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Excerpted from Work As a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond. Copyright 1999 by Lewis Richmond. Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Your employer may dictate every aspect of your work life, but no matter what kind of job you do, you are the boss of your inner life."

Lewis Richmond, Work As a Spiritual Practice, Part 2

Perhaps someday work will evolve to the point where it is once again integrated with family, community, spirituality, and nature, as it was in preindustrial times. Until then, the Buddhist worldview begins with today, just as it is, for good and ill--today's job, today's life, today's "you."

What this book offers are ways to help you become more aware, more awake, and more engaged in your work life. Even the worst job has its compensations, and even the greatest job has its demerits. This book can't make your job perfect, but it may make it more workable. The reason I think so is because, spiritually speaking, you are in charge. Your employer may dictate every aspect of your work life, but no matter what kind of job you do, you are the boss of your inner life.

Most people think of Buddhists as people who meditate. That's partly true. I spent many years living in a Buddhist retreat center, where I did indeed spend many hours each day in silent meditation. But Buddhism has its active side too, and some of its practices are adaptable to a busy, engaged life.

Many of them aren't meditation in the usual sense of the word but rather exercises in awareness and focus. Some address various emotional states, such as anger, fear, frustration, and boredom. Others work on how we interact with people, or on the speed and pace of our activity. All of them are designed to awaken the fundamental spiritual inquiry: Who am I? What am I doing here? How can I fulfill my life's potential? These practices are all based on the conviction that we have the resources we need to make that inquiry come to life, and that the circumstances of our daily life can be the raw materials in that effort.

One thing's for sure: You don't have to be a Buddhist to benefit from these practices. During my career as a meditation teacher, I have taught and practiced with Catholic monks, rabbis, Protestant ministers, Muslims, nature worshipers, agnostics, atheists--people of many religious and nonreligious persuasions, many of whom, I'm sure, didn't think of themselves as Buddhists. But they all benefited from Buddhist practices.

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