26 October 2008

My Dharma Job

In morning meditation thoughts of what needs to be done for the Center often arise. It occurred to me that most other people's jobs must be much more separated from their personal life than mine. They get home and forget about work, because when they are at home they are in a different world.

My job is not separate from my personal life. When I am sitting, I am in the building I work in, teach in, schedule, and manage. When I am sitting, I am in the building in which most of my practice has happened for many years, where guests and visiting teachers stay, where my neighbors are, where my friends often are, where I have seen many people come and go, where I have lived since 1994. This means both that different areas of my life are very integrated...and that sometimes in meditation my working ground is the 'Center to do' list.

I did some part time work as a grant writer the first couple of years after I became Director of the Center in 2002. I discovered what the Federal Poverty Standard was and that it matched my pay at that time. (Now it's a bit more!) However this work gives me what I consider to be a high standard of living. Not in terms of material things (though mostly I feel I have enough of those), but in terms of quality of life: space and flexibility to my days, and doing work that I not only find meaningful but which is actually very central to my life in terms of the people, the ethics, and the mission. This is a great luxury, as it were. I do not work for money...What could be less American? I know others in San Francisco follow alternative lifestyles, which is one of the reasons I love this city, and cities in general: so much oddness.

I do not always use the relatively leisurely lifestyle I have to the fullest. I have spent a fair amount of it being annoyed that more people don't help (it has been some years since I felt this way.) I spend some of it trying to motivate, or doing things that aren't the priority (which is sometimes meditation or doing nothing.) I'm kind of a compulsive worker and this is something I've worked on since I've had this job. My boss, the Dharma, continues to patiently prioritize harmony and awareness.

Another aspect of my Dharma work is that I do not have the same level of independence as someone with a more conventional job. I depend on the Center for my basic needs and very little beyond that. It's kind of a strange situation to be in, especially because personality-wise I am quite independent. It has taken a lot of getting used to.

I still have some anxiety. What if this or that happens? How long will I be happy doing administrative work for the Center, and when the happiness stops, what will I do? What if I get cancer? When I am 70 will I be working the graveyard shift at 7-11, standing on my feet all day, dodging bullets?

Next spring will usher in my longest retreat to date, the 3 month women's ordination retreat in Spain. After that, I will see how my life is going, and see how important money seems. Everything could change then, or sooner.

References
Who Does What at the San Francisco Buddhist Center/FWBO

Akashavana Retreat Center in Spain is where I will be next spring

No Time to Think (Talk by Professor David Levy)
Includes quotation from German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper who in 1947 wrote, “Leisure is a form of stillness that is the necessary preparation for accepting reality. Only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still cannot hear.”



1 comment:

Long said...

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