Work Practice
Mindful, Graceful, Grateful, and Skillful

 

Work Practice is practice-work. Mind, hands and feet work harmoniously in unison. Zen Buddhist tradition originated in rural China and Zen monks worked in the field to grow their own food. Zen monastic communities strove to be self-sufficient, relying on communal manual labor to take care of itself. In Korea Zen monasteries were first established in mountains. Simple and austere communal life has sustained the temple economy as well as clear mind without greed and anxiety. 

The history of the Buddhist Society is filled with stories of temple renovations. In the early days of temple building, we would spend all day every day working, offering our whole body-mind to the Three Treasures of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. The collective aspirations were to found a place where people can come learn and practice Buddhism.

Consider Samantabhadra's Great Vows: 

#1. Always honor and respect all the Buddhas, and never grow tired of it.

#2. Always praise the Tathagatas, the unconditioned, and never grow tired of it.

#3 Always cultivate a great spirit of generosity and practice giving and offering to all, and never grow tired of it.

You may treat yourself as a buddha—buddha's hands and feet. You consider objects of your work as buddhas. Praise them by giving your full attention and concentration. Work practice is offering to all. Over and over again. Once again. We never grow tired of it.

Work practice treat all tasks as equal. There is no more important work than the one in your hands in this very moment. Each task or step is part of the whole, indispensable. The mind stays grounded by knowing that it follows the hands and feet. Gary Snyder, a Zen Buddhist poet, writes, "Reality-insight says get a sense of immediate politics and history, get control of your own time; master the twenty-four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick—don't let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our "practice" which will put us on a "path"—it is our path. [from the book , Mindfulness and Meaningful Work]

 

You may like to contemplate more on work practice through some good readings.