work always ruins it!!!

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work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:28 pm

so i'm off for a couple of days. i meditate for three or four sessions at an hour each, i'm very mindful, and i start thinking very clearly and the dhamma makes a lot of sense and i feel at peace. then i have to work three ten hour days in a row in the fast food industry at an extremely high volume store and suddenly the dhamma has no effect and i'm utterly miserable again. please don't judge that statement until you have wallowed in the dregs of corporate industry in which fast food work exists. it is quite miserable.

mindfulness is extremely difficult if not downright impossible as you are required to multi task into oblivion. making food and drink for drive through and front, taking orders on a head set that dings in your ear and hurts very badly every time someones brakes squeak, taking money from drive through and front and also making chit chat with customers watching you prepare their orders and trying to defuse the ones glaring at you because they don't understand why they have to wait at all, dealing with complaints, answering the phone in the middle of all this, dealing with the district manager who pops in for no reason, dealing with an inspection company hired by corporate who makes sure everything is up to corporates delusional high standards that make a standard health inspection seem like a walk in the park, oh and also taking orders from the front every time the front cashier person walks away to multi task in some way. basically they need six people on and schedule only three to save money and make more profits for a few people at the top while paying everyone else the lowest wages possible with small insufficient raises of .20 cents or so every year and sometimes denying these raises based on arbitrary standards decided upon by management.

on the bright side this is an eye opener. if i was retired or independently wealthy i might over estimate my attainments. if i could meditate for that much or more every day and always be so mindful i might mistakenly think myself an arahant only to have this image shattered when i have to deal with something annoying or frustrating one day. so maybe i'm learning even more how to maintain my mindfulness and what not by doing it this way?

on the other hand, if i could dedicate all my time to it for many years, maybe these mind states would become more solid and if, after let's say three solid years of steady practice living at a temple or something, i go back to fast food maybe it wouldn't bother me at all?

thoughts?
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:36 pm

Fast food is tough. All jobs are tough; but certainly some are more stressful than others.

alan... wrote:on the other hand, if i could dedicate all my time to it for many years, maybe these mind states would become more solid and if, after let's say three solid years of steady practice living at a temple or something, i go back to fast food maybe it wouldn't bother me at all?


Possibly, no guarantees. Jack Kornfield wrote a book a while back, After the ecstasy, the laundry where numerous [supposedly] realized people came back down the mountain only to realize they still had difficulties dealing with the mundane ordinary worldly life. He recounts his own experiences and difficulties particularly with interpersonal relationships and at one time (IIRC) he was on a one year retreat in the forest, but still had interpersonal problems after that.

alan... wrote:if i could meditate for that much or more every day and always be so mindful i might mistakenly think myself an arahant only to have this image shattered when i have to deal with something annoying or frustrating one day. so maybe i'm learning even more how to maintain my mindfulness and what not by doing it this way?


:thumbsup: Maybe you have the best environment after all, the perfect test.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:45 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:

alan... wrote:if i could meditate for that much or more every day and always be so mindful i might mistakenly think myself an arahant only to have this image shattered when i have to deal with something annoying or frustrating one day. so maybe i'm learning even more how to maintain my mindfulness and what not by doing it this way?


:thumbsup: Maybe you have the best environment after all, the perfect test.


that or maybe if and when i finally ordain i can just stop testing and enjoy a life wrapped at all times in dhamma study and practice.

how is the kornfield book? i almost picked it up at the library recently. what is the end game? what is his point?

David N. Snyder wrote:Fast food is tough. All jobs are tough; but certainly some are more stressful than others.


i've had jobs that were a breeze. i'm not even looking for one that is easy per se, but one that is conducive to mindfulness. like delivering packages or something. one thing at a time would allow for great mindfulness. just drive, drop off package, drive, drop off package. instead of an insane amount of multitasking. i considered a job like cleaning offices at night or something since cleaning is a classic task for good mindful practice, but all the chemicals...
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:28 pm

alan... wrote:how is the kornfield book? i almost picked it up at the library recently. what is the end game? what is his point?


IIRC:
There is no quick enlightenment. It takes time. Through hours, months, years of meditation, working away at the defilements, getting to the root causes and eradicating them. For example, he discovered after years of meditation that he had a fear of being alone and that fear extended to his interpersonal relationships and it wasn't until years of practice with the family life that he was finally able to see the fear diminish or disappear.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby Sam Vara » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:43 pm

Alan, you have it tough, and I feel for you. My job is (currently) much less stressful, but it is still very difficult to maintain any degree of mindfulness.

My advice is to try to use work as an opportunity to cultivate other mental states which will help you. Patience or endurance would seem to be one candidate

And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating.
(MN 2)

Or you might try just focusing on right speech - let the mental stuff go crazy if it has to, but just try to draw a wholesome boundary around what you are going to physically utter in the presence of colleagues and customers.

Or just be aware of what is happening, internally and externally, without adding to it. "This situation is chaotic, people are making demands on me, and I can feel myself tensing up"...etc)

Maybe doing these and other things might help to prepare your mind for the calmer aspects of the practice, when the appropriate time arrives for that. In fact, you say that

i meditate for three or four sessions at an hour each, i'm very mindful, and i start thinking very clearly and the dhamma makes a lot of sense and i feel at peace.


So is it the case that "work always ruins it" - or is it more correct to say that work just interrupts it? You are describing a contemplative practice that many would envy!

I wish you all the best, Alan, and hope that you can find some way of getting some benefit out of what seems awful.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby befriend » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:22 pm

master your skill. buddha said. so if your stuck in this job, if you cant get a more low key job, just put dignity into what you do, do it well. think thoughts of metta, to your coworkers who are suffering as much as you. you will feel some healthy kinetic confidence, maybe chit chatting with the customer could be fun. thats it maybe try to have fun with it joke around with your coworkers.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 07, 2013 9:58 pm

Sam Vara wrote:Alan, you have it tough, and I feel for you. My job is (currently) much less stressful, but it is still very difficult to maintain any degree of mindfulness.

My advice is to try to use work as an opportunity to cultivate other mental states which will help you. Patience or endurance would seem to be one candidate

And what are the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The fermentations, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the fermentations to be abandoned by tolerating.
(MN 2)

Or you might try just focusing on right speech - let the mental stuff go crazy if it has to, but just try to draw a wholesome boundary around what you are going to physically utter in the presence of colleagues and customers.

Or just be aware of what is happening, internally and externally, without adding to it. "This situation is chaotic, people are making demands on me, and I can feel myself tensing up"...etc)

Maybe doing these and other things might help to prepare your mind for the calmer aspects of the practice, when the appropriate time arrives for that. In fact, you say that

i meditate for three or four sessions at an hour each, i'm very mindful, and i start thinking very clearly and the dhamma makes a lot of sense and i feel at peace.


So is it the case that "work always ruins it" - or is it more correct to say that work just interrupts it? You are describing a contemplative practice that many would envy!

I wish you all the best, Alan, and hope that you can find some way of getting some benefit out of what seems awful.


thanks. i've tried just noting the tensing and despair and what not but that doesn't stop it from happening. i've been dealing with this as a practice issue for years and have not found a solution such as that. however i am intrigued by the tolerance thing in that majjhima sutta. is there any instruction on how to accomplish this?
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:05 pm

befriend wrote:master your skill. buddha said. so if your stuck in this job, if you cant get a more low key job, just put dignity into what you do, do it well. think thoughts of metta, to your coworkers who are suffering as much as you. you will feel some healthy kinetic confidence, maybe chit chatting with the customer could be fun. thats it maybe try to have fun with it joke around with your coworkers.


oh man i have so much fun at work when it's slow! we laugh and joke and really enjoy ourselves. however when it's as bad as i described above there is not time or space in my mind for anything but constant focus on what's happening at the moment, which sounds like perfect mindfulness but feels horrible. it's just tension and anger and stress. nothing i throw at it helps, especially because i really can't even stop to try to work with it. if i do i'll burn myself on the oven or give someone incorrect change or some other mistake. it requires intense focus. along with this focus comes feelings of great unhappiness and i've found no remedy to it except for when business slows or when i get off for the day.

suggestions?
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby cbonanno » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:03 am

To put yourself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment and expect enlightenment sounds like what the aesthetics were doing in the age of the Buddha. Why are you working ten hour shifts? It sounds like you are doing something you do not want to do. Where is the liberation in that?

I hope we are all not walking the path so we can be silent cogs in a machine.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby santa100 » Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:19 am

Also don't forget the health issue, if you don't like your job, it will ruin your health sooner or later. Identify a type of work that you enjoy doing and come up with plans to obtain the proper skill set and experience. Don't just consider 4-year colleges, try community colleges, trades/technical schools, apprentice programs, etc. which are much cheaper and you'll still be equipped with good skill set and experience. Maybe this should be the highest priority you should make for yourself as of the moment. Once you get a nice decent job that you enjoy doing, and are able to support yourself and your family, then you can put 100% into cultivating the Dhamma. Good luck..
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:58 am

cbonanno wrote:To put yourself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment and expect enlightenment sounds like what the aesthetics were doing in the age of the Buddha. Why are you working ten hour shifts? It sounds like you are doing something you do not want to do. Where is the liberation in that?

I hope we are all not walking the path so we can be silent cogs in a machine.


do you have lots of money or do you for some other reason retain the ability to pick and choose what you do with your time, where you work or how long your shifts are? i am not an ascetic. i am poor. there is no way i would be working this job if i could find anything else.

i didn't deliberately put myself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment, i applied to 10 places and this one hired me. no one works fast food as a first choice (albeit maybe ascetics :tongue: ). i work there due to lack of options only.
Last edited by alan... on Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:03 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:59 am

santa100 wrote:Also don't forget the health issue, if you don't like your job, it will ruin your health sooner or later. Identify a type of work that you enjoy doing and come up with plans to obtain the proper skill set and experience. Don't just consider 4-year colleges, try community colleges, trades/technical schools, apprentice programs, etc. which are much cheaper and you'll still be equipped with good skill set and experience. Maybe this should be the highest priority you should make for yourself as of the moment. Once you get a nice decent job that you enjoy doing, and are able to support yourself and your family, then you can put 100% into cultivating the Dhamma. Good luck..


i may start working on this kind of idea. current circumstances do not allow for job changing but eventually that's my plan.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby cbonanno » Thu Jan 10, 2013 3:41 am

alan... wrote:
cbonanno wrote:To put yourself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment and expect enlightenment sounds like what the aesthetics were doing in the age of the Buddha. Why are you working ten hour shifts? It sounds like you are doing something you do not want to do. Where is the liberation in that?

I hope we are all not walking the path so we can be silent cogs in a machine.


do you have lots of money or do you for some other reason retain the ability to pick and choose what you do with your time, where you work or how long your shifts are? i am not an ascetic. i am poor. there is no way i would be working this job if i could find anything else.

i didn't deliberately put myself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment, i applied to 10 places and this one hired me. no one works fast food as a first choice (albeit maybe ascetics :tongue: ). i work there due to lack of options only.


I used to work very long hours and make a lot of money as a network engineer. It was very unhealthy, so I quit and I started working 25 hour weeks as a cashier in a coop. I sold my car, moved to a town with free buses and lived walking distance to my work. In short, I lived like a monk. I cooked at home, did not drink or go to movies, etc. I meditated and lived simply, like what many people would consider poor but I had never been richer.

I have met people who traveled across the whole country with nothing but a small satchel. People who lived so poorly doing what they loved that they ended up making more than they could have imagined. I have met a woman who lived out of a van surviving only by selling some trinkets she made from junk. I have spoken with "bums" who live on what they beg for and would not trade their life for any job. And I have met monks that live with only a robe and a bowl, monks who have put their desires down like the hot iron balls that they are and set to work freeing themselves.

What is the difference between you and I? Between you and them?

Money is irrelevant, it does not seem that way, but that is the illusion that keeps you doing something you do not want to do. You are controlled by this illusion and the fear it creates.Do you think working that job and having money in your wallet gives you any more certainty to the outcome of your life than a wise bum has living on the street? Money gives us a false sense of certainty.

Where ever you are is a result of your kamma. and your present kamma predicts your future kamma. So you did put yourself in that environment.

With Metta.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby alan... » Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:13 am

cbonanno wrote:
alan... wrote:
cbonanno wrote:To put yourself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment and expect enlightenment sounds like what the aesthetics were doing in the age of the Buddha. Why are you working ten hour shifts? It sounds like you are doing something you do not want to do. Where is the liberation in that?

I hope we are all not walking the path so we can be silent cogs in a machine.


do you have lots of money or do you for some other reason retain the ability to pick and choose what you do with your time, where you work or how long your shifts are? i am not an ascetic. i am poor. there is no way i would be working this job if i could find anything else.

i didn't deliberately put myself in the middle of a physically painful and stressful environment, i applied to 10 places and this one hired me. no one works fast food as a first choice (albeit maybe ascetics :tongue: ). i work there due to lack of options only.


I used to work very long hours and make a lot of money as a network engineer. It was very unhealthy, so I quit and I started working 25 hour weeks as a cashier in a coop. I sold my car, moved to a town with free buses and lived walking distance to my work. In short, I lived like a monk. I cooked at home, did not drink or go to movies, etc. I meditated and lived simply, like what many people would consider poor but I had never been richer.

I have met people who traveled across the whole country with nothing but a small satchel. People who lived so poorly doing what they loved that they ended up making more than they could have imagined. I have met a woman who lived out of a van surviving only by selling some trinkets she made from junk. I have spoken with "bums" who live on what they beg for and would not trade their life for any job. And I have met monks that live with only a robe and a bowl, monks who have put their desires down like the hot iron balls that they are and set to work freeing themselves.

What is the difference between you and I? Between you and them?

Money is irrelevant, it does not seem that way, but that is the illusion that keeps you doing something you do not want to do. You are controlled by this illusion and the fear it creates.Do you think working that job and having money in your wallet gives you any more certainty to the outcome of your life than a wise bum has living on the street? Money gives us a false sense of certainty.

Where ever you are is a result of your kamma. and your present kamma predicts your future kamma. So you did put yourself in that environment.

With Metta.


nice! you're living the way i want to live. very cool. and i know exactly what you're saying about people considering that kind of life to be poor but for many buddhists that's filthy rich lol! i have a family to support, that's the difference.
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Re: work always ruins it!!!

Postby cbonanno » Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:55 pm

alan... wrote:
nice! you're living the way i want to live. very cool. and i know exactly what you're saying about people considering that kind of life to be poor but for many buddhists that's filthy rich lol! i have a family to support, that's the difference.


Oh, a family, that changes things a bit. But I have a movie that I think you should see. It is called Surfwise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLrx_QSd44E
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