I’m currently reading Zen of Business Administration: How Zen Practice Can Transform Your Work and Your Life by entrepreneur, Zen monk, and former Zen Center Director, Marc Lesser.
The premise of the book is that Zen practice can lead to the dissolution of the often self-placed boundaries between work and play.
At the heart of Zen is the absence of a separate sense of self. I have to admit that this is a concept that I’ve yet to fully understand.
I’m only about one-fifth of the way into this delightful read, however, I hope that by the time I get to the end I’ll have a clearer understanding of it.
Another element of Zen is its inclusion of work as part of one’s spiritual practice. Just as meditation, mindfulness, and compassionate-kindness are instructive in our daily lives, so is work.
Lesser reminds readers of the Zen koan:
Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.
Blurring the Line that Continually Renews Itself
I’ve written in the past about the sacred nature of work. I’ve written at some length about what it means to find and practice our most meaningful work, that work that our DNA codes us to do better than anything else.
Each time I’ve examined this topic, I’ve come away convinced that there is a sacred, even holy, nature to doing anything -from washing the dishes to bagging pet droppings. Every experience has the potential to teach us volumes about the present moment’s nature as well as our own.
When we’re involved in the kind of work that feels meaningful, that work that feeds our soul as well as makes a difference in the world, the line between work and play is blurred beyond recognition. I contend that these moments when we’re in-the-zone and unaware of time passing, are indeed sacred moments.
The ultimate beauty of this is what Zen teaches us; that no matter what kind of work we’re doing at the moment, it can be a life-changing undertaking. Whether or not I’m writing a blog post, a proposal section about construction management, or washing my mug in the office kitchen at the end of the day, I can approach each with a reverence that would make the late Dr. Albert Schweitzer blush.
The choice is ours a hundred times each day to either directly and reverently engage with the present moment and all its wonders or rush past it on our way to another distraction.
Mindfulness is a Temporary Solution at Best
But that’s a good thing. The line between work and play can certainly be blurred beyond recognition by approaching each moment with a sense of sacred wonder and reverence, but guess what happens the very next moment?
The line redraws itself. WTH?
Just when we thought we had a solution for the task-oriented doldrums, that damn line is back again bolder and more recalcitrant than ever.
But that’s the beauty of the present moment; It affords us endless opportunities to investigate our feelings, our reactions, and our motivations.
Mindfulness might be a temporary fix, but it’s also the ultimate renewable resource; we can renew it over and over again.
The line has met its match.