepest aspiration.
First of all, there may be a lack of communication within you. Your body and your consciousness have been trying to tell you many things, but you may not have time to listen. Your liver may be under great stress, but you continue to drink alcohol. Your body may be begging you to slow down or take a day of rest, but you keep pushing it and working harder.
You may not be there for your own body, you may not care enough about your own body or know how to listen to it. There may be blocks of pain in your consciousness, but you don’t know how to listen to your consciousness.
The first step in loving communication is for you to go home to yourself. You take the royal way back to yourself through mindful breathing to touch the joy, the beauty, the wonders of life in and around you. The practice of being mindful of your breathing, your walking, your breakfast-making helps you go home to yourself in the here and now, to be mindful of what is going on in your body, your feelings and your perceptions, to recognize and transform your suffering.If anger is coming up, you become aware of your anger. If fear is coming up, you become aware of your fear. You are always there for yourself. “Good morning, my little anger, I know you are there. I will take good care of you.” “Good afternoon, my fear, you just manifested. I know you are always there, you are my old friend. I will take time to care for you.” Then you practice walking mindfully, breathing mindfully, acknowledging the presence of your fear or your anger and soothing it.
Self-understanding and self-love provide the foundation for understanding and loving another person.
This is the first step: going home to ourselves, taking care of ourselves, understanding ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being compassionate to ourselves.
The most precious gift you can make to your loved one is not money, power, or fame, but your true presence. To love means to be present for him. How can you love if you are not there? And the quality of your presence is very important. You have to be there, fresh, loving, understanding. Through the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking, you bring your mind back to your body, you establish yourself in the here and now, you are fully present, and you can go to your loved one and say the first declaration of love, “Darling, you know, I am really here for you.” You don’t need to bring anything else; you just offer your presence. And your presence, thanks to the understanding and compassion generated by your practice, can be fresh, nourishing, and healing to her.
I know an eleven-year-old boy named Tim. The day before his birthday, his father said to him, “Tomorrow is your birthday. Tell me what you’d like and I’ll buy it for you.” This made Tim unhappy. He knew that his father was rich and could afford to buy him anything.
But Tim didn’t want anything. He didn’t need more things. He needed just one thing, which he had found very difficult to obtain, and that was the presence of his father. His father was rarely home, and even when he was home, he wasn’t really there. He might be sitting there at home, but only his body was there. His mind was absorbed in other things. So to Tim it was like he didn’t have a father. So he said, “Daddy, I want you. I don’t want anything else. I just want you.” What could the father do? He knew his son needed his true presence. He began to practice mindful breathing to be present for himself so that he could be present for his son. He didn’t do it in time for his son’s birthday. But about a month later, he went up to his son’s room, held his son’s hand, and said, “Son, now I am really here for you.” This true presence can’t be bought in the market. It is the deep practice of mindfulness.
“Darling, I am really here for you” is the most meaningful declaration of love. It is not a mere statement; it is a practice. If you are not there and just pretend to be present, the other person will know. You may be possessed by your projects, your worries, your fear, and you pretend to be there but are not really there. Only with practice can you produce your true presence. Your loved one needs your true presence and nothing less. “Darling, I am here for you.” When we say this, we recognize the precious presence of our beloved.
If we don’t recognize his presence, it’s like he doesn’t exist at all. Without our attention and mindfulness, the other person doesn’t feel loved.
You might be driving, with your beloved sitting very close to you, close enough to touch. If you are entirely absorbed by your projects, fear, worries, and thinking,you neglect her completely. You alienate her because your mind has no space for her. And if you continue to live like that, her happiness will soon die, because she feels like she’s not loved, she doesn’t have your attention, your mindfulness. It is important to go home to yourself through mindful breathing from time to time, so you can look at her and say, “Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.” This is the second declaration of love. It is very simple. You embrace her with the energy of mindfulness. Embraced by your energy of mindfulness, your beloved will be very happy and will bloom like a flower.
If you know the techniques of mindful breathing and mindful walking, you can be there for your loved ones in just one or two minutes. In my hermitage in France, in the early morning when I walk to the meditation hall, I go down a path with many trees. Passing the trees, I look up and see the full or half moon. I have a habit of looking at the moon and smiling to it, and I practice, “Dear moon, I know you are there, and I am very happy.” You may practice the same with your beloved.
Breathe in and out mindfully, smile, and become fully alive, fully present, then go to your beloved, look into her eyes, and say, “Darling, I know you are there, alive, and this makes me very happy.” This is the act of recognizing the presence of your beloved. It’s not difficult. Everyone can do it with a little practice in mindful breathing and walking.
Because you are fully present, you may notice that the voice of your beloved carries some pain or sorrow.
Mindfulness helps us know what is going on in our beloved. With the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking, you become fully present and use the third declaration of love: “Darling, I know that you suffer. That’s why I am here for you.”
Before you can do anything for your loved one, just practicing saying these words will bring a huge relief.
When you suffer and your loved one doesn’t know about it, you suffer even more. But if he knows, you suffer much less right away. These declarations of love are a miracle that you can produce by the practice of mindfulness. “Darling, I am really here for you. Darling, I know that you are there and I’m very happy. Darling, I know you suffer; that is why I am here for you.” Practicing offering your true presence to yourself and to him is something you can do every day.Because you are able to go home to yourself to restore harmony, acceptance, and peace within, not only can you practice these three declarations of love, but with your improved quality of being, you can also help your beloved go home to herself and do for herself what you have done. You now have the energy of mindfulness and concentration. You are able to handle your body and your feelings. Now you can begin to help your loved ones do the same. That’s the second step. You can help her yourself or you can borrow the energy of your community to help you do it. If you belong to a community of practice, a church or group where people know the practice of mindfulness, it’s much easier. Your brothers and sisters in the
community support you. This gives you enough mindfulness and concentration to go home to yourself, and you can help your partner do the same. When your practice is strong, your partner becomes your ally, not only in the practice, but also in your work of serving people. You are practitioners. You are on the same spiritual path. And both of you are stronger.
When you are united as partners, whether father and son, husband and wife, or close friends, you bring this foundation of understanding and support into your business, into your professional life, because healthy relationships in your private life are the ground of all other success.
In your professional life, there may be other people you have to be in touch with and work with. You may be working as a team to make a film, design a product, or complete another kind of project. Each person on your team has his own difficulties, his own suffering.
But because you are open, happy, fresh, and concentrated, you can help all of them touch their freshness. You don’t care only about their work performance, because the quality of their work depends on the peace and well-being inside of each of them. You come to the business as a friend, helping everyone transform, bringing peace, harmony, and well-being into their lives at home and at work.
It is important to share with them—but skillfully— your practice of mindfulness, because the people who work with you all share the same ideal of service as you do. Even if they are talented and do their jobs well, you still need them to share your concerns, your insight.
You have to treat people at work—other employees,members of your staff, and people in different companies with whom you interact—the same way you treat your partner. There should be mutual understanding, support, and compassion. Your coworkers should feel comfortable contributing their insight to you and vice versa. This is crucial, if you want to be successful and serve your customers or your constituents well.
No matter how busy you are, take the time to inquire about each co-worker’s situation—their families, their difficulties. Use loving speech and deep listening to inspire confidence, so that people have a chance to speak out and tell you the truth. There may be conflicts in your company that you don’t know about because you have been so busy. If you don’t know what’s going on, you’ll make mistakes. When you know better what is going on, you can respond in a way that will help transform the problems and get things on the right track, making your organization more effective.
There need to be people in your company who have the capacity to understand, to listen attentively to the concerns of your staff. You can ask them to look deeply into the situation of the people in your company andreport to you the suffering that exists. This is the practice of loving speech and deep listening, which can restore communication.
When you focus on only the shortcomings in another person, you aren’t capable of seeing their good qualities.
Everyone has both strengths and weaknesses. When you see only what’s wrong in another person, when you aren’t capable of seeing her good qualities, something is wrong with your perception. When you have wrong perceptions of others, it means you don’t have correct perceptions of yourself, you don’t know what your own strengths and weaknesses are.
The solution to this is to learn to look more deeply.
That is real meditation. Meditation is the art of looking deeply. If you want to look deeply, you have to train yourself in mindfulness and concentration. When you’re aware and realize that time is quickly passing by, you make the effort to learn how to live each moment deeply in order to make your life more meaningful.
You’ll know what to do and what not to do to improve the quality of your own life and the lives of the people around you.
When you feel stressed out at work, you know that you are experiencing ill-being. With all your intelligence, compassion, and goodwill, you can help create work conditions that don’t cause your co-workers to become victims of stress. We have a habit of trying to work more efficiently, and we associate this with working fast, but we need to rethink this. If we realize that doing our work with mindfulness actually requires no more time than doing it unmindfully, a lot of our stress disappears. We need to practice so that we work in happiness, freedom, and solidity—so that everything we do, even cleaning, washing, and cooking, is done in happiness, solidity, and freedom. Otherwise our time is wasted.
But if you’re not capable of understanding this for yourself or your family, you won’t be able to do it for your co-workers. If you’re not able to enjoy relaxation and you can’t help members of your family enjoy moments of relaxation, how can you help your employees enjoy relaxation? If you don’t take care of your family, how can you expect your employees to take care of their families? And if their families are a mess, how can they be happy and productive at work?
Anything you can do for yourself and your family is at the same time taking care of the people at work.
Remember the insight of interbeing. Co-workers and employees are made of no coworker, nonemployee elements: society, family, and so on. You need to listen compassionately so your employees can talk to you about their families. When you really care, you become a friend and not just a moneymaker. You act out of generosity and compassion, supporting not only your colleagues but your business, giving it a greater chance of success.
When a difficult situation arises, many of us react right away. And we often act as if the other person or group were our enemy, especially at work. We don’t treat others as brothers and sisters whom we have to help, and our actions create more division. It’s important to interact with people in a genuinely nonviolent way.
Loving speech and deep listening are so important.
We have to show our understanding. What the other person did or said may have been a result of their lack of insight and understanding. Punishing them will make the situation only worse. If something goes wrong in a company, our first instinct is to find out whose fault itis and punish them. But to understand them is far more effective. When you’re able to understand, you’ll have compassion, and you’ll be able to accept them and find means to help them. I suggest we learn to look at people with whom we are having difficulties as people who can teach us, not people for us to punish.
We should consider each other fellow travelers sitting in the same boat. If the boat sinks, we will all sink together. When you create the understanding that the company is a boat carrying all, everyone will feel responsibility for the company and contribute the best of his abilities.
If you understand your employees, you will be able to love, accept, and care for them. You want more than employees; you want allies, allies on the path of service. This is possible. In Plum Village, where I live, there are a few hundred nuns, monks, and laypersons, and each of us comes from a different environment, a different culture. We belong to many nationalities, and yet it is possible for us to live as a big family, because we know the practice of reconciliation, the practice of accepting and loving each other. Because we know how to live simply and happily, we have enough time to open our doors and receive the many people who come to learn the practice of healing, transformation, and reconciliation.
Once we have created good communication and harmony in our workplace, we can extend it to our customers or constituents, and finally to the larger community. This is the final step. We should maintain ongoing communication with those we serve, whether they are people who have voted us into political office, stockholders of our company, or patients in our hospital. Dialogue should be open, so all feel they can express their suffering. This is already a great relief.
Even if you have not been able to do anything yet to alleviate the problems, just listening and showing that you understand inspires confidence. You let them know that you have understood them, that you are trying to do something to eradicate the causes of the suffering.
Good communication between you and the people you serve is crucial. By listening deeply to them, you will be able to understand the nature of their suffering and you will have insight into how to transform the situation.
If you are a politician, you also need to practice deep listening, whether in city hall, the state capitol, or Congress, so that you can profit from the insight of other elected officials. All elected officials have insights to share. Just because they belong to a different political party doesn’t mean that they have nothing valuable to contribute. We all lose when we think that everything people in our party do and say is right and everything people in another party do and say is wrong. This is simply not true. If we think, speak, and act only along party lines, we operate like a machine without insight, without understanding, without compassion. We should be led by our understanding, our insight, and the collective understanding and insight we receive from our workplace and the people who have voted for us.
We are not elected to Congress to fight only for our ideas. Your idea may be superb, but it might still be improved by the ideas of other people. Regardless of what party a person belongs to, if she has a real insight, we should practice deep listening to really hear her. If she is fighting only for her own idea we will know it clearly, but if she has a real insight we must be open to it. Listening in this way will help Congress become a community where there is mutual understanding, mutual sharing. Our democracy will be safer. The integrity of the individual and the integrity of our institutions will be saved; otherwise there is only the appearance of democracy, not real democracy. When you are not yourself, when you are not operating on the ground of your insight, your compassion, your experience, when you have to speak and vote solely along party lines, you are not truly yourself, you are not offering your best to your nation and your people. The aspiration to offer our best is there in each of us. We should help each other be our best, because only then can we truly serve our people and our nation.
Just as politicians need to collaborate with those in opposing political parties, businesspeople can learn to collaborate with and learn from other companies rather than competing with them. Communication is
important, not just within a company but between companies. It is possible to replace competition with cooperation and collaboration. If the leaders of corporations get together and practice looking deeply into the situation of the world to develop the products that best serve society, they will be able to devise mutually beneficial policies and working conditions. If they become sensitive to the suffering of humankind and the suffering of other species, they’ll be able to come together without fighting.
When there is mutual understanding and sharing of insight, we will continue to have the support of those we serve; there is no doubt about this. We will feel much more supported and joyful in our work. This is true between you and your partner, between you and people in your office, and between you and the people you serve. If you are handling the present moment well, with all your wisdom and compassion, there is no need to worry about the future, because the future is made of only the present moment.
It is important to learn how to get other people to take care of things that you think you alone can do.
Even a Buddhist teacher has to practice that. She has to look around to identify people who can help her. She can’t do everything by herself, and by getting help she gives others a chance to emerge as teachers. She may be surprised to see that among her students there are those who can do things like teaching or taking care of the community better than she can herself.
So please don’t give yourself the idea that you’re irreplaceable. You must delegate your tasks to others,even if in the beginning you don’t think they’re as good as you are. You can support them with your happiness and your freshness. Together you can transform your workplace into a dynamic force that can change our society.
If you are used to the world of business, you may wonder how mindfulness fits in. If we are constantly focused on living in the present moment, how can we get things done?
To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.
The past is still there in the present. Both the happiness and the suffering you have experienced in the past are still there, alive, in the present moment. In the past, you may have made mistakes, you may have been unskillful and caused suffering to yourself and yourbeloved. People say it is impossible to go back to the past to fix our mistakes. But with mindfulness it is possible to go back and repair the damage, because the past is available in the present moment. Suppose you said something unkind to your grandmother and made her suffer, and now you regret it because she has passed away and you can’t apologize to her. If you look deeply, your grandmother is always alive in you, in every cell of your body. As you breathe in, you can say, “Grandmother, I know you are there in every cell of my body,” and breathing out, “I’m sorry.” You decide to be kinder and more aware of your beloved ones now. Then you will see your grandmother smiling to you, and your wound will heal. This practice is wonderful because the past is still available to you. If you look deeply into it, you can learn a lot from the past and heal wounds from the past. Mindfulness of the past is very different from getting carried away in sorrow and regret.
In the same way, while you are grounded in the present moment, you can bring the future into the present as an object of inquiry, and you may have many insights. But insight and looking deeply are different from being distracted by fear and uncertainty about the future. If you allow yourself to be worried and afraid of the future, you lose time and waste your life. When you worry about success in the future and become obsessed with it, your thinking is not productive. To be anxious about the future does not help. The fact is that the future is made of the present. If you take care of the present to the best of your ability, you are doing everything you can to ensure a happy future. When you waste your energy in fear, stress, despair, and worry, you are spoiling both the present and the future.
You have the right to plan your future, but you have to let go first and put your anchor down in the present.
You must dwell in the present to effectively plan for the future. Your only worry should be to sit stably in the present moment in order to skillfully take care of the future.
If we continue to be overwhelmed by our worries and harassed by stress and fear, tension will accumulate day after day and cause all sorts of diseases. Worries, suffering, and agitation cause tension in our bodies and bring stress to our minds, leading to conflicts in our families and our workplaces. Stress and tension cancause our thinking to become violent. Coming back to the present moment to take care of ourselves, to heal the tension and pain we may be suppressing, means that we suffer less and become happier. We get in touch with what’s fresh, what’s wonderful, what has the capacity to heal us. So coming back to the present moment actually gives us the strength we need to continue on into the future. When we are happy, and our loved ones are happy, it’s easy to plan for and take care of the future.
If we don’t know how to do this but keep obsessing about the future, our thinking won’t bring us much benefit. We don’t really need to think a whole lot. If we are healthy, light, happy, and fresh, our thinking is creative. New ideas come to us easily. If day after day our mind is burdened by worries, fears, and suffering, negative thoughts arise and we don’t have enough clarity to take care of our families and our work.
We breathe in and become aware of our body. We breathe out and relax all the tension inside. When we drive, we can breathe at every red light. While waiting for the elevator or in line at the grocery store, we can practice relaxing our body; this is beneficial for our success in the future. We need only one or two really good ideas to become successful in our profession.
People around us may have a lot ambition and drive, but because they don’t know how to live in the present moment, they lack creativity, the power of insight, and the power to cut off their afflictions. But when we practice mindfulness in our daily life, we can hit our target in just one try. You can hit your target only when there’s clarity in your mind, when there’s concentration.
When we live in the present moment and walk, breathe, and take care of ourselves and our loved ones, our mindfulness and concentration increase each day.
Mindfulness means we know what’s going on. If our mind is filled with worry and tension, we recognize the worry and tension and breathe with them. When we look deeply into them, we see their roots. With the power of insight, we will see how to easily resolve our problems.
In this present moment I care that my thinking be the right kind of thinking, thinking that reflects understanding and compassion. This kind of thinking can nourish and transform me, bringing joy and happiness to me and people around me. In this very moment, I care that my speech be the kind of speech that communicates understanding and compassion, the kind of speech that can restore communication and offer confidence and reconciliation. At this very moment, I care about my physical action. My physical action should be able to translate my understanding and my compassion. If I’m sure that my thinking, speech, and physical action are in line with understanding and compassion, I don’t have to worry anymore about the future, and I save a lot of energy. I want to invest one hundred percent of myself into the present moment.
And this is possible. If I know I am doing my best in the present moment, I’m not afraid of the views or ideas of people now and in the future. The past, the present, and the future are interconnected. The present contains both the past and the future.
If you are a politician and you can practice this, you don’t have to worry about whether you’ll be reelected.
If you are a businessperson and you practice like this, you don’t have to worry about your next promotion. If you know exactly what you must do in the present moment, if you know how to take care of yourself andyour loved ones, then you’re doing everything you can do to take care of the present moment. You can be at peace. You don’t have to worry about the future at all.
It is possible to cultivate the elements of peace, joy, and well-being in ourselves by living deeply every moment of our daily life. If we do this, we don’t need to worry about the future. Despair and anxiety cannot afflict us if we know that we are already taking care of the present moment the best way we can. What more is there to worry about?
Sometimes people worry about the future because they want to be as successful as they were in the past.
When you create something that is well received, that becomes a hit, you are happy about your success. If you write a book that sells one million copies, you’re happy and you want your next book to be equally popular. If it isn’t, you suffer. If you’re a film producer and you succeed in making a film that is highly acclaimed and popular, you care very much that your next film will also do well. If the next film is not as successful, you suffer. The same is true in politics, business, sports, and other professions where success is concerned. I have learned a great deal from this, and I am convinced that the most important thing is to have confidence in your work, to make sure that your work embodies your best, in terms of understanding and compassion. Maybe one hundred years from now a person or group will recognize your work. You don’t need to be recognized right here and right now. If you see this, you don’t have to suffer.
To me, a masterpiece should contain insight, understanding, and compassion. When I write a poem or a short story, what I care about most is doing my best.
Whether people approve of it or not, whether it is a success or not, is not important to me. The most important thing for me is that I do the best I can. I care very much that the work embody my insight and compassion.
When you are filled with understanding and compassion, you have plenty of energy to serve, you are fully alive, very active, and your work, your film, your story, your novel, your poem is an expression of that mind of awakening. And it brings you great satisfaction to know that your work contains understanding and compassion. Even if people are not eager to buy it, you don’t feel depressed at all, because you know the value of your work. You know that sooner or later someone will see the value of your work and he will be able to profit from it, provided that your work is a real work of art, carrying within itself the power of awakening, understanding, and compassion.
When Van Gogh was alive, his work wasn’t appreciated. But that doesn’t mean his work didn’t have tremendous value. My book Anger sold one million copies in South Korea alone, and they called it a hit. Recently I published a very small book called Touching the Earth. Only two or three thousand copies were printed. But I am not eager to sell a million copies.
I know that a number of monks, nuns, and laypersons are using it to practice, to transform their suffering. And I know the book will serve many generations of practitioners in the future. I don’t need it to be a hit. I need to believe that it is a good book, a good manual for practice, and that already satisfies me completely. My happiness is not dependent on popularity, on others’ approval. My happiness depends on me. If you can go home to the present moment and live in the light of mindfulness, concentration, and insight, you have no reason to worry about the future, and you have peace.Success isn’t a matter of talent alone. There are many elements that contribute to success. Even if you’re the most talented person, even if you have real insight, if the right time has not come, you won’t be successful.
So you just do your best, and if conditions are sufficient you’ll have success. You can never be sure that you’ll be successful. That’s the reality.
If you have a good manager, you have a better chance of being successful. Sometimes whether a book becomes a bestseller has nothing to do with the book. It depends on the way your publisher promotes the book. That is why I don’t suffer when one of my books doesn’t sell as well as another book. My desire is for my readers to get in touch with the Four Noble Truths of suffering and the way out of suffering. My goal is not fame, recognition, power, or money. I don’t have a private bank account. I don’t carry money. Whatever money my books earn goes to charitable causes and humanitarian projects such as helping hungry children in the Third World. So my concern is not money or fame.
My concern is to satisfy my desire—my desire to serve, to help.
Many of the Buddha’s teachings were not understood or appreciated during his lifetime. I have discovered that many of his teachings have not been explored and put into practice. Some have only begun to be understood in my generation. Yet the Buddha did not suffer because of this. He said, “Many of my teachings are difficult to believe.” He was aware of this, but he had the courage to teach anyway.
The teaching of no-self is difficult to understand, and this was especially so during the lifetime of the Buddha.
He lived in a society where nearly everyone believed in the self, the soul. But the Buddha had the courage to teach no-self, to go against the overwhelming majority in the religious and philosophical circles of India.
Although few people followed his teaching at first, he was not unhappy, because he knew that if something is the truth, it will be the truth for a long time.
We can judge our success at work in many ways.
Usually we judge it by how much money we make, what title we have, and how much others recognize our achievements. But if you can go to work each day as a bodhisattva, if your presence at work brings you and others joy, then you have a successful work life. You have succeeded in the present moment, the only moment that exists.
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